Magnum Opus' Muse Arcane

Magnum Opus Herself

The Codex of Infinite Planes

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432nd Edition

Preface by Original Author:

My last candle burns slowly into darkness, as I set down these, the last words of my life, into the tome you now hold before your burning eyes. It may seem petty of me, but I envy all of you. I dream of your wide-eyed innocence, and the peace that ignorance brings. I yearn for a flicker of that inner fire that burns behind your veiled eyes. Yet, I speak now with the voice of the old. It is now my destiny to lift the cowl of innocence from your unshriven minds.

Read on, but beware. This is not the story of a man who always knew where he was going, rather one who knew where he had been. Written in hindsight, this work should provide an ample reflection upon the wonders and the horrors, the dreams and the night-tremors, and the spirit and the body of the worlds outside your room.

Chapter One: Chaos Unbidden

Most stories often start at the beginning, which makes sense in a moral universe. It is assumed that actions have consequences, as does, in it own particular way, inaction. And again, we assume memory flows out of experience, and again I find we are wrong. It is my experience that this universe is the most immoral of universes that any bard has ever dreamt.

My motivation for writing this work, which may as well be a work of utter fiction, the puerile musings of a feeble mind, stem from such a series of improbable events, that the multiverse in all its majesty shall not again witness its parallel. It began many years ago, on a backwater world on the Prime. I was but a lonely student.

Impoverished by my addiction for knowledge, and broken by harsh realities of fractured dreams, I struggled to nurse my last glass of sanity. Time passed and I sipped my way down to the dregs of life. And then I read the tea leaves, and saw that this was not the world for me. Blowing a kiss to my worries I hopped upon the wind, and sailed to a city high above a spire.

From the people choked parkways, to her windy alleys, this smog cloaked burg reek of possibilities. Here dreams caught fire, and the old gods of money and responsibility could not rear their ugly heads. In the freedom of the "Ringed City," as I began to call it, I fell into shackles so tight not even now can I break their bonds. For it was here that fickle Fate, bound and fettered my destiny to this tome.

"Gravis get in here! You keep on feeding me this line that you have been writing for this and that publisher. Where is the proof? Where are your articles? Where is my money?"

I try to stammer a few words about how if I did ever get published I'd loose myself, but all that I can do is spit out sour lies.

"Gravis...what in the world is wrong with you? You have a talent, use it. I believe that you can do it."

How little he knows about me.
How little does he know of what I can do.
How little I believe in me.

That was not the only meeting I had with my vocal benefactor, who had happened upon me asleep in a gutter, damp, depressed, and bedraggled. In one of his misdirected acts of kindness he saved me, and for that he paid the price.

After a while, I fell in with a most unusual publisher. A deranged man of the Xaositect faction, who published works of so many variations that he could never had made any money. One night, while I lay on under a blanket of smog, he came to me and asked me to write a volume containing the sum of all knowledge. He had a writ, from a Guvner of high standing, which stated that all of my work would be compensated at triple normal rates and all my expenses attended. Greedily, I accepted this challenge, and my thirst for knowledge grew anew. Now you know a parched tongue once wetted may bloat up and chokes its owner. Such is this insidious thirst for knowledge.

Chapter Two: Unholy Ground

Sanspathos: The Lingering City

I arrived at my first location at what I took to be twilight. An unsettling feeling of dread flowed out into the misty streets from the fuming sewer gates that line the cobble stone streets. The lanes curved around in perverse spiral configuration, often intersecting in dimly lit incestuous overpasses. No two paths ever crossed on an equal footing. One always had to climb up or down moss encrusted stairs. This would not have been so bad had the grow been dry, but high atop a sea spire, Sanspathos hung precariously to a cliff face among low lying clouds.

Above the streets, hundreds of four and five story buildings of sculpted stone stood gloomily. Their windows watched every sod who passed by, and their floors whispered their secrets to the walls. Oil lamps stained the Lingering City, in dull yellow light, creating shadow for dark thoughts to hide. Above, the streets few determined souls travel. Few dare travel unless their lives are in danger,or they are threatening another.

Above the streets every building is an island, and every squatter a hermit. The people are weary of those from outside their four walled worlds, and often wage miniature wars against those on other floors. I believe this intense introversion of such a people due to the nature of the streets. It is often death to walk the twisted streets, for along the roads cold hands reach up through the sewer gates. These are the hands of those who thirst for emotion, and hunger for flesh. These are the hands of the under city.

Below the streets lays another world. Here pasty faced shells of humanity wandered dark hallways. Head shaven and wearing rags, a thoughtless tide of humanity bumped and stumbled its way through the muck filled streets of the under city. These are the poor sods from whom the Mylochs have over fed. They are but shells, neither alive nor undead, they exist only out of hunger.

The Mylochs of Sanspathos are a peculiar breed. Light blue skin stretched over a collection of humanoid bones is how I would describe them. Their oblong featureless faces sport only hawkish bone work. Deep hollow eye sockets are accented by large bone ridges along the eyebrows and cheeks. Further down, their bodies are always shrouded with strips of rags made of coarse hair. Each slender arms end in a collection of five thin tentacles, which they use to inflict unbearable pain. Myloch physiology is such that they feed of the pain and suffering of others. Often they will only feed off of those who suffer willingly, for that is the greatest of delicacies, know commonly as the pain-feast. A small minority prefer forcibly causing pain to others with instruments of torture, and only latter feeding on their pain. To the majority this sort of barbary is one of the worst perversions possible, however many who preach against it are rumoured to lead the lesser cult.

After some investigation I managed to learn of the true origins of Sanspathos. According to an ancient text I found within the confines of an abandoned library, Sanspathos originated within the Grey Wastes. It was founded by a group who had just escaped Carceri and sought to rid themselves of their self-imprisoning ambition. The Grey Wastes slowly worked its evil magics upon the inhabitants of Sanspathos, and they lost their hopes and dreams. Eventually Sanspathos became the home of a minor divinity, a female goddess of natural death and decay. Under her rule Sanspathos lingered through many a natural disaster.

After millennia, the Blood War came to Sanspathos and the fiends of the Abyss brought a new weapon to bear. With a single strike the Bells of Discordia fractured Sanspathos's divinity and spilt the Maiden into three. The Fiends then managed to slip Sanspathos out of the Grey Wastes with little resistance. In the centuries that followed the first mylochs were born from the blood of the founders. The Mylochs filled the undercity with their human cattle, and the fiends left the Lingering City to linger forgotten with its treasure in the depths of the Abyss.

Chapter Three: Abblerston

In the course of my travels, I have stumbled a number of towns that defy the current logic of our age. It is taken that all places exist in only one place at a single time. With this notion of space, we define planes in terms of their geography. However, our immoral universe would have it, this is not the case. Abblerston is the first of these abbreviation of nature that I encountered in my travels.

As fate would have it a Traveller can never find Abblerston during the day. After wandering around in the Boggywood for nearly a fortnight, after giving up all hope, I managed to stumble on to this most humble of hamlets. Built under the shade of the mangrove swamp, Abblerston was merely collection of fourteen sod houses. With round windows poking out between the great roots of infernal mangroves, the homeliness of the place easily disarms a weary traveller. Warm hearths and kind folk provide a bit of respite from the cold marshes that strangle the hamlet. With the taps a-flowing, and the stories a-brewing, one can easily forget that they are still in the Abyss.

As it turns out, Abblerston's evil is much more subtle than one would ever dare contemplate. The peaceful serenity of this little bit of halfling paradise, has a heart as dark and cold as midnight. The visitor's undoing is in the hospitality and the comforts of home. Slowly, as the night drags on into morning, the visitor becomes more and more energetic. This elixir, however, is short lived. For as the bloody sun rises upon the horizon, the illusions of night fall away as bitter reality steps in. Decay and blight taint the bitter mockery of Abblerston's daily life. Once cheerful peasants slaughter late sleeping visitors for tonight's feast. Survivors use mud, blood, and bones to mortar and maintain the town. The sod walls reveal their grizzly contents, as undead rats gnaw feverishly on dry bone. Upon twilight and remaining victims are sacrificed and served up to the next bundle of guests.

Since my fate was already linked to that of this work, I managed through a fluke of nature to escape. Abblerston is what I call a border town, a place that lies on two planes simultaneously. The only way to travel from one to the other is by embracing the nature of the other. By giving up all hope I slipped out of the Abyssal day into the Grey Night, the same way I had entered.

Upon further study, I have learned that Abblerston was once a community run by an infamous Cobbler's Guild, which served merely as a front for a group of necrophiliacs. Their warped obsession with the trappings of the dead eventually drove them from all other holdings. Eventually they founded a town, producing shoes by day and preforming rites best left undescribed by night. Over time their feasting and work became religion, and their religion a god. The realm was trapped between the random violence of the Abyss, and the cold uncaring Grey Wastes. Today only the god remains fractured in the form of the inhabitants of Abblerston, continually worshipping itself in a gory tragedy of self-devotion.

Chapter Four: Dialogues with a Hag

In my travels, I have met more people than I care to contemplate, and made more enemies than I could ever hope to vanquish. Yet, there is one person I would like to mention. A hag of great knowledge and little good. Her insight into the nature of evil is a work to behold. I swear she could have even the most pristine of Devas trading in his holy sword for a fiery scourge. I asked her a number of questions, and rarely received straight answers. Here I have recorded a number of her most obtuse replies.

(Regarding the nature of evil)

"Evil? Evil is forcing people to act against their nature. Evil is to be filled with ambition. To be evil is to strive to make the world a better place. To be evil is to live worrying about what is right. To be evil is to hold anything with higher regards than it deserves."

(Regarding the nature of good)

"Good? Good is to allow people to act naturally. Good is to lack the stain of ambition. Good is to leave things alone. Goodness is a quality where one appreciates things for what they are, not what you want them to be."

(Regarding which are you)

"To that question you will not find a sufficient answer, for the fault lies not in the truth, but in the asking."

(Regarding truth)

"Truth is an excuse for being uncreative, a poor man's ticket to an easier life. Now if you'll excuse me my larva need herding...."

Still, after all these years I wonder what am I, what am I.

Chapter Five: Remains of the Day

If one can do good by avoiding evil, then the Blood War must be the holiest of all wars. Its immensity and cruelty dwarf even the majesty of the gods. Its sanguine humour, and gory repartee is an act so moving even a Bleaker can be brought to tears.

In my travels, I have often found myself trapped in its wake. Tides of lemure and dretch wash up and down the battlefield, threatening to drown the unfortunate in bloodshed. Amnizu captains pilot their fiery magics, and bring their earth scorching artillery to bare. Seas of lesser Tanar'ri engulf islands of Baatezu strength. Eventually the islands wear away, and fall beneath the sea.

In the company of a particular hag, I plucked and plundered my way through the remains of another day in the life of the Blood War. Seas of molten rock and forests of skeletal charcoal trees were all that remained. Smoking rocks and acid coated sides of dry river beds. Black smoke hung low in the air, hiding all traces of the blood red sun.

The occasional skeleton would reach up through a pile of ashes. While mountains of seared flesh marked the last stands of the Baatezu legions. And among these newly made hills and plains of desolation and despair, scavengers of all types and races stripped the dead of their last shreds of dignity.

I manage to talk to a couple of these strong stomached beings, while fighting off many a wave of nausea.

I hope one day to record more of the tome into this mimir.

 Magnum Opus

Copyright 1997 text by David Goehrig (aka Randir)

 Consult the Mimir Again