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Challenge 1: Method and Madness


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#1 Tempest

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 04:24 AM

Method and Madness
Chapter 1: At Cliff's Edge


?Good day to you, sir.?

?Good day to you as well, er, fellow Wizard.?

?My title is technically that of Senior Mind-Scribe, sir.?

?Mind-Scribe??

?Yes, sir. I am the one in charge of the study of the deviants under our control. I was also selected to be the one to brief you on the deviants, sir. Begging your pardon, sir, but I understand you are our new Director??

?Yes, I am. My name is Wanev, and I have been assigned by the High Cowled One himself to oversee this? facility. He wishes to know if the deviants may be used for? practical benefits, rather than merely academic research. He?s especially interested in the ones who are actually deviant, not merely political prisoners forced upon us-such petty fools interfere with our research.?

?Agreed, sir. The deviants are housed on several levels within the facility, separated by relative levels of power, potential as subjects of study, and general importance. I hardly imagine you would want to be bothered with the various criminals, petty hedge-wizards, and overly enthusiastic followers of Cyric.?

?Correct, Mind-Scribe. I would like to see the ones which have potential for actual research-the High One wants results, as do I, and now as do you and the rest of the Residence staff.?

?As you wish, sir. The more interesting deviants are currently on a sleep shift, so they should represent little problem. Follow me, sir-it?s right this way.?

?

?Pardon me, Mind-Scribe, but the stench in this place is simply horrific. Did you fools somehow allow someone to learn a stinking cloud incantation??

?It?s possible sir, but not in this specific case. About two tendays ago, we were experimenting with the powers of a subdued mind flayer, attempting to reproduce its powers at will for general research. Somehow, the creature managed to induce a psionic feedback loop throughout the facility, effectively scrambling the higher brain functions of all present at the time. The kobold test subjects were completely unaffected and the various deviants simply became a little worse, but unfortunately, six Wizards and our entire cleaning staff ended up joining the deviants as permanent residents. The feedback loop appears to be quite permanent, despite all our research into the matter. It is still invaluable information, however, and I doubt anyone will miss those afflicted.?

?Interesting.?

?Yes, sir. And here we are-the high-security wing of the Residence. First on our little tour is a human girl by the name of Dili.?

?Girl? How old is she??

?Eight years of age, we believe. However, she has developed a remarkable ability to shape raw magical energy, which in this particular case gives her the ability to change her shape as she wishes. It is similar to a doppleganger?s ability, but far more powerful-we have observed her taking the shape of everyone in this facility and even various creatures that have been dragged past her cell. She does not seem to take on the powers of the beings she imitates, however, which was rather fortunate when we were disposing of the mind flayer after that incident.?

?Have you learned to replicate her feat of magic??

?Not yet, sir. She seems completely sane, mentally, despite the power she possesses. We?re still not sure how she does it, save that it is purely instinctive on her part-there is little to no conscious thought involved in the process, from what we understand. In fact, it is not dissimilar to a sorcerer?s abilities, leading us to suspect she may in fact have a supernatural heritage.?

?Step up the pace of testing, Mind-Scribe. If we can unlock her powers and replicate them, why, there are all manner of applications for this. Her sanity is irrelevant-break her if you must, but we must have results!?

?As you wish, sir. I will so inform the researchers. Next in our menagerie is a human bard by the name of Naljier Skal.?

?I think I may have heard of him-a magical researcher himself of some fashion, who went completely insane after one of his projects went disastrously wrong??

?Correct, sir. He retains all of his spellcasting abilities however, and is an extreme danger, given his state of mind. From what we?ve been able to piece together, he launched a research project into the nature of the universe. Specifically, we think he attempted to ascertain what lay beyond the gods.?

?Fascinating. Incredibly dangerous, of course, but fascinating. Have you learned anything of his research, or particularly any results he learned??

?No, sir. Someone or something apparently didn?t like him looking-he is completely insane, babbling on and on about his ?pretties?. He also seems to exhibit general remorse over his actions-not that that has earned him any mercy from whatever it was that happened to him.?

?Very interesting. What exactly are these ?pretties???

?Unknown, sir. We speculate they may be his former wealth, research equipment, or something else entirely-his mind is too badly damaged to be certain. As it is, we have little solid date. Now, the next deviant sees a bit too much as well-a human mage by the name of Aphril.?

?Explain.?

?She experimented with planar travel, and explored the nature of the veils separating the various planes. In fact, she may know more about the nature of the planes and planar travel than anyone else alive. Unfortunately for our purposes, she somehow learned to see through the veils separating the planes.?

?Unfortunately? It sounds like a source of a great deal of information.?

?It is, potentially, but there are complications. She cannot choose to not see through the planes, even with her eyes closed. She is never truly alone, seeing all the denizens of all the infinite planes. This, and general sleep deprivation, have utterly destroyed her mind. We have slowly extracted information from her, but it is an extremely slow process, given her mental conditions.?

?I see.?

?Very good, sir-we?re almost finished here. Next on our tour is a gnome by the name of Tiax. He is? unusual.?

?All gnomes are unusual, Mind-Scribe. As are all deviants.?

?Yes, sir. This particular gnome was sent to us by the Flaming Fist mercenary unit of Baldur?s Gate after tensions cooled recently. He was evidently arrested as a general danger to society, and since those fools are ill-equipped to deal with magically adept individuals, they wisely sent him to us for research. I think they may have gotten the better end of the deal in this case.?

?Why??

?He is completely overcome by delusions of grandeur-more so than the typical Amnish nobleman. He seems to think Cyric promised him complete and total glory and dominance over all others, and has an ego roughly the size of one of the elemental planes. Frankly, sir, it would be no loss if we tossed him into the sea, but we?re detaining him for observation in case something of interest does come up.?

?Good.?

?And now, sir, the last deviant, who is also perhaps the most unstable.?

?That is saying something, after the lunatics you?ve already shown me.?

?Yes indeed, sir. It is a very powerful elven mage by the name of Dradeel. His mind is utterly beyond help. Amidst his paranoid ravings and blasts of magical energy, we?ve been able to piece together only a handful of things. He was involved in some sort of calamity involving wolves, fire, gibberlings, and extended sessions of torture.?

?Lovely. Anything else??

?Nothing definite, sir. We have a group of Wizards constantly reviewing his various insane shouts and screams for potential information or insights, but they?ve not had much luck. He is extremely dangerous except when asleep, sir. We still hope to learn something from him, but he is honestly something of a lost cause.?

?Very good, Mind-Scribe. That was a most informative tour. As you may know, they will be joined before long by two additional deviants arrested in Athkatla-a human girl by the name of Imoen, and a male humanoid of indeterminate species by the name of Irenicus. The Wizards in the Athkatla branch sent word that they are extremely dangerous, and must be treated with utmost caution.?

?Of course, Director.?

?Then I think we are done here, Mind-Scribe. We have much work to do.?

Edited by Tempest, 13 May 2007 - 06:30 AM.

"The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesterday, but it was never the streets that were evil." - Sister Miriam Godwinson, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri


#2 Celestine

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 06:47 PM

That was a really informative tour, thanks for sharing. =)

#3 Kellen

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 02:58 PM

Aye, a less emotional and more analytical piece. And kept only to dialogue? Interesting. Very good as usual Tempest.

Generally, I would suggest some description of background actions and such, but in this instance, well I think it works as is just splendidly.
"She could resist temptation. Really she could. Sometimes. At least when it wasn't tempting." - Calli Slythistle
"She was a fire, and I had no doubt that she had already done her share of burning." - Lord Firael Algathrin
"Most assume that all the followers of Lathander are great morning people. They're very wrong." - Tanek of Cloakwood

we are all adults playing a fantasy together, - cmorgan

#4 Tempest

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 06:29 AM

I admittedly hadn't planned on doing a second chapter, but I got the itch to write, and so continues Wanev's tale. Critiques are welcome.

Chapter 2: The Precipice

?Welcome to the Residence for the Magically Deviant, mage. This place will be your home for what remains of your life.?

?To the contrary. It shall be your tomb.?

?I?ve heard such things before, from countless other deviants. Those words are as meaningless now as they were before. Let us start with the basics. What is your name??

?My name is Irenicus, though that name will be more suited to you when I am finished here.?

?Ah, ?Shattered One? in elven. How interesting, from a human.?

?I am not human. I am something beyond your pitiful understanding.?

?So I?ve been told before. You are nothing special, on the face of it. My task is to see if there is anything useful we can learn from you-or whatever?s left of you after we are finished.?

?Do your worst, fool. When the time comes, I shall repay the favor a hundredfold.?

?Oh, I shouldn?t need to do my worst. But you are a deviant, so I would hardly expect you to listen to reason. What were you doing at Waukeen?s Promenade??

?Performing research, research that I shall continue here after I remove you. This Asylum of yours will suit my needs perfectly.?

?Oh, it will. What sort of research??

?I was studying the nature of the soul. I do not know what you would call it, nor do I particularly care. Intrapsychology, perhaps, or psychotheology. I was fascinated by the concept of the soul, you see, and wished to take souls, shape them, transfer them, manipulate them at will. It was a most delicate sort of research, please understand, and even at my most careful, there were? accidents. I had, at great expense, acquired two particularly interesting specimens, and learned much.?

?Fascinating. The Mind-Scribes will be most interested in extracting your research from your mind.?

?To the contrary. You will complement my research. My old laboratory was by necessity a covert thing, an attempt to remain concealed, which ultimately failed regardless. This Asylum and the deviants in it shall prove far more suitable to my research than my old complex, and you shall make a particularly interesting subject.?

?If you are so confident, why do you not merely take over now, if you think you can??

?Because the time is not yet right, fool. I am not so crude as you and your pathetic Cowled Wizards, and I have patience. There is a certain elegance in what is going to happen, though when it does happen, you will be too incoherent to recognize it, I think.?

?Haha. During your next break, deviant, I suggest you seek out the gnome Tiax. You will find him a kindred spirit. For now, I have more important things to do. I look forward to our little sessions in the future, however.?

?As do I.?

"The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesterday, but it was never the streets that were evil." - Sister Miriam Godwinson, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri


#5 Celestine

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 07:19 PM

interesting dialogue between the two, little did Wanev know how true were Irenicus's words. I think you portrayed the typical arrogance of a cowled wizard very well. Great writing as usual, Tempest. :)

#6 Kellen

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 07:44 PM

This one could have benefited from a bit of sense impressions.

Don't need extensive "Wanev smirked, his lips curling, and laid a hand on his pouch of spell components while his eyes spoke of ice, etc. blah blah. But perhaps a Irenicus' final words gave him a slight pause. "As do I." Or do they bring another smile to his face, because he really doesn't put any credit in this idiot's delusions of grandeur.

But even with that there, I still think it worked very well. Perhaps not so spectacular as the first, but perhaps my standards have raised? -_-
"She could resist temptation. Really she could. Sometimes. At least when it wasn't tempting." - Calli Slythistle
"She was a fire, and I had no doubt that she had already done her share of burning." - Lord Firael Algathrin
"Most assume that all the followers of Lathander are great morning people. They're very wrong." - Tanek of Cloakwood

we are all adults playing a fantasy together, - cmorgan

#7 Tempest

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 07:51 PM

I'm deliberately keeping these strictly to dialogue, for style and effect-I'm trying to convey the story and personalities strictly through the interactions Wanev has, especially with the next chapter (just from the titles, you should be able to get a good idea of where I'm going with things). Probably going to be a four-parter altogether.

"The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesterday, but it was never the streets that were evil." - Sister Miriam Godwinson, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri