The Varied Fates and Resting-Spots of Diablotin's Automata
The Six Great Constructs of Diablotin, also known as the Azure Giants and the Silent Sentinels, but which I will today for convenience simply call the Six, are among the most curious and important magico-technical works ever wrought by human hands. As is well-known, the Six were constructed in the fifth century in the reign of the Emperor Flavien Azure, during a time of relative economic prosperity in the Empire due to the expansive conquests of the three decades prior to his ascension. Fashioned largely of diorite due to the stone’s hardness, the material for the Six had to be imported a distance of over 800 leagues from what was then the northern hinterland. Finished using silver, iron, and copper joints and gears, each of the six was attuned using a central crystal in its centre to a parallel amulet whose bearer could issue commands to it.
It would be unnecessarily repetitious to recount the magical and technical processes behind their creation today; this subject has been covered superbly by Eiresti in her writings on the subject, which although now a generation old remain the best scholarship on the subject. At the time of their construction, two were placed at the Imperial Mint, two at the Patriarch’s Palace, and two at the disposal of the Emperor himself. Thus did the Six occupy a significant strategic purpose within the city, and more broadly within the military and defensive resources of the Empire. Yet the Six were a dramatic expense on the Treasury, nearly bankrupting the Empire during the Third Cornblight of 478-480 as tax revenues dwindled. But again, my purpose today is not to recount the economic history of the early Empire.
There is no sound evidence that the Six were designed to be in any way representative or reminiscent of the six Houses, although of course the numerical correspondence can hardly be a coincidence. It is not known whether the Six were given their common personal names (listed in order of their failure or disappearance, Hagelas, Doiril, Toryx, Schesutte, Quippisti, and Karik) at the time of their construction. The first evidence of this practice is from the Imperial Census of Celesse Dizon in 1279, by which time three of the Six had already met their doom (although they were named retroactively).
Who could have imagined that such great marvels of technology and magic could ever be lost? And yet today, all but one, commonly known as Karik, have passed beyond common knowledge, and indeed in many cases beyond scholarly wisdom. It is my intention today to discuss the fates of the five ‘missing’ Giants based on textual and architectural evidence. Two of these tales are well-known, a third is speculative, and a fourth almost completely lost to the mists. The fifth tale, however, is one that fascinatingly integrates with the city’s architectural history. It is this tale, which is, I believe, unique to myself, that I will present today, and which is uniquely relevant to the growing history of these technical wonders.
The Emperor’s giant Hagelas was destroyed in the Dragonfire War of 567. Very little indeed is known of this event, other than that the giant is purported to have crushed a score of soldiers upon its fall. Given the known dimensions of others of the Six this number is surely inflated, but that it died in battle can hardly be questioned given the contemporary account of the chronicler Fumaduin.
The Patriarch’s giant Doiril suffered a most perplexing fate, at the end of the reign of the Matriarch Dernhilde of the Cat in 856. Having been given instructions to follow behind the Matriarch at all times, during a time when her assassination was feared at the hands of the Bear Empress Chana Dyess, Doiril’s fate was sealed when the Matriarch was pushed off the Shadow Bridge. Doiril was last seen in Ariege heading out to sea, still in obedience to its controller’s final order, even beyond her own death, and is presumed to still be walking amidst the floor of the Ocean of Sorrow, unless slain by a sea-beast.
The fate of the giant Toryx, the second Emperor’s giant, has now been established to a reasonable degree by the aforementioned scholarship of Eiresti. Employed in a military function in the campaigns against the rebellious Duchy of Mericourt in 1643-44 by the emperor Enzephir I Dyess, the keyed amulet for controlling the giant was destroyed in battle. Following the successful suppression of the rebellion, Enzephir I declared that the inert automaton should remain outside the Duchy’s main castle as a constant reminder of the Emperor’s power, and decreed that no effort should be made to re-key the beast. Despite speculation that a new amulet was indeed made, and that the positioning of Toryx was thus simply strategic in nature, Eiresti notes that there has apparently been no effort to re-engage it in the past six centuries, and so it remains, dead yet not decaying.
The fate of Quippisti, the second Treasurer’s giant, however, is completely lost to us, and indeed it is difficult to prove that it ever existed. The presence of a place for the guardian at the Mint is circumstantial evidence, and the numerological aspect of the Six, and the pairing of the Sentinels at both the Patriarch’s and Imperial Palaces, suggests that Karik must similarly once have had a mate. But the earliest textual evidence for its existence is the 1279 census, by which time it was already long lost. It remains unclear how more information about its fate could be obtained absent further documentary evidence.
The fate of the giant Schesutte has similarly long been presumed to be lost. Architectural designs for the Patriarch’s palace expansion of 1628 confirm that it was still extant at that time, but literary evidence from the 1707 Longstaff Annals indicate that by that time, Karik was the last remaining of the Sentinels. The long and prosperous reign of Kathan Kizer is today best known for the unfortunate events at its end, when Kathan’s daughter Ibarra infamously attempted to seize rightful power and establish a hereditary succession. Yet the lengthy conflict between Kathan and a series of Patriarchs and Matriarchs is the context, I argue, of the end of Schesutte. In 1686 the Emperor’s conflict with the Patriarch Zoender reached a head over the construction of the Greysmoke Temple in Rhenea, an action which the Emperor vigorously opposed (in fact demanding the demolition of the half-completed edifice), sparking a series of riots in the district. Little is known of the aftermath of these riots, except that the Patriarch was able to force the Emperor to concede, and the temple was allowed to stand.
But here the mystery deepens. On the frieze above the Temple’s grand atrium, there is a pair of great diorite arms, seamlessly integrated with the diorite of the frieze itself, or so it has been thought. My research on the matter suggests, however, that the diorite used in the construction of the frieze and indeed much of the temple is of a different provenance than that of the arms. The yellow-brown flecks in the latter are persuasive evidence that they come from elsewhere. It is my proposition today, admittedly one which demands further textual inquiry, that the giant Schesutte was involved in the defense of the Greysmoke Temple, during which conflict its arms were amputated beyond the ability to be repaired. These arms, theologically irrelevant and architecturally unique, stand as a silent memorial to the fall of the Patriarch’s Sentinel.
This raises the question, however, of what has happened to the rest of Schesutte. Could there be further architectural evidence at the Greysmoke Temple, either in the grand chambers themselves or in the temple crypt? And, while it would be folly at this point to speculate needlessly, could some or all of Schesutte remain intact, either at the Temple or elsewhere? Lastly, where is Schesutte’s amulet? This I concede is a significantly more challenging question to answer, but one which I suggest, based on these preliminary results, ought to invite careful attention from the Society.
- Presented to the society by Seth Argo (Sixth-month, 2247)