September 7th, 2004


(no subject)

Esory and a Clock [27 Thory 4261]

Esory has acquired a clock.

Now, this is not the usual sort of clock, which has a spell which understands dawn and can count time since the last dawn, and which needs to be re-cast every few weeks.

Nor is it the usual sort of clock in the form of a talisman which can cast What Time Is It for the user without limit.

Nor is it the fancy kind of clock made from twisted bits of metal that unwind regularly, and need to be re-wound every few hours.

No, it is none of these. It is a clock in the form of a large glass globe with a tiny opening at the top and a tiny opening at the bottom, fused on the top of a tall graduated glass cylinder, the whole set in the midst of a stout golden wooden stand. A minor enchantment that I could easily do keeps the funnel full. The tiny opening keeps it dripping very slowly. The markings on the cylinder tell the time, correct to the ninth part of an hour. And another simple enchantment destroys all the fluid in the cylinder every day at dawn, so that the clock keeps perpetual time.

(The latter enchantment is done in a peculiar way. It can only be used once a day. It has a trigger condition of "yes, please go off now!". Ordinarily, a device with that trigger condition is used when a continually-active effect is unduly expensive -- e.g., it might be cheaper to ... what did Spreen give for an example? ... I must consult my notes ... she didn't give an example. Hmph. Theoretical Rassy! But one might, for example, use it in a sort of defensive weapon -- the continual enchantment would surround one with fire constantly; the yes-please enchantment would surround one with a separate fireblast every few seconds.)

In this case, though, the yes-please enchantment is on a device that can only be used once a day. In this way, whenever a new day starts -- that is, at dawn, in case monster-world days start at some more horrible time -- the device will get the power to be used once. It will, instantly, use it. For the rest of the day, the enchantment will wish to go off and destroy the fluid, but, since it is out of charges, it cannot.

This is a nifty and a cheap approach. Ordinarily, a device that would go off at the same time each day would be significantly harder to do. I suppose that getting it to go off at dawn rather than some other particular useful time ought to be easier than some other time... wouldn't it? [Sythyry dives into discussions of theoretical enchantment which I cannot follow. -bb]

The other peculiar feature of the clock is the choice of fluid. One might ordinarily use water, and Aquador. This device uses an intensely yellow fluid: the urine of a mule fed on grass-roots and largely denied water. It is entirely Corpador. Using such a specialized choice of fluid renders it (1) somewhat more complicated than the otherwise economical design would indicate, and (2) easier to read, and (3) unfit to mention in polite company.

The thing is, all in all, a very strange design, considering how simple it is. Esory invited me over to contemplate it, but not too hard. After that we sipped small amounts of very ordinary brandy, and did not eat grass-roots nor deny ourselves water, and discussed some even odder designs that probably wouldn't work very well.

(And, in case you are asking, the thing is a student working of Esory's grandmother, and somewhere between a family heirloom and a family shameful secret. The grandmother was notably displeased with Aquador magic, and chose to do the urine-based enchantment as, in part, a way to express disagreement with the grandfather's insistance that she learn Aquador. Peculiar people!)