Minutes of the 1,304th Synod of Sages in Wai’Toshi, Master Prime Baldeen presiding
[Baldeen] Welcome all to the one thousand, three hundred-and-fourth meeting of the Synod of Sages in Wai’Toshi. We are most pleased that so many could attend. I would like to make special welcome in particular to the mages of the Outer Reaches, joining us through the SCRYpool. [scattered applause] In this meeting of the Synod, we intend to discuss a recent tragedy in Madopai, a small village of the Empire that lies some leagues east of Wai’Toshi. To begin our discussion, I invite the first mage on the scene to take the stage. Journeyman Halek heard about the goings-on in Mado’Pai and went to find out what could be having such a deleterious effect upon the minds of its people. He did not find what he expected. Journeyman Halek, the floor is yours.
[Halek] Thank you, Master Prime. You honor me.
I went by caravan to Mado’Pai, having heard about the happenings there. I expected some form of mudslide or sinkhole, but I found that the village was more or less intact. It was a town of ghosts; there were no citizens that I could see, only thick mud- in some places up to the windows of houses. Having heard about the supposed dementia of those few that escaped, I donned hazard gear. I used one of Artificer Kemp’s new “Jackal Devices” to look for hazards, and found no unexpected readings. The one thing I did find was that the mud registered like fog would under normal circumstances. Considering that I was knee-deep therein, I was somewhat discomfited, but proceeded to take samples.
The first day was spent taking further such samples and searching for signs of life. Strangely large bubbles erupted from the mire, but nothing else stirred. After thorough decontamination, I retired to my workshop and analyzed my samples. I found that they registered an unfamiliar energy signature, which the University SCRYarchive identified as a match to the waters of the River Styx. Needless to say, I hastily erected a portable Ward around the site to prevent further harm to passing people. The night passed in eerie silence, and the next day I took a series of readings with my geometric equipment. I arrived expecting a biomagical or thaumic hazard, and so my instruments were limited, but I nevertheless compiled the diagram that you see behind me.
As you can see, the leyline disruption suggests a classic triangular Pendle diagram some distance underground. I am not a geometer and hesitate to make sweeping assumptions based upon my limited knowledge of the subject, but given the information I have acquired it seems very likely to me that some person or persons have created this diagram with the direct intention of destroying Mado’Pai for reasons unknown. This was further borne out by the appearance on the second day of netherlings, of which I do have some knowledge. The night was spent in eerie silence, without wind to take away the smell or relive the quiet.
I had obtained all the information from Madopai that I thought relevant to my own studies, and made a last sweep of the town to look for any interesting evidence that I may have missed. The buildings seemed somehow older than I know them to be; the groans of stone and timber made me reluctant to enter most of the buildings. Late in the afternoon, I saw three Manes squabbling over the corpse of what appeared to be a Dredgling, all creatures to which biomancers are exposed early in our apprenticeships. These creatures are invariably tied to the Styx, and cannot leave it except for short periods; they are seldom used in biomancy or thaumaturgy for that reason. I carefully avoided their notice and took my leave of Mado’Pai. In my estimation, this disaster was a clever manipulation of spatial distortion to create a hazardous area that would allow Manes and other netherlings access to helpless or even mindless people. Thank you all. [scattered applause and general nodding]
[Baldeen] Thank you, Journeyman. Our next speaker is Master Fook of the Gate College, who made an exploratory expedition with more refined instrumentation. Master Fook, the floor is yours.
[Fook] Thank you, Master Prime.
Our group picked up where Journeyman Halek left off. We took a direct jump to the hills above the town. The spatial distortion recorded by Halek was sufficient to prevent direct travel, as expected. My journeyman assistants erected a more permanent Ward around the village to prevent the escape of netherlings or other outsiders. We used Library-issued Personal Exclusion Zones as a preventative measure when entering the town. There were no survivors as of our search. We made a thorough sweep of all buildings still erect and destroyed three Manes on sight as ordered. We found that the southwest quadrant of the town was most affected by the phenomenon, and suspect that we missed evidence of events due to the rising mud.
The apothecary was of particular interest in our examination. The former resident and probable proprietor of that establishment was found decapitated in his study amidst thaumaturgic equipment that suggests spatial tampering. Our initial hypothesis was that this individual was responsible through malice or error for the phenomenon in the village. Further analysis indicated that the ritual materials involved would have supported only a Class II calling spell, and energies released even in error would be insufficient to support the transport of the sheer volume of matter and energy involved in the phenomenon. Despite this, it is a notable circumstance that the diagram the apothecary was using a basic Pendle diagram with accessory runes nearly identical to the larger diagram we examined based upon Halek’s recommendation.
Using sonic instruments, we created a more detailed map of the leyline distortion under Madopai, and confirmed it as the Pendle type. This enhanced map is shown behind me. We also found that the diagram utilized accessory runes unknown to modern thaumaturgy and without reference in the Library or the SCRYarchives. These runes seemed by and large to be more energistically efficient versions of the standard runes commonly used by the Gate College masters, but the effect of the improved unit efficiencies on the overall power transfer capacity of the system is as yet unknown.
Our hypothesis is that the phenomenon is some form of leyline resonance due to an error in procedure by the apothecary when creating his diagram. Further analysis by Librarians will hopefully indicate the intended target of this ritual, and give us more information about what might have gone wrong. Though the concept of leyline resonance is well known to the Synod at large, it may be worth noting that this phenomenon is the semi-duplication on a large scale of thaumaturgic spells and effects due to flows of magical energy within the area of casting; these effects are often unpredictable and investigation thereof is an important part of the journeyman program of the Gate College. Our current recommendation to the Synod is to send Gate Masters to Mado’Pai to attempt to stabilize the zone, with at least one combat-graded Pyromaster to remove netherlings or other unwelcome extraterrestrial entities. Thank you. [moderate applause]
[Baldeen] Thank you, Master. Lastly, we have a hypothesis from Councilman Jin Lee, our resident expert on spatial anomaly. We shall conclude our meeting with a short lecture from Artificer Kemp on his new device, the aforementioned “Jackal”. Councilman Jin, you have the floor.
Good morning, Masters of the Synod and delegates from around the world. I would like to speak to you today about an issue that has not to my knowledge been discussed before- a problem that I call Thaumic Warming. For hundreds of years, we have cast our spells and done our research with no regard for their effect upon our surroundings. I am in front of you today to tell you that our cavalier approach to magic will lead- already is leading- to inevitable disaster. If we do not curtail the thermal waste of our magic, we will create a wasteland for future generations.
All of us know that spells create thermal waste- a spell, after all, is like life. We create local order at the expense of subsequently increasing overall entropy. When a spell pulls matter or energy from elsewhere in the Universe, that spell first requires a thaumic field. Evocative spells generate a temple, sometimes unstable field; the orderly diagrams of the Librarians are more static, stable and precise. None is perfect. All of us, I am sure, recall not-so-fondly the hours of our apprenticeships spent calculating precessional differentials between source bodies and working with thermomagical diagrams to calculate energy loss. Everyone here has context for my argument.
Those more experienced mages among you today will perhaps remember the nonseasonal typhoon that occurred immediately after the Pyromancers’ Final Examination twenty-seven years ago. Others will remember the first initialization of the SCRY engine, which generated so much heat that it flash-boiled all the rats out of the entire lower level of the University. Add to this the tens of thousands of spells great and small that are cast in this city every year, and the magnitude of our hubris becomes clear: the mean atmospheric temperature of Wai’Toshi and its environs has increased by seven degrees in the last fifty years, and shows no sign of stabilization. We are directly responsible.
Some of you are probably asking what this means for us. I tell you with utter conviction that it means disaster in the form of altered weather patterns, stronger typhoons, droughts and famine, crop failures and the expiration of the Lokoshen fishing trade when climatic shifts disrupt weather patterns and ocean currents. It means that in the time of our grandchildren, this area of the world may be all but uninhabitable without resorting to the magic that got us into our predicament to begin with- and despite our best efforts, we as mages cannot support the weight of the entire world on our collective shoulders. We have already seen a six percent decrease in fishing yields in the last decade, and algal blooms and sea monster sightings are up a full ten percent. Evidence is overwhelming.
This leads to the question of solutions. Thaumic Warming is a disaster in slow motion, but its very insidiousness gives us opportunity to stop it. This university is already known for its self-sufficiency; I suggest that we must grow to become the world leader in energy recycling. I suggest a full suite of thermomagical heat sinks in every building of the university- these devices are already in place to cool the SCRYengine, and the system need only be expanded to the rest of the University. By my projections, this scheme will reduce the release of waste heat into the atmosphere by up to seventy-seven percent. I strongly encourage other centers of magical research and learning to employ this system; I will be happy to provide schematics as necessary.
Ladies and gentlemen and entities, we can save the world in our lifetimes, if only we will all contribute. Thank you for your time.
[Artificer Kemp is a no-nonsense hobgoblin Master Artificer. His speech is clipped and delivered in a monotone- even his facial expression rarely changes. Some speculate that he has a dry (desiccated even) sense of humor, but he refuses to admit it and nobody has any proof.]
‘Morning. I’m Artificer Kemp. I invented the Jackal Device. I’ve been asked to explain how it works. This would require a Master’s Ring in Artifice, so I will simplify. The Jackal Device was conceived to take advantage of the natural cowardice of rodents, despite its name. It took several months of close collaboration with the Biomancers’ College to create. A nod to them for their contributions, especially Master Hauck in the Life Support Department.
The Device is designed around the brain of a rat. This brain is harvested from the live rat and then attached via a fairly complicated procedure to a battery of leads, and suspended within a gyroscopically stabilized spherical chamber. This chamber is mounted on a rod with a specifically fit socket that has over two dozen integrated sensors. These register ambient temperature, chemical gradients, infrared radiation, and a host of other data types. This information is constructed into cohesive stimulus by a continuous connection to the SCRYengine and fed back into the rat brain. If the rat would flee from the input stimulus, the Device alerts the user. The alert system can be set to audio, visual, or mental connection modes as suits the situation.
The rats are grown and bred by the College of Biomancy. Each receives several weeks of training with a neural interface to integrate forms of stimulus normally unavailable to the species. This avoids the initial problem of fear generated by unfamiliar types of stimuli. I understand that there may be some objections to the use of a live animal’s brain. The fact is that this device saves humanoid lives, and that the rat for all intents and purposes is still alive. Most, in fact, have a life expectancy thirteen percent higher than their bodies peers.
There are currently four Jackal Devices in gainful operation, used to reconnoiter potentially hazardous areas. Of these, three are currently on loan to the Order of Librarians for field operations. With the program established and running within budget, we expect to produce four more Devices per year for the next five to ten years to make the Devices available to all masters at large and field expeditions of all types. Current users report occasional issues with the SCRYinterface. This issue is being addressed. We intend to improve the range and strength of the on-board receiving units by at least forty percent by the time the next set of Devices is released for general University use. Please direct all questions to the Drone Office. Thank you.