They finally arrived at Quantum’s tower in the early afternoon. Upon close observation it was constructed as most towers are, using stone and mortar and having a typical design. But when one started to look away from it, it seemed as if the tower became sort of hazy, fading in and out, almost like a mirage.
They came to the door and Carric knocked loudly on it with his staff. After a moment the door swung open and they were greeted by what appeared to be a golem constructed largely of metal plates. In the small gaps between plates there appeared to be an intricate arrangement of gears and rods of various sizes, all silently spinning at various rates, sometimes reversing their direction as the creature moved, but never stopping.
The golem regarded Carric for a moment and smiled. “Ah, master Carric. Good of you to come, didn’t expect you so early, but as usual your timing is impeccable. Get it, timing? My name is Rosie. Welcome to Quantum’s Tower.” Carric froze momentarily then laughed nervously at the golem’s joke. “Ah… yes… my timing.” Carric glanced at the others, with an expression that clearly showed his confusion. “You’ve been expecting me?”
The golem stepped back and gestured for them to enter, which they did. “No, not expecting you sir, not since the last time you will be here.”
“The last time? What will I be doing the last time I… was… will be… here?” Carric realized there was little hope of acting as if he knew what the creature was talking about. “Please forgive me. I’m a bit confused since I don’t recall ever being here before…”
The golem patted Carric gently on the shoulder. “Oh, you haven’t yet. But you will. You and the Master will consult on his work and he will even offer you training, for a while at least.” Carric raised an eyebrow. “His work? What kind of work is that?”
“Why, the Master is a Chronomancer, of course.” The golem looked somewhat surprised that Carric didn’t know this. Carric looked at his companions, realizing that an important clue had just come to light. “I… see. Speaking of your master, is he in? We have urgent business with him.” Carric took a step back, on guard at this point.
“He is… here… though he may not… well, I’ll just show you. I shall return in a moment. Please make yourselves comfortable.” The golem turned and left the room. After a moment, it returned carrying a chubby baby with brilliant red hair. "I give you Master Quantum Cole. "
Carric looked at the infant then the golem. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding. We’re here for the elder Quantum Cole.” The golem nodded. “This is he. Though as you can see, ‘elder’ is no longer appropriate. He has been this way for a couple weeks now – I supposed that one of his experiments did not go as planned.” Then, with what appeared to be an expression of great pride, the golem continued. “I’ve been talking care of him since. Feeding and changing him… he will soon be able to walk. Would you like to see?” The golem started to place the child on the floor, but Carric stopped him. “No… no that won’t be necessary. I am sure he’ll be walking in no time. I am sure you are doing an excellent job of caring for him. Doesn’t your master have anyone else to look after him? Reese perhaps?”
“Who?” the golem responded inquisitively. Carric cocked his head to the side, a suspicion forming in his mind. “Red hair. Looks like your master but younger. You don’t know of him? He took part in the owlbear race that your master was involved in.”
“I’m sorry sir; I don’t know who you’re referring to.”
“So, you have no idea how this happened?” Carric frowned up at the golem.
“None, really. Perhaps you should read my master’s journal. It might provide clues.” The golem pointed to a large volume on a nearby desk. “In fact, you should take it with you. I think the master would want you to have it, at least for now. There’s something else too…” The golem stepped out of the room for a moment and returned with a large gold medallion that looked vaguely like a clock. “He would want you to have this as well. Perhaps between the journal, the amulet, and the gate, you might be able to find a way to restore my master to a more… independent state.”
Carric looked at the creature, puzzled. “Gate?”
The golem’s eyes widened. “Oh how forgetful of me. My memory simply isn’t what it will some day be. Follow me.” They followed the creature to another nearby room where stood a large metal circular object partially embedded in the floor. The ring was tall and wide enough that three of them could walk through easily. Though it appeared inert, it exuded an aura of power. “This the master’s gate through which he practices the art of chronomancy.”
“I see. Well, that answers that. Thank you for speaking to us today. We’ll be on our way now.” Carric nodded towards the large book in his hands. “I’ll read your master’s journal and return it as soon as I’m able.”
Taking their leave, Carric waited till they had put some distance between themselves and the tower. “I don’t think Quantum and Reese are father and son. I believe they’re the same person.”