On Nestor Pinkly’s list of the top two-hundred and eighty-six best things ever made, item number sixty-four read “change, good.” The second word was added in eight years after the list’s conception, when it occurred to him that some changes were ultimately unfavorable.
Counted among these unfavorable changes was the sudden absence of Nestor’s automaton creation and friend, Dovetail. They had vanished suddenly days prior, when they set out on a quest to obtain an opal for a customer at Odd & Ends. While he admired their dedication, he did miss them terribly.
This feeling was made fresh each morning, when Nestor was woken not by Dovetail, but by Regibald, his more recent automaton creation, whose body was at present made up of things like yarn, clay, and rubber bands. It wasn’t that Nestor disliked Regibald, of course – of course! He simply missed Dovetail.
And, if he was being completely honest, which he always was, Regibald’s string-and-tin-can voice unit was unpleasant in comparison with Dovetail’s more polished brass. And the way Regibald’s limbs fell off made Nestor sad, not because of the frequently spilled milk, but because it reminded Nestor that he had fallen behind on building Regibald’s new body.
His lack of speed was, he believed, the result of his sadness over Dovetail and, if he was being completely honest, which he always was, the aforementioned flimsiness of his current assistant. And thinking of that made him miss Dovetail more. It was a vicious cycle, you see.
On the fifth day of all this, Nestor was feeling particularly blue, because it was his first day off from work in a while and Nestor dreaded each day spent away from Odd & Ends, even if Donovan insisted it was necessary (Donovan insisted on two days off a week, which was absurd, so Nestor settled for twice a fortnight). So he decided to dedicate the entire day to the creation of Regibald’s body, so that at least one of these problems might be alleviated.
Regibald was tired of being humanoid, after months of being such in a dungeon where he was unable to move and was allowed only to ask cruel and unfair riddles at the bidding of an evil master. So now, he wished to be a unicamelcorn, a form he had chosen from a book of animals that Nestor had shown him.
The body, made from metal and rubber and burlap, sat in Nestor’s living room while he worked on it. He was having a particularly difficult time figuring out how to get the hump to properly store water without risking leaks that would damage the other working parts, when he was distracted by a knock at the door.
It was a Ravaclovian courier. Ravaclovians were a sort of legless, humanoid reptile. Before they were integrated into Penscarop and taught more conventional languages, Ravaclovians communicated by spraying ink from specialized sacks in their throat onto their flat, papery tongues, and relaying messages that way. Using specialized paper, rather industrial Ravaclovians started an all-in-one printing and courier business called Spit ‘n Talk.
“Huzzah and hullo!” Nestor greeted. He thought they were absolutely splendid, but he’d never seen one in Skymoore before. This day, he knew, would be better than the ones before it. “A message for me?”
There was a loud gargling sound in the back of their throat as they tilted their head back and began expelling the ink into their throat. Their eyes rolled into the back of their head, and their tongue hung out limply. All the while, the courier waved cordially and gave Nestor a thumbs up.
After a few disgusting – but beautiful, in a scientific sort of way – minutes of this, the Ravaclovian reached their arm into their throat up to the elbow, and produced a neatly sealed envelope.
“Message for Nestor Pinkly,” they said breathlessly. “It’s a little damp, sorry; forgot to print it before I left and uh, can I get some water? That really dries out the ol’ esophagus.”
As the Ravaclovian unhinged his jaw directly beneath Nestor’s sink, the gnome tore open the letter eagerly. He knew at once it was from Dovetail, which was good because they didn’t sign their name.
I’m writing to tell you that I’ve temporarily moved to Openhearth while I fulfill a customer’s order and search my soul, if it can truly be said that an automaton has a soul, or that any of us has a soul. I know Mr. Keel has some thoughts about that, but when he was explaining them to me I got bored. But I had never been bored before so I actually got excited again!
Anyway, I just wanted to make sure you know that I’m fine, and there’s nothing to worry about. If you need or want to find me, the address is on the envelope, but I really do think it’s time I learn to make it on my own. You’ve been a wonderful mentor and friend these last few seasons I’ve been alive, and I can’t thank you enough.
I look forward to updating you on my adventures out here!
Post Script: Can you please tell Boundless Imagination that it’s gonna be a few weeks or maybe a lot of weeks before I get her that Opal? It’s complicated.
Post Post Script: Did you know that goods and services cost so much money? It’s been three days since I composed the top of this letter while I saved to afford it. Wow! Luckily they were nice enough to hold it for me.
Post Post Post Script: Wow! Unlike Skymoore, Openhearth has no laws inhibiting the number of postscripts in a letter. That’s amazing! I could do a hundred if I thought of them. Maybe for the next one! I hope you don’t get arrested for reading this!
Well now Nestor was just overjoyed! He was so proud of his automaton child, or perhaps his assistant, but definitely his friend.
And if that wasn’t enough reason for happiness, he started thinking about how Ravaclovian ink sacs regulate liquid flow and store an impressive amount of fluid in a small space, and how that would work perfectly for recreating a unicamelcorn’s hump. Now if only he could figure out a way to humanely procure some…
With an ease in his mind, a song in his heart, and a hum in his throat, Nestor significantly overtipped the courier, and set about writing letters to the various morgues of Skymoore.