‘Coup’ Part 3/4

23:32 Mon 16 Jul 2007. Updated: 22:54 20 Jan 2008
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Grey. Grey, somehow flat, but fully three-dimensional. Grey, with no horizon, no ground or floor, no ceiling, no sky. And no I. Just thoughts.

Abstract thoughts. Equations. Equations of immense elegance and beauty, their absolute perfection awesome and compelling. The structure of mathematics was present, visible, palpable.

The formal interstices between mathematics and magick were also present. Each of the artifacts in the chamber had such an overlay, and each one was represented differently here. The most intricate of these were most fascinating, displaying tremendous rigor and imagination. The equations traced the magickal forms, and within each equation more magickal forms hovered, each of which had its own equation, a beautiful endless spiral. They had a fractal structure, each spiral representing the larger spiral, each element displaying an affinity to the larger equation, the larger magickal object, and finally to the artifact’s overall model.

Finally? Perhaps not. There were also subtle similarities between the artifacts, ways in which they used patterns that were repeated through many of them. Looking at one pattern, all the others of the same ilk glowed. Glowed, and invited inspection. Upon inspection, the similarities and the differences separated, each its own object, with the differences developing further equations to outline their differentiation, geometries of demarcation. For every shape in each geometry, a shifting array of other mathematical constructs, equations, functions, sets, and for each of these a corresponding magickal concept, these concepts looping through the mathematics in harmonic ways, chords of the magickal and the mathematical trailing each other through regress after regress.

Underneath it all, there was something else, something out of place. Some other, underlying, form? It was discordant, the only thing discordant in the entire display. Its uniqueness made it difficult to ignore.

Sensing it more closely, it seemed a clash of magics was sending it forth. Was sending forth disintegrating functions of energy, but also something else, something not so elegantly represented, something—pain.

It was pain. My pain. In pain. I was an I, in pain.

I sat up and ripped off the half-circlet. Dizzied, I almost fell as the room came back into focus.

The pain was from my headache, the headache induced by the gods’ pounding on my barrier. I’d been in some other state of mind—clearly I had reversed the intended polarity of the gender-flipping device. Its makers evidently considered emotion, feeling, and bodily sensation—not to mention color sense—to be “female”. Put on the wrong way, it dampened all those things instead of enhancing them, while also exaggerating “male” characteristics like logic, reason, mathematical thinking, abstraction.

Without emotion, there was no urge to do anything other than to pursue rational inquiry, which is what I had been doing. And what I would have been stuck doing if the pain hadn’t brought me back to some awareness of other things.

I had been lucky. I had survived blind experimentation, and it also gave me valuable insight into what the device did. Now, I could fashion a simple spell that would counteract its effects once I had access to the map, so that I could be fully myself while using it.

The pain in my head, however, told me that time was growing short. I needed to use the map, and I didn’t know how long using it would take, how long it would require for me to orient myself with it. I created the spell that would counteract the device’s effects, guessed that I should aim for about ninety seconds from now for it to work, and lay down. Reversing the circlet, I put it on again.

The shift wasn’t so extreme this time, for whatever reason. I didn’t feel that different, although I did seem to feel more intently. But I could sense the room and its contents without difficulty, and I still knew what I needed to do. I reached my hand out to the map. It was warm to the touch, and I tried to send my consciousness towards it.

I succeeded, and I could feel a suffusing, almost a merging. Whatever it was supposed to do, it had started doing it.

Then my prepared spell came in, and I felt a little more distant from the map, but it was still working. That barrier had been passed.

I felt the map tugging at me, trying to take me away from the room, to show itself to me. I let it.

‘Coup’ Part 1/4
‘Coup’ Part 2/4
‘Coup’ Part 4/4

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