Thursday, September 9, 2021

Mother of Answers

It is said that the hermit-wizards of Khezh knew a ritual to conduct when they had a singular question.  They must write their question on rose petals and consume them.  They must build a ship, christen it the name of their question, then sink it.  They must compose a verse in the manner of the stressed poems of Bahim and recite it in front of a ruler.  And if these were done in accordance with the strictures, the wizard would become gravid with the bearer of the answer.  The person that knew the answer to the singular question, wherever they were in the world, would become gravely ill.  They would die in seven days.  And on the seventh day the wizard would give birth to a misshapen child whose first words would be to utter the answer.


  1. Seems like a lot of trouble to go to get answers to most questions. Even with an accelerated one-week pregnancy most kids don't speak for almost a year after being born, and you've wasted a lot of time and effort if the answer is anything that's hard to pronounce, or your babysitter gets it by mistake. And even if you do get the answer, it'll probably be something bloody annoying like "42" or "1-2-3-4" or "it was his sled, you dolt" or somesuch.

    Plus it has some interesting implications for keeping secrets too well. If you're the only one who knows the answer this spell is a death sentence, but if you share it with anyone you're both immune and the magic fails. One wonders if the target can (ahem) abort the spell and their death with a revelation after becoming ill? And if you cast the spell successfully and get your answer, you are now a legit target for being murdered by it unless you share as well.

    Also welcome to motherhood, which seems like it could be inconvenient at best and awfully awkward to explain to the kid when they start asking where they came from. "Out in the cabbage patch" only works for a while, and "I impregnated myself with you via a magical ritual that murdered someone so I could find out what the secret of the universe was" is not going to get you any Mothers' Day cards.

  2. Hey, thanks for the comment. One thing I was thinking that I left out for conciseness was that it wouldn't be a straight up death spell, the knowledge bearer would die, but the misshappen child would grow in a matter of hours into the knowledge bearer. But I do like that idea that a wizard has a child they only wanted for the purpose of the answer and no longer really want them. But that would work better for a novel than a game I think.

    Oh, and for the answers that might be worth it, maybe, how to extend your lifespan, how to become a lich, the true name of a demon/angel, the location of an artifact.

    1. Oh, so more of a reincarnation effect? Interesting. I could see the secret-holder growing up (assuming they're allowed to do so) and being pretty peeved about the whole affair. "You could have just asked, you know!" :)

      The secret still has to be known only to one person though, right? So the spell can only be used once until either the caster or target dies (or suffers amnesia or something) since both would know it until that point.

      Going with the "reborn after casting" maybe it would be interesting to have a variant that only looks for a secret among the truly dead. That way you could, say, fish for someone who knew the specifics of the Dread Curse of Horek that caused the ruination of the lost kingdom of ancient Qun, but doing so will let that person live again in teh modern day. That might be very bad, depending on who your just reincarnated. Maybe casting the spell imposes a geas that forces the caster to protect their "offspring" from harm for a year and a day or somesuch, removing the option of just offing whoever you brought back if they turn out to be too horrible. I'd probably let the secret be less exclusive for that version, so you could wind up dragging anyone who knew it *ever* back from the dead at random.