The Eleventh Object is an ancient Greek theatrical mask, or a facsimile thereof. The character portrayed is Miles Gloriosus, the braggart soldier. The inside of the Mask contains the Verditius runes for transforming minds, but these are, of course, not functional. When a magus wears the Mask, the usual suspicion mortals feel toward Gifted people is entirely suppressed. This is less useful than it appears in print, because, of course, the magus still looks like a man in a clay mask, which is difficult to explain in most circumstances.

The Mask first appears in the Order’s history as the original Object of study of Clement of Criamon, the first Curator of the Objects. Clement said he had found the Mask in a graveyard for magical traditions, on the Floating Isle of Horus.  Clement was of course, barkingly insane at this point in his career, or at least so vested in the strange spiritualisms of House Criamon as to be unintelligible to any save his fellow cultists. He only became lucid after wearing the Mask constantly for many years, leading to the insights contained in his tractatus, the famed, if now little read, Xenognosis.

The Mask is the only Object which Clement regularly names by its form, rather than an ordinal number representing the Object’s place in a sequence which he claims was not based on its date of discovery. Clement’s Proximity Sequence is no longer used, as he was aware of only twelve of the Objects, although he predicted that thirty would eventually be found. Indeed, it is his prediction of the time and place of the manifestation of the Thirtieth Object, and his conjecture as to its possible nature, that makes this expedition, and these reports, necessary.

The Mask was stolen from the Order by a demon, according to popular tradition, but recent researchers have suggested that this may have been some other thing, for which we lack a classificatory schema. The Mask’s features had, however, convinced some Hermetic magi to study the concept embodied in the ineffective runes on its underside. It took over a century for magi from various houses to create the first of the Mask Mysteries, but once it was established, other breakthroughs and discoveries rapidly followed. Mask magic, in various forms, flourished in an unlikely combination of Houses.

The Eleventh Object was collected by the Academy in 1423. It had laid in the private collection of a nobleman in the Eos Lands, untraceable to Hermetic magic. A group of House Tremere’s psilos, suddenly unable to communicate with their commander due to the first use of succursus cloud weapons against a covenant by mortals, guessed correctly what had occurred, and decided it was vital to kill any mortal who might have sufficient knowledge to create another such device. One of their victims, an advisor to the Duke of Brabant, had the Mask in a private laboratory, in which he was studying “whatever passes for Natural Magic in the Insipid Places.” The series of assassinations which followed probably shortened the period of mundane chaos following the War of the Trees, and prevented it from spreading beyond the Rhineland.

In my own studies, I have been permitted much use of the Xenognostic Mask. It is initially disorienting as it is possible to see the connections that underlie material things in a novel way. I concur with Clement that this is similar to, but distinct from, the understanding granted by some of the more sensual and similistic schools of Enigmatic Wisdom. It differs, however, in ways which cannot be expressed clearly save with a specialised vocabulary. At its simplest, Enigmatic Wisdom seeks the hidden connections between things. Strange Wisdom seeks to see the potential in things. 

It is difficult to hold both the Enigmatic and Strange Wisdoms in the mind simultaneously: it is, in my case, too much for my humble mind to grasp. It is, however, very beautiful to try, regardless of how dangerous my sodales say it is to attempt. I must note, given the quote above, that seen through the eyes of the Mask, the Insipid lands are lovely, and that it may be time to lay our older, perjorative,  terminologies to rest.

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4 replies on “The Eleventh Object

  1. You’re making me love November.

    (and I think you want to change pergorative to pejorative.)

    Seriously, have you watched _Lost Room?_ If not, do so in December. 😀

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    1. No, I’ve not seen “The Lost Room”. I’ve heard about it, in the sense that the guy who came up with “Warehouse 13” said it would be a bit like “The Lost Room” and I’ve read its Wikipedia page, but other than that: no.

      I’ll track it down in December…don’t want to mix my choclate and my peanut butter.

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  2. Today’s tasty bits: “succursus cloud weapons against a covenant by mortals” – did at some point mundanes figure out a way to gain the upper hand against magi, using magic-resistant weapons against them? Makes me wonder when the narrator is writing and what the Order looks like in that time.

    I like the first person narrator. First time we’ve seen this? Make me wonder who the author is.

    Do you know the answers to these questions and wait to reveal them, or are they being answered as you write and plot?

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    1. I know some of the answers. I knew when I first mentioned succurrsus that it was originally an odd substance, then a medicine that could be used to treat Twilight, and then a weapon, for example. I also know what about half of the objects are, and what they do. I know who the narrator is, in some broad sense, although I have three options there and I’m not sure which I’ll pick yet.

      Other things I don’t know. You’ll see some stuff that’s process emergent when the robe and the pieta are published.
      It does kind of help that I’m not designing the objects in the order you see them. For example, right now I have no idea what the twelfth object is, but I know what the twenty-first is. That makes it look like I’m juggling more balls than I am, because I can write a concept’s arc, but space the items which give that arc.

      Other times little things change. The War of the Trees, for example, used to be part of a larger conflict. Now, its part of the larger conflict in the same way that the First World War and the Second World War are often seen as a continuous unit.

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