March 15th, 2006


9x9 for mortal men doomed to die

In worlds where magic is present, it is common enough knowledge that spells can be woven like nets to trap the unwary; it is also the case in many such worlds that the drawing of certain signs and sigils can create portals into other regions, regions which are frequently full to overflowing with nameless tentacled horrors, or into which a hapless adventurer may stumble, never to return.

The twentieth century was not, one might think, a fertile ground for magic. People laughed at the idea that mystical signs and symbols could have power and meaning, and instead poured their energies into the equations which weighed the entire universe in their balance. They had, as it were, the experience, but missed the meaning; they forgot how to walk the old ways, and as a result, when they wandered off the path, they disappeared into the dark undergrowth. This was put down to experimental error, and the unfortunates who vanished in this way never reappeared to contradict that verdict.

In the early twenty-first century, however, a new kind of dark magic emerged, cutting through the haze of unbelief like a thunderstorm through a summer heatwave. Those who practised this magic made networks of numbers, complex weavings of figures and form; they drew these signs on surfaces everywhere throughout the nations: pen on paper, lines of light searing into screens. The grids grew and multiplied, and the vortices between their vertices sucked the very soul into the soundless void. For those who stared into the abyss, space and time distorted beyond all recognition, and the space between two lines might seem to span only a second; meanwhile, a thousand years might pass, and they would wake -- if they woke at all -- to find that all they knew had worn away into grains of sand.

The seed of a hurricane may be no more than the barely-sensed breath as a butterfly opens and closes its wings; yet it will gather the winds from the four corners of the earth until it becomes the vengeance of vapours. When the name of this new necromancy first began to be whispered throughout the nation, it was a mere murmur, the movement of a moth. But now... now it screams through the night like the war-cry of a thousand avenging angels, like the slice of a samurai's sword through the silk skein of our lives: