Monday, May 7, 2018

The Human Spell Formation Machine (WIP)

Here's my take on the "human computer" described in Cixin Liu's incredible science fiction novel, The Three-Body Problem.

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The Great Sorceress Adira bat Kezia, fifth Vymrr of that city and second of her line, stood atop her specially constructed sandstone spire which rose 600 feet above the nearest tower. To her back was the Boiling Kettle, angry and steaming with its bubbling whirlpools and melting islands. To her front was the Crushed-stone Sea, that vast and terrible expanse seemingly without end. The sun was high and the winds were low. She raised her hand, the fluorescent stone bangles falling down her forearm, and the tumultuous crowd on the sand flats below grew quiet. 

"Rejoice! For today, together, we will perform a feat of magic unknown in the history of our people. Let us achieve this, so that we might live in splendor."

Cheering erupted from the thousands-strong gathering below as they made their way into the first formation. When all were ready, the Great Sorceress snapped her fingers and the ritual began. In groups of seven, the volunteers began their incantations, creating an inharmonious and haunting melody that carried through the city. Adira herself began to chant, weaving mystic signs in front of a massive lens, her apprentice maintaining a magical font of light above. The resulting shadows cast upon the ground formed the guidelines for the formations of the crowd. 

With each completed formation, the strength of the magic grew, each unit of seven maintaining a different aspect of the complete spell, creating their own signs as part of the whole. 

At first, the magical energies appeared as a crackling in the air. A static charge the sound of a flock of sea birds. But as the sorceress and her peons created and assumed ever more complex arrangements, the energy began to permeate the earth, lacing through the sand and stone in impossibly fractalized patterns of pearlescent hue. A grouping in the crowd mistimed their chant and were swallowed whole by the sands, but still the spell continued. The ground shook, and the bleak clouds above trembled and were wiped away. Adira's chant rose to a shriek and all below mimicked her in unison, their shrill intonations mocking the gods for their contentment in the heavens. In the distance, the northern mountains split and blossoms of radiant energy burst forth, soaking everything nearby in a harsh and violent radiation. But near the city, beautiful trees erupted from the sand, flowers bloomed in the cracks of the sandstone buildings, food appeared on the tables and water in the wells. The deceased were reborn as their beautiful younger selves. As the spell continued over days, the city rejoiced as their newfound paradise took shape. Its beauty was indescribable. 

In an instant, Vymrrys was transformed into a paradise - a utopian city caught between a boiling ocean and a desiccated, infinite desert.  

And just as the massive human spell machine reached the zenith of its spellcasting, something went horribly wrong.

The newly grown trees began to shrivel and die and the food to rot. The dead, newly risen just days ago, began to decompose where they stood as the living wept. An unearthly stench filled the alleyways. Citizens cried out as the Boiling Kettle breached the sea wall and flooded the streets, swallowing the city whole. The human-spell-formation-machine collapsed, the casters turning upon one another in the chaos as Adira looked on, leaving the flats caked in blood and viscera. Impenetrable clouds filled the sky and writhing black masses erupted from the Apex and wriggled across the dry, cracked earth. Dark and inhuman figures rose over the desert and laughed at the folly of humans, their shadows miles long.  


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