It's The Little Things

   
"In many ways, we're planning on doin' both," Jasper slipped in, still trying not to let his pleasure about his culinary success show. "Ruve's worked out a way to yank Tobias away from Dravin, which should leave him vulnerable. Aurelia came up with the same idea on her own, so now I know it's gonna work. Go on, tell em." He glanced over at the pair of women, slightly curious to see who would speak up. Nothing like encouraging others to share long-kept secrets over lunch.

Ravan

Ravan looked truly intruiged now. He had been on the verge of suggesting that being a demon-puppet was worse than death - although he didn't think that particular argument would go over too well - but the idea of being able to force a Demon Lord to do anything it didn't want to do had merit. "Really? That could be an extremely useful bit of knowledge. And it would enable us - by which I mean the Denavashor - to do a great deal of good, if we could reliably cleanse possession from an afflicted soul. Our current methods are efficacious on lower order creatures, but as the power of the infecting demon increases, they grow less so... but to drive out a being of Dravin's magnitude..."

Jasper quickly raised his hand before either of the women could murder his friend. "Easy now. What we tell you is considered private, yeah? Covered by our contract and terms of agreement. You'll get to share what these two tell ya, nothin' more. Trust me, it's not a trick your folk can use. You have my word on that."

Ravan

Ravan pursed his lips. "You're asking me to keep a secret which could save souls." He said in a serious tone. "I will not share your secrets without your leave - and if it's true that your methods are somehow bound to powers outside my grasp, then the point is moot - but I would say this: Whatever you think of Jameo, my order's cause is a vital one. We hunt down demons, and we need every weapon we can get."

"Don't ya start questioning my loyalty to our empire," Jasper said, perhaps a little more pointedly than completely necessary. "And if ya think I'm the type to ask ya to stand by while good people die screaming, then you're at the wrong table. I said what I did so ya wouldn't get your hopes up. But far be it from me to just expect you to take my word on good faith." He waved dismissively and leaned back in his chair a little, looking pointedly at the women. Hopefully, they'd speak up. Otherwise, he'd have to admit that his pride had been far too easily pricked. A thing that needed thinking about - later.

"Gentlemen, please..." Aurelia said, giving each of them in turn an appeasing look before she turned back to Ravan.

"I know of your order, sir, and I agree that its work is important, but some of what you must hear today could jeopardize the safety of thousands if it reached the wrong ears--even ears that you may personally believe to be trustworthy."

She traded a look with Ruve before continuing. "The catastrophe visited upon the Tazaoth last year is not the only time in our people's history that we have been targeted by terribly powerful forces. Believe me when I say that only the most stringent standards of secrecy have stood between our race and total genocide, until now. I would both beseech and warn you to have the utmost discretion regarding what you are about to hear." If he refused, he'd leave this room with no memory of the conversation.

"Miss Tamar," she said, turning once more to the scholar, "if you would please continue...?"

Ravan

Ravan nodded, filing the information away. Things were becoming more clear - the woman's crimes, for example. Presumably she was some sort of internal security agent - between her attempted assassination of a percieved traitor and the destruction or theft of esoteric lore, she must have been tasked with preserving the secrecy she was speaking of. To Aurelia, he said "I will be discrete." He might have elaborated that security was his profession as well, and that he kept any number of potentially lethal secrets - but such protests were just so much hot air, and they both knew it.

Ruve gave Ravan a very sober look. "To what Aurelia said - I will only add two things: first, that it is almost certain our people were massacred by the demons last year because of the information I am about to tell you. Second, secrecy has been our way of life - has permeated every aspect of our culture - since the Tasaoth were first formed. You will have to forgive me if I have reflexively left out information prior to this - it is in my nature to do so."

Indeed, the only reason she could bring herself to open up now to a mere acquaintance was the fact that her people had seemingly abandoned secrecy, and that the information would be necessary if he was to aid them in hunting Dravin.

"I will not go into detail on Tasaoth history; for the moment I feel it is irrelevant. But suffice it to say we are in a very unique position in this world - not being entirely human, and possessing a power no human can master and few even know exists. In fact, most would refuse to believe this." As indeed Ravan might. He was a good Jamean, after all. "First. Your gods, however powerful they may be, did not create existence. The being we call the Overgod set the universe into motion, and then allowed the gods to take over. Essentially." Of course it was infinitely more complex than that, but Ruve was trying very hard to rein herself in and not flood Ravan with knowledge just yet. It was already going to be a lot to take in. "This is knowledge that was kept from the gods themselves, and you might find it heretical. But we know this to be true because the means the Overgod used to create the universe were what we call the Words of Creation. Words have essentially carved the world into the shape we know today, and no one can see them but the Tasaoth, and the beings who are our distant ancestors, the Authmoth."

Oh, he was going to be full of questions, she knew it. "'Seeing' isn't a very good word to describe how we sense these Words, but it's the best I can do. If I shift into what we call "Othersight" right now, I can see the Words that make up the essence of this room, of the soup in front of you, and your Truename - the Words that make up your being, the essential you." She quickly raised her hand. "I won't, by the way. But I think you can see why we Tasaoth would work so very hard to protect this knowledge against the outside. Especially since, to a certain degree, by seeing...we can also manipulate." She paused to collect her thoughts, sifting through the information that would likely be the most useful, and waited to see if he had any questions or interjections.

Ravan

Ravan sat silently for a few moments, taking everything in. He didn't show much in the way of expression - he'd heard many a breathless revelation of "ultimate truth" in his time, and his poker face was second to none.

Her second point was fascinating, but seemed largely academic to him - it sounded like another form of magic, dressed up in a different costume. Her first point caused him considerably more trouble. The idea challenged Daivat's supremacy. Oh, Ravan had never been a mindless fanatic - he believed Daivat was mighty beyond mortal ken, and knew that he was the worthiest among gods, that his philosophy was the most elementally correct. The way the world worked was evidence enough of that, for those who could "see." But he had always known that Daivat was not strong enough to impose his will over all of the other gods and the powers infernal - otherwise he would have done so.

But what this... Tasaoth woman was proposing was something else entirely - not only was Daivat not first and greatest among the divine order, he was of the second rung - a mote in the eye of a supreme and eternal God. But if that were true... why would such a supreme deity create, and then fall silent? Why would it not impose its will? Why would it let chaos reign, instead of instilling order, discipline, and ordering all things for the good? It was... troubling, to say the least.

Of course, there was no guarantee that it was true - these people might all be insane. But they knew their business, and the two women certainly believed it utterly. The whole party did - or at least were familiar with the idea.

Nevertheless, there was something much more convincing about this particular revelation. Ravan took a deep breath, and then began to speak in a slow, thoughtful tone.

"So... if I understand correctly, you... "see" the supernal world - the world as it is, rather than as mortal eyes percieve it." A slow pause. "Or maybe you "read" it, if it really is made up of these Words." he said, pronouncing it as she did, with the prime signifigance of the term evident. "Reality's like a book written in invisible ink. You've got the necessary tincture to reveal the ink, and you can change the letters around. You can alter these words - which are, in effect, the smallest meaningful units of reality. I've heard some philosophers call them atoms, or the divine spark, or a number of other terms. Doesn't matter - what does is that you can see it, and you can manipulate it. Because of your ancestry - these Authmoth creatures - you can intercede with reality at the basic level."

He tugged one earlobe thoughtfully. "Honestly, it sounds like magic with different semantics to me, at least in the results. Obviously speaking these words takes skill and effort - if you could accomplish anything by just knowing the name and speaking the Word, whoever mastered it first would have made themselves Emperor of All." He gave another of those very small half-smiles. "Well, that, or whoever got to that level of mastery first changed the rules and became your Overgod." He resumed the main thrust of his argument. "In any case, the effects of these words must have some barrier to their use, or your folk would be the secret masters of the world. Therefore, like magic, it is a method of manipulating reality by the effort of the will, by using invocations or rituals or however it actually works. It allows you access to strange and unusual powers by means of esoteric knowledge."

"That's - very close," Ruve managed. It was actually an understatement - she hadn't expected Ravan to grasp the essentials so quickly. Of course, he was wrong about how the Words worked for Tanith, and he had thrown out some comments that made her roll her eyes internally... and yet raised questions at the same time: for example, the Words couldn't be "mastered" by just anyone, obviously, as only the Authmoth and their descendents could even See them...and yet, how had the Authmoth gained the knowledge in the first place? Of all the knowledge Ruve had pursued, that knowledge was utterly elusive. Something to hunt down at another time. Should there ever be one.

But that was not a line of thinking to be pursued right now. "We can discuss the origins of my people's abilities at another time, and the details of how it works for us - it is nothing like you've experienced with any other kind of magic, and yes, it is limited, but not exactly in the way you think. But the most important thing for you to know right now is that the Words are more powerful than Divine power or Arcane, Devilish, or Demonic magic." And she had a perfect example of this, should she dare to use it.

She looked apologetically at Sam. "It is no trivial matter. Understand this: when a horrific plague was created by a combination of magics and could not be cured by Divine healers, the Words were the only thing that could undo it. When the plague was powerfully twisted and Words were somehow added, nothing could stop it...and it killed a god."

She held up a hand. "I would certainly be willing to explain this - and every other claim I have made so far - in more depth at another time. But the most important thing for you to understand now is what Aurelia and I are planning to do with the Words. What we intend to do to save Tobias, that cannot be done by anyone else in the world." She nodded to Jasper, who had already said as much, and then to Aurelia. Ruve had done a lot of talking so far, and perhaps she ought to let her fellow Tasaoth speak as well. "Aurelia, do you wish to explain, or shall I?"




 

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