You take a running leap atop the beast, hoping to deliver a fatal blow.

Your sprint is made in silence, only the rustle of your cloak announcing your attack. The two monstrosities carry threats in their throats, fierce and feral.

A brilliant clang reverberates through the clearing and up your arm, your sword clattering off the thick plates of the beast. It seems not to notice under the driving assault of the machination. Muttered curses escape your lips as you vault back into action. The metal rings out again as it connects with armoured hide, no cut, no dent, no scratch.

The golem steps in front of you, sharp and shining. It wrestles with the beast, blades exchanged for brute force.

You thumb a switch on the hilt of the sword, and it thrums into life, bearing a pulse of its own. A dull white light coalesces around the blade, a soft whir emanates from inside.

With a cry you swing your sword, darting from behind the golem. The weapon again glances off harmlessly, but as you reverse the arc it slips between ribs, piercing flesh and drawing blood.

The beast tries to rear, but is pinned by the sheer mass of the machination. Your sword bites deeper, the thick liquid now seeping down the blade.

Eyes roll back to white and the body collapses with a heave, plates clattering noisily as it falls. The golem relinquishes its grip, and mimics the crumble of its former foe.

Wiping your bloodied blade on stale grass you see the Assembler approach the corpse of the beast, now sprouting saplings from crags in the armour, giving new life in its death. She kneels gingerly, picking up a small object and clasping it about her neck.

As she stalks toward you you see that it is an intricate clockwork pendant, madly ticking but telling no time. Tossing her hair and swaying her hips, she assumes a slight smile.

"Adrienne," she says quite simply. "And you?"

You offer your name, bringing a chuckle to Adrienne's lips.

"Foreign, then." A mere statement. "What brings you to these parts?"

You answer...

The End

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