The Matter of the North

Confusion to Thine Enemies!: Violence and Magic in an Alternate Dimension

Or Pewter's Bachelor Party

by Melantha Danaris Firleon (Doctor of History, and Doctor of Magical Theory, Queen’s University, Leyland)

Rough Draft. Please circulate and comment. Final copy will be sent to the publishers next week. Also, please see memo attached to the end of the draft.
The concept of alternate realities and planes has been hotly debated in scholastic and gramarye circles for decades. Based on his work with chronoscopes, Helmer von Bosch (35; 39; 46) has argued that alternate realities do, in fact, exist; that they are separate from alternate planes, but that one can only travel across planes. Individuals could never experience multiple realities, because to do so would duplicate the individual, causing them to exist simultaneously in the same place, and leading to the ultimate destruction of one or both alternate individuals. Conversely, Sabert Achthwaite (36; 42) contends that alternate realities do not exist, that we instead experience only alternate planes of existence. For Achthwaite, there is only one thread of reality. No power, natural or unnatural, has the ability to alter the nature of reality.
This paper argues that this is simply not the case. The most kind thing Achthwaite can be called is “hack” and an “arm-chair scholar.” My own research, conducted this past month (see note 1), conclusively proves that alternate realities do indeed exist; what is more, individuals navigate between these realities, often without their conscious knowledge of the fact. Travel between planes can be facilitated by a number of arcane and mundane tools, suggesting that the boundaries between planes are significantly less porous than previously thought, and that steps need to be taken to regulate inter-planar travel. Finally, alternate planes of reality appear to induce dramatic, temporary, changes in behavior in individuals.
This last week I had the opportunity to travel between planes with a group of adventurers in an attempt to free what appeared to be a spirit in great distress, trapped on a separate plane. Attempts were made to reach this alternate plane using a chronoscope, and various controlled methods of inducing natural sleep. Several times we failed to reach the plane we were attempting to access, and instead appeared in an alternate plane. Yet the members of my team could all communicate with each other across these individual planes. This strongly suggests that planes vary in strength and size, some existing in closer proximity to others, thus allowing for the transparency of the barriers and the ease of communication.
Most significantly, however, my team made contact with a unique inter-planar species, known as aboleth. Huan Daoyun’s bestiary (-117), perhaps the most comprehensive inter-planar bestiary ever published, notes only that aboleths have immensely strong psychic powers, and that they have a hive mind, allowing them to communicate with ease and share each other’s experiences. We can now expand on Daoyun’s characterization. These aboleths did manifest strong psychic powers; they also displayed a great deal of arrogance, a strong violent tendency towards non-aboleths, and an interest in domination and control. They also demonstrated an immense dislike for fiddle music. Further study revealed that this plane was not their natural habitat. These aboleths had been sent to this alternate plane by a powerful warrior to prevent them from invading our home plane.
This naturally demanded further investigation. Despite some initial difficulties with the native wildlife—a particularly aggressive type of chicken—Mila Ghaverr, the team’s lead scout, managed to locate a magic hammer than led my team to the warrior responsible for containing the aboleths, a half-orc named Pewter, whom Mila wakened with a judicious use of magical force.
Many of you are familiar with the hit musical, Fifty Shades of Pewter, and its story: the intense, BDSM relationship between Prince Nicon and his half-orc lover, the mighty warrior Pewter. Today, we accept that Berezi’s account of this tempestuous affair is, by and large, fairly accurate, with minor literary license. The Pewter in the tower (we later learned it was called the Tower of Metaphors) was the same Pewter from the stories—the same Pewter whom I had worked with on numerous occasions prior. Yet in that moment I did not recognize him. I assumed he was simply a great fan of the production, and had gone to great lengths to recreate his hero (for similar cases, see Rav Zeira, 46; Monime, 39; Iversen 48). This, we later discovered, was an alternate reality—a reality in which my friend did not exist. Instead, he had been replaced or removed from our memories. This, he explained, was a side effect of the spell he had cast to remove the aboleths from our plane of existence. The Crone of the Waste made a similar suggestion recently (Waste, private correspondence), suggesting that Crones are immune to this kind of influence. Determining the root of this ability, and whether or not it can be duplicated should become an immediate priority in science and gramarye departments, for reasons that should be obvious to all.
I will come to how we proved Pewter’s statements regarding memory and alternate realities in a moment. However, a few additional points about the aboleths, this new plane, and this alternate reality need to be made. Previously, I argued that alternate realities can induce dramatic, and temporary, changes in behavior. I witnessed one such instance. Having realized that Pewter had awakened, and was attempting to return home, the aboleths gathered in force and marched on the tower. Aboleths are highly intelligent creatures, yet they also seem to have a more cultured, romantic streak (in the literary sense of the word). The group of aboleths that approached the tower rode war horses, wore plate armor, and carried lances—a scene worthy of a Walter Scott novel (see note 2) They subsequently demanded that we send down a champion to battle with them. The prize: the winner could leave the plane. For the loser: they must remain together, within a five mile radius of each other, until the winner granted them permission to move.
The battle was hosted by the gracious Lady Dimension, who provided us with refreshments (interestingly, the food and related material culture were identical to our own, including Fizzy from the Leylish Royal Brewery, and cups made from Taradonia ironstone, and Teornian brownware—see Danaris, (forthcoming) for a complete study of the resulting sherds). The contest pitted three champions from either side against each other. Given the number of aboleths present, however, we were allowed to call for assistance. Mila Ghavarr’s faithful hound, Shianseri, as well as the God Ochublau appeared (the ability of gods to manifest in multiple planes has long been remarked upon, but this is the first time someone has documented a god appearing in multiple realities. This again challenges Achthwaite’s mono-reality model). Boffin Barrow, King of Teradonia, summoned his triceratops, as well as his wife and children, while I asked for Sir Desguicado. Despite his advancing age, Sir Desi is widely known for his abilities on the tournament field, having competed at the June Tournament on numerous occasions. Rumors that his place was usurped by a time-traveling gnome and half-elf are entirely unfounded. When he learned of the situation, Sir Desi again proved his ability and noble temperament, so common among that breed of knight, by proclaiming that if someone had to die, he would be glad to be the one to fall.
While we were all conscious of the great importance death in combat held in Euland cultural tradition, and wanted to do all in our power to honor that tradition, when we were informed that as the challenged we could choose the nature of the contests, we regretfully rejected Sir Desi’s offer. Instead, King Boffin, Mila Ghavarr, and I elected to stand as contestants. Again, the aboleths manifested immense magical prowess—they shifted into forms deliberately chosen to intimidate us. A quirk of the Antebellum Reading Group surfaced at this point—the forms chosen were intimidating, but simultaneously limited the aboleth’s abilities. They had also never been introduced to fizzy, which I generously offered them before the contest began as a gesture of inter-cultural goodwill. Mila and I even arranged for a concert to showcase our musical traditions—aboleths, apparently, do not have gods who use the weather as the tympani section.
The contest was short-lived. Contrary to the opinion of many military scholars, who argue for technological superiority as the key determinate in such contests, in this case it was simple intelligence. King Boffin faced the first aboleth, who chose to manifest in the form of Eilenach (?). This choice demonstrates not only a relaxed attitude towards gender, and transitioning between genders, but also the same arrogance displayed earlier. Ultimately, King Boffin dispatched the aboleth.
The second contest was left to myself and Mila. We decided to hold a contest of confusifisation—this, as I’m sure you know, is a fairly common contest held in academic circles to determine tenure, but is not, apparently, practiced among the aboleth, despite their intelligence). The aboleths we faced took the form of the gnome god Bucklebann, and the newly reformed interior decorator and failed Bachelorette contender, Osric. Despite some clever tricks with smoke and black tentacles, as well as a moment of temporary insanity induced by stress and verbal abuse, Mila and I successfully removed our two opponents. For reasons that have not been fully explained, the aboleth who manifested as Bucklebann was in much better shape than the aboleth who manifested as Osric. Perhaps it is easier among aboleths to hog-tie, shave, unman, and stab annoying, arrogant, sword-stealing madmen than it is to attack a “god.” (Interestingly, the fact that the abolith showed no qualms about manifesting as a divine being suggests a lack of any religious structure or deities similar to our own, as well as a disdain for the belief in higher powers, despite the obvious evidence that gods do, in fact, exist).
One of the central tenets of the anthropological code of conduct is to do no harm to the group you study. However, anthropologists are often faced with ethically complicated situations where respecting the values and lives of a study group violates your own values and your own life. This was such a moment. After much deliberation and soul-searching, we ultimately made the decision to ensure the aboleths could no longer return to our plane. This Section Has Been Redacted By Leylish and Teradonia Intelligence Services.
When we arrived back on our home plane, our memories of Pewter returned, suggesting we crossed into another, more familiar reality (or perhaps a new reality that we remembered as an old reality). I hope to study this phenomena further, once the upcoming conference in Teorn is complete.
This experience demonstrates conclusively that multiple planes and realities do exist, that with the right equipment and training it can be easy to travel from one to the other, and to remain aware of that transition whilst doing so. It also demonstrates some of the inherent dangers, including personality changes and association with potentially dangerous species. However, this should not dissuade trained professionals from venturing where no man (or woman!) has gone before in search of the next frontier—so long as that man (or woman!) is culturally sensitive and packs a lot of fizzy.

Note 1: This work was made possible by a generous grant from the Duchy of Dyfwethilton, the King of Taradonia, the Leylish Theatre and Cinema Union, and generous fundraising conducted by the cast and writers of the Fifty Shades of Pewter Musical.
Note 2: We found no evidence of any literature on this particular plane that displayed this kind of imagery, nor on any of the other planes where we encountered aboleths. One can only assume then that they came into contact with this romantic, pseudo-Medieval culture while on this plane, most likely while in contact with the Antebellum Reading Group (a known terrorist organization, which, over the last 150 years, has been responsible for several dramatic failed attempts to force the ladies of the continent to adopt hoop skirts, corsets, and dressed made out of curtains, to legislate against nose-tweaking, and to enslave multiple nations and ethnic groups). This raises disturbing questions about the abilities of our continent’s intelligence networks, as well as the intelligence of the ARG. Given the extent of diffusion of ARG culture into the aboleth’s, the group has clearly been associated with the aboleths for some time. Yet they have not manifested an iota of increased intelligence as a result of this relationship.

Internal Department Memo: Two events of note, both of which are mandatory.

Invasion of Teorn, 8 o’clock, Saturday. Refreshments and alcoholic beverages will be provided. Please bring your own bananas to present to the Teorn armed forces.

Pewter’s Bachelor Competition. TBA following the successful destruction of Teorn. Lodgings and food provided. BYOB and umbrella. Copies of Fifty Shades of Pewter, Fifty Shades of Pewter: The Musical, and related merchandise will be available for purchase. Faculty and student discounts apply.

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