Mirrored from Sythyry.
On the advice of various friendly monsters, we waited for several days, making soul maps regularly, watching the prime soul and demon soul wrestle around. We tried this and that to segregate the souls more. Gentle application of Ruloc Spiridor spells. Playing Feralan’s favorite music, but only into his right ear, whilst whispering comforting geometrical theorems into his left. That sort of thing.
Feralan: “I’m waiting as patiently as I can, really, but are we on a geodesic?” Which, it turned out, meant ‘are we on as direct a path as possible to fixing things.’
The choices got worse, and worse, and better than the day before but worse than when we started, and worse, and worse, and better, and better, and better — a touch better than when we started, that last ‘better’. So we argued about what to do: take the best that we had ever seen, or wait and hope for better.
Everyone: “Peer miserably at the obscurely-changing soul maps!”
Vae: “The I alone avoid the disputations; instead I writhe miserably in serpent form.”
Everyone: “Discuss, dispute, disagree!”
The new soul map’s best slice was loosely similar to the best of last week. The “slightly better” part was that, probably, Feralan’s ability to understand emotions would grow back, with practice, over time. At least, that was slightly better from Feralan’s point of view. From hCevian’s, it was worse — Feralan’s ability to understand emotions would grow back in hCevian’s soul as well, but there it’s more of a spiritual cancer.
Everyone: “Reluctantly decide try this one.”
Feralan: “I guess it’s time for me to lose my ability to understand emotions?”
Me: “I’m afraid so.”
We repaired to the Surgical Parlor of Strayway. Vae writhed miserably in serpent form.
Feralan: “I made myself a chart of emotions last night.”
He showed it to me. It had entries like “Fear: A bad-feeling emotion that makes people run away. People who are afraid often tremble, tuck their ears flat, lower their tails, or stutter.”
Me: “This should help you a lot.” (I have no idea whether it will.)
hCevian: “Shall we now start?”
Me: “I think we must.”
The spirisector is, at least, a very careful and precise instrument. The cutting blade used to be sharp, sharp glass. It has been transmuted to the mere ghost of glass, while retaining its sharp, sharp sharpness. It is is mounted very carefully on an ivory circle, which it can slide neatly across without a thousandth of an inch of wiggling up and down. The ivory circle is mounted on ivory gimbals, I suppose they’re called. The circle can be tilted around nearly any-which-way. Then tight thumbscrews and locks can be applied, rendering the circle rigidly fixed in its position.
This, of course, would do no good without two other features. The first is a co-mounted oval lens that was once glass, but is now the mere ghost of glass. Through it, with certain spells, one can see the spirit of the patient, though not as clearly as with the soul-maps. The central green dot of the soul-maps is not visible, but the lens warms up somewhat when the knife will pass through the center.
The second, and more important, is that the patient must be still while the spirisection is being performed. This is accomplished by paralysis. The doctor must paralyze the patient’s body personally. The patient’s mind and spirit must be paralyzed as well. Most doctors cannot accomplish this, so a pair of ugly little talismans tied to the frame of the spirisector do so. They are not very good talismans; they only work once a day, and not for very long. (I suppose ‘not for very long’ is fine, since the patient shouldn’t stay paralized after the spirisection. But if the operation is not performed quickly, the opportunity is lost. Or, if the patient is nervous and accidentally resists either spell — resistance being automatically successful — the power of the device is wasted for the day.)
Well, we were quite nervous. Prof. Czirsnatch was not there to assist and guide us, but his assistant, Vareltree, was, and had studied the theory of the operation for a great deal of time, and had even done it once or twice on animals.
Anyhow, Feralan and hCevian cooperated just perfectly, and allowed themselves to be paralyzed in all three dimensions — by me, not by the ugly talismans, so that they would stay still long enough for us to be very careful about the arrangements. We spent a while being very careful about the arrangements. Vae writhed miserably in serpent form.
Eventually, we couldn’t delay any longer. Vareltree carefully slid the sharp, sharp ghost of a knife through Feralan+hCevian’s immobile and carefully unresisting psyche.
Then, of course, things got rather rushed. Six bound spirit-healing spells hurled themselves at the two newly-freed patients. I broke the paralyses. Saza produced a new soul-map of Feralan — hCevian was nowhere to be seen — to measure the damage. Vareltree gave Feralan a chilled tisane of something that smelled medicinal to drink. Vae writhed miserably in serpent form.
Feralan: “Are you worried?”
Vareltree: “A little bit, until I see the results of the surgery. Why do you ask?”
Feralan: “Your antennae are a bit down, but your tail is sort of up. Doesn’t that mean worry?”
Vareltree: “Well, yes, I suppose it does…”
Feralan: “I can’t tell anymore. Not in the usual way. So I’ve got to study it and study it!”
Saza: [quietly, to me alone] “Well, he certainly sounds quite Rassimel.”
(Incidentally, we don’t think Feralan could tell the condition of his soul that precisely, that fast. We’re pretty sure he’s just going by what we said would be the case beforehand.)
We peered at Feralan’s soul map, and measured this and measured that. We seemed to have given Feralan a slightly larger section of the shared soul than we had intended to (“But well within normal medical variation,” said Vareltree). But a few bits that we hadn’t intended to damage had been partially cut off, and we argued whether they corresponded to his drive to propagate the species, his pancreatic function, or his devotion to the elemental gods.
Vae writhed miserably in serpent form over to my foot. “And Sythyry? The I think we’re lost.”
Me: “What, lost?”
Vae: “Not a bit do I know where we are. The outside is not Lenkasia.”
I left the discussion and fluttered three parlors away, where there was a window, and we looked out. Strayway was in a gleaming black cavern, festoons and swags of curved ebony spikes shining in the light of an irregular net of dismal flames that flowed and pulsed all around. The plangent, astringent sensation of Locador beat upon us from all sides.
Me: “Great staring gods. We’re inside hCevian.”