Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Caution: Side Effects May Include Daemon Summoning

False Gods: The House Of False Gods (V)


A horror of Tzeentch (copyright

Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.

Before we became iconoclasts and free-thinkers, constantly on the run from local Imperial forces, our former lives involved a degree of poring over disintegrating antiquities that Kyril Sindermann might have appreciated.  Our intent may have been somewhat less academic and more... rapacious than his; our instructions were to scavenge for useful technological information or stellar co-ordinates for forgotten secrets. But the basic principles were the same.

So you will forgive us if we take a moment to pour scorn on the idea that a language can be translated, within an hour, using just two pieces of text - both from the same source, no less. The idea is ridiculous.  You can no more perform so amazing a task than draw a man in fifteen minutes from two pictures of his feet.


Deep in ancient texts, penned long before the Emperor first rose to power in the Wars of Unification, one can find references to the idea that "information wants to be free". This has long ago been replaced by the idea that knowledge is dangerous and heretical and will get you killed one way or another, of course, but the older form is certainly not without its charm. Really though what it means is that people desire to obtain and to propagate knowledge. Information incubates, spreads and even mutates like a virus as it passes from one side of the galaxy to another.

And just as knowledge radiates outwards, so does its carrier, language. Language, if anything, resembles a disease far more than information (we should say "other information", for what else is language in the end?) because it cannot help but change as it moves. All other forms of information homogenise mankind as it spreads; first we do not know something, then we do, until all of humanity knows of the Imperium and the Emperor. Even those areas which are infected with corrupted data can ultimately have it washed clean by the enlightened.

Language changes every time you turn your back.  Spend time with the Administratum envoys or Ecclesiarch functionaries attached to an explorator fleet, and they will tell you that nine times out of ten, the greatest barrier to returning a newly rediscovered human colony to the fold is the degree of corruption in their spoken tongue. Like identical virus samples left for weeks in separate Pentri dishes, the speed with which two groups speaking the same language can diverge to become indecipherable to each other is astonishing.

It is against that backdrop of endless reinvention and disintegration that we propose the storied exploits of Sindermann cannot be credited.  But perhaps our experience has led us astray.  The aim of language - if such a thing can be said to exist - is to allow interaction between those closest to us. For a species as suspicious of outsiders as mankind, there is an obvious advantage to systems that left alone become usable only by those we recognise.

But for the beings of the Warp, the aim is different. For them any difficulty in understanding their words and texts is a problem, because a man who cannot translate a grimoire is one that cannot summon forth a daemon to wreak havoc in the realm of the real.  It is not difficult to imagine that the language of Chaos is deliberately coded so as to be as accessible as possible, indeed it is far harder to imagine that it is not, especially when we consider the book of Lorgar can control your ability to read in at least some sense, as Sindermann himself discovered.

This revelation is problematic, however, because it plays into the hands of the Imperial officials we have dedicated these broadcasts to resisting.  It is too close for comfort to their insistence that knowledge and curiosity really is inherently dangerous.  Under normal circumstances this blinkered, self-serving viewpoint can easily be dismantled.  Knowledge is not dangerous in and of itself. Some knowledge is dangerous to some people, but only those arrogant enough to mistake their desires and perspectives for those of humanity in general believe the danger is universal.

Except here of course these oppressive murderers of thought seem to have an entirely unassailable point. The more radical of Inquisitors might respond with the counter that Chaos is a phenomenon like any other, usable as a tool to those smart and cautious enough to harness it, but this strikes us as no less arrogant a position. The proper analogy here is not to a tool, but to a trap. Walking is not inherently dangerous because someone could dig a pit along your path. Fruit is not inherently dangerous because someone may have chosen to poison it.  To think otherwise is to fall into paralysing paranoia. We are not so foolish as to think reading the Book of Lorgar is directly comparable to a stroll or a snack. The necessary level of caution is obviously orders of magnitude greater. And of course any individual who decides the level of risk for them is entirely reasonable to think that way, and many of those who don't are probably letting their arrogance cloud their judgement.

Despite all that, though, we simply have to accept who we are, and what we do.  Quite aside from contradicting basic human nature, this kind of total suppression carries costs above and beyond the executions of those killed for learning the truth. Smothering knowledge simply guarantees that when it finally does surface - and it will - those who uncover it will have no context for what they learn.  You might as well refuse to teach your child about laspistols because you think a gun is less dangerous if its found by someone who isn't aware that it can be used to kill.

Our wonderfully human need to search for understanding needs to be informed, not suppressed. That information, like all information, forever yearns to be free.


What Is

The arrival of this blue horror is obviously intended as a shot of pure, well, horror. Was it nice and scary?  And is this new daemon more or less preferable to the one-eyed pustule-thingies on the Plague Moon?

Blue daemons beat yellow daemons.

Well, greeny-yellow.

The rule still applies.

What rule?

The rule of Fliss colour orderings.

I see. Anything else?

I was quite standard fantasy fare, really.  Except for the book bit, which I don't get.  If you can force people to read out a summoning spell, how come there's not more of these things running around?

I guess the Book of Lorgar had a pretty small print run. Especially if he had to write so much of it on other people's heads.

What exactly is Euphrati doing that's so aggravating to her uninvited guest?

Well, there's lots of stories in which daemons are defeated by faith, but if that worked for things from the Warp the Emperor would have had to have been mad to go around the galaxy destroying everyone's faith.  It must be something in the locket. The metal? Some symbol inside it?  But of course Euphrati and Sindermann are just going to assume it's because of the Emperor and start shouting it from the rooftops.

But they're in space.

There are no rooftops in space?

There are, I guess, but you'll die almost instantly trying to shout anything off them. Plus the sound wouldn't carry. In space, no-one can hear you choking to death having failed to shout from the rooftops.

You are very pedantic and I no longer like you.

Now that all masks have been cast aside, we get to see Magnus and Erebus converse, if not honestly, then at least directly.  Who got the better of that arguments, do you think?

That's a terrible question.


Because it leaves out the option which I want to pick, which is that they both sound like pathetic children and no-one should listen to either of them.

Fine. But conditional on that, which pathetic child would you choose?

Well Magnus Magnusson, obviously; but then we're supposed to sympathise with him, so it's a bit of a loaded question. As well as being terrible.

What makes you say we're supposed to side with Magnus?

Because Erebus is a dick.

Fair point.

And also clearly wrong.  He keeps saying the Warp creatures are benevolent, but that's clearly not true.

Because one of them just tried to set fire to a library? With the librarian still in it?

Even before then it was fairly obvious. The other part of Erebus' story that makes no sense is the idea the Emperor has been in league with the Warp ever since the Primarchs were created, but he's only thought to ban the others from using it fairly recently.  It's just not adding up.

You're bilingual.  How plausible is going from grammar construction to total translation within an hour?

I guess I can buy it, depending on whether Sindermann has implants and enhancements of some kind. I mean, I can imagine a computer could do it.  Though even then, you'd have to know some basic ideas about how the language was structured, and I don't think there would be enough there, unless the language basically used our rules and a similar sized alphabet.

What Will Be

So what exactly has Horus decided?

I don't know, but I just can't imagine this was enough to turn him against the Emperor.  He knows Erebus is a liar, he knows what he was shown is just one possible future.  Is he really going to go against his father just for that?

I wonder if he might be inclined to simply because if the Emperor has screwed up, it kind of absolves Horus of his own mistakes.

Even if that were true, it's a reason for Horus to try and seek justice, not to join up with a bunch of creatures that keep possessing people.  It sounds far too much like Erebus wants Horus possessed as well, and that's just so obviously a bad idea I can't believe Horus wouldn't realise it.

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