Juniper Bottlesocket - Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do (backstory)

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:51 pm

In the beginning as a small child she had experienced the buzzing and humming sounds as perplexing, and even annoying. But over the years she grew used to them, those low monotonous sounds of the surrounding machina even becoming a lullaby for her. Under the soft artificial glow oozing from colorful bulbs on various control panels all around, the young girl woke up. But when she saw it was outside still as black as night she groaned, closed her eyes again and dropped her head back on her arms. Somehow she had fallen asleep at her favorite workstation… -again-.

No wonder…

Half an hour later she woke up with a start and she recalled the terribly vivid dream of her falling from a great height. She sat up straight in her chair, heaving, panting and grabbing her chest to make sure she had been dreaming... that it wasn’t real. She looked over to see Pixel sleeping soundly under a workbench, with long brownish hair, loosened from the hair ties she usually wore, spread over her face. Juniper shook her head. The closer she was getting to -the- day, the more real these nightmares were becoming, and almost she had wondered whether it was a sign that Nebulun was abandoning her.


She shook her head again. The Wonderbringer would never do such a thing to those who create, so. She could use a blessing or two though, and also perhaps someone to turn to. But her sister was still asleep and even for the Bottlesocket family it was too early. She smiled a bit at the thought of her adoptive family. The Bottlesockets were a gnome family who originally originated from Anchoril. But when the Council moved the naval shipyards to Sambar, that’s when Anchoril lost its attraction as a place for a living, and many people, human or gnome had decided to move to the outskirts of bustling Sambar.

The Bottlesocket family established this place long before her time, about 150 years ago or so, and ever since the moment it opened its doors, the business has been expanding constantly. Not long after that grand opening they added a workshop and over the years several halls, turning the place into a little factory for simple automates, clockwork products and similar products. About five years ago she and her sister were adopted by the Bottlesockets for a reason she could only guess about. The idea was that their little slender fingers were particulary good at making the smaller and thus much more complicated clockworks. But there was more to it. Juniper didn’t know what, but she just knew.

They had to go the school just like any other child around in the Brass District of the Gear Ward, the place where the elite of Sambar resided. But in the next tenday it would become clear if she could move to a much more interesting educational institute. If... she successfully applied. Her gaze shifted to a tiny silver bird, a Silverhawk to be more specifc. It was made out of starmetal, the little wings engraved with a complete feather detail, and in the eyes of many foreigners it could become -the- perfect gift to take back home for their partner or kids. There was only one problem. It failed to work...

The twelve year old Juniper sighed and after she had wiped the grease from her fingers, she picked up her tiny invention and flipped it over in her hands. For a while she just sat there staring at the mechanical components before she shook up from an unusual hissing sound. She used her sense of smell and sound to identify a potential leak in one of the many steam or gas pipelines that ran along the metal walls into the windowless corridor towards the factory. If it was one of the cooling ones…

She quickly jumped up from her chair and ran along one side of the corridor, now also visually checking for pressure losses on several pressure gauges. It could also be one of the filters, perhaps too clugged with dust, or a failing regulating valve, or a worn packing. Whatever it was, she had to find it and if possible fix it. Juniper sighed heavily. So much for extra time to work on her hawk. If she failed she would have to wait till next year to try again. But if something bad would happen to this place…

The girl shook her head and quickly resumed her investigation.

Aha! It’s one of the seals of the pump leading oxygen to the forge. Only that.

Juniper couldn’t believe her luck. This was easy peasy and it would be fixed in no time. As she got to work, her heart started to pound heavily when she thought about her possible successful application. After all. Gaining admission to the High House was -the- highest goal at the moment for her...

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:53 pm

Eventually Juniper managed to repair her clockwork hawk.
She received a letter the day after her presentation that she was admitted to the High House.

And her first day was…


The Mud District, the lowest level in Sambar wasn’t very exciting. The teenagers were listening to their teacher who explained the streets were once paved with limestone many years ago. But the constant soot from the coal and wood furnaces came twirling down from the city’s upper levels, and coated the streets here with a constant layer of dust. However, due the subtropical rainfall the dust had turned into thick layers of mud over the years and was collected in tunnels which had been quickly made for that purpose. Problem now was, the entire draining environment was as saturated as an unclean butthole. And also the main sewer lines were getting clogged, which in turn lead to overflowing, and very slow-flowing drains.

Juniper blushed a bit at the use of language while others around her snickered at their teacher’s words.

The teacher then challenged the gathered young minds to come up with a solution for the problem. The bearded man turned to his students as he motioned at the area. “Any thoughts, ideas… questions…?”

Given a challenge, food for the brain, one single hand popped up from the group and when the fairly short Juniper noticed the teacher couldn’t see her eagerly waving, she decided to move closer between the others.

“What if you start with prevention, dust collectors on the…” Juniper started saying as she lifted her boot up with a sucking squelch from the yucky brown mud-like substance. And it wasn’t a pretty brown like chocolate, but more like poop. When the boy right in front of her looked over his shoulder, she reacted startled when she realized her hand was lingering on his shoulder for support.

A heat rushed into her cheeks as she whispered an apologies.

The boy smirked. “Wouldn’t blush too much if I were you. The crocodiles around here like bright colors.”

“WHA… Aaa… AAA…!!!” No sooner had she had taken a step back than she lost her balance, wavering wildly as the substance sucked at her boots, her arms flailing as she tumbled back forwards again, her hands grabbing nothing but air.


Sprawled belly down in the mud, she gasped and suppressed a curse. Not that she couldn have since her mouth was full with sandy water anyways.

The rest of the freshman class burst into peals of laughter, which were renewed again... and again… aaand again until they could laugh no longer.

“Oh gods, I can’t bear the sight of her any longer, so much for my lunch..” one said.

“They say it can be good for your skin..” another one snickered.

With a look of dismay she accepted her teacher’s hand and was helped up. Her efforts to wipe the stuff from her front were also in vain. And since it only triggered more laughing she just quit and looked embarrassed up at her teacher, as if asking a silent permission to leave.

The man had a thoughtful look on his face when he looked down at Juniper. Then, with a weak smile her teacher nodded, sending her off.

Juniper exhaled a soundless sigh of relief, turned around and much more on her guard started to wade her way out of the mud…

Her idea was to head to the Dockward first and wash up a little. She’d rather traverse the city in wet clothes than that it looked as if she had fallen in some septic tank…

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:58 pm

Their teacher droned on and on, his voice sounding as dull and as tedious as a well-oiled machina. It was hard to stay awake for most as he gave of his wisdom, and it was taking him forever! In the beginning she had been sitting on the edge of her chair, and she almost fell off of as she could barely control her excitement. But as soon as mister Garbywinkle had the floor in his stuffy classroom, he launched a speech that featured endless backpedaling, and where he fiddled constantly with his notes, causing endless awkward pauses in whatever he wanted to say.

Make your point already… duhhh!

And there it was again. The man had lost his thread once more. Juniper glanced around. And with that, almost everyone else was lost as well.

She passed a hand over her eyes and sighed inwardly.

I can’t stand sitting here anymore. If he pushes those glasses one more time back up his nose and starts all over again, I’m going to cry...

Mister Garbywinkle pushed his glasses back up on the bridge of his nose, but Juniper missed the sidelong look he gave her as she had closed her eyes and shook her head lightly.




Seriously shaken that mister Garbywinkle had addressed her so suddenly, and with her heart thudding in her throat, the red haired girl slowly got up from her seat.

Suddenly the roles seemed reversed.

“Oh.. oh… of course…” she started as her hands with a sudden seemingly clumsy technique shuffled and reshuffled the pile of papers on her desk. She cleared her throat, smiled nervously at Garbywinkle and her classmates. Next thing she knew, as if it had been a devil’s curse, at least a dozen of her papers slipped from her hand. She squeaked in surprise as the clipboard tumbled from her desk on the floor when she attemped to stop those papers from falling.

Important and less important papers scattering everywhere…

She dove after them but saw the floor only for a moment. But when her head came back up to apologize for the inconvenience, she hit the wood of her desk fairly hard. And while she was seeing stars, people all around started to laugh… also fairly hard.

She bit her lip…

Just wait till they see…

“Aaahhh… miss Juniper. Wouldn’t it be better if you just show us your project?"

Juniper blushed hard as she rose to her feet. “Why… yes..; yes of course, mister Garbywinkle… at once mister Garbywinkle. If you please like to follow me to the window over there…” She ignored all the smirking around her.

Just wait…

As everyone gathered by the window… Juniper climbed on a low chair and pushed open the shutters.

* * *

The twelve year girl smiled in her sleep… as she watched herself within her world of imagination and fantasy...standing in front of her first fully automated city… Mechanusity...

More clear this sign from Gond couldn’t have been…

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:01 pm

Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Juniper acted as if she didn’t notice it. But she did. They whispered behind her back. They stared. They stopped chatting in the middle of their conversations to stare at her. She saw them do all that out of the corner of her eye. One time, only one time she had spun around to prove herself she wasn’t just imagining things. And indeed, something was up. The boys had smirked and leered, the other girls snickered behind their hands. No, she wasn’t imagining things. It was real.

And all she could return was a confused look, which lead to more grinning, and even soft laughter…

Why…? What am I doing wrong? Or is it something in my hair? Or my clothes? Or… or maybe I smell funny…

Don’t sniff at your armpits! They will laugh at you even more!

She clutched her books closer as she started to cross the mess hall... but overlooked the booted foot. Sketches, documents with her handwriting, some for school, some rather personal were sent sprawling across the floor as she tripped over the foot. Juniper managed to stay up on her feet though.

“Oh my gods, guys! Did you see that?” Melaya, Juniper’s number one enemy and the owner of that foot, commented with a smug smile.

Melaya had a strong accent but her tone was clear, and triggered a burst of sniii-ggering laughter that melted her bones with terror. “She really -is- a genius. She’s already capable of making her books fly!”

“Leave me alone…” but her voice was drowned out by loud, repetitious chuckling.

Maybe it was because she was the youngest of her year. Everyone else around here was at least fourteen years old, Juniper only twelve. Closer to thirteen though…

No, you dork, it’s because you had to tell people about your engineering dream...

Not just people, but fellow students, and in front of a full class. And whereas their teacher had praised her for how she seemed to push the limits of ingenuity and innovation in an surprisingly imaginative, and amazing way, the other students had been conspiciously silent while casting glances at the each other. Why had she been such a foul?

And she had no idea the worst was yet to come.

Better to avoid the mess hall for a while now…

That was a shame actually as the place was all around stuffed with old and unique items created by the hands of a thousand different designers and would-be techsmiths.

Juniper turned around and left the mess hall while she ignored the laughter as good as she could. She moved back to the temple and briefly glanced up at daylight pooring through the enchanted glass before beholding the huge domed hall filled with clockwork gears in an exact replica of the cosmic gears of Mechanus. Luckily she could wander here for hours, and unless for lessons no other students did really come here.

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The teenager strolled down the hall and marvelled...


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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:04 pm

Pixel had joined the High House too. And even though they were not in the same class, Juniper could only feel a big relief... for more than one reason. The first one was plain and simple. She and her sister had always been together for a long as they could remember. Juniper loved her sister very much and she discovered that just the thought of being seperated from her, of being without her in one and the same place for several days… weeks in a row, caused a major anxiety. Pixel knew about it and Juniper more than often wondered if that had been the reason for Pixel to join the High House. Juniper never questioned it though since the machina and her sister were the most important things in her own universe, and she was glad to have them near.

There was another reason why she was relieved. Those bullies in her own class? They left her alone, and that was probably thanks to Pixel and the way how Pixel put the ones who tried to bully Pixel, in their place. On her first day! Juniper still had no idea what exactly had happened, but with words and some song her sis had punished them. For almost a year now things were going well. And going well for Juniper meant that she was left alone. Pixel had made several friends, among them a lot of girls, even some from Juniper’s class and other classes. And where Pixel seemed loved by others, from Juniper’s point of view, Juniper had… no one. Except for her sis. Not that she cared as she simply didn’t think about it. And by not thinking about it, it was not something she did on purpose. She just was -way- too occupied with other stuff, like her studies, small inventions, and what people called tinkering.

She did know however people still didn’t like her, and though Juniper herself had no idea why, no one ever told her it was because of the fact she thought at least three steps ahead. She saw problems coming before others did. She even outsmarted her teachers sometimes, without being aware. When she blurted another comment on something that was going to fail, they did not longer laugh at her. But they sure as hell gave her a look that was so damn hard for her to read.

It was one of those days again where she had gotten engrossed so deeply in her work, that she didn’t hear the boy at first. Though she had no friends, sometimes people actually -did- talk to her, but it was so rare that the idea of someone doing such was almost odd to her, so odd that even if someone said something to her, she’d think they were addressing someone else. Once she realized they were actually talking to her, she had this ‘what?me?’ look all over her face. She was sooo easy to read by others.

Today it wasn't any different, and when it dawned on her someone asked for her attention, the tool in her hand had become something like a bar of soap that constantly slipped from it. It nearly dropped on the sketch for her latest work, but she caught it just in time. It was a system that would add an adjustable sun visor on helmets for knights.

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She blushed heavily when she turned to the boy, he didn’t laugh but only smirked a bit.

“S… sorry… What did you say?”

“I said… Jergo has asked you to come over, Juniper. I think he likes you,” the boy who she recognized as one of the boys of Jergo’s gang said.

“Really?” she replied, the thirteen year old teenager squealing with excitement. She couldn’t believe it. After completely ignoring her, Jergo finally saw her standing. Though she didn’t pay much attention to people, she had been paying attention lately to a few boys. Well, one actually. But she had tried so hard not to show it cause she felt silly.

She smiled and jumped up from her chair. “When??”

The boy shook his head and then shrugged. “Somewhere in the evening? Shall I go tell him that?” He looked at her greasy outfit.

Her eyes followed his gaze and she blushed. “Wh… yes… yes of course. I first need some time to clean up."

She ran home from the High House after she couldn’t find Pixel there, but her sister wasn’t home either to tell her the good news. It was sooo hard to control her excitement. And now she couldn't share it?
As for picking an outfit, she was on her own as well.

But I have no dresses…

No, but Pixel has…

She freshened up and went through Pixel things. Her choice was easily made.

Pixel’s favorit purple dress...

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She headed for Jergo’s home, but the moment she arrived at Jergo’s, it first looked as if no one was home. She knocked at the door, and after some moments of waiting, the door slightly opened... yet there was nobody there to greet her. Some mechanism she thought.

“H… Hello… mister Wanderski? Jergo…?”

But the moment she pushed open that door further and stepped through the doorway, a bucket with oil and feathers fell from the top of the door, right over her head and dress…


It was a complete disaster. And as she stood there, dripping oil like broken machina, all the sounds of the world surrounding her were drowned out by the substance flowing over and in her ears. For a moment she couldn’t hear anything but her irregular rapid heartbeat. Panicking, Juniper rubbed her ears and it’s then when the laughter seeped through. It hurt… but their words hurt even more...

“Seeee... guys!! I always told you she was an ugly, dirty duck!!” Jergo, standing outside with his ‘gang’, shouted while pointing at the feathers sticking from Juniper’s hair.

“Yea… but at least she is smart, or she thinks she is. Hell, maybe you even inspired her to use all that grease and those feathers to fly!” Melaya laughed.

“Hahaha, maybe she jumps off the cliff to see if it works??” Another one shouted.

How could she have been this stupid… her enemy Melaya, Jergo… her class… everyone was there and they were all in this together.

Laughter rained down over her as she started to make her way home. They followed her for a while through the city, humiliating her further as they danced around her. She was only grateful for one thing. That more oil had found its way into her ears…

She recalled arriving home… Pixel grabbing her by her shoulders and shouting things at her. Not because she was mad over the ruined dress though. And when she finally managed to tell her sister what had occured, Pixel had coaxed her into a warm bath before disappearing.

It took her a week before Juniper returned to the High House… and all that time she hadn’t seen or heard Pixel... unknowing that her sister had avenged her...


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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:07 pm

This week was a good week. Her hands flew over the controls to open the valves and release the build-up pressure. She jumped up from her stool and ran over to the place where the steam would find its way out. It looked like she was going to make it, and that the deadline for starting up the new production line would be realistic. The huge machine started to spin slowly with the energy it got from the gas. Juniper put her hand on the clutch that could slow down the machine should things go wrong. Excitedly she waited and watched how the flywheels began to rotate and how the crankshafts bolted to them started to run with slow yet powerful strokes. Steel jerked and chains rattled as the conveyor belt started to move. Fire, smoke, water and steam really could be so powerful together. A vibration went through the floor under her feet, and the scent of the fresh oil she had applied as a lubricant in the pivot points where pins and bushes were located, rose up in the air.

I’m almost done. Sooo close now…

A high-powered air current told her that the flaps on the roof towards the outside world had opened and any excessive steam could be released whenever necessary. The machine fully awake and operational now, seemed to be running just great. Pipes hissed and the first metal plates on the conveyor belt went in the direction of the stamping press, cutting out circular holes as well as outer contours and ‘punching’ the remaining metal into shapes. Facial shapes, which would be used for the automates made on this line. Juniper smiled. These would make them almost look friendly…

For an hour she watched at the faces slowly passing by before she went to her workbench to get ready for class. Well, class. Today they would be heading into a part of the jungle to obtain materials. A sort of a field trip more or less. She was so excited. The improvements she had made on the manufacturing line were a success, the students at school left her alone, and… tonight they would have people over here as it was her fourteenth birthday!

Juniper quickly ran out and headed in the direction of the Stack Ward on the Northeast side of Sambar. It was an area where impressive piles of soot had been built up over the years, one of the main ingredients for smokepowder weapons and similar devices. Some stacks reached an impressive hundred feet above the city! Sadly this place was also an issue, especially when the winds blew the soot into the city. Maybe one day she could come up with a solution for it, but the amounts of the product were so enormous that it was hard to think of anything in order to contain it.

Suddenly she froze in her tracks as she saw people emerging from the Mekanix Shop across the street. She recognized them as a couple she knew from the High House... seniors even. She looked at them in fascination, and not just because they were well equipped and ready to head out to some parts of the island. Behind them... came the biggest walking machina she had ever seen. And it wasn’t just an automate, but a Gondsman. And quite some Gondsman!

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The construct moved as if controlled by thoughts, scanning its surroundings with its head fluidly moving from left to right. Narrow, silver glowing eyes turned in her direction and a shiver raced down her spine when its gaze fixed on her. The hull was made of adamantine, the surface of the darker, shiny metal making it look like it would be ultrahard to beat it. The road below her feet vibrated and if she hadn’t known better, she would have ran for dear life.

The horrible clanging ceased as the great metal feet stopped moving. Juniper stood breathless for a few more seconds before she caught their smirk. And she blushed a bit when she saw it.

“Hey Juniper,” the girl she knew as Amora said. “What you think? Pretty neat huh?” The hooded girl looked over her shoulder at her Gondsman. “I just finished him and we’re heading out to test him.”

“H...h… hi! And… WOW! He is AWESOME!!” the younger girl blurted.

The elder boy next to Amora laughed and smirked again. “See, she’s almost just like you, Amora, only a bit younger.”

“Wh…?” Juniper uttered.

But Amora nudged her boyfriend and winked at her. “I heard about those bullies at the High House, and it seems they are leaving you alone now, right?”

Juniper looked a bit embarrassed.

“Don’t be shy now, Juniper. I know what a beautiful mind you have, and I know it isn’t easy. Say… you want to hang out with us?”

“Wh… you… you mean right now?”

Amora laughed,” Yea, right and with that the rest of the semester. You’re more than welcome to hang out with us.”

“But… but you are seniors…

Jaret took Amora’s hand in his and nodded,” Seniors indeed, and by the end of the semester, when Amora here graduates, we’ll be heading off.” He turned to look at Juniper again. “But Amora is right. You are more than welcome to join us any time you like.”

Juniper just stood there, perplexed, with her mouth agape and her face a picture of indecision and concern. “I… I don’t know… we’d be heading out on a field trip today…”

Amora shook her head and smiled. “That’s fine… some time later then. Let’s go, Jaret. I want to see what this baby can do.”

Jaret smirked. “Alway soooo eager.”

Amora nudged him and waved at Juniper. The mighty Gondsman started to move again and Juniper for a moment watched them leave before she started to run after them.

“Hey guys!... Wait up!!!...”


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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:10 pm

The rest of the day Juniper hung out with Amora and Jaret. They had left the city to test Amora’s gondsman, and Juniper was impressed to say the least. One time they had the construct picking up an amazing amount of wood and debris, and had him carry it over a distance of several miles through the megaflora of the jungle surrounding Sambar. All seemingly without effort.

Later that day, Juniper together with Jaret sat watching from upon a small cliff how Amora’s gondsman with amazing speed lashed out at a hideous black monster snake. In a way it had almost been funny to watch how the king sized snake rose up from the undergrowth before the gondsman’s feet -its scaled body one smooth column of muscle-, and with its dark tongue flitting into the air like as if to say it was dinner time, its fangs ready to pump a fatal amount of venom into its ‘victim’... only then to see how it nearly broke those on the gondsman’s metal hull.

“Truly a Chosen from Gond…” Jaret had murmured next to Juniper as his eyes shifted to his girlfriend standing not far behind her gondsman, commanding the metal man to get rid of the reptile.

Juniper had frowned a bit at that as she had been scared as hell. And she was confused why Jaret didn’t join Amora, just in case things went wrong. Things could always fail, something could always break. Granted, Jaret had always kept the finger on the trigger of his crossbow with a deadly looking projectile ready to fire.


As thoughts and memories of her day hanging out with those seniors coursed through her mind, Juniper made her way back to her home. She pulled her hood over her head as she sensed how small, warm pellets of water started to spit on her face and hands. She gazed up and mumbled something to herself when she noticed dark clouds starting to blacken the sky. Soon the rain would fall around here in chaotic drops, and a tropical gusting wind would blow through the city. And this is only just before the tropical storm, or worse, a typhoon, would hit the island. Around this time of the year they were pretty common. So she better hurried, especially cause she had to cross Beshaba’s bridge that spanned the Sambar river at its busiest point. It was the eight or ninth bridge by now on that location, and no matter what engineers did, the bridge just tended to collapse eventually. That’s why it was named after the Lady of Misfortune.

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She quickly crossed the bridge just in the hope to make it to the other side before the heavens would fully open. And that is when she perceived another dark cloud, given shape by a plume of black smoke rising up in an irregular, ungraceful fashion.


Now it was not very odd or uncommon to see a fire happen in the city with all the workshops and such around, but what people liked to know is where it happened, to see if perhaps any competition had been crippled. Some fanatics even claimed Gond’s call and decision was involved in this, and that progress would have to be obtained in another way for those unlucky to see their life’s work go up in the flames. She rushed to see where the smoke was coming from, but when her search made her end up in the Brass District, deep down in her stomach a feeling of anxiousness started to grow… larger… and larger.

She knew these streets very well… too well… and when she cornered the last building to behold the smoke… that is when it looked as if the world around her was slowly disappearing from her and her anxiety turned into panic.

No… noo… gods oh nooo…!!

And it was as if the black smoke that was rising up from the building she was looking at, swallowed all her hopes and all her dreams. She stood there with her clammy hands over her mouth, hyperventilating and her face ashen grey as she leaned on a nearby wall. It was her home, the factory where the fire was coming from.

The machina… her machina…

Rain started to pour down from the graphite sky, but to her the water droplets no longer felt warm as they mingled with the tears on her face.

Juniper stared at the fire brigade equipped with buckets, hand pumps and flexible leather hoses with brass fittings connected to a handed pumped fire engine trying to deal with the flames. She wanted to help… but this was all her fault… all her doing. Had to be. She should have stuck around to see if the machina was operating well enough. But she didn’t…

She turned around and ran away before anyone would see her, disappearing in the rain that was now coming down hard. Completely feeling lost, the birthday girl wandered through a haze of alleyways...

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Post by Admin on Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:23 am

The typhoon had slammed the south coast of Lantan Proper and swept over its capital Sambar. Winds howled between the buildings, tearing and whipping violently about the place. Papers and other garbage tumbled around as if caught in some maelstrom of insanity, and though this part of the world was used to typhoons, especially at this time of the year it looked as if there would be no more bright sunlight ever again. Metal twisted and trees creaked and fell over, their root-balls out in the open.

Somewhere deep down in an alley in a sewer pipe sat a young girl on her haunches, cowing with her hands over her ears, the beams of the building above creaking ominously. She couldn’t bring herself to abandon her shelter as it was way too dangerous out there, but she couldn’t exactly stay either. Soon the rains would come down even more heavily. And when that happened, these pipes tended to get filled with tons of water that’d rush down from the top of the city, like they were ‘artificial waterfalls’. It’d be like waves crashing on deck of a ship in a storm, and they’d sweep her away. Visibly shaken Juniper peered outside, debating her options. It kinda had been stupid to rush in here…

Dumbest idea ever…

But that’s what I am anyways…right? A dumb dumb goose. How could I have abandoned the machina without making sure it worked properly. I could have stayed to watch it for another hour, or maybe two even…

They have worked so hard for that factory, decades and decades, and I ruined it in less than a day. They’ve always been kind to me, fed me, made sure I had a roof over my head, school... I owe them a debt of gratitude,... and what did I do?

Right… I set their place on fire!

She didn’t understand though how it could have happened since she had checked and double checked everything with mechanical perfection… worked towards that very mechanical perfection. But no one would be stepping up to defend her, no one was going to tell her it was alright and that it probably just had been some exceptional chain of unfortunate failures. No… since nothing could ever justify her absence.

Juniper still tried to shut out the horrible sounds from the outside, where it was as if the entire city would soon come down on her. But it wouldn’t. Sambar itself was a city built on top of a city which was built on top of a city and so on. With proper design and construction that is. The buildings were constructed so that they could resist those negative pressures that’d create a lifting force enough to rip the roofs from them. The entire upper structure of Sambar was anchored through its walls all the way down to its foundation, and hurricane bars were in place at the top of those walls to provide an even higher force resistance. Yea, Lantan’s engineers were among the best in the whole wide world.

So unlike me… I’ll never be one...

Right now she was in the Mud District, and in the lowest of lowest parts of Sambar, the Sewers being one of the most uncheerful spots in the district. It smelled bad here too, the smell like a mixture of week old socks, rancid old cheese, stagnant water and rotting garbage. Then... suddenly, something struck her mind and her heart started to pound faster. Sewers were also among the most dangerous places to be, the gas that could exist there deadly she suddenly recalled! Juniper cast a frightened, doubtful look over her shoulder at the darkness of the sewers. Not that she was that far in, but soon, when they would open up the valves, incoming water could push out the sewer gas right into her face and lungs!
For a moment she pictured those valves she had seen during one of their excursions, and prayed to Gond that they'd fail to work.

Juniper Bottlesocket - Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do (backstory) 2w39n35

A personal hurricane took hold of her mind and body, her breathing become more rapid. Thoughts sped up inside her head, her heart battering against her poor chest. She had to leave and she had to leave right away, or she’d either drown or choke. But where to go?? If she ran out, she’d risk to get grabbed by the wind and tossed into the Sambar river. She was suddenly very afraid, very afraid to die.

She tried to calm down and think rational, but it was hard. She looked back into the pipe and considered another option. This building from where the rusty pipe protuded was an old, abandoned factory. With a bit of luck there might be an old service door she could use to get inside and into safety. It was a risk but it also was her best option. She didn’t think twice and went deeper into the pipe before it was too late as outside the weather wasn’t exactly calming down either.

Mud, filth and stinky knee-high water rushed into her boots as she waded deeper into the sewer exhaust. The darkness struck her blind, and she caught a whiff of sewer gas rushing up from under her feet. Her hands glided along the pipe’s interior yet her caution didn’t prevent her from bumping into something hard and sharp, something that also cut through her leather pants and deep into the flesh of her thigh.


But there was no time to waste, and with one hand on the wound and another on the walls, she trotted further into the blackness, grumbling...

So stupid… so amazingly stupid…

Her fingertips traced the wall, and she stopped when they bumped over a transition between curved and flat metal.

A door!! I have found a door!

With her other bloodied hand too now she started to investigate the surface and within moments detected a handle. But when she pushed it down, the door didn’t gave way.


Yet, not everything was lost as she had at least her backpack with tools along. Sadly nothing to make light in there so it would be a blind operation to find the right tool. And manipulating the lock would have to be achieved by sheer sound and a large portion of luck.

Calm down, Juniper...

Her hands were all shaky as she kneeled. But they did not do so just because of the rush she was experiencing. Her leg was hurting badly, and when some of the dirty sewer water reached the wound, it bit hard and pain rushed up over her spine, a pain that was almost as blinding as this darkness. Tears welled in her eyes...

My worst day ever…

And as if that wasn’t enough the birthday girl picked up metallic echoes of valves higher up in the city being opened. A rumble started to build, and she experienced small tremors in the metal surrounding her.

Ohh cra…..!!

Frantically she worked on the lock, wriggling her tool desperately to get it out and back in. She could hear the gurgle and rush of incoming water, and a breeze stirred her frightened face. Quickly she grabbed another tool, plugged it along in the opening in an attempt to free the first one. Nothing happened! Frustrated she realized it was already loose as her bracer had been clinging behind the door handle! She jerked it free but snagged her elbow on something as sharp as nails.

Gond… please...

She was in so much trouble now if she couldn’t get this door open. Juniper almost started to cry but then cleaned her eyes. She needed to focus, and focus hard.

Only the lock, only the lock… listen to the lock…

Wriggling less violently now, Juniper calmed down, some. She’d never conquer her panic, but she could at least listen to herself. This lock… it was a mechanism and mechanisms was something she was good at. She could faster than anyone else take apart a top notch clockwork and put it back together, and she was considered among the best of her class. For once that shouldn’t feel like a curse, but like a blessing. She could do this, if there was anyone who could pull this off, it be her! Sure, she was hurt, and she was bleeding, but this lock was now her focus, her only focus, her lifesaver and her tools were her guardian angels.

C’mon Juniper!

And there it was! With a sudden ‘click’ the lock turned and just in time Juniper opened the door and stumbled through. She slammed it shut behind her just as a great burst of air, gas and rainwater now finally released, passed through the very pipe she had been in seconds before…

She breathed a sigh of relief at being safe as she looked around.

Relatively safe...

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Post by Admin on Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:27 am

Something was terribly wrong!

The world had changed. Everyone around her seemed as if frozen on the spot, and the water of the Sambar river looked as if it consisted out of millions of tiny blocks, not flowing at all. The clouds above didn’t drift by, and they reminded her of large works of art carved out of solid marble which had been hung up there in the sky with invisible wires. Birds didn’t advance forward, but like sparkling souls seemed captured… frozen in what could have been the start of a beautiful choreographed play. The buildings in front of her featured vague outlines just like the rocks in front of her, but there was no mist at all to turn the view hazy. She observed how no breeze stirred her hair as there simply wasn’t any. Nor did the scent of nearby flowers seemed to reach her nostrils.

She looked at her feet and noticed she was standing on a dirt path, and at the same time she wasn’t, like she was slightly hovering slightly above it, clear invisible air filling up the space. But she didn’t experience a feeling of flying or hovering at all! It was more like as if she wasn’t part of the world. But… but this was her world, was it not?! Right in front of her was Sambar, at least it looked very much like it. She started to walk in the direction of the city, but somehow didn’t seem able to get closer. And when she finally looked down at her feet, she noticed she was still standing on the very same spot she had been standing on before!

What the!!!

Her heart was pounding so hard it was ready to burst. Her fists clenched as she tried to calm down and figure out what was going on. Was it Gond who had placed a new challenge upon her path? Whatever was going on, there had to be an explanation for all this! She turned around to investigate her surroundings once more, and she paled… hard. Behind her there was… nothing. Like the world was dead. No… no…not dead… as there wasn’t even a world at all. There was nothing! Nothing at all!! She didn’t even know if there were words to describe the ‘nothingness’ she was witnessing. There was just, nothing-nothing. Like one big giant shark had taken a bite from the world.

She turned back around and her arms reached out towards the city, only to feel something wet and sticky upon her fingers. She blinked when she turned her hand over and noticed a familiar and colorful substance on her finger pads. Rubbing it between her thumb and forefinger, Juniper frowned heavily.

P.. paint?

It looked like it. But how in Gond’s name could she have paint on her fingers?? She stared back at the city as it suddenly dawned on her.

It’s a painting! I’m in a painting!.... Wh... I’m in a painting???

She looked down at her body and then noticed something funny at the spot on her clothing where she had tried to wipe off the paint from her fingers. The fabric’s color was coming off!! Juniper looked up in alarm, her limbs flexing in shock. This wasn’t real! The entire world surrounding her was paint. Wet paint! And she… she was paint too! Her legs felt like they were ready to give way to gravity… shaky… weak. But even if she wanted to go sit, she couldn’t! She was standing and couldn’t do anything but that. She was in painting! She… was a painting!

And then… she passed out…


Warm… why… why was it so warm…?

Her lips felt so dry, her cheeks like they were burning, and her body felt all clammy at the same time. She tried to move but a sharp pain lanced upwards from her leg to her brains, and though her eyes were still closed, colorful spots seemed to flash in front of her.

In the intense silence surrounding her, a cry broke from her lips. “AWWHHhhh!!!”

The sound of that cry and the way how it echoed off her surroundings in waves had her eyes opening a crack. So hazy. She blinked a few times and gradually blurriness faded, her surroundings becoming slightly more crisp. It appeared she was still in the old abandoned factory, and lying down flat on her back.

I must have fallen asleep…

She turned her body to the side and touched the area on her leg where it hurt. “OUCHHH!!” Her eyes widened and her pulse quickened as a searing, fiercy burst of pain pulsated around what felt like hard, swollen flesh. She looked at the source of that pain and witnessed how not only the area of the skin around the injury was open, jagged and torn, but also it was also characterized by a bright red color and showed those signs typical for a severe infection.

Oh no…

But wait a moment… light… it’s light in here…

The Gond girl slowly rolled over on her belly, jerked her head up and caught the reflection of bright warm light flooding through a gate standing ajar on the metal floor in front of her. She started to crawl in the direction of the light, severely aggravating the pain in her leg as the spot with the infectious wound grazed over the floor. But the clatter of metal wheels rolling over a metal surface caused her blood to freeze in her veins.

Juniper Bottlesocket - Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do (backstory) 3d2314f8c83dd7202e8c485bb1973f9e

She looked up and noticed the light had intensified, flooding the hall and shining like a bright sun on a pristine white sand beach. The eerie silence that followed upon it was unnerving. Could it have been a hallucination? No it wasn’t cause she perceived black shapes with unruffled clothing.

Outlaws! Was the first thought that struck her.

Distant voices became near and urgent, and she barely suppressed a scream of pain as she rolled over back into the shadows to the side under some big pipe. She held her breath with one hand, and her other over her wound. The sting of tears was in her eyes and it was as if her poor soul trembled on her lips...


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Post by Admin on Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:01 pm

Human shaped shadows became lengthier and deepened as the probable owners of the abandoned factory halls advanced in ominously. The sharp lines of the metal floor faded wherever they stopped, the contours of their forms becoming more tangible as an artificial light, probably a gas lamp, was brought to life. Juniper took a great soundless gulp of air as two pairs of dirty boots paused in front of her. In her head she started to count for as long as she did, but her concentration was broken by a distant tremble running through the floor.

As soon as the echoes of locks on the gate being closed faded, silence reclaimed the area. The lamp one of them was holding, guttered like a candle before the force of a good breeze as the boots resumed their way in, a third pair silent yet swiftly catching up on them. It struck Juniper the noise they all made was only a very... very little noise.

Even less than the fall of rain upon leaves in the jungle...

After that all was still for a while, and Juniper started to wonder if they had left again through some backdoor. Slowly she released the air from the top part of her lungs and peered up from underneath the pipes she was hiding. She perceived very faint movements in the distance, a flicker of the lamp visible as somebody or somebodies moved back and forth before its light.

Juniper’s eyes had already adjusted to this new level of darkness, and she could make out very thin lines of light that framed some door on the other far end of these halls. But she had to duck back under the pipes as she overheard someone coming her way. She was only just in time as a fairly large form rose out of the darkness and passed her hide-out by nearly inches. Her heartbeat quickened as she watched what she thought was an orc stroll towards the faint light outlining the door frame.

She overheard the sound of a lock being manipulated, and her heart skipped a beat when that door was opened and the smooth black surface of the factory’s floor was struck by a brightness that seared into her eyes so hard that she feared she would be blind for the rest of her life. Not to mention the fear of being discovered with all that light. When overhearing the sound of seagulls pouring through the doorway, Juniper didn’t think twice. The man had stepped through it so… she would only have one shot, and she would have to ignore a lot of pain for this one.

The Gond girl bolted upright and ran as fast as she could across the metal floor towards freedom. The pain in her leg was beyond comprehension, but the fear of being locked into this nightmare forever surpassed it and would be unendurable. She was scared for death, and was convinced these men would kill her once they discovered her. And thus...Juniper rushed out…

The light of this day was oddly bright, making the seagulls and masts like dark shadows against a sky of the brightest white. The air smelled of salt, fish, wet wood and industry. Tears brimmed her eyelids, threatening to fall and blur her vision. She made it! She was out! She could go back ho…

No… no she couldn’t… the memory of what happened hitting her hard. But not hard enough, cause when she overheard someone behind her shouting a ‘Hey you’... she ran even faster. She ignored the jarring pain that was shooting from her thigh to her hip and back with each footfall. She ran blindly up some stone stairs, perhaps not the smartest of ideas in her current state. Her breath started to come in short spurts now, and she was convinced that orc was chasing her down.

Please please Gond, let me live! I’ll be a good student!

Juniper became aware of people around her, passing some, but although her infected leg was starting to feel like she was running through an inferno, Juniper didn’t want to stop… didn’t want to give up. And then, as she cornered a building, she collided with someone very hard and crashed onto the paved street, confounded.

Juniper Bottlesocket - Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do (backstory) 27wvznc

She could feel people staring at her. Her heart was beating even faster than before, the adrenaline coursing through her veins demanding she kept going… kept running. Tear-blinded she started to crawl over the stones until she heard a familiar voice.

“Juniper?!? Juniper!!!”

It was Pixel’s. No… no, this had to be a dream. They were trying to catch her. And then all of a sudden she sensed a pair of warm arms wrapping around her from behind.

“Juniper! We’ve been looking all over for you! What… what happened to you!”

Too… late… now they got me… if… if I had just only went to class.

The world around her grew hazy, and then slowly faded out…

“Ooohh... Juniper…!”

But those words she didn’t catch anymore.


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Post by Admin on Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:03 pm

The flame in front of her was like a liquid spirit, strong and brilliant blue. A man-sized pump underneath fed it with oxygen, making the fire shine with all its glory. Juniper was standing, mesmerized by its dangerous beauty, almost as if marvelling at the light very capable of burning and destroying everything, a light that everyone respected as well as feared, a light that could turn from comforting and warm into ravenous and all-consuming.

Hypnotized, with motionless eyes, Juniper watched how the flame started to burn with colors which she never could have imagined existing. Like there was some celebration going on. But then suddenly its light exploded into a geyser of blinding fire, turning all those colors into the type of brightness that makes one’s eyes water. As she held up her hands to ward off the light, she noticed how her fingers lit up. Like they were made out of some bright red stained glass...


Flames rolled outwards into one huge ring-shaped wall of intense heat that threatened to burn the flesh from her skull and bones.


One fiery ball of nova hot flames billowed outwards, followed by a high-velocity blast and shock wave that knocked her off her feet. She landed hard on her back and had the breath knocked out of her like as if she just fell from a sky-high swing. The young techsmith lifted up her head only to witness how the fire sparked fiercely, refusing to be contained by the fire fighters. She cried as she watched how weightless fire without effort danced upon the roof, causing the bricks and timbers that resembled the factory fall down into piles of smoking debris, the walls of the only home she and Pixel ever had known... collapsing.

Nooooo noooo !!!! NOOOOO !!! …

“NOOOOO!!!!!” The scream that left her lips was one of pure horror and loaded with guilt.

Her eyes cracked open, only to notice a blurry world tilting, up and down whirling. Quickly she squeezed them shut again, locking out the wild spinning world and escaping back to the soft velvety darkness. Gradually that seemingly spinning feeling of her stomach slowed down too. Familiar sounds faded in and back out into the distance, and then she sensed surprisingly cool fingers touching her forehead.

“Juniper? Juniper…? Hmf, she is radiating heat like hot iron at a blacksmith’s anvil. Is that healer on his way?”

She knew who that was, but it took a little bit time before the gnome’s voice seeped into that deeper part of her brain that held her memories. Slowly she orientated to those while her other senses began operating again with an almost frightening intensity. Pain, which was both physical as well as emotional, kicked in, ripping rather than cutting. Her chest heaved violently as she coughed and more uncried tears found an escape, spilling down her cheeks.

“Papa… papa… I’m so sorry… papa…” she blurted with a raspy voice, her throat terribly sore.

Someone stroked her hair with the palm of his hand.

“Everything is alright, daughter.”

The gnome’s voice was warm, and now that she came to think of it, it was a voice that had never lost its edge, like ever. In fact she felt soothed by it.

“I think she means…”

“Shh.. I know, not now, Pixel. Juniper…? Juniper, can you hear me? You understand me well now, yes?”

“Papa… I’m so sorry for… for… des... destroying everything. I’ll… I’ll pay you back… I’ll… I’ll work for … for free the rest of my life, for… for you…”

“She’s delirious. Or something hit her head in that tornado. Let me take a look at her again.”

“No, Pixel.” His voice was calm, yet with a hint of concern. “We wait till the healer is here.”

That was not to her sister’s likings and she sensed two slender arms carefully slipping around her. It was her sister alright whoms compassion has always been a very important cornerstone of her life. Pixel was the person she trusted the most, and though Juniper realized she had to grow up one day and stand up for herself, she savored the protective instincts the big sister had over the younger sister.

“Juniper…?” It was her sister again. “Listen to me… and listen carefully. You did not burn down anything. Do you hear me? Nothing was broken that could not be repaired, and even if it did…”

“...we all would still love you.” her foster father finished the sentence. “Your invention only produced a lot of smoke, for certain. There has been a small fire at the roof, yes, but that was because lightning had struck it.

Junipers lips moved in a ‘whhaaa…’ but she failed to produce any sound.

Pixel giggled soft. “Ohhh sister! Did you really think you… oh my… oh dear…”

“We would like to know how you injured yourself, yes, since you seem to have some sort of infection. It could help the healer and…”

“Pipe… sewer pipe… drain…”

“So that explains the smell,” Pixel said meaningfully to their foster father.

“Hmf… it also explains the nature of this infection.”

She opened her eyes and saw the gnome who adopted them leaning over her. “Don’t you worry, girl. We’ll fix you up, make you better than ever, yes.”

Juniper Bottlesocket - Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do (backstory) 2rc6e6h

She smiled weakly, but actually she wanted to laugh, and fling her arms around him, holding him and Pixel like they were the most precious things in the world. Actually they were. But she was too sleepy and feeling too weak to get excited like she always was. And Pixel noticed it.

“Just relax now sister, and rest up. Soon we’ll have someone over here to look at you and oh! Guess what! We are at the Bottlesocket residence and you get to stay here for as long as you like! You’ll love the view and…”

Pixel looked down at the fingers of her sister entwining with her own, but when she looked back up at Juniper’s face, she saw her younger sister's consciousness had seemingly swirled back in the land of dreams with only a slight rise and fall of her chest.

Somewhere in the distance though Juniper thought she heard an eagle let out a high-pitched screech before swooping down. For a moment she wondered what it would feel like when dominating the sky like it was your birth right, marvelling at the world from above and soaring close to the stars…

And then, with the ticking sound of a dozen clockwork mechanisms surrounding her, Juniper was pulled back into a deep sleep…

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Post by Admin on Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:05 pm

Juniper screamed as a dozen metal tentacles grabbed her and tightened around her limbs. The horrible machina resembling an octopus had surfaced from some gigantic oil tub. It massed close to a ton and the strength of its tugging told Juniper it could rip her to pieces just like that. She was panicking as her expertise to locate its weak spot had turned out shamefully inadequate. She also lost her favorit weapon, a small adamantine mace which had tumbled in the tub, and she had no manoeuvrability whatsoever left. There was only one solution to win this, but it was down in her pocket and hard to reach with her hand. She tried nonetheless and as she did she tried to reestablish a mental connection with the construct threatening to kill her.

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Gond, please, help me… guide me...

As if by magic she sensed the grip loosen on her, albeit just a little. She sensed it wasn’t enough to completely free herself, but it was enough for her hand to reach inside her pocket and reach for one of those explosive globes she had learned to produce. The machina however seemed to sense the danger, its egg-shaped head turning faster than any clockwork automate she had seen before. Too late though as she dropped her explosive. The BANG that followed shattered what appeared to be a glass floor below the tub, and though she squeezed her eyes shut, bright light fiercely poured through the flimsy flesh as if it were garnet. Glass flew past her like as in an upward, deadly rainfall, yet without sound. She had become instantly deaf with the explosion, and the world around her went mute.

Juniper opened her eyes. She saw people below her, running and seemingly screaming in all directions. She witnessed buildings collapsing to dust, feeding a massive, varicolored fire that belched upwards. As she watched smoke and flames rushing out in all directions, glowing embers leaped and twirled in her direction, up in the sky, twinkling like newborn stars in the hot air. Tears jumped into her eyes as she watched the chaos her one bomb had seemingly caused, people struggling and tumbling over oneanother to get away.

But all that time she heard not a thing in her now silent world. As glass and debris flew around with a chain reaction of explosions, and as everything kept collapsing that had been build over the past centuries... she instead heard her own voice within her head, like she was reciting and rattling off some lesson.

Creation leads to destruction and destruction to creation. Before creation there has to be destruction. And when you create something new, something gets destroyed, being it what was before, or being it something you need to produce that is in your imagination. If you don’t destroy, you will be unable to create. If things don’t get destroyed, you will be unable to evolve. In a way you could see it as creative destruction, as destruction does not always has to be regarded as something tragical. And if tragedy happens, learn to see the possibilities that were born with the incident, imagine the new realities that have come to life, and dare to accept you have been limited by the actuality that has been before. Break through the circle that otherwise would lead to indifference, to dispassion, to stoicism and to inattention. Try and consider destruction as movement, as a form of progress… to bring forth from people’s creative depths new mindblowing ideas, new visions, technological processes, nifty materials and even new forms of art...

In her mind Juniper smiled, if only a little. It had been one of her teacher’s replies to her reluctance and doubts about bomb-making and to her earlier questioning of the inventions of warfare equipment.

The scene of environmental destruction below her turned blurry and pixelated, the colors and images starting to melt into something new. She frowned as she looked closer, as if trying to figure out. When everything turned sharper again, she narrowed her eyes in pretty much the same way like when she was studying a device. In her mind she then always imagined what was below its surface. And right now it was as if she was looking through something… but through what…?

Juniper Bottlesocket - Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do (backstory) V8dd2f

The Gond girl was breathing softly and as she opened her eyes entirely, she noticed what the device was. She found herself laying in bed... and found herself staring at some ingenious clockwork project she made together with ‘poppa’ a few years ago. He must have gotten it from the bench in the workshop under which she and Pixel usually slept, and put it next to her, near the bed in the family’s home.

Tears burst from her eyes…

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Post by Admin on Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:07 pm

“So what do you think, sis?”

Juniper looked up at Pixel sitting on the chair next to her bed. She was definitely feeling better by the day, but when the experiences on her latest adventure came up, and Pixel’s proposal… Juniper cringed like as if a spider cruelly had dropped itself on her bed, ready to skitter up the length of her bare leg to feast on the flesh. Juniper wrapped her arms around her knees, all of her curling into herself. “I don’t know yet…”

Pixel studied her sister sitting on the bed, came over and took a seat next to her, putting her arm around her sibling. The girls only had each other, and of course the gnome family taking care of them. Pixel noticed something changing… evolving even in that relationship ever since the accident and Juniper’s disappearance though. Pixel, being the older sister and the one who watched over her baby-sis, had been paying more attention than Juniper to the entire adoption-family relationship than she ever did. Ever since they got adopted, she always has had the feeling the Bottlesockets saw them more as workers, employees of some sort. She had resigned herself to their fate as their situation with the Bottlesockets was far better than their previous situation in the orphanage. When they became ‘part’ of the Bottlesocket family they both received a chance for an education, a chance to develop their talents, and they’ve been offered the experiences to become someone. But that’s the extend of it.

The past days though Pixel learned she had been wrong. Partially at least. All what the Bottlesockets have been offering…also happened to be their way of showing affection. Their jobs at the workshop with the tiniest and most valuable of clockworks... the key to the factory and the responsibilities and trust that came with it... the freedom to overthink and improve some of the machina, the guidance on more of the complexer processes… it all made part of the Bottlesocket’s terrible need to give. They wanted to -give-. Even if they didn’t know how to -give- these two young human girls what they also needed. The only experience they ever had with affection was the love for their machina which was also their religion, literally, and how succesful their company could be as they worked together, whether those were economic or ground-breaking.

It’s only when they all fully realized that Juniper came close to dying out there, that other things… more human and emotional feelings surfaced. Have they been dreaming of perfection before, they were now showing more signs of an interest in Juniper’s emotional condition. Have they been striving for progress, it now practically paralyzed Pixel as she witnessed how the Bottlesockets were working from their heart… just like they always have been, albeit in a different way than right now. Suddenly, both sisters were a guest in a house they’ve only seen once or twice in their entire lives. And ‘poppa’ was spotted around more often, peeking in on them to see how they were doing. Suddenly, the workshop and factory was of less concern to him, and he had left his oldest son in charge for the time being.

“Juniper, I just think it could have been your imagination. And to show you that there is no reason to return to the city, we could investigate…”

Juniper tightened her arms around her legs. It was obvious that the entire conversation about returning to the city and that factory was really scaring and upsetting her.

Pixel sighed and tugged gently at her sister’s shoulder, whispering in her ear. “I promise you it will be alright, and I will always be there to protect you.”

Juniper felt really good with her older sister this nearby. She felt safe and warm, and Pixel has always shown her how much she loved her and how much she would do for her. Something in the past days had changed though in her perspective of the world that surrounded her. She almost felt… very important. Not just for her sister, but also for her adoptive family and it was all just sooo overwhelming. So overwhelming that she didn’t express any gratitude yet as she had no idea if it was appropriate or how to put it. She never really learned…

Maybe... she just had to tell them how nicely soft the bed was? Or how good momma’s tea with honey tasted? Or, how honored she felt to stay at the family’s private residence? Or… how nice it was for them to walk in, asking how she was feeling? It were things she wasn’t used to. She could tell Pixel was worried about her too now, and though her foster family hadn’t pressed the matter yet, she knew she one day would have to return to the city, and to her work, her studies at the Highhouse… the streets. Strangely enough it was Pixel, the one who was closest to her who gently started to push the matter. Did the Bottlesockets asked her perhaps? So they get rid off those two human girls in their private place…?

Juniper!!! Don’t think such things!! They love you!!

She flushed hard at her own thoughts, an expression which given the circumstances was strange to Pixel. She of course interpretated it wrongly.

“Hey, you don’t have to get upset. We can give it a bit more time of course…” her sister said softly.

See… no one is pushing you out of the house…


Juniper sighed. “What do you propose then? Go back to that empty factory and see how stupid I have been? That I have been seeing things that weren’t there as I was delirious?” She tried not to sound hurt, but rather put it up as a real question.

There was always a possibility I did imagine things… Only one way to find out.

“We won’t be going alone, will we?”

Pixel grinned as she pushed her forehead against Juniper’s. “Nope… we’ll be having quite the company.”

Juniper groaned. But together with her sister, she cleaned up the room and made up the bed. When they were ready Juniper did one final inspection before getting ready to leave the house.

For the first time in almost two weeks...

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Post by Admin on Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:08 pm

Feather Ward was probably -the- mercantile and inventive heart of Sambar. Adventurers from outside Lantan often called the entire Ward the ‘main street’ of the city. Anything that has been made or invented somewhere in the world, was high likely to be found here too. Feather Ward was located in the Board District, about 20 feet above the Mud District.

The roads here were wide, reaching up to 30 feet in certain areas, their supports ending up above the Mud District’s roads. Bridges built with skill, featuring arches that had been constructed with mathematical precision were a marvel of forged steel and cables. They spanned the broad lanes below, with along the edges frameless balustrades of steel-reinforced glass.

Shouts and sales pitch marked their passage, drizzling rain or not. Water dripped from the architectural elements all around, finding passage and a way out through a nifty sewer system that had been tailor-made for Sambar. A gust of wind sent a mix of aromas to their nostrils,... metalwork, forges, salt as well as the scent of freshly made pastries sold by a cunning baker who had set up his business along the road. The tick-tocking of numerous clockwork shops, and the ceaseless clanking and clattering from blacksmiths producing fine quality metalwork echoed between the buildings.

Lantan’s industry, both as raspacious as it was innovative, never seemed to sleep. A work and life balance barely seemed to exist as under Gond’s influence out here work was life and life was work. That constant thrive to improve the quality of products, that constant pressure of other businesses to perform at a higher level than their competition’s, that unquenchable thirst to boost performance, and that constant fear of trade secrets maybe getting stolen… it made life in Sambar’s business layers as it was.

With the blurred speed of hummingbird wings, mechanical units chopped fruit in a ceaseless percussion. Wood and metallurgical smoke bellied up from the countless chimneys, forges and brick ovens. Both humans and gnomes, some with gondsmen holding umbrellas over their heads, jostled and thronged around racks with discounted items, or around vendors with the latest of handy inventions, while others shivered openly in the wet as they made their way along the streets.

Whips cracked over horses’ ears as metal carts rattled noisely when they went over the wet, gleaming cobblestone streets. The warm, drizzling rain pattered gently on Juniper’s umbrella as the sisters sought a way through the crowd, and gradually as they cornered another series of buildings, the drumming sounds -first harsh and insisted- faded to a rumble. The rain ceased as well, and beneath their feet the excess water licked at glazed mosaic tiles. This section of Sambar’s main area was much more quiet, locksmiths, alchemists and art shops seemingly less popular on days like this.

Above them the sky had started brightening, casting the buildings into a pale white greenish glow, and soon the sun would be strong enough to immerse the city in subtropical temperatures once more.

Juniper Bottlesocket - Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do (backstory) 20fqn38

“You will see sis, there will be nothing to worry.” Pixel said as she patted Juniper’s hand. “And our brothers will be waiting there for us too. The moment there’s any trouble…”

A giant, brass clock chiming noon had Juniper startled, but Pixel didn’t laugh with her. Instead she hooked her arm in Juniper’s and together they descended towards the lower, more brownish-grey parts of Sambar. Strangely enough temperature was rising even as they did, but that could also be Juniper’s increasing nervosity.

Bodago, Bunk, and even Spring, all of the Bottlesocket brothers were there indeed, waiting for the sisters to join them at the old factory halls. Pixel rolled her eyes as Bunk was brandishing heavy brass fists, which in reality were metal parts he had put over his hands to look more tough.

And Juniper?

She shifted and only hoped he wouldn’t have make them work...


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Post by Admin on Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:27 am

First, they listened at the giant gate before slowly rolling it open. The young Juniper cringed as a loud scraping noise from the metal wheels echoed throughout the abandoned factory space behind. After the sound had faded, quiet descended and the group entered, a scent that had a hint of moisture and a large portion of dust and dirt met their sense of smell. With the huge space now opened up in front of them, and daylight pooring through weathered corrugated roofing sheets and broken plate-glass on top of the aged rusty steel arched roof, they had a clear view on the infrastructure that was left. At least in this section of the factory.

The place where Juniper had entered last time was three halls further, and as far as she recalled, had been shrouded in almost complete darkness. Given the to be expected state of these buildings’ roofs, that is what had Bunk and Pixel curious. From what Juniper told them after her little ‘adventure’ here, it almost sounded as if someone had taken up the effort of repairing the roof over there in the other section. There wasn’t a lot of crime in Sambar, but if there was any, it usually could be found in these lower levels of the city. Bodago wanted to bring over guards, but Pixel insisted they first would gather some evidence before making the Bottlesockets look like a bunch of fools. Juniper hoped it was the right decision since the Mud District had the fewest guards of all the other Districts.

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And so they came down here, to see what was happening. It was in fact because of two people who clearly were dreaming of some heroic adventure one day. Pixel, and Bunk. So, the three gnomes and the two sisters entered the building. In front of them were gigantic watertanks seemingly embedded in metal platforms that formed an upper storey, each tank probably still filled with rusty water that leaked from various cracks and holes, some with the size of a toothpick, others like a fist with jagged edges like bad teeth. On their left, dusty carts were lined up, the metal rails of the wagonways below their wheels mostly covered with debris and soil. Long ago these carts were used by workers to supply the coal for the huge ovens, all the way from the mine down below, the shafts now completely submerged. Bunk knew the place once caved in and they had tried to pump the water back to the river but to no avail. This plant used to be one of the biggest suppliers of steam for the more upcity levels.

They stood there a moment quietly, and there were barely any sounds but the soft buzzing sound made by the beating of mosquitoes wings coming from the water tanks. Of course, Juniper thought. Such places acted now as pools in order to reproduce. And that also explained why there were so many of these annoying bugs throughout all the levels of Sambar! Pleasantly warm afternoons were more than often disturbed by entire clouds of these biting insects. One chemical flask in each of these mosquito generating reservoirs and a large part of the problem may be fixed! Juniper looked around. The only question was, whose property was this?

The young Techsmith shivered a bit as steel and concrete rose up around them the further they moved in, snapped steel reinforcement cables protruding like a cat’s whiskers from the bare chipped concrete. Maybe it just had been scavengers, breaking into these buildings to scavenge scrap materials for the southern island. Yet that did not explain why they were going through so much effort to conceal their activities.


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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:31 am

Once they had passed the boiler room, they sneaked through a maze of corridors formed by steel-clad wood-framed walls all connected with rusty bolts. Eventually it lead them right into the heart of the former steam complex through a series of tunnels and pipes. This once active industrial installation was really huge, and Juniper wondered if the accident with the mines was the only reason why the owner had abandoned his facility like this. She realized however that the cost to tear something of this magnitude down, might be as much as erect a new one elsewhere. And thus this factory had probably been awaiting its destiny for decades now, until some corporation, or someone with at least a lot of money would see its potential and breathe new life into it.

And yet, it was crazy. They found nobody in here. No guards, no security. And no scavengers. That last thought had her heart beating faster and her lungs burning for air. But still she didn’t make too much sound nor dared to even whisper. The only sound was that of the wind softly blowing through the openings in walls and roof. They had been here, she has seen them with her own eyes. Bodago suggested it might have been because of the fever, but Juniper had remained unyielding. Something was going on in this place. Most rooms however they came across thus far were packed with huge machina, and with mangled tools scattered everywhere, and it all was looking decrepit and abandoned. Not a trace or a sign of human (or gnomish!) activities. And still, it felt like they were trespassing. Maybe a reason to feel badass?

Drops of moist fell on her cheek, and the air felt very stale and turned very warm as they approached the eastern section of the deserted site. It was also getting darker in this place, and they all had to watch out to not trip over any railway tracks. Well-maintained railways this time, Juniper noted, but she didn’t dare to say anything to the others. Not now. She perked up her ears as they cornered several huge piles of metal objects, probably once donations for the melting halls where they used excessive heat to recycle these. In this twilight, this place made Juniper think of one of those freak houses built for entertainment, the metal pieces and other garbage sticking out from the black massive piles, reminding her of bizarre, inhuman shapes she had seen in such a ‘funhouses’. And the more she started to think about her visit at such ‘place of tears and fright and fears’, the more she was starting to feel sick. What if…

But her stream of thoughts was suddenly interrupted when a completely new and relatively clean area came into sight after they had descended a metal staircase.

“What the hell is this place…” Spring started whispering.

Shhhh!” Pixel hushed the smallest gnome. “Someone is there!”

From behind a pile of crates the group looked out over some sort of sublevel street, with buildings on the other side that reminded Juniper of one of those storage places where things were locked behind bars, waiting for their owners to retrieve them. Small, warm lights flickered on and off in indiscriminate rhythms along the walls. Juniper noticed the smell of toxic waste even before she saw the guard across the street...

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