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The Conductor

Scroll stored in Monument 127, floor 54.
  The Conductor started his life in a care facility near the Argent Empire's capital as Achull-Orderly, born 245 SA. He was a scion to a minor noble family, the Achulls, who managed a mediocre automaton factory just outside the city of Cresaria. During his childhood, he found rhythms everywhere, from the falling rain to the rusty joints of the old automaton servants. As he grew, the rhythms became more and more pronounced, almost limiting his ability to hear anything else.
  He married Asa-Inspired in 267 SA, and took over his parent's factory after their tragic death by a fire in 288 SA. The first time he entered the factory proper, with the sounds of automatons hammering, welding, and creaking as they worked, a revolutionary idea dawned on him. With the help of Asa-Inspired, he transformed the factory into something wondrous. Something beyond belief.
A few months later, Inspector Darch from the Silverwit Lord's court came to investigate the lack of automatons being produced. The factory had failed a several contracts, and some major nobles were beginning to worry. Efficiency being valued as highly as it was during that time period, the Conductor was liable to jailed for disrespect of the Silverwit Lord's order and laws.
  However, all thoughts of jail time fell from the inspector's mind as soon as they heard the factory at work. The entire building, from highest rafter to deepest floor panel, was one glorious ever-changing song. Hammering on different surfaces provided an underlying melody, with welding to accent some beats and pistons to provide longer notes. Deaf to everything except the music, Achull-Orderly stood in the very center of the factory, organizing the automatons with a series of levers and wheels. The entire composition was audible for almost a mile away in each direction. Upper-class townsfolk had flocked to the factory from Cresaria and other nearby cities to experience the novelty of a concert made by the very machines they had come to view as utterly without spirit.
When the Inspector reported this sight back to the court, however, the nobles were not nearly as impressed. Music or no music, Achull-Orderly had still reneged on several contracts that damaged many families' treasuries and reputations beyond easy repair. The entire court, including even the Silverwit Lord, set out on an expedition to the offending factory with the intent of closing it down.
  Immediately before the expedition's arrival, the factory had finally started to produce its first automatons since the renovation. Some physical changes were obvious. Spikes of different lengths were constructed all along the exterior of the automatons, driven by the necessity of producing new and different notes to play in their construction. A great quantity of additional metal was added to the mass of each machine, with the intent of providing a steady beat as the automatons marched along the assembly line. In addition, the machines moved with a grace and coordination unseen in other automatons of the time, perfectly connected to the factory in which they were made...and the factory's music.
  The people, at first, were shocked. How could these seemingly brutal machines of war come from this factory of music? Then the nobles arrived, and their thoughts turned towards not drawing the attention of the court.
First to arrive were those who had grievances with Achull-Orderly. Four different families, two minor and two major, had come in force to the factory. Both the minor families and one of the major decided against openly challenging Achull-Orderly, as the impressive new automatons seemed both intimidating and an amazing recompense for a broken contract. The fourth family, however, had lost almost half of their fortune with a failed contract and would not accept anything but the destruction of the factory in revenge. Their automatons began preparing to attack.
  And so, the First Battle of the Factory began.
  The forces of the fourth family (the Dars) sent a small detachment of about ten standard-issue battle automatons to deal with the new Factory-produced machines while the remaining 30 or so Dar servant automatons readied incendiary devices to lob at the Factory. With brutal blades replacing both lower arms, these soldiers were the top-quality military forces available to the citizenry at the time. Anticipating a direct charge from the heavier automatons, they formed a staggered formation of alternating lines, forming a bristling fence of blades.
  A direct charge did indeed appear to be what the Factory automatons were planning. They formed into a rough V shape and ran at the soldiers. Yet before they hit the line of blades, the four machines making up the sides split off from the charge, now composed of only one automaton, and ran around the sides of the soldiers' formation and directly at the servants.
  After that, a lot happened in a few seconds.
  To begin, the first Factory automaton crashed into the line of soldiers, knocking over a few and denting the metal exoskeletons of others. The automaton itself was almost completely shredded from the line of blades.
  Next, the remaining warriors of the Factory started tearing the servants apart. Metal and sparks flew everywhere as the personal serving automatons of the Dar family, some almost one hundred years old, fell into scraps of grease and gears. Incendiaries burst in clouds of flame, demolishing nearly everything nearby.
  After that, the remaining nobility, including the Silverwit Lord, finally arrived in a procession so grand that some citizens stopped even watching the fighting.
  Finally, one of the incendiaries thrown by a now-destroyed servant caught onto the Factory walls and exploded, damaging the structural support of the Factory slightly yet not causing any major damage.
The fighting quickly stopped once the Dar family realized both that their servants were destroyed and that the silver-armored monarch of the Empire had arrived. Only one of the Factory automatons remained, among the ruins of the servants. The four others had been destroyed, either by the soldiers or the incendiaries, yet this one had survived. It stood eerily still, pocked with scorch marks and metal shards. All the noise from the battle died away, leaving only an ominous silence.
  The Silverwit Lord strode out from the center of the procession. After a brief pause to highlight the tension of the moment, they launched into a short speech about the factory, praising it for both its productivity and its artistry. They even made a personal contract with the Factory for one hundred new-style automatons, to serve in the military. Achull-Orderly was Remasked and given the name "The Conductor" for this contribution to the Argent Empire. Never again would the feuds of the nobility trouble the Factory...or so it seemed at the time.
The later years of the Conductor's life passed in prosperity and contentment. His automatons were in demand around the Empire. New factories following his example were rapidly created, yet none of them possessed the same spirit, and none of them could make the same automatons. The Conductor even joined the higher ranks of noble society, yet never left the Factory for long. Asa-Inspired worked to gain more influence for him at the palaces of the nobility while he oversaw the production of the automatons.
  Yet these kind of scenarios never seem to last long, in books or in life, and so tragedy befell the Conductor. One day during 303 SA, when Asa-Inspired was visiting the Factory, the very supports left damaged by the Dars' attack on the Factory collapsed, crushing Asa under a pile of metal. After that, the Conductor was also crushed, this time more emotionally.
  To the Empire's knowledge, the Conductor never again left the factory, having basic supplies delivered to its door. The songs of the Factory grew desperate and bitter. Without Asa-Inspired's influence with the nobility, the Conductor's automatons grew out of style and were mostly purchased only by the Conductor's friends.
  And then came the wars.
After the disappearance of the Silverwit Lord and several years of inept ruling by the Regency Council, the Eternity Crafters rebelled. One of their main objectives to be retaken was the Conductor's factory, due to its ability to produce powerful and dangerous automatons.
  Seven hundred Eternals, along with three Timesmiths, were sent to kill the Conductor. Traveling for five days, they arrived at the Factory on the dawn of the sixty-fourth day of 3 TA. One hundred and sixteen automatons, more then a full legion, were mustered to the defense of the Factory.
  And so began the second, and final, Battle of the Factory. What took place at the battle itself is not widely known, so no binding historical commentary will be offered on this. Yet this still needs to be represented, so this next section will be an excerpt from (1-5-68) of The Saga of the Tarnishing by Cande-Devoted.
The Eternals climbed on up, The bitter walls of steel / The warriors grim and battle-starved, To kill and tear with zeal /
  The people of the Factory, With iron for their hearts / Thwarted the invaders' hopes, And forced them to depart /
  The beat, oh the beat, held strong.
  The Timesmiths greatly devious, Composed a clever plan / To topple the great Factory, The pride of all the land /
  They would dig some tunnels deep, And underneath the wall / Would their Eternal army go, To the Conductor's fall /
  The beat, oh the beat, held strong.
  The excavation mined the ground, Into kind Asa's grave / And so wroth was the Conductor, He ordered the first wave /
  One hundred soldiers primed for war, The finest legion 'twas / They charged against the enemy, And slew some as they does /
  The beat, oh the beat, held strong.
  Yet the Eternals proved too vast, their numbers far too great / All one hundred fell that day, Conductor's pride he ate /
  For only ten and six were left, To forestall the bleak fate / Awaiting the Conductor then, With subtlety of slate /
  The beat, oh the beat, held strong.
  The Factory was doomed to collapse, This the Conductor knew / For then and there he resolved grim, To put on a show new /
  The music of the Factory, was wond'rous when it played / The notes of hammers echoing, Off pistons, gears, and blades /
  The beat, oh the beat, held strong.
  This new song sounded marvelous, Spectacular, sublime / 'Twas unique in its playing since, The very start of time /
  The very armies fighting it, Had laid down their own arms / For but a chance to listen in, And hear it, free of harms /
  The beat, oh the beat, held strong.
  Then the Conductor outsmarted, The very Timesmiths wise / With him his sixteen soldiers charged, Eliciting surprise /
  A heavy death toll marked that day, Of those that could not die / Eternals left and right they fell, To the Conductor sly /
  The beat, oh the beat held strong.
  Yet thirty score Eternals stood, Opposing this dead tide / Against the merely seventeen, Was much the greater side /
  And soon the fatal sword struck home, In the Conductor's chest / For so ends now this story here, Although he fought his best /
  The beat, oh the beat, is gone...
The Conductor, picture painted at the Silverwit Lord's court during 294 SA   Date of Birth: 245 SA   Date of Death: 307 SA   Spouse: Asa the Inspired (244-303)   Occupation: Factory Manager
Get it? The Conductor? Like in the sense that he's both conducting music and that automatons need to conduct electricity in order- You know what? Never mind. This pun doesn't deserve its own section.         One of the sad aspects of this story is that in modern retellings like this one, Asa the Inspired gets almost no credit. She's just assigned to unimportant side character status, with perhaps a "she helped" here and there. In reality, I suspect she contributed almost as much as the Conductor.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Be warned... Cande-Devoted is known for some remarkably dubious rhymes.

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Character Portrait image: by shadewarden


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18 Jan, 2022 10:23

Wow what an awesome article! This wasn't what I expected to see from the challenge, but the musical factory sounds fascinating, and the thought of the automatons having to fight for their existance right after creation made me sad! :D

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19 Jan, 2022 02:01

Really lovely article, I must admit I only skimmed it, but I will give it a more thorough read when my mind is up for it:) I like the take on the Bard Challenge, very unique and still believable. Also, what a great poem, it really sets the scene.

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22 Jan, 2022 00:13

Very original and cool article! The factory itself making a form of music is a very interesting concept. Also the story related to it was a fun read.

Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
Sage TailorOfFates
Katarina D.M. Ewert
25 Jan, 2022 06:42

I Love this concept, a musical factory would never have crossed my mind! I like how you sort of gave your machines some "soul" through sound. Does the music played by the factory have any effects on those who listen?

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25 Jan, 2022 10:11

Very unique and interesting take on musicianship. And artistry, intrigue, violence and tragedy in equal measure. Lovely :-)

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7 Feb, 2022 19:49

Such a sad story D: A factory that makes automatons and music? Sounds amazing. I loved the detail of the fall of the factory as a song!

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8 Feb, 2022 14:36

This has got to be one of the most interesting takes I've seen throughout the challenge! Awesome work :D

Author of Arda Almayed, resident myth nerd!
8 Feb, 2022 18:09

Echoing what others have said, not at all what I was expecting given the title and the challenge, but great job, both on the unique idea and its execution. The article was a pleasure to read. The notes on the side add some fun.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
15 Feb, 2022 21:11

Fascinating story, with a tragic but fitting ending. The Conductor must have been a popular man after the initial show, and you hint that his wife was largely responsible for it. I wonder why the rebels felt the need to kill the Conductor - wouldn't they have been interested in turning him to their side, in the hopes he could help them make the robots? Or was the Conductor just too far gone without his wife at that point?

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16 Feb, 2022 20:13

Wow this was a really great article. A lovely unique take, with the whole factory as a musical instrument. I also love how he heard rhythm in everything, and put it to such great use. Well done

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
17 Feb, 2022 08:18

Great article! This was a really fascinating story, and I love the verses you have at the end :D That's a fascinating way to produce music, and I love all the political conflicts going on in the background XD

To see what I am up to, my latest article is Geography of magic for the River Challenge