Sunday, April 8, 2012

D is for The Dreamer

Far underground in a cave, resting on an ornately carved stone slab, a person sleeps. Descriptions of this person vary; some have said they see themselves, others a tall man with short brown hair, dressed in a well-made suit, and still more a short woman wearing a red and gold dress, who has long hair, ice-white in color. Sometimes, these conflicting reports have even been gathered from members of the same party, none of whom left the room, and all of which never saw the figure on the slab alter in appearance.

That person is known as the Dreamer. What it sees in those dreams is - and, to the best of anyone's knowledge, will remain to be - a mystery. Some think it sees the future; certainly, that would fit with what the few who have dared to look into its eyes (all, sadly, now quite mad) have seen, for to them it shows their own lives, from the point that they looked into them to their death, leaving them forever wondering if they've really woken up or just seen themselves doing so.

At certain times, however, it has awoken. Why is unknown. At times of crisis it seems more likely to do so, but whether they wake it or it causes them is unclear. And occasionally, it has arisen in times of peace. But two constants do remain in its awakenings - the first is that it always has a message for someone, usually of great importance for some reason or another. Which, unfortunately for their recipients, are almost never clear; once it told an ambassaor to be sure to put out his fire before journeying. Which he did, sweeping the ashes well into a fireplace, and making sure they were quite cold. However, a lantern that he didn't extinguish burned down half of the forest the elves live in when he knocked it over while he slept.

The second is that it is far more likely to awaken when there are people about. Which is why, to get into the cave, where a person that no two people are guaranteed to think looks the same lays, one no longer has to hike. An elevator exists, under permanent and careful guard, letting in those who are no threat and wish to see it, in the hopes that one of them will cause it to stir, and deliver another message.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

C is for Comprehengeon

Comprehengeon crouches on the rooftop, carefully laying the first book. As it does, it pauses a moment, gently stroking the soft leather cover with the seven fingers of its right hand. Two of those end in claws; one is little more than a lump of flesh, with nearly a hundred tiny bones jointed inside it; another, unnaturally long, arches back, joined to its wrist by a pair of thin membranes, like those of a bat's wing, and tapers to a vicious point, capable of snapping forward with the speed of a snake to blind an unwary foe, or, if it gets lucky, strike one of the arteries close to the surface. The remaining three are more dog-like than human, with odd joints, and a thin covering of white fur.

I, looking through the eyes of an owl, am almost perfectly positioned to see it work. And, to be more truthful about just why I'm here, to have a clear shot; the shadowed alcove - a story above, and across the street from, it - hides me well, the dark, irregularly stained, and somewhat patched, leather armor I usually wear blending with the shadows, and breaking up my outline, while the Cobble-born laying the stolen books in its intricate designs is wonderfully illumined by the twin moons.

Normally, I would bear no thought of harming it. Unlike most, I don't despise its kind, or necessarily find them repulsive; some, in their way, are even beautiful, at least to my eyes, though even I have to admit that the strange, androgynous form Comprehengeon has is, at best, malformed. And I surely have no grounds to harm him for his theft, not when I've taken far more valuable things. But usually, I'm not as desperate as I am now, and the bounty the Librarian's Guild has offered is too much for me to not try, even if I would ignore jobs as an assassin were it not for the fact that I've been sleeping - and poorly, at that - on the stinking paving stones in the Web for the past three days, and had nothing but a few scraps of bread and a pair of scrawny rats, viciously fought for, in the same time.

Meanwhile, below me, it slowly lays down the hundredth book in the structure it's building, using its left hand - a bizarre combination of a crab's claw and the arms of a praying mantis - to cautiously place it, taking pains to avoid displacing any of the others. To my altered vision, the mass of books is beginning to glow softly, a sign that it's most likely magical. That, or his Cobble-born body is secreting something that reacts with them, which is hardly impossible. It's one of the most extensively altered I've ever seen, and few but the gods - maybe not even its creators - have any way to know what went into its new form; some kind of secretion that glows when it touches paper may not be the sort of thing that most would intentionally put in a Cobble-born, but it certainly wouldn't be the first time that one has ended up with some side-effects.

In any case, whatever the cause, there's something about the design, especially when it's lit up like that, that's managed to pique my curiosity; I want to see what it looks like when it's finished. Especially since the glow is unmistakably magical now; I can see the distinctive currents flowing around and through it - greed from it, in the theft; lust for knowledge from the same source; hatred, coming in from the direction of the Librarian's Guildhall; even the faintest touch of need and hunger from me, along with other, more subtle, threads, that my untrained vision lacks the skill to decipher, or track to their sources. And it's well known that it sticks around for a while after completing the things, so there'll be plenty of time to kill it afterward.

Of course, now my shot is obscured; the thing's moved behind its construction - now, with the addition of the latest tome, glowing like a beacon to every mage in the district, and leaving me with no clue how Comprehengeon expects to not have a horde of people pouring down on it to see what in Sharva's name is going on -, and I can't see anything but an occasional finger, meaning I'd have needed to get poison before I came to do anything (which, given that I'm quite capable of making it, was admittedly a stupid precaution not to take), if I could hit him at all. But he'll have to come out sometime, right? Especially since he's on his last few books. His final one, in fact, if it's possible to judge by the strength of the magical field...

And, as it seems to suddenly be being put to use, it looks like it is possible to judge by that. Though the use is odd; it's hard to tell what it's doing, exactly, though it does seem to be masking the other magical effects. Or clouding my vision, maybe?


Looking around confusedly, I can't, for a moment, remember what's going on. Everything's changed... Then I actually come fully awake, hearing the sleepy owl roosting next to me hoot softly in annoyance at my movement, and realize that, while the surroundings have changed, it's only because it's now the middle of the day instead of a few hours before dawn. Apparently, Comprehengeon was a better mage than I am; he put me to sleep without my even realizing what was happening. And I'm willing to bet the contract with the Librarian's Guild is terminated, considering that I wasted a perfectly good opportunity to kill him and decided to satisfy my curiosity instead, which is what led to his escape... They're not terribly tolerant of failure, especially if it's easily avoidable. Though I suppose I should be grateful for the small things, like the fact that that contract contains a non-retaliation clause if I fail unintentionally, instead of worrying about things like that; if it didn't, I'd be lucky to end up as a Cobble-born with a heavy debt to pay off.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

B is for Blindworm

Zanevan hissed in frustration, delicately turning the statue's eyelash once again, prompting the gold orb in the socket beneath to rotate, then repeated the process on the other side; the 'eye' there was silver, but otherwise behaved much the same way... This was at least the hundredth time he'd tried it, and not once had there been so much as a sound from the iron door next to him.

This time, however, his luck was better; the ancient mechanism was rusted, and refused to budge more than a foot, despite the door having been designed to accommodate a procession of horses in double file if needed.

Of course, what he was unaware of was that the manipulations he'd just performed had dropped a tiny pair of worm eggs onto his hands, where they had then gotten onto, and temporarily bonded with, his clothing...


Once used in egg form as traps, the Blindworm originally ate into a person's eyes when they slept, and left only infectious slime behind.

However - to no-one's surprise, given the amount of raw and only partially tamed magic floating around there - when they were brought to the City of Bells, they changed; the most immediately notable, and widespread, alteration was that they no longer secreted the slime, though it is rumored that, as additional batches were brought, other changes took place...

Some have said that, if the proper type is found, it will bind itself to the person whose eyes it eats, replacing them, and, in fact, providing additional senses, letting one sense life and magic. Others suggest yet stranger abilities, such as telepathy, telekinesis, pre/postcognition, or scrying may be granted...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Arvastel's Alchemical Abeyant

Lynette frowned, carefully feeding a bit more wood into the fire. This particular potion was, to say the least, difficult, and the results unpleasant if it went wrong... Still, it was, without doubt, quite worth it; if she was going to be breaking into the Bell of Shadows, she'd need something that could stop the Bellkeepers, and keep them that way.

Seeing that it had gone back to the pale blue it was supposed to be at this stage, the witch smiled a bit, carefully adding some of the fine slivers of Daeling flesh she'd prepared earlier, shortly followed by the blood of a Night-Ghast, and nodded in approval as it began to shift to a black-gold hue.


Carefully holding the open vial, the half-angel grinned, silently advancing on the black-fleshed, slightly transparent, man before her; apparently, the softer boots, while not as durable as her other pair, had been a good investment, as he didn't seem to notice that she was there until she was less that a foot from him... By which point, it was far too late, as she'd already tipped the vial just enough to let a drop fall, and it struck him on the neck as he began to turn.

In the few seconds that it took him to complete the movement, he had already been affected, and the Bellkeeper slumped to the ground as soon as he was truly facing Lynette, any memory he might have had of her from the instant before he lost consciousness gone from his mind.

Arvastel's Alchemical Abeyant

Recipe, in the medieval style:

Take a good length of hair from a young Elf, and grind the half of it fine; add this to a fair quantity of slakewater, and simmer until luminous; while it heats, take the remains of the hair and place it within the shafts of a few Raviien feathers, along with a small portion of water suitable for the making of tea; this is then added to the mixture upon the glow becoming visible, and the whole brought to a boil, for such a time as it takes to take on a black hue, and begin to obscure light rather than produce it. When this occurs, several drops of angel's tears must at once be added, which will cause it to become luminous once more, and change in color to grey, swiftly proceeding to blue if the fire is hot enough. Shortly thereafter add a bit of the flesh of a Daeling, chopped fine, soon followed by a good amount of the blood from a Night-Ghast, thence occasioning a transformation from blue to black-gold, at which time it is to be removed from the heat and the substance, after a fair, but short, period carefully poured over witch-ice to fully cool, which, if done properly, greatly lessens the intensity of the glow.


To the layperson, the Abeyant is a powerful soporific, with properties that cause amnesia. This is, however, while certainly not unjustified, somewhat incorrect. It does not cause sleep, precisely; rather it causes a temporary and complete cessation of non-autonomic brain functions, accompanied by the loss of several hours of memory.

When a person is exposed to the Abeyant in some fashion, whether through a drop being placed on the skin, inhalation of it in a vaporous form, ingestion, or any of the other myriad ways in which such is possible, they fall into an immobile, though relaxed, state from which they cannot be roused until 1d6 hours have passed; in this state Detect Alignment shows them to be True Neutral, spells or psionics designed to read minds or emotions will detect nothing unless they are capable of accessing memories not currently in use (though those that can will encounter no resistance to the attempt). They also irrevocably (short of a Wish, direct divine intervention, or a Miracle) lose their memory of 1d4 hours immediately prior to coming in contact with the Abeyant.

Reasons for effects (Morilar-specific):

Daelings are capable of manipulating, devouring, and stealing memories; thus, it is a simple matter, especially for a witch, who are quite skilled, for the most part, in such things, to use it for sympathetic magic relating to that.

Night-Ghast blood functions in a manner similar to that by which the Daeling flesh is used; a Night-Ghast is capable of taking one's mind (and, in some cases, soul) to their realm, causing the body to become a barely-living shell until returned.

Angel's tears are one of the more straightforward ingredients - they're simple, though powerful, magic enhancers, and thus responsible for much of the strength of the effects.

Raviien feather function, in general, as a sort of magical glue, holding the disparate effects together, and binding them to the liquid.

Elves endure for incredible spans of time; thus, their hair is sympathetic not only for its direct connection to the head, and thus serves to further enhance the other effects, but for time, increasing how long it works for.

Witch-ice helps to amplify the sympathies, thus not only strengthening the whole, but making it be tied more tightly to the water and each effect to the others.