Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Word Worms

A few of the pages were less ravaged by the word-worms. Perhaps the Vivisectionist had swabbed them with his preservative. The contents were a curious jumble of topics:  spherical geometry, mining techniques, a treatise on ancient trade practices. This was mixed with the more arcane:  a clearly flawed study of the summoning and control of djinni (the author was working from flawed sources - Jarhakkah the Elder was a major and unfortunate influence), some calculations on the transmutation of matter into deep-spectrum and very unstable energies, and an oddly spiritual text on the history of the fall of Pol Celeste.

The latter had apparently been written not more than twenty years after the destruction of the Great Library.  It attributed that cataclysm not to an attack from the Underplanes (the accepted cause, and the justification for the Mage's Guild having been an active presence at the Celestii court for almost two millennia) but rather to the concentration of thaumaturgically potent entities that had been gathered there.  The author – whose name had long ago been gnawed free from the vellum – argued that putting so much power in such close proximity had broken down the "viderstant sakklia," whatever that was, thereby leading to the inevitable destruction of the rapacious Curator Cult, etc., etc.  Thankfully the preservative had run out – perhaps the balance of the revisionist tract had proven to be of greater merit as nutrition than academic work.

The various fragments were written in a variety of languages and scripts, but the marginalia (drafted in black Nargull lead – an expensive choice) were all by the same meticulous hand.  No doubt these were the thoughts of the Vivisectionist himself.  His mind must have been as tortured as his victims' bodies, reduced to lunacy by some unknowable torment.  What would be the point of transmuting that much tonnage of rock and ice into ultravermilion thark-particles?  What could be the possible utility of being able to correct for surveying errors across heptafathoms of distance on a planet half the size of any of the known Holdings?  And why was he so interested in the ship's manifest of a vessel that had sunk thousands of years ago?

This reverie was interrupted by a high-pitched keening sound.  Across the ruins of the Vivisectionist's chambers, Tharon held his hands to his ears.  Blood flowed freely from his nose and ears, and his eyes rolled back into his head.  Even standing across the room, Kutz could sense the waves of psionic energy shedding from the geas in layers of imperative force.  If Kutz was feeling this much of it, there could be no choice for Tharon.  There would not even be awareness that there could be a choice.

The sound stopped, the resulting silence ringing through the tower.  Tharon breathed in and out, twice, then looked at each of them in turn.  He said, "We must help the Sisters of Callax.  Their temple is under attack."

--Steve Kilian

No comments:

Post a Comment