April 2020

Scrap 1: Monograph on the four catechisms

The first catechism of Eulalia is DIVERSITY LEADS TO STRENGTH. Its sigil is a square made of four interlocked components, reminiscent of hands each grasping the wrist of the next, forming a box.

Scrap 1 has an annotation, handwritten: This logos is one of the most complex in the Logocracy of Eulalia. This and the other three logos are said to be without beginning, just as the Logocracy is without beginning. The scholarship of history needs to cut through this jingoism – even mountains have beginnings; so too our Logocracy. Any logos starts by erasing the parchment or substrate beneath it. What was erased to create Eulalia? To give way to the Logocracy?

Scrap 2: Transcript of the thesis defence of Thera

Thera: The Conceit in the Republic of Eulalia is not illusion, although most people think it is. The magic of Eulalia is delusion; instead of seeing things that aren’t there, people believe things are there that are not. Consider the walls of the University. We do not need to paint them as other nations do; a trained logomancer needs only to scribe the logos for red upon them, and if enough people believe that the walls are red, everyone will.

Third chair: Apprentice Thera, you seek to ascend to Journeyer and you present the pap that we feed to children in school.

Thera: I present the converse, that the principle can be reversed. There is an antithesis to logomancy, and its roots are within what I just explained. What if the opposite could be achieved: that things could be uncreated, not by the delusion of the many but by the will of the few?

Seventh chair: A decade’s worth of study, and you bring to us debunked theses, Journeyer. Your thesis defence need not proceed.

Thera: I am due my hour, honoured chair. The charter guarantees it, and I claim this right. We are unique amongst the kingdoms, alone in our system of rule, lasting as long as the other kingdoms but without strife and struggle. The same charter that keeps the peace and establishes the ten Chairs gives me an hour.

Seventh chair: Look how she demands. We should never have taken a mongrel ‘mancer like you into the University. The Book of Lies is a myth; something for separatists and agitators and ingrates who do not value the gifts of Eulalia.

Thera: I did not mention the Book of Lies, honoured seventh.

Seventh chair: I’ll not have you being smart-mouthed with a Chair, you backwoods child.

Tenth chair: Thera is my student, seventh. We are here to question her theories, not her lineage.

Seventh chair: No need to remind, Tenth; we would have known her as yours from her debasement of orthodoxy. Always abusing your discretion to bring us those furthest from the ways of the Logomancy. And encouraging them towards spurious inquiry.

Scrap 2 ends here. The full transcript has been forcefully torn out of University thesis records. Only this page survives. The scribe has no recollection of the exchange.

Scrap 3: 4th year Academic Report of Journeyer Thera

Journeyer Thera is but a middling student – a level belying her intellect. Her work, when she does apply herself, is brilliant. In her third year, she rather elegantly conjoined two obscure logos to solve a term problem at least a fifth more efficiently than the model answer. Had she handed in her solution on time, she would be in line for an academic prize and her choice of supervisors at the Academy.

In outlook, she is prone to distraction. She uses twice as much paper and ink as the next student, and most of it wasted on half scribbled proofs. Thera imbibes far too freely of the student presses, addled by dangerous thought when she isn’t dashing her head out against ancient unsolved logos. A dreamer and not a completionist, and unlikely to go far in Logomancy.

I beseech you, honoured Proctor, not to accede to the Academy’s assigned supervisor. She has done nothing to warrant being assigned a master of any note, let alone the Tenth Chair. Tell them that she is ill, that a tragedy has befallen her family. Were she to demonstrate her incompetence to the Tenth Chair, our department would be a laughing stock for years.

Scrap 4: Banned playbill circulated across the Academy campus

LIES LIES LIES LIES

THE LOGOCRACY IS NOT BUILT ON THE CATECHISMS. IT IS BUILT ON LIES. WHAT OF THE SHORTAGE, WHAT OF THE RIOTS, WHAT OF THE MASSACRES?

WHAT OF THE MISSING?

THE BOOK OF LIES IS REAL. THE BOOK OF LIES TAKES AWAY OUR HISTORY, OUR FRIENDS. THE FOUNDATIONS ARE FALSE. THE CHAIRS ARE COMPLICIT. EVEN THE TENTH.

LIES LIES LIES

A scrawled message on the reverse:

“Esteemed Tenth, the penmanship on the playbill is rather brutish; mayhap it has roots far from our fair capital? You grow nostalgic as your time wanes, sweet Tenth. Your protégé reminds me much of you in your youth. We value original thought, but within reasonable bounds: a lesson you have yet to teach young Thera. A warning from one chair to another, school young Thera quickly, lest the First chair withdraw your prerogative to choose your successor.”

Scrap 5: The Rules of Succession of Eulalia, An Intercepted Dispatch from the H.E. Elevier, Emissary of the Empire Sound

The High Chair is rotated amongst the ten Chairs of the Logocracy, in the order of their numbers, each ruling a year in turn. Nine of the ten chairs have not changed since we started keeping records in Sound. They are immortal, but not like the Undying Queen of Dark Under The Mountain, who rules from her crystal sarcophagus. Some craft protects nine chairs, the easiest guess being logomancy, although the logos for immortality must then be a closely guarded secret. It would be of great import to the Emperor were we able to procure it.

Only the tenth chair changes. The means of succession are opaque. Once, at a formal dinner a month ago I asked the Fourth chair, a woman of startling plainness and skinnier than a broom handle, what purpose this served. She replied that hubris accretes to immortality like rust to old iron, and only the Tenth chair keeps them all honest. Influence could be brought to bear, if only we knew how they chose the Tenth. I sought the Tenth at the dinner, but could not procure an opportunity to speak with him; his evening was taken up by a young lady, broad shouldered and dark, from warmer climes. If there were reason for a simple student to be at a dinner thrown by the Logocracy, it is lost on me.

Nevertheless, elements of unrest also exist in Eulalia, albeit under control. Insurgency could weaken Eulalia and be to our benefit, but Eulalia is frustratingly stable. More so than her neighbours with the same constraints of rain and crop, but absent the force of arms that would quell protest. Dissidents whisper of some branch of logomancy that we’ve not yet seen, something that erases instead of creates. Perhaps this is even more valuable than the secret of the nine chairs.

I have another minor complaint against our historians – the schooling provided to me about Eulilian history was far from accurate. For example, the reported riots amidst the famine two score years ago don’t seem to have happened at all. The same with the attempted annexure of West Eulalia by our Empire seventy-six years ago. Nobody in the country remembers these, even amongst those with no love for the Logocracy. The further from home I get, the more ridiculous these histories sound. I tried to find them in the précis given to all Empire diplomats, but they seem to have gone. It appears the air itself in Eulalia cannot stomach lies like this.

Scrap 5 ends here. Elevier was known to have subsequently divorced his Empire wife, and settled down in the Eulalian capital for the rest of his life. He never left the city and continued to draw a modest but adequate pension from the Empire. He never communicated with his embassy again.

Scrap 6: Requisition chit for additional workmen for renovation works on the Academy Library

Name:

Eksbrys, Sub-Chair of Library Management

To:

Department of Works, Fourth Chair

Date:

21st Day of Winterterm

Order:

4 workmen from the Department of Conservation, to restore a partially collapsed wall in the library.

Scrap 6: Written on the overleaf of the chit, in the different writing. “As a sub-chair, you should have known to pay attention to works around the Folded Library. You know that the Book is inscribed on the walls within. Were it not for the quick actions of the Journeyer studying in the Folded Library, the men would have left with their memories intact, to great mischief. Still, a more permanent solution is needed. The Book must take care of them. You will see to pensions and compensation to their families – Second Chair.”

Scrap 7: Excerpt from a graded assignment, submitted by Journeyer Athyl

Eulalian society is based on four simple rules; four catechisms each represented by a logos. The catechisms themselves are of breath-taking complexity; none but the most talented logomancers can even dream of scribing one, and their services are always in demand.

The craft of Logomancy turns towards the continued evolution of all our logos, the paring of superfluous lines, collapsing form until purer intent remains. Yet research on the four base logos of our society is forbidden by the ten chairs. Their forms remain archaic, with nested logos adding to needless intricacy.

That the ten chairs take such pains to develop the craft of Logomancy elsewhere, but forbid it on the catechisms is telling. That the law has been in place since the establishment of the positions of chairs suggests that the longevity of our means of government is linked to our catechisms. After all, our magic is based on delusion and what more powerful delusion is there than our belief in the catechisms?

So armed, I sought to dissect one of the logos representing the first catechism, and there it was – a subtle work, echoed in the other three catechisms: ancient sublogos speaking to life and regrowth, turned towards the continued rule of the chairs. In seeing the way out of one problem, I have found another. There is no reason why the magic could not go ten ways instead of nine.

While we remember the names of the tenth chairs through to the current, there has never been a death celebration for a single one. While not prone to the wilder theories circulating about the Academy campus, I cannot help but wonder at the potential for a double tragedy, that the tenth chair, with the opportunity to learn the secrets I’ve found here, has the opportunity to change the system and never does. Has the opportunity to grasp immortality but never does. Has the opportunity to die as the rest of us do, but is just another victim of the Book of Lies.

Scrap 7, Handwritten comments:

Dear Athyl, this is a promising start to your final year at the academy, but this paper should be rewritten in a less controversial manner, and perhaps one which less excoriates your thesis supervisor. You are right about more things than you know now, and headstrong, and hopeful. All the reasons why I chose you, all the reasons I was chosen.

The nine have hidden their power in the basic foundations of our country, but more terrifying is their power to erase, to make us forget. Even ascension is paid for by a tithe of memory, but we never forget hope. Even after they have unwritten what I was, I see in you what I hoped to be.

I invite you to join me in the library after hours. My name to the guards will see you in. Your craft has a ways to go before you can call yourself logomancer, but your mind can no longer be sharpened by the classroom. Your instruction will continue in the Folded Library, as mine once did.

Your Supervisor, Tenth Chair Thera.

Your thoughts?