Thursday, 13 January 2022

The First Amber Court

Before it was an Empire, the Court was a Kingdom, an Ideal, a warren of rooms in the Crypt of an unbuilt Cathedral, and before that, a room, panelled in Amber, the birth point of the concept, and the conspiracy which begat that strange devising.

 "What is known was once suspected, and what suspected was once known." - Kausker Wood.

 Yet this we think we know; K-----1 the Duke of Lataam, possessed a chamber2 panelled in amber, and it was here, shortly after the 'Miracle of Hoögst' that the first secret meetings3 were held, and the germination of the Amber4 Court began.


   

Apocryphal image of the Amber Court in its Late Period
From 'In the Memories of Stars'


1.      On Redactions

 Mind-plague and Cursethought still hover round the record of these times, especially of the later wars of the Amber Court, the Otherworld Wars and the Red Shift, such that only the most pure of our order are permitted to read, write or even consider these matters. The more conservative amongst my order would happily launch a Mnemarchy Crusade to conceal or destroy all records - so greatly do they fear the contagious notions, the "vermin tales", of the Red Shift - that they may spill over, hide themselves in nearby concepts and thereby slowly and subtly re-infect the Lords Causality.

 Here no such redaction has been made. The son of Duke K----- of Lataam, he who would become "The King Beneath the Mountain", "The Twice-Redacted King" and "Lord of the Amber Court", possessed such power over the Lords Causality that, along with many of the higher-ranked members of the Amber Court itself, his name may not be directly written, remembered or considered. This enchantment, or alteration, was, and is, so powerful that it has overflowed even to the identities of that individuals parents and nearby relatives. All we can say of Duke K---- was that his name began with K. His name is written in some of our records but neither I nor any conscious being may read or comprehend it.

   

2.      On The Chamber

 A room  in the Ducal palace or fortress of Lataam panelled in amber and fossils. A twin-walled room, silent due to its inner amber walls, paved with polished trilobites. Servants and guards moved behind the amber panels, in the space between the walls  bearing lamps.

 The shadows of strange insects, curls and spatters of ancient catastrophe and that of one creature something like a mouse, along with the warping and shifting of light as it smoked, more than shone, through the wavelike  thickness of the amber walls and was refracted through the carvings, passed across their features of those who met within. Both the sound and nature of the occupants was disguised. The vague shape - but not identity, of those within could be perceived, and nothing heard.

    

3.      On The Meetings

 One door lead to the dukes apartments and the other to the hedge maze in the garden - a petty labyrinth - but many early meetings were held during parties and gatherings and being "lost in the maze" was sufficient reason to excuse an absence. The great variety of guests and the double-disguise of a masked ball, along with the covering social camouflage of a hist of petty intrigues, clearly sufficed to disguise both the participants, and even the very existence of the meetings themselves.

   

4.      On Amber

 The room was an assembled treasure of the Dutchy of Lataam - partly inherited from the lost Dutchy of Latöm - partly received in dowry on the marriage of Lady Z----- of Frost to Duke K-----. Duke K----- dedicated himself to collecting such amber treasures for much of his life, finally completing the room roughly 15 years before his death.

Born of strange places were they, torn from seams and tipped from fossilised trees on shores left bare by suboceanic shock. The treasures of tribal kings, smoke-stained, ancient even to them. The amber panels dated from many ages and even the panels themselves were composite elements of a composite room.

 Duke K----- allowed re-carving for a more coherent whole. The leering, primitive ancient carvings of the amber mixed and jumbled, overwritten with the forms and shapes of many faces. The ghosts of those primeval forms remained hidden in the shifting yellow light, waiting only the just-so crossing beams to reveal themselves again, and beneath these overwritten patterns watched the still-more ancient emissaries of deep time - the only witnesses to a new era of hope and fear.

 

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

"In the Memories of Stars"

 I write of ruin unbound by the past and the unravelling fates of men for you have recalled to me a dream wherein I saw, in the future of my people, a record of the ruin of your own. A vision, not of tumbling towers or oceans folding over the pennants of Knights but of books, and silence in an empty palace where snow drifts through the halls

There wrote a scholar in a voided land. The armies tipped into the rivers to stain the sea red, the peasants ploughed into under their furrows, starved in their hearths, the nobles withered, twitching from the teeth of gnawing rats.. all tumbled away to nothing like a cup emptied from a towers top, leaving beneath it not a splatter, nor a stain, wine drunk by the howling wind

In my dream, which came strangely like a memory, I knew this place. It was the Solar of Irrilyia, a once-sacred chamber I was taken to as a child, built by a long-fallen Prince as a sad offering to his unmarried mistress so that, though she may never be Queen and her children bastards all, yet she might occupy the topmost place in all the lands of Frost. In time, and as dynasties rolled each upon the other it was abandoned, transferred, preserved first as a power, then memory. 

When I saw the Solar, once and still the highest room of the tallest tower of the most sky-deep city of Frost, I recall it full of sunlight as a jewel is full of shine. Yet in my vision no sun wheeled nor stars shone, only a pale lantern and a guttering fire

In my dream I entered quietly, as a child, yet I was no child and moved as if I knew this place well, had walked it before, not once but many times.

In the Solar one black figure sat, robed in black made darker by the shadow of the lamp. They did not turn to me but stayed, sitting, crouching, hunched across the desk which occupied the centre of this room. All else was shadow and gloom, glimmers of firelight catching on the tumbling flakes of snow which drifted from a fissure in the roof

Near the black scribe was bound an orange flame, one locked in the belly of a stove, an iron tripod of the kind soldiers use, one leg was gone, it was propped, I saw on piled books of ancient make with slate and wooden covers though the topmost charred slowly, pressed against the pig-black iron. All was unsteady, the stove wavered, the chair and table tapped, shifting a little under the pressure of each written line as it crawled towards the parchments edge, and the weight of this black writers outstretched hand tilted the table, and so the scribe put out the other arm to grasp the tables side.

The scratching of the pen, like whispers, followed by a soft "thunk", a wheeze, as of from ancient lungs or cleft lips, then "thunk" the table tipped to rightness as it seemed the writer rode it through the black night like a ship in storm. And with this, a squeal, very small, as the chair tipped and bowed a little at each movement. Ill-made tools for an ill-made man for under all was breathing which seemed sore labour.

The whispering pen, the "thunk-thunk-squeal" and the labouring lungs, all sounds bound like slaves or spirits to the fierce unending flow of the text, unseen to me, a hidden river yet it pushed and rode the writer and commanded every effort of this desolate and fractured place as if a demon, possessing but one vile and ancient servant, unable elsewise to touch at all our material world, stood invisibly and with imperious will, lashed, howled without sound and commanded "Write. Write! Write!!" Such was strangely fearful in this little sight; a  black robed-man writing in a high castle.

I stepped within, or I remember that I had stepped in so, in that old-old story of the Pale Scribe which surely I remembered now. 

Cold was the Solarium, yet not bare. Books were piled against the walls, scrolls tacked and jammed in gaps and between piles. The wind panted outside and pressed fingers against the windows, once clearest glass, now blocked and shuttered, curtained by rags and browned tapestries. Yet still some wind keened and a whispering slip across the darkened floor like a carpet of snakes. Papers and scraps, pages and letters, fragments, skittered like leaves, flowed like embers on the cold air.

Why this word-hoard? Were they relics? Treasures? How? In the whole of Samaris were these charred and misbegotten scraps somehow stolen, or preserved?

"What do you here? What place is this, and when?"  

So I wished to scream and cry out, to ask this grim librarian.

Were they mad this hermit? Or was this all, the last remains of Samaris and Frost? Was there anyone still who knew the story of Illyria, or that this was her room and why it was made? But I remembered, or saw, I had seen somewhere or been told, that in this scene, this story, nothing was spoken or said, for one would not, one could not, and so both were silent.

He sighed then, and the black shape paused, shifted. It writhed I think. The Demon did not want it to be still. The words called, like a black river of ink which if dammed must burst. But I think there was a moment of silence, of recollection, as of an old, sad memory, a stillness of regret. Then again, "scratch-thunk, scratch-thunk-squeal" and the labour of breath. I think if this scribe knew of me, and I felt somehow it did, and yet did not, but that it cared not at all, intent upon his text here at the end of the world.

It.

Was it truly pale?

I did not want to see its face, or to be seen, but I knew that, as dreamers know, that I must read.
That was how the story went and would go, that was the reason for the memory, why it had been passed on. Or the vision... But I must read nonetheless, for to do otherwise were like a joke half-told.

Though I saw and could see nothing of the outside world I imagined a black horizon and red fires burning under stars which swam and melted like ice, like tears.

The wind stirred and in the shadow of its sound I crept. I breathed through open mouth as a child does creeping in a game, and like a child I felt great dread, so much that my thighs itched and quivered as if holding on a climb, for all that my tread was soft.

He stank, though the cold hid it. He stank like a leper. Rags folded him and he was hunched beyond belief.He seemed to be in pain, or past pain, for I think for him no deed or moment lacked it.

I was within the fires red glow, and little heat it gave. I saw the surface of the table.

"Scratch-scratch-thunk"

And the "skree" of the chair as he leaned his bowed body and reached, forcing limbs which seemed to which to curl upon themselves, like ferns, pushing them, his withered self, bowing to force the grey half-bitten quill to the edge of the table, the edge of the page.

The hand.

Was, could this be a mans hand?

So white. White as the moon and vile as a wound.

What had been done to him? What had he done?

A punishment? Burning. Perhaps acid, or feathers and tar. Were those still fingernails or something else?

I looked down, in the vision, in the memory of the tale I remembered that I had done this, down at my own right hand. It was normal, and shared no mark or blemish with that thing. There was no way, it would not, I would not become…

So, unspoken fear assuaged, I stepped, only a little step. The rank beast stink and the pitiful breath. The "scratch-scratch-thunk" resounding now like hammers. I was right behind him. Right behind his shoulder, invisible, unseen and even if he should rise, should turn and see me, I could hurl him down like a dog, withered as it was. This was the secret I was bound to see. The black words crawled across the cracked palimpsest.

It was my tongue, not the one in which I write to you, but that of my birth, in an educated, elongated secretary style. My eyes darted, sections, headings, repeated phrases, amber, the amber court, chrysalis wars, ruin, great working, the names of great nations. 

What dark history was this? Not mine, thank god, but some names I knew. Oderlane, Day and yours, or your title at least.

"The Ruin of the Amber Court"

All this was written in past tense, and grimly, as if too long done, but I saw horror, vague and terrible as if from scripture or nightmare. I read of shapeless legions, of lands I knew yet "turned from any Path and Broken", of rains of corpses, of generations cursed by dark foreknowledge, of lands where the babes were born dead, yet sentient and grieving themselves, of cities tipped into the "Fabric" and make alike unto curses, or worms or dragons of myth; "and Redgaar turned then at the time of Third Turning and broke its Path and the Cord of its Peoples and moved behind the Fabric as a hungry ghost which swims in black water and was cursed". I read of dreams made vampiric, of tilted skies which spilled forth quicksilver men that hated all, of the harrowing of Time and ever and again, repeated; "The Ruin of the Amber Court".

I leaned forwards, puzzling and darting, lost in dark wonder and frustration. What was the Amber Court? For then I had never heard the phrase. 

I leaned and He turned, and saw

Or just remembered. His eyes searching mine, or looking through them. Could he see me at all?

What before I feared in horror I saw now in inexpressible sorrow. A face so altered and unmanned, eroded by tortures and sculpted in pain, yet, regret, regret and yearning unto madness, as if in in a call or heralds cry, his face alone begged me; Do not let this be.

Did our eyes meet?

I woke from my vision, or came from my memory, weeping. So sad, so sad and fearful yet I knew not what for. For a fantasy. I could neither be consoled nor speak of what I had seen. What could I say but that I wept for a dream I could not well recall?

All this lay within me, for how long? A week? A month? Though the memory slowly faded, I wrote notes, made images and verse for, though I could not speak of what I had seen directly, I could freeze instants of it through art, like nails in my soul.

Only weeks I think.

Can you imagine now, or begin to, what flowed through me as I deciphered your letter? (By my own hand, for I would trust no other). Letter by letter, phrase by phrase. Of what slow nightmare, no, for there was no shadow or enchantment to it, but only horrid clarity, like a deadly sentence handed down by a mediocre judge.

Those Self Same Terms

The Exact Words

And the very concept! Not in history, but as a plan! A yet-to-be! Can you understand? I wish I wish I wish that you could see my visions as I saw them, but I know you will doubt, and if not doubt, defy. Such is your nature. You are fearless, and there is a great terror in that. God made fear for a reason, we do not think it is a blessing but it is. You will doubt and see only a warning, and you will plan and devise, thinking to overcome. Such is your way, your nature to the core.

Still I implore you. I beg you, if you have ever respected my talents, as your words would suggest, if you can believe me in any way. Do not do this.

There is still time! Fate is not yet set. Whatever horrors you have seen since Albraneth and the Canticle, whatever winding paths your Seers have put before you, I know you are outraged by these times and their falseness, by the ignorance and hypocrisy, and yes I agree with you that Oderlane is mad and likely a Sorcerer, and his beasts both fanatical and corrupt. Tet still, I beg you, do not do this thing. I have seen it and it is terrible.

I will not join you beneath your mountain.

I wish I knew words to move your soul but I fear none such exist.

Peace to you in all love.




---------------------------------------------------

Apocrypha of "In the Memories of Stars". Copy of a document said to have been recovered, year 672, from the ruins of lost Samaris. Transcribed and included in the 732 First-Block-Printed edition. Retained only as Apocryphal as all dates and names either removed or lost and provenance of original impossible to ascertain.

Monday, 27 December 2021

A Glossary of the Amber Court

 Great swathes of time and chaos separate us from even the Age of the Later Court. Much has been lost, the Court itself was swathed in deep secrecy during its Early Period, purely as a matter of survival, and in its Later Period became riven with intrigue, factionalism and obscuration. Nevertheless I can present to you a brief list and explanation of some of the more obvious terms which will directly apply to your studies.  

 




Aiguilletage 

Needing. A simple catch-all term used by Seers to describe their work in altering Courde or Fate Lines. Anything from the subtlest Notching to the most brutal Galon would be described so, usually within an ‘Atelier’. i.e. “What’s your aiguilletage today?”  

 

Almoner

See ‘Haptic Ranks’ 

Broadly responsible for the well-being of an ‘Atelier’ or specific tasked group of Seers. Originally based around consumables, food, shelter for them and their families, though also interrelated with security and perhaps ultimately a political role. Of necessity, the Almoner must be well versed in Amber Court politics. Whether the Almoner is protecting, controlling, imprisoning or supporting the Atelier is up for debate. 

 

 

Amber Mystery Disciple

See ‘Ocular ranks' 

The fifth ranked grouping of Amber Court Seers. The last rank at which one would be resident commonly outside the Court itself and the lowest rank at which one might lead an Atelier

 

 

Amber Soul Disciple

See 'Ocular ranks' 

The third rank of Seers in the Amber Court. Almost never seen outside the Court itself until the later part of its history and those individuals have their own names and legends. An Amber Soul Disciple would be the leader of at least one Atelier and possibly several. 

 

Autocephaly 

A single Seer or a group of such, freed from organisational hierarchies and instructions on where and to what ends they should focus their attention. Very rare at lower levels of the Amber Court but in some sense all highly-promoted Seers attain a degree of Autocephaly in their prognostications, though they are expected to dedicate their secular or Haptic attentions to their Court Duties. 

Since most, perhaps all, highly promoted Seers engaged in meta-prognostication of the groups and matters under their immediate purview, it’s clear that even from the start, any strong divide between secular or ‘haptic’ responsibility and transcendent or Ocular duty, melted away towards the top of the pyramid. 

See ‘Blind Melody Disciple’ for a Court Rank assumed to engage in a high degree of Autocephaly

Degrees of Autocephaly are thought to be one of the main divisions between early Houses

 

 

Atelier 

The core organisational grouping of the Amber Court. An Atelier was a group of Seers under the direct instruction of a Seer of Amber Mystery Disciple or Amber Soul Disciple Rank at least. 

Ateliers could be dedicated to particular situations, groups, individuals or fate lines by the Pursuivant or Grand Pursuivant, or might be part of a larger, distributed array of Ateliers working under a common leader of Preceptor level or above, or may even have some degree of Autocephaly. 

One can think of an Atelier as a closed room, or group of chambers in the Amber Court where a select group of Seers gathered to plumb the depths of a specific Warp or Courde. This room, and their work in general, would be separated from the outside world and from the Amber Court as a whole by two guards, the Poignard Disciple within the chamber and the Tyler without. 

Information control was deeply important to the Amber Court and Ateliers were not meant to intra-communicate, neither were the instructions sent to them or the information issuing from them meant to intersect with the instructions or perceptions of any other Atelier except via the correct and singular authorities dedicated to that task. 

In the early years of the Court this method seems to have held largely true (though with some gaps and loopholes even then), by the Later Period the Court was so riddled with intrigue, factionalism and complex webs of meta-prognostication that its widely assumed the Ateliers were “wide open”, though the forms of Poignard Disciple and Tyler were still followed. 

 

 

Bias 

Has very specific meanings highly dependent on context, but very generally, a term used to describe the range of possibilities in which a particular Courde or Warp either express itself, or diverge. (Though, oddly, almost never referring to the Selvage

Usually when referring to a single Courde with a hard Selvage, the bias describes the potential range of ways in which the known fate may be expressed. i.e. if Duke X has a Courde with a hard Selvage in two weeks, but with a great Bias, then the Seer, or Atelier, is strongly certain that this individual will die on or within that timeframe, but very uncertain of how that death may occur. 

Conversely, an uncertain Selvage with a short Bias, would mean that Duke X may live a very long period of time, but when he does die, it is almost certain to be by the method or in the manner predicted. 

When referring to Warps, Fate Lines for larger groupings, the definition and usage of 'Bias' becomes more complex and situational. 

 

 

Blind Melody Disciple

See 'Ocular ranks' 

The fourth ranked grouping of the Amber Court. An unusual and unspecific rank. Almost never given leadership roles but neither required to be resident within the Amber Court itself. Blind Melody disciples were expected to rove far and wide across the world, taking on many roles. They may be a form of intelligence agent of direct action operative for the Court, or head up or advise groups of such. 

Technically this should never have occurred as, according to Court Law analysis and effect are separated into the Ocular and Haptic arms of the Court and should not intermix. What 'intelligence gathering' looks like to a society of Seers one can only guess. Some individuals advanced quickly to 'Wild Melody Disciple' rank and remained there all of their lives while others skipped the rank entirely.

 

 

 

Broderie 

Altering or managing the appearance or 'seeming' of events regardless of the Courde, Warp or Fabric. i.e in classic Broderie, the manner or seeming of events might change a great deal but the fate of not one insect will ultimately alter. Seers disagreed deeply on the importance of Broderie, initially it was a low-status art and those of mid to high rank eschewed it, yet ultimately many High Preceptors were initially deeply skilled in Broderie and maintained silence on the subject, speaking neither in defence nor condemnation of the art 

 

 

Celestial Master

See 'Ocular Ranks' 

Actually the seventh and probably lowest ranked grouping of the Amber Court. Still considered to be by far superior to the common weal of Seers in capacity. A ‘Celestial Master’ might primp themselves about amongst the colleges of lesser Seers who gathered around the Amber Court, particularly in the Later Period, but would ultimately be regarded as an apprentice within it, perhaps a joke by the Rightly-Guided King in this naming. 

 

 

Coudre, Thread, Fate 

A Fate line, classically conceived as the destiny of a single individual or some other simple, unitary identity, of perhaps an object, like a sword, or in some rare cases larger identity groups so long as some other very strong element unifies their fate lines i.e. a group of individuals in a single lifeboat on an empty sea, or trying to survive in the snows of Nehei. 

 

 

Decatize 

'Priming' Courde, checking for existing Warps and Wefting, if necessary, cutting any warped Courde. Preparing a fate for Alteration. In many cases to Decatize is assumed to be much easier in the case of nonentities, newborns, unimportant individuals they young etc, and to get harder and harder to the degree in which people age, gain status, form connections with others and become more individual. There are however, many counterintuitive examples. Complaints over failures to Decatize proliferate in the Later Period. 

 

 

Edge 

Philosophically the conceptual barrier of inter-related fates beyond which no Seer can meaningfully alter anything. More commonly used in the manner of specific Atelier and Seers remarking on the limits of their own ability regarding a single weave "I/We have hit an edge". 

There were always debates within the Court as to whether there was actually an Edge in the conceptual sense and these ultimately added to the fissured which accelerated the proliferation of Houses and which, in part, defined the structure of the Later Prescience Wars. 

 

 

Entoilage 

To 'Augille' a Warp into the Fabric, the structure of causality, producing strong feedback loops between the structure of the desired fate and highly non-alterable events, beginning with things like the actions of the sun and stars, vulcanism, etc. Entoilage can effectively seal the fates of large Warps but carries enormous risk as the nature of the feedback loops means that if the Warp does shift, instead of being strengthened by the substructure of Causality, it may instead alter that substructure. 

Entoilage was considered a high and subtle skill for much of the History of the Amber Court. 

 

 

Fabric 

Causality. Fate or time itself. The structure and direction of events regardless of human action. Though in many cases Seers will refer to 'Fabric' or 'The Fabric' as being simply a deeper and more certain, less alterable layer of causality than the one they are currently working on. 

 

 

Galon 

A method but more usually described as an action, i.e. “I/he just galoned the fuck out of it. Don’t put it in the report”. 

Jamming a pre-existing small Warp or Courde into another larger warp with little preparation. In a sense a form of crude Entoilage but instead of interweaving the chosen Warp with deep Fabric, one simply appends one smaller Warp to another not much deeper and stronger than itself in the hopes that “Nothing will go wrong”, or if it does, that no-one will notice it was your fault. Carries all of the risks of Entoilage but with much greater chance of failure. 

 

 

Grand Pursuivant

See ‘Haptic Ranks’ 

Administrator of all Pursuivants throughout the Amber Court. The seal of the Grand Pursuivant guarunteed physical access to any Atelier, at least technically through the Tyler, though the Poignard Disciple, in thier capacity as member of the Atelier, may potentially deny such access. A rank with only grew in power over the Ages of the Amber Court and which clashed often with the Almoners. 

 

 

Great Emptiness Disciple.

See 'Ocular ranks' 

The sixth ranked grouping of Seers of the Amber Court. Little is known of the titles meaning. 

 

 

Haptic Ranks 

The procedures of the Court were initially designed to strongly separate the ‘Ocular’ arm, made up of Seers an dealing only in information under highly controlled circumstances, and the ‘Haptic’ arm, made up of non-Seers and largely tasked with the security (and perhaps control) of the Seers and Ateliers

There were many more than described here, including whole schools of Scribes, (its estimated there were perhaps five Scribes for each Seer). More details can be found in the respective entries. 

Almoner – in charge of welfare of Seers or Ateliers

Tyler – originally a guard to the door of an Atelier

Pursuivant – originally a backup to the Tyler or assistance to the Almoner

Grand Pursuivant – Master of Pursuivants 

 

 

Houses 

Seem to be socio-political groupings within the Amber Court itself, crossing between Ateliers and Ranks. In the Early Period of the Court these are referred to as intellectual and philosophical concepts, though in the Later Period they grow both in number and the extent to which they are mentioned. Some later correspondence seems to place the various 'Houses' above even the Ateliers and Preceptors in importance. In either case, little is known of their nature, purpose or views. 

 

Dominant in the early period and continuing to the middle period; 

The House of Glass

The Bright House

The Tripartate House

 

Minor or non-existent during the early period, growing in power and dominance from the middle to the Late period 

The Deep House

The Suns Perfection House

The House of Peace

The House of the Orthodox Sun ('New' Bright House)

The Glass Blade (abjured)

The House of Ghosts (abjured)

Final Clarity House

Perfected Mystery House

The Lemniscate House (abjured)

The Ouroboros House (‘New’ Lemniscate, twice-abjured and records purged)

Flowing Blood House (abjured)

House Invisible (denied)

House of Amber Flies (abjured, condemned) 

 

 

 

Notch

An action and method; ‘to notch’. 

Cutting or removing fate lines at the 'edge' of a Warp to produce a 'Neat Warp', more stable and less likely to fray and produce Bias. Essentially shifting or breaking the interrelationships at the edge of a shared Warp so that the fate of the Warp is more strongly separated from the common Fabric. A very difficult and subtle art as in many cases, notching can also make a warp unstable, yet to perform it exactly encourages a warp to curl in upon itself yet without any obvious trauma. 

 

 

Ocular Ranks

 (counting upwards in importance)

 

?. Poignard Disciple

7. Celestial Master

6. Great Emptiness Disciple

5. Amber Mystery Disciple

4. Blind Melody Disciple

3. Amber Soul Disciple

2. Preceptor Numinous

1. Preceptor of Glass 

 

 

Patron / Plan 

Few Aiteliers would begin the Aguilletage without first assessing the shape of the Corde, Weft, Bias and Selvage. This done they form a collective plan both of the desired fate and of the Aguilletage used to attain it. The nature of these Patron/Patterns/Plans is different for each Aitelier

 

 

Pattemouille 

An expendable Warp, a grouped arrangement of fates used to the point of destruction purely to alter or Decatize the prime Warp or Courde intended. Not always physically destructive as the Court would say, to destroy a fate is not necessarily to destroy the person, (though a fair amount of time it means destroying the person). Intra-Aitelier arguments over Pattemouille could be savage as a Warp carefully conceived by one Aitelier might be used by another simply as Pattemouille by another. 

 

 

Preceptor of Glass

See 'Ocular Ranks' 

Title of the first rank of the Amber Court. Nothing more is known of them. 

 

 

Preceptor Numinous

See 'Ocular Ranks' 

Second ranks of the Amber Court Seers. Presumed masters of meta-prognostication. Perhaps allowed to directly advise the Rightly-Guided King. Little is known. 

 

 

Pursuivant

See ‘Haptic ranks’ 

Has administrative control of entry and exit from the Atelier, though direct control is held by the Tyler and the Poignard Disciple. The Pursuivant might control anything up to a small paramilitary force dedicated to the protection of a specific Atelier or Seer

Pursuivants were initially intended to remain separate to the Atelier and in some sense subservient to the Tyler, initially conceived as little more than armed backup for the Tyler. The appearance in the  Later Court Period of armies of Pursuivants gives the ultimate lie to that. 

 

 

Poignard Disciple

See ‘Ocular Ranks’ 

An unusual role of the armed Seer. The Poignard Disciple was initially a low-ranked,  perhaps not even Celestial Master level, member of an Atelier who literally guarded the door from the inside, armed with a Poignard. The same door being guarded from the Outside by the Tyler, an entirely haptic Rank. 

This provided a good opportunity for the Poignard Disciple to learn about the work of the Atelier and also about the structure of the Amber Court. Over time the position clearly changed and was often filled by a wide variety of individuals, becoming more of a role than a rank. 

 

 

Point droit 

Jamming something into a Courde or jamming a Courde into or around another at the last minute, either due to failure in planning or unforeseen complexities. If someone Point droits your Courde you will usually know about it. The results are usually ‘Miracles’, truly bizarre coincidences, obvious loops and various other obvious non-causal elements. 

One Atelier requesting a quick "point droit" from another would be regarded an admission of embarrassing failure. However, in later years it is clear that the Almoners were forced to suppress an informal underground 'trade' in Point Droit between Ateliers

 

 

Selvage 

The length of a Courde or Warp in time. For an individual, in most cases, the point of death or discorporation, for a group, the point of breaking up, giving up or evaporating, or death. Though as with all court matters, there are subtleties. Death may not be the end of Selvage and Selvage may not end in death. 

 

 

 

Surfiler 

if 'Notching' is a subtle and graceful method of separating a chosen Warp from the Fabric and creating a mutually-linked fate, Surfiler is a hasty, even brutal method of sealing a Warp by 'curving back' its edges and using dense, closely arranged fate lines to ensure that no decision pattern allows exit. 

Surfiler was not well regarded and if applied to more intelligent Courde-dwellers, would often produce effects highly noticeable even to those bound within the Fabric, such as individuals and elements leaving and then quickly returning by unusual means, rings and totems being thrown away and then being found in a potato, individuals falling into a river and washing up at the next bridge, individuals being ‘lost in fog’ and returning to wherever they came from. 

Various forms of crude Surfiler were likely elements in simple Hedge Workings. 

 

 

Tyler 

They duty of the Tyler was initially to guard the door of the Atelier from the outside with force. In the middle and later court periods the Tyler evolved into a more political role, as opposed to the Pursuivants who eventually became a military force and in competition with the Almoners who maintained a purely administrative authority. Tylers were usually highly competent and intelligent non-Seer individuals who traded both on what they did know and could do and on what they might know and wouldn’t do. 

There is no equivalent role for the later Tylers in other polities. Armed duellist /ambassador/ factotum/ bodyguards? 

 

 

Warp 

A group of unified or grouped Courde or fate lines, as for a city, a village, a family military force etc. A ‘shared fate’, either occurring naturally or Wefted into being. 

 

 

Weft

To ‘weft’, wefting together. 

Both the means of tying together Courde into grouped fates or Warps and also describing the expressions and extent or 'size' of the resulting Warp

The means of tying together threads into grouped fates or expressions; In Haptic terms, a general recruiting for an army, putting them all in the same uniform and marching them as a unified group to a particular engagement, has 'made weft', but most Seers use 'Weft' to describe the tying together of Fate lines in ways usually not detectable by mortal senses. Wefting can take place long before those involved in it become aware of it. For instance, two boys born far apart but in particular social and personal circumstances may be 'wefted' with a hard bias, to join the aforementioned military group before the general who eventually leads them even conceives of the idea 

The extent or 'size' of the Warp. The number of Fate lines involved; their geographic distance of the individuality of their Fates. To Weft together the fate of a single homogonous village into one Warp is considered relatively simple (the "curse" of Folk Seeing in which a Seer or Wonder-Worker is killed or offended and brutally Wefts their accusers into one Warp with as short Selvage and slim Bias, would be a narrow (easy) weft). 

By comparison, Wefting together highly intelligent and individuated persons scattered across the globe, with highly different world views and aims, into one Warp, would, classically, be a wide (difficult) Weft and an act of great skill. 

 (However, views on this seemed to differ bewteen Houses and many highly ranked Seers disagreed on the relatively difficulty of Wefting)

 

 

Monday, 20 December 2021

What Reads Like Shit But Plays WELL?

 At some point this blog had something to do with Dungeons and Dragons or something,.. tum te tum the OHHH ESSHH AYR? I think I found those words scratched behind a pillar in a forgotten language in a sertaline dream I had.

In an act of remembrance for whatever this Blog used to be, and out of interest - plumbing, dredging the minds of my audience, and from my own curiosity, I have a query;

What reads badly but plays well?

Here is a picture for you;

Marcel Roux Offering to Moloch, 1908
(ripped off from the blog 'Monster Brains')



A few examples, largely from discussions I have had with friends who read and used things I didn't like the look of. Castle Xyntillan did not appeal to me at all from the text but multiple people have told me "No it plays like hot shit at the table, great fun." Likewise Ravenloft, the villain-is-ASDA-Dracula, sounds awful to me but again many many people say the opposite in play.

(I leave the definitions of "bad", "plays well" and the discussion of what we are talking about exactly (I'm imagining adventures but willing to accept a reasonably wide spectrum of 'similar things' around that), deliberately open. If you want to talk about what 'bad' means to you so you can define it better then do so, please don't argue with each other over definitions of what 'bad' is, its tiring for me.)





Monday, 13 December 2021

a footnote on the Water-Horse Wars

 Main Text
 
  
Historiographies of the Water-Horse Wars* have waxed and waned like tides from age to age. In the first magisterial histories of the opening battles of the Prescience Wars; "Our World War" by Kausker Wood, "The Dharma of Care", scrolls 3 to 333 by Priest-Viscount Apsanalan, and the epic poem "The Chaos of the Waves" by Chevalier Eastscource-Tan, (a much later work but one drawing upon direct sources long since lost to us), the Water-Horse wars are regarded as the _ending_ of a period, not its start.
 
For those alive at the time, or recording in the years directly afterwards, it must have seemed that the resolution of these conflicts had brought an end to what Apsanalan called "Our wars of twisted fate"
 
What few writing at the time could guess, that the shattered Pathist consensus which resulted from the Wars and the long-delayed counter-reaction to their resolution by elements which had so far, played little part, were instrumental in the initial formation the Amber Court of the King Beneath the Time, which would dominate the early-middle period of the Prescience Wars as a whole, and secondly, that the methods used to close the Water-Horse Wars only heralded, in vitro, strategies, weapons and sacrifices that would become all-too commonplace in "The Time of Great Workings"
 
 

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Who shall rid us of these Seers?

Sitting, as I do in my tower, in the peace and (relative) safety of our twilit Kingdom, in the one-thousand and sixth-hundredth Year of the Sleep, I face the testing question of any History; where to begin?

For if History teaches anything, it is that beginnings are not beginnings and endings not endings. There are no subjects in Nature or chapters in Time.

A question double-mazing for even our memories and records of the Prescience Wars, which raged for uncounted years before the Coming of God and the Years of the Sleep, are partial, deeply affected by the shattering events of the Wars themselves, which sallied forth across the collective unconscious of mankind and  which besieged unreality itself - dragging continents of dream into the waking world, not to mention the ever-partial records and histories which descend to us from those times.

Many great events, strange terrors and storied names pass through those Histories. 

Of the Siege of Red Rock, which hung like a vile tooth in the wounded air, with men climbing and dying like ants as they clambered over the red stone and fell in ropes.

The Synopticated Legion, ever-drumming, their banners and totems glitched and maddening -  for to see their sign and hear their drums was to be infected, altered on the spot, so that one must fight the legion deaf or blind, and how they were fought, and defeated by a general both deaf and mute, who spoke their strategies by touch.

Of the half-fictional armies of the King in Yellow, which could never be defeated while the memory of them remained, (and so still do remain, in-potentia at least).

Of those who made compacts with fire, or who promised the darkness all things.

Of those who raised the dead and the fractured terror-memories that those dead raised, for they had slept beyond the veil and, hearing in their slumber, the music and tapping of that infinite realm, dreamed in their black sleep, things of which the living should have never been aware. Of the Legion of ghosts who moved through nightmares and burst from the mouth of dreamers like vomit.

Of the five hundred sons of the moon who married the sky and who each walked with a star-wife, ladies of constellations, voids of great beauty and inexpressible hunger.

Of the devil-binders who bred with demons, and their self-bound half-demonic daughter-son dauphins, their abyssal half bound by spellcraft in the womb to their mortal flesh.

But History, or at least Historiography, has answered me already, for in all the Chronicles of the Prescience Wars, there is a rare meshing of viewpoint at the start, and while not all historians agree, all at least mention to begin with, "This Plague of Seers", and the birth of the Iron Path, in Albraneth, (a city of which no other record or ruin now remains), in the early morning, on rest-day, the citizens awoke to find, scratched with an arrow-head into the wood of the Temple doors;



THIS PLAGUE OF SEERS

"Who shall rid us of these Seers?

they kill the day

our hours are not our own
neither king nor slave
but are a great trikery

that a man shall look at his sufferings as nought but a tumble of dice
his works as the turn of a kard

these reeders of dreems take more than can be took
they whore us to the future and we krawl
they pik the poket and unpik the seem
taking more than is within
leeving less than emptyness
a space which even Nothing passes through

shame shame on the reeders of dreems and the dreemers of deeds

who heer is not among the foul?
who has not feerd its tricks

take the Iron Path

this path is cold but it is pure
the iron path chilleth the soul
but what you have you hold
what you are, you have done
a road not to be tilted or cast aside

and it is Strait
an arrow without twist or branch

let what is, be
let what was, stand
and that which is to be remain unknown

stand for the Iron Path
and water it in the blood of seers
the teeth of witches are its seed
and the ashes of astrolagers charts its soil
shattered bones of prophets are its keys

cursed be all fortune tellers, prognosticators, haruspex,  diviners, soothsayers, oracles, augers, elfin tricksters, ponderers of orbs, changers of fates and reeders of dreems

there is One Fate, One Truth
and it is Iron"




So with these words was the Iron Path born, appropriately enough, in blood. 

The words were discovered first as the sun rose and before the Temple Authorities were even aware of them, had spread throughout the city. Initially the only response was a great gathering of crowds and a general hubbub, fevered discussions in corners, fights in taverns, (which may have a more accurate claim to be the first casualties of the Prescience Wars, though no record remains of the individuals in question). 

By mid-afternoon the Temple Authorities had removed the doors themselves, which proved to be an error they would pay for later that night.

By evening several fights had coalesced into a riot in one part of town. 

It was about this time that the first printed broadsheets bearing copies of "A Plague of Seers", had left the city in the packs and wagons of various merchants and travellers. (For type to be set and printed that quickly some printers must have gone straight from the Temple Doors in the morning to their print shops and begun work immediately).

By this point it is likely that only the destruction of Albraneth and the all remaining copies of, or knowledge of, "The Plague of Seers" could have prevented what was to come.

By nightfall the city authorities lost control of the streets, in part due to several desertions and the evaporation of many formations of the City Watch who had joined the riots they were send to quell.

The pogrom which engulfed Albraneth that night was only a drop of blood compared to the oceans which were to come. Perhaps twenty alleged Seers, along with their families, defenders and a handful of individuals who tried to stop the violence, or who simply got in the way or said the wrong word, were killed, beaten, burnt in their own homes or lynched in the street.

This earnt the Pogrom its tavern name in years to come; "They-Didn't-See-That-Coming-Day".

Though, as the land was to learn much, much later, several of the more capable Seers very much did see it coming, and had fled Albrenath in the hours, days, months and perhaps years preceding the Iron Path massacre.

(The lateness of their leaving Albraneth eventualy became something of a mark of power among Seers, "an hour out of Albraneth" meaning a Seer so weak they could only escape the massacre by the skin of their teeth.)

It would be later still that some began to think in terms of meta-prognostication, and it became evident that "She who sees first, acts last", for among the very last prescient refugees to leave the city were a handful of the most powerful known, disguising the depth of their prescience even from their own kind by the lateness and hurry of their action. Prescience hiding from Prescience itself.

As for the Iron Path, its nature changed and shifted as the Prescience Wars ground on, the massacre became a movement, a cult, a crusade, a philosophy, an alliance of peoples and an alliance of things which were not men. So many changes that Historians could, and still do argue over whether or if one expression of the Path was truly related to another. Yet in whatever form it took, it kept at its heart,  the Canticle of the Temple doors;

"Who shall rid us of these Seers?"

Monday, 29 November 2021

Eclipse Knights - the Prescience Wars

 "In the absence of god the promise of the future itself becomes god."

Men read often, in those black times, dreams and visions, spectres in dark glass, angels in moonlight and the turning of cards. Visions of the future, maps of Time.

The future is the greatest wyrm and guards the greatest horde. What do you desire, what can you imagine to want, that does not ultimately lie there, wrapped in the coils of time? sliding over scales of moments, slipping, tumbling, flashing amid the darkness, both real and dreamed, but possible?

From the wisest to the worst, all dreamed and spun, turned cards and gutted beasts, tricked rhymes from witches and blinded snakes to watch the letters in their maddened coils, and the best were worst, for the dreams of criminals and peasants are simple to see and brutal to find - gold, safety and sex, position and petty power. A dukedom even, or the coding of a simple spell.

Singular, material dreams, easily found and fulfilled, moments in the maze of time.

And just as easily slipping away once found. The swineherd becomes a duke, and is deposed, the bandit becomes rich, and is quickly robbed and killed by those they once called friend. A marriage bound upon the prick of a fairy pin, dissolves, disappears before the leaves turn. Like waves of circumstance collapsing on the shore, making room for other prophecies, for other dreams, all while the many jibe and barter, scurrying in dross for a sniff of better times.

So much for empty souls, the hungry ghosts who make up the marrow of the world, simple minds, even en-masse, bound in littleness of harm.

Watching this, not the incidents, but the whole, the substance of society and time, churning and bubbling as shards and spumes of prophesied causality burst through both like sea-wrack smashed by waves against the shore, were greater minds, deeper men with finer and sharper and better ideals.

They did not hunger for power, not consciously, and not for material things. Not golds or crowns or flesh or land.

They wanted to change Time itself, to change mortalities relationship to time.

To what exactly, each differed, there was little consensus.

But not this.

Not this degrading and harrying and questing after trinkets and baubles of fate. Not this unstable dream-wracked world, turning always on a story, or the spin of a wheel, this land where the only currency was promises of possibility and the only sane work was to mine and harvest, harrow the land and batter down each soothsayers door in search of futures, or else to be a soothsayer, or a witch, false or real it mattered as much as the bite of two envenomed snakes. Trading and dealing and tripping over dreams dreams dreams, trade a dream of your dinner for food for the day, and dream harder that night for more dreams to sell.

So then thought the wisest of women and the greatest of men in those forgotten times, and though they agreed on very little, one thing they all held clear.

Not this.

Yet, where can a better world be found, except in that same future they abjured? And if a man might turn on family, sell his home for magic beans, or a housewife leave her babies in the brook, a child light the thatch on a winters night, all for the promise of a better fate, be it ever so small, some treasure, a lover, water in the well..

Then what might these potentates, Sorcerers, Philosophers, Emperors and Priests, what might they do, not for their own benefit, not for their own power, but for the world, nay, for reality itself? What crime was unforgivable if the alternative was this?

What is necessary can be no crime. Would you hang the mother who steals bread for her children? And what might not become necessary in time, when the harrowing of time became the aim? 

To break the axle of a sinful world, some sins must be committed, and if they must be done, they are no sin. 

The promise of the future forgives all.