“Do you remember my position at the court in Nuremberg?”
Spiraling, spiraling, up a staircase caged in cogs.
“Clockmaker,” said Drosselmeier, “and magician.”
“What do you mean to do?” panted the astronomer.
“We have chased Krakatuk into the future; we cannot know where it will be. But we know precisely where it was!”
The cold struck a bolt through his chest. “Oh Drosselmeier,” he whispered, still climbing, “it has driven you to madness!”
A heaving, grinding sound, as Drosselmeier threw the gear train into reverse; time sheared at the astronomer, and he was–
Spiraling, spiraling, up a staircase caged in cogs–