"Fine, fine, but I haven't got all day."
Magnus - what would you do for a Klondike bar?
"I've not heard of this Klondike Bar. Allow me to consult your memories.
I see chocolate-coated ice cream, loaded big and thick, no room for a stick—doesn't that sound awkward?—a confection of some sort. You expect me to actually do something for this?"
Lord Magnus, Lord Magnus! What is your relationship to Brigid? There have been a lot of scurrilious rumors flying around, and our readership would like to hear some more, so can I have some kind of irritated but extremely telling and/or suggestive sound byte?"
Eyes narrowed, the Magnus waves you away with a slight flip of his hand. "I find it neither normal nor pleasant to kiss and tell."
"Sir Magnus, if I may have a moment of your time for a inquiry on the topic of Essence manipulation and charm effects. Is the power of our charms naturally learned effects that extend from our essence, or designed effects from our mental efforts expended on the learning of Charms?"
"An informed question that would require my knowing precisely what type of being you are."
"Oh, honorable Magnus, tell me this. I know of the charms of the living Primordials, each one with their own panoply of charms. But what of the Neverborn? What of their charms?"
"In theory the Neverborn are comprised chiefly of what we might call static or permanent Charm effects which preclude any semblance of normal existence. In reality one could kill you with a thought or an off look, were you in the wrong place at the right time."
"Thank you sir, my question has two parts. First, given the unique nature of Gaia's kami to the geomancy of Creation, what effect do our terraforming experiments to expand Creation have upon her soul structure? Are we empowering a potential enemy, should the need ever arise to count Gaia among our adversaries? Second, have any experiments transplanting various deva ever borne fruitful results? Records of such experiments remain sealed, as you well know, but there is a sizable movement among the younger Twilights to review this work and possibly reopen such lines of inquiry."
He chuckles, decidedly amused. "Creation has a lot of give and surprisingly little Gaia. I am sure if our efforts to carve the world came too close for comfort one or all of her five dragons would let us know. As for your next question…" His eyes harden at once and he says nothing.
"Mr. Magnus! Will you sign my chest? :D
"Oak or mahogany? Nevermind, my signature will increase its worth tenfold, presuming you were to sell it and not live in it."
"Magnus, it is said by the sages that the essential nature of creation is determined by the intersection of spheres of influence of the nearest Shinma. Must one travel many waypoints away from creation in order to reach a location where, should one wish to spawn a universe with more than trivially different properties, one would be able to do so, or can their interactions be manipulated even near Creation?"
"As you know, distance in the Wyld takes on a rather strange meaning. To comprehensively answer your question would take more time than I have on hand, but here," he says reaching into his robe and removing a protoshinmaic vortex. This he places in your hand. "A universe can be spawned as near as no remove from Creation."
"Great Magnus, I am recently incarnated (thank you for allowing me to speak in your presence) and have had great trouble living up to the fame and notoriety of my last incarnation. O Magnus, how have you eclipsed your last life (and do you have any tips)?"
He laughs. "You should take up a history text one day. You'll find me there and no other. And yes, I do plan to live forever."
"In the unthinkable event that Luna might die, and the Viziers appoint another to become the Moon Deity, would the new Incarna begin to develop disassociative personalities immediately, or only through extensive use of Silver Lady's Perogative, or not at all?"
"Some believe there is a chance that we might find another of her personalities in place of the one with which we are most familiar."
"Another of whose personalities in place of whose?"
"Esteemed Magnus, an inquiry on behalf of the Wyld-Repelling Lodge of Geomancers, Physiocrats and Syndics. What can you tell us regarding your ongoing investigation into the geomantic structure of the demon Kagami? We understand that you intend to make a full presentation at the Eastern Cross-Prefecture Geomantic Conclave in Resplendent Earth of next year, but certain ongoing research projects would benefit greatly from a précis of your work."
"Gentlemen of the Lodge—a study of the demon Kagami has taught us much, and vastly more remains to be learned. My full report will detail a myriad of exciting discoveries in both the field of demonology and the origins of the universe. We have long known that the Primordial power of immaculate superinduction—to reason from their natures and thereby draw something from nothing—has placed them far above our creational efforts in terms of scope and practicality. The City of Mirrors represents the obvious foundational and structural connection between the Primordials, our world, and their ability to evolve complex ideas directly from their own natures. This is witnessed not only in the vastness of Kagami, but also in its power to contain within its reflection, a realm of depth and nuance with which we can interact, an effective filtering and processing of effective reality-shaping that would require untold levels of Essence channeling, such to the degree that previous thoughts on the matter would deem such an effect unsustainable by anything less than the most powerful artifacts. Plans for the City of Mirrors include summoning to Creation for transmutation into photovoltaic lensing that could capture infinite power from the Daystar to be focused through innumerable works of Solar artifice. My own tests show that such purific, contrast-giving Essence as that of Ignis Divine might be enough, when channeled through the demon, to make that mirror world whole and substantial, effectively doubling the size of all known existence. Visage Made Law suggests that the world should not be availed of a second Magnus, but we can always hope."
"An odd question, but one that wish to ask none the less. What has your Vizier said of your theory? Has he been able to help at all with your plans in motion."
"I am not privy to such council, as my closest ally amongst the Sidereals seems ever more preoccupied with causality issues. Though of course, I would never stoop to the development of untraceable and wildly disastrous projects to draw attention away from what I am really doing."
Jai'thaon, Zenith Caste Golden Hero Vassal, Spiritual Leader of the Militant Faction - "Lord Magnus, it has been a few centuries since last we spoke! I am pleased to find you well and still a noble voice in our increasingly decadent Realm. As you well know, I had the honor in the Great War to do battle with his most foulness the Dragon's Shadow & force the craven beast into retreat. I was prepared to strike the monster down with a Holy blow when his assumed my own face and powers to defend himself. My strategic studies since confirm this tactic was a favorite of his and he truly becomes his subject in every way, save for still carrying his Sun-forsaken heart. That being the case, I turn to you my old friend with a conundrum that has been haunting me: what becomes of his souls when the Primordial so changes himself? No longer bareing, for that window of time, the power that facilitates their existence as extensions of himself, do they cease to be (I have found no record of Aphotes blinking out of & back into existence during the war), or are they temporarily truly independent of the dark lord who birthed them?"
"The aphotes do not wink out when this occurs, but this is not an indication of some sort of disconnect. Rather it is my belief that there is some direct correlation between the Black Mirror Shintai and the existence of the aphotes."
Where is that case of celestial wine you owe me from our last bet? I told you if you channeled Wyld Essence that way your test subject would explode. Anyways, I look forward to seeing you at the next Grand Aerial Elipse—I have a most delectable and fascinating new Terrestrial protege to introduce you too! She is deliciously equal parts ingenue and prodigy.
"I assure you, I don't know what this person is talking about."
"Most learned Magnus, sir, would you expound further on the kami? In particular, what characteristic differences exist between kami, on the one hand, and elementals and Terrestrial gods, on the other?"
"Kami, as you've observed, may bear some resemblence to elementals. For reasons I am sure you do not need me to elaborate upon, this similarity comes from their shared correspondence with elements substantiated by the Emerald Mother. One major difference between kami and elemental, however, is that a kami may not be a wholly elemental force, as seen with the deva called Gnosis. Another difference is that the kami represent Gaia's nature, which speaks to a much deeper definition of elemental power, whereas elementals proceed from the elements. Last of all, there are facets of Gaia's nature we might not directly associate with our elements, though certain romantic theorists believe these non-elemental instances in Gaia have thematic resonance with elemental forces anyway, as fire, water and the like may take on a number of symbolic meanings."
[The] Magnus would have mentioned if Gnosis was [Gaia's] fetich.
"If one of the captured Primordials -were- to escape, how long do you imagine it would take them to recover from the horrid maimings we have inflicted upon them? Have the cognitive faculties of these beasts been significantly compromised or are they largely as clever and dangerous as they once were? Would they -ever- completely recover?"
"They shall not recover, for they have been made terrible as a part of their sentence. Nor is escape possible. However, in some dark and distant future, were they to somehow gain control over a number of Lawgivers, they might render Creation indistinguishable from Malfeas. This would not be in their interest to try."
I come to you now, despite my suspicions that you would vivisect my very Exaltation in pursuit of some inconsequential equation if given the opportunity[…]
The Magnus smiles.
[…]because I simply cannot find a man more learned on the subject of demons. During a recent exploration of Malfeas, I chanced upon the Yozi, Hegra. Showering in her passionate waters, I was nudged by the strangest sensation. While the Typhoon did not seem to even notice me, she emanated one particular sensation that I had never experienced before.
"Quaffing the emotion like some long-forgotten tryst from my youth, I tracked it throughout the Demon City until I at last chanced upon its source. You can imagine my surprise (or more likely cannot, having abandoned such faculties as wonder) when before me stood the literal woman of my dreams, an imagined lover conceived during the usual frustrations of childhood that I had long since forgotten. The details of that encounter are best ended there, but I have no end of questions regarding that demon, whom I now know as Lypothymie, and her mother, Hegra.
"For once, I have patience enough to endure you, Magnus. I would owe you a debt of gratitude if you indulged my curiosity."
"Go on and ask."
"Is it within the power of the Solar Exalted or Incarnae, perhaps in cooperation, to pardon the Yozis?"
"I am also profoundly interested in this. Though bound the titans are, only their spite with-holds their lesser souls from rapacious chaos in Creation; to provide the titans with superior capacity for compassion and lesser reason for retribution strikes me as potentially wise enough to be worth at least a cursory examination."
The Magnus recalls the Three Spheres Cataclysm and chuckles, a cold and heartless sound. "Next question."
"First, what is this Lypothymie that engulfs Malfeas in its melancholy? How does it relate to Hegra, what aspect of her does it represent? And what of Hegra? What is she? What does she represent, what does she love, what does she hate? What other souls does she possess? What, as a Primordial, did she contribute to Creation? In what ways did she savage it? And I will endure your derision to ask, as she fell outside of my duties during the War, how has she changed since her imprisonment?"
"Startling as it may seem, Lypothymie may at times extend freely from Malfeas into Creation. Her existence is not strictly definable in the ways many other demons are, as she may readily transcend the limits of her prison. Not so for Hegra, whose twisting is a matter of Realm secret and may not be repeated here. Suffice to say, repose is a common theme amongst the Yozis, and locked together as they are, so is Hegra locked between them."
"Respected Magnus, could you explain the affinities between the various Exalted and the Magical Materials? What of Adamant and Soulsteel, and the lack of types of Exalts that correspond to those materials? Would you care to speculate on theoretical Exaltations that could have an affinity for those materials, assuming that they could exist?"
"Adamant is like jade, but flensed of its elemental associations. It represents solidity, permanance, function. It was a favored material of the Great Maker," he paused, tapping his chin. "Were there to be another Exalt type, such as it would reflect him, its material would be adamant.
"…He had a theory about soulsteel," the Magnus continued, his eyes looking into the nowhere-space of a distant memory. He affected a vacant stare and an uncharacteristically hushed voice. "Ours was a power which truly terrified him."
I will ask the Magnus this, though: "What are the natural properties of unalloyed moonsilver, and how is this material produced or procured? Is there such a thing as a raw form of moonsilver and a refined form of moonsilver, or is moonsilver the refinement and mundane silver the raw material?"
"That all depends on what you mean by properties," he said, gesturing at a jade goblet used to keep drinks chilled. "As for unalloyed moonsilver, I seem to recall that one means for its formation is the exposure of a vein of the purest silver to the light of a full moon."
"How many of the Primordials were fond of laying with mortal creatures? Did interest in sexual congress occupy the thoughts of a majority or a minority? Which Titans eschewed such things entirely, and why?"
"This was a topic of hot debate in the centuries that followed the Primordial War. The primary concern back then was discovering which mortal lines the Primordials hadn't slept with—but that was mostly an attitude born of hysteria. Depending on who you talk to, they had the utmost interest in such a coupling, or no interest at all. An answer to your question also depends on further qualification." He lifts his hand and begins ticking off fingers. "Do you refer only to dalliances of the jouten? Do you count the exploits of specific devas? (Need I mention Florivet? Gervesin?) Do you look for instances of the whole Primordial-Essence coupling with a mortal? Would you deem a Primordial disinterested if only its souls were particularly fond of mortal partners?"
Feather Cai Bai, Eclipse Student-Professor at the Academy of Divine Enlightenment, "On the subject of the prehuman races I mentioned earlier, I am curious about the creation of the Dragon Kings, sir. I was fortunate enough to serve in the Rathess embassy for five years after my Exaltation as I was trained and educated by my previous incarnation's colleagues. There I learned the Dragontongue and bore witness to the ceremonies & readings of the Raptok priests of their holy texts. They are very explicit that their creation was at the hands of the Gods. However since serving here at the Academy, I have been able to cross reference these legends against the known charms of the Gods, and the actual power of the celestial divinities falls far short of the creation of magical sapient life. The Primordials however obviously are known to have wielded such power. Is there any chance the Dragon King claims of their origins bear truth, or are they more likely hopeful rejections of the Primordial-origin that life of the Time of Glories shares?"
"As a culture the Dragon Kings may see no fundamental distinction between deva and god. They would not be the first."
"Did any of the Jouten ever find love, or something near to it, in the arms of a mortal? Did they feel such things for one another as a race, from time to time?"
"The Yozis, love one another?" The Magnus shifted in his chair, his face somewhat pinched in the process of a complex thought. "One has to hold the feelings of the Yozis in utmost suspicion, almost to the degree that one should not take the nervous flailing of a beheaded dog as signs of life within the body. Yet no simplification about those beings can be entirely true. I think, specifically, of the feelings She Who Lives in Her Name bears for Malfeas."
He paused then, his face becoming more serene. "As for your first question, I'm sure it has happened, but few such mortals survived to make the tale known. That or they were spirited away to Hell, to whatever ends that entailed."
"Now that Salina has proven the worth of Miracle Shell Integration, do you see any other groups performing similarly expansive Workings in the future or do you think that the Deleberative will deem the method too dangerous and actively work to prevent the building of Miracle Shells?"
"There exist a number of strict sanctions, written and metaphysical, against the clandestine use of shinmaic actualization techniques. We have the dear lady Salina to thank for that."
"Esteemed Magnus, it is well known that Primordials may adapt the magics of their fellows for their own use, but I have come to a conundrum upon consideration of whether these borrowed Charms may be retained after the death or radical change of their originator. If such Charms were lost, then it would seem that the Endless Desert would have been one of the Exalted Host's top priority targets, as without her Charms our divine allies could have fought beside us. However, if the others retain the abilities of the former Primordial and can additionally learn those of the new being it reforms as, does not each Primordial who undergoes fetich death serve to strengthen its brethren?"
"In my Age, the metaphysiology of the Primordials is not wholly understood; in unique cases it is not understood at all. That the Primordials are inherently connected at a number of key points is what allowed us to fuse them together into an unbreakable prison. We catalyzed those lynchpin areas into bonds that were nigh unbreakable, and constricted the Yozis around one another through direct, targeted spiritual alterations. As for your question about presence in them of the Charms of beings which no longer exist, the topic is hotly debated. For most of the First Age, we believed—and most of the evidence points to—the fact that these Charms burned themselves out of existence. We know this is largely true because we counted on this in our efforts to contain the Yozis in Malfeas. Certain Primordials required major alteration, which in turn had a profound effect, indirectly, on the other titans. And it has been long documented that when the first Primordials were truly slain, it had a terrific effect upon the still-living progenitors, who at once knew fear. However, the total extinction of these Charms has come to question with the emergence of the akuma and other particular lines of experimentation."
"When a Primordial 'steals' a charm from another Primordial, is it always clear who was the originator? Is it possible for two Titans to invent the same charm in isolation from each other? Did the Primordials ever quarrel about who truly was the originator of a charm? For example : Both Malfeas and Isidoros claiming to have invented the Primordial equivelent of our own Ox Body technique? Is it possible both Primordials could, in fact, be correct?"
"The titans are theme-based, nature-based composites of ancient, catalytic power, wholly metastasized into the growth of our universe—a cancer of the shinma. As such, they share certain basic concepts such as 'Primordial' in itself. Does that help?"
Kalti – a freshly exalted ghost blooded Solar who had long been a devoted companion of the Lunars Rowan and Orin, steps up to address the Magus. “Magus, what often overlooked capacities do my stalwart companions have, and how have you worked with your Lunar mate and her companions to further your studies?”
The Magnus is quiet. His Lunar mate was the subject of a famous suicide which he insisted was murder.
"I would suggest that you simply keep them in your thoughts."
"The Magnus… I know this is unrelated to your famous treatises on the natures of the Yozis and the Primordials they used to be, but I feel it's a very important question that must be asked regardless.
"How exactly does one go about growing a perfect crop of golden poppies? Where do they best grow on the Isle? How much water should they be given? Supplemental nutrients? How can they be best prepared?"
"High, level plains above sea level—on the Blessed Isle, take your pick. Avoid the vicinity of the Imperial Mountain. The closer to the north side of the island, the better—as more frequent lightning strikes will enrich the soil with airborne nutrients. Blood in the soil makes the ground rich. And don't forget to elicit the blessings of Our Guarding Star."
"Magnus, my good fellow, I thank you for your time of infinite worth. I am Eldagusto and recently I have wiped my memories due to a misadventure in the Wyld… presumably with sexy results. What would be the results of, say, an Exaltation capable of learning the Charms of a Yozis or a Primordial learning enough of a Primordials charms to become the Primordial. Would we really have, say, a Malfeas times two?"
"In all the most meaningful ways, yes. A rogue Dawn caste attempted just such a coup and forced the Deliberative to war."
"Furthermore, The Magnus, what are your feelings on the trends of IAM entertainment sharing programs? Do you favor the classical recordings of physical beings, or those strange animated pictures with the bright colors?"
"I often channel the classics into my workshop. Of course, I am always careful to ward against scrying through IAM's fractile mote encryption. It's never wise to put your trust in someone else's firewall."
Do we know what the Primordials sacrificed for their ability to shape the world through sorcery?"
"The world was their crucible and their sacrifice."
"Another related question, more relevant for the security of Creation, is this: Could the imprisoned Yozi escape the bindings we laid upon them by reshaping themselves sufficiently via trimming their own pantheon that they are in essence not the entity that swore those oaths? Could someone else effect such a change?"
The Magnus raises an eyebrow. This look suggests that an easy route to their escape is not possible.
The Magnus, surely that is your title, not your name. What is your given name, and how did you acquire your title?
"I am the Magnus," he swooped with his hand as if this were self-evident. "I could be nothing else."
"Magnus, I have heard whispers from some of my fellow Exalted that the Sun behaves in scandalous fashion. It is said that he ignores matters of policy and duty in favor of private recreational pursuits; indeed, several of my peers have demonstrated this to me conclusively. Though none of us would begrudge Ignis Divine his retirement after his loyal service to humanity, I have heard others suggest… particularly the Panalopy of the Sun… that the Exalted, steeped in virtue and fully involved in the affairs of men, should enjoy the esteem and worship now dedicated to the Sun. After all, do they not essentially perform his functions during his absence? Is it virtuous or noble for a being to be rewarded for the labors of another? Indeed, some of us have achieved such lofty heights of power and virtue that the sun, at best, is our equal — and often, our inferior. In light of these facts, are Deliberative laws regarding the accumulation of a congregation still needed or desirable?"
:: The speaker seems to be challenging Magnus to either disagree or agree, as if feeling out his opinion ::
He smiled and shook his head. "Far be it from me to speak of the Most High's pocketbook, but I believe as a matter of public record, his pension is something like a tithe of ten per cent of all prayer. Were the sun itself to fall out of concept, the Unconquered Sun would still remain the most unfathomably wealthy of all the gods, accruing enough faith-income as such that the one who could harness it might spin off a whole new universe. Rather, he plows much of what he makes directly into the establishment of Yu-Shan and her bureaucracies. The Once-Guarding Star is called such because our existence and our mandate to rule has afforded him this retirement."
Red Sun Rising, Eclipse Caste and Ambassador of Necropoli and Underworldy Affairs, approaches the Magnus in private following a brief written correspondence between the two Exalts.
"Greetings, Magnus. I detected some trace of displeasure in your last missive, and I suspect you think me doubtful of your capabilities. That is certainly not the case. You are a keystone to our continued understanding of Primordial principles, and I do not hesitate to call you the leading edge of such ambitions. No, my hesitation stems from the sheer potential the Neverborn present, and I cannot help but think that creating a barrier out of them does them justice. I have my own vision of them, one in which we have reversed the necrotic essence within them into something once again living and new. Turning them into nascent Primordials, we could place the very same geasan upon them that their former selves once held against our Incarnae, turning them into potent tools for Creation! You are, however, better informed of the nature of Primordials than I. Do you believe that the Neverborn could be turned once again into Primordials?"
"Death is not a reversible condition," said he. "There are a number of flawed Charms which prove this."
"Magnus, I have heard legends of the Unconquered Sun's birth, tales in which he rode the great Isidoros into battle against strange foes from the Faraway. Can you tell me, what was the bond between the young Sol Incarnate and the Black Boar, and how did it persist into adulthood? Did Isidoros ride out only after the Sun forced his submission, or was theirs a partnership, perhaps even friendship?"
"The Yozi Isidoros represents unyielding power and the utter absence of shame, coupled with an unmitigated force of personal identity, such as it is known throughout existence and rendered unmistakable by the shinma. You can see how the two might find common ground."
"Much as I had suspected. But what, then, could be so terrifying that it would take both the Sol Incarnate and the great titan Isidoros to defeat?"
"There is much about the prehistories that we don't know, and much that Ignis Divine has not deigned to mention…and for obvious reasons, we do not quiz Our Guarding Star at leisure. But as you suggest, there must have been great need."
"Magnus, sir," asks a young, curious Twilight, "Do you know if the Argent Madonna has possession of any artifact which stands as the Lunar equivalent to Our Guarding Star's own Aidenweiss? Is there a corresponding Lunar office equivalent to the Sun's General of all Armies?"
"My one visit to Silver Chair was not a pleasant one," said the Magnus. "What the Fickle Lady secrets away in her Temenos remains a great mystery of my time."
One of the very few in the world remaining, I think, with the Magnus at large in it.
"Nonsense. My total knowledge accounts for perhaps one one-hundredths of all possible knowledge. Although I suppose I could test what I do know against everything I could not possibly know and learn everything that is possible to learn by identifying what's missing. Of course I might also like for the Maiden of Secrets not to inform the Maiden of Endings of my home address, and the password which will open the doors of my manse."
O Magnus, we humbly beseech your insight: How is it that the Terrestrial Exalted may invoke Reflexive Charms so freely, while we Celestial Exalted lack the capability to rapidly invoke diverse Charms? Surely, research upon the Dragon-Blooded by the Copper Spiders ought to have unlocked the secret to this unseemly disparity, opening the way to a proper distribution of empowerment and abilities…
"I have little use for your terminology," he chuckled. "And the disparity flows in the opposite direction. But I'll discuss this for a moment. When channeling offensive power, a Celestial Exalt is able to deal out combat techniques through a second layer of Essence, allowing him to hold back for defensive action. That a Terrestrial may split these actions speaks to the general ease of moving Elemental Essence, as opposed to the affirmative and unbroken power of Solar might. Yet we may achieve this result through the use of particular techniques."
A shy, nondescript young Air Aspect scholar passes a scroll to a servant. The scroll is addressed to the Magnus, and reads as follows:
"I have questions regarding the fates of Domnica and her Exaltation, I apologize in advance if I am requesting information for which I lack the appropriate security clearance. What is the nature of Domnica's transformation? Has she merely altered herself with some combination of mutation implants, sorcery and charms like Queen k'Tula, or was her trasformation fatal, causing her Exatation to pass to another and leaving her as a ghost or ghost-like entity?"
"I did not know Domnica," said the Magnus, glancing into the fleeing esthers of your thoughts. "But if what I see here is any indication, that being has come under the effects of a miracle shell caused by advanced principles of shinmaic communion. If she has truly consigned herself to a realm beyond life as we know it, then her Exaltation has surely fled. As for k'Tula—"
"—you say that she has done something to herself? I know nothing of the sort. By my reckoning she is a very reclusive Twilight. This is not an uncommon feature of my Caste."