Cynis Operations has many valuables stashed in a vault near the Imperial Mountain. Most were left behind in case the Cynis family might be able to return. Some have been transferred to a safe on board the zeppelin No Memory in case the mission demands them. Others have been put to use. The Ticking Mask falls into the final category.
The Cynis family has had the mask show up again and again, like a bad penny. They throw it into the sea, it washes up at their citadel. They burn it to cinders, it appears in a storeroom. They have no idea why it’s attached to their bloodline in particular. Cynis Operations took it as part of a bargain a year or two back – a negative entry in the ledger.
When not worn, the mask asks to be worn. When worn, the mask ticks like a clock, constantly. It cannot be removed. Just when the wearer gets used to the ticking, it changes, or skips a beat. The sound and its changes converge to slowly drive the wearer mad. That’s when the ancient god trapped within the mask takes control.
Ordinarily this god seeks out forbidden knowledge. It’s not subtle. Sometimes it succeeds, but it always gets caught. Its bearer gets killed. The mask gets destroyed. It comes back and whispers for someone else to put it on. This time, things are different. Cynis Operations found a despicable prisoner to force the mask upon and made a deal with the god. It helps them save the world; they give it Yushoto Koletta‘s design journals. It agreed. Even such a god does not want to see the world end.
The mask’s current bearer is a man of average height, with blue eyes, peach-colored skin, and curling brown hair. The mask itself has a golden base, with strange lenses, hoses, and gears on the outside that seem to serve no purpose. When the mask has no bearer, orange goat-like eyes look out from within.
The mask-god seems to have no long-term goals beyond a drive to gain information. It never uses the information, never seems to care who wears it, and doesn’t care what happens to them afterward. “Amoral” is the perfect word for it. Its style is efficient and creative, but it’ll drop that in an instant if being wasteful will get what it wants.
Intimacies: “Learn everything before the world ends” (Defining), “Get Yushoto Koletta’s journals” (Major), “People in my way” (Negative)
The wearer of the Mask becomes capable of Protocol use. While not a true Technologist and incapable of Alchemical Workings, the wearer can still gather essence from the Splinter to create powerful magical and alchemical effects.
Among these Protocols are: the control of mindless automata; crawling up walls and along ceilings with legs of pure lightning; becoming a thick cloud of smoke and traveling about a hundred meters; a blazing net of burning oil that harms only those who try to move through it; steam bursts from the ground that slow or trip up its opponents; opening doors with a beautiful crystalline key regardless of locks or bars; and taking on a body of pistons, gears, and chains that vastly enhance the user’s physical prowess. Its Protocols are primarily those that draw on the alchemical elements and use them in an advantageous manner, rather than directly attacking with them. It has proven capable of direct assaults, such as summoning great columns of hornet-like needles crackling with electricity, but it rarely does so.
The host’s original body provides the god with its native strength and grace (or lack thereof). In this case, the prisoner was strong and slow. The prisoner’s mind dominates early on, but this slowly changes. The Ticking Mask is both brilliant and short-sighted. It takes unnecessary risks without seeming to realize or care. At the same time, it uses Protocols in clever and creative ways. It’s audacious, but it’s only aggressive when cornered. When the Ticking Mask cannot avoid battle, it unleashes massive devastation and moves on quickly, often leaving survivors behind.
The extent of the god’s knowledge is uncertain. It seems to at least know that which its host knew, but it occasionally shows flashes of insight about places that no human has entered for centuries. It speaks the language of the World Before as well as the language of its host.
The mask’s alchemical capabilities do not depend on whether the god of the mask has taken over. Whomever puts it on gains its powers immediately, along with full knowledge of how to use them.
Removing the mask kills the wearer.
- Peleps Yumi, the previous bearer. Adventurous, daring, foolish.
- Mnemon Entar, who studied the mask years ago before Peleps Yumi stole it. Meticulous, cautious, introspective.
- Cynis Riiks, who stopped Peleps Yumi and recovered the mask. Brave, powerful, slow.
- Cynis Ehnavo, the prisoner forced to wears the mask this time. Cruel, callous, vindictive.
- Is the god of the mask actually in charge yet, or is this still the prisoner slowly losing his mind?
- What happens to the mind and soul of the mask’s wearer? Are they consumed by the mask’s god, or do they live on, trapped inside?