A/N: This article encompasses a variety of strategies from Affinity, to MUD. Basically if your deck is mostly artifacts this one is about your deck.
Carefully placed gears crackle to life, imbued with a subtly powerful magic that has been meticulously engineered for hundreds of years. Refined and polished, an army of nameless and faceless creatures moves forth. Their joints creak in unison with the gears of time ever turning forth. Grand magic’s of the artificer’s prowess ingrained into their very being from centuries of culture and craft.
The greatest of all artificers are hired by the high courts and councils of the magical world, where they spend their days creating machines and inventions beyond anyone’s wildest of dreams. It is here that the subtle craft of artifice is further developed into something more than it could ever have become. Grand architects embody their entire being into the machine, turning their bodies into bio-technological marvels, while other prefer to work on more detached crafts.
In these very work rooms the inventors mind has developed a powerful affinity for the new and remarkable. Conversely massive factories beneath the inventive palaces pump out worker after worker drone, all of which finely tuned by the artificers will. But even these workers are considered the utmost works of art, and each and every one is cherished by the citizens they help.
Azeth moved about his disorganized workshop. His wife often complained that how could he ever find anything in such a place, as it looked like a storm blew straight through the middle of it. Tools lay scattered about everywhere, and oxidizing spare parts carpeted large metal tables that stood fixed to tall cement walls. Today was the day that Azeth would begin his next creation. But where in the world had he placed his thermo-spinner again?
“Ah there it is” he muttered under his breath as something shiny caught the corner of his eye. Reaching down he swiftly grasped it with his large leather gloves. Azeth’s worn hair draped lightly over his forehead as he bent down to pick up the tool and he brushed it aside. Sharp steam suddenly blew out of a vent in the wall startling Azeth out of his concentration. He stood up and looked around his messy workplace. “I really need to clean this place up…” He muttered once again, before becoming lost in thought and inspiration.
Azeth had always been a particularly valued artificer. From a young age he had an affinity to create living artifacts, works of art and pure genius. But not just in aesthetic design, his work’s true beauty came from their efficient and powerful functionality. Azeth’s dream had become to create the ultimate artifact, the ultimate tool of function and lust, something to truly bring change and help the world. Today was one of his few free days, and he set out to create something truly remarkable (his best inventions always came from his free days). Most artificers would take breaks on their free days, but not Azeth, his desire to see his dream come true was too strong. He had to create the most marvelous of all creations. But not for personal gain, no, he had to create it for his love of artifice, the desire pang in his heart like a bakers desire to make bread or an artists desire to paint.
So he set to work, powering up his helper drones Azeth raised his large hammer to a sheet of metal and began pounding away. For hours and hours he slaved at his station. Sweating in the heat of his grand furnace, his hands became blackened with metal residue, but he finally completed his latest creation, it was almost human. Almost.
Raising it up to its feet he opened up its soft metal carapace. Other creations of his winced in fear, or perhaps admiration at this new beings stature. Azeth then carefully grabbed one of his hand crafted life dynamos – as he called them – and wired it up to his work’s innards. Its gears crackled to animation, its mechanisms buzzed and squeaked as hot steam blew out of its joints. A deep red from the life dynamo overtook the room and Azeth smiled. Had he finally created the ultimate artifice? The machine stood up, it walked around, and then stopped moving. Appearing to scan its surroundings, it then began its job. This was what Azeth later titled an overseer. An artifice to oversee the other artifice so that inventors and apprentices did not have to. However it was not enough. Something about it felt off. Azeth knew he could do far better, he felt he had undercut his abilities but had no idea how to proceed.
Weeks and months went by before Azeth was inspired to create another project once again. He had completed many jobs for the council and personal organizations. Among such projects contained grandeur ornithopters, massive wurms to patrol the outer-reaches and subtle spy bots to be used for unspoken purposes. It was then – as he was completing one of these jobs that it hit him. Azeth began thinking about the grand architects, the ones who combined machine with flesh, who broke the greatest taboo of all artificers. He too would attempt such a feat, but he had a greater idea. He would create a truly living machine.
A few nights later Azeth sent a letter by carrier pigeon to his friend overseas. It stated:
I humbly apologize for such short notice. But I must ask could you please provide me with the means to acquire a very special sort of biological entity within a timely matter? It is of utmost importance that we meet in person to discuss further, but there will be hefty compensation for your help.
Within a few weeks Azeth had returned home from his mysterious escapade. He did not come back empty handed however. Azeth brought with him a minuscule and seemingly insignificant object, one that would soon change the face of artificing forever. It was a tender flower from the fields of the country over. This species was incredibly rare, only blooming in a single field isolated deep within unnamed mountain ranges. It was said that the flower held special properties of resilience. Legend told of the flower held the power to destroy countries, and bring civilizations to their knees. But could also bring ultimate peace to all lands it was carried to.
Hearing of its history long ago from a foreign textbook, Azeth felt it was the perfect choice for his experiment. Scuttling into his workshop, Azeth locked the doors behind him. He powered on his worker drones one last time, and brought his great furnace roaring to life. The room quickly rose to stellar temperatures, but today he needed to push the furnace hotter than it had ever gone. He would be working with a special metal, one that had never been created before and that, to his later dismay, would never be created again.
Tools clanged onto the table as Azeth got a sheet of thin aluminum and lay it gently onto the hard metal surface. He then grabbed his most finely refined life dynamo and set it lightly next to the aluminum. Opening up a crate laying next to him, Azeth pulled out the flower from its comfortable holster and lay it on the table as well. He then set to work.
For days Azeth worked away in his shop. The city around him began to wonder if he was alright, but he never heard the countless knocks and pleas for acknowledgment. For he was deep in work. Eventually after his brows had all but burnt off, and his clothes almost melted to his flesh, Azeth finally completed it. He finally finished what would later go down in legend as the greatest of all artifices. The greatest of all machines ever created.
When Azeth finished it, he ripped off his gloves and held the creation in his hands. His eyes reflected dark blacks and blues back into the mystical item. It hummed with a deep lovely voice, and moved ever so slightly with the tiniest of breeze. It was so fragile that Azeth felt it could never be moved from the room, but he had to share it with the world. For he had created a truly living artifice. Living metal. Nothing like it had ever been made before, rumor had it that it was surely impossible, but Azeth had done it. What properties such a device held was completely up to debate, but Azeth did not care, all he cared for was his creations safety and proper usage.
Azeth slowly and carefully put his creation into a special holster specifically designed to facilitate the health of the living metal. He then opened up his shops doors for the first time in days. However to his great fear he found a group of council guardsmen dressed in official garb standing right at the entrance. They quickly raised their weapons to Azeths throat as one of them pulled down a large scroll and read aloud.
“Our network has picked up on your creation of living metal. While we here at the council will always support the further development and spread of artifice, we can not let the knowledge of such an invention get to the public. You have the option to hand over the invention to us, and be pardoned for your treasonous actions. Or you can allow us to take it by force.” The man paused for a moment to signal to another guard. “The choice is up to you, Azeth. What will it be?”
Azeth slowly began backing away, he clutched his creation as tightly as he could in his arms. The guardsmen began encroaching ever closer and a bead of sweat rolled down Azeth’s forehead.
“I will never give it up! This will truly help the world! The people need to know!” Azeth cried out as the guardsmen drew in for an attack. Suddenly Azeth’s overseer threw itself in the way of the blades. Their sharp steel cut easily through the overseer’s soft metal body. But it bought Azeth just enough time to throw a bucket of water into his furnace. A huge blast of hot steam suddenly flew out of the inferno dazing the council’s police.
Azeth then fled the scene, he ran as quickly as possible, but the guardsmen followed close behind. “I must not let them have it.” Azeth thought to himself. “They are going to use it to oppress the people aren’t they?” He pondered. Azeth had knew corruption existed within the council, but he had no idea it had gone this far. He thought just maybe he could create something to help the people. But in doing so he may have created the very tool his overlords needed to control the world entirely.
So he ran and ran. He wouldn’t stop running, his legs began to hurt but he wouldn’t falter. He’d run as far as he could and take his creation to safety.
Azeth ran from the council for months. He used his inside knowledge to adequately hide from them, however eventually he was sadly captured. But the flower was nowhere to be found. It had seemingly vanished along with any knowledge Azeth had of the invention. In his efforts to protect the work Azeth had completely wiped his memory of any recollection that it even existed, and forced a false memory upon himself that convinced him such an invention was entirely impossible. Seeing no further threat the council did eventually release him. Azeth lived out the rest of his days searching once again for the ultimate artifice, never realizing that he had already created such a marvelous item.
Rumor has it that Azeth’s creation is still out there somewhere, isolated, far away in a now blackened purple field secluded by a mysteriously unnamed and lost mountain range.
But fellow reader, those are just rumors, no one truly knows where or what became of Azeth’s lotus…
Thanks for reading! Sylvan Stories is a weekly series, be sure to check back in a week for the next addition. If you have any questions, comments of concerns feel free to leave them in the section below.
And as always, happy gaming!