Leg Post 118 delves into the past, during the Young Earth period when the planet was still shaping itself. It had been created by the cosmic deities, Runekeeper, The Three Fates and Aeon, as was centre to cosmic leylines. It originally had a crust of pure orichalcum, but over time the magical pressure caused it to melt and, through gravity, drift to the centre of the planet to form the core. Around the inner core would then be a liquid outer core of vril. In the Young Earth period, this vril would push to the surface through vril volcanoes. By the time life had properly evolved on the planet into complex creatures, the vril had settled and only magma from the mantle was pushed through volcanoes save for the rare exemptions. It is during this Young Earth period that Thoth arrived on the planet at the behest of Runekeeper to be the god of magic there, though Runekeeper complained that Thoth did not keep things organised enough but Thoth insisted that magic should be free. Thoth was dipping sheets of magic paper into streams of vril from a volcano so that he could use them to create a magic book, the Book of Thoth, that would allow any mortal to cast a single spell, even without knowing magic. Runekeeper couldn't understand this, he didn't like mortals, though Thoth suggested that he might like to create some for the Earth, with the help of Three Fates especially, which he considered. In the future, during the Ancient Period, the fourth son of Ozymandias, Setne, is accosted by his brothers who want Ozymandias to step down as king and allow them to take over. They want to know how to impress him and Setne believes they should find a magical artefact that would prove useful to the king and stabilise the throne. They all ran off and let Setne to attend to a stranger. The stranger is seeking a magical artefact and wants Setne's help, who is foremost on Egyptian history at this time, and reveals that he is the Grecian Hermes Trismegistus.
The Book of Spells
The Earth was a planet that stood as a bastion of glory for being the central fixture to a complex algorithm of cosmic leylines that functioned as a cosmic nexus of power. Since it’s construction, life had evolved to the point where there were plants on land and creatures in the oceans. Due to the high concentration of magic, some of those creatures bore magical signatures or traits, allowing them to feed on the aether or even vril of the world.
Runekeeper: “I detest that those animals are running wild.”
Runekeeper was known as the cosmic deity of magic and had been one of the original creators of the planet Earth. He had strove to create a nexus of magic and thus the world was rampant with the stuff. However, since its creation, other gods had made the Earth their home and even took up stations as deities over certain aspects; including magic.
Thoth: “I know you do.”
Thoth glanced at the tome chained to Runekeeper, defining the god’s need for control.
When the planet was first created, it had a thick outer coating of orichalcum around the whole planet. However, the intense magical pressure of the leylines caused the magical metal to melt and was drawn through the Earth by the strong gravity at the Earth’s centre. This would, eventually, result in a hard, solid core of orichalcum but a liquid outer core of vril that would push up, through the mantle, and burst into the skies of the young Earth. Only later would the vril outer core settle down and rarely blast vril onto the surface; instead the molten lava of the lower mantle would thrust above the crust.
But in the young days, the vril was a rich source of potential magical energy. The flowing stream of vril that was still oozing down the side of the ancient vril volcano was being splashed against a thin sheet of paper. Few would be able to touch raw vril, but Thoth, as a deity of magic, had no problems.
Runekeeper: “You should change them. Organise them.”
Thoth retracted the sheet from the vril flow and shook it. As he waited, the sheet glistened as it dried.
Thoth: “That is not how magic should be. Especially not here. Allow magic to run itself, naturally.”
One sheet done, he set it aside and added it to the rest. He then took up a new sheet and dipped it into the vril.
Runekeeper: “I asked you to manage the place, not sit around doing nothing. You seemed so promising, too.”
Thoth: “You have always tried to control and restrict magic through the cosmos. How many times have your efforts failed or backtracked later?”
Thoth: “Magic is a force of nature. Even your friends, the Three Fates, understand that. They don’t meddle every which way. Magic is meant to be wild and free.”
Runekeeper: “You are a god of magic, Thoth. By definition, you are the manager of magic.”
Thoth: “I do manage it. I do not contain it.”
He shook the new sheet and waited for it to dry.
Runekeeper: “Inefficient. This world must be primed and in perfect condition as an offering to the God-Monarchs. Anything less than perfect and we will lose to the other three. Did you know, they’re creating sapient creatures for their planet? The very idea.”
Thoth set aside his latest sheet and dipped a new one.
Thoth: “Why don’t you?”
Runekeeper: “Whatever for? This world is meant to be perfect! Not a playground!”
Thoth: “You have the Three Fates on your side, right? You should be able to create a very interesting species with that kind of help.”
Runekeeper slipped a hand across his bald head. The skin there wasn’t even skin, it was more like plastic.
Runekeeper: “Perhaps… we could engineer them to become builders and constructors and they could create further great works within our great work… intriguing thought.”
Thoth was getting through his sheets at a fair pace, yet they had been there for days. Thoth was prone to long periods of silence, never feeling compelled to conversation. Runekeeper, on the other hand, felt the constant need to comment on the things that bothered him.
Runekeeper: “I did notice other deities taking up residence on Earth, without permission! Damn squatters. We can’t have them here during the handover ceremony. What would the God-Monarchs think if we gave them a world with hundreds of vagrant gods slumming it there?”
Thoth: “It might show them how pleasant a world you have created.”
Runekeeper: “Doubtful. Imeryn Hypericum, especially, would consider it a failing on our part. I just know that Phractal will have made absolute order and routine on his world, even with those creatures they’re creating.”
Thoth: “They have Memnoch too.”
He didn’t need to say more than that, Memnoch was a big fan of chaos.
Runekeeper: “What about the creatures that worship you? How does it work?”
Thoth: “Depends on the civilisation. There are several civilisations on one world that treat me differently and think of me in a different way.”
Runekeeper: “So they do not know you?”
Thoth: “We are gods, Runekeeper. We are multi-faceted. I am whatever I am whenever and wherever I am.”
Runekeeper: “This is why I do not do this worshipping nonsense.”
Thoth: “I think of it as my being a teacher, and they are my pupils.”
Runekeeper: “I think of it as pandering to grotesque creatures with limited brains and big egos. The NeSiverse would be a much better place, more ordered, without these lesser beings in it.”
Thoth: “You’d have a universe with nothing in it but magic.”
Runekeeper: “Such places exist.”
Thoth: “And yet, you are here with me.”
Thoth knew the deity wouldn’t admit it, but he did find the complex challenge of the NeSiverse to be an interesting diversion. Cosmic deities had to occupy themselves somehow.
Thoth: “Nearly done.”
Runekeeper looked down at Thoth.
Runekeeper: “Nearly done what? What are you doing?”
Thoth: “We have been here for days, and you only think to ask me that now.”
Runekeeper: “I wasn’t interested until now.”
Thoth: “I am creating a book. A book of magic.”
Runekeeper: “I see. What for?”
Thoth: “It will be a book of spells.”
Runekeeper: “What kind of spells?”
Thoth: “Any spell.”
Runekeeper: “You mean every spell? That book already exists and I won’t allow another.”
Thoth: “Not exactly, no. This is not a reference book. It will not teach the reader all known spells in the NeSiverse, for all time. I can’t see much use in that.”
Runekeeper rubbed his head.
Runekeeper: “What do you mean by that!?”
Thoth: “I am not just a god of magic, I am a god of learning and knowledge. If you had a book that contained every spell ever, then where is the learning? Where is the experimentation? You wouldn’t have to learn anything ever again. Just open the book and… you have your answer.”
Runekeeper: “I am not a god of knowledge or learning. I am a god of magic. Just magic. That is all I care about.”
Thoth: “I know…”
A moment of silence passed.
Runekeeper: “Well!? You didn’t explain your book!”
Thoth patted the primordial vril-coated sheets.
Thoth: “When used, this book will allow the reader to use any spell they desire. Whether they know the spell or not, they can use the book and the magic of their choice can be cast.”
Runekeeper: “And that is so different from my book, is it? There is no learning in that! No knowledge! It’s the same as my own Runetome.”
Thoth: “It is not for me, or for you. It is for mortals.”
Runekeeper looked like he had been slapped with a toilet brush.
Runekeeper: “You cannot mean that? You’ll give such powerful magic to mortals? With their tiny brains and selfish ambitions?”
Thoth: “Therein is the lesson, oh Runekeeper. Therein is the lesson.”
He finished with the last sheet.
Thoth: “It will now take a few billion years for the aether to be absorbed into these pages. I plan to leave them on the planet Uranus. Perhaps the book will be ready in time for your own species to be created?”
Runekeeper: “If we create one.”
Thoth nodded and collected up his sheets. As he walked down the volcano, Runekeeper followed after him.
Runekeeper: “And that’s another thing. Did you know that some empire or other has taken control of that planet? Intruders! Who do they think they are?”
Thoth: “Perhaps you should ask them?”
Runekeeper: “Absolutely not! They’re… foreign.”
Thoth did stop at that and look at the other deity.
Thoth: “You mean… they’re not from the NeSiverse? You’re not going to talk to them because of that?”
Runekeeper: “They’re… peculiar. With peculiar, foreign ways!”
Thoth: “Sometimes, I think existence has no odd surprises left for me to discover. Then something truly bizarre happens and I realise I am put a drop in the ocean of reality.”
Runekeeper: “Your platitudes are endless. I bet you have a book of those too?”
Thoth: “Indeed I do. But for now, it is this book I am invested in…”
A few billion years later.
The year 1249BC, Ozymandias is king of Egypt and his great works are celebrated all over the kingdom. Statues of gods and ancestors adorn grandiose temples and buildings. His work on a whole new city, humbly named Pi-Ramesses, was nearing completion and many had already migrated there, including most of the government.
Most of the king’s children, too, had travelled to Pi-Ramesses.
Son #1: “I wish the old geezer would pop his clogs already!”
Son # 7: “Brother! Don’t say such things!”
Son #1: “You have got to be kidding me, Son #7? Do you know how old I am?”
The brothers looked at their eldest sibling.
Son #7: “You look the same age as dad.”
Son #1: “Exactly! He’s just fifteen years older than me! I swear, I’m going to die before I ever get to be pharaoh.”
Son #2: “Life isn’t about being pharaoh, brother.”
Son #1: “You think you’ll get to be pharaoh if I’m dead, eh? Think again. You’re just a few months younger than me. You’ll be dead before him too!”
Son #2: “Bollocks! You’re right!! Should we off him?”
Son #12: “You can’t say that!”
Son #10: “Maybe we can convince him to step down?”
Son #12: “Why do you even care, Son #10? It’s not like we’ll ever get to be kings!”
Son #20: “You think you’re far down the list?”
Son #1: “You’re not even old enough to be king anyway. Go away, you little brat.”
Son #20 went off to play with his younger brothers and sisters.
Son #2: “I have my own children older than half my siblings. That’s weird, isn’t it?”
Son #5: “So what can we do to convince him to step down?”
Son #3: “You know him best! What can we do about father? How can we impress him and convince him to step down?”
Son #12: “I bet he wants us to build stuff. That’s what he likes to do, right? Build stuff.”
Son #10: “And Son #4 likes to build stuff too. So, how about it?”
Setne: “You can call me Setne, you know? Just because father cannot remember our names, doesn’t mean we can’t!”
They stare blankly.
Setne: “Okay, secondly I don’t build stuff.”
They stare blankly.
They stare blankly.
Setne: “I study Egyptian history, make discoveries and restore forgotten monuments and such. I have made many discoveries in—”
Son #8: “Dude! Tell us what to do already!”
Setne: “No idea.”
They all groaned.
Setne: “Building something won’t impress him, unless you help him build things he wants to build. That will convince him, he should stay king. Instead, you could try to find something extra special? Something that would solve his problems and secure the throne.”
They stare blankly.
Setne: “Oh, come on guys. We could try to find a mythical artefact and show our worth to our father.”
Son #9: “And whoever presents the best artefact would become the next ruler, right?”
The men all stare at each other.
Then ran off, leaving Setne stood alone with his books.
Setne: “Ridiculous, the lot of them.”
There then appeared a figure in the doorway to Setne’s workshop. The workshop itself was crammed with old statues, both big and small, and pottery and clothing and even sarcophagi. Shelves of books were also a regular feature and many personal icons that identified Thoth as Setne’s patron were hung throughout the rooms.
Setne: “Hullo, stranger. This isn’t a shop, if that’s what you were thinking?”
Stranger: “No, indeed. I recently arrived in Egypt. I’m from Greece. I’m in search of knowledge. Knowledge of the magical kind and I was told that you might be able to help me find it?”
Setne: “Oh, I see. You would be better visiting the library, you know? My knowledge of magic is rather limited.”
Stranger: “Ah, no. I’m not seeking a teacher of magic. I’m seeking the location of a magical artefact.”
Setne: “Oh? What artefact is this? And, sorry, what did you say your name is?”