Beyond the Last Flesh

The Last Flesh, as I have previously covered someplace is the final stage of enlightenment achieved as one's trudge through the cycles of reincarnation comes to an end, and draws its name from the belief that this incarnation is the last iteration in a physical 'flesh' form. For most who achieve this level of enlightenment, merging with the bosom of creation (or whatever) is a desirable outcome, and so they do. For some, this is not so true. Those who chose to remain join a select club of hyper-powerful entities, collectively referred to as 'Gods' by the mere mortals from whence the spawned.

In this mythos, these gods are far from all-powerful.  They are in an awkward position of relying on the collective energies of the conscious universe to express and maintain potency and influence. Generally, this is done by aligning large groups to one's own polarities. This tuning of groups is done by a prescribed emotional alignment: fear, love, joy, jealousy, hatred, etc; and is amplified philosophically or dogmatically to reinforce those emotions and thought processes that combine with the divinities own.  These energies are then tuned to the divinity via rituals, mantras, prayers, and processes of the worshipers. While a low level of energy can be gathered from the broadly emanating emotional energies, it is the tuning of dogma and ritual that 'codes' the energy so that it can only be unlocked by the god to whom it was tuned.

Bereft of these energies, these so-called gods remain no more potent than they were before they ascended, tapping into that tier of comprehension and power that allows this transfer of spiritually attuned energies. Ascent does not require, and rarely does, result in the sacrifice of a physical form. It does make a physical form irrelevant in many ways, but the sacrifice of the physical body represents a trade off that if engaged in prematurely, dooms a would-be divinity to a shadow existence, where they are only able to draw power from the weak and unfocused emotional energies, unable to amplify or tune energy in the conscious universe.

Generally, the ascended maintain their physical form, so that they may motivate and inspire others, teaching them the philosophies, dogmas, and rituals required for them to prosper as gods. As these power thresholds increase, the quality and potency of their divine acts will become more spectacular, increasing the pool of contributors to their energy reserve.

Eventually, the size of one's congregation and therefore energy reserve is sufficient to maintain itself, and a release of one's physical form makes sense. Freed from a finite form, one draws perceptions in the same manner one draws energy. Those perceptions available to the devout are clearly perceived by the god, the awareness of the moderately faithful is blurred and often slow in revealing itself. The information that exists where only the un-tuned emotional energies exist are perceived only vaguely, often in a subconscious manner. In essence, one's entire self becomes the network of tuned energies that one taps into.

Energy is more easily moved in this cloud, making acts of divine will more readily available, but at a cost of overall energy still.  Overtaxing one's capabilities can fracture and weaken the overall structure of tuned energy, resulting in dramatic emotional shifts in the minions that to much power is drawn from, functionally burning them out and making them vulnerable, ideal sources of energy for others. Great divine acts are always done at great energy cost, but when one exists as the energy itself, one must be prudent with dramatic shows of power.

Once free of form, gods can manifest are as visions and dreams. Physical forms take tremendous amounts of power and are rarely created, and even then, often for only the briefest appearances.

It is possible for a god to infuse into a mortal at a considerable sacrifice. Those chosen for such honors are usually the most highly tuned individuals, and such 'avatars' are frequently designated the heir's to the god's power, and in function, they are.  This is a rarely pursued path, as the energy form of the old god trails out still, but the consciousness is focused, so that the old gods essence becomes the network that feeds power to the new avatar (in the same way the network fed power to them before they sacrificed their physical form). Obviously, with the sacrifice of so much that they were, an avatar is carefully chosen for their affinity to the old god's nature, motives, and goals. An avatar cycle can be repeated, as a process of renewing the network and maintaining relevance over generations.

I am going to end off at this, but I will be back to clean this up a bit, I suspect, and will be adding to this overall theory in subsequent posts.


Vyrémorn Chess

Long ago before blogging, I had a nice little site with a jscript art gallery, a 'news panel' (the precursor to blogging) and the rules for Vyrémorn Chess. That site is long gone, but I have finally gotten around to reconstructing the rules page using updated graphics and formatting, dispensing with the heavy-handed tricks and tables of HTML3. 

The site, vanished after 9/11 of 2001. My free-host, NBCi.com (formerly XOOM.com) lost or shut down their servers; I would like to believe the former because I never received any apologies or alerts. their entire domain was 404ed, and if the servers were in the WTC, then they at least had a good reason to never offer an apology: all the account information would have been on those same servers.


All good people...

Since I have figured out how to post animated gifs, I may as well post the first signature block I had when I was a Stratics Forum Moderator:

King of Pain

Well, I figured out how to cross post animated gifs to get them to show up properly, so here is the old King of Pain signature block I made for clan forums back when I was playing Age of Empires on the MS Game Zone.

Click to view the animated version without errors.

The Gate (final?)

Streaks of wispy white clouds smear across the early morning sky. Gold, rose, and violet hued auras dance along the eastern horizon as the fiery dawn-beast emerges from a dark and silvery sea. The crisp smell of mountain pines and rocky scrub comes alive in the thin air as calls of morning birds filter up through the sparse conifers of the rocky spine from the lush oak and maple choked saddles below.

Two dark, cloaked and hooded figures stand still in this grandeur, seemingly afraid to break the spell of the moment. The first stands tall and strait, arms akimbo and legs planted shoulder width and solid, facing the rising sun and basking in the refreshing warmth of newborn day. The other, hunched and leaning heavily on a gnarled, capped staff faces northward, catching only sidelong rays from the sun. A trap of logic, an equation of power, draws his attention away from the splendor of dawn.

Following the gaze of the wizened figure northward, a menacing black edifice is seen to loom some 40 yards distant. All signs of life dissipate near the linteled arch. It is clearly an anathema to things living and natural. Not even the mottled lichens that cover the stony ground grow near it. Yet there are black and twisted remains of chaparral that dared grow to close in times past. But did these ill fated plants grow there by the whims of the whispering breezes that play across this bleak peak, or did they court the danger… for there is an attraction in this thing, as much as it repels.

The monument stands as high as three men, with harsh, irregular angles and sharp, precise edges. It is comprised of two inclined columns cantilevered against a heavy horizontal beam. As immovable and solid as it seems, there is a sense of frailness in its construction that suggests it could topple at any moment. Numerous glyphs and sigils that reflect the dawn's light break the polish of the arch's dark marbled surface. A feeling escapes from it that hints of a power that should not be contained, a dark and viscous aura that is a poison to innocence.

The bent elder's lips move in a silent litany as he begins hobbling toward the construct, leaning heavily on his staff. Shuffling loose gravel on the eroded granite face draws the other's attention, and reluctantly, he turns from basking appreciation of the rising sun and follows, teeth gritted from the unease permeating his body as he approaches the portal. Every step heightens the tough's burden, even as the elder seems heartened, his muttering now audible.

Standing before the portal, the hunched figure draws a yellowed crystalline stone from some hidden pouch, and presses it into a barely perceptible recess on the western column. The glyphs of the column catch the crystal's hue as weathered hands trace their path, the muttering charged with purpose and urgency. An azure crystal is produced from the depths of the elder's robes, and placed in a similar niche on the eastern column, glyphs aglow with the crystal's tint, crooked fingers follow the meandering signs on the dark stone's face.

Reluctantly, the tall one steps toward the center of the arch as the old man beckons him over. Then, in a practiced but clumsy process, the young man laces his fingers and boosts the elder to stand on his shoulders. The old man steadies himself on the arch, reaches up and shaking, pressing a rose hued crystal into a indentation on the underside of the lintel-stone, where it clings in spite of gravity's incessant pull. Grunting in annoyance, pain, and frustration, the old hands trace the reddened symbols on the bottom of the horizontal slab.

Awkwardly, the elder clings and clambers off the tall youth's shoulders, nervously making his way to the ground. The unease of the youth is clear on his face as he grimaces against the dull throb now emanating from the portal, it's glyphs pulsing with light. Maniacal eyes reflect the light from under the elder's hood, a wicked grin spreading as he traces a last sign on the western column.

The old man's gnarled hand grasps the arm of the youth as the humming begins to heighten and wail, the pulsing light of the sigils matching the keening of the stone arch. Suddenly, a blast of light and heat sears down from a clear blue sky, a chromatic lightning strike that forks and hisses as it is caught in the extended fork of the columns rising above the lintel. The blast of power is deafening as the glyphs ignite in a white hot glow, then all goes deathly silent, even the chirping birds in the valley below stilled.

The hunched elder's lifeless corpse collapses to the stony ground under the archway, his grasp finally releasing from the tall youth's arm. Using the elder's staff, the rosy crystal is dislodged, caught, and pocketed by the survivor, then the blue and yellow crystals are taken in turn.

With a maniacal glint in his eye, the tall youth casts the menacing arch a wry grin as he saunters away, reciting a silent litany, the staff cradled fondly in the crook of his arm.


Card Arcana (Pectomancy)

I have played various card games since I was small: War, solitaire, go fish, Uno, then later rummy, gin, hearts, poker, blackjack, and canasta. Along the way, I discovered Tarot cards; better decks have a wonderfully mysterious ambiance that makes you want to believe they have power. Years later, trading card games were introduced, and again I was enthralled, combining the fantasy of the mystical with gaming and chance. Short, simple game play and lack of depth or elegance eventually dulled the charm of even those, though.

Since that early exposure, a variety of anime and children's shows themed around trading card game experiences have emerged. Most are mediocre, but they do present some interesting concepts. The thin exposure I have had to those shows, and the slightly deeper exposure I have had to actual trading card games and tarot have all been left to percolate and now things are bubbling!

The Cards: 

Cards are made from a variety of materials, selected for their various metaphysical properties and their conductivity of arcane energy. The various solutions and treatments that are used to cure, pulp, enamel, etch, or otherwise treat the card stock are also specially selected for their properties and potency. More exotic and usually potent cards are often made from compounded materials, with perhaps a bone laminate on the face, a leather backing, and a metal edge treatment.

The pigments and surface treatments of the cards are compounded from various materials ranging from minerals, plant extracts, lard, blood, bile, ichor, etc. The potency of such compounds are usually related to the nature of their source, the synergy they create with other ingredients and the card stock itself.

In general order of potency, not withstanding the natural properties of the source :
  • Thick paper
  • Woven fiber 
  • Leather
  • Wood (solid or plied)
  • Metals (enameled, etched, engraved, and/or stamped)
  • Scale, Horn, or Bone (solid or plied)
Most cards have only one or two effects they are capable of alone.  Some cards can be inversed, such as love charms that can also be used to produce enmity. Skilled card-casters can combine cards, stacking potency or modifying effects.

Simple cards are constructed from pulped fibers, usually plants attributed with various medicinal or metaphysical properties. The illustrations are simple with limited glyph-work. The effects of these cards tend to be love charms; wards; sleep aids; cures for minor poisoning, skin rashes, sore muscles, etc; or causing such effects. More potent effects of these simple cards involve mending minor wounds and broken bones, igniting flammable materials, or producing light. Many paper cards are intended to be consumed when used, such as a pack of cards intended to be used as matches or temporary light sources.

More sophisticated cards, made of lacquered cloth, leather, or wood, usually have greater capacity for energy transfer, so the extent to the effects are far greater. The imagery is usually more refined, with moderate glyph-work.  Some of these cards are simply improved versions of the simpler paper cards, but the greater energy potential allows effects such as curing or inducing paralysis, pain, or unconsciousness; electrical shocks; etc. Cards with this level of workmanship are rarely intended to be consumed when used.

Metal cards can be relatively simple, but are usually inscribed, etched and/or enameled with ornate illustrations and complex glyph-work.   The durability of metal cards makes them ideal for fiery uses, and their natural conductivity allows them to produce large effects.  The simplest metal cards are often used like modern lighters or flashlights, with more sophisticated cards being used for small pyrotechnics.  The most elaborate metallic cards can produce large destructive effects.  Generally speaking, because of the attributes of metallic cards, they are not used medicinally.

Scale, bone, and horn cards tend to be particularly potent if the sources are creatures with natural energies. These cards are usually the most ornate, with intricate illustrations and glyph-work, usually rendered in pigments made of the various fluids from the same creature that was used to make the card-stock.  This class of card is often used to summon creatures or manipulate whatever natural energies the donor creature had.

Card Casting:

Card-casting requires the user to be attuned to their cards. The method for this involves a series of rituals to cleanse the card of any old aura sticking to it, then to cleanse the caster of any auras sticking to them, and finally, a binding ritual to put the caster's cleansed aura on the card. The more sophisticated and potent the card, the more extensive the rituals for attunement. Simple paper cards can be attuned very quickly, metallic or bone cards require lengthy rituals and may take weeks of repeated effort to finally bind the card. Some casters are incompatible with some cards or classes of cards, and attempts at attunement will fail, and may even have negative consequences for the caster, the card, or both. Such incompatibility is often obvious, but in the cases of the most potent cards, the only way to find out is try and fail, often catastrophically.

Once attuned to the cards, the activation of the card is usually based on its potency, the energy levels of the caster, and the cards effect. Powerful cards are normally made of materials that augment the energy of the caster, allowing them to conserve energy. Badly made cards, poor caster/card compatibility, or improperly attuned cards require the caster to push more energy. The most potent cards, especially summoning cards, usually require material aids. Summoning cards might require blood and/or flesh, Fire effects may require brazier of burning coals, etc.

Card-casting is done by holding a card appropriately (don't point that fire-jet card at your head!), and either invoking aloud or focusing inwardly on the card's glyphs to push energy into and through the card.

The Craftsmen:

The artisans who make finer cards are skilled card-casters, and the greatest casters are the ones responsible for the major summoning cards and other major cards. Minor cards, particularly paper cards, are usually made by student casters, and it isn't uncommon for the first 'deck' a student owns to be crafted entirely by his own hand.

Students also make stacks of disposable igniter, glow, and charm cards, as well as various other cardsets to be sold off or traded for other goods and services, offsetting the cost of apprenticeship.


I envision card-casting soldiers with small decks of cards crippling, burning, and electrocuting in combat, or using cards to tend the wounded; master craftsman card-casters using cards to precisely shape stone and assemble buildings; town doctors using cards to tend to the ills of the community; and so on.

The images in this post have been culled from the internet over the years. If you own the images or know who does, please let me know and I will properly attribute or remove them.


Dark Dreaming

Several days gone now, but still holding well in my memory, is this dream:

I found myself laying in a hospital bed, in an institutional room, austere, hinting at a government or corporate facility. I was morbidly obese, trapped by my own mass. Harsh looking nurses would wander in occasionally with food and medication. This was my routine.

Then I got a visitor... a young child, blond hair, wearing what might have been a hospital gown, or a night shirt.  They approached me, and whispered in my ear 'You don't belong here, you have to leave.' Then they seemed to be gone.

I struggled to free myself from the bed, but knew the door was locked. The windowless chamber offered only one other possible escape:  a ventilation panel.  The panel was no more than 2 feet to a side, if that. In spite of my girth, I struggled to the panel, and managed to open it. I began to try to force my way into the duct beyond.  As I struggled, I began to catch glimpses of myself as a thin man, struggling. Then, the child was there, pushing my obese body as I struggled. Once again, I was thin.  Suddenly, I realized I wasn't really obese at all.  I had been tricked into thinking I was, by whoever had placed me in the cell, as if believing I was incapable of escape would prevent my from trying.

I crawled through the ducts, and came out in another room of the facility.  The walls were lined with shelves, stacked with peculiar items, the floor was littered with odd items as well.  I understood that the items, at least some of them, had belonged to me, and it seemed that must be why I was a prisoner here.  The child again appeared, and told me I must hurry.  They made me realize I had to decipher a book in this collection.

I quickly found the small leather clad book in the room I was in, but it was filled with strange glyphs, demonic texts. I had to make my way to another room, via the ducts.

I was searching for a medical kit bag.  I dropped into another room similar to the last, at the far end of a hall I could not access for some reason.  In  this room, I found the kit, and in it there were antique, baroque surgeon's tools.  Silver scalpels ornamented with vine and flower motifs, syringes, saws, and finally, what I sought, a stethoscope.

This stethoscope was not ordinary by any means. It was crafted from human skin instead of flexible tubing, and the armatures and ear pieces were not made of metal tube, but instead were carved human rib bones.  Most disturbing of all, was the actual scope... it was a leathery human ear affixed to the tube. This too had been in my collection, but why I hadn't understood its importance before fails me. I knew it had belonged to a plague doctor, who had made dark pacts and been researching things best left alone.

The child again appeared, urging me onward.  In the yet another chamber was a coin I must acquire, but I could not touch it with bare flesh, lest I lose my mind. Back into the ducts I crawled, passing over another long hall, and finally dropping into this last room, which formed, with the medical chamber and the other cluttered rooms of mysterious treasure, a square, connected by long halls.

The coin was found quickly, and in a flash of inspiration, or perhaps at the child's guidance, I lifted the coin carefully with my sleeve, and placed the stethoscope to it. I could hear the beating of a heart, from within the coin.  Only this stethoscope was capable of hearing the coin's heart beat. I knew then that I must meditate on the beating of the demonic heart trapped in this coin, no doubt payment for some dark dead in days long gone, and perhaps forged by some madman who sought to imprison a demon with it, so as to command its power.

I got the book out, and began to copy the glyphs into a notebook.  The child appeared, this time a young girl, but otherwise very similar... she picked up the coin, and I tried to stop her, but then I knew that she was immune to whatever power it held.  So she held the coin, and the ear of the stethoscope to it, while I listened and drifted into a trance.  Mesmerized, I began to scrawl equally cryptic glyphs next to each of the glyphs I copied from the book...  but somehow, it all made sense to me.

After a great deal of time, the book was decoded to my satisfaction.  I found a large painting in the room I was in, and when I looked at it while entranced by the beating of the heart, it was a map, and with the information I decoded, I knew where on the map I had to go...  more notes were made, then my escape.

How exactly, I escaped, is a blur, but I was next on the ground in front of the facility I was imprisoned in, a guard post in front of it.  Here, I have teamed with a group of Afghan men, who have agreed to take me into the desert, to whatever it is that is hidden there, the thing I was imprisoned and my collection stolen in order to acquire.

I knew time was essential, and as we trekked into the wastelands, the sky grew dark with ominous clouds that roiled across the sky, and the harsh winds blew.  My guides warned that since the land had been flattened, the storms tore across it without mercy, and we must find shelter and wait, but I knew it was dark forces mounting against me in this final leg of my journey.

And then, I woke.


The Super Collider, Arcane Edition

Lots of buzz about super colliders lately; I live in a world of steam-punk and fantasy imagery though, so my first thought as I saw a recent news report was how mystifying to future civilizations these constructs may be.  Large circular tunnels, filled with arcane equipment.  If such a civilization does not appreciate our technology (either by assuming us too primitive to having advanced laterally in a way that makes this technology meaningless) then this tunnel will be a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and so on.

So in the parlance of my fantasy science, I began to postulate a large circular tunnel, its entirety marked in glyphs and lay-lines designed to channel and focus arcane energies, with the intent to accelerate motes of mystically infused matter to discover what happens when such materials collide.  I would assume that this strange construct would be the precursor to the discovery of methods of teleportation used to create the various teleportation portals I have detailed many variations of over the years.  Not sure where I am going with this yet, but it's keeping my mind moving.

I might get ambitious and scan a few of those out of the archive, but don't bank on it.