This is a role playing journal. Events, people, places, opinions, thoughts, and anything else of any nature expressed here are of a fictitious nature only and do not represent events occurring in or opinions held in the real world. Please enjoy and thank you for reading. ♥
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A story within a story, The Doctor's Wife is a play in Theta's world. The plot follows the ideas laid out in the song by The Clockwork Quartet1
, though it obviously involves a lot more people than the Doctor and his wife. The lyrics from the song are worked into the play as part of the Doctor's monologues, as well as the whisperings from his wife. The Doctor isn't given a name, the villagers just call him Doctor, and his wife calls him "my Darling".
While the play is named for the Doctor's Wife, there's no questioning that the main character is the Doctor himself. The story plays into the Faustian legends, as the Doctor sacrifices more and more of his morals, compromising his code of practice in order to extend his wife's life just a little bit longer. Other characters are mostly the villagers and the town mayor, who ultimately makes the decision to board up the Doctor's surgery...with the by then quite insane Doctor and his wife still inside.
Some theatre companies sensationalise the ending and say that the surgery is lit on fire and burned to the ground (see below about Theta's personal thoughts on this for more information), but the official ending is that he is simply abandoned there, presumably to starve to death along with his wife. The loss of his morals are seen as a secular equivalent to Faust's deal with the devil.
The play was written just before Queen Victoria started undergoing surgery to have parts of her body replaced with clockworks, and highlights an important moral issue of the time. Obviously when the Queen started embracing medical clockworks, the people followed suit nearly immediately. Prior to that, however, it was a murky moral issue as people wondered if it was coming too close to 'playing God'.
By Theta's lifetime, the impact of the play is less immediate, and instead is studied as a piece of history, much as plays like The Crucible are studied in RL. Unlike RL, however, even more intellectual plays like that still get good runs and are popular, so it's still showing sometimes.Theta's Personal Interpretation
Theta is very fond of this play. In fact, it could be said that Theta is a fan of this play. ...Complete with all the failings of certain parts of fandom. Theta's favourite character is the Doctor of course, and he gets the full Draco in Leather Pants
treatment in her mind. There's no doubt about it in the play as to whether or not the Doctor is a good person--he isn't. Obsessive and slowly crossing the line into psychosis, his genius and his albeit misguided love for his wife are his only redeeming characteristics. Not enough by far to save him from what he's doing to himself.
Not according to Theta. She views it as sweet and romantic, and while she will occasionally acknowledge that the Doctor is doing something she considers morally wrong, she always finds it in her heart to forgive him. Her alternate character interpretations and morality skewing is absolutely terrible, and anyone that gets to borrow her copy of the book will probably have a o_O moment wondering how she got to her particular interpretation of it.
She absolutely hates the theatre companies that alter the ending to have the surgery burn down, not merely because she is a purist, but because she believes that the doctor will find a way to use his clockworks to make himself and his wife immortal (and healthy), and live out their lives in peace and solitude inside the empty surgery. The intended morals of "careful not to try to play God" and "never sacrifice your morality for anything" is completely lost on her, and if asked to explain the theme of the piece, she would attribute it as "people who are not ergaleomancers are idiots that only cause harm because of their fear of progress". She's missed the point by a mile.
1. For anyone that cares, I actually asked the band if I could include this as a hat tip to their music in the book about Theta I'm writing, and they said yes!
Theta herself is uncertain about her own gender issues. She hasn't fully figured out what she really is and is still trying to figure it out
She considers herself to have -both- genders, though she entertains the idea that she is neither.This isn't going to be something she'll sort out easily
Theta is comfortable with her body being female as it is and sees it as entitling her to claim both genders as hers. She uses female pronouns simply because she's tired of correcting the people that say 'she', but she prefers the masculine form of gender-specific words (ie 'businessman' or 'gentleman') and to refer to herself as a man ("I am a man of science"), while she is all right with being "Miss Buckley", though she prefers 'sir' if it's on its own (ie "pardon me, sir").NSFW!! Jiz Lee explains GenderQueer
. Theta identifies very, very similarly to Jiz.
From the babby adventures, six year old Theta explains herself ICly:
I'm both. [She grins again. It makes sense to her.]
Miss Buckley, but sir by itself, [she counts off on her fingers] She, but boy. Girl out here, [she indicates her face and body] but boy up here. [She puts a finger on her temple.]
That keeps it half and half. [She puts her hands out like two sides of a scale and wobbles them about before holding them even.]
So why can six year old Theta explain it succinctly while twenty one year old Theta is a confused mess about it?
Because at six years old, Theta has mostly interacted with her supportive, accepting parents. She knows that people outside her family don't understand, but mummy and daddy are still the defining point of what is okay and what isn't. As she's grown up and seen more and more of the world outside of her house, she has been marginalised by society and had people ignore her gender identity, enough to the point that she's started wondering if she is
just making it up or being silly. She's essentially going in a great big circle--she'll eventually come back to that very same outline she's known since she was about three or four, but she has to spend some time struggling with wondering if it's really possible to define herself that way.Theta and Clothing
As far as Theta's clothing preferences....it's not just that she wears men's clothes (though she wears enough of them that it's crossed the line into being tacky by her society's standards), but also that she's very confrontational about it, in a passive aggressive way. She doesn't just wear them, she draws attention to them. The simple note about her cravat being bright green isn't just that it's her favourite colour, it's that she wants people to stare at it (bright colours aren't common). She'll tip her hat to people...even people she wouldn't have greeted otherwise, just to make sure you notice she's wearing a man's hat. All in all, it's not -just- what she wears but how she -carries- herself as a result of wearing them, and also a bit of a combination with her antics independent of her clothing. If she were polite and a reasonable human being about everything -else-, being dressed in close to full drag wouldn't get more than a few raised eyebrows. But because she's off the rails in -other- areas, her clothes get a "and she can't even dress herself without causing a scene!!!"
Elizabeθ Buckley is the only child of Charles Winston Buckley, the High Ergaleomancer to the Queen. Her mother had a difficult pregnancy with her, and was advised not to have any more children. Mr. Buckley had hoped for a son, to pass on his title to--before Elizabeθ was even born, Mr. Buckley purchased a leather top hat and other boys' things for the child his wife was carrying. Discovering that it was a girl was a bit of a blow. The boy's items were put into a closet, and Mr. and Mrs. Buckley focused on loving their little girl as best they could.
Elizabeθ, however, had other ideas. As soon as she was old enough to be aware of the differences between boys and girls, she insisted that she could be the son her father had wanted. She found the closet of things that had been bought with the expectation of a son, and quite cheerily claimed them for herself. When further questioned about her gender, she explained (albeit in quite childish terms) that while she was indeed a girl, she could be a boy as well. She cut her hair off and took to wearing the top hat she had found, and would 'borrow' trousers from the servants until her parents caved in and bought her boy's clothing. When she was seven years old, she disassembled one of her clockwork toys, and put it back together as a completely different clockwork. It worked.
Although her parents had both hoped and suspected that Elizabeθ would show an aptitude for Ergaleomancy, her stunt with her toy proved it. Instead of hiding their strange daughter, they could cheerily let her dress as a boy and parade her around as a young Ergaleomancer prodigy. However, when she was eight, tragedy struck. The first clockwork she had built had been made only of the metal available in her toy--the exposed gearworks were not covered over. Something dropped into it, and caused the mechanism to jam, triggering an explosion that nearly severed Elizabeθ's left leg. She was saved, but told that likely she would never be able to walk.
Her father refused to accept that, and built for her a clockwork support, to hold together what was left of her knee and allow her to walk. Though she needed a cane to support herself, she adapted quickly and has grown used to her limitations. The support mechanism, however, has always and will always look a bit off-putting, and she is self-conscious about making sure that her trousers are cut with a flare that will disguise the bulk around her knee.
She attended Cambridge University to further her studies of Ergaleomancy, but was dogged by the press several times. Ever since her father announced that she was a prodigy with the craft of Ergaleomancy, getting embarrassing material on her has proven to be a perennial press favourite. Given her unusual stance on her gender, it is unfortunately quite easy.
Society as a whole regards her as a flash in the pan shock factor celebrity whose fame will eventually go away. Unfortunately, that fame persists because as long as people buy tabloid articles about her, they write articles about her, so people buy articles about her in a chicken or the egg cycle. Much like a train wreck that one can't look away from, people aren't certain in themselves how to regard her, whether she should be reviled or pitied or loved or hated. Individual people of course have individual opinions, but she rarely has to deal with people, preferring instead to stay in her workshop.
Her inventions, however, cause greater stir. When they are minor but useful things of obvious practical application, she is of course given her full due as an ergaleomancer and hailed for her innovative thought. However, when she invariably tries to take something to an unnatural extreme, the papers will point out that she's crossing over into inappropriate moral territory. At that point she considers herself to be a martyr--ready with her bucket full of whitewash and justifications, she can explain until the cows come home why it was a good idea, but the papers won't listen to that--they aren't in the business of pandering to her excuses or humouring her logic, just in reporting whatever it is she's done this time.
As such, with time the popular opinion on the trainwreck that is her life has gradually come to average more often than not on the disapproving side. This is not, as Theta is fond of insisting it is, because of her manner of dress or how revolutionary her inventions are, but rather very much by her own fault this is because of her antics. Her continual and repeated disregard for morality and her flagrant disrespect of anything that comes between her and a good time has made it clear to those that have encountered her that she really is every bit as self-absorbed as the tabloids make her out to be.
Her colleagues regard her as an odious blight on English society even more than the common people in general do, and this increased dislike has to do with increased proximity. Fortunately, perhaps, ergaleomancy is not necessarily a social career. Although the World's Fair draws them all in every now and again, it is entirely possible for an ergaleomancer to work their craft quietly in their own workshop as long as they have the funding to sustain themselves in such a manner. Theta still lives at home, working in her parents' house, and as such really only needs to venture out when she needs something or when she feels like it. For the most part she lives as a recluse, career wise, and the assembled ergaleomancers of Greater London are grateful for that.
Cheerful but arrogant, Elizabeθ is the epitome of the flaws in her society. She believes herself to be one of God's gifts to the world, specifically in the field of Ergaleomancy. She has a flare for the dramatic, and when talking about something she is passionate about she frequently raises her voice and begins to speak like she is delivering a soliloquy on a stage. The thrill of the stage is something she really likes, and despite her hatred of the paparazzi, attention and thrills are something she really enjoys getting.
Elizabeθ is a thrill seeker. She lives on the very edge of what's acceptable in society, and as the edge moves she'll be more than happy to compensate for that and find new and more inventive ways to push the limit and push the envelope. She does not like to extend herself into illegal endeavours, but she is a devoted fan of finding every available loophole and stretching it to its limits, especially where her clockworks are concerned. Then again, she only considers something 'bad' if it is illegal--put in a place without laws to begin with...there's precious little to hold her back from doing whatever strikes her fancy at any given moment.
Although Elizabeθ believes that ergaleomancers have a duty to society to serve the greater good, she also believes that Ergaleomancers are somewhat exempt from society's morals and sensibilities. Things like the Uncanny Valley and other moral distinctions about what it is acceptable to do with clockworks are things that she brushes off easily, in pursuit of the next big discovery...or the next big 'buzz', whether it comes from announcing the next big discovery, getting caught in a scandal by the paparazzi, or anything else that might give her a bit of entertainment.
In fact, with regards to excitement...she wants attention, badly enough that even negative attention is fine. In fact, negative attention is better because if she can make someone deeply uncomfortable, it lasts longer. She'd really like it if someone would actually pay consistent good attention to her, though, so maybe if she can show someone just how awesome she is, they'll stop being unnerved by the things she does to unnerve everyone else, because the things she does to unnerve everyone else unnerve them because everyone else is not smart enough to realise that it's all just a big joke.
...Except it's Theta's sense of self-worth that's the big joke. She desperately needs a few friends, and she's convinced herself that she doesn't have any because of the tabloids and obviously they're doing this because they're jealous of her and frightened by how awesome she is. Being away from home will put her through a loop with that--she no longer has the tabloids and her reputation to contend with, so she will try to put herself out there and make friends, but even if she manages to bullshit her way into being friendly with someone for a while, it doesn't take long before something goes awry--it's a one-way street. Theta's "friends" are there to pay attention to Theta, and if they don't pay attention on demand, they get abandoned.
The one area that she crosses the line into being actually confident is with her clockworks. Give her her tools and she'll quiet down for as long as it takes to build something and let her ability speak for her. It's only a momentary bit of respite, though, because if her creation fails to impress everyone ever...she's there to scream about it and try to prove to everyone why it's awesome and, failing that, to build something bigger (potentially only figuratively bigger, though), which gets a respite from her ranting, but when she's done, the cycle starts over again.
The problem here is that while she is extremely arrogant, and while she comes from a very uncertain and not-so-confident place with it...she -does- have skill to back up some of it. She's not "the best ergaleomancer in all of history and that's why she's better than all of you little people", but she is a very skilled one. She just...thinks that her skill in it makes her better than other people, and also that her self-worth as a person is completely and directly tied up in her skill as an ergaleomancer.
Elizabeθ has a tendency to become easily wrapped up in things, whether it's obsessively working on a clockwork to the exclusion of caring for herself or getting swept up in events unfolding around her and making plans based on them that are only loosely based in reality and decreasingly sane with each draft. Once she goes on the hunt for a big thrill, everything else goes out the window, even most of her tenuous and bendable morals. She would rather do what is fun and come up with an excuse and a moral whitewash for it afterward than she would miss an opportunity, and in fact the idea of stopping partway through something rarely even occurs to her any more.
Higher intellectual pursuits are amongst her favourite hobbies, though the two nearest and dearest to her heart are ergaleomancy of course and the theatre. She memorises monologues and quotes, ready to shift into reciting poetry and prose at a moment's notice. As much as she enjoys stories like that, it again feeds her arrogance--she speaks loudly enough to be heard clearly because she presumes someone, somewhere, is eager to listen. In this way the tabloids are an especial hindrance, as they feed into her ideas that people actually care about what she's saying and encourage the trend of verbal purple prose at a moment's notice, even when inappropriate.
Underneath it all, Theta is a very selfish, arrogant young woman. Being the only child of a couple that wanted more children but could not have them, she was treated like a princess, and then on her insistence, treated like a prince. Despite the fact that she was breaking definite societal standards and morals, she was allowed to do as she pleased on the "we'll think of a way to excuse it later" principle. Yes, rather than teach her the meaning of 'no', her parents instead taught her how to rules-lawyer her way out of nearly anything and skate through life on technicalities and loopholes, openly telling her that she was better than having to concern herself with such things.
More often than not, simply having an explanation for why her heart in the right place was more than enough to pass muster on what her parents believed was right, and so Theta likes to think of herself as a fundamentally good person--she believes her 'fun' will be good for the greater good of society, and specifically, for England. That feeds in with her arrogance as well, as she believes her inherent 'goodness' also has a factor in why she is 'too good' for the rules and laws of the rest of society. Realistically, however, she does whatever she pleases and only traces her motivations back to that after the fact when her methods are questioned. Like an ethics committee's nightmare, she has little care for the consequences or ramifications of her actions. She's never had to.
Perhaps fortunately for Theta's sanity, where her overly-permissive parents failed, the vice grip of society stepped in. Although she was not technically breaking any laws, the people of England did recognise that what Theta was doing was inappropriate nigh on immediately to when she made her debut in society. When most children would have tested their boundaries against their parents, Theta used her fame and status in society to test her limits against society itself. More often than not her only form of reproach came from the tabloids and their unpleasant headlines about her. Without that, she would have lived in a world where there were no consequences whatsoever for her actions.
Those actions actually have very simple motivations--for entertaining herself or for getting a reaction out of others. Frequently even those two blur together. She is highly intelligent, and as such she finds herself very easily bored by things and in constant need of stimulation. Intellectual conversation about philosophy can keep her distracted for a time, though rather than have an opinion to stay with, she will change and adapt her stance based on whatever looks like the best stance to have at the moment, or whichever stance will cause the most drama and outrage.
Since most of Theta's stance on morality is something she's willing to rules lawyer out of, it's prudent to mark down the few things that she does hold sacred. These might still change, but it would be a very gradual erosion of her morality rather than something she'd wiggle out of easily. First off, Theta does not believe humankind was meant for immortality. Having met the Queen twice in her life and seen the state of her existence, Theta finds immortality disgusting and morally reprehensible. In that vein she finds all unnecessary clockwork augmentations to the body to be off-putting. Of course there are medical applications of clockworks, Theta makes use of one herself, but there is a difference between what is medically necessary and what is overkill.
Theta believes in filial piety and honouring her country. As much as she enjoys attention, one of the lines that keeps her from going completely off the deep end is her family. She originally began cross-dressing because of her family needing an heir for her father to pass his titles to, and as she would do everything she's done over again if she had opportunity to, she certainly won't sabotage things by ruining her own family. She loves her father very much and respects him a lot. She knows sometimes she causes him trouble, but since he rarely reprimands her for anything, she doesn't think much will truly upset him. She is also loyal to England and loves her country very much. Her father works for the Queen, so it's easy to see the two as related. Any issues she has with English society she sees as things that England can overcome, rather than inherent flaws.
Electricty was discovered in Theta's world, but after the displays put on by Nikola Tesla, the use of electricity was banned in Europe. Although it is legal in America, it is not commonly used. As part of her education at Cambridge University, Theta did study electricity for a little bit, though only through reading about it in books. The coursework was very biased, painting it as a horrific death ray with no practical advantages. It left her spooked on the topic, especially as she knows that she has a tendency to push boundaries, but this is one boundary she is loathe to cross.
Theta's first clockwork was a clockwork puppy that she built for companionship. It jammed and exploded, nearly severing her left leg as a child. She has been afraid of dogs since.
Ergaleomancy is first and foremost a crafting skill. Unlike a fictional mage that can just summon a golem and have it rise from the earth, there is a technical aspect to it. Clockworks have to be well crafted, and that can take ages to do. She requires a clockworking workshop, which includes many costly tools, and supplies, not the least of which include gemstones. Furthermore, making a clockwork takes time and effort both in designing it and in crafting it. Some weeks can be spent in the design phase of a clockwork that follows normal conventions; it can take months or years to design an innovative clockwork that hasn't been done before. Actually building it can take months to years, depending on the project.
Theta cannot kneel down or squat. She has trouble going up and down stairs--it is possible, but it takes time and is painful. Her range of motion with her knee is reduced to points between straight and a 90 degree bend. She cannot turn her leg out to the side without intense pain making it nigh on impossible because of human nature to not do things that are too painful to one's own body, the same impulse that keeps one from biting through one's lips. She cannot put her full weight on her left leg at risk of breaking the mechanism. It needs regular service (Theta prefers to give it a once-over every month). She'd probably have an easier life if she had the remains of her lower leg amputated so she could have a full on prosthetic from the stump down, but she is a bit queasy about the idea of actually completely losing her leg. The mechanics of it are fairly simple--the pistons are extraneous and for the most part decorative. It's a glorified hinge since she doesn't have the original joint there any more.
Theta's technical knowledge is actually somewhat limited--clockworks are built with only a few basic requirements to them--the gears must be able to turn in all parts of the machine, the machine must be able to move in the proper directions, and the gearworks must go back to the spring that powers it. This can be fudged a little bit with certain metals--Theta uses an alloy made of brass and rubber that is 'flexible metal', capable of bending in more natural ways, a bit like skin. It is also capable of stretching to different sizes. It is NOT strong enough for use in things larger than household designs, such as Theta's teapot, which can turn its spout from side to side as though it is looking around, or somewhat slouch or straighten depending on its moods. That ties in with where the magical aspect of ergaleomancy takes over--clockworks are just as much a magical creation as they are a mechanical means, and that is why ergaleomancy in Theta's world is limited to those already born with the innate ability. It is not a teachable skill.
That is why Theta does need access to great technical knowledge, and she even makes use of technical knowledge that she cannot actually explain in more detail than the basic theories behind. This is because an ergaleomancer has a connection to the Akashic Records, or Collective Unconscious, through which Theta can pull more knowledge. Of course it doesn't give her an open connection to everything--this connection only works with relation to her clockworks. She can use the Akashic Records to make a medical clockwork capable of giving first aid, not to learn how to give first aid herself.
The closest thing to 'fudging' this rule is that she might get a list of supplies and then start guessing based on that. For example, she might draw a design for a burn treating clockwork, which includes a cold water spout, antibiotic dispenser, and gauze wrapping attachments, and from there guess that washing the burn, applying antibiotics, and wrapping it with gauze is a good idea. But that doesn't actually grant her any medical skills--it's just a list of supplies and basic common sense.
The difference in an ergaleomancer's skill is half magical and half mechanical. An ergaleomancer with a limited connection to the Collective Unconscious would not be able to make as many innovative designs as one with a more full connection, and there are many ergaleomancers who do not surpass this level, instead making many of the same sort of devices. Which has its place in society--this is where the bulk of the clockworks that run the world come from, such as automatic water kettles and other more mundane and practical devices. An ergaleomancer with limited mechanical skill, however, can go to school and otherwise work to improve it, as it's the more 'real world' based aspect of it. This is the 'craftsmanship' aspect of ergaleomancy--how to shape metal and wood, how to align the gears, and the otherwise purely physical points. No matter how good an ergaleomancer's connection to the Akashic Records, a poorly made clockwork will never outperform a well made one, even if the poorly made one is made by an ergaleomancer with magical abilities even a thousand fold over the magical abilities of a master craftsman.
A truly skilled ergaleomancer, however, excels in both, usually through having a good connection to the Akashic records innately and then polishing up their mechanical abilities through training and schooling. This is the category that Theta falls into, though it has come by practising the skill for most of her life, ever since it appeared. With her knowledge of science and physics as well, it has become possible for her to bend and even break the laws of reality through use of vehicles, which for example might allow her to jump between dimensions or through time, or various beams such as a sex inversion gun or an age alteration ray.
Really, she is limited by player consent and proper communication with the moderators. While it's feasible for her to be able to build nigh on anything, it's also -just- as feasible for it to /not/ work. By staying in touch with the moderators and asking permission before doing anything over the top or unusual, I can keep a very good balance between the times she succeeds and the times she fails. There's also the question of time and materials--she needs materials to be able to work, and it takes time to build something intricate. Without the materials, she can't build anything, and without the time to spend building it, she can't just pull things out of nowhere.
Clockworks and AI
Most clockworks wind up with a certain amount of sentience, though how this comes to be depends on whether or not the design was originally intended to have it. Devices that do not need any matter of autonomy do not develop sentience and are not given it to begin with. For example a sex inversion gun is aimed by a human, fired by a human, and does not need to make any 'decisions' for itself, so it would not develop AI. Similarly, a 'cheap' teapot would boil the water on activating a switch and would have the water poured, so it would not need awareness of its own. These are almost entirely mechanically based, using only the smallest amounts of magic, and as such, ergaleomancers with limited connection to the Akashic Records usually make clockworks of this type. The more intricate a clockwork, however, the more 'book knowledge' an ergaleomancer needs--sex inversion guns and age alteration rays are built on principles found in physics, so those with lesser educations would be building teapots and other miscellanea while those with university degrees work on building the things that break the laws of reality as we know them.
The next step up from that is the most basic form of sentience. Clockworks that need to be able to follow basic instructions or need a basic awareness of their surroundings would fall into this category. At creation, the ergaleomancer building the clockwork interacts with the Collective Unconscious not only in building the clockwork, but also to take some of the Unconscious Energy and imbue the clockwork with it. Having been given a body, that Unconscious Energy becomes a consciousness of its own, inhabiting the clockwork body it has been given. As only a small amount of energy has been put into it, it is only a small amount of awareness--a fish fryer that can take the fish out when they are done, a teapot that activates on being told to make tea (as opposed to by the use of a switch as in the first example) would be examples of this.
A clockwork of this type that regularly undergoes maintenance and tune-ups will also gradually absorb energy from the ergaleomancer tending to it. This occurs only when it is the same ergaleomancer to tend to it over a number of years, and usually only when there is an emotional connection between the ergaleomancer and either the clockwork itself or the clockwork's owner. With time, it will come to be on par with the next type of clockwork, which is called a 'spirited clockwork'. These clockworks are made with the intention of being given personalities and a bit of a 'spirit'. Again, when the ergaleomancer connects to the Collective Unconscious, they take some of the Unconscious Energy and imbue it into the clockwork, but this time they take more. To do so requires a greater connection to the Collective Unconscious, and also cannot be done on a clockwork that is not at least somewhat well made, as the Unconscious Energy cannot inhabit a body too close to falling apart. These are the highest form of sentient clockwork available to the general public, and are prohibitively expensive, a token of the upper class rather than something commonly found.
There is one more type of clockwork besides this, however, and the method behind its creation is a tightly guarded secret. Theta's father, Charles Buckley, wanted to create a clockwork capable of keeping an eye on his daughter, even with her...questionable tendencies. He put so much effort into the thing's creation, coupled with his impressive skill as an ergaleomancer, that he tore loose a piece of his -own- soul to embed in the clockwork. It now speaks with Charles' voice and expresses similar feelings to him, though the pocket watch is limited in his scope, seeing all questions as relating to his purpose--keeping an eye on Theta. A workable comparison would be some of the minor-character robots in A.I. and how they see the world in terms of their initial programming even when well out of the bounds of their normal use.
The topic of Coggy brings me to an important point about clockworks relating to Theta's world. People fear the idea of what might happen if clockworks start to overtake humans, much like how science fiction universes fear that about robots and computers. As such, clockworks are always deliberately made to look inhuman, whether that is to look like animals or household objects. While spirited clockworks are a well loved bit of craftsmanship, they are usually viewed as novel in that they are -not- human but have human characteristics. The occasional odd people do see them as alive in their own right, but these people are regarded as weird, in the same vein as a man that talks to his car in the real world.
A clockwork such as Coggy would upset the proverbial apple cart, forcing people to consider clockworks in a completely different light. That is why Charles refuses to reveal the method he used in making Coggy--Coggy is not just a machine but in possession of a soul, meaning that the energy that drives all clockworks is like unto a soul. Charles fears that Coggy will be destroyed in the same way Frankenstein's Monster was reviled, only being a pocket watch, Coggy cannot protect himself, and Theta and her family would be destroyed for trying to protect him. As such, as a part of protecting Theta (as his design is to do such), Coggy always refers to himself as a possession and makes a point of trying not to insinuate that he has feelings of his own.
Also to assist with preventing a clockwork uprising is the idea of winding. No clockwork may be capable of winding itself, and this includes clockworks capable of winding other clockworks--all clockworks must be wound with a non-attached key, and it is illegal to let a clockwork hold its key or the key to any other clockworks. Notably this and the law against making spirited clockworks designed for harming humans are the only -laws- surrounding clockworks and the moral conventions enforced upon their creation. People are expected to police themselves and exercise common sense. Queen Victoria does not believe it is necessary to enact further laws, though if any issues do come up, the decisions made in such cases will set a precedent and as such will be exceptionally harsh. (This is not to say the laws have not been broken before, but that people haven't been caught at it before.)
Ergaleomancy is first and foremost a crafting skill. Unlike a fictional mage that can just summon a golem and have it rise from the earth, there is a technical aspect to it. Clockworks have to be well crafted, and that can take ages to do. She requires a clockworking workshop, which includes many costly tools, and supplies, not the least of which include gemstones. Furthermore, making a clockwork takes time and effort both in designing it and in crafting it. Some weeks can be spent in the design phase of a clockwork that follows normal conventions (such as the now oft-used teapot example, designing a teapot from scratch but it's still a teapot with the basic design already known); it can take months or years to design an innovative clockwork that hasn't been done before. Actually building it can take months to years, depending on the project.
In an alternate reality to this one, the industrial revolution went just a little bit differently to how it did here. Rather than progressing gradually forwards from steam to electronics, steam and clockwork were simply improved upon and improved upon. Eventually, with this focus, a new craft was discovered--ergaleomancy. Meaning 'magician of gears', an ergaleomancer is a very rare person capable of not only building an intricately crafted machine, but capable of bringing life or magical power to the small things known as 'clockworks'.
Clockworks are the small devices that make this world flow smoothly. From an automatic clockwork water boiler to a clockwork animal that functions as a pet, they can come in all shapes and sorts. Clockworks are limited only by the law, which states that no clockwork can be able to wind itself or be designed with AI to harm living beings. Clanks are a larger relative to clockworks (though any clockwork over four feet tall is considered a clank), used more in industrial applications, though there are rumours that there are machines called "war clanks" available at the Queen's command to defend England.
Not that there's ever much call for that. Queen Victoria is approaching her 175th year on the throne after having her body modified with immortality granting clockworks, and has reigned over one of the most peaceful and glorious periods in British history. The British Empire has holdings on five continents, and is recognised as the foremost superpower of the world. If only society were also as enlightened as they liked to believe they were, the world might be considered perfect.
Victorian society both was in this dimension and is in this alternate world, very prudish and very gender segregated. Women are considered weaker than and subservient to men, with only two existing exceptions. The first is of course the Queen herself, ruling over the country with the power of a monarch despite her gender. The second is a set rather than a specific person, and encompasses the small group of people in the world known as ergaleomancers.
A female ergaleomancer is considered to be almost of equal standing with the men of society. The trade off is that she is then considered to be a man in society's place--no marriage, courtship, or children allowed, on pain of losing her 'status' and being expected to act like a 'normal' woman despite her talents. Then again, while they are allowed to hold the status of a man in society, there's still an undercurrent of resentment and insinuations that this is special treatment that can be revoked.
As such, the 'average' female ergaleomancer, generally speaking, will wear a skirt, but with a top with a man's cut (because the current fashion for normal women includes restricting the mobility of their arms, while a female ergaleomancer needs freedom of movement for her work), will still be soft-spoken and defer to male ergaleomancers. She is allowed to have an opinion, but it's generally considered polite to wait to be -asked- for it.
Over the course of history, different things have been invented, language has progressed, and generally things are quite different to how they were during the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. Though things are still reminiscent of the Queen's early life, many things are also different in this fantasy world.Naming Conventions
Theta's name is half intentionally baffling and half explicable. There are other people with such names in her world, Φlip and Λaura are two named examples. There was a brief period of about five years (encompassing the time during which Theta was born) that ancient Greece was the 'in' thing and it was considered avant-garde amongst the celebrity culture to give their children names with Greek letters in the spelling. It's not even necessarily done -well-, as θ is pronounced 'th' and yet Theta's name is pronounced Elizabetheta
. It -was- just jammed in there to look cool. ...And has been influencing the way people in Theta's own world react to her, up to and including a predisposition for the "*facepalm* Oh god, celebrities..." reaction, just like how real-world celebrities name their kids baffling things
. She probably wouldn't have gotten the attention of the tabloids nearly as quickly as she did if her parents had given her a sensible name.