It all began when Myra and I went to one of the Universities functions. She loved them so. They gave her a chance to dress up in bright silks and talk about her work with others in her field. Owen might have stayed on after graduating but Myra’s sole focus was my creation and fine tuning. She had always said that the university stifled her, kept her true creativity from flowing. Owen on the other hand seemed to thrive within the ridged confines of the university, he had taken on 4 classes this semester and was finishing up a lecture this evening. He was not sure if he would make it to the ball proper, but he said that he would be able to walk us home afterwards.
Myra was beautiful in her gown. Her warm chestnut hair pulled up into an elaborate braid on the crown of her head. A few curls slipping free to frame her face. Her hazel eyes were artfully lined. Her dress a cream and peach silk dream. It was cut low in the front, high in the back. The row of bows that lined the seam at her back ran from neck to waist. She looked stunning.
Tic Toki is smaller than Myra. The delicate looking doll stands up to her shoulders, small enough to fit securely into the doll shaped socket in the drive room. When active the key in it’s spine rotates slowly, winding down every 12 hours. I couldn’t go far from the ship, but 12 hours was enough for short trips into the heart of London and back. My hair was interwoven into the metal of my skull and was a shiny auburn that Myra loved to brush and try out the different styles of the day on. Currently it hung in a multitude of curls that framed my face and hung down my back in pristine spirals. My dress was a pale teal that hugged my torso before bursting from my waist in a delight of silken fabric.
“Oh Eudora,” she smiled, “Isn’t this a lovely event? The flowers are fantastic!” she draws me over to a large arrangement of unusual bright blue flowers, “Lady Montgum raised these hybrids in her greenhouse. They are the only ones of their kind in the world. Montgum Lillies!”
I nodded, my gears clicking quietly. “Montgum Lillies.” comes my voice from the speaker in my chest, a soft tone with just a hint of hollow echo that even Myra couldn’t seem to get rid of. “Lady Montgum has created seven different varieties of Lillies, I believe this one is called ‘Blue Cheshires’, due to the delicate white striping…”
We were interrupted by a blast of fanfare from the door. We turned to see who had arrived that would merit such an elaborate entrance.
From our vantage point to the left of the doors, we had an unobstructed view of the grand hall doors where the Prince and Princess were making their way into the room.
It wasn’t unheard of to have royalty grace the universities halls, indeed the Queen herself had been known to dance upon these very same hardwood floors back before she had sequestered herself inside the palace.
Prince Daniel, the handsome heir to the throne, escorted Princess Jessica, his beautiful if delicate looking sister, into the room to the murmurs of the crowd. The princess was only sixteen, just coming out into society, and the Prince was terribly protective of her. He himself had just celebrated his twenty-second birthday the week before. Prince Daniel had many women who enjoyed his attentions, and perhaps a few more who enjoyed his youthful indiscretions, but when his sister was there, his attention was focused solely upon her.
Myra looked at me with a roll of her eyes. She was not impressed with the royalty, she had made it clear on more than one occasion that she thought them to be a drain on the people’s already taxed resources. She nodded to the banquet table, loaded down with small tidbits and appetizers. I checked my internal chronometer and nodded, it was time for her to eat again. She had not had any lunch that morning. We had spent most of the late morning and all afternoon getting ready for the ball instead. I made a note to watch the time better and make sure she ate on a regular basis.
Myra and I were used to the sounds my doll made when she moved. The small clicks and whirrs that followed me, the quiet grind of my key as it slowly winds down behind me. But others are not as used to it and when eyes turned to follow us as we made our way to the banquet table, Myra didn’t flinch. She simply smiled and continued on. I, however, couldn’t help but to notice the stares, the word spoken quietly behind hands. My hearing is excellent. The doll was fitted with aural enhancers that can pick up sounds from across the room. Luckily Myra, in her brilliance, had made it so that I could focus my attention on only a few sounds. This way I would not be overwhelmed by the shear wall of noise that most people never seem to notice as it ebbs and flows around them.
It’s a very handy trick in places like these.
Myra had taken me to several of the universities balls, so the regular socialites knew of me and continued about their business. The newer ladies and gentlemen couldn’t help but stare. Not only were there very few clockwork dolls at this time, but to have one accompany a lady to a ball was almost unheard of. London society being what it was however, it was just enough of a unique situation to be seen as eccentric, rather than insane. Unfortunately, the Prince, having escorted the Princess to a cluster of cooing ladies, was drawn my direction by the general murmurs of shock by those around him.
I stood by Myra clicking softly as she gathered herself a few choice tidbits onto a plate. I had no need to eat, but I was enjoying the music, played by an orchestra in the corner of the hall.
So intent was I on the music that I failed to notice the Prince and Princess had stepped over until Myra had begun to introduce us.
“Prince Daniel, Princess Jessica, may I introduce you to Eudora Toki.”
I blinked and turned, gliding around to face them. Once again keeping my eyes downcast to not to startle them with their lifelike sheen. I dropped into a formal curtsy and bowed my head respectively.
“Gracious Greetings Your Majesties.” I said.
The Princess started at hearing my voice echoing from my chest, “Oh! It talks!” she cried out, a hand pressed to her mouth. The Prince rested his hand upon her lower back possessively. Dark eyes watching my every move.
I unfold from my curtsy and wait, knowing quite well how this worked. If I showed too much intelligence the Princess could become frustrated, insulted, thinking that Myra was trying to show her ignorance. So I simply waited and let Myra do the speaking for me.
“Oh yes, your Highness.” She murmurs on cue, “Eudora’s doll is fully functional. I so love having her come to these events with me, we have such a splendid time. Seems like such a waste to keep her locked inside the ship while Owen and I have such fun at these little get togethers.”
“Ah.” Comes the Prince’s deep rumbling voice, “So THIS is the infamous Eudora I have heard so much about.” He cocks his eyebrow haughtily, “I thought it was an airship?” He looks me over, his face unreadable, “YOU, my dear, do not look like an airship.”
Myra smiled encouragingly to me and I inclined my head to the prince.
“Indeed Sir.” I said quietly, “This is just a clockwork doll my programming inhabits to move about the city. The ship is a bit too unwieldy to slide between the vast spires and towers of our beautiful London.” I straightened and looked him dead in the eyes, “The parking here leaves much to be desired.” I smiled softly, “The doll is much more suitable for social events.”
Myra chuckled dryly and turns to the princess, “The doll is stored in the bulkhead when not in use.” She murmurs, plucking a small square of cheese from her plate and popping it into her mouth.
The Prince glances between myself and the princess. His gaze calculating. A look passes between them and the princess blushes and turns back to me, She reaches out and plucks at one of my curls. I thought nothing of it at the time of course, I received many strange stares.
“I would be quite interested in seeing this creation of yours.” He murmurs.
I, of course, made no move to stop her from playing with my curls having gotten used to the unbridled curiosity of others. The princess and I were oddly alike. Nearly the same height and build, but her hair was a creamy blonde, while mine was a burnished auburn. Her skin was pale pink, soft and flawless. Mine was nearly white with a small gloss of silver from the metals, small vines etched on my cheeks and shoulders. She seemed taken with me, fascinated as she ran her fingers over the vines, she glanced from me to Myra, “You made this?” she asked quietly, her voice like the delicate tinkling of bells.
I could tell Myra was getting frustrated, “THIS is Eudora. Owen and I built her, but she is quite sentient and I would appreciate it if you treated her with the respect due to any sentient creature.” She said it with a smile to soften her words, but the Prince raised an eyebrow.
“Surely you do not expect us to treat your toy with the same respect we would give a human being?”
Myra continued to smile, “Indeed I do, your majesty. I created her base programming, but Eudora has taken it upon herself to become greater than her base programming. She is more than just my creation now, she has become something more than just a few cogs like the mechanoids here at the university. I have given her the ability to learn and think for herself. Despite her appearance she is nearly indistinguishable from the rest of us. That alone deserves respect!”
Princess Jessica seemed to ponder these words, her hands clasped in the creamy folds of her dress. The Prince was wearing a scowl and glaring at Myra, who simply popped another piece of cheese into her mouth and chewed happily. The entire hall was watching the exchange and I could do nothing but stand there, clicking away as the silence grew ever longer.
Jessica was the first to break speak. “I would like to know more about you, Miss…Toki.” She murmurs quietly, unsure how to address me.
Gears whirred as I swept into a courtly curtsy. “Of course Your Majesty. But perhaps the conversation should be best left till after the ball. I do believe there are those who wish to share your attention.” I nodded to the crowd that had gathered about us.
A small smile ghosted over her delicate pink lips and she inclined her head, “Indeed.” She looks to Myra, “I shall have my envoy contact you and we can set up a time for me to come visit…Eudora…the…um…airship.” She blushed prettily glancing back to her brother and then away.
Myra nodded, “But of course your Majesty, you and the Prince are both welcomed to stop by anytime.”