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A note from TK523

 

Reminder: Interludes are all books, notes, journal entries, etc. that Tal found and put into Spellbook between the events of the story and the time of writing the Forward. 

Project proposal Illunia 5th, 718 A.L.

Project Name: Project Compass

Category: Primary: Spell rediscovery

Secondary: Font Identification

Tertiary: Application of Runic Wards

Subject: Simulacrum

Method: Experimentation and observation

Originator: Master Wizard Marcus Travin

 

Proposal Summary:

I am requesting funding in the amount of 1,425 gold, laboratory space, and three journeymen to act as assistants. We will pursue a novel method of ascertaining the Arcane Font origin of magical creatures. This new method, should it prove successful, would be used to further our work in rediscovering the lost spell Simulacrum through the study of the creature colloquially known as the "pack rat"

Background:

Simulacrum is one of the Great Lost Spells of the pre spellform age. Its casting allowed the user to create a perfect duplicate of themselves. This duplicate retained all the knowledge of the original and was able to cast spells independently[1].

The spell's last known use was by the Arch Magus Tilford at the Last Battle against the Avatar[2]. His death, in the fire of the Avatar, resulted in the loss of many greater spells, but Simulacrum was the greatest among them. While writings remain on the nature of Simulacrum, they do not offer enough insight to replicate the spells or locate the requisite Fonts in the Arcane Realm. While we know the spell used at least the Font of Thought and the Font of Creation, as with all Fonts these names are self-ascribed by the caster. Before the development of gates and spellforms, there was no universal naming convention and they could be misnomers. No one today can identify the Font of Creation in the Arcane Realm.

The pack rat is a magical creature indistinguishable from an ordinary rat in every way save one. The pack rat is suspected to be a primal creature, able to draw upon the Arcane Realm to fuel it's magics. When threatened, the pack rat is able to teleport short distances and duplicate itself until its numbers overwhelm it's enemy. The exact population of pack rats is unknown, but it is believed that roughly 1 in 100 rats are actually pack rats. They are difficult to identify, as any rat will run when threatened and they only fight when there is no other choice.

Font discovery is a slow and dangerous process. This use of runic wards would allow for advances in the field that have not been seen since Halkin discovered that the Arcane Bridge could be traversed if made large enough. The only two verified methods of Font discovery are thorough exploration and experimentation of the Arcane Realm using Halkin’s method, and discovery of the Font’s Primordial in our world. The first method is slow, tedious, and dangerous. The second method requires extensive field work, and researchers to put themselves directly in harm's way.

The current prefered method is to find Primordials, and then perform the Halkin method in their vicinity, without the need to touch the Primordial to find the Font. Currently, the Tower has bounties in place for Adventurers for any leads on the locations of a Primordial, but very few have collected on these as of the writing of this proposal.

Project Description:

The dwarves reportedly have a method of runic warding that isolates a region of the Material Realm from accessing areas of the Arcane Realm, and thus preventing access to the Fonts found in that region. A modular warded ring would be built that would allow my team to present a pack rat with challenges while different regions of the Arcane Realm are blocked from it. When the pack rat is unable to duplicate, the region identified could be explored and experimentation can begin on the Fonts located therein.

Budget Timeline:

Acquiring test subjects 4 months 1 gold piece

Bounties will be placed on rats in the city with bonuses for confirmed pack rats. We will test them for the ability to duplicate, and then breed a pool of test subjects.

Building of runic ward 6 months 1,250 gold pieces

A quotation has been provided by the representative of the Dwarven Confederacy in the amount of 1,000 gold pieces, plus expenses. This project was estimated to take 5 months. I have included 250 gold pieces extra in this proposal and an additional month to account for the uncooperative nature of the Dwarven people towards the Tower of the Arcane. A formal quotation is appended labeled Appendix A.

Building Testing Apparati 2 months 4 gold pieces

Tower resident artisans will be tasked with constructing the requisite testing mechanism. See Appendix B for plans for the design.

 

Experimentation 6 months 170 gold pieces

I estimate the work will take 1 month to identify the region of the Arcane Realm, and 5 months beyond that to locate the Font. The largest expense will come from the potions required to facilitate the search of the Arcane Realm. See the Appendix C for a list of the required potions and the latest prices from the Tower and Alchemist Guild’s pricing agreement for 715-719 A.F.

Footnotes:

[1] The Spells We Lost: A collection of writings detailing the greatest lost spells by Wilstun Aberfon

[2] A First Hand Account of The Last Battle by Arch Magus Dran Berry

Appendix A - Quotation from Conrid, Surface Representative of the D.C.

Appendix B - Plans and designs for animal testing apparati

Appendix C - Priced potion list for Travin-Halkin Method Exploration

 

Project Journal Riloth 13th, 720

It took those fools on the council a full year to approve my project proposal. I could have been done with this experiment by now if they had moved as quickly as they do to approve anything related to refining sorcerer bones. The council has a one-track mind and it's leading to the past. Of course by the time they got around to it my potion pricing had expired and they spent another month scrutinizing my amendment.

At least I can finally begin, but the project is already running behind schedule. When we finally began work,the dwarves informed us that our quotation had expired and demanded 1,200 gold coins, and said it would take 6 months. I had at least accounted for that. In the end, it took them 7 months and they charged us 1,300 gold. The runesmith they sent did not show up and when pressed they claimed he perished en route. I suspect this was a ruse to garner a higher payment. The dwarves are a duplicitous people.

The rats proved rarer than anticipated. The bounty placed on rats led to some ingenuitive townspeople breeding mundane rats and selling them to our representatives at a profit. 1 in 750 rats were identified to be pack rats. At 5 copper a rat, it cost us 2 gold and 25 silver to get the requisite 6 pack rats needed to breed a sustainable test group.

Baseline tests to gauge the capabilities of the pack rats will begin tomorrow alongside a control of mundane rats. We must see how performance changes when regions of the Arcane Realm are blocked. The pack rat may have unknown magical abilities beyond the Simulacrum-like effect and the ability to teleport short distances. This secondary ability is likely drawing on the Font of Space, but it warrants further study.

Project Journal Riloth 14th, 720

The pack rats did not prove to be any more intelligent than the mundane variety. The pack rat’s performance was significantly higher than the control group when confronted with a situation in which duplicates could provide utility. In areas where duplicates were of no aid, such as a maze, their performance was equal to the mundane rats.

Project Journal Riloth 15th, 720

The council has informed me that they "request" I test rats for combat capabilities. This is ridiculous, outside the scope of my study, and frankly a waste of time. I will acquiesce to this "request" and cite it when my delayed timeline is questioned. I’m sure they will understand.

Project Journal Riloth 16th, 720

Combat testing of the pack rats has proved to be surprisingly fruitful, but not in any way the council had wanted. In watching the pack rats face combat situations, I have been able to closely study their behavior when confronted with an obstacle that requires duplication. Where before I believed the pack rat was using some natural variation of the spell Simulacrum, I now believe it is doing something entirely different. The behavior of this duplication is not consistent with what we know of Simulacrum. When a simulacrum is made, it is grown from a piece of the caster’s body, typically a drop of blood. The pack rat duplicates appear fully formed without the need for a seed.

There doesn't seem to be any pattern I can discern for the duplication process in the pack rat. New rats appear as if teleporting, fully developed. When a new rat appears, it does so at a non-specific distance from the original. No pattern has been observed in this. Usually, the duplicate appears inches away but in some combat scenarios, it has appeared as far as the opposite end of the test chamber.

The rate of duplicates is also inconsistent between test subjects. When faced with a life-threatening scenario, sometimes large numbers of duplicates will appear around the subject in the same moment, other times they pop into existence sporadically throughout the test. This behavior seems to be subject-dependent and may be a preferred behavior.

The duplicates themselves are not all equal. Some duplicates appear wounded and tired, others more intelligent than their fellow duplicates.

Project Journal Riloth 17th, 720

The more I observe these rodents, the more I suspect they will be of no help on the project's primary goal in finding the Font of Creation. Whatever font they are drawing on is a strange and powerful one indeed, but not Creation. Could it be Chaos? That seems unlikely, their methods are too methodical. Ha, and my assistants say I lack humor.

In an effort to find a pattern to the duplications I have set a grid into the floor of the test chamber, or "The Arena" as my assistants have started to call it. I must admit—though not to them—that it is an apt moniker. When a duplicate appears or a pack rat vanishes, we will plot their position and time and look for patterns. See attached data.

Another strange behavior has become apparent as our testing has become more lethal to the subjects. Creatures as large as dogs have proved an even match for a single pack rat, but our most recent tests have begun to result in subject deaths. The oddity is this: in tests where a subject death occurs—duplicate or original, though we as of yet have no method of tracking the original—the subject creates far more duplicates than normal. Typically a subject will create five to ten duplicates during an encounter and then work together with supernatural coordination to take down their adversary. But, in tests in which the subject ultimately dies, they fall into a frenzy and create dozens of duplicates—before even seeing the death of their duplicate. They create as many copies as needed to persevere, not stopping until the enemy is defeated. These duplicates attack with a mad frenzy unlike any behavior seen by the subject up to that point. A timid veteran subject of five tests will suddenly become a rabid monster when a duplicate dies.

The final oddity is this: when a duplicate dies all the other duplicates disappear leaving only the dead body of the dead duplicate. If any die, the rest dissapear shortly after their foe is defeated. We have not determined a method to identify the original, but statistically, it is unlikely all the deaths we have seen have been originals.

We have yet to determine the trigger for this rapid frenzy. The only constant being the subject’s death. This frenzy has occurred against all of the more dangerous creatures, but it does not uniformly occur. A pack rat faced with a wolverine will result in the pack rat's survival two out of three times, but whenever a frenzy occurs, the wolverine will kill a single duplicate before being killed by the remainder of the pack. In one instance, against a tiger we procured from a neighboring lab, the pack rat entered the frenzy at the start but did not succeed in killing the tiger before they all disappeared.

Is this some prescience? Do they know that they will die and attack all out from the get go? Or, does something snap inside them from our testing that drives them into a suicidal blood lust?

Project Journal Riloth 18th, 720

I've figured it out! This is huge! Groundbreaking! World-changing! This will get me a council seat for certain—not that I'd accept one. Politics? No thank you. They think they wield power, but it's all paper and words. A discovery of this magnitude will ensure I never have to wade through the bureaucracy of the Tower ever again. The subjects aren't duplicating or teleporting. They are traveling through time. The pack rat draws upon the Font of Time! If I'm correct I will uncover a Font so lost its very existence is doubted.

It explains everything, it must be the answer.

If I can identify this Font, it would be the greatest advancement in magical knowledge since the discovery of spellforms. The First Font, if the legends hold true. It's within our grasp. Within my grasp.

Look at me, going on about myself like one of those fops on the council. Back to the task at hand, I can revel later. The discovery was quite simple once we reviewed the data. By plotting the location and time of each disappearance and duplication, we discovered that whenever a rat appeared a rat would later disappear from the same location. Where before we thought they were teleporting and duplicating in random locations, this paired pattern of appearances and disappearances unlocked the mystery. The rats were traveling back in time, but remaining in place. They used this to avoid attacks and to overwhelm their foe with numbers. It seems the pack rat is only able to move backwards in time, but do they also have some access to the Font of Space as originally theorized? It has long been known that Kaltis is rotating and traveling through the realm. How does the time travel account for movement? We must test their ability with the Font of Space isolated at some point, but first, we must search for Time!

This discovery means I can cease these ridiculous combat trials. No one will question my methods now. When word gets out about this, I will be able to demand anything I need to further my studies. I can start my own department. Tomorrow we will resume the original test plan and try to identify the region of the Font of Time.

Project Journal Riloth 19th, 720 A.L.

Something is wrong. My subjects are too intelligent. They solve every puzzle I present them with as if they had performed the task a hundred times. If I put food under one of a dozen cups, they find it on the first try, no matter the magical means I use to hide it. If I build a new maze, they walk through it as if they knew the route. I’ve tested all my subjects and control rats. The mundane rats act the same, but every pack rat in the lab is like this.

I went back to combat trials, and their performance in this area has excelled as well. Pack rats are now defeating foes many times larger than themselves and using fewer duplicates to do so. No combat subjects on hand stood a chance. They even killed the tiger and a giant scorpion we brought in from the alchemy lab next door. Was I wrong? How is this a manifestation of the Font of Time? Are they prescient? Why now and not before? What has changed?

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About the author

TK523

  • United States

Bio: Aim for perfection, but don't try too hard.

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