Len inspected the brass cog. It was one of many that lay broken on the floor, now that Tara had finished her work bashing the clockwork soldiers to all destruction. Such a waste, she thought. “These things are true marvels of engineering, and you go about smashing them up.”
Tara shrugged. “They attacked us.” She went to stand expectantly in front of the next door: yet another one of the blasted mechanical contraptions that had exotic locking mechanisms, and which required arcane settings to open them. Tara had grown weary of them, since they meant Len would have to pause to solve some riddle or perform some complex mathematics. Everything in the dungeon had been clock-based, and the door would not open unless the timer had been properly set just so, to some sequence of numbers like pass-codes. It meant Tara had to wait on Len.
At present Len was looting the bodies, so to speak. Unlike most soldiers whose weaponry was the treasure, Len considered the clockwork beings treasures in and of themselves. She was inspecting and sorting and stowing into in her magical carrying bag (which was bigger on the inside than the outside) all the gears, sprockets, springs, threaded bolts, and counter-balance weights she deemed of value. Most of the larger ones she ignored, since they could be produced by nearly any metal-worker of decent skill – it was the small pieces, the really really tiny pieces a tenth the size of a coin that were so precisely-made to fit together that she was coveting. As she began admiring the precise teeth on one such gear, smaller than her fingernail, she heard Tara tapping her foot.
“It’s not going anywhere,” Tara reminded her, “and at this rate neither are we.” Len looked over and met her impatient gaze. She picked up handfuls of the tiny pieces, which she was sure must be worth something to someone, and put them away, leaving the larger, more common, or smashed bits aside.
She approached the door, which was decorated with an ornate clock. The clock had six hands, none of which corresponded exactly to the modern time-keeping system of hours, minutes or seconds, but instead to the arcane metrics of whatever lost civilization had built this ancient dungeon complex. She pulled out her wizardry notebook, and performed some conversion algorithms on her hands. If she got this wrong, as in some previous chambers, more of the enemies would drop down from the ceiling, or slide out from secret doors in the walls to assail them as intruders, so she spent an extra fifteen minutes proofing her calculations.
Tara yawned loudly. Len looked over critically.
She reached up and moved the six clock-hands on the door just so. They cycled through their movements for a time, until aligning into a star pattern slightly off center from the door. The hands glowed, and a cacophony rose up as the barricades rotated, spun and slid out of place, unlocking. The door opened. They walked in, and beheld the chamber inside.
The room had a domed ceiling of twelve arches. The thick transparent glass floor was the face of a giant six-handed clock, ticking ever so quietly. In the center of the magically lit chamber was a being of metal and feminine shape. It rose from a cross-legged sitting position, and drew sword and shield.
“Great,” Tara said. “Another clockwork guardian.” She drew her own shield and hammer in response. Len chanted to cast a spell, hastening herself and Tara to give them a fighting edge, each accelerated woman wreathed in an outline of white and blue light.
The mysterious clock-creature pointed its sword at them in a jerky motion, flashed violet, and their glow disappeared, dispelled.
“It appears the creature knows magic, too,” Len remarked worriedly, speaking at a normal rate, neither of them hastened any more.
It charged at them suddenly with frightening speed.
Pathfinder RPG Stat Block:
With a sword like the hand of a clock and a shield like a clock-face, this humanoid warrior appears to be made of clockwork pieces beneath crystal. Though apparently rigid and twitchy, the metal woman seems ready to fight.
Automaton, Tau CR 10
LN Medium outsider (extraplanar, inevitable, psionic)
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +19
AC 27, touch 17, flat-footed 20 (+5 Dex, +1 dodge, +10 natural, +1 shield)
hp 123 (13d10+52); regeneration 10 (electricity)
Fort +12, Ref +11, Will +11
Defensive Abilities constructed; DR 10/—; Immune psionics
Speed 70 ft., Speed of Thought
Melee +1 longsword +17/+12/+7 (1d8+4)
Psi-Like Abilities (ML 11th, concentration +14)
At Will – deceleration (DC 15)
3/day – temporal acceleration, physical acceleration, psionic lion’s charge, time hop (DC 17)
1/day – mass time hop (DC 22), temporal acceleration (ML 19, 3 rounds), time regression
Str 16, Dex 21, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 19
Base Atk +13; CMB +16; CMD 31
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Psionic Dodge, Run, Speed of Thought
Skills Acrobatics +21, Craft (clockworks) +18, Intimidate +20, Knowledge (planes) +18, Knowledge (psionics) +18, Perception +19, Sense Motive +19, Stealth +21
Treasure standard (+1 longsword, masterwork light steel shield, other treasure)
Evasion (Ex): The tau automaton can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If they makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, they instead takes no damage. If they are helpless it does not gain the benefit of evasion.
Immunity to Psionics (Ex): A tau automaton is immune to any psionic effects that are subject to power resistance. It can choose to affect itself with its own psi-like abilities as a free action.
The tau is an unusual automaton. Unlike most of its kind, it is less interested in fighting the phrenic scourge as it is fighting strong opponents. So far only one tau has ever been seen, a female-looking creature resembling a clockwork soldier with an hourglass body shape and armaments bearing a clock motif. Indeed, the attention to aesthetics is very unlike the construction of other automatons, and some speculate this may mean it was constructed by a more mortal creator.
Though the creature has wandered the land recently, ancient records indicate that the tau has existed since at least 10,000 years ago, and that it is probably the same individual. Given its obvious abilities to control time, it is possible it has either traveled through time or, as a construct, endured centuries into the present day. It appears periodically throughout history, the only common thread to its random manifestation being to challenge warriors gifted with great speed or to oppose beings who also possess specialized mastery over psionics or magic that manipulates time.