A Day in the Life
The Calculating Engine
The Calculating Engine
of Rashad the Brilliant
Hajji Rashad the Brilliant, son of Hajji Umar, son of Hajji Umar, was once a resident of Qudra, in the land of Zakhara, on Toril, and was that city's greatest Digitalogist [Numerologist Wizard - the clueless should read The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook]. One day, his calculations opened a portal to Sigil, and here he has remained.
Impressed and awe-struck as most clueless primes are when they first lay eyes on the City of Doors, Rashad wandered the streets for many days, neither sleeping nor eating -- simply absorbing the sights and sounds of this strange new place. Of course, it wasn't long then before he decided to make Sigil his new home and centre for research; and it wasn't too long after that the he joined up with the Guvners.
Recognising Rashad's unique talent, Factor Hashkar made the unprecedented move of promoting him directly from Aide to Bureau Chief (B3) rank (the first time in the Faction's history the Special Provision of the Charter of the Fraternity of Order 12372A-221 had actually been exercised!) and assigned him as head of a special bureau within the Research Bureau's Bureau for Portal Research (BPR).
He devoted the next five and a half years to overseeing the construction of an enormous "Calculating Engine", perhaps the largest and most complex device of its type outside Mechanus. It is housed in its own building in the Lady's Ward, not far from the Courthouse.
The Engine itself is an immense and incredible collection of cogs and gears driven by a steam line that runs under street level to the Foundry. Input of figures is via a set of levers which engage and disengage various sets of gears from the mechanism, and results are read from a whole bank of dial faces.
Rashad is currently using the machine to analyse the contents of the Guvner's famed Shifter's Logs, and receives daily updates from the Faction's Aides to add to the nearly 1000 years' worth of records he is working through.
Most bloods would feel a little uncomfortable doing this kind of work -- everyone knows what happens to those who get too close to the truth about Sigil's portals, and the Calculating Engine is under constant Dabus scrutiny, yet Rashad isn't worried. You see, he isn't trying to unravel the dark of the pattern of the portals, nor trying to predict their movements. Rather, he is examining the portals not as a phenomenon in themselves, but rather as a clue to understanding another phenomenon -- the sublime subtle order the underpins the Multiverse; much like what the Mathematicians are attempting to achieve on Mechanus. Indeed, Rashad has been approached several times to join the Mathematicians, but has declined each time, believing too strongly in his own line of research, and not at all sure if the Mathematicians are barking up the wrong tree or not.
The Modrons are extremely interested in Sigil's Calculating Engine, and have been involved with the project from the start, even assigning several gear spirits to the machine, and it is not uncommon to see Quadrones arriving from Regulus to see Rashad with some new data that it is felt he might be able to use.
Rashad himself has been granted permanent complete and free access to the Orrery in the Modron Cathedral, but, like other visitors, is still always accompanied by Pentadrone guards.
Recently, Rashad has begun a series of calculations to design his own simplified and miniature version of the great Orrery as an annex to the Calculating Engine, as a further aid to his research, but construction is unlikely to being for another year or two yet.
Rashad almost never has time to talk to strangers, yet those familiar with Zakharan customs probably stand a better chance than most. Neither is he interested in making or sharing predictions or information about portals. His Bureau, however, will pay for information on portals not already contained in the Shifter's Logs, and will occasionally employ adventurers as scouts to go through newly discovered portals, or portals suspected to have shifted at the other end, and will employ Guvners as special couriers, envoys, or observers to various parts of Mechanus.
Rashad will occasionally take the time to work on other mathematical problems or numerological enquiries presented to him if the problem or puzzle captures his imagination and interest. He also will occasionally sell time on the Calculating Engine to anyone who has need of such great computational power (Sigil's Tax Office, for example).