The first time he finds an artifact is purely by chance.
He stumbles upon it the way a dog does a shiny stone but instead of it being a stone, it is an old, bronze relic from the years of ash and war. Time has eroded the details, leaving only remnants: here is an engraving that would have once been beautiful, here is a mechanical piece that has lost all function, here is a symbol forgotten to eons. No one could tell what it was: a weapon, a tool, or even an ornament?
Regardless of it all, the piece enthralled him. The way the past breathed through this object, the delicate and immortal nature of it, the sense of time losing all meaning for a second when you touched it and becoming only an idea, a thought, fantasy.
He wondered, for the briefest of moments, if he could ever invent something akin to it.
Andal’s legacy, however, was not known for clockwork marvels and mechanical wonders. They reared cows, watered crops, the daily routine of Ten that had become its own prized tradition. They won every annual pie contest, participated in every harvest festival. They were reputed for their southern charm and adored for their hazelnut pastries. The cows they reared grew strong, the ranch they built had stood for hundred years and would stand a hundred more.
All of this, too, held a timelessness, an immortality.
But he wanted more. Ambition is a body and he has always longed to be its shadow. A past fades, and no one goes searching for it. The thought agonizes him. He must search and learn, search and learn.
And so he pursues it. Nights spent in candlelight, going over records from the local library that has the librarian raising a brow on some occasions. History of the Rebellion. The Won War. The Capitol’s Victories. It can’t be right. He digs deeper, seeks out elusive contacts that lend him books that would be deemed contraband if found, and he quickly realizes the common thread they share. The past has been buried, deep under layers of falsehood and embellishments, and it bellowed to be unearthed. It screamed to be found.
Andal hungered to find it.
Meanwhile, his interest in farming waned. Instead he spent his days in the cool of his garage, head bent over a new trinket or invention to tear apart and piece back together, poring over designs he’d dreamt and imagined.
A little sundial, made intricately so that the shadows could paint out the time at present.
A wind vane, now set on top of their farmhouse, that showed the direction of the wind with the faintest breeze.
And always, he keeps the artifact he found close by. The fragment glints encouragingly, tells him to press on.
The past watches, as he makes things for the future.
"The way the past breathed through this object, the delicate and immortal nature of it, the sense of time losing all meaning for a second when you touched it and becoming only an idea, a thought, fantasy." Urgh, this is S T U N N I N G. Steampunk vibes are everything.