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Rabbit Skin Book

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Clockwork was an old being, as old as time itself. He had seen things shift and change, begin and end, time and time again. But he never saw it the same way others, even the other ancients, did. They saw things as they happened and passed by, but he could see the whole line, he saw how things began and how they ended. As soon as he chose to glace at something, he saw the whole story from cover to cover. It was not a linear process to him, even if he did exist within the linear, he also existed out of it.

            Clockwork often wondered about his own beginning and end, his point of origin. To himself, he had always existed as long as there were timelines to ponder and paradoxes to untangle. He remembered his time before the Observants before he was bound to their will, before they pieced him together and his existence clicked into place. But he knew there was a time before became Clockwork, long before he was stitched together to serve. When he was scattered and separated. He often wondered about then, before his sight allowed him to see, a time when he had yet to exist as he did now. Clockwork often wondered about his own beginning, and if would hint towards his end, when he could no longer see. All ghosts had to come from someplace, either a stay thought, a belief, the creation of another ghost, or even the last imprint of lost life. So where did he come from?

            Clockwork was going through his library one day, small pieces of time and history he had collected through his time, when he found something he didn’t quite remember putting there. It was a journal, written in a language that hadn’t been spoken by the living in millennia, and was only spoken by the dead in the rarest circumstances, by only the most ancient of spirits. It was preserved, paused in time to keep it from crumbling to dust. The cover of the journal was rabbit skin, and the pages yellowed papyrus. There was blood on the last pages, hinting at what happened to its author.

            Clockwork turned its pages gently as he read through it. It described the journey of a man who went too far, who questioned the way things were when cities of stone still stood and the hanging gardens still hung. He had been a boy of satisfactory birth in a land of plenty, so he wondered about the placement of the stars and the moon, and how the city came to be, and where all things began, and where all things would end. He sought answers only the gods supposedly held and then went to find them to get his answers. So, the boy wandered until his feet blistered, until he saw and learned things no mortal had grasped before. He called upon beings that never had names, and saw them, and asked them why.

            It was such a strange thing too, this journal, since Clockwork could almost vividly imagine each passing page despite its less than acute detail, he could fill in the spaces between pages. He was seeing something that had existed before he did. Or maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he had existed back then, when the world was young and the mind a new experience.

            It was in the last pages of the journal, that Clockwork understood. This boy, now a man, had gone far beyond the point where he should wander, and his mind had shattered, and he had been scattered. But he had lived on in a way, in a tormented existence, still questioning, but no longer as he was, and only existing in fragments of a shattered thought, until he had been pieced back together, along with another, who had no name and no face, no voice to give answers, but it had understood. The man and the being, questions and answers, had somehow found themselves put together into a single existence. And together, they had been given a name and a purpose, held together by those things, questions and answers, but the curiosity remained, and so did the ceaseless knowledge. 

            Of course, the journal didn’t continue past the man’s death, but Clockwork knew, nonetheless. Images still passed through his mind as he carefully put the book down. Images of times and places, experiences so different from his current existence, before he could see everything long before it happened. Before he had been swept together and reformed into a new being, amalgamating two souls together, one with questions the other with answers.

            Clockwork left the library and went back to his worktable. He had his answers now.