The Inbox of High Sage Astrum Ersatra

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The Inbox of High Sage Astrum Ersatra

#1 Post by Wren » Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:17 am

One might forgive the mistaken assumption that there simply isn't that much work to do, as the High Sage's inbox never seems to have more than a few freshly-arrived letters visible in a nearly empty container. By now, Wren knows that the inbox is actually bottomless, and those with True Sight can see through the false bottom and into an endless void of unanswered mail. This doesn't stop her from dropping off her latest message with a sigh. (OOC: I haven't actually sent any of these in-game because I keep hoping to talk to Astrum in person, but at this point the plots have stagnated for long enough.)
Day 18 of the Turning Wheel in the Year 814.
From: Noviciate Wren
To: High Sage Astrum Ersata

The march on Bezyl, Araknai Queen, concluded today. While the campaign was successful, be warned, there are two ill omens for every monstrosity slain. Bezyl herself was engorged on some manner of foul magic, producing far more spawn more quickly than any Araknai Queen has on record. This did not stink to me of Necromancy, though my opinion is anything but expert, and I have taken four sample eggs to the University's naturalists for further study. Thanks are due to Corin for the fourth egg, and for the sketches he has undoubtedly already sent you. In addition, I have requested my Mysticism colleagues meditate on the events of the day and attempt to foresee whatever calamity is next on the docket. Success within this field is forever... mixed, but I remain hopeful.

More distressing than the monsters, unfortunately, are our supposed allies. Phocion, a relatively low-ranking soldier of the Rhojidan Army, made a most audacious claim when informed we would be taking samples. I quote:

“If the Army finds out you elves have been raising an army of Araknai, we will burn Kalmyr down.”

More distressing still, he said this in earshot of seven onlookers, including Eryn of the Enclave. I understand if this places the University in a precarious political position, but would urge you to press the Army brass on this matter regardless. We cannot allow every grunt and footman of the Rhojidani to threaten us, and I cannot imagine that the Army's leadership appreciates their recruit's promises on their behalf. If he is simply chastised as quickly as possible by his own commanders, we can nip this in the bud.
Day 22 of the Turning Wheel in the Year 814.
From: Noviciate Wren
To: High Sage Astrum Ersata

With Noviciate Thuridan's admission to the Guild, I have been inspired to further my meditations on the Book of the Stone. For him to brave that benighted place so soon after we cleared out the corrupted Bezyl is nothing less than inspiring. So, I have brought my meditations to a new place. It is not a place of calm, as the shores of either of our homes. It is not a place of inspiration, as the mountain town you showed me weeks ago. It is not even a place of darkness, as the sunless depths where the Nagai Slavers slither just underneath Leviathan's massive form. It is a place of evil.

Without companions and without Sanctuary, I have meditated in the midst of the zombies and skeletons that haunt the graveyard of Aklar's Abbey, and communed with the memory of the stone that has been corrupted. It has shaken me.

Never before have I even contemplated the study of necromancy, but the touch of its power sings to me through my fear and revulsion. To study such magic, to master it, would be to have power over it, to take the sword by the handle instead of by the point. What better ally against all other things, than Death? Is it not our oldest ally, as the civilized races? We kill our competition. We kill our food's competition. We kill our food's food's competition. Then, we call it agriculture and ourselves enlightened.

Ultimately, I still reject it. This dread is infectious, and I will not become a carrier for it. Aklar is awful enough. No one will ever turn to Necromancy for protection from me.
Day 4 of the Eternal Light in the Year 814
From: Noviciate Wren
To: Astrum Ersata

In absence of further instruction and in absence of the Army's own leadership commenting one way or another, I've decided to take a softer tack with Phocion. His is the hardline opinion of distrust and xenophobia, so his is the first I will sway. We've begun traveling together on occasion, and I take each opportunity as one to present to him the University's strength and the value of our friendship. This is not the time for an explicit argument, but I hope by becoming friends we can eventually reach a diplomatic accord that he will champion to the Army's other distrustful officers. It does not hurt that many of his causes remain our own: defeating monstrosities, killing slavers, freeing the oppressed, and so on. So far, everything proceeds swimmingly.
Day 16 of the Eternal Light in the year 814
From: Wren
To: Book of Stone Researchers (CC: High Sage Astrum Ersata)

My predecessors have already contributed commentary in the form of scholarly observation or exploration logs. It falls to this most unworthy student to attempt the abstract and the mystical. In my meditation, these ten points recur.

1. All the world is Illusion. We are a lie the gods tell in the language of
matter by the tongue of time. By grace of imagination or whimsy, to contemplate
this idea is as light as as a song. By the nature of consciousness and the
delusion of self, to comprehend this idea is as heavy and burdensome as the

2. Consider: there is a song that cannot be sung. It is that song which
contains all the songs that can be sung. If it contains itself, it is of
infinite length and if it does not, it is its own ineffable exclusion. If no
one can sing it, is it a song? This song is a lie which forbids itself.

3. There exists a stone. Go out into the world and find it. Do not trust your
imagination! Hold it in your hand and observe the weight of it. Does it not
resist your strength, even if only slightly? The stone is a lie which allows

4. The song which forbids itself has no weight or force, it does not resist
your will if you push it out of your mind and ignore it for the rest of time.
The stone emphatically insists its presence, it will sit if left, fly if
thrown, pass (uneasily, one imagines!) if swallowed... and shatter, if broken.

5. There is no shattering the song.

6. The first Illusion is the Illusion of separation. Discard it, and there is
no shattering the stone.

7. What good is a stone that cannot be thrown? What good is a stone that has
no weight, no substance, which cannot be swallowed or shattered? The dull mind
scoffs in dismissal. The able mind abounds with possibilities. The transcendent
mind unsings itself.

8. The song cannot be shattered. The stone cannot be ignored. That which can be
shattered, which can be ignored, which can simply _be_, we call mana. As the
real is to the impossible, the magical is to the real.

9. The first principle of Illusion is to tell a lie to the world, and allow
mana to make it real. All the world is Illusion.

10. From the song, order. From the stone, chaos. For a world, mana is
unnecessary. Thank the Three; their lies are generous.
Day 17 of the Eternal Light in the year 814
From: Wren
To: Book of Stone Researchers (CC: High Sage Astrum Ersata)

Yes, thank you everyone, I get it, it's clear as mud. Here, commentaries on the ten points:

1. Meditation is hard, and it's a different order of magnitude of hard than ordinary thinking. They are as separate as a song is from a stone. I like this metaphor and I'll use it a lot, get used to it!

2. Please refer to the mathematical treatise On the Incompleteness of Consistent Systems for a full explanation of what I mean by this. The short version is, there is no axiomatic method of thought which can prove everything it can express, and this powerful idea informs the way we think about thinking. Thought is recursive, self-informative, and abstract. The truths we uncover with formal logic predate us as thinkers, and quite possibly existence as a whole. The gods themselves may be forgotten before what I have said is any less true. Math is eternal.

3 and 4. Matter is fleeting. Rocks are real in a way that math isn't, but they ultimately perish just like every other material thing. We are all ground to sand in the end.

5. Those truths independent of 'we' are not. Matters of pure thought, 2+2=4, have an existence which defies material existence. We recognize and contain them, but we are not their masters, only ever their students.

6 and 7. Unless we use magic. The world's illusion can be cut, and we can remove the distinction between ourselves and the plain--not plane!--eternal. Consider the elven and half-elven eyeball. We recognize that many elves and half-elves demonstrate a metamagical adaptation to the blind spot that they and humans share, the development of magical analogues to rods and cones that help them slowly clear the blindspot and aid their focus as they age. I've a paper in progress on the phenomenon, as well as human saccades and other fascinating optical phenomenons, if anyone wants to proofread. Anyway, there is a void in their vision, and mana rushes in to fill the gap. When we annihilate the consciousness with meditation, the same is true of a person's entire personhood. This is the underlying principle of Enlightenment, that we can erase our spiritual presence and subsume ourselves in pure mana, reforging ourselves with the barest hint of the plain, eternal mathematical truths. We become the song.

8. How does mana work, though? I hypothesize an analogous relationship, as the song is to the stone, the stone is to mana. Mana is more than real, it supremely ephemeral in the way that axiomatic principles are supremely eternal. It isn't there until we will it down a level, so to speak, into the form a spell or magical ability shapes.

9. This one is simple. This is like, Illusion 203. Come on.

10. This is my fundamental conclusion upon speaking with the history of the stone: that movement, transformation, even thought are entirely mundane. They are stuff of the stone, which can be enhanced by magic but are not inherently magical. We are dust that seeks to discover that we are dust, and mana is unnecessary for the discovery. It is a blessing, to be sure, and it would be a dreadful existence to live without magic, spells, or souls. But I can imagine such a dreadful world, where beast-like and unenlightened (unenlightenable!) menfolk make their way in a world absent of miracles. Be grateful we are not them.
Day 15 of Breathing Soul, in the year 814
From: Wren
To: Astrum

Another report is due to you on my ventures on behalf of Rhojidan. Today, I escorted Phocion through the vampire-infested misty wood clearings. HIs sword and shield are an ill match for their defenses, but their claws are an ill match for his. We find it quite appropriate a solution for me to simply follow behind and twincast Smite upon their damned carcasses. In the end, we recovered the remains of a lost colleague of his. While he set them to rest, I employed foresight to predict his next steps and forestalled his death by sneaking past Vorkai on the way to that village you inexplicably love so much. Soul Summon brought Phocion there, where he re-united the soldier's effects with the poor man's grandmother.

He was rewarded with a magical pendant. It's powerful, and looks quite fetching on him, so I hope he keeps it. Every time he looks in the mirror, he should be reminded of our friendship. And I think we have become friends.
Day 21 of Breathing Soul, in the year 814
From: Wren
To: An Idea of a Man I Once Met

I'm writing a novel. I wish we could talk about it.
Day 14 of the Steady Breeze, in the year 814
From: Wren
To: The High Sage

The experiment with Phocion has come to an end. Today, Corin, Phocion, and I ventured into a temple filled with hostile students of evocation. I led the charge, being most capable of handling their magics. After months of work, I had thought we had become friends, and for the first time, broached Phocion's threat in a jocular manner.

He immediately slapped me across the face, striking me like a diseased whore without even pausing to drop his weapon. It was everything I could do not to transmogrify him on the spot, but I declared the venture a failure immediately and sent him on his way. If you wish for more detail, you will have to find me in person. My hand still shakes with fury.
Day 17 of the Steady Breeze, in the year 814
From: Wren
To: The High Sage

Now, he insults me. I forward this... letter, for your records.

From: Phocion
Date: Sat Nov 30 18:43:51 2019
Subject: Sory
Wow it was hard to find a post office. I've never mailed someone
before since writing is for elves. I had to pay a Fae to write this down for me, so I hope it
says the right thing and the fae didn't prank me. I attached a lollipop from the candy store
in my city because I know you like colorful things and I hope it didn't melt. Sorry for
slapping you in the Temple you are the best. Sincerely, Butter Poop Face
Attached: Rainbow Lollipop
From: Wren
To: The High Sage

For your records. This is just pathetic.

From: Phocion
Date: Sun Dec 1 17:31:33 2019
Subject: PLEASE
I found this pollen deep in the tropical rain forest and hoped you would like it for your elvish ways.
Attached: Yellow Pollen
Day 12 of the Clinging Frost in the Year 814
From: Wren
To: The High Sage's Inbox

At winter's end, I will begin communicating with the other instructors and students to plan for a future without you. In anticipation of the worst, I've attempted to develop a personal relationship with Eryn of the Enclave and Xelphiem of the Sinshade. Eryn is an absolute delight, of course, and I'm happy to call her my friend. Xelphiem and I seem to get along.

It is still so dearly tempting to use all my newfound power and connections to wreak some vengeance on Phocion for his crass betrayal in the field, but the needs of the University being what they are, I think it time to make amends. I will work through an intermediary at least at first, and for that I need to retrieve my (ugh!) lollipop. I've discovered the inbox did not object to me retrieving my letter.

I am worried what else it might not object to.

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