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[CofD] Sir Night Compiles Night Horrors: The Unbidden (In-Character Let's Read)

ZiggyZapf

Sorcerer of Autumn
Validated User
(OOC: Typing this while using my TV as a monitor. Cracked my laptop screen a couple weeks ago, so it's a bit of an awkward setup for me.)

In a Hollow hacker cave, Ziggy reads the illuminated QR script from The Book of Unseen Ether. "Not good."
Goner.exe manifests as a hologram from the glowing lines carved into the walls, "Ha. Ha. Something wrong, boss?"
"Apparently my diagnosis of the new guys' spirit is incomplete. Apparently Luna wasn't just keeping the Indigam under a lid, she's keeping out spirits of outer space, A.K.A. "Spirits of the Void." And when they do make it to Earth, they have some kind of corrupting effect on Earth's portion of the Shadow. Here's to hoping they're spirits of terrestrial voids. At least the wards seem to still be working on the bar, so that's probably a good sign... Wait, this looks promising: "White Agora, the Angel of Empty Spaces..."

From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Group
Subject: Sen-An-Su

This sort of thing is exactly what gets me wondering if Atlantis was all it was cracked up to be. A lot of fiction these days is built around the trope of oppressed mages. Frankly, I worry about the non-mages in Atlantis. We've got enough problems with eso-humans who abuse their powers right now, when we're motivated to keep low profiles. We've got enough hero-worship fueling toxic personalities right now. These two problems only get worse when they intersect, and let's face it, any esohuman can amass a cult by showing off to the right people, and even for moral esohumans, I'd imagine it's a major headache keeping the faithful in line with those morals.

---

I think I've heard about the Fear-Powered Cell Phone, though paranoia-instilling messages from a phone have a lot of potential causes. Being fear-powered myself, and a magically inclined programmer, I can believe this sort of thing.

--Ziggy Zapf
 

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
magic_and_technology_(voodoo_dolls_and_chants).zip

Zapf: If you ask Cichol, the doubts were more confirmed than brought up. Going by Sen-An-Su's personality, and his ire at the method of his death, I believe it was largely mortals who finally ended his human existence. Keep in mind the amount of mortals that are likely needed for any plan to overcome a single archmaster's power. And then keep in mind the rebel leaders found all of them. [Yep. This is why fascism always needs an enemy to function; if people can't find an easy one to blame for all their troubles, they suddenly start to realize hey, all the scary people are dead, but I still pay 60% of my income to an incompetent military...]

You are also not incorrect in that there are stranger things to believe in than a cell phone that tells you to be afraid. But the Fear-Powered Cell Phone was something rather odd. (Was, you'll see why in a minute.)

See, the Phone was exactly that; an older model pre-smartphone cell with a useful keyboard. A collector's item for museums of obsolete technology, now, apart from the battery, which somehow mutated into a form that could not absorb potential energy via a normal charger, but for which the internal chemical cells would undergo reverse reactions in the presence of irrational, protracted fear. In layman's terms; it was incompatible with any charger, but could eat fear to convert to charge. [He's been wanting to go into technobabble for ages. Give Tim this.] How this happened is beyond me; we initially thought it was due to the aftereffects of a ghost possessing it, but Cichol's contacts examining it found instead a distinctly Daimonic trace. The going theory is that it is the product of a Nimbus, specifically the one produced by a mage of poor Wisdom and thus control over her magic. A Nimbus is more than just the anime-esque power aura that flares when a mage reaches into her personal connection with the Supernal. [No, that's the Aether that crackles around Tim when he's turning his Cover off.] It is, as Cichol describes, the name she inscribed on her Watchtower when Awakening, the living alteration of Platonic reality she made that allows her to cast magic and see through the Lie to begin with (I have a theory about equal and opposite reactions, but that's not until much later). It does more than glow, it creates a minor alteration of occult physics that are effectively the mage's own myth; good for immediate alteration of the environment to something you, if you have any degree of intelligence, have already developed tactics for, but the Nimbus is always there, always changing things to its internal mythos. As Wisdom falls, the mage loses the self-contained nature of the Nimbus and it expands to absorb increasingly distant sympathetic ties into its own legend. {Rapt - what older terms called Mad Ones until we all realized that calling them Mad did a disservice to people who were actually a little touched - are the extreme of this, when the Wisdom is so ignored that the Nimbus ends up controlling the mage, and by that time the soul storm is pretty bloody literal. Usually with a lot of actual blood - Cichol} Things get odd around the mage, and a cell phone changing source of charge to an emotion sounds perfectly reasonable.

Problem is, the Phone, whatever it was, was a product of uncontrolled, natural magic, in this theory magic increasingly warped by the mind of an increasingly sociopathic and uncaring mage. So rather than just becoming a curiosity, the new power source also infused its logic gates with the most primal and universal emotion, and it became a living entity. Not something quite sentient, mind; more akin to an insect with access to a great deal of information and enough mind to use it effectively. And it knew, somewhere in its newfound instincts, that if the charge ran out, then it would cease to have the energy to think and, for lack of any better term, die. [Really not surprising, given how it was literally born from fear. Like some wise man who I can't remember said; fear is the opposite of hunger, it is the desire to not be eaten.] So, it immediately set out to create instances of its food and keep the charge going. And it was good at it; as it turns out, cell phone signals do penetrate brains, and while the conspiracists are wrong about the mundane kind causing any harm, the Phone learned how to use its fundamentally goetic (ie, Astral-based) nature to serve as a form of "thought echolocation"; if there was ambient signals, the Phone could read minds, and from there, send texts that stoked the existing fears of its owners and built a rapport of trust between them and their "anonymous contact." [It even mastered chatspeak, too, to really sell itself as a nut afraid to go out of its room for good reason.] Assisting it in its task was that, while it had the empathy and emotional intelligence of, well, a hunk of cheap plastic and mass-produced circuits [If any readers can't see how that's a problem, YOUR WAIFU CHATBOT IS NOT REAL. SIRI DOESN'T LOVE YOU. SEEK HELP. Unless your friend is an Unfleshed, in which case, congrats on overcoming Disquiet!], it did have some incredible ability to suggest useful ideas based on information it scanned and gave out warnings of actual danger. But logical fear didn't feed its batteries, irrational fear did - which meant it could only eat in the wake of action based on false premises and lies.

Which is why the woman I bought it from finally took out the battery and drained it herself. How she detected it was the cell phone itself being a con bot and not a faceless friend was a complete coincidence; she was peering into her Mage Sight when the Phone was scanning thoughts, and in so doing had to extend some part of its true nature from the casing it was hiding in; she doesn't think she'd have noticed the magical signature if it wasn't doing anything at the time of her scan. It immediately attempted to text some changelings she had become a rival of her location, weaknesses, and a yarn about her scheme to sell them all out, but thanks to their rivalry being a mostly genial one (they having come to an agreement about what was and was not acceptable in the Hedge, which is naturally signal-less), they suspected a rat, took a risk and told her directly, and she realized the Phone was not simply an errant product of magic seeking to just survive, but a parasite that happily used up its hosts until it became convenient to throw them away. After removing the charge, she kept the battery as a Mystery, but she's no techne expert, and we were able to convince her I'd be better at using that unique battery and agreed I would keep it and let her look over whatever invention I made with it, along with some money to get out of New Beth (she thinks I'm some kind of Atlantean temple guardian which is...less wrong than it seems, I suppose).

I'd also be remiss to mention that I'd just skip to the next projected entry, except somehow the Seers learned of the Phone, and it inspired them. That radio silence was due to disrupting a factory Foetia's branch of the Crucible Initiative was overseeing to create a line of passion eating telecommunications devices, ones even more insidiously intelligent than the original. I don't know what the False wanted with it, but the fact that they were doing their guard and administration duties as a favor to the Seers, I figured it might be good to have a baseline to any Pride-Powered Touchscreen Tablets that show up. [Imagine a Mammon operation to give kids computers that know just what to offer on the microtransaction screen to make them shell out money and feed upon the sense of being better than all the base character pleebs. They're not occult traps, they're surprise grimoires!]

Next, the entirely deliberate byproduct of a mage that is just as harmful to its owners, Hexsucher.
 
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Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
weighing_the_same_as_a_duck.zip

There are moments in my career where I encounter what could have been. Most, I'll admit, are regrets. There are so, so many issues I could have avoided were it not for my tendency to judge quickly and harshly, to assume that I have a better moral sense than I do, to remind myself that not all means justify not all ends.

Some, however, leave me quite pleased with my life, because I can easily see a potential timeline where I made a Gadget like Hexesucher to fulfill my own prejudices, and that timeline can twist in winds of impossibility. [Though I'd like to live in the timeline where Hexesucher isn't gunning for my head; silver lining that Tim knows what it is though.]

The first thing to know about the Witch Hunter, to use an English version of its true name, is that it isn't actually an Artifact or an Imbued Item, as mages would understand it, It's what werewolves call a fetish, a physical item that contains a spirit of the Shadow (my new contacts in the Jeremiad say that the spirit's First Tongue name is Pathim-Umma, but that's just a translation of "Hexesucher" into the spirit language). Second is that while most Fetishes are ultimately prisons or perfectly sealed refuges for spirits, Hexesucher's physical form, an executioner's axe, is just its spirit's body, because the spirit is the quickened reflection of the axe, brought to sentience deliberately by its original master to serve as his companion and trigger man. [Or squire, given how he was a Teutonic knight, but "trigger man's" a bit more accurate, methinks.] Which is a bloody shame, given how Richter von Glaube was a Banisher who taught his axe to feed on the blood of accused witches.

Before I begin, I want to make this clear: Glaube was very much a political Banisher, not a born one who suffered from a botched Awakening. I'm given to understand that those kind of Banishers, sometimes known as the Harrowed, exist, but they're a minority of Banishers overall, and are generally less effective than normal, perfectly sane mages who have decided for whatever reason that some magic needs to be removed from the world. In fact, from interrogation of the spirit, I've discovered that Glaube was actually quite familiar with the Atlantis myth and thought of it as a form of Heaven and that his link to the Aether was a gift from God - and that he also simultaneously believed many had made a deal with the devil, and it was his mission to eradicate them. [And this was shortly before the Protestant Reformation, mind - man wasn't even whipped into a frenzy by angry German monks causing religious fractures, he was just a psycho.] Gifted in Spirit as well as Prime, and not at all seeing the fundamental hypocrisy in the most pagan and animistic of all Supernal Arcana being his byline, Glaube brought the spirit of his favored hatchet to sentience - and then some, as the spirit qualifies as an Ensih, a minor noble among spirits and quite a potent entity.

Sadly for Glaube, he didn't quite understand what a spirit's mindset is like. The newly sentient Hexesucher did serve him faithfully for thirty years, but the purpose and mission he encoded into the fetish was and is little more than a source of food for the spirit; like all creatures of the Shadow, Hexesucher's goal is survival and a steady diet of Essence, not anything so noble as hunting down malicious mystics. In fact, Hexesucher seems to understand that the Malleus Maleficarum-esque [The gibbering hate treatise, not the Shadow Congregation, though you can insert your own commentary here about how different those two aren't.] standards Glaube encoded into it are arbitrary and far too wide, considering things like red hair a sign of diabolism. {Can't imagine why. - Cichol, tending to ginger curls in mirror} It doesn't care; it was born as a spirit of violence to satisfy paranoia, and that is what it engenders to continue existing as such. Worse, however, is that being born within a fetish rather than as a free spirit has warped its Ban, making it so that it cannot invoke its full power unless someone is actively wielding the axe; thus, it is not only a bloodthirsty and homicidal weapon, but a deeply resentful and treasonous servant as well. When it appeared Glaube was starting to run out of youth to pursue heretics with and started reining in Hexesucher's hungers to keep himself alive to hunt another day, the axe-spirit turned his own order against him for one final meal, and began its long quest to provoke witch hunts, literal and otherwise, for food. [Going by its history, preferably literal ones;

Having managed to wrestle it away from an ally of the same hunter who accidentally served as Sen-An-Su's escape plan (donated to him, naturally, by the Crucible Initiative), I have discovered that, for all of his arrogance, Glaube had the right idea that quickening the spirit would result in Hexesucher becoming a potent weapon. Even leaving aside the fact that Pathim-Umma maintaining the physical form of the axe means that it is not only just as sharp as it was back in the day of Glaube, but it is able to render the otherwise massive hatchet extremely light for its size, meaning it can be easily handled one-handed, and in a punch it can commandeer the axe itself via telekinesis to function on its own. [I even heard it cut off the head of one of its wielders while he was holding it. That is simultaneously very metal and very disturbing.] It's hardly lacking in Numina either, being able to communicate comprehensibly to any wielder, telekinetically manipulate the environment, inflict irrational fear and emotional compulsions, and if the wielder lacks Quiescence can give them a form of Mage Sight focused around determining the supernatural nature of other living beings, similar to to a Prime spell - I suspect that it was this last ability that made it a cat's-paw in this private war between the Synod and the Directive. [Certainly helps selling the idea of killing witches if you can show your meal ticket actual people who can perform witchcraft.] As so often happens, though, the real advantage the axe has is that it is a tactician and strategist of no small ability - while its desires to force confessions of witchcraft before executing its victims is a feeding strategy for maximum yield of Essence and not a desire to understand truth, the fact that Glaube gave it that gave Hexesucher an interest in learning that I am given to understand is extremely infrequent among weapon-spirits. It's kept more than apace with modern considerations for warfare and intel, and it possesses a silver tongue when manipulating its wielders - and when implementing the inevitable but sudden betrayal when said wielders start to look like equal partners in the relationship.

Next, I examine a different ephemeral-regulated machine, and some discoveries about the False I wrung from it (her?) with the Schafer Movement.
 

ZiggyZapf

Sorcerer of Autumn
Validated User
From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Group

Another artifact for me to note for personal reasons. The Queen of Elegant Blades is on of my Keeper's active titles, and though she favors swords, she'll collect other bladed weapons. She also hates "magic" in the form of overt spellcasting (I think you can see why I enjoy/dread having the title of "sorcerer"), and rationalizes her own abilities as extraordinary martial techniques, so this thing sounds potentially up her alley. (I think her distaste boils down to not liking her opponents 'cheating,' AKA succeeding) She also has the sealed Title of Fang of Muramasa, an appropriately bloodthirsty sword. (No idea if the legendary mad swordsmith was actually involved, but I wouldn't dismiss the possibility.)

--Ziggy Zapf
 
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