Sorcerer of Autumn
Thank you for the warning.Mr. Zapf, you will be pleased to know I encountered the works of precisely one Acanthus when dealing with actual mages, but there is at least one entity changelings would despise out of principle. [If someone calling himself Metathron is anywhere nearby, stop anything you are unsure of, now.]
I'll make a note to be more careful about that sort of thing. The amount of diversity I need to think about has been broadening.But that is currently a minor item. Let us examine the Golden Quorum, and while Zapf is mostly right, the angels they deal with are mostly ones without any eyes at all. Or mouths. Or noses. [Also, that's my hubby you're talking about there with many eyes. We're not offended, it's just that-wow, you think "demon" is a broad term?]
Thinking about it, the popular "Tinkerbell" image of faeries seems to be a similar trend: Going from a wide variety of strange to idealized, tiny winged humans as the default is also quite a change.
I didn't need to be pulled into the supernatural side of the world to know how someone can selectively read a non-magical Bible to reinforce their own ego and justify their hypocrisy. One that rewrites itself specifically to do that is a scary thought. This is where the Call of Cthulhu advice of "don't look at anything and burn the books" is probably worth considering. Probably not that easy to get rid of, though.Thorn is not entirely sure what happened, but he recognizes a particular book in Clover's possession as the Blank Bible, a strange living grimoire of Abyssal magic. As the name suggests, it appears to be a normal, if old, copy of a King James Bible [Apparently the only version that exists if you believe Ben's evangelical buddies, so no surprises there.], but the pages are completely free of any marking or text...until someone reads it. For myself, Nita, Cichol, and a random Sleeper we picked from a Quorum sermon [Don't ask-suffice to say he's none the wiser or hurt for that experience, thank you memory alteration.], the book manifests a strange, confusing language similar to Akkadian that, bizarrely, I somehow understood without being able to transcribe a proper translation-a condemnation of the concept of the Fallen World on theological grounds, especially of the concept of atheism. [And for those of us who are not omniglots, vertigo. Worse than morning sickness.] Having seen Clover read it himself when preaching to his proper cabal and their auxiliaries (and with some help from telepathic Stigmatics), however, it instead shows him normal writing, in the form of normal religious texts that seem to be from alternate versions of the true Bible, which from my contacts seem distinctly phrased to justify Clover's own thoughts at the time he's reading it. Besides being massively offensive to my own faith [Tim's a classic Christian Integrator, a would-be redeemer of the demiurge.], I can make some distinct assumptions about how that encouraged the younger Clover to become more insular, zealous, and especially narcissistic, if it showed him versions of the Bible that supported his own resentment of his father. Eventually, his anger at Thorn became outright murderous, and after ambushing his father with a possessed oil lamp, Clover fled into the world, either having long since Awakened himself or otherwise doing so later. [Thorn's not a Proximus, by the way, but given how his Sleepwalker son was exposed to dark magic all his life...]
A small bit in the 00's Justice League cartoon comes to mind: Flash is pinned down, Weather Wizard sends a lightning bolt down for him, which Wonder Woman successfully cross-blocks with her silver bracers. Flash: "There are so many reasons why that shouldn't work."Unsurprisingly, it wasn't long before he was corrupted by the Abyss, either-as I recall from my look at the volumes of the Codex Cruciatum, the seminal work on the Scelesti, one who draws on the Abyss too often quickly finds themselves addicted to the sensation with merging with Annunaki who rule and comprise that dark Realm. [Think a prototype version of reality with a grudge.] From there comes gradual harmony with the Ziggurats, "anti-Watchtowers" that embody the dark side of its respective Path; broken oaths for the fae-like Acanthus, truths best unknown for the scientific and spiritual Obrimos...or for Mastigos like Clover, the ability of trials to isolate and weaken rather than connect and improve. However, normally to even draw on the power of the Abyss to begin with, a mage must learn the trick of imagining a form their spell will take, and also how the Fallen World renders that spell impossible-a Paradox even as it is cast. Needless to say, this is completely counter-intuitive.
I still have to occasionally shut up the little scientist in my head, along with instincts that were produced by millions of years of evolution's field tests, so reflexive skepticism isn't quite that counterintuitive to me. Mostly, I've wound up having a 'public' and 'secret' mode of thought, which has dangers of its own.
And Kreia from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 pops into my mind. Putting your ideals on trial by seeking their opposite and observing the contrast. Unfortunately, I don't think going Gray Jedi is going to work out in real life any better than it did for her.Clover came up with the technique entirely on his own time. Really, it's an extension of his theology-just as he suffered in his home and found enlightenment in it, so to does he believe magic become purer by making it face its own trials in the form of his own disbelief. [Honestly, if I didn't know what he was accidentally calling on, I'd be cheerleading. As it is, my body can't do non-Elucidian splits.] And to be frank, he has no idea he's long ago woken to an Abyssal watchtower, or that he is exposing Scelestus philosophy. In a fitting twist, the champion of the source of the Lie is deceived by lies he tells himself. [Though with some help.]
I'm going to try to avoid imagining the awkwardness. Society really needs better sex education. Cleaning out all the stupid messages that have spread is probably one of the biggest priorities. I have to admit, though, the idea that lust only follows after love is a new one on me, or at least a new variation on the confusion between romantic and sexual attraction.Personality-wise, Clover is a classic cult leader-charismatic, genial, and utterly narcissistic. He constantly steers any conversation to get the other person to enjoy his company. If that doesn't work, he can be extremely socially aggressive and vicious. [Unlike many people I've known who are like that, he doesn't change to a nasty identity either, he's still smiling when he's ripping your ego to shreds. Kinda creepy.] I also get the sense he also has something of a stunted mental maturity; he's prone to small fits of depression whenever he feels he has failed, even subjective and minor hassles. [Man was banging his forehead and fists against a wall after he misplaced car keys.] While I don't want to go into how I discovered this, I also found he is extremely, shall we say, unversed in romance and sex. [He thinks, and I am being entirely serious, that lust is only capable with preexisting love. Thorn has some 'splanin to do.] This would be simply embarrassing, especially for a clergyman who takes faithfulness as a teaching seriously, except Clover is also a narcissist obsessed with getting married. I would advise any female mage to be obviously unavailable around him. He should be glad I know for a fact he is legitimately not well, otherwise I would be as about as pleasant as I will be with an unrelated mage. [I'm pregnant with twins, so thankfully it was only Timeena who had to deal with the creeping.] (DO. NOT. ASK. Though in a completely unrelated note, I am donating 10% of my Covers' next paychecks to feminist charities.)