shor·ten \'shórt-ən \ vb 1 : to make short or shorter 2a : to reduce in power or efficiency b obs : to deprive of effect 3 : to make crumbly <~ pastry> ~ vi : to become short or shorter - short·en·er \ -nər, -ən-ər \ n syn SHORTEN, CURTAIL, ABBREVIATE, ABRIDGE, RETRENCH mean to reduce in extent. SHORTEN implies reduction in length or duration; CURTAIL adds an implication of cutting that in some way deprives of completeness or adequacy; ABBREVIATE implies a making shorter usually by omitting some part; ABRIDGE implies a reduction in compass or scope with retention of essential elements and a relative completeness in the result; RETRENCH suggests a reduction in extent or costs of something felt to be excessive
There was vitality here. It wasn’t apparent at first. Not to the deceiving eye nor the discerning mind. The realization crept along, and if one were patient enough it would surprise those who paced themselves. If you ran or skipped lightly you might escape the graying pavement. You’d possibly avoid the gutter where the hopeless flung their glass and plastic treasures. And you would certainly ignore the sky, scrapers, and anything else which never touched solid ground. Never could this place be fully appreciated if you were so careless as to drive. No, vigilance was key. Place one step at a time. Walk the many blocks. Add eight more miles for the benefit of your spoiled imagination. And make sure to stretch the dreamless liberally as they littered the street with gritty nails, needles and plastics. If you’re like any other, wishing you were oblivious to the disparity of the streets; watch your step. More importantly watch your shoes as they shuffle past the gutters. No one needs to look to the sky and wish when the dream reflects at your feet. Oh, and be sure to look twice at the empty revealing bottles; you may see a coastline of clouds, smog and pondering executives. Besides, slate plays wonderfully with the orphans of 5¢ greens and microbrews.
No, there was nothing spectacular about the pavement, or turns. Nothing intriguing about the miscreant bastards of littering alcoholics. Just an ever-changing landscape of face value. To all ignorant folk the coastline was not viewable from the city walk up. With no exceptions, a harried young man wound his way through this scenery. His gaze locked on the counts he made as he crossed the cracks and traffic lights. An easy task to focus on – it was one he did every other day. His arithmetic; precise, since the tracks he made were a repeat. His punctuality was aided in full by the blinders of a cap pulled too far down over green lidded flames. He worried about the time as always. It was habitual. Yet, there was a time the trip seemed longer. That dream, hard to recall. His memory was jarred with smoke and numbers.
Everything was alive then, but not now for Titian. Not now for the tattered figure trudging across orange and charcoal crosswalks. Not now for the boy who listened to a stranger illuminate his name. That someone once told him a defeated god held that title. She just couldn’t remember what that name was. This memory too was bottled up with the rest. Everyone forgot things today. They’d been forgetting for over a century. So with little thought to what he and everyone else lacked, the not-quite-a-defeated-god-but-more-than-a-boy continued his pace. A fashion molded from a lack of a steam bike, trolley transfers and a keen disinterest in sharing small spaces with the scrappy tenants of transit. He was thankful for only one thing.
The trip always got shorter.
There were many potential stops along the way to the Vaults of Logos. On the left hand side of Kemia Plaza hung a multitude of medicinal shops juxtaposed via shape and texture. Floating above them were the shopkeepers homes. This was a crude mixing of wood, windows and double entry doorways. The cherry finish on top was the favored metal wrought tiles, roofs which scattered light and diminished shadow. On the other side bright striped canopies and an odd splash of umbrellas settled over the walkway. Cafes, mini-markets, a smatter of eateries and bakeries hid behind this multi-color circus of safety nets. If it happened to be market day, they were hidden completely by the gathering of familiar strangers. Some chewed vegetable sandwiches. Others held dark nutty grains with a lot of meat. Many overdosed on caffeine and even more sugar. If it was after dusk, the noise lessened to a murmur over candlelit dinners and the latest drinks offered by the Ether Market.
However; if one's final destination was in fact the small, but homely center of Vespers mind - there was no other way. All ways were most definitely influenced by Vesper’s memory. Most people were unaware of this. It was a sad and unfortunate fact - but most led their rather uninteresting lives in total inexplicable ignorance of the Keeps' purpose. It may have been the only memory left in the city; in the world. But amnesia wouldn't get the worst of us down. We could still function. And the crude day to day tasks were just that. Tasks; functions. You didn't need to remember to brush your teeth. That was habit. Consummation of food, smoke and idle conversation; that too required little thought.
"G'evening isn't it?"
Titian halted mid thought. He even faltered in step. He wasn’t expecting anyone to just speak to him. He painstakingly practiced the arts of avoidance. Well, now that he was discovered there was no helping it. He shifted his gaze to acknowledge her. She was older, but not by much. Hard to tell with girls; they were strange. She was all embroidery and charcoal – and that was interesting enough. His eye twitched involuntarily at this study. Obviously she was an alchemist. She was different - and that couldn't be all that bad. Her suede aviator jacket, feathered top hat, and tweed long length skirt were indeed interesting. Actually it was very tasteful. He offered a response. Clothing like manners were necessary.
She persisted. "Wow, you should have disagreed." Rummaging through her many pockets, she proffered a single smoke. His facial muscles relaxed at seeing it.
"How so? Thank you I’m trying to quit." Two wasted strikes of a match for the both of them. One bonding habit; priceless.
"You’re welcome." She drew a puff out of hers. "I've asked that question every day for years. Everyone answers uniformly." The crosswalk dial signaled the ending of her sentence with a swing of its clock arm. They both contemplated in silence while meandering across the cobblestone.
A recyclables steam-trolley screeched unnervingly at a particular crossing of Kemia Plaza and Ferrum Bazaar. A few speckled pidges' flapped away indignantly. But the only chorus to be heard was the curious ringing of the ears and the hiss of boilers operating.
The alchemist and artisan guilds were favored by the current market trends. The sounding of hammers and anvil mingled with the mysterious thunder that emanated from the oft hidden underground playgrounds. Consequently, things shook around here.
“I offered you a trade.” She noted a familiar phrase. It was a philosophy of the people of Vesper, it was the modus operandi of the people off the Banks of the Nimbus River, and all of the peaceful folk of the Vale of Eris. It was a way of life. In order to achieve a trade of values, one must first offer a presumably desirous commodity. She was offering a value of conversation in hopes of receiving similar conversation.
“I’ll offer a return of investment then.” He took another drag. “Who was your teacher?”
The leather volume was dusty from disuse. It seemed these days that he had little time for writing. Not a day passed in which thought provoked focus; a deadly focus on the task at hand. He fancied a connection to the archer on the high walls hoping, indeed endeavoring for a swift finish of the enemy. He steeled himself and aimed true in hopes of merciful ends. Not a night ended where he questioned this present result of good intentions. The sounding of hammers and anvil now gave solace from the cacophonic cries of battle ringing outside the armaments of Vesper. His work consumed him like the blaze of his forge. His art was not the magnum opus he desired. But events swept and caught everyone in the tides of destruction.
“Titian! We ‘ave another order.” Katyli placed the leather bound order book on the table top. “I’m ‘eading out for a bite, want some?”
“Quite alright, I’ve already had my fill.” He watched bemused as her full figure exited stage left carrying with her a rather burdensome leather tote. He had noted that it was probably filled with the alchemic fire, flash powder. Now that could be construed as her magnum opus. The Alchemist Guild and the Artisan Guild were closely linked due to this current economic favoring. If it weren’t for her creation of flash powder, there would have been no such thing as his volvere. Consequently, if it weren’t for the heathen king and queen’s attack, there would also be no need for what he had hoped to be – a hunting device. So, hardly a day went by when yet another order was made.
Archers were by the by a useful commodity to have in such times as these, but you had to train from childhood constantly to show any marksmanship. It was this odd reflection that eventually led to the volvere’s development. It didn’t necessitate judgment of wind direction. Indeed, it was a point and click procedure – with practice one got better in time.
Call me Titian. I gave up my House name since it is needless. My heritage is proud. I am known as a Lost Composer for the Artisan Guild, Ferrum Bazaar. Simply, call me Titian.
Under the tutelage and influence of the Alchemists Guild, I was able to craft a rather useful device. This device is recognized as a Volvere. It is an exceedingly complex, yet simple tool. Originally the idea was created for hunting. People will never cease to amaze me with their ingenuity.
My personal twin volvere are crafted from Wolf's Froth, and Crucible Steel. It has a barrel of 18 inches in length with the ability to withstand internal and external pressure of at least one ton.
My weapon boasts a platina finish on the hammer, extractor, and the knock-out cylinder central pivot. Most of the metal work was painstaking even with conventional milling and drilling machina. The crudeness was overcome by hand polishing and filing.
In many of my first generation volvere, the pin upon which the cylinder pivoted was removed and the cartridge had to be removed for loading. Now I've implemented a loading gate at the rear of the cylinder so that the alchemist arrow can be loaded ordinally. To remove the cartridge one must push the rod underneath the barrel to extract the fired casing. The loading gate is located on the left side, favoring right-handed users. But for no difference in fee, I can craft it for our left handed friends. The volvere can thus be held with proper grip while using the free hand to eject spent casings and load the alchemists’ arrow.
Since the cylinder is firmly attached at both the front and rear of the frame, this is a strong design. I made sure the wolf's froth alloyed with crucible steel was thick in measurement. This weapon was originally crafted for hunting, but in today’s modern world you can never know when you will use this as a defense against our barbarous neighbors’ blades. The hammer on the back of the volvere must be cocked using the thumb. This action advances the cylinder to the next round and locks it in place. The trigger pull thus releases the hammer, which fires the round in the chamber. This allows for great accuracy akin to the marksmanship of archers. My early designs lacked the manual necessity of the hammer, and hence, there were misfires and fiery attitudes.
My youth was spent within the confines of market day. During this tumultuous period I apprenticed at the Alchemists Guild, Kemia. However my teacher, my reverent philosopher, understood that my gift was in shaping the world. Not seeking it. At once I began tutelage under the Lost Composer, artisan, Charbon.
Composer Charbon taught me an important lesson. It bears down to only one question. "If I do this, will the effects reflect my intentions?" What we do for ourselves profoundly affects the world. To blindly be assured the ripples won't come back to us is only logical. We cannot reach with a blind hand and take. We must give in order to receive. This is the axiom of our culture. This is the axiom of Vesper.
This is just something I've been working on. I don't intend on posting all of what I typed. But I picked out my favorite parts. I feel its a bit dry here and there - but all in all I'm pleased with what I have so far.