Interlude 3: Project Proposal
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Project proposal Illunia 5th, 719 A.L.

Project Name: Project Compass

Category: Primary: Spell rediscovery

Secondary: Font Identification

Tertiary: Application of Wards

Subject: Simulacrum

Method: Experimentation and observation

Originator: Master Wizard Marcus Travin

 

Proposal Summary:

I am requesting funding in the amount of 1,425 gold, laboratory space, and three journeymen to act as assistants. We will pursue a novel method of ascertaining the Arcane Font origin of magical creatures. This new method, should it prove successful, would be used to further our work in rediscovering the lost spell Simulacrum through the study of the creature colloquially known as the “pack rat”

Background:

Simulacrum is one of the Great Lost Spells of the pre spellform age. Its casting allowed the user to create a perfect duplicate of themselves. This duplicate retained all the knowledge of the original and was able to cast spells independently[1].

The spell's last known use was by the Arch Magus Tilford at the Last Battle against the Avatar[2]. His death,in the fire of the Avatar, resulted in the loss of many greater spells, but Simulacrum was the greatest among them. While writings remain on the nature of Simulacrum, they do not offer enough insight to replicate the spells or locate the requisite fonts in the Arcane Realm. While we know the spell used both the Font of Thought and the Font of Creation, as with all Fonts these names are self-ascribed by the caster. No one today can identify the Font of Creation in the Arcane Realm.

The pack rat is a magical creature indistinguishable from an ordinary rat in every way save one. The pack rat is a magical creature able to draw upon the Arcane Realm to fuel it's magics. When threatened, the pack rat is able to teleport short distances and duplicate itself until its numbers overwhelm it's enemy. The exact population of pack rats is unknown, but it is believed that roughly 1 in 100 rats are actually pack rats. They are difficult to identify, as any rat will run when threatened and only fight when there is no other choice.

Font discovery is a slow process. This use of wards would allow for advances in the field that have not been seen in ages. The only two verified methods of Font discovery are thorough exploration and experimentation of the Arcane Realm, and discovery of the Font’s Primordial in our world. The first method is slow, tedious, and dangerous. The second method requires the researchers to put themselves out in harm's way directly. Currently the Tower has bounties in place for Adventurers for any leads on the locations of a Primordial, but none have collected on these as of this proposal.

Project Description:

The dwarves reportedly have a method of warding that isolates a region of our realm from accessing areas of the Arcane Realm, and thus preventing access to the fonts found in that region. A modular warded ring would be built that would allow my team to present a pack rat with challenges while different regions of the Arcane Realm are blocked from it. When the pack rat is unable to duplicate, the region identified could be explored and experimentation can begin on the fonts located there.

Budget Timeline:

Acquiring test subjects 4 months 1 gold piece

Bounties will be placed on rats in the city with bonuses for confirmed pack rats. We will test them for the ability to duplicate, and then breed a pool of test subjects.

 

Building Ward 6 months 1,250 gold pieces

A quotation has been provided by the representative of The Dwarven Confederacy in the amount of 1,000 gold pieces, plus expenses. This project was estimated to take 5 months. I have included 250 gold pieces extra in this proposal and an additional month to account for the uncooperative nature of the Dwarven people towards The Tower. A formal quotation is appended labeled Appendix A.

 

Building Testing Apparati 2 months 4 gold pieces

Tower resident artisans will be tasked with constructing the requisite testing mechanism. See Appendix B for plans for the design.

 

Experimentation 6 months 170 gold pieces

I estimate the work will take 1 month to identify the region of the Arcane Realm, and 5 months beyond that to discover the font. The largest expense will come from the potions required to search the Arcane Realm

Footnotes:

  [1] The Spells We Lost: A collection of writings detailing the greatest lost spells by Wilstun Aberfon

  [2] A First Hand Account of The Last Battle by Arch Magus Dran Berry

Appendix A - Quotation from Conrid, Surface Representative of the D.C.

Appendix B - Plans and designs for animal testing apparati

 

Project Journal Riloth 13th, 720

It took those fools on the council a full year to approve my project proposal. I could have been done with this experiment by now if they had moved as quickly as they do to approve anything that allows them to better weaponize sorcerer bones. The council has a one-track mind and it's leading to the past.

The project is already running behind schedule. The dwarves informed us that our quotation had expired and now demanded 1,200 gold coins, and said it would take 6 months. I had at least accounted for that. In the end, it took them 7 months and they charged us 1,300 gold. The warder they sent did not show up and when pressed they claimed he was captured en route. I suspect this was a ruse to garner a higher payment. The dwarves are a duplicitous people.

The rats proved rarer than anticipated. The bounty placed on rats led to some ingenuitive townspeople breeding mundane rats and selling them to our representatives at a profit. 1 in 750 rats was identified to be pack rats. At 5 copper a rat, it cost us 2 gold and 25 silver to get the requisite 6 pack rats required to breed a sustainable test group.

Baseline tests to gauge the capabilities of the pack rats will begin tomorrow alongside a control of mundane rats. We must see how performance changes when regions of the Arcane Realm are blocked. The pack rat may have unknown magical abilities beyond the Simulacrum-like effect and the ability to teleport short distances. This secondary ability is likely drawing on the Font of Space, but it warrants further study.

 

Project Journal Riloth 14th, 720

The pack rats did not prove to be any more intelligent than the mundane variety. The pack rats performance was significantly higher than the control group when confronted with a situation in which duplicates could prove useful. In areas where duplicates were of no aid, such as a maze, their performance was equal to the mundane rats.

 

Project Journal Riloth 15th, 720

The council has informed me that they “request” I test rats for combat capabilities. This is ridiculous, outside the scope of my study, and frankly a waste of time. I will acquiesce to this "request” and cite it when my delayed timeline is questioned. I’m sure they will understand.

 

Project Journal Riloth 16th, 720

Combat testing of the pack rats has proved to be surprisingly fruitful, but not in any way the council has wanted. In watching the pack rats face combat situations, I have been able to closely study their behavior when confronted with an obstacle that requires duplication. Where before I believed the pack rat was using some natural variation of the spell Simulacrum, I now believe it is doing something entirely different. The behavior of this duplication is not consistent with what we know of Simulacrum. When a simulacrum is made, it is grown from a piece of the caster’s body, typically a drop of blood. The pack rat duplicates appear fully formed without the need for a seed.

There does not seem to be any pattern I can discern for the duplication process in the pack rat. New rats appear as if teleporting, fully developed. When a new rat appears, it does so at a non-specific distance from the original. No pattern has been observed in this. Usually, the duplicate appears inches away but in some combat scenarios, it has appeared on the opposite side of the test chamber.

The rate of duplicates is also inconsistent between test subjects. When faced with a life-threatening scenario, sometimes large numbers of duplicates will appear around the subject in the same moment, other times they pop into existence sporadically throughout the test. This behavior seems to be subject-dependent and may be a preferred behavior.

The duplicates themselves are not all equal. Some duplicates appear wounded and tired, others seem to be more intelligent than their fellow duplicates.

 

Project Journal Riloth 17th, 720

The more I observe these rodents, the more I suspect they will be of no help on the project's primary goal in finding the Font of Creation. Whatever font they are drawing on is a strange and powerful one indeed, but not Creation. Could it be Chaos? That seems unlikely, their methods are too methodical. Ha, and my assistants say I lack humor.

In an effort to find a pattern to the duplications I have set a grid into the floor of the test chamber, or "The Arena" as my assistants have started to call it. I must say it is an apt moniker. When a duplicate appears or a pack rat vanishes, we will plot their position and time and then look for patterns. See attached data.

There is one other strange behavior that has become apparent as our testing has become more lethal to the subjects. Creatures as large as a dog have proved no match for a single pack rat. Our most recent tests have begun to result in subject deaths. The oddity is this: if any rat dies, duplicate or original, (though we have no method of tracking the original) the total number of duplicates increases dramatically. Typically a subject will create 5 to 10 duplicates during a test. When one of the duplicates dies, the subject starts creating more by the dozens, not stopping until the enemy is defeated. These duplicates attack with a mad frenzy unlike any behavior seen by the subject up to that point. A timid veteran subject of 5 tests will suddenly become a rabid monster when a duplicate dies.

The final oddity is this: when a duplicate dies, eventually all the other duplicates disappear, leaving only the dead body of the dead duplicate. It seems that if any die, the rest fade away shortly after their foe is defeated. We have not determined a method to identify the original, but statistically, it is unlikely all the deaths we have seen have been originals.

 

Project Journal Riloth 18th, 720

I've figured it out! This is huge! Groundbreaking! World-changing! This will get me a council seat for certain, not that I'd accept one. Politics. The subjects aren't duplicating or teleporting. They are traveling through time. The pack rat draws upon the Font of Time! If I'm correct I will uncover a font so lost its very existence is doubted.

It explains everything, it must be the answer.

If I can identify this font, it would be the greatest advancement in magical knowledge since the discovery of spellforms. The First Font, if the legends hold true. It's within our grasp. Within my grasp.

Look at me, going on about myself like one of those fops on the council. Back to the task at hand, I can revel later. The discovery was quite simple once we started to gather data. By plotting the locations and time of each disappearance and duplication, we discovered that whenever a rat appeared a rat would later disappear from the same location later on. Where before we thought they were teleporting and duplicating in random locations, this paired pattern of appearances and disappearances was the key to unlocking the mystery. The rats were traveling back in time, but remaining in place. They used this to avoid attacks and to overwhelm their foe with numbers. It seems the pack rat is only able to move backwards in time, but they must also have some access to the Font of Space as originally theorized. It has long been known that Kaltis is rotating and traveling through the realm. We must test their ability with the Font of Space Isolated at some point, but first, we must search for Time!

This discovery means I can cease these ridiculous combat trials. No one will question my methods now. When word gets out about this, I will be able to demand anything I need to further my studies. I may even get my own department. Tomorrow we will resume the original test plan and try to identify the region of the Font of Time.

 

Project Journal Riloth 19th, 720 A.L.

Something is wrong. My subjects are too intelligent. They solve every puzzle I present them with as if they had performed the task a hundred times. If I put food under a cup, they find it on the first try, no matter the magical means I use to hide it. If I build a new maze, they walk through it as if they knew the route. I’ve tested all my subjects and control rats. The mundane rats seem the same, but every pack rat in the lab is like this.

I went back to combat trials, and their performance in this area has excelled as well. Pack rats are now defeating foes many times larger than themselves and using fewer duplicates to do so. No combat subjects on hand stood a chance. They even killed a giant scorpion we brought in from the alchemy lab next door. Was I wrong? How is this a manifestation of the Font of Time? Are they prescient? Why now and not before? What has changed?

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