It is often said that the Gnomes are the least spiritual of the races of Azeroth. The wonders of their world are mechanical in nature, technical in design, and largely owed entirely to their own hands. Gnomes have little chance to become healers of any stripe, and some say this is due in part to their willing isolation from the world of the spiritual and the touch of the divine.
But there exists in many other races the desire to connect to the source of all creation. To reach out and touch the infinite. To some Engineers, a function of their artifice is to access the forces which power all of creation, and, once there, to perhaps make just a few minor adjustments, maybe tighten up a gear or two. The cataclysmic danger of any Engineer able to do any such thing does not, as a rule, occur to such Engineers. Those who might naysay such grand designs as heresy, madness, or more commonly A Really Bad Idea For Too Many Reasons to List are not generally included in conversations on the topic. Engineers, perhaps Gnomish Engineers in particular, are not easily dissuaded from a task they have set themselves. In light of this, they do not often invite others who might try. It seems a waste of energy all around.
It is the spiritual side of Engineering we will discuss today, using notes provided by Chief Engineer Geargrinder.
The Engineer is no atheist, no craven tomb robber digging stones from the resisting earth to use them against her flesh. We rely on the Earthmother no less than any druid or shaman, and indeed many druids and shamans are Engineers of no mean skill. The Tauren have a prayer we utter:
"We Walk Her Skin, We Mine Her Veins"
"We walk her skin, we mine her veins. We take what she gives, and find what she leaves. We are cloaked in her flesh and her bones; they protect us and give us respite from our foes. Woe betide those who take what she gives not, for they are spent shells and old schematics: of no use to the Earthmother, to be ground beneath her bones."
In the Invocation of the Earthmother, we remind ourselves that it is she who grants us the tools of our trade. For what would we be, without the metal and stones she provides for us, there for the taking for any willing to accept them? Herbalists pick the moss that grows on her skin, and mystics chant hymns to her eyes, but we go within her flesh and bring forth power and life. We are the midwives of the Earthmother's gifts to us.
"In the Hum of Machinery: the Voice of the World"
All the worlds move in conjunction with the dictates of order, in precise and metered time. Who but an Engineer can understand the care and attention needed to even design such a grand machine, much less put it into operation? We understand, we tinkers and makers, that the smallest machine is a model of the largest. The patterns are different, but as a knife is to a sword, so a Delicate Arcanite Converter is to the turning of the worlds. All is one, and all is driven by the Machine of Nine. We say this to ourselves in quiet and in battle, in contemplation and in desperation, to remind ourselves the power we hold, and the power it represents beyond us.
"Nine the gears which drive the worlds; seven the gears that grind them."
It is held by some in the Engineering disciplines that all things function on the same basic principles, the same laws. Be it the turning of Gear A in a clockwise fashion which turns Gear C in a likewise fashion, or the application of energy to reverse gross physical damage to the flesh, all things must surely function along the same guidelines, else the worlds could not hold together, and reality itself would suffer a catastrophic delamination, flinging us all to the far reaches of an already crumbling existence. The forces which power the universe are as yet a mystery to most technicians, but we have begun to research the schemata of the spheres. To give a thing a name is to give it life and power, and here we name the Gears which drive the worlds, and discuss (without naming) the Gears which grind them.
"Hail to the Gear of Air, which drives the wind and storm. Hail the Gear of Water, which turns the sea and stream. Hail the Gear of Fire, which drives the sun to earth. Hail the Gear of Earth, which raises mountains, churning ore. Hail the Gear of Life, which rusts even as it is forged. Hail the Gear of Death, the cog whose teeth mesh not. Hail the Gear of Time, which rotates ever clockwise. Hail the Gear of the Will, intent given form and function. And Hail the Gear of Gears, whose every revolution turns them all."
In the invocation of the Nine, the Engineer names those forces which shape the worlds. One can find the four elements in all things, just as all things must yield to Death (also called Decay) and all things enjoy a period of Life (also called existence). All things on the worlds pass through Time as well, in one direction or the other, sometimes alternating. All action in life must come from some intent and purpose, which is the revolution of the Gear of the Will. And as with any machine, there must be a Master Gear which drives the whole contraption, from whose revolution all motion is spawned.
The Nine care not for the minute functions of the machine they drive. Any consciousness which we could perceive as such must surely be limited to the performance of their job. If you could speak to a gear in your Flying Machine, would it be interested in what you had for lunch, or who you think is cute in your Engineering class? No. If a gear in your Flying Machine could speak, it would likely discuss with you its function, its purpose, and how it would like if you could get back to using it for that purpose sometime. Nothing likes to be disused, even a gear in a Flying Machine.
Even so, their function powers the universe in which we live, and drives all things, from an ant making piles of sand to a Gnome making Death Rays, to the very forces which shape the worlds on which we walk. Thus we honor them, as their function not only drives our lives, it lays out the schematic by which all things we make are designed. It is said that if we could perceive the Nine Gears, we would find them all to be varying shades of blue.
The Seven Gears shall not be named here. To name the Machine of Seven is to begin to draw its plans within your mind. From that first purchase are the Seven given free reign, and we have sworn to never let that come to pass again.
Imagine a great machine whose only purpose is to destroy. Larger than gods, than planets, this cosmic shredder is designed to bring an end to all things, including at the last, itself. This is the Machine of Seven, as best one can approximate it. One must not confuse the Seven with the Gear of Death, as some heretics have done. Death is a process, a natural occurrence, which comes as it will to all things. As such it works within the Machine of Nine, a cog whose teeth mesh not, spinning unpredictably. One cannot say when the Gear of Death will complete its revolution, one can only tell when it has done so. The Machine of Seven is not a part of the process of life. It was designed outside the universe, with the intention to consume it.
The Machine of Seven, it is thought, drove the destruction of Gnomeregan. So, too, it may have driven the corruption of the Eredar, though Sargeras himself could not have seen the turning of the Seven Gears. There are things which, once thought, cannot be unthought, and which lead to the Machine of Seven's vast and hateful hum rising in the mind of the thinker. Certain pathways in the mind awaken circuits, open relays, and these circuits and relays signal to the Seven that they must begin to turn again. And so the Seven are not named, though their names are known. For to name a thing is to give it power, the Seven are a machine which must never again be powered up.
Cleaning up Shop
The Engineer is not a soulless automaton. With our hands, our hooves, and our minds, we breathe life into quiescent metal and stone, and give form and function to the flesh of the Earthmother. All things turn at the will of the Gears. An Engineer whose soul is in his work will find his soul has respite there.