Mirrored from Sythyry.
Phaniet: “First of all, we’d better dispose of the hiding-spell. Everything would go a lot more smoothly if all these Mentador spells were visible.”
Rastomil (in Noshi): “I imagine it might be easier to put someone back in their body if you can actually see the someone.”
Phaniet: “That too. I was more thinking that we’re less likely to end up in that nasty underground prison cell if everyone can tell we’re fighting a Mentador mage.”
Me: “Oh, dearie. That is an important consideration.”
Wingsa: “And how do you propose breaking this big illusion spell? It is a quite powerful effect! The ritual spell of a substantial and crazed wizard, not a bit weaker than you or I!”
Phaniet: “I hereby outline an elegant but quite technical plan. And if that doesn’t work, we’ve got a Glory of Mircannis to use as a hammer.”
Wingsa: “That’s quite clever, in an extremely technical way.”
Me: “Phaniet and I break a lot of spells.” Which is true, but not ritual spells, which are often harder.
We tried the elegant but quite technical plan. It didn’t work. We tried it again, using the Glory of Mircannis as a hammer. That worked.
Lots and Lots
There was lots and lots of Mentador and Spiridor about, now that we could see it. The servants and household soldiers all had mind-control spells dancing like flies around their heads. Noshi, Kethji, and Rastomil had considerably more going on — horrible thick cables tangling them up with each other. And, for extra joy, with the corpse tied to the table in the last upstairs room.
Phaniet, Wingsa, and I got to work. Not on fixing the spells, which would not be easy. On understanding the spells. They were quite subtle, and I don’t think we got the details right.
The first approximation is body-swapping. Nanggi-Zi is in Rastomil’s body. Rastomil is in Noshi’s. Noshi is in Kethji’s. Kethji is in Nanggi-Zi’s corpse — and so heavily wrapped with preservation spells that neither Kethji nor Nanggi-Zi can actually die properly, despite the ruin of the body. I’m pretty sure neither of them can use the body; Kethji is just stuck there.
The second approximation is tethered body-swapping. Each of the participants (I guess that’s the right word) is still partially attached to their own original body, and to all the other ones that they have occupied — Nanggi-Zi has been in all four bodies, and is still attached to them. I think this has something to do with the heavily preserved corpse. Or something. I don’t think it was an intentional part of the body-swapping; I think that Nanggi-Zi wanted a clean and complete swap. Perhaps she botched the spell, or perhaps the clean swap was beyond her skills, or perhaps she intended to clean up later and couldn’t or didn’t.
The third approximation is like the second, but way the dashitzie messier.
We did our best to interrogate Lady Noshi (body: Lord Kethji) and Prince Rastomil (body: Lady Noshi). And, of course, Wingsa and the servants and the guards and all. Here’s what we think happened.
A long time ago — decades and decades — the mind-wizard Nanggi-Zi decided not to die. For some reason — there are rumors that she had offended Kvarse, and did not want to trust her life to Corpador magics (but there are often such rumors about mind-mages) — for some reason, she thought it best to switch bodies, rather than preserve her original body as most wizards would do. This switch had two other advantages to her: (1) her new body, that of Lord Kethji, was wealthy and reclusive, both features she could take advantage of, and (2) her use of Mentador was starting to awaken unpleasant emotions in the general populace of Hanija, and, by switching bodies, she could avoid the popular rage.
So, Nanggi-Zi married Kethji. Kethji, probably, got no real say in the matter. The wedding was private, and neither one left the mansion much after it. In fact, few people did; Nanggi-Zi was quite generous with mind-control. The cloud of unseeing Mentador probably dates to this time. In due course, Nanggi-Zi and Kethji switched bodies. Nanggi-Zi died in public — or rather, Nanggi-Zi’s body, with Kethji’s mind in it did. This provided Nanggi-Zi’s psyche an excellent alibi for nearly anything.
And it revealed a flaw in the technology. Nanggi-Zi-in-Kethji could not get far from Nanggi-Zi’s original body. Wingsa proposes one mechanism for this, I propose another, and Phaniet, not to be outdone, suggested three. But the original body of each one is supporting the psyche, somehow. So Nanggi-Zi-in-Kethji had Kethji-in-Nanggi-Zi’s body embalmed and preserved, and fastened Kethji’s spirit to it by mighty spells. The poor gentleman must be quite mad by now.
Well, time proceeded apace, and Kethji’s body grew aged, and his fortune diminished. Time for another transfer! Hence the Lady Noshi: an orphan with few friends and no great stature, but in line — far back in line — to inherit a substantial fortune. The first meeting was arranged largely by post. When Noshi met Kethji, she was instantly captivated, in a quite literal if entirely mental sense. The wedding was arranged quite soon. The wedding night was evidently exhausting, and, when it was over, Nanggi-Zi was in Noshi’s body, and Noshi in Lord Kethji’s.
Well, Nanggi-Zi needed to keep Kethji’s body around, for the same sort of reason as she needed her original body. Keeping Kethji alive was useful for practical reasons too, as Kethji was of a very high rank by birth, and Noshi not yet accepted at that rank. (And, given how reclusive everyone had to be, it would take a long while before she was fully accepted — she is not exactly so, even now.) The wizard embarked on a program of blackmail (mind-reading is good for that) and occasional murders, and in a decade or so, Noshi — or, rather, Nanggi-Zi-in-Noshi — inherited that substantial fortune, augmented by various other hush-monies.
But keeping Noshi-in-Kethji around and active was not required. Once or twice Noshi-in-Kethji tried to escape and beg for help; one of these attempts required the wizard to work hard blackmailing the city guard. So the wizard formulated that nacreous purple dazing-potion, and had Noshi-in-Kethji kept in a very passive state. Save in those times when activity was necessary, such as accepting possession of Noshi’s inheritance. Noshi was very heavily mind-controlled on those occasions.
But Lady Noshi’s body was wearing out as well: a congenital flaw? A disorder caused by over-long possession? Simply age? In any case, it was time for the wizard to take another one. Who better than a despised prince of a far-different country? Rastomil’s family would probably be glad to have him stay in Hanija, and of course Rastomil had no native friends or relatives to fret about his fate. And surely a prince’s estates could be sold or traded for extra cash.
And, if Jagraton had been a bit less devoted and persistant, Rastomil probably would be drugged and in the tower for quite a long time — and perhaps mummified and soul-trapped after that.
Noshi and Rastomil: “Can we have our bodies back please now?”
The real expert at this sort of psyche-shuffling being Nanggi-Zi, and we don’t much want to let her out just now. And I daresay she doesn’t really want to go back to her original body, either, since it’s kind of dead.
Which leaves Wingsa, and Phaniet, and me. We collectively have plenty of magical power, even Mentador power, but not much experience. Perhaps with help from other locals — though there isn’t a helpful local mind-mage of any power. Or help from Vae, say. Let’s not do that.
Wingsa, Phaniet, and me: “Oh, dear. We were afraid you were going to ask for that.”
Yes indeed, it is rather as several of you guessed, and yes indeed, we shall take a next step that several of you suggested. Alas that I was writing after the fact and did not have the advantage of your foresight!