Trunks is just an unassuming clockmaker who gets caught up in the troubles of the Wizard Gohan.
Author's Notes : This is based on the movie “Howl’s Moving Castle” and has had a few additions from the book, as well as from Lord Truhan :)
Trunks leaned over the edge of his workbench, staring intently through the large magnifying glass. Delicate cogs and springs performed a precise and interwoven theater under his expert fingers. The ivory and gold inlay of this particular watch bespoke of a dance as old as time itself. Trunks probably would have blushed if not for the fact that he was a man totally engrossed in his work, perfection demanded for the task and by himself. He frowned as the light in the room became less than ideal, looking up to see a thick cloud of sooty smoke billowing from the train that ran beneath his window. He sighed, vacillating between an additional light source or just waiting for the air to clear.
It was in that moment that a soft knock sounded against his door, followed by Bernard, who informed him that they were closing up early for the day, owing to the festival.
“Ok, let me just finish this up, I’m so close to completing it that it’d be a shame to leave it sit” Trunks replied. He hated unfinished projects.
“Are you sure, sir? It wouldn’t do to miss the unveiling this afternoon…” Bernard reminded him.
“Yes, I remember,” Trunks glanced at the plain and purely functional clock that was hanging against his own wall, “I have plenty of time.”
Less than an hour later, Trunks had finished up his latest work of art and science; his watches and clocks were always in high demand due to their unusual precision. Over the years, many customers had joked about how his time pieces just seemed to naturally make them more punctual. Speaking of punctual, he glanced at the clock again. Perfect, he still had time to make it to the unveiling of the latest marvel commissioned by their King. Many years had gone into the making of an enormous astronomical clock for the Kings’ Palace, and he couldn’t wait any longer to have a chance at admiring the foreign work up close.
He locked the door behind him as he set out from the shop, wading into the mass of people clogging the streets. After just a few blocks, he decided to turn off of the main corridor, opting for a shortcut through the more narrow alleys. Surely the congestion couldn’t be as bad in there. He was right – the passageways were empty and deserted, except for a few soldiers here and there, but that was to be expected. He couldn’t help shaking the odd feeling that someone was watching him though – several times he thought he caught a glimpse of some dark form out of the corner of his eye. When he turned to confront it though, it was gone.
Trunks was trying to walk forward towards his destination, while focusing on his peripheral vision, when he ran smack into an outstretched hand. He stood blinking for a moment at the hand on his chest, when it pulled back and wrapped itself through his arm.
“I’d watch where I was going a little more closely, if I was you” blonde hair said with a confident smile, “What’s your name?”
“I’m Trunks, though it’s not so much where I’m going, as where I’ve been that’s concerning me most at the moment” he said while still looking from side to side.
“Ah, I see… Well, allow me to be your escort then” he said, pulling Trunks to his side and continuing down the alley. He leaned in to whisper to him as they walked, his voice deep and steady.
“I’m so sorry, but it seems you are involved; stay close and do as I do” he said as blackened, misshapen forms burst from the shadows and cracks behind them. He took a quick right as the road ahead of them filled with the oozing, ghost-like forms as well. They swirled and advanced, remaining individuals but moving as one force. Trunks’ eyes widened as the path ahead of them was closed off by the nightmarish forms as well, with no other avenue of escape. The blonde did not slow his pace though; in fact quickening it, and whispering in a low husky voice, “When I say, jump.”
Trunks wasn’t sure if his reply took on any audible tone, or if all he did was shake his head, but the other man seemed to take his acquiescence as a given. Just before they would have slammed head on into the writhing mass, the order was given, “Jump!” and Trunks did his best to comply, feeling ridiculous yet overwhelmed with the lack of alternatives all at once. They soared into the air above the alley, Trunks unconsciously clinging to his strange savior as they rose farther and farther above the rooftops.
“Now, straighten out your legs – yes, that’s good, and begin to walk. There you go. Perfect Trunks, you’re a natural” his fair-haired companion exclaimed with a smile as they began striding through the air in unison. The brightly colored coat that hung over the stranger’s frame billowed out in the breeze. He held both of Trunks’ hands, guiding him with an arm around his shoulders as they skipped off the rounded spire of an ornate building. A large number of people bustled about at the festivities below them, though none spared a glance up into the afternoon sky. Thankfully. Across the square, a large hotel loomed ahead of them. Those steady arms stayed around him as they strode their airy path all the way across the square.
Trunks was deposited on the balcony of the hotel with an astonished, beaming expression, turning to stare openly as the man spoke to him again.
“I’ll draw them off for you, but don’t leave this place for at least 15 minutes” he both offered and commanded.
“Thank you!” Trunks just barely remembered to shout as the man dropped down off the edge of the railing, their eyes locked until he disappeared from sight below. Trunks ran to the edge to see what became of him, but there was no sign that he’d ever been there at all. It was only then that he realized he had forgotten to ask the man his name.
Trunks was not going to let a little thing like being chased by strange monsters, saved by a beautiful stranger, and flying over the city with said stranger, keep him from seeing the astronomical clock. He waited the required amount of time, then shook his head to clear it, and set off again. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, not that any of the other things he had just experienced weren’t… He hoped they were, except for maybe meeting that strange man. And now that he thought about it, flying wasn’t so bad; terrifying, to be sure, but exhilarating as well. Trunks paid little heed to the chatter and gossip going on around him as he walked, lost in his own thoughts.
“On sale? Really? I must head over there this afternoon…”
“And the neighboring kingdom’s prince went missing shortly afterward…”
“But Mommy, I want the same one John has!…”
Trunks was in danger of running into the edge of an enormous platform in his distraction, but the shadow it cast was enough of a sensory shift to break him of his trance a few feet beforehand. He blinked up at it, realizing he had finally reached his destination.
The clock was as large as a house, being meant to grace the royal palace, and was the most beautiful and intricate thing he had ever beheld. The face was a smooth surface of ivory curves, accented by marbled shades of night and bordered with gold in between. The lines and forms were flawless, every angle precise. The numbering was accomplished in a mix of the same darker marble set in a relief against polished gold. The smaller ring displayed an elegant contrast against all that black and white, being made of a cobalt blue that shone in the sun, with it’s symbols done in ivory white. Many people passed by; steam powered carriages dropped off scores of them during the course of the afternoon. Most were only sparing it a glance or two though, but Trunks stood transfixed by it’s grandeur.
He was reluctant to leave the display, until he realized that evening was upon him and he could no longer make it back to the shop before nightfall. Even his hurried steps were light and full of a happy energy. The events of the day whirled in his mind, and before he knew it he was home. He came in through the front door of the shop, being that it was the only one that lead directly to the street. Not wanting to traverse the rest of the way through the building in darkness, he lit one of the lamps in the display room, intending to take it with him. He was stopped by the soft tinkling of the bell on the shop door. He turned, perplexed, to see a tall, almost hauntingly beautiful woman dressed entirely in black coming towards him.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but the shop is closed, I could have sworn I locked that door…” he said the last part as a mumble under his breath.
“What a gaudy display you have here, I’ve never seen a stodgy little shop before,” she said as she sauntered further into the room, “but you’re by far the most inelegant thing in here.”
Trunks bristled, not for the personal insult, but to hear his pieces referred to in such a fashion; his clocks and watches were classic and tastefully elaborate, sought after over the whole city.
“As I said, we’re closed, you’ll have to leave now,” he said striding past her and to the front door, holding it open for her, “the door is over here ma’am” he continued when she didn’t move. Two figures moved up, barring the exit – they were a pair of the dark forms that had chased him earlier, only disguised in human attire.
“Standing up to the Witch of the Waste, that’s bad for your health” she said as her eyes began to glow. Trunks was caught between the darkness and the witch.
“The Witch of the Waste! You’re Videl!?!” he gasped as an ethereal glow enveloped her entire being, casting her form in a dark light as if she were a negative of herself. The ghostly image sped toward him with a blast of wind as he unconsciously ducked behind his arm, but she passed right through him as if she were a real specter. Becoming solid again as she passed out the door, she turned to spout one last taunt at his huddled form.
“The best part about that spell is, that you can’t tell anyone about it. Give my regards to Gohan.”
The bell on the door tinkled merrily as it was slammed shut. Trunks stayed huddled in fear for a few moments, before the shock wore off and he dared to believe she really was gone. He straightened slowly, his joints aching – he must have tensed up too quickly during the attack, he was sore all over now. Or maybe it was an after effect of whatever spell she had cast upon him. He looked down to flex his fingers slowly, they ached as if he’d been sitting at his workbench for a lifetime, when he saw an old man’s shriveled hands before him. He cried out in shock and disbelief, hands immediately going to his face. He felt the sagging skin and worn features there roughly as he hurried over to the mirror in the back room.
His normally lavender, shoulder length hair, was a gray so faded it looked almost white, and he was at least a foot shorter, stooped over and unable to stand tall as he once did. He had also gained weight and several age spots.
“That can’t be me” the strange old-timer declared to him. His eyes widened, taking a step back and then turning to head back to the display room.
“Just stay calm Trunks” he spoke to himself. He made it to the doorway between the two rooms before having to turn around and check his reflection one more time. He peered slowly into the mirror’s field of vision, and an old man peeked at him from the edge of the frame. A sharply indrawn breath and he was flustered all over again.
“You need to stay calm, just think this through…” he muttered to himself as he wandered (slowly) from room to room, no purpose in his movements, just a restless disbelief. He finally decided he couldn’t stay awake just aimlessly worrying any longer, his tiring day getting the best of him, and he settled down for the night’s sleep. As he was drifting off, a sudden moment of clarity hit him.
Tomorrow I’ll go see about getting this sorted out, if a witch cast it, then a witch should be able to break it… he thought as he drifted off.
Trunks woke early, before any of the shops’ employees arrived. This place and all of them had meant a lot to his grandfather, the man who had founded it and who he now closely resembled, and he didn’t want to alarm any of them if he didn’t have to. After eating breakfast and packing himself a lunch for later, he set out; leaving a hasty note to explain his absence. The local fortune teller had a reputation for skill in the magical arts, he would see her and pay whatever it took to get this accursed, well, curse off of him. She was not known for her punctuality though, in fact just the opposite; so Trunks knew he might have a long day of waiting ahead of him.
Urani Baba’s House of Fortunes had no open or closed sign, it was just understood to be there. Sometimes the handle turned, sometimes not. Today it turned, to Trunks’ great relief. One hurdle at a time. Just the walk over here had taken far more energy than he would have thought possible. He would have to take one of the public steam-trolley’s back at this rate. The inside of the building was dank and deserted. He did notice a bell on the counter that said “Ring for Service” below it, so he picked it up and gave it a sound ringing. Nothing happened. He was contemplating another ring after a few minutes, when a short pudgy man came in from behind the counter. Trunks stood and came forward at the man’s beckoning.
“What is your business here?” he asked in a cracked voice.
“I need to see Urani Baba about a fortune” he answered.
The man looked him up and down, then nodded.
“Go ahead and take a seat, she’ll be with you when she’s ready.”
“How much is it? To read a fortune?” Trunks asked.
“Depends on the fortune, she’ll let you know once she sees you.”
“Oh, ok…” Trunks sat down, understanding from their conversation that his fortune would be read on her time, not on his, so he settled down to wait. He was there most of the day, it wasn’t until that afternoon when she finally came/called him in. Her price was pretty steep, but this was magic they were talking about, it couldn’t be defined in normal terms… Baba closed her eyes, and the mist within her crystal ball began to swirl. The mist flashed suddenly with a golden light, and Baba’s eyes flew open. So you’re the one, eh? She thought to herself.
“I’m sorry my good sir, but your destiny is not to be found within the confines of a sphere or magical shop, the answer, and only answer, to your problems, lies in The Waste.”
Illustration(s) for this story by various artist(s)
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