Monday, 1 August 2022

Prescience Wars 10 - The Ouroboros Kin

Previous Entries;

1. The Children of the Amber Lords

Long has the Amber Court ruled in silence but for the slow chiming of bells, and what decadence results! And wealth! Prognosticators ruling from silent workshops riding chariots of gold! Near half-gods, a parliament of prophets. And how changed those who served them, for those who serve prophets must learn to live without doubt, decision, expectation or despair. As it is written, so shall it be.
And of their children who shall be our rulers hertobe. Those raised by the court in and its ways, born knowing their future and  educated in thereby, born unlike other mortals, even those who first formed the court, for _they_ were raised amidst us, amongst the unknowing, and though they see much, much is unseen.
And how shall it be if the Court predicts not only predicted lives but the lives of those who are raised _knowing those predictions_, raised by those who also know them.
In our own lives even the doomed can hope, and hope up until the last, blindly, feverish, relentless; that curse and blessing which allows us to endure the unendurable, but these children of the Amber Court must live without hope. They know full well what they will endure, and when, and when life will break them, and if it can. All hopes will be fruitless to them and all dooms pre-known.
Their morality will not and cannot be that of mortal men, though mortal they are.
[Fragment of ‘The Wounds of the Unknowing’, recovered in the 8th crusade. Believed to be of Amberist origin in the Late Amber Court years.]

2. On The Origins of Things

from where does a personality come, when it has been predicted long in advance?
The rulers of the Amber Court were not fools, they were intimate familiars with the concept of the returning feed, of 'thread tension' - of the flowing timeless interaction between the situation, the prediction and the steps taken to arrange it.
For if an army advances, and a prediction says 'they shall be turned back through such-and-such a method', and the method is employed - then where was it devised? Was it born ex-nihilo in the conjunctions of the world? Imported from some unknown strand? Hermetically self-born?
If a prediction says; "this person here shall learn of this prediction and thereby go mad and lose their reason, and shall die by fire", if they then learn of this prophecy and believe it, is the sheer weight and terror of the prophecy itself the ultimate factor in their madness, and then their death? For if no prophecy had been made, would they then have gone mad? or being sensitive, have suffered some lesser trauma or calamity, or none?
Conversely if a prophet says; "Go here at this time and you shall be happy in such a way, and your plans and dreams will end well in this way and that", and the listener does go and is happy in the manner shown, was this shaped by the prediction itself? Or would the subject have been such a person to shape a good life even without such knowledge? Or would it have been a less-perfect life? And is the resulting person truly 'good' for they decided only to follow the voice of the prediction - from where did the goodness come? And was it intensified by the voice of the prophet? Or limited? Or did it make no difference at all?
Always to predict is to shape, whether knowing or unknowing, and the corde predicted is a corde _in which the prediction is made_. It cannot be otherwise for never can a prognosticator say “I shall see now a future in which I make no predictions.”
All this the Preceptors of Glass knew well enough.
What perhaps they could not truly know, even if told, was the cumulative weight of this paradox upon a culture.
The paradox first, deepened, with one seer predicting the fate of another, and that seer predicting yet another fate from within their own seer-shaped _courde_, and the paradox _spread_, with the servants of the Amber Court increasingly certain of the verity of predictions, trained and experienced in their fulfilment and even raised from youth in full knowledge of them.
What must it have been to be raised in a culture of prophets and prophecies, themselves shaped by still older prophets. What would it mean to disagree in such a culture? To take an order or not take one?
What will be will be.
[From ‘In the Memories of Stars’, recovered from the ruins of Samaris.] 

3. The Unspeakable Nobility

If they have names these may not be spoken, or even for some, imagined. The power of their King is on them and within them and as His name may now be known or recorded so neither may theirs. How they know each other we cannot tell. Perhaps they simply remember.

The Blind Sage

who speaks deep knowledge which has no origin
yet will at times randomly and purposely slay those around them
a solver of unsolvable problems
a maker of impossible devices and fountain of physical lore and technique
who understands none of it
but only remembers it, or knew that he would speak it
recalls it from the future
bent in horror at the emptiness of his own understanding
and the truths which come "from nowhere" from darkness
as if passed down a chain of annihilated selves

The Fool

a spirit of chaos and uncatchable monster
perhaps driven mad by the prediction of their own dark fate
perhaps simply a madman empowered by prescience
a terrorist, killer, criminal, manipulator, corruptor, destroyer
unkillable, uncatchable
they glory little in their greatest "crimes"
usually driven into a corner by the effects of their own plans to escape fate
a seeker for a mercy which will not, or cannot, come
waiting and praying for the ability not to kill, not to destroy

The Empty Blade

duellist of the Amber Court
skilled beyond the capacity of the mind to understand
death itself to those they face
consumed utterly by their predicted fate
given never at any time any expression of either joy or fear
takes no pleasure and no shame in any victory
like a ghost wearing the skin of a man
the horror of their presence so great that the rumour their attention can end wars

The Queen of Air and Darkness

She who would rebel against fate
a magician of unequalled ability,
one fit to bend the world
seeking always and to attempt with every breath and action to defeat and overthrow prophecy
and never succeeding
yet to never giving in
a breaker of realities wrapped in invisible chains herself
who hurls herself against the boundaries of impossibility
a wreaker of chaos and much change in the lives of others

The Dancer

they who play games with time
bringing strange chaos
turning events upon a pin-head
always to paths unexpected to all but them
dancing with time
what their motivations are, whether they embody fate or fight against it, none know
for who they perform, for others or themselves, who can say
they run along times cutting edge, in times and places where to live is to dance upon a burning sword
appearing where nothing should be
moving through fire and chaos like a smiling ghost

The Lady Of Sorrows

she who grieves for all she could not change
unable to alter what she fears she sets herself to at least feel in full
to live truly with the knowledge
and to embody herself in the moment - to be present
to live
a goddess of no mercy, but recognition at least
a tomb-queen wreathed in flowers, bent beneath the weight of infinite names

The Player of the Silver Pipes

a lord of knights and holder of oaths
called a witnesser of truth – he of the silver bough
he pipes the turns of beauty-in-fate
a guardian and exemplar of moments
as lively as the dancer
feared as the blade
present as the lady
he makes the music of strange times
[Believed to be Neo-Pathist Samidzat. Printed text used as binding for a history of The Time of Three Teasons – exact age and origin unknown.]

4. “Calm were the Children”

Deep was the calm of the children of the Amber Court, as deep as the sea, and deep was their rage, for they lived not as characters in a story who saw not the page, nor as the writers of tales who compassed a corde from beginning and end, shaping it at will, but their lives were lived halfly, between those two, knowing more of their corde than the hero in a tale, often more than even the wise can guess at, but much less than the shaper.
[Oldest recoverable statement discovered when researching the popular lullaby “Calm were the Children, Calm as the Sea”. This fragment found only as a reference in a sheet of music dated to about 55YS, itself a copy of an earlier document. It is not clear if this reference is itself a replication of an earlier statement or an interpolation or addition at the time of scribing. Whatever text it refers to is lost.]

5. Where Lies Meaning?

Where the value and the meaning in life is found not in choices made or in driving towards any particular goal, but in the nature and the quality of the experience as it happens. In being present in the moment, in fully experiencing that particular moment and in understanding its meaning as one recognises part of a tale that has been already told, where both the beginning and the end are already known, if vaguely, some lost to memory and some predicted but unclear, and so the matter of a life becomes not - what will happen - but what is the meaning of this happening, what does it feel like to be here, now, present at this time and in this time, and how does this reflect and react with all of my memories and all of my prophecies
What would be your own reaction to the advanced knowledge of your own life? Knowing it could not be changed. That everything, including everything you hated, was a consequence of your own choices, and that when you reached the point of decision, even a decision you hated in advance, you would freely choose as predicted, that it could not be otherwise?
[From "The Dharma of Care", by Priest-Viscount Apsanalan, Scrolls 600 to 965  concerning the Late Amber Court Wars.]

6. An Imperfect Metaphor

to understand the Ouroboros Kin one must imagine a human personality unspooled, like a tight rope bound with grease and wax, pulled taught and tense through long hard use, bathed in the softest waters and gentle allowed to unravel, the curls and windings of its hairs spread this way and that,
each thread of this slowly unspooling rope as it floats in its perfumed bath decided by its placement and compression in the original bound flax.
[Fragment from the ‘Onerologicon’, assumed first written around 33YS. Popular scholarship makes its writer the esteemed ‘Ranulph of Cheem’, though there is no textual proof that such a single writer existed and many claim evidence of multiple writers. This part left within an excised copy as a fragment of parchment, all other pages of this section removed, presumably by the Ordos. No such section exists in any modern copy or equivalent historical document.]


  1. It is also interesting to me where "self" ends under the condition of fully known future. In 'Dune' books two protagonists (Paul Muad'dib and his son, Letho II) had an incredible level of foresight, although not to the point of Amber Courts (as they were one of the few seers in the galaxy, not few out of great many more). It is interesting to contrast both, as Paul grew up mostly without this knowledge and struggled with it, even trying to subvert some of the bloodiest aspects of his fate in vain, while Letho had some precognition powers from the birth and, while he was a person with thoughts and feelings, he followed it more readily despite the costs to himself and humanity.

    The notion of foresight on oracles themselves is interesting. One way for me to view such situation is that the future could be more and more 'locked in' the more people oracle about it (i.e. the more people witness the future the more real this particular future becomes), so in the situation of seers upon seers it is getting 'locked in', petrified in a way, rather quickly unless some countermeasures are taken.

    I wonder, in such situation, if people witnessed the future but then drank the elixir of forgetting while leaving themselves a cryptic note, will they be still 'locked in' into it.

    1. That's an interesting idea. Later in the Prescience Wars the Pathists do experiment with semi-lobotomised soldiers and generals, probably in an attempt to find people who's memory damage makes them harder to manipulate or predict via prescience.

      Its interesting to imagine memory itself and the loss of it becoming a kind of currency or resource for both the Pathists and Amber Court in different ways.

    2. In a sense in Prescience Wars the flow and the existence of the events can be defined (for the lack of the better word) through memories, so yes, this is a quite possible to have memories as something of value.

  2. This is so thought provoking and really quite beautiful in its own way. This absolutely could make for a really interesting RPG setting, but in some ways I think it almost fits better as a sort of fictional history, something a little like the Sabbat Worlds Crusade book or the Tactica Imperialis book.