Summary:The Solars investigate the Sperimin library and learn of the nature of Zahara's curse.

XP:C4, S4, V4, Z4

< The Slate Chamber | Sol Invictus Logs | It Shall Be Forged Anew >

Thanks in no small part to Spring's noble sacrifice, Raksi, the Queen of Fangs, had granted the Solars access to the vast Library of Sperimin, and now they sat on the deck of the Fable -- comfortably distant from the blood-strewn halls of the ape-queen's abbatoir -- to go over the knowledge extracted thereby.

Off in the distance, the jungle trees wave breezily, and the lights of Solaria gleam, tiny but brilliant, on the horizon far off to the northwest.

After a few too many moments of considering in horror precisely how his usual eating equation has been turned on him, Spring goes off to the lower decks to recollect himself and possibly re-acquaint himself with the long-absent feeling of nausea, leaving behind him a copy of a glorious Solar manual containing the entirety of his newly-acquired knowledge on the topics at the library.

`zahara grabs the book, and wipes it off thoroughly

On the cover is printed "Spring's Super-Helpful Ape-Library Necromantic Research Manual."

`zahara "Let's see what Sperimin can tell us about Ne..." she mutters, and flips through the book. For a few moments, she is too angry at the curse-bestower to do more than that, and then something catches her eye and her irritation and even the mark seared on her soul are forgotten as she follows the trail of knowledge through the extremely condensed library.

"~ Chapter One: Zahara Zhan and the Malevolently Malicious Malefactor's Malady ~"

The book's first section is dedicated solely to a recap of what the Solars had already known before their journey here.

The curse first came to the Solars' attention when Zahara's distant cousin, a man by the name of Jiris Ara-Zhan, arrived at their doorstep in search of his relative -- only to perish to the disease before anyone could answer the door. The disease had burned the character "Ne" into his chest (at first invisibly to all but other sufferers, but visible to all in death), and caused a violent and painful hemorrhagic expiration.

Further investigation had revealed that the disease seemed to be affecting all Zhans -- or at least, all those of the youngest generation of their respective families. Yet more investigation had shown that problem is entirely non-medical in nature, with a necrotic source of energy acting at some remove whose influence nonetheless causes the deaths of those afflicted -- a purely magical curse, not a disease of any kind.

The investigations Lucent performed, in fact, seemed to indicate that the curse was actually somehow tied into the spiritual nature of all humanity -- with its negative effect on the Zhans merely being the specifics of its manifestation.

The information provided by Jiris' ghost, and further followup investigations, made it clear that the curse had begun to take its effect no more than six months ago at the very most, but beyond that, many of the details had still been sketchy -- the creator of the disease mysterious, the purpose hidden.

After that, the book diverges for a matter of about twenty pages to a lengthy treatise explaining in great detail the reasons why Spring's unfortunate habits of consuming a variety of objects and beings are entirely different from Raksi's and do not in any way indicate any form of fundamental compatibility of interest.

Eventually, the book returns to topic with "~ Chapter Two: The Case of the Curious Curse Caretaker ~" -- and it is here that the new information begins to dovetail with what is already known of the disease.

`zahara "You can really tell who the author of this book is. Cerin's knowledge... Spring's writing..." she mutters.

Pieced together from a series of treatises and obscure papers most likely unread since the First Age, the book goes into a theory -- crafted by savants of the age but seemingly never acted on (at least amongst the public record) -- referred to with the somewhat excessive name of "Twenty-Sevenfold Microcosm Cross-Vertical Alignment Principle" -- or in simpler words, the Snowflake Principle.

Essentially, the principle calls upon the Creationwide alignment between any one thing and the totality of the groups to which it belongs -- and the innumerable alignments of Essence, all throughout Creation, which link and conjoin all things to one another by principles of innate sympathy.

`zahara "Have any of you ever heard of the Snowflake Principle?" she asks, then describes the basics of it.

`Cerin is taking the time to familarise himself with the material. After all, most of this knowledge was in the form of pictures of single pages, rather than coherrent--or not so coherrent in the case of some of the books in the library--text.

`Cerin "I am aware of it," Cerin says. "In general terms."

Through application of this principle, a twofold form of symmetrical magic becomes possible: by isolating in any one thing (or person) a series of qualities that precisely describe some subset of a whole which it too is a part of, another series of qualities can be magically passed on such that they inevitably manifest in the group -- while changes in the group conversely cause spiritually equivalent effects in the one.

`zahara "It seems someone has made... a voodoo doll out of my family."

`Cerin "Ah."

In the writings within the library, it's clear that -- at least at the level being discussed in these papers -- the sheer scope of any such project kept serious experiments beyond the level of a few rocks from the same quarry from happening, especially as other, more direct methods of magical power evolved amongst the savants of the First Age.

`Cerin "That is ... impressive."

`zahara "If it weren't directed at me, I would be congratulating them on their work."

`Imrama "Does this explain why different members of the family, yourself most notably, were effected at different times?"

But this principle does -- again, at least according to speculative thought -- allow for potentially subtle action on a fantastically huge scope, with effects potentially larger (given enough time) than even the greatest sorceries. And, most importantly -- at least one paper suggests that the best way to achieve this principle would be through the use of a linguistic anchor to conjoin the specimens together.

`Varanim Varanim, who counts linguistics as a tertiary interest because she is so rarely interested in what people have to say, is instead considering the problem of the known order of magnitude of the afflicted population size, the somewhat roundabout distribution network, and the corresponding size of necrotic energy source that would be required as a minimum.

`Cerin "It could be that the link is slowly being established. Perhaps the manifestation of the symbol is self-reforcement?" Cerin hazards. "They are all Zhan's, which is an initial link, and then 'Ne' reinforces this?"

`zahara "It could explain it yes, and the subtlety of the workings might explain why I had to be affected directly rather than letting it move through the network of my family, since my Shard protects me from most small effects." She nods to Cerin, "Yes, that seems to be how it is working..."

`Varanim While Cerin and Zahara discuss, she stretches out her soulsteel arm and flicks her fingers in an impatient beckoning gesture to no one in particular. On the other side of the Shroud, one of Black Mastodon's many descendants touches her hand (possibly with some anxiety) and her muscle fibers begin to twitch slightly with very focused Essence expenditure.

`Varanim The remainder of her attention is on Hezed, many miles distant but one of the better examples of necrotic energy binding a common group. Contrasting the traditional use of the Sins of the Father with the more dynamically-maintained entrapment of Chiaroscuro's dead, she considers the similar but distinct problem of powering a curse with the tie of blood but without the inertia of time.

One by one, the variables to the great motonic equation seem to slip into Varanim's mind one by one. At the end, she finds herself with an answer: 9,427 paratlebeks (give or take 300) -- or, in the laymens-terms she sadly knows she will have to inevitably translate her answer into momentarily, more than seventy times the energy exuded by the Lord's Crossing shadowland the Solars had recently closed.

Armed with this knowledge, the newly-provided information about the Snowflake principle, and the brief samples of the related energy she's been able to examine in the past, Varanim can draw an absolute and unquestionable conclusion here: this energy to craft this curse originates with one of the Neverborn, and was filtered and shaped over the course of millennia by one of the Deathlords.

`Varanim "Huh. Has to come from a Neverborn, too big to be anything else. Can't see who's been steering it, though. Yet." Absently, she flexes her hand, arm settling down to quietude with a few grindings.

`zahara "Possibly the Lion, since I was cursed in his house."

`Varanim "I wonder if whoever it is knows they're being tapped." Privately she starts, ::Spring...:: then ::Ah. Never mind. Later.::

`zahara "I am fairly certain..." she says, recalling the moment it struck her.

`Varanim "Certain it was intentional? Go on, I have a book of icky symbols to point to if you can't remember a name."

`Varanim "Or less interestingly to me but maybe of more interest to you, keep reading to the hilariously alliterative chapter about curing it."

"~ Chapter 3: Two Tenacious Twilights and The Tactic To Totally Transform and Treat The Terrible Technique ~"

`zahara "Fairly certain that the Neverborn is... not opposed to it, if nothing else." She eyes the title of the next chapter, reading it aloud for those who are not looking over her shoulder.

`zahara "The King of Fangs really needs help with his titles."

The notes here are much sketchier, which unfortunately leads to Spring's subconscious wandering off on rather more tangential lines of thought about the inappropriateness of certain forms of interpersonal touching, but ultimately, it attempts to piece together a method of defeating the curse based on the notes regarding potential challenges in the papers.

`Imrama "The Consort of Fangs, more likely. Raksi isn't the short to share."

`zahara "Good point. i'll make sure to notify him of his title change when he stops looking green."

In order to function correctly in an ongoing fashion, the Snowflake Technique requires two things: a continued sympathetic association between the group members affected, and an ongoing mapping along certain motonic principles for the singular subject.

`zahara "Do you think they still have Brigid?"

As such, there are two potential vectors to affect its progress. In one, by introducing certain counter-patterns into the totality of the affected group, it might disrupt the patterning enough to break the association;

in the other, by violently reshaping the fundamental identity of the singular target (generally, the paper notes, through death) at a suitable moment, one could shatter the association in such a way as to reverberate a different, preselected quality not possessed by the singular target out to the group, overwriting the original intended effect.

In both cases, identifying the full list of affected individuals or objects is key to crafting a proper disruption.

`zahara "Her ghost, rather."

`zahara "Either way, they have SOMEONE, and we need to find out who it is. And hope it isn't..." she frowns.

`Spring comes up from belowdecks, still not looking entirely comfortable.

`Spring "Hello."

`Spring "I am sorry about the book."

`Varanim "I'm not."

`Spring ::What did you want to ask me?::

`Spring "It would be easier for you to get married."

`Spring finds a dinner roll, and eats it.

`zahara "What? What for?"

`Spring "The Snowflake Principle identifies traits that all members of a particular group possess."

`Spring "If we want to protect you, the quickest way would be to change as many things about you as possible, so as to make you no longer part of the group."

`zahara "I'm not going to stop being Zahara Zhan simply because it might kill me."

`Spring frowns, turns around, and coughs. He turns back, looking a little sheepish, and eats the dinner roll again.

`Varanim "Wrong hole?" she asks mildly.

`Varanim ::I'm thinking. We should talk more later.:: Her mental voice is a little slow, possibly preoccupied.

`Spring "I suppose I should have expected as much, Zahara." Spring does not comment on Varanim's query.

`zahara shrugs a little. "I appreciate the thought," she offers.

`zahara has a private conversation with Cerin...

`Varanim "I can poke around on the Neverborn''Deathlord thing," she contributes with a certain vagueness.

`Spring "Hm."

`Spring "There is another alternative."

`Spring "The curse only affects the youngest generation of Zhans."

`zahara "We need to find out who the primary target is... I might be able to devise a ritual to track them down if I can gather enough family members."

`Varanim "Ooh, you could fundamentally damage the connective concept of 'family' by restricting marriage groups to one man and one woman. You can make laws like that, right?"

`zahara looks at Varanim as if she were insane. "Why would I do something like that?"

`Spring "Lucent would be very upset."

`zahara "Oh... NOW I get it."

`Spring "I suppose, in either case, we will need to stage a family reunion."

`Spring "In the Wyld, perhaps."

`Varanim "That sounds like a hilariously bad idea, so I'm all for it."

`zahara "Besides," she adds virtuously, "We have to save the rest of my family too."

`zahara takes Spring off her Chayan Festival present list


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Page last modified on October 29, 2010, at 01:27 PM