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 The Ciphers


Main Ciphers Page

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Fash the Tacit (Prime / female halfling / thief 6 / Master of the Mind of the Ciphers / N)

Nobody outside the faction can claim they really understand what in the Hells the Ciphers are going on about. If you do ever hear someone rattling their bone-boxes to that effect, its a cert that they never met one of the Eclipsed. They're a very small group of die-hard Ciphers who follow a halfling blood called Fash the Tacit.

They call their mentor "the Tacit" because she never speaks. It's not that she doesn't want to (like Factol Rhys), it's more that she can't. See, her tongue's been cut out.

Most bashers'd think that'd be enough to stop a sod performing her duties as a factor. Well, in most cases you'd be right. But, as seems typical of the Ciphers, Fash was promoted because her tongue's been cut out. Not only that, but she's blind, deaf and has no sense of smell.

Does that sound like a recipe for disaster?

Fash's not as unfortunate as you'd think. While it might sound like she was the victim of the most terrible tanar'ri torturer ever, in fact all those disabilities were s-inflicted. Fash has this barmy idea, see, about senses.

She ought to know, really, 'cause she used to be a Sensate herself. She was one of the rowdiest too; always drunk with pleasure, sampling the latest and most dangerous in decadent pastimes, and behaving in a manner that could best be summed up by the word: "bubber". It's not something she's proud of though, so mind you don't let on I said that.

Fash was one of the Sensates who suddenly snapped out of it. There she was, drunk as a judge (again), when she suddenly though: "What am I doing?" She was enjoying herself, but was she actually learning anything? Sure, she could tell the difference between the bouquets of all known Arborean wines at ten paces, but did she really feel she'd learned anything deeper about the multiverse?

Such crises of faith aren't uncommon in the factions; for the Sensates at least they tend to go away as soon as the next round of drinks is bought. Fash, however, had been shaken to her very heart. She felt suddenly worthless, like she'd been living a lie all that time. She felt betrayed. Fash left the tavern that moment, and though she was too bubbed-up even to see who she was bumping into, somehow made it back to her kip that night.

The next afternoon, after her head stopped feeling like something even Talos'd be afraid to go near, she pondered the events of the night before. How'd she gotten home in one piece? Most mornings she just woke up under the table she'd been at the night before, unless she got carried somewhere else. But she'd been determined to get home, and had managed it without even thinking about it.

The spark of curiosity was already burning, and she decided to experiment. Blindfolding herself, Fash tried to feel where things were without using her eyes. A few days later, with stubbed toes and bleeding hands, she began to get a feel for seeing without her eyes.

"Maybe you don't actually see with your eyes," she wondered, "But everyone assumes you do." She tried the experiment again, this time blocking her ears with wax. Then the same again, coating her tongue with oil and guessing what foods she was eating without tasting them. Fash began to realise that she didn't need her senses at all; in fact, she got on better without them.

Now Fash was always a daring cutter; that's why she became a Sensate in the first place. She believed in acting when she felt it was right to, and so it was on the spur of the moment that she chose to blind herself by destroying her eyes. Once she'd got used to the absence of sight, she found her other senses grew stronger to compensate, and destroyed them too, one by one.

By this time, she'd come to the notice of the Ciphers. A few young bloods took it upon themselves to help the halfling adjust to her sense-deprived existence. As she learned to live a perfectly normal life, even with her impaired senses, so their respect for her grew. They persuaded her to join the Transcendent Order (she didn't take much persuading, as she'd already decided she was a member anyway), and in her honour, they even began to wear blindfolds and block up their ears.

And so were born the Eclipsed.

The Scholar Mimir

The Eclipsed

According to the tenets of the group, there are three states of sense a body can adopt. They've styled themselves after the sun and moon, for they're the two things that Fash misses most from her home on the Prime. Fash reckons the senses are like the sun: glaringly bright, brash and harsh, while senselessness is like the moon; subtle, silvery and gentle.

"The Full" are most cutters, those who've got all their senses intact. They bumble around, seeing and hearing things, but not really appreciating how precious those senses are. See, you don't understand how they work and how you depend upon them until they're gone. "Full" means full moon and full sun. It's just that when the day's at its brightest, the glare of the sun blots out the light of the moon. That's why most bashers never realise they could see more than just with their eyes.

"The Waning" are the members of this group; those who've lost some of their senses, but not all of them. They're learning to cope with the few that remain, slowly removing them as they feel ready. They're blocking out the sunlight and the shape of the moon's getting more and more apparent, though still not quite observable.

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"To Do is To Be" - Socrates

"To Be is to Do" - Plato

"To Do is to Do" - Cipher

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"Eclipsed" is supposedly the perfect state; where mind and body are separate. The senses are the link between the two, and once they're destroyed, the mind is free to transcend. Fash herself hasn't quite reached that state yet, though she's got precious few senses left to spare. 'Course, it's still all theoretical as to whether she's got the right idea in the first place. This is the state where the sun's light is blocked out completely by the moon. The senses that mortals are born with are eclipsed, and the brilliant aura of what's unknown shines like a halo around the soul. It's poetic, at least it is compared with the Ciphers' normal rhetoric.

By losing the senses they have, the Eclipsed find their remaining senses are strengthened to compensate. Even when they're gone, however, there seems to be a 'hidden sense' behind the sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. It's a combination of all of them at once, yet none of them. Most cutters don't even notice it's there at all until they've lost three of four of the others, then they begin to realise that they just 'know' things that they shouldn't be able to know. It's often a turning point in belief.

The Eclipsed are growing in popularity, especially with cutters drawn to the motif of the moon like moths to a lantern. These include priests of lunar powers like Selune or Hecate, as well as lycanthropes. They make a motley bunch, with varied powers and very different goals.

The rest of the Ciphers see the Eclipsed as a bunch of barmies, but at least they respect the "let's go and do something" attitude of the group. Too may other Visionaries preach and that's it, Ciphers reckon. It's about time one has the courage to live up to their convictions, even if those convictions are addle-coved. It's not always the result that matters, it's the doing!

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Copyright 1997 by Jon Winter

Consult the Mimir Again