Chapter 8 Episode 3 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles
Though he'd officially given the slim, frog leather-bound tome the proper, scholarly name The Notebook of Heicz Vatterbroch, in his own mind Adewole had come to call it The Book of the Machine God. The manuscript repeated the idea over and over, a god-like being of magic and metal; whoever Vatterbroch was, he believed he'd designed one, though Adewole couldn't tell if he'd tried to make one. Could one make a god, or could one merely--merely, he snorted to himself as he sat in his cozy office--give an already-existing god a body? In no other story had he heard of humans creating gods, only gods creating humans. Yet here was a book claiming it contained directions for not just making a god's body, but putting a god inside it.
Adewole's mother had not been a theologian; she had been a translator. His gift for languages had come from her. Everything he knew about gods--personal gods, not the gods of folk tales and mythologies, but the gods grateful mothers praise, the gods children pray to at night for their mother's recovery, the gods a grieving brother might abandon as he was abandoned--all came from her as well. Nothing he'd read or heard here jibed with anything he knew of gods in folklore, in temple or at home.
Some of the world's more fantastic stories about the island insisted it held magic and technology far beyond anything known in present times. More than a few crackpots and charlatans had made absurd, imaginary Floating Island "technologies" central tenets of the belief systems they peddled, along with spoon-bending, remote viewing and seances. This machine god sounded less like magical technology and more like a bent spoon, but Deviatka, his pragmatical friend, pored over the original drawings and devoured any new ones. Deviatka's persistence made Adewole more than a little uncomfortable, though he himself had invited it. If Deviatka had figured out whether the diagrams might be used to build something, he wasn't saying; instead, he grew more close-mouthed with every drawing Adewole gave him.
The translation unfurled. As he read each new page, Adewole's discomfort grew. He now worked on the drawing of a strange…musical instrument, perhaps?…made of bones, and the more he read, the more his hair prickled.
I betook my subject's bones from its living shell, read the manuscript, to fashion a Lyre, made puissant and eternal through Song and Duet. It must be made from living bone else it will not bind the subject's spirit, and without such the God may not be constrained by Man. When it be my turn to replace my subject within the God, no such Lyre will I need, for I shall wish for no constraining, but to reign through magic and metal.
No illustration of the "subject" was included.
He studied the Bone Lyre. What kind of animal had Vatterbroch used to make it? "Living bone" must mean he'd taken it while the animal still lived. Adewole shuddered--a good thing this Vatterbroch was dead these thousand years. He studied the drawing. A pretty bauble hung with faceted black crystals decorated the Lyre, suspended from one of its grisly arms. Was that one of Deviatka's Duets?
Magic. Magic…and metal. Adewole thought of Peter Oster. The young man could hardly speak about the oath the Eisenstadters supposedly broke with their autogyros, and hadn't told all. None of Adewole's research had been able to pry it out of anyone else. Perhaps he would visit Deviatka's Choir.