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Ritual of Water

May 7, 2009

A slight departure already from the established pattern – I start off talking about engineering marvels, and before I’ve even drawn breath, I derail myself into fantasy fiction. Ah, well, you may just have to deal with it. I do this sort of thing all the time.

This story is one I wrote as an entry for a writing contest in an MMORPG a short while ago. Although for the most part it avoids mentioning anything TOO specific to the setting, in the hope that someone who hasn’t played the game would still be able to understand it, I should point out that the few names and places that are mentioned are copyrighted property of Iron Realms Entertainment.

* * * *

The Ritual of Water
The only sound was the crackling of logs in the fire, and the wind fluttering in the eaves of our private library. This was a calm moment, seeming worlds apart from the madness of the last few days, and the carnage we knew must surely be coming. The two of us had been tasked by the priests of Eleuni with the creation of a set of rituals of great importance – to restore power to its rightful custodians, and keep the fearful amount of knowledge and strength invested there from falling into the hands of our demonic foes. We had already written the ritual for the Zephyr, and performed it in the airy halls of Eleuni, to great success, and now we had been personally sought out to construct a similar ritual for the Undine. The going was slow, but in the calm air of our library, the time seemed to stretch out forever.
The pile of tomes and scrolls scattered around us was growing large with every passing hour, both hastily scrawled notes and ancient tomes, gathered from libraries across the land and the halls of Eleuni itself.
“A purification rite to begin with… to cleanse the priestess and prepare for the ritual itself.”
“Well, we’ll be conducting the ritual in the water quadrant, so the room will be flooded. A ritual bathing would seem appropriate, don’t you think?”
The scratching of quills joined the crackling of the fire, as we both bowed our heads to work.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The screeching and cackling of demons almost drowned out the churning waters, as our attackers rallied for a second assault. We had lost many good fighters already, and the ritual had barely begun, some to the swirling vortex, and others to blade and fire. The priestess stood at the centre of the foaming waters, serenely rinsing herself from the specially prepared chalice, but over her soft chanting I could hear the bellicose warcries of the demonic horde, growing ever closer. I tightened my grip on my shield, as those around me dug in, ready to defend the priestess with their lives.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The fire spat and crackled, a fresh log on the smouldering embers beginning to char and catch light. The armchairs creaked with the sound of old leather as we shifted position restlessly, the book piles around us growing ever higher.
“It was at about this point in the last ritual that we had the Zephyr lend his blessing. We could have the Undine deliver something similar here.”
“That would certainly fit… let’s see. As the body and soul of the waters…”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“… I bear witness to this ritual, and offer my blessings to you, Chosen of the Waters.”
A sickly tincture of blood stained the turbulent waters around us, as the clamour of battle almost drowned out the calm voice of the Undine. A twisted, malicious axe rebounded loudly off my shield, as its counterpart sank deep into my leg. With a howl of pain, I spat a word of the divine tongue, sending my assailant flying backwards in a spray of water.
“You who have braved the fury of the maelstrom, and entered this pool of tranquility…”
A hail of arrows made us dive for cover, as a pack of Diavlous warhounds bounded through the waters. Incensed by the smell of blood and baying with the thrill of the hunt, they fell upon us.
“… Stand forth…”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“… and make your plea for knowledge.” We both nodded in quiet satisfaction, bending once more to record the words in our scrolls.
The hour grew late, and the fire was once more settling to glowing embers. It was hard to stifle a yawn in the comfortable warmth, but we new we must press on. We paced back and forth, stretching our legs and attempting to reinvigorate ourselves.
“We’ve got the sanctification, the purification, the tracing of the circle, we’ve covered the presentation, the introduction of the Undine and the blessing. What else do we need?”
“The plea itself, I suppose. Bringing the ritual to a close. We could base it on the plea from the Zephyr ritual, as we know it’s a formula that works. And… that’s it. When that is done, we will know whether or not we were successful.”
Papers rustled as the records of the prior ritual were consulted. The previous ritual had gone so smoothly, it seemed natural to follow the format. We each breathed a sigh of relief, our long night of work finally completed. Gods willing, the ritual would pass with the peaceful composure of the Undine herself.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The waters around the slender body of the Undine frothed violently, as she poured herself forwards, forcing her waters down the open mouth of an encroaching demonic summoner. His vile curses died on his tongue, as he bubbled and fell to his knees, clutching at his throat. Without hesitation, I flung my axe across the surface of the water, striking the silenced attacker with lethal force. Around us, the battle was finally starting to turn. The ritual was nearly complete, and the attackers had been driven back. All was not over, though… our numbers had been depleted, our dead littering the tempestuous waters as freely as those of our foes. Behind us, the priestess made their final plea to the elements, and our hearts soared. But it was far from over, and ahead of us our opponents were rallying for one last strike.
One by one, down the line, shimmering shields surrounded each of us as we dug in and prepared for the attack. We were bloodied and battered, but there was no hope of retreat. If our line broke and the encroaching hordes breached the ritual circle, all was lost for the priestess of Eleuni.
With an unearthly screeching howl, the demonic horde charged towards us, throwing up a spray around them as they entered the waist-deep waters. As steel clashed on steel, the priestess behind us began to shout, raising her voice so that her plea might be heard. We fought tooth and nail, spurred on by desperation. The end was within sight, but we were failing fast. A crushing blow brought me to my knees, as the man beside me fell screaming to the water, reduced to a withered husk by the necromancer’s touch. I looked upwards as the executioner’s axe began its final arc – it seemed so slow, almost graceful…
“Your plea is heard, your request granted. Stand forth, Priestess of Water.”
The waters rocketed upwards with a deafening sound, forming an enormous, ferocious cyclone. The man before me was ripped away with a scream of frustration, but where the water touched my skin it was but a gentle caress, cleaning and closing my wounds with its cool touch. When the waters settled, crystal clear and flat as a millpond, we were alone. We who had survived, we were alone, scattered loosely about the priestess, who glowed serenely with her new power.
It was over. And praise be to the Gods, we had succeeded.

The Ritual of Water

The only sound was the crackling of logs in the fire, and the wind fluttering in the eaves of our private library. This was a calm moment, seeming worlds apart from the madness of the last few days, and the carnage we knew must surely be coming. The two of us had been tasked by the priests of Eleuni with the creation of a set of rituals of great importance – to restore power to its rightful custodians, and keep the fearful amount of knowledge and strength invested there from falling into the hands of our demonic foes. We had already written the ritual for the Zephyr, and performed it in the airy halls of Eleuni, to great success, and now we had been personally sought out to construct a similar ritual for the Undine. The going was slow, but in the calm air of our library, the time seemed to stretch out forever.

The pile of tomes and scrolls scattered around us was growing large with every passing hour, both hastily scrawled notes and ancient tomes, gathered from libraries across the land and the halls of Eleuni itself.

“A purification rite to begin with… to cleanse the priestess and prepare for the ritual itself.”

“Well, we’ll be conducting the ritual in the water quadrant, so the room will be flooded. A ritual bathing would seem appropriate, don’t you think?”

The scratching of quills joined the crackling of the fire, as we both bowed our heads to work.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The screeching and cackling of demons almost drowned out the churning waters, as our attackers rallied for a second assault. We had lost many good fighters already, and the ritual had barely begun, some to the swirling vortex, and others to blade and fire. The priestess stood at the centre of the foaming waters, serenely rinsing herself from the specially prepared chalice, but over her soft chanting I could hear the bellicose warcries of the demonic horde, growing ever closer. I tightened my grip on my shield, as those around me dug in, ready to defend the priestess with their lives.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The fire spat and crackled, a fresh log on the smouldering embers beginning to char and catch light. The armchairs creaked with the sound of old leather as we shifted position restlessly, the book piles around us growing ever higher.

“It was at about this point in the last ritual that we had the Zephyr lend his blessing. We could have the Undine deliver something similar here.”

“That would certainly fit… let’s see. As the body and soul of the waters…”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“… I bear witness to this ritual, and offer my blessings to you, Chosen of the Waters.”

A sickly tincture of blood stained the turbulent waters around us, as the clamour of battle almost drowned out the calm voice of the Undine. A twisted, malicious axe rebounded loudly off my shield, as its counterpart sank deep into my leg. With a howl of pain, I spat a word of the divine tongue, sending my assailant flying backwards in a spray of water.

“You who have braved the fury of the maelstrom, and entered this pool of tranquility…”

A hail of arrows made us dive for cover, as a pack of Diavlous warhounds bounded through the waters. Incensed by the smell of blood and baying with the thrill of the hunt, they fell upon us.

“… Stand forth…”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“… and make your plea for knowledge.” We both nodded in quiet satisfaction, bending once more to record the words in our scrolls.

The hour grew late, and the fire was once more settling to glowing embers. It was hard to stifle a yawn in the comfortable warmth, but we new we must press on. We paced back and forth, stretching our legs and attempting to reinvigorate ourselves.

“We’ve got the sanctification, the purification, the tracing of the circle, we’ve covered the presentation, the introduction of the Undine and the blessing. What else do we need?”

“The plea itself, I suppose. Bringing the ritual to a close. We could base it on the plea from the Zephyr ritual, as we know it’s a formula that works. And… that’s it. When that is done, we will know whether or not we were successful.”

Papers rustled as the records of the prior ritual were consulted. The previous ritual had gone so smoothly, it seemed natural to follow the format. We each breathed a sigh of relief, our long night of work finally completed. Gods willing, the ritual would pass with the peaceful composure of the Undine herself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The waters around the slender body of the Undine frothed violently, as she poured herself forwards, forcing her waters down the open mouth of an encroaching demonic summoner. His vile curses died on his tongue, as he bubbled and fell to his knees, clutching at his throat. Without hesitation, I flung my axe across the surface of the water, striking the silenced attacker with lethal force. Around us, the battle was finally starting to turn. The ritual was nearly complete, and the attackers had been driven back. All was not over, though… our numbers had been depleted, our dead littering the tempestuous waters as freely as those of our foes. Behind us, the priestess made their final plea to the elements, and our hearts soared. But it was far from over, and ahead of us our opponents were rallying for one last strike.

One by one, down the line, shimmering shields surrounded each of us as we dug in and prepared for the attack. We were bloodied and battered, but there was no hope of retreat. If our line broke and the encroaching hordes breached the ritual circle, all was lost for the priestess of Eleuni.

With an unearthly screeching howl, the demonic horde charged towards us, throwing up a spray around them as they entered the waist-deep waters. As steel clashed on steel, the priestess behind us began to shout, raising her voice so that her plea might be heard. We fought tooth and nail, spurred on by desperation. The end was within sight, but we were failing fast. A crushing blow brought me to my knees, as the man beside me fell screaming to the water, reduced to a withered husk by the necromancer’s touch. I looked upwards as the executioner’s axe began its final arc – it seemed so slow, almost graceful…

“Your plea is heard, your request granted. Stand forth, Priestess of Water.”

The waters rocketed upwards with a deafening sound, forming an enormous, ferocious cyclone. The man before me was ripped away with a scream of frustration, but where the water touched my skin it was but a gentle caress, cleaning and closing my wounds with its cool touch. When the waters settled, crystal clear and flat as a millpond, we were alone. We who had survived, we were alone, scattered loosely about the priestess, who glowed serenely with her new power.

It was over. And praise be to the Gods, we had succeeded.

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Engineering marvels

April 29, 2009

I have always had a bit of an affinity for science and technology. I’m not going to claim to be an engineer extraordinaire, by any standard, but it’s been a long term fascination, and I like to think I’ve picked up a few things here and there.

Technology and Engineering are perhaps my two greatest fascinations, as although the things discovered by pure science are often mind-boggling and can completely change the way we view the world, it is not the case that these truths have changed the world itself. Whether we knew it or not, that was how things already were, how they have been for time immemorial. If you want to see something change not just our perspective but the world itself, you have to look to technology.

Often, the things that change are ourselves.

Technology and engineering are about using the laws that we have found through to achieve… almost anything. The number of things once considered impossible which were eventually achieved by engineers is almost uncountable. Men have bridged great expanses, flown like birds and walked on other worlds, and the more advanced our science grows, the more the pace of technology quickens.

For me, the fascination lies with the creativity and ambition, and the ingenious techniques and approaches. There’ll probably be a good few posts harping on about technological innovation, so hopefully I’ll be able to show you what I mean.

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First things first

April 29, 2009

What on earth does ‘Pulsecode’ mean? Is it really just some dated piece of 1980’s cyberpunk pseudo-slang?

Well, no. It’s a far older technical term than that, although I’ll admit it did come into much more prominence in the 80s. Pulsecode Modulation or PCM is the method by which audio signals are recorded as digital signals, in as much detail as possible, without resorting to compression techniques, even where they would be truly lossless. If you’ve ever messed around with digitised audio, terms like .WAV or .AIFF might be familiar – both of these are examples of PCM.

Right, that dry technical bit out of the way, I’ll admit I do kind of like the 80s cyberpunk ring that it has… it’s obscure enough a term that I can usually get away with using it as a fairly unique handle, and cool enough sounding that I want to get away with it.

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Rewind!

April 29, 2009

All original pointless, rambling disjointed posts now deleted. Time for a fresh start! Hopefully this time, I can keep things going.

I should warn you that I don’t know what, if anything, the theme will be for this blog. Some posts will probably just be rambling thoughts, others will be excerpts of creative writing, links to fun things I’ve found… who knows. I suppose we’ll find out together.