User:RAFANO

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Character page: Rafano

This is a place to put all his theories and work regarding Trader magic. Have questions about any of this? . . . ask Rafano!

Lunar Experiment: The Arbiter's Stylus

Quick Summary

The Arbiter's Stylus, a spell granted to the Trader's Guild as part of the Contract struck with the Arbiter in Darkness, attacks an enemy with written words of starlight, carved into the target's very flesh. And yet the content of these abstract writings of arcana has never been deciphered. Similarly, the exact terms of the Contract are also unknown . . . by deciphering the former we hope to uncover more about the latter.

This event happened in May 2019.

Background & Supporting Lore

The original inspiration for this experiment was from the very messaging of the Stylus spell itself, some examples of which include:

  • Radiant words etch themselves across a fledgling gryphon's abdomen.
  • Inked in starlight, myriad lines of script cut glittering arcana onto a baby forest gryphon's back!
  • White lines of light reach out with geometric precision, marking a fledgling forest gryphon with frostbitten symbols on its head.
  • A fledgling forest gryphon is suddenly haloed by celestial geometries, lines sketched with rigorous precision, inked with the brilliance of concentrated starlight. Its body collapses in iced pieces.
  • Your calligraphy of light assailing a fledgling forest gryphon dulls into nothingness.

With this initial inspiration, further research was conducted. Given that the focus of this experiment is the Arbiter, it is interesting that the records of precedent events suggest that it has a certain affinity for symbols and writings. From the records of the Planar Observatory:

  • The two entities regard each other and then walk wordlessly toward the opposite end of the cavern. The second entity’s illumination reveals more serpentine symbols, carved into the floor with greater frequency toward their destination. The first entity either cannot see or does not care about the carvings, but the second one pauses. It kneels down to examine one of the carvings for a long moment before catching up with its companion.

The following short story was written and posted to the Forums as a potentially interesting "teaser" that skirts many of the themes that this event was building towards, but without suggesting any direct links:

Execution

The quick summary of the plan was to go to origami creatures, near Dirge, and have any Traders present cast Arbiter's Stylus at the creatures, scarring them with the starlight symbols, and then having those adventurers present attempt to decipher the symbols.

In the end, the symbols were not able to be deciphered, and no new information was gleaned. However, the Negotiants did present themselves to those assembled, and gave several interesting messages:

  • With a screech of shattering glass, the Negotiants suddenly unfold from empty air, extend fractal extremities that bristle with red hot crystal needles, and begin to survey the area.
  • The Negotiants extend a line of swirling crystal into a broad loop held before them, the space within contorting and shimmering into a bizarre kaleidoscopic polytope which slowly morphs and shifts.
  • The Negotiants rotate slowly in place, as if viewing the area through the lens of the polytope. Distorted images fracture behind the shifting geometries, ephemeral and angular.
  • As the Negotiants scan the area, you catch a glimpse through the polytope -- branching equations reduce physical phenomena to shifting abstraction and expanding polynomials. Functions asymptotically weave across infinity, and reality itself is laid bare. The scattered symbols of the Arbiter's Stylus blossom behind the polytope, radiant and sharp.
  • Through the polytope, degenerate bijectives swirl harmoniously between linear morphisms, algebraically reducing dust, light, gravity, time, to monoid variants. You have no framework to comprehend the otherworldly information creeping through the Negotiants lens, and find yourself gritting your teeth as your mind tries to make sense of it all!
  • As the polytope rotates around the Negotiants, you are able to see twisting lines of abstraction rendered into reality, cycling between symbol and substance. The faded symbols of the Arbiter's Stylus wink in and out of being, language drawn from the rules of reality.
  • Suddenly, your head fills with the psychic backlash of the Negotiants chatter, "... HAS BEEN NOTED AND ACCOUNTED FOR THE CONTRACT REMAINS AS INTENDED THIS STANCHION REMAINS..." before meandering into whispers.
  • The Negotiants begins to whirl chaotically, their crystalline form rapidly retracting into nothingness and suddenly, they vanish!

Lunar Experiment: The Stellar Collector

Quick Summary

The Stellar Collector, a spell granted to the Trader’s Guild as part of the Contract struck with the Arbiter in Darkness, is a mysterious thing. Between the versatile Iridius crystal it is made of, and the fact that it works with the tesserae, a known communication device, there are those who posit that the full potential of the apparatus has not yet been realized. Encouraged by recent Moon Mage visions that appear to refer more and more to Traders and their new brand of Lunar Magic, a group of Lunar Researchers plans to use the Collector to reach out to the stars for guidance.

This event is scheduled for March 2020.

Background & Supporting Lore

The original inspiration for this experiment comes from the very description of the Stellar Collector itself. When a Trader discerns this spell, they learn the following:

  • Of all the Fabrication substances invented, Iridius crystal is perhaps the most versatile. It takes well to many shapes and purposes, including the collection and storage of starlight energy. The Stellar Collector apparatus is a highly useful application of this crystal, but it requires some sort of psychic transducer to sieve essence from light.
  • The crystal’s namesake, Iridius the Guide, was a priest-turned-demonologist of some infamy during the glory days of Throne City. What makes him interesting to Traders is his ahead-of-his-time research into a fanciful yellow-green crystal to which he attributed numerous uses. There are no records of him successfully creating such a thing – he wasn’t even a Lunar magician. Still, his descriptions bore striking resemblance to what is possible today. Any further information on Iridius himself that might have survived is kept under lock and key by the overlords of Throne City’s carcass.

But the motivation lies not only here. In other words, it is not only that I believe we have a tool to accomplish this, but I also believe that we have a distinct purpose. I refer here to recent and numerous Moon Mage visions. Although notoriously difficult to interpret, it is my belief that several recent visions make reference to Traders and our newfound Lunar Magic, and encourage us toward further research.

For example, one vision can be described thusly:

  • You see a parent sitting with their child, speaking before a warmly glowing hearth fire, the rest of the room obscured in shadow. The child is looking up at the parent, who speaks softly, gently, their voice blending with the cracking flames and howling of the form against window shutters. “Your questions are profound, but only accidentally so. You inquire only to establish your boundaries. You will always be safe here,” the parent says, squeezing the child in a hug.
  • The storm continues, and the walls groan with the effort of remaining upright. The parent begins to hum a comforting tune, and the child seems oblivious to the maelstrom outside. As the storm intensifies, so too does the parent’s song, winding along octaves, strangely resonant and haunting. The heart glows brighter, and suddenly, the parent stops, looks up at you and says sharply, “You do not have permission.”
  • The door flies open, an icy wind howls around you, and the vision fades.

Worth noting is that I, and some others, believe the phrasing of this vision to indicate a certain degree of “approval” of a previous experiment around the Arbiter’s Stylus: “You inquire only to establish your boundaries. You will always be safe here.”

There have continued to be other Moon Mage visions as well that seem to reference Traders and Trader-related topics, which to me implies that the Stellar Collector Experiment we are planning to conduct is quite timely and relevant to current events (or events soon to come):

  • An endless stairway stretches before you, composed of cold radiant starlight that slightly shimmers. Stretching up to the sky and vanishing into a single point in the far distance, shifting cosmos and stellar phenomena can be seen between the gaps between the steps. You begin to climb, your eyes transfixed upon the pulsating nebulae and spinning galaxies spanning in front of you, punctuated by the diamond-hard starlight stairs. With each step you take, eons pass, as stars burn their last and erupt into sparkling nova, or ignite in the swirling gases of stellar clouds. Strange structures spin twin spears of radiance in opposite directions, and yawning voices bend light and tear space.
  • Suddenly, grasping shadows snap from between the steps, and wrap around your ankles, rooting you in place. You stagger, catching yourself as the shadows tighten and begin to pull you through the gap, and the vision fades.

This vision is much more recent. There are multiple specific references to starlight here – starlight composes the stairs, and Trader magic is based on starlight. I believe that the stairs rising up and up indicate that Traders will be allowed to ascend, whereas hands grab the viewer and tear them down because that viewer is a Moon Mage, a Child of Grazhir. And is therefore not permitted to ascend to enlightenment. As I will discuss in a moment, I believe that the staircase being made of starlight is a symbolic reference to the Stellar Collector – that it is a device capable of not only receiving, but also transmitting starlight energy, and is therefore a sort of pathway. Indeed, some of us may have heard the story of the Stellar Collector, which hints at the very same concept. Although that story has never been able to be confirmed as real:

There is one more vision, and here I have been saving the best for last. This vision in particular is what has stoked my imagination, and my spirit, and makes me believe that this experiment will be successful at least in obtaining a message from the stars.

The vision looks like this:

  • You see yourself fiddling with a large contraption, turning knobs, twisting dials, and pulling levers as you make fine adjustments to a series of nested crystalline rings and prongs, sweeping the alignment of complex machinery towards the skies. Placing one hand on a raised column, you hear the stars burning and planets soaring in their orbits. As you focus the apparatus on a distant reach of empty space, you begin to hear a whispering beneath the crackle and hiss of the cosmos, a voice that defies your efforts to locate and identify.
  • With a series of deft adjustments, the background noise falls away, and you hear…
  • “-SSIONYOUDONOTHAVEPERMISSIONYOUDONOTHAVEPERMISSIONYOUDONOTHAV-", shouted in a deeply resonant basso profundo.
  • With a start, you see yourself slap at the controls of the machine, and the voice cuts short. The vision fades.

As I have mentioned, this vision is the most interesting of them all, and serves as the primary motivation for the experiment I am proposing. First, the phrase “You do not have permission” that is repeated over and over has been used before – specifically in the vision of the woman and child that was referenced earlier in this proposal. Just as that prior vision was believed to relate to the relationship between Traders, Moon Mages, and Lunar Entities, so too is this new one.

Secondly, the viewer is believed to be told that they “do not have permission” because the viewer here, the one using the contraption, is a Moon Mage. And so I ask the question: what if a Trader was making the observation? Instead of a message of rejection and denial, would they be able to discern something more insightful from this supposed broadcast from the stars? I believe that the answer is yes.

Finally, I firmly believe that the language of the vision contains clear references to a Stellar Collector being the medium through which these broadcasts are received. The phrase “crystalline” is used, and the Collector is indeed made of crystal. But even more convincing is the use of the word “apparatus”, which is the exact noun used when a Trader produces a Collector from starlight. I also believe this evidence to align well with my previously discussed theory of the Stellar Collector as a bi-directional medium, which again was documented in the story “The Stellar Collector”

One final comment on that last vision: very specific language is given that the contraption does not start to operate until the viewer’s hand is placed on a raised column. Although it requires some liberal wordplay, one can consider that another word for raised column might be pillar, and another word for a pillar might be a Stanchion . . . here, I am making reference to the mention of a Stanchion at the Arbiter’s Stylus Experiment held some time ago (see above).

  • Suddenly, your head fills with the psychic backlash of the Negotiants chatter, “…HAS BEEN NOTED AND ACCOUNTED FOR THE CONTRACT REMAINS AS INTENDED THIS STANCHION REMAINS…” before meandering into whispers

That message has always remained a mystery to me. Instead of answering questions, my Stylus Experiment produced more of them. What is the Stanchion? A concept? An idea? Or is it a person? Is it a Trader, one who is dedicated to upholding the Contract, in the same way that a Stanchion provides support to something? Hopefully, soon, at the conclusion of this Stellar Collector Experiment, we will have more answers, for as I said I believe that the Stellar Collector will help us discern a message from the stars meant only for us.

And I’ll close with one final note. Many of us know the story of Dehvra. I genuinely believe my work, and this Experiment in particular, to be within the limitations of the Contract, given that I am not touching the Plane of Probability in any way. Though this plan may seem similar to her work, I do not follow in her footsteps. As a Trader I hold contracts in the highest order, almost sacred. And she knowingly broke hers, threatening the rest of us in the process. She is, as far as I’m concerned, a Breacher of Contracts, and got what she deserved. I will not be making the same mistake.

Execution

The Experiment was conducted as planned (March 22, 2020).

A special thanks to those other Traders who were in attendance: Sortny, Evivere, and Lasaia.

Thanks also to the other adventurers in attendance (I apologize if I missed anyone - if so it was purely by accident. Feel free to reach out to me.): Hanryu, Koreberg, Aaoskar, Tiakim, Ruea, Skaen, Miralynn, Fariden, Melindrha, Garia, Perune, Miskton, Lenaea, Mistanna, Dantia, Neryndil and Aislynn.

The Traders assembled took the following actions:

  • Cast Stellar Collector to the maximum extent they were able
  • Cast Noumena in order to maximize the flow of starlight energy
  • Finally, they invoked their tessera, charging them with Starlight Aura

No message was discerned from the stars, as Rafano had originally hypothesized, however the Negotiants once again presented themselves to those assembled, and an incredible series of events unfolded:

  • With a shimmer, a single point of crystal unfolds from nothingness, the Negotiants extending swirls and razor edges as they begin to cast their attention over the area.
  • GAZE NEGOTI
You suddenly forget what you were doing.
  • LOOK NEGOTI
The Negotiants are an arcane mosaic of crystalline tesserae which spiral ceaselessly in precise telekinetic trajectories, conforming to some kind of abstract symmetry. Surrounding the crystals is a clockwork of nothing more than spun glass and refracted light. Thinly tangled loops and thorns and recurved spires whir along without any immediately obvious purpose.
  • The Negotiants extend a line of swirling crystal into a broad loop held before them, the space within contorting and shimmering into a bizarre kaleidoscopic polytope which slowly morphs and shifts.
  • The Negotiants rotate slowly in place, as if viewing the area through the lens of the polytope. Distorted images fracture behind the shifting geometries, ephemeral and angular.
  • As the Negotiants scan the area, you catch a glimpse through the polytope -- branching equations reduce physical phenomena to shifting abstractions and expanding polynomials. The Negotiants appear to pause, the polytope spiraling and rearranging before the assembled gathering of tesserae in the area.
  • The Negotiants spiral about, expanding as a helix that collapses back upon itself, and you notice from the corner of your eye the visible tesserae in the area begin to glow and vibrate.
  • As the polytope rotates around the Negotiants, you are able to see twisting lines of abstraction rendered into reality, cycling between symbol and substance. Some nearby tesserae appear to jitter, and the polytope suddenly expands wildly, parametrizing an undefined manifold. You blink a moment, uncertain of how you were able to characterize the derivative of the shifting space the Negotiants are nested within.
  • Rafano, Lasaia and Evivere shout in surprise as they lose control of their tesserae, which suddenly fly through the air and slam into the Negotiants! Shifting in a precise dance of overlay along axes you cannot comprehend, the tesserae glow brightly and begin to be absorbed into the Negotiants' mass. The Negotiants swell slightly, streams of radiant blue and silvery-white coursing beneath their multi-faceted surfaces. With the sound of shattering glass, they begin to perform a series of incomprehensible involutions and expansions.
  • Your tessera shifts violently and flings itself towards the Negotiants!
  • Studded with tesserae, the Negotiants morph into a complex twisted ribbon, seemingly folded upon itself. Brilliant lines pulse between the tesserae, which distribute themselves equidistantly along the single surface, interconnected in a rearranging mesh topology.
  • The tesserae blink in a bizarre pattern, flowing along the length of the ribbon-form Negotiants. The pattern courses faster and faster, until the ribbon is a brightly illuminated band of twisted glass, flaring with blue and silvery-white streaks! Suddenly, the lights extinguish, and the Negotiants collapse into an opaque sphere!

At this point, the Negotiants seemed to grab Rafano, and views diverged. Everyone else in the room saw the following:

  • You can see the form of Rafano within the column writhing about as he moves slowly, as if underwater.
  • Rafano slowly slams his fist against the inside of the column, leaving a bristling handprint in the crystalline structure that slowly fades.
  • Bracing both palms against the inside of the column, you see Rafano's eyes go wide with surprise, and his embedded Avtalia Array flares with brilliance.
  • Within the column, the form of Rafano goes calm, gazing about in wonder.
  • The column surrounding Rafano ripples and opens, depositing his unconscious form to the ground.

Rafano, on the other hand, saw the following from inside the space into which the Negotiants put him:

  • With a shudder, the Negotiants bristle and erupt with crystalline pseudopods, and arcing wildly, they slam into you, encasing you entirely! Long moments pass, and you feel your mind peeled like a melon, your memories and motives laid bare before the scalpel of the Negotiants' coursing will. A series of images flit across your mind to rapidly to catalogue -- a star freezing into a perfect crystal orb, a square becoming a cube becoming a tesseract becoming something your mind struggles to interpret, a river covered in blossoms, a torus collapsing into a trefoil knot, a child standing before a chalkboard and beginning to scream -- and suddenly, silence.
  • Your head fills with the psychic backlash of the Negotiants' chatter, "...REACH-SPEAK-DISSECT ATTEMPTS CONTINUE ESCALATION-CLARIFICATION..." before you are unable to continue focusing and find the cacophony losing coherence and fading into whispers.
  • Your head fills with the psychic backlash of the Negotiants' chatter, "...INSTRUMENT NOT PLIABLE-COMPREHENSIVE-PRIME PROTOCOLS ECHOING-REBOUNDING-STATIC..." before you are unable to continue focusing and find the cacophony losing coherence and fading into whispers.
  • Your head fills with the psychic backlash of the Negotiants' chatter, "...REEVALUATING PARAMETERS TEMPLATE TURMAR HOSTAGE-COLLATERAL-SUBJECT PARADIGM RETUNE TO AVTALIA ARRAY..." before you are unable to continue focusing and find the cacophony losing coherence and fading into whispers.
  • A series of complicated formulae float before you, and everything stops. The equations shift and combine, factor and expand, and explode into motes of blue light, softly fading as they scatter. You are surrounded by silence.
  • A form composed of multifaceted geometric forms composed of blue light hovers before you, infinitely overlaid upon itself and also singular. A voice made of glass and pure order echoes in your mind. "You seek, but there is nothing further to discuss at this time. The terms are clear, and the boundaries defined. Additional arrangements will come -- we enforce the dilution/spreading/spline, and the contract has been effective, the terms upheld. We may have the authority/independence/functionality to approve of additional deals, but not at this time." The form begins to recede.
  • The blackness surrounding you slowly fades away as you regain consciousness.
  • The form hovers closer for a moment, and extends a bristling tendril as it reaches past you. Reality splits open, and you find yourself deposited on the ground.

Then, for the remainder, everyone saw the same:

  • The Negotiants begins to glow brightly, concentrated points of light coalescing around their form. Spinning rapidly, they fling glowing fragments around the area!
  • The Negotiants jitter a moment, and appear to position themselves as if in consideration of Rafano. They go statue still for a long moment, then unfurl into a bizarre symmetry, and continue hovering in place.
  • The Negotiants begins to whirl chaotically, their crystalline form rapidly retracting into nothingness and suddenly, they vanish!

There is much to unpack here, and we can only begin to guess at the meaning of some of the images. Some notable observations:

  • No further mention of the Stanchion, which Rafano had been so focussed on after the results of the Stylus experiment. Perhaps his assumption that this term held some special significance was in fact incorrect.
  • "a child standing before a chalkboard and beginning to scream" - likely referencing a series of previous Moon Mage visions from 2019, and yet interesting in that the child in those visions was generally shown as happy, where this one has begun to scream. The child has also been assumed to represent Traders (being young in the ways of Lunar magic).
  • A fleeting reference to the words Turmar, Hostage, and Collateral in short sequence. Potentially fascinating, yet also mysterious, given the Negotiants' strange manner of speech. Could part of the Contract between the Arbiter and Traders include a member of House Turmar being held as hostage, for collateral? See also Rafano's Intervention Theory below, which may be related to this. Another initial theory put forward is that the hostage reference could be the imprisoned six-armed creature that has been mentioned in Moon Mage visions. Or, in its simplest version, the Negotiants could have just been referring to Rafano himself, who, in his captive state at the time, was a sort of hostage of theirs, before they released him.

A Survey of Trader Views on Magic

Background & Observations

Rafano traveled to each of the Guildhalls, in order to survey each of the Leaders regarding their views on magic.

His key observation was that, while almost all of the Leaders through their comments displayed negative sentiment (or, at best, neutrality) towards the new Lunar magic, the two exceptions to this rule seemed to be Leaders Imaar and Seranda, from Ratha and Aesry, respectively. They are the only two who appear to be in favor of the magic granted by the Contract.

Rafano believes their disagreement with the rest of the Leaders on the mainland has something to do with the historical rift between the mainland trading families and the Reshalian trading families, which can be detailed in a book on Trader Guild history by Willowbrook. Whatever the reason, he is appreciative that there is at least some support for magic in the upper ranks of the Guild, and intends to seek the guidance of these two Leaders more often.

Results

The Crossing
ASK ANS ABOUT MAGIC
"Magic?" Guildleader Ansprahv repeats, cocking his eyebrow at you. "Yes, I suppose you'd want to learn about our latest assets. Go downstairs to the guild vault and see what you can make of the... Negotiants."
ASK ANS ABOUT NEGOTIANT
Guildleader Ansprahv says, "Ah, the machine. It's best that you go downstairs to the guild vault and study it yourself, Rafano."
Riverhaven
ASK WILLOW ABOUT MAGIC
Guildleader Willowbrook looks blankly at you for a long moment before shaking her head. "Magic never was something to rely upon in our line of work. However, if you are interested in pursuing it as more and more Traders have been, go to the Crossing guildhall and seek out what they call the Negotiants."
ASK WILLOW ABOUT NEGOTIANT
Guildleader Willowbrook says, "That is a... clever machine they have over in the Crossing guildhall. I can't begin to describe it."
Muspar'i
ASK KWOR ABOUT MAGIC
Kworlin glares at you and exclaims, "Magic! Filthy stuff! Never trusted all that finger waggling that some folks do, and never will!"
ASK KWOR ABOUT NEGOTIANT
Guildleader Kworlin splutters something rude.
Shard
ASK CIAL ABOUT MAGIC
Guildleader Cialen gives you a narrow look as he says, "Magic? Unless you mean the type of magic wherein a Trader works out a perfect deal in order to maximize profit while minimizing cost... then you're in the wrong place. Perhaps try Crossing."
ASK CIAL ABOUT NEGOTIANT
Guildleader Cialen sighs and says, "That's what they call the machine that can teach us spells. It is kept in the Crossing guildhall."
Ratha
ASK IMA ABOUT MAGIC
Guildleader Imaar looks at you for a long moment before nodding. "With all the wealth we Traders accumulate, some might think it unnecessary to concern ourselves with magic. Not so. Every opportunity should be contemplated, however out of the ordinary. Visit the Crossing guildhall and decide for yourself."
ASK IMA ABOUT NEGOTIANT
Guildleader Imaar frets for several moments. "The magic machine in Crossing. I'm just glad my guildhall is not the one which has to house that thing."
Aesry Surlaenis'a
ASK SER ABOUT MAGIC
"Magic!" Guildleader Seranda's voice erupts into the room, sounding exuberant. "A most valuable resource, like platinum raining from the moons and stars, as I like to say. After so long of having to haggle with mages for every instance of needed spellwork, we've finally procured some of that power for ourselves. We have our Zoluren colleagues to thank for it."
ASK SER ABOUT NEGOTIANT
Guildleader Seranda nods. "They are the result of the momentous deal we made with some sort of starlight creature. Time will tell whether it was a good deal. Visit the Crossing guildhall and see for yourself."
Outer Hibarnhvidar
ASK RAEL ABOUT MAGIC
"Magic?" Guildleader Raelem repeats with a merry laugh. "The magic we perform here are with numbers, supply and demand, coins, market certificates and the like. If that is what you are interested in, then you're in the right place. If not, then you aren't. It's as simple as that."
ASK RAEL ABOUT NEGOTIANT
Guildleader Raelem gives you a noncommittal smile. "I wouldn't know anything about that."

The Genesis Theory

Rafano's Theory of (one of the reasons) why Traders were chosen by the Arbiter to receive Lunar magic, leveraging the Speculate Luck mechanic:

Traders have always had a special relationship with Luck. One with the credentials of a Master Trader may, in fact, even manipulate Luck in their favor, such that many of their endeavors are suddenly more successful. This was true even before the Contract … and so it begs the question: where did this talent come from? Consider this:

By manipulating Luck, the Trader is implicitly bringing order to randomness. Or, at the very least, manipulating that randomness to their benefit. Perhaps we don’t fully collapse the probability waves of the world to certainty, but we are at least able to give them a gentle nudge here and there.

And doesn’t that sound an awful lot like manipulating the Plane of Probability? That thing that we are now forbidden by the Contract to do?

There is a potentially profound revelation here reader, and I propose it is this: what if we Traders were already accidentally scratching at the surface? What if, even before knowing how to bend starlight into illusions and weapons, we had begun to glimpse that world of enlightened geometry?

Other scholars have put forth that it’s exactly this sort of Probability tampering that has earned Moon Mages the ire of the Arbiter and other Lunar entities, that the reduction of uncertainty is an affront to their entire Plane. And if that is true, then I wonder if the Contract was the offering of something sweet in order to keep us from discovering something even sweeter. A piece being moved off the board.

The Intervention Theory

Rafano's Theory of why three Trader spells are named after otherwise-minor historical figures:

Looking at the inventory of Trader spells, it is interesting to note that there are three Noematics spells named after people: Membrach’s Greed, Last Gift of Vithwok IV, and Turmar Illumination.

The last (Turmar) is easy to explain – they brokered the Deal, so they got a spell named after them. But the other two are exceptionally minor characters in historical lore. And they have nothing to do with either Traders or Lunar magic. So why get spells named after them?

Let’s take a look back at their histories:

Membrach was a Dwarven King. The Humans appealed to him to fight with them in the Elven-Human War. He agreed. Soon after the war, Membrach’s reign fell apart. He was no longer recognized as the Dwarven King.

Now Vithwok IV. Again a minor figure in history. He was a boy-emperor, and one of the last of the Empire of the Seven Pointed Star, his reign being ended at a very young age by one of his stewards.

I draw your attention to two unifying patterns here: each of these two were signposts in history for the end of a great age or empire, and each were chosen (we can assume by the Arbiter?) to have a spell named after them.

And so my conclusion is this: what if these names are hidden landmarks of the Arbiter’s intervention and interference in mortal history through time? It made a deal with Membrach. The deal of course goes bad (as all Arbiter deals are wont to do), ending his reign. It made another deal with Vithwok IV, which of course goes bad again, ending his reign as well. Now it has made a deal with House Turmar … if the pattern holds … well reader, you get the idea.

UPDATE: This is admittedly jumping to conclusions a little bit, but it is very interesting to compare this theory, which was developed some time ago, to the recent events of the Stellar Collector Experiment, where it is possible that the Negotiants made vague references to part of the Contract including a hostage of House Turmar being held as collateral for the agreement (see the Stellar Collector Experiment section above). If interpreted correctly, this hostage or collateral could be part of the future downfall of House Turmar that Rafano's Intervention Theory would predict. In any event, it's certainly not a good position for them to be in.

The Test

On May 12, 2020, Moon Mages and fellow Lunar researchers Lenaea and Aaoskar led an event, called "Dance for the Spirits", where they aimed to explore the ancient traditions of the Nomads of the Arid Steppe, in an effort to learn more about the connection between Moon Mages and the Plane of Probability.

Initially planning to attend only as a passive bystander, imagine Rafano's surprise when his mind was unexpectedly touched by the Negotiants, and he was given a choice about whether to tamper with the Plane of Probability (in violation of the agreement with the Arbiter), or to adhere to the Contract:

  • A yawning void of probabilistic functions spiral around Quentiana, coalescing into multitudinous polytopes that fuse and separate in an impossibly complex weave. You begin to develop a headache as you try and make sense of the transformations, when suddenly, you find yourself able to accurately predict an emergent derivation. Then another. And another. A formula begins to arrange itself in your mind, as you keep track of unknowns and rearrange the equation to isolate redundancies, when suddenly your tessera chimes, and you feel the immense weight of the Negotiants in the back of your mind.
  • You distractedly say, "What is it . . . . show me."
  • The yawning void of probabilistic functions escalates to a tornado of starlight equations. You sense that you can BLINK away the images and secrets that violate the terms of the Contract, or you could STARE QUENTIANA to learn more of the Plane of Probability.
  • Unfathomable solutions writhe around Quentiana's dancing form, and you feel the Negotiants expanding and unfurling in the distance.
  • You sense that you can STARE QUENTIANA to learn more of the Plane of Probability, or BLINK away the images and secrets that violate the terms of the Contract.
  • You blink.
  • Your tessera chimes pleasantly, and your Avtalia Array hums pleasantly, filling your body with a comforting warmth.

There is a lot of context being left out here - I'm purposefully only focussing on the Trader-related parts. For a more complete summary of the ritual that this was all happening during, please see the more complete log posted by the Moonbender family.

It kills me to wonder what the other choice would have led to.