by Grant Smuts

A short story set in the world of Amarith, occurring a few years before the events of ‘Where The Gods Lie Dreaming’. The tale takes place in the city of Cloudrend, stated to be a city that embraces magic, and is home to the Synod of Ruhnd, an assembly of the world’s most powerful and knowledgeable mages.
The original version of this story was entitled ‘Journal of a Mad Wizard’, and offers some perspectives into Amarithian magic.
The name ‘Attanis’ is derived from the old Greek deity Attis, whose tales often revolved around his own self-mutilation, death and subsequent resurrection.

This story details the origin of the Calamity of Ruhnd.

Mightiest of creation, created to destroy
The strongest ever born, born only to die
The world will never know your like again!

‘Ode to the Destroyer’, Thirian of the Gale

Day 1:

Per the instructions of our illustrious archmage, Arbos, I have started this log of my experiments.
He says it’s a way to keep track of every step in the experimental process – a fair notion, as minds and memories have a tendency to be lost in the darkened vaults beneath the city of Cloudrend.
A fair point, though I care little for the process of writing these things down. Perhaps I could hire a scribe to do it for me.
Anyway, the aims of my experiments here are two-fold.
First, to explore the secrets of the abandoned mysteries of time reversal and secondly, and more importantly, to recreate a beast comparable to an ancient superweapon – the beast that other mages call ‘Attanis’ – that created the ancient race known as Yrridalians, who lived and breathed the magic of the world.

When I suggested this research to Arbos, he balked at the idea and flat out refused me. So I had to get the backing of certain people who wished to see Cloudrend unchallenged in the future. A weapon on the scale of Attanis would ensure our power remains unchallenged, even by Dellmeria to the west. With the backing of these people – many of Cloudrend’s rich and powerful, some of whom threatened sanctions against the guild if he refused, Arbos conceded, but he openly declared that this was now not a guild-sanctioned project.
Which is fine with me, as I can now operate without restrictions.
He still insisted on this damnable log, however. ‘Evidence’ he said.

Idiot.

Day 3:

 

After a day of setting up equipment in one of the larger laboratories, I’m finally ready to begin preliminary experiments.The walls are sturdy here, scorch marks of where experimental spells gone wrong had blasted into it. There were also long scratches on the wall, where feral, experimental creatures had escaped and clawed at it.
The other mages who have been assigned to aid me on this project are all rather spooked at this place.I hope I’ll not have to hold their hands through this process.
Sent out a few apprentices to get started collecting materials for the synthesis.
I’ll do some research on the beast’s anatomical structure from the old notes.

Day 4:

Some of these notes are confusing. There are several entries to ‘Attanis’, but they seem to reference both an old Yrridalian tyrant and the monster with which most people are familiar. After trying to sift through to the relevant material, I grew annoyed and just read everything.
The tyrant, it seemed, was a king who was once beloved by the Yrridalian race. But there came a time when magic began to wane from the world, and his people began to die around him. Trying to contain magic in a form that his people could survive on, he ordered a construction of a chimera that could store magic and synthesize it. The chimera would be a guardian for his people, and it would be built from the natural world, a patchwork of many creatures into one, eldritch form.

But something went wrong with the spell in its creation, and I don’t really understand what – one account states that someone bled in the ritual of binding, another states that ‘a portion of sacrificial flesh was consumed’ – but the sympathetic magic of the act desecrated the spell of creation, and twisted the end-result. Instead of storing magic, the unfinished beast began to absorb it instead it, and started killing everytone nearby.
In an attempt to save his people from annihilation at the hands of this incomplete creature, the Tyrant bound the creature in a ‘prison of flesh’, and it disappeared from Yrridalia, only to reappear in other distant lands in a new and terrible form.
It’s a little confusing what the process was that he used to bind it, or indeed  what this ‘prison of flesh’ might be, but the spells used will be easy enough to replicate with the magic at my disposal.
As the beast seemed largely uncontrollable in the past, I’ve decided to implant it with control rods – of the kinds one sees applied with golems, though its usage is somewhat different. As opposed to it being commanded with the rod in the hand of its owner, the creature will have it implanted into its body and attuned to the will of the one who implanted the control rod. With that, I will remove the beast’s ferocious tendencies, and use it only as it is intended to be used – in the defense of Cloudrend.
The simplest solution is often the right one. Arbos, with all of his subtleties, would be wise to remember that.

We don’t have the same creatures the Yrridalians used in its initial construction, but I think we have some fitting analogues… Bears, vipers, wolves, lions, goats, hydra, manticore.
I have samples of these creatures in my own chambers; they’ll be ground into powders and pastes to be used in the liquid medium of the synthesis.
Just a curious note on the magic used in the synthesis – “The Attanis is a creature of contradictions, a moulding of paradoxes. Keep this in mind when casting spells to contain it.”
Will begin preliminary testing to see if we can create a small version of the beast.

The research of time-reversal is strangely straightforward, and I wonder why it was never completed. It is an application of pure illusion
(curious. Is our comprehension of time nothing more than an illusory construct?) and requires only the building of a fairly simple device. I’ll have some of the Academy’s engineers have a look at it, but I think we have all the materials we need already. There’s a note of ‘preservation of consciousness’, and a rather complex spell to it. I wonder what that means.Probably not important.
Notes warn about temporal distortions manifesting in strange ways – thunderstorms, or monsters appearing.
However, none, of this has been verified.

Day 6
I have procured a small portion of the legendary Attanis itself from our museum. A patch of dried, leathery flesh and an old knuckle bone as large as my head. From these ignoble remains I will reignite the glory of the great beast!
The engineers have confirmed my theories, and they tell me it will take a few days to assemble the time reversal device. I’m truly confused as to why this work was never completed.
I also had a few working on adjustments of the growth pods, where I’ll house the preliminary specimens of the the superweapon.

Day 8:

Hired a few woodsmen to bring me wood of oak, pine and fir trees – it seems that I can’t avoid some of the sympathetic magic used in the beast’s construction. There are days when I’m truly grateful that the methodologies of magic changed. Some of the rituals involved in the the art of ancient magic are truly primitive. A lot of chest-pounding, a lot of screaming and unnecesary spittle.Perhaps one of the apprentices would do it for me, instead.
And for some gods-know-what reason, the ritual
has to take place at night.


This was a time when magic was what one made of it. In short, you could have done what you liked with it – a gesture and a thought would be all that was needed. But the ancients built a belief-system around it, and the belief became entrenched in the magic. Now all the various, inexplicable little things they did became rules that everyone
had to follow.

I shake my head in disdain at the mind-numbing stupidity of it all.

Day 10:

Began synthesis of the Attanis today, using simple lugworms as base specimens.
Results are as follows:

Subject 1: disintegrated at contact with the liquid of the growth pod. Too much acid.
Subject 2: sank to the bottom of the pod, completely inert, very obviously dead. Too much base.
Subject 3: Hung in the suspension, surviving. Then we added patches of the flesh samples and I began electrolyzing the mixture. Subject responded to activity, and specimens were magnetized to each other. But then the spell failed and the specimens fell inert to the pod floor.
Began an earnest review of the notes, beginning to understand the difficulties of the situation. Perhaps lugworms are not the most resilient of choices.
Suggest use amphibions – most texts seem to agree that that the Attanis was equally adept at traversing land and water.
Started testing on newts and frogs.
Subject 4: Frog disintegrated in acid. Confounded apprentice.

Subject 5: Frog responds to electrolyzed mixture. Began using water-magic as a base, thinking it would better facilitate the frog’s natural affinities. Frog explodes.

Subject 6: Newt explodes under same conditions as 5.
Subject 7: Newt explodes. Suspect this
might not be the correct way forward.

Subject 8: Frog held in electrolyzed mixture. Thought of the notes – Attanis is a creature of paradoxes. Used fire as a base spell, and the frog began to mutate! Success! Slight changes in growth. Growth of horns along its body, skin dries, slightly. Superficial changes to its structure only. It seems I’ve turned a frog into a toad. Will wonders never cease.

Subject 9: Newt under same conditions as 8 seems to have same superficial changes, but to a greater degree. Size and strength increases, seems slightly more aggressive than before and more responsive to human touch. Suggest moving on to stage 2 magic.

On the basis of paradoxes, used water magic on the fire-mutated specimens. Sudden exponential growth, followed by an explosion.
Reviewing texts.

Day 15:

After a series of failures, began to review the notes. Arbos came down to see my progress. He seems smug, as though he expected this.
He’s a fool if he thinks I’ll give up.

Creature of paradoxes. Old magic. The ideas are infuriating. The old ways are not the modern perspectives of magic. Modern magic is about control, and mastery. Old magic is about surrender and fluidity. Similar but different enough to warrant an entire system of its own. Opposite of fire is wind. Wind feeds the fire, fire rages. Opposite of water is earth. Earth stops water, earth grows new life.
A process of surrenders and victories, while our modern magic is all about opposition. Fire and water. Wind and earth.

Subject 25: Newt placed in electrolyzed solution, added fire as a base and witnessed the mutations. Before it stopped, applied wind, and the creature’s size quickened, but its form remained stable. Added earth and it disintegrated to nothing but motes of flesh and a cloud of blood.

Subject 26: same conditions as 25, but used water instead of earth. Exponential increase in size and strength – the newt now filled the man-sized pod.
Process nearly complete, though it’s a far cry from the idea of Attanis. Still, I have come this far in only fifteen days!

Day 20:
The engineers have nearly finished the time-device – it took them longer than they thought because the crystals that focus the energy of illusion magic needs to be sized specifically.

Subject 26 resides in the pod. It seems to be developing scales. Its eyes have grown large and yellow, and it follows the the movement of the engineers and my apprentices around the laboratory with a black slit iris. There’s a feral intelligence lurking behind those eyes.
No further progress made on Attanis.

Day 27:

nearly a hundred further experiments done on advanced creatures – reptiles, birds and one small monkey, but none of them have had the degree of success of subject 26.

It seems the time-device is finally ready. After a week of failures, it’s good to have good news! Will do some preliminary testing on the device first.

Day 28:

Testing the time device tomorrow.

Day 29:
About to utilize the time device, and finally we’ll solve the mysteries of time. I’ll set it for yesterday – no need to do anything drastic.
I needed this distraction from the Attanis Project.


Day 28:

Testing the time device tomorrow.

Day 29:
About to utilize the time device, and finally we’ll solve the mysteries of time. I’ll set it for yesterday – no need to do anything drastic.
I needed this distraction from the Attanis Project.

Day 28:
Ah. I think we have a slight problem here.

If it wasn’t for this accursed logbook, I might have gone in an infinite loop down here. (though how I might have returned to the time before I wrote this entry and wrote it twice before noticing what was happening is beyond me still. I’m still trying to figure it out. Though I suspect Arbos might have guessed something like this would happen, the bastard. No doubt the logbook contained a time-release enchantment.)

Scrapping this time-reversal project. Fired the engineers.
Just myself and my apprentice down here. Something’s happening in the Academy above, the other adepts have gone to help out.

Heard what sounded like thunder high above, and the walls shook. Wonder what’s happening.

Day 33:
Subject 147: explodes after advanced magical application of sympathetic magic. Is our magic too advanced for the kind of spell we’re trying to use?

It appears that I’ll have to engage in the ritual itself.
Subject 26 appears to have developed scale-like armour around its body, and it looks vaguely human now.
I thought to test out my control rod theory on it, but it responded viciously when I tried to take it out of its tank.
Its body rejected magic, and it overwhelmed my apprentice, mauling him. Managed to restrain it with a whip of lightning, driving it back into one of the abandoned cages we used for feral experiments.
It watches me with hate-filled eyes.
My apprentice is hurt. I can hear his moans even now. I’ve applied healing magic to his wounds, but he moans still. Perhaps the wounds inflicted by the creature are not susceptible to healing. Thought of how I drove the beast back with lightning. Thought how little sense it made. Thought of what I’d do tomorrow.

Day 38:

Acquired new specimens – a pig and a small caiman.

Tests.
More explosions going on upstairs.

Day 39:
Arbos comes down, tells me the Academy has been facing off temporal distortions. He sees the time-device and takes it. Doesn’t matter. Failure. Asks me where my apprentice is. I shrug. I am not his keeper.
He looks closer at me. Judging eyes.
He says my hunters have all died, or quit, hunting the impossible creatures I set as targets for them
Tells me whatever I need to do, I should do it quickly.
I tell him that genius cannot be rushed. I am on the verge of something momentous.

When he leaves, I fetch my apprentice.
Tied him up and gagged him to silence his moans. I feed him. Make him drink a potion. Forgetfulness and narcolepsy. He still moans. Gag him again.

Day 44/45:

Subjects 148 and 149 have all failed to survive, even when I fed the apprentice to 149. 149 seemed to relish the screams and the thrashing of my apprentice, whose wound never healed and whose presence had become a burden.
148 and 149 both die, though 149 burst out of its pod and tells me a secret. I smile as I hear it. It’s a good secret.
I am alone now. Alone but for the glowing eyes of Subject 26, which follow me in these darkened halls where I pace and pace.

Day 50:

The ghost of Attanis has haunted me this last week. As I recall the animalistic fury with which I pushed my flailing apprentice into the growth pod, and shut the glass door behind him, I watched with muted fascination as the mutated caiman tore into him. I remember it all so vividly, how it came to me in that moment. That ‘prison of flesh’ that had so confounded me at first, had been in my madness, made suddenly, irreversibly clear.
As I stood in the burst remains of 149’s growth pod and saw the half-digested remains of my poor apprentice amongst the entrails, I understood what I needed to do. I lit the old braziers, and chanted the old spells of the Yrridalians. I began the slow dance around the remaining growth pod. I picked up my apprentice’s chewed arm and bit into it.
I picked up a scalpel and plunged it into my leg. I worked the blade and widened the wound, feeling a strange release of ecstasy as the blood flowed from me. There was a curious energy in the air, the feel of old, primal magic.And I knew that in the will to this, this black revival, I had begun the process of sympathetic magic. I who disdained it utterly had become a part of it, completely.

Completely.

I may have no more specimens, but there would still be a Subject 150.

I shall step into the growth pod, with my apprentice’s arm in my mouth and a blade embedded in my thigh, for I know I will be greater than Attanis ever was.

This will be a momentous night.

  • here ends the journal of Vengus Arren

High above, the archmage, fully aware of what was about to happen, put on the time-reversal, performing the spell to preserve his consciousness… and he is gone in blue light, back to the past to await this moment, safe in a neverendng loop and undo what he can, if he could…

As Vengus steps into the tank, Subject 26 emerges from its prison, never held by any cage that it could not destroy and it watched as Vengus Arren began to change. .

And after a brief sleep Attanis was reborn, led to the world above by his herald.
As he wandered into the Academy of mages that had in a small screaming portion of his mind, once been a home, the screams awoke around him.
And they could not restrain him.
Not with bolts of lightning or balls of flame, not with arrows of ice, or blades of air.
The earth splintered beneath his feet, the walls crumbled beneath his fists,

They could not restrain him,

and he swallowed them all.
the devourer of worlds, reborn.

Note: The Calamity of Ruhnd is a reference to the event when one of the archmage’s wards transformed himself into an Attian abhomination and interrupted the Synod, killing seven archmages before being forcibly restrained and eventually killed. Upon later inspection of the mage’s laboratory, they found only his journal,, the tank that he broke out of… and a second tank, completely empty.

 

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