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Bob the Ironman
"Life as a Tinker was about as exciting as watching the bank-sitters in Britain flaunt their gaudy possessions. In other words, it was dull and extremely routine. Day after day, I created little knick-knacks and decorative items for people's homes. Week after week, I doled out an array of tools and gadgets, simple items that I could put together with my eyes closed and arms tied behind my back. It was mind numbing. I came to loathe my title: Grandmaster Tinker. That was until I met Bob - or, rather, created him.

"You see, Bob was a golem. Up until recently, golems were evil creatures; they were part of an army whose sole purpose was to destroy the fair citizens of Britannia. That is, until a brilliant Tinker discovered how to build them.

"I acquired the necessary knowledge from one of my colleagues and immediately collected the required materials. The mysterious clockwork assemblies and weird power crystals set me back quite a bit, but it was worth the chance to study the strange constructions. Building Bob was an arduous process and, I admit, FirstBob and SecondBob were little more than imbalanced hunks of metal that fell apart at the slightest breeze. It was my third attempt that proved to be completely successful. Bob was brought into existence amidst the low whirring of gears and the spine-tingling clang of metallic joints.

"As I stood next to this towering creation of mine, my mind spun with a dizzying array of thoughts and questions. What does one do with a 9 foot metal 'pet' that could easily rip a man in two with just a bare nudge from one of his rusty digits? But, more importantly, where was I going to keep it? The innkeeper probably wouldn't let Bob near the building, much less up in my room. Maybe I could work a deal with the stables.

"Deep in thought, I began to stroll down the street. My mulling was interrupted by the shouts of the innkeeper.

"'Hey, Noonan!' he cried. 'Get this pile of rusty armor off the grounds! It's bad enough you are up all hours banging away at your, your contraptions, but you will not start leaving your junk lying around in my yard!'

"I whipped around to look. Bob was standing there like a tarnished old bronze statue. I'm sure Ian the Innkeeper's gaze would have burned holes through Bob, if his outer plating wasn't solid iron and bronze.

"'Sorry, Ian!' I yelled back. 'Hey, Bob! Come here!'

"That huge pile of junk came to life with startling speed. He whipped his head around toward my voice, then the rest of his bulk followed suit. Immediately, he began plodding toward me. Well, to something Bob's size it was a plodding gait. To me - well, I suddenly realized I had the weight of several suits of full plate armor bearing down on me at a full sprint. I hardly had time to react! My chest swelled, ready to burst forth a shout of terror, when Bob stopped dead, only a couple feet in front of me.

"It took a while for the full import of what had happened to sink in. He had followed my voice! Bob could listen! What exactly was in those clockwork contraptions? What sort of monster had I created?

"We arrived at the local stables; me, lost in thoughts about Bob, and Bob, tagging along like an overgrown puppy. Anna, the stable master, noticed us immediately. Well, she noticed Bob. Once she recovered from her fainting spell, she noticed me.

"'Oh, Noonan…' she mumbled, lifting her head from the pile of straw I had fashioned as a pillow, 'For a moment, I had thought the city was being invaded.'

"By a lone golem? Right. Anna had a tendency to overreact to certain situations. Bob was unmoved by the whole encounter. 'No, no invasion. This is Bob, Anna. I built him.' I couldn't mask the pride that practically buoyed my words. 'I was hoping that I could stable him here. With you.'

"Anna looked at Bob and then back to me. Shaking her head, she lifted herself from the ground, shaking loose the clods of dirt and straw that clung to her skirt, 'Sorry, Noonan. You're already taking up two of my spots with your horse and pig. And you have yet to pay their stabling fees for last week.' She waggled a finger at me in admonishment, 'Besides, we're packed. There must be some kind of Tamer convention in town because we're up to our necks in dragons and nightmares.'

"Ah, yes. I had forgotten about my faithful steed, Traveller, and my good friend, Fluffy. I looked up at what passed for Bob's eyes. Bob stared back. If he was upset about not having a home, he hid it well. Perhaps too well.

"I prompted Bob to follow me once again, and carefully led him outside the stables. Directionless, I wandered toward the edge of town. Bob plodded along contentedly. I had definitely taken a liking to him, even though he had all the personality of a pile of rocks.

"'You know, Bob,' I chattered as we wandered along. 'I like you. But, you know, you scare people.' I looked over at him and he stared straight ahead, ignoring me. 'We gotta find something to do with you.'

"I don't know where I was going. Just wandering, contemplating Bob. I was certain the golem had some sort of spirit. He could understand me, and obey orders! Most animals are capable of doing that to a degree, and many scholars agree that all animals have spirits. So, this construct must have one as well. I felt a strong responsibility to help Bob's spirit grow. And that wouldn't work very well in a town where nobody wanted him around.

"Then I had it! Bob needed to be with others of his kind! Brilliant!

"'Bob, I think I know what to do,' I smiled. Bob stopped next to me and stared straight ahead, listening intently. 'Wait here,' I told him, and jogged back to the Inn to pick up some supplies. I wouldn't need much; this should be a quick trip.

"When I returned, Bob hadn't moved an inch. A bird, one of those talking ones from down South, was perched on Bob's shoulder, squawking 'Hello' toward the golem's head. Bob was steadfastly ignoring the bird, obviously too gentle to just brush the animal aside. Ahh, there was definitely goodness in Bob! If only people could see!

"Leading Bob out of town, I headed towards the Britain mountain pass at a steady pace. I had never been beyond those mountains, so there was some hesitancy to my steps. However, the trepidation I felt soon passed; the rhythmic whirring of Bob's gears somehow reassured me. He would protect me. I was certain of that.

"Bob wasn't much of a conversationalist, but he was a good listener. I regaled him with tales of my childhood as we made our way through the mountain pass, and at one humorous point during my story, he made an extra clickety-clack sound. He was amused - or so I wanted to believe.

"We finally arrived at the crossroads and started our trek down the northern road. It wasn't long before I spotted a Controller with three golems. This was it. I looked up at the bulk of metal standing beside me and felt a momentary pang of guilt. What if they don't accept him? What if he's not tough enough to survive in the wild? 'You'll be okay, ya big lug,' I reassured him, and myself. Bob didn't answer.

"I led him closer to the 'wild' golem group and set my hand upon the cold metal of his arm, 'You're free, Bob.' And with that, I took a few steps away from this iron-man I had created. Bob followed. I waved my hands frantically at him, 'No, no! Don't you understand? You're free now! You must stay here. Stay, Bob. Stay.' I took a few more steps backwards and, this time, he did not follow. He stood as still as an old Yew tree. Turning my back to him, I started back towards the mountain pass at a brisk pace. As the distance grew between us, I heard a series of loud clangs behind me. I had hoped the sound was the result of his brothers greeting him with open arms. I didn't look back. I was sure I would meet Bob again. Someday."

Next week, we continue our spotlights of the tales and stories that you create in Britannia. Keep an eye on FYI for future spotlight topics and send in your tales!

Published: November 2001
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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