The Heart of Owl Abbas

A composer in an unstable city-state accidentally discovers the perfect singer for his work—a clockwork man—and sows the seeds of revolution.



Once, before the great Empire of Else enveloped the land between the red mountains and the quiet sea, the city-state of Owl Abbas was a mere bird-haunted forest temple. But protected by treaties, suffocated by safety and benevolent neglect, it had swollen and grown in upon itself, roiling and fomenting, so slowly that only (perhaps) a few dust-dry wraiths of abbots hanging motionless in enclosed footings of the Palace Aster would have marked the change from one century to another.

The gains and losses of its citizenry had been gradual. Its resentments and injustices oozed like moisture down the dank wall of a forgotten reservoir, unremarked by either the clustered, crushing commonality or the Little Emperor, cloyed and gorged in his great gilt chambers. Drip, drip, ...