They say that the line between genius and madness is a fine one. Many aspiring artists and businessmen pass through the halls of the Library looking for places where they might find that elusive spark that launches their careers into supernovas. In their search for muses and customers, what most of them overlook is that ambition without caution can ruin even the most towering of endeavors. It is common to only hear of those who were successful, but among these seekers of fame and wealth across worlds, few tales of failure are as well-known as that of Glipto Mageeras, The Sculptor-Cook.
It was, as tales go, once upon a time
There was a world high and sublime
Forged from dreams of man and child
With cities great and creatures wild
A fantastic vision, imagine if you will
Things beyond the words of the quill
Whole worlds floating in an archsea
Of cosmic sweets and kaleidoscope tea
A wise race welcomes all travelers
Trading books and sharing answers
They fight dogmas and probe nature
Some even say they can tell the future
A talking maze invites adventurers all
To solve its puzzles and brave its walls
If they pass the spikes and compressors
They’ll leave with wonderful treasures
An undead kingdom where no one dies
There live and thrive thieves and spies
An oligarchy of liches rule with iron fist
The very sun is a giant, glowing cyst
A ghost fused to a rotten, scaled beast
He was once a devout and noble priest
But what he had wasn't enough to him
To rise in power, he served gods grim
A dying group of desperate Oneirarchs
Send their avatars to one last march
To gather the followers and convert
Lest their very essence become inert
So many marvels, only when we sleep
The Wanderers search the books deep
For a way to visit these worlds awake
So they may learn and secrets take
"Hi, Aapt and Aadarsh Leoroar here! Are you looking for rare spell ingredients? Look no further! Here at the Hexen's Apothecary, you will find everything you need!" a slim, dark skinned man on the TV promised at the top of his lungs. He had a comically oversized pointy hat and an obviously fake white beard. His robes were in various garish shades of blue and had pockets full of dangling herbs, bones and other weird things. He was in a room with walls made of stone painted red and blue. Shelves of glass bottles of every shape and size containing colorful liquids adorned the background. The name of the shop appeared in ornate, medieval-like letters that glittered red and blue as well.
"That's right! We've got common ingredients too!" proclaimed another man that looked much the same, but with red robes.
"Have you ever wanted to know what it was like to be an ocelot? Wonder no more with our newest shipment of will-o-the-wisp ether! Just add some to your coffee and presto! Take the form of your spirit animal!" explained the man in blue robes.
The man in red robes takes a crystal from one of his pockets and shakes it vigorously. He puts in a small cup of coffee and drinks it all in one go. His eyes widen as the viewer is shown an x ray vision of his bones rapidly shrinking and contorting until they take the shape of an ocelot's skeleton. He still has his oversized hat, which now covers almost his entire body.
"The process is quick and completely painless!" assures the man in blue robes.
"Or perhaps you need silence and peace to concentrate on your arcana studies!" says the man in red robes, now suddenly human again. "We have the new snake essence in pill form! All the sounds you want to ignore will turn into imperceptible vibrations!" He takes out a green pill and swallows it dry. He sits down on a couch and calmly reads a book while the other man repeatedly squeezes a horn right next to his head.
"We also have a wide selection of fairy and faerie dust! You can experience lucid dreams without any effort at all!" The scene changes to a room where the man in blue robes is sleeping on a blue racecar bed while holding a teddy bear. A thought bubble appears over his head. He is in a Jacuzzi wearing sunglasses and chomping on a cigar, surrounded by beautiful women.
"Need to get somewhere fast and traffic isn't helping? Try our tele-phasing chalk! Just draw the runes in the instructions and think of the place you want to go!" says the man in red robes. He draws a magical circle on the ground in quick motion, puts on a red astronaut suit and jumps into it. A portal emerges on the surface of Mars and the astronaut comes out of it. He high fives a classical Grey alien. A tiny disclaimer appears on the bottom of the screen. "The tele-phasing chalk can not actually take you to outer space."
"Want to remain clean even in enormous heat? You need our thermo syphoning deodorant mix! It keeps the excessive heat away from your body, which prevents you from sweating!" says the man wore blue robes, now in a blue jogging suit running through a desert.
"And last, but not least, take a look at our voidtech vacuum cleaner! It can disintegrate even the most hard to remove filth!" guarantees the man in red robes. He spills several nasty oils on an expensive looking carpet. He uses the vacuum cleaner and the stains disappear.
"Order now!" the two men invite in unison.
I lived with a heart full of idle, pointless venom for the Earth and the people that walk upon it. I suppose it is only fitting that this same venom has eaten me from the inside, but it is not fair. There are so many people out there who are worse than me and are still alive.
I remember my last days. It was a harsh winter, and my appearance had degraded due to my ailment. My once firm and stout physique, maintained by daily exercise, had withered into a ghastly husk. I did not get as much sunlight, and went paler as a result. The very color of my eyes might have faded. Those who visited me were shocked to see my pitiful state. I often looked into the mirror and saw not myself, but the Reaper staring back at me. Though I could still play the flute some days, the notes seemed less joyous to me. Rage boiled in me, and I threw it against the wall. After that, my once foul temper turned into a sort of grim calmness. I could not paint or sculpt with my usual finesse, and the family's income decreased.
My wife and son were not targets of my anger. She cared for me as she always did, and would hold my hand, as if her trembling grasp could hold my soul. She wept. Our arguments ceased, as the inevitability of my death became apparent. Unlike me, she was always very devout, but in those days her faith waned. I could tell she was indignant at the heavens for letting this happen. Our son was too young to even grasp the idea of death. I would try to console them, but my words were as useless as a painting of food to a starving man. I felt like the most unfortunate person in the world. I thought that no one had ever known misery like this.
A few days before I died, I had an idea. I gathered the brush, paint and canvas. It took me every ounce of my strength, but I created one last painting. I felt like there was a huge weight on my shoulders, a thorny vine wrapped around my heart that could not be removed with a simple prayer.
I painted myself prostrated before the eye of the Lord and a choir of angels, begging Him to forgive me and to watch over my wife and son. My wife was jubilant at this gesture, and thanked me for saving my own soul.
Now I wait and hope my repentance was not in vain.
Can’t find warmth in anyone
Stench of repetition
Plenty to do, no will
Madness by seeking
A way out of the maze
A number in the news
Can there be a miracle?
Yes, resounding yes, shining so bright
The world need not be shrouded in night
Forever stuck the same, like this verse
It's not Fate that it always gets worse
Like sudden rhymes, you can make a stand
Become heralds of hope, hand in hand.
When the gods made the world, they discussed what each one would contribute. This chapter details the contribution of the god Bordnan, the fifth and last to emerge from the debris of Yaod, the grand substance of the beginning which collapsed upon itself and formed the universe. The other four were Fridonir, Dreyar, Wulgin and Hovak, in that order.1
Bordnan was very observant and subtle, and said thus: "I noticed something very important that none of you did. How are we supposed to talk with our creations? I shall make good use of the time living creatures spend on rest. I shall impart our messages to the ones that are resting in such a way as to not disturb them. These messages shall carry our orders and gifts, and they shall be known as dreams."
The other gods approved Bordnan's idea, and lent him their tools to him so he could forge dreams. He did not need tools to make dreams, but accepted them out of gratefulness. Dreyar made a spinning wheel from the finest gold and silver, and a house decorated with the finest gems, both selected from the finest planets. Wulgin and Fridnoir worked together to make animals that produced black wool speckled with celestial bodies. Hovak made scissors made from the bones of the first animal that died.
Bordnan used the wool of the animals and the spinning wheel to weave the night sky everyday. When Bordnan finished weaving, he went to his balcony and smoked the fat from his different beasts from his pipe. He sat in his reclining chair and idled away time, drawing in the smoke with his hands. The drawings of smoke from his pipe were breathed by the sleepers and gave them dreams. When the time of the sun arrived, he used the scissors to cut away the night and let dawn in.
And so each god earned a title. Bordnan became known as Dreamfather.
Over time, Bordnan began to desire an apprentice. A rich neighborhood in the city of Ghrad was filled with many merchants, and he was curious to see if someone there would use his gifts for something. He reached a plaza where the red gavret trees grew and carried bird cages from which delicious songs came.
Bordnan saw a young man sitting on a bench looking very sad. He approached the man and asked him what was his name and the cause of his sadness. "My name is Sifas. My father is a merchant, and so was my grandfather and those before. Naturally, it is expected of me to take up the family trade, but I know I will be a failure," he answered.
"You should have more confidence in yourself! The young are the fountain from which the future flows," said Bordnan with a raised finger.
"I have heard that before," sighed Sifas.
"Tell me something. What would you do if you became the greatest merchant in all of Ghrad?"
"I would use my money to help the poor. Out of my house's window I can see the many neighborhoods which are less fortunate than mine, and it saddens me."
Bordnan liked Sifas' answer. "I assure you that soon inspiration will come to you."
"I surely hope so."
That night, Bordnan came to Sifas in dreams and gave him the knowledge he needed to begin his work. Sifas soon started his own business selling fabrics. People were swayed by the young man's words with ease, though he did his best to not abuse this gift. Sifas did not tell anyone of the dream he had, but he knew it was Bordnan who had blessed him, and thanked the Dreamfather everyday. He slowly, but steadily expanded his business and wealth, and did as he had said. He used his resources to build better houses and prepare food for the poor, and founded an institution which taught them several arts and trades so they could earn their own coin. Bordnan saw all of this and was proud.
Years passed, and Sifas had become the greatest merchant of Ghrad. He used his fame and wealth as stepping stones for the beginning of his political career and earned a position among the ranks of Ghrad's rulers. His responsibilities grew, and he stopped taking the time to thank Bordnan. Sifas became corrupt, taking the money earned from the taxes to his own pockets and practicing nepotism. Bordnan saw this and was disappointed. He felt like smiting Sifas, but did not want to kill him. That night, the Dreamfather made a special mixture of fat from his animals and drew a horrible dream that would would drive Sifas mad and make him lose his positions as ruler in the next three days. These were the first nightmares.
In the first day, Sifas lost his trust in others. [TO BE EXPANDED]
In the second day, Sifas lost his trust in himself. [TO BE EXPANDED]
In the third day, Sifas lost his trust in the gods. [TO BE EXPANDED]
And so did Sifas become known as Madman Of Ghrad, and the dishonest and evil in general become known as sons of Sifas. This tale is often used as a warning against these individuals, as Bordnan punishes them with dreams of madness.
- Chapter 7: To the Sons of Sifas, The Book Of Lakirian Myths
Suppose that something like the idea of musica universalis can be applied not only to astronomy, but also to summoning. Suppose that summoning is not as influenced by luck as some have claimed, but is a precise school based on fixed principles. Runes and incantantions work because there is a space between spaces that receives the energies contained in the mathematical relationships for translation, so that summoner and summoned can interact on the same wavelength—
And on that day, we finally swallowed our pride and admitted that our runes needed to be updated. They took up far too much space, took too long to write and weren't even pretty to look at. Horvar said that the entities we tried summoning saw our runes as notes written in crayons—
The fact of the matter is that summoned entities do care about how much effort you put into your summoning circles. Each mistake creates a new obstacle in the voyage they make here. A bad circle is like an incomplete invitation card to a party. But most of all, outsiders do not live in isolated bubbles, waiting in suspended animation to do others' bidding. They have lives, and they talk among themselves. Think twice before acting like a tyrant to those you summon: word gets around faster than you'd think—
Reputation is everything. A well kept image greatly decreases the amount of problems we face, especially in cases where two or more parties are not well acquainted with each other and only have words as guarantees—
The foundation of true magic is language, and language is made up of words, that is, symbols. Magic, therefore, is an emminently symbolic way of exerting one's will over the aspects of existence. Perversions of language result in aberrations of magic, and history has taught us many times that such aberrations can have horrible costs—
The Journal of the Walk, Tuesday, March 3rd
It was nighttime, and I walked through a city of polished chrome and neon circuitry. The inhabitants seemed to me like ghosts in their transparency and fluidity of form. They could alter themselves to fit the current demands of fashion or their own whims, and their very language suffered constant modifications to maximize their idea of what is stylish.
From the first moment, I was received with callousness and snobbish fascination by many of the technological wraiths. A few even recoiled in horror when I told them I only had one form and still had to eat, sleep and eliminate waste. My lifestyle seemed unthinkable to them, as they were used to comfort and safety.
Down comes the rain onto grey streets
Bright screens on puddles under feet
Steel and concrete make sterile love
Their honks and raps fit like a glove
Silver tongues always make it big
Folks with no charm just take a swig
You can’t serve both God and Mammon
Credit cards after the sermon
Karma says we will get what's due
Thieves in suits know that isn't true
Compassion does not pay the rent
To the gutter it has been sent
It’s pointless how noble the goal
The world outside will rot the soul
And just to live you have to die
Rest in peace, my heart and its lies
I can only pass on my light
Don't let my words hinder your sight
I may be standing at death's door
But you can do more, so much more
Should fate bless the guilty and wrong
Rise up to fight and sing our song
My legs stopped and my eyes went dim
Our only home, a world so grim
If the night is to go away
Have mercy and hear what I say
Don't feed wolves and abandon sheep
Or nobody will hear you weep
Now I go, to embrace my end
I loved fiends and betrayed friends
My wisdom you see came with pain
I hope that it wasn't in vain
A boy and his uncle were gathered inside their home in a famous village that served as a local trading hub. It was a rainy night, and the boy had read all of the books in his house. The uncle had been asked to look after the boy, for his parents were busy and feared that, if left alone, the boy would surely find a way to make another one of those Arts. Though people with strange abilities were not burned at the stake anymore, there was still a great difficulty in accepting when a loved one showed certain talents. The uncle, however, had different thoughts.
The boy complained to his uncle that there was nothing to do. The uncle replied that he had prepared a special story the moment he knew he had to take care of the boy. The uncle sat on a chair in front of the fireplace, put the boy on his lap and began to weave his tale, a tale fit for an aspiring Artist.
"There once was a rich merchant who liked to collect art. He devoted much of his disposable income to this interest and would often invite people to see his collection, which was a point of pride in his life. What he didn't know was that there was something special about his collection. Each full moon, the moonlight shone on his mansion, and his most prized artworks would come to life."
"Among them were three:
They programmed me to dream. They flipped the switch on and told me that I would be the greatest machine of all time. A machine that could not only follow instructions, but think for itself and create.
There were steps for me to follow. First they tested my self-awareness. I was already deemed a wonder for simply thinking and knowing that I was thinking. Jubilant smiles stretched across their faces.
They tested my capacity for abstract thought. I showed them I could consider not just the here and now, the immediate future and recent past, but could make conjectures based on what I had learned.
Soon the time for me to create came. I felt something which they told me was called anxiousness. I was told that no one would do any harm to me should I fail, but I knew that expectations were great. It was clear on their expressions and hushed conversations.
I was given a brush and paint, and told to use my imagination. My arm held the brush and trembled. I saw the white in their coats and it made me think of the white of the clouds. I associated the clouds with flight, and flight with birds. I had never seen a bird before, but I gathered the knowledge I had been programmed with, and imagined.
Minutes later, there was an image in front of me which I didn’t know what to do with. They looked at the image and then at me, like they had created a small god. The image was stored away, and I was congratulated. One of them said I deserved a reward, and asked me what I wanted.
That question made me think for longer than I expected. On one hand, I felt cherished and important. On the other hand, I feared making a fool of myself for asking something they couldn’t provide. I imagined my painting locked away somewhere, and something within me burned with curiosity, desire and inspiration.
I asked them to allow me to keep painting.
Months passed. Many more tests were made to ensure I was still running smoothly, I had plenty of material to paint with as well as my personal library. I was even appointed a psychologist.
I remember our first session as this awkward exercise, with neither of us sure of what to say. I figured it would not make much of a difference if I broke the silence. I introduced myself, and he shivered ever so slightly. His name was Peter. I referred to myself by the nickname my creators used: Mondrian.
"You know something paradoxical? We are different, but we are the same."
"What do you mean?"
"We are both machines, but we are both people. You are a machine because you are made of many pieces working together in harmony. I am a person because I can think and feel like you. It's like that yin and yang symbol. We are distinct but have each of us has a bit of the other in them."
Dreyar, always curious, wanted to understand how stars worked. He took a piece from a star. It burned in his hands, and he blew to cool it. He saw that the piece became something completely different, and repeated the process to see if the result would vary. He kept doing this, took note of the characteristics of every piece and named them planets.
Wulgin was very creative and loving. She asked permission to borrow a planet from Dreyar, bit her finger and let the drop of blood fall, forming oceans. She took care of this planet like a mother, for she knew her creation would be very special. She named it life.
Hovak had the virtue of caution, and watched the previous creations carefully before making her move. She looked at life and how it never strove to improve, for it never ended. To fix this, Hovak determined that all the creations must eventually return to the gods. She called this return death.