By Amalasuntha

“The divine is in a tree, certain, but also in the circuit” – First Book of Finian

“Novice look up” I commanded.  The sandy-haired boy was so intent on his soldering that his tongue poked from the corner of his mouth in concentration. As usual, his work was sloppy and over eager.  I leaned over and flicked the master switch for the entire front benches worth of soldering irons.  The remainder of the novices took the hint, placed their tools neatly and sat neat quiet expecting a lesson.  The sandy-haired boy carried on trying to solder with a rapidly cooling iron.  Coupled with his intensity and determination to ignore his surroundings, his work began to take on the characteristics of desperation.  I felt the delicate prayerwork within the board fracture under his enthusiastic ministrations, the soldering iron now fully cold and useful only for poking, which he was still doing hopefully, as if the act itself would turn the tool back on.  Now he looked up, puzzled at first that his iron had been switched off, gradually I saw understanding dawn on his face and he carefully put the iron back in its holder.  I took the work from his desk and inspected it.  I had no need of doing so; the catastrophic damage was evident even with my normal eye.  It was simply to impress upon him the mess he had made of yet another simple task.  He opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it and waited for me instead.  At least there was some self preservation remaining.   The whole room was quiet; every novice was waiting for my judgements.  I put down the novices piece and made him wait until last.  “Repeat the fourth meditation” I commanded, it would give the class something to do whilst I made cursory inspections and decided what to do with the boy. Again.

“consider the LED and the profound experience that results, the novice will learn this meditation for many lessons before moving on, the simple lesson of control and submitting is not so easily learnt” – First Book of Finian

“Baylock?” I called out, hearing his servos in the back rooms somewhere.  He appeared in the doorway in answer, carrying a large dataslate and a freshly pressed shirt, awaiting my next request.  He was listing to the left again, I really must fix that right hand track, it still wasn’t running straight no matter the strength of prayer which went into it.  Perhaps it was time for another replacement.  I hated taking him offline, he was much more than my familiar; he ran my diary, meetings, received and carried messages and missives, tidied my rooms and held an encyclopaedic database of the novices I had to teach.  The novice from that afternoon’s class drifted into my thoughts.  How could anyone, anyone, mess up a simple LED meditation?  Granted the simple lessons were often the hardest, but this novice was stubborn bordering on stupid.

“Did that reply get sent to Heira?” I asked.  “Yes,” he replied “three days ago.  I sent your profound apologies.  The discursive was last night, the results were posted this morning: I can deliver a summary if you require?”

I shook my head, enough to deal with the events to come up, never mind keeping track of the content of those past.  The sandy haired novice caught in my thoughts again.  Drat the boy.  I felt myself getting distracted and moved to light spark incense to calm my thoughts.   As I settled into the traditional seated posture for communion and mentally began the Mantra of Power On, I was aware that Baylock was still waiting.

“Food,” I ordered brusquely “bring me that sandy haired novice’s record and… what time is the Rite of Cyrene Recognition tonight?”

“At seven.  I will sound the chime fifteen minutes beforehand.”

“Make it thirty, I still have to eat and wash.”


The following morning after staff prayers I had walked in contemplation of the Rite of Cyrene Recognition the night before.  In my capacity as Configuration Node I had attended several Rites before, ones in which the participants accepted their fate quietly, and others who denied it fully up until the last remaining moments, unable to cry, counter argue or scream in frustration.  Theirs was a step too far out of balance, as off kilter as Baylock’s wonky track.  Last nights Rite was no different to begin with, a necessary recognition and reassigning of duties to confer the new status.  There were two being Recognised, the first already awake to her new status and duties, accepted peacefully.  The second howled and fought and had to be subdued before he would accept.  In the end, panting with lungs he no longer owned, he had looked straight at me, red eyes leaking and had said in what remained of his voice:

“ Goto goto if then he arrives goto 60 tree frog a compelling question is the investigation of the construction of the local identity split.  Tree Frog is key.  Seizing upon this approximate configuration the future is here.  Print is on a page, slate, written in his heart.  Psychoacoustic algorithm.  Frog, a method consisting of n-symmetric encryption.  Echo. break”  They had already begun the desensitising process, it could not be stopped, I could not ask him what he meant.  It was the code which disturbed me: there were records of those who spoke directly in code, when the whole world had been closer to the divine.  They brought messages and were considered the most sacred of all, to be able to commune directly with the divine, that was a rare gift.  That second Cyrene had been reassigned to rebuilding the frost damage to the southern wall, he would remember nothing of his former existence, nothing of what he had said in his last moments.  It had been taken from the official recordings, that much I knew.  To admit that a Cyrene had spoken in code directly before being desensitised would be something of a scandal.  The other Nodes Attendant would not even speak of it.

I tried to put it out of my mind, I had novices to teach, and that one with sandy hair would be right on the front row again.  I’d had him moved there so I could keep an eye on him after the incident with the fuse and simple call and response prayer which had resulted in the lab wing shorting out for half a day.  Still he would be sat, front and centre, enthusiastically ready to break another board and struggle with the simplest of Mantra meditations.  I was not looking forward to the remainder of my morning.

The end of that morning saw a further three boards irreparably broken to the total of one from the remainder of the class.  By the end of the week I had decided to see just how many base boards the sandy-haired boy could break.  A fortnight and an overflowing box of broken boards later I came to the conclusion that he was unbearably hopeless, stubborn, a danger to those around him and only good for duties usually reserved for Burnouts and those Flayed, although I privately doubted he would be capable of even those simple tasks.  That evening I put a note onto Baylock’s reminder records to ask the other Nodes Attendant if there was precedence for expulsion of continually useless novices.

Many second and third year novices may find it useful to meditate additionally on the Mantra Of Power On.  Simple words and simple actions often lead to the deepest understanding as the mind is freed to accept the profound fullness of the divine.  Spark incense may help this process as all the senses can be engaged in focussed thought.  When it comes to choosing primary augmentation, meditating on simple concepts can help and bring awareness of inspiration from the divine. Like a components on a simple circuit board, the Active Matrix has a place and task for all. Make listening to the divine the first task you accomplish every day, and ensure you continue to listen through your life.  You can only listen, and cannot act until you have connected through the narrow and true path of Fibre-Optics.  – Second Book of Finian

On reflection I probably should have known that the boy would have been bullied, he was, after all, a novice who couldn’t even repeat the second meditation without stumbling over the sixth line.  Previously I had called for him to be kept back a whole year as his learning was not competent enough for him to attempt basic wiring, and it would have been cruel for him to have been put forward.  Instead he had been quietly held back to repeat the years’ work again.  His original peers were already moving on to make their attempt at their first fusings and he had been placed with his new younger peers.  Perhaps the fault was mine, I had not really paid it much attention, seeing the withholding as necessary and required, not only to protect the boy himself from attempting advanced circuitry without first mastering the basics, but also to protect all of the novices from his enthusiastic incompetence.  I only realised this after I had calmed down and meditated in solitary for three days to get rid of the anger and fury I had initially felt at the incident in the Server Room.

The Great Server Room at the centre of the complex is somewhere only those trained and qualified can enter.   I was there in my capacity as Configuration Node to witness a Flaying.  It was not going to be an easy task: Farista had lost; it would have always been a close thing: she had challenged one of her own greatly augmented level and the duel had lasted the better part of a day and night.  It was a sad task for me – Farista had been a colleague, active contributor and friend.  The only thing I could do for her now was to supervise the Flaying to the best of my ability and ensuring that there was as little pain caused as possible.  I had entered way before the Flaying was due to take place, and spent my time in quiet prayer and meditation.  I had brought dongle offerings as was traditional, and additionally, as a value of my friendship with Farista, had given up a central piston from my right hand.  I had had Baylock remove it for me, rendering my right hand useless, intending to replace it after the Flaying.

At the appointed time Farista had entered flanked by four Cyrene and proceeded by the two current Passive Matrix and the Super Scalar.  The ceremony had proceeded as it should, Farista drinking the sacred anaesthetic, beginning her ascent to the Southbridge and laying unaided.  I had tried to catch her eye to offer some small reassurance, but she had simply stared ahead and the Flaying had begun.  The opening prayers were intoned and Farista had stared up at the ceilling, tears streaming down her cheeks as the removal began.  First her left leg below the knee, her right above it, then three fingers on her left hand which had been exquisite filigree work.  Her screams had become hoarse by now, and barely raised above the level of constant chanting.  We followed by swiftly and carefully removing her right ear and associated connecting circuitry.  Somewhere in the middle of the disconnection of cables for her left eye, made more difficult by the fact that I only had the use of one hand, the main doors had swung open and a single sandy haired novice, followed swiftly by a yelling group of novices had burst in.  The group had wisely stopped dead in their tracks and fled wide-eyed before I had chance to identify more than three of them, but the sandy haired boy, heedless of the fact that his pursuers had ceased their attentions, came barrelling up the steps, avoiding the attendant Cyrene, skidded to a halt and stared.  I could not pause; the operation had reached the final delicate stages, but instead spoke directly to him

“Leave boy, this is not for you.”  It was all I could spare, and I looked down again to concentrate as Cyrene moved in to remove him from the sacred space.

Perhaps he was spooked by what he was seeing, or by the initial pursuit, or by something else, I could not tell, but instead of leaving the Server Room as instructed, he barrelled round two Cyrene, running all the way round the perimeter of the Southbridge and avoiding all attempts to catch or control him.  I risked glancing up to see him pile into a Passive Matrix, sending them both backwards, tangling into a great string of prayer flags.  I returned my gaze to Farista’s exposed face as the whole string was pulled down and the boy was finally caught between two Cyrene. I didn’t hear a word as I heard the Cyrene moving off to the main doors and they closed.

“The technomage must construct their own circuit with the divine, through meditation and also personal skill and advancements.  By completing the First and Second virtual books a mage has the basic knowledge and skills they need to begin walking their own path.  Caution must be taken however, that a mage does not advance further in knowledge than skills, that way lies Burnout, advancement in skills without knowledge leads to simple Cyrene.  Techno skills and spiritual knowledge must be advanced together.  Note that this becomes increasingly difficult advancing closer to the divine, many mages stop at certain levels, confident in their balance” – Final Book of Finian

After that, my mind was made up.  The sandy haired boy would have to either go, or in the exception be assigned simple, one line commanded duties which even he could not possibly mess up.  Under my advisory he was struck from the novice record, was re-graded under Burnout and assigned quarters in that place.   At the same meeting the Super Scalar, still smarting from the insult he viewed as a personal one, had somehow got the notion that I was responsible for the debacle at Farista’s Flaying, as the boy was my student.  Despite my great and vocal protests the boy was assigned to me personally to assist in whatever duties I saw fit.  To say that I was unimpressed with the decision would be a great understatement.

I arrived back in my quarters that evening after the meeting with the Super Scalar and the Nodes Attendant in a foul mood.

Finians arrival at the Technomagocracy caused some consternation among the tutors there as he was unlike any other student.  I first met him there, he was the subject of many discussions and decisions.  Once he showed me how to rewire a board and it was as if the board rewired itself at his command.  He merely touched the connections as if to guide them into place and he said ‘think that you and the board are one, know it and it will be so’.  He was young then and when he was older and more aware he performed further and spoke in code.  All these things I will tell you, but first, as Finian says, you must begin with the simple circuit, and so I will start at the beginning.

Little is known of Finians life before he came to the technomagocracy.  He himself does not talk much of his parents and indeed some say he has never known them because he was born-from-circuit.  I can say for certain that he had no siblings and that he was focussed entirely on his learning.  Some principles he did not agree with and became angry before reason and the Codes took over his life and he dedicated himself to balancing technology and knowledge.

 I will tell you of this the 1.0 when Finian was young he entered the Great Server Room for the first time.  He looked around and the sight angered him.  He ran about, casting down the false prayer flags and opening up the Great Doors saying ‘How can you connect?  Do not lock away the Divine, but instead let it free and into your mind and body.’  The Nodes Attendant were dismayed and attempted to restrain him, but he broke free and overturned the cases and towers, freeing the circuitry within.  The Room was filled with the Great Hum of Power and Finian said ‘meditate on this, submit to the power and learn as if for the first time’.  The Nodes did as they were told and for the first time they were enlightened and understood.  Of these Nodes, four choose to follow Finian and learn directly from his teachings.   These become known later as the Quad Core. 


I will tell you of this the 2.0 that when his tutors learned of his advanced knowledge and understanding, Finian was taken from the Novice list, and revered for his skills.  Even though he was young, from then he began teaching and leading all those who would follow in his path to the Fibre Optic.

 I will tell you of this the 3.0, that Finian was walking on the West Walls and I was following.  We came upon a great Cyrene.  The Cyrene was so old that no-one remembered who they had been before their Rite of Recognition. Finian stopped, reached out and touched the Cyrene. The Cyrene stopped repairing the West Turret and turned to Finian.  I feared for him, as older Cyrene only take their instructions in code and do not understand speech or touch, so far are they imbalanced.  Finian said to him ‘Goto goto if then he arrives goto 30 come back and breathe the heart is the key feel touch goto 80 remember the balance.’  And the Cyrene breathed deep and cried and was balanced.  From that day on the Cyrene now known again as Rubel followed Finian faithfully and because his guardian. 

 –  Excerpt from Beezer’s Life of Finnian

Read more about Amalasuntha


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