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Author Topic: Gibbering Madness (Gibbering Obscurity Redux)  (Read 10098 times)
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Valan Nonesuch
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« on: 12 October 2009, 12:35:15 »

Name: Gibbering Madness, Mist Madness, Gaol Madness

Categorisation: Miscellaneous/Medicine and Vitality(?)
Overview:
The Mists surrounding the Tower of Osthemangar are said to harbor truly horrible abominations and perversions of nature; creatures that no living being should ever behold, lest they be driven mad by the revelation. That is of course the crux of the Gibbering Madness, and affliction that rends the very mind of the sufferer, reducing them to little more than a crumpled husk.

Source:
Mist Madness is not known to have any distinct source, cause or means of transmission, though the supposed root of the affliction varies depending on the specific group. Kurakim scholars believe that the affliction results from too much exposure to surface air and light. The Osther-Oc believe that Mist Madness is a curse from the spirits, a belief mirrored by the Kaaer'darshin. Erpheronians strongly believe that the entire region of Osthemangar is evil and most refuse to enter it on principle or have anything to do with it. Still others believe that spending too much time isolated or confined is the true source of this madness, leading to its other name, Gaol Madness.

Scholars of various stripes debate whether or not the supposed influence of the Netherworld within the Mists of Osthemangar is the root cause of the affliction, and whether or not this affliction does anything to spread that influence. To date, there has been no definitive proof to any of these claims but neither have they been defintively disproven.

Effects:
Sufferers of Mist Madness are reduced to mere shells of their former selves. Often they will refuse to leave a given spot, becoming highly reclusive and even hermit-like. They may be possessed of abstruse fears and compulsions, such as keeping lights lit at all hours or refusing to eat food they have not prepared. These compulsions take a very real hold over their fragmented thoughts, often leading them to ignore things as elementary as sleep or food. The "secondary" forms of Gibbering Madness are said to be less severe than the "true" affliction garnered in the Mists, but no less debilitating for their supposed "dilution". Sufferers who have somehow contracted the Madness elsewhere are known to become prone to violent outbursts, and throes of cathartic rage, suffer fits of paranoia and vivid hallucinations.

Treatment: Treatment of the afflicted by Mindsmoothers has done little. Whatever the injury to the mind of those struck with Mist Madness, it is too great for even these mystics to even begin to repair. Most often, the afflicted are left to their own devices, and will often die without anyone noticing. Some, including the Osther-Oc of Northern Sarvonia, will outright kill those who become mad in the Mists fearing they will spread the affliction. The Kaaer'dar'shin people of Northern Sarvonia attempt (quite successfully apparently) to ward off the affliction altogether by wearing protective charms which they call to'avatars, one of the central symbols of their faith. Others have tried imitating the Kaaer, carrying wooden and bone trinkets with them hoping to ward off the evil in the Mists, but thusfar this appears to have had no effect.

Prevalence
Mist Madness is commonly associated with Caael'heroth and the Mists of Osthemangar, which surround the Deep Winds Portal, but cases have been found in isolated areas of Northern Sarvonia, among the Osther-Oc, the Kurakim and even some sporadic cases of Remusians and Epheronians contracting it. Mist Madness has been observed in Santharia and elsewhere, but it is surely less common there than it is in the North.

Myth/Lore:

The following fragmentary report was found in the possession of a rather elderly Kurakim dwarf, who’s father acquired it from the original author circa 1230 a.S. While the document was translated to Tharian, sections of it were left untranslated at the request of the owner, in particular the names of the dwarves involved and the location of their unfortunate quarry.

“It was truly horrific. The five of us had gone to see what had become of young […]. We found his body frozen out in the […]
His hand, frozen with an ever accusing finger, led us to a box canyon. We turned back, having found nothing. We paid no heed to the wind, thinking it was nothing more than the strangeness of the place, and the late hour at which we were choosing to return. Little did we know how wrong we were.

A storm came down on us from out of a seemingly clear sky. We managed to huddle in a cave, though the storm wailed about for three days. None of us slept. We had little enough food and water, and no fire. In what must have been the middle of the third day [...] began to mutter to himself. We could not hear his whispers, whatever grim portents they were of things to come.

That evening he began yelling in a loud voice “The Shadow Dog! It feasts on fear! It slakes its thirst on panic! It devours the sun! Its eyes are as the endless void, Its mouth a gaping cavern!” With a cry he fell on [...] with his axe, taking him by surprise. He slew him and turned his fell gaze then upon [...] who managed to take three steps away from him before falling to the macabre fiend that had possessed our companion. "It demands! Flesh!" He cried as another swing saw a third laid low, my own father.

Taking hold of his axe, I managed to wrest it from his grasp and hewed through his arm. As I made to kill him, he screamed a ghastly scream, a noise I fear I may never forget though I live to see the beginning and end of a new age."

Much of the study of this affliction comes from a solitary Thergerim scholar who lived with the so called “Mad Kurakim” Amrildul IshHlazil who believed he had encountered what he called a Gibbering Obscurity (a tharianization from the original Thergerim Taal: KodeniArilpra, Blasphemous Twilight), as it is referred to by the "witness"[1].
This scholar, who remains unknown to this day, lived in confinement with Amrildul for six months before he began to suffer similar effects to those he observed in his subject.

IshHlazil, until entering the Mists sometime in late 1570 a.S, was a stone carver of middling talent. Purported to have gone in search of better stone from which to carve his wares, he came back muttering to himself a week later.

At first, his madness only manifested in his carvings, which became increasingly more bizzare, depicting things which should likely only be found in the darkest corners of the Netherworld towards the end of this phase. His shop began to pile up with these disturbing objects, which soon caused him to be called before an authority.

Before being dragged bodily into a cell, IshHlazil was reported to have set himself aflame with a spirit lamp, and proceeded to set his shop and several bystanders on fire before being forcibly doused. Conflicting reports suggest that the mad dwarf may have been trying to purge himself of a perceived impurity. As with many of his actions, nothing can be proven of IshHlazil's temporary conflagration, except that it occured.

The infamous Amrildul died in 1578 a.S. at the age of 65. Exact dating is difficult to determine, since his body was only discovered by the tremendous smell of decay emanating from the cell where he was kept.  Judging by its state, Amrildul may have been dead a month before anyone noticed. Thankfully for this chronicler, there was a Kurakim healer that took an interest in IshHlazi’s mad ravings and recorded some of the more lucid portions of his speech. Several copies of these notes were burned as heresy by Kurakim religious authorities, including one set that was the subject of a mob tearing it to pieces before turning on its scribe.

[1]The chronicler would inform the reader of the lack of solid reports regarding the veracity of the information provided on the individual in question. Much of IshHlazil's raving was incoherent and those parts that could be distinguished were scarcely things to make sense of including the assertion that the patient was "a small evil pie made of mushrooms and dirt". This has continued to puzzle some philosophers, who question whether or not it is the pie or it's filling that was meant to be considered evil, and how exactly a pastry might be considered evil.
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Azhira Styralias
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« Reply #1 on: 12 October 2009, 13:38:49 »

Uhh...don't forget I suggested making this a soul sickness, too.  thumbup And it fits much better, I'd say!
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« Reply #2 on: 12 October 2009, 22:56:36 »

Of course Azhira. I'd mentioned to Shabakuk that I'd try to do an Affliction of the Soul earlier (I'd actually forgotten your suggestion... undecided)
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Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang
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« Reply #3 on: 13 October 2009, 04:26:53 »

Hi Valan,

Ah, an eccentricity! I really like the name "Gibbering Obscurity". It's a good idea, this, and fits well into the Mists and the Tower of Osthemangar theme. If I may permit myself one general comment: I'd really love to see a few more tantalizing and bewildering descriptions of what the terrified sufferers actually think they have seen. The passage of the Shadow Dog, who may or may not be about to devour the sun - I  think that's the best bit, and I would love to be granted more insights such as this. That would also make your entry even more unique and Santharian.

I don't understand, by the way, why the dwarf who had seen the Shadow Dog starts killing his companions. Maybe I'm not supposed to understand it - the parchment is a fragment, after all. But I'm saying this because I think it should not be a foregone conclusion that madness leads to violent inclinations. (On earth, it's a common but erroneous prejudice that the mentally ill are more prone to violence than other people.) It's your entry, of course, and you can do what you like with it. I'm just saying that there might be scope for other effects of madness on a person's behaviour.  ;) 

About the template: The headlines you've come up with correspond pretty closely to what I had in mind. (I had them in a different order, but your order makes sense for the Gibbering Obscurity.) The only category I am sure I would like to add is:

Prevalence and Distribution.

For your entry, this might not seem very important, as the cause of Gibbering Madness is aligned to a specific place. But in general, I think, the reader deserves information on

(1) where the affliction is known to occur; and
(2) how frequent it is.

I hope to be able to start work on my own afflictions ideas before the month is out. I have in mind a suggestion for an entry template, and an example which I tentatively call the Evil Ear.  shocked

But unfortunately, less important things keep dragging me away from Santharia. Also, there is a little seaslug that's been crawling around in my study, and which I must throw onto the Development Board soon, lest it turn me into a gibbering obscurity.

So please bear with me! When I'll be done, I shall be very happy to give Gibbering Madness a proper uri-check. :)

Shabakuk

... aura for the shadow dog ...
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« Reply #4 on: 02 November 2009, 07:51:40 »

Hi Valan, here I am again. Thanks for bearing with me. That I like this idea, I’ve already said, and given some general comments in the post above. So here is the promised uri.

In terms of the entry template, it seems to me that your chosen format works well for this affliction, and I see no reason to impose a different one – with the exception of a sentence or two on ‘Prevalence’, which you could usefully add, as I’ve suggested in the post above. I intend to draft an official “entry template” for Afflictions of the Soul (or “Spiritual Maladies”, as I currently prefer, for the sake of brevity), but even though that may divert slightly from what you’ve done here, I see no reason to impose changes on your structure, which is thought through and logical in the context of what you’re doing here. Whether established members agree with me is a different matter, of course.

So anyway, here goes. Straightforward corrections and stylistic suggestions in yellow, comments, mutterings and praises in limegreen.


Name: Gibbering Madness, Mist Madness

Categorisation: Miscellaneous / Diseases (Affliction of the Soul) (It is, of course, my suggestion to NOT make ‘Afflictions of the Soul’ part of the Diseases category. So I’d prefer: “Miscellanous / Eccentricities & Spiritual Maladies”)

Overview:
The Mists surrounding the Tower of Osthemangar are said to harbor truly horrible abominations and perversions of nature. Creatures that no living being should ever behold, lest they be driven mad by the revelation. That is of course the crux of the Gibbering Madness, an affliction that rends the very mind of the sufferer, reducing them to little more than a crumpled husk.

Source:
The Gibbering Madness seems to affect those that encounter something that unhinges the mind within the Mists of Osthemangar, be it a spectre or apparition of some sort or a very real monstrosity dwelling within the Mists. Afflictions similar to Mist Madness have been witnessed by those subjected to other events of a terrifying nature (a suggestion at reformulation, so as to avoid the repetition of ‘similar’), particularly those related to the more recondite (ooh, I love being taught new English words!) branches of magic or those involved in situations of extreme isolation and pressure. Tales of apostates suddenly breaking down into madness and spouting nonsense are not uncommon among some religious orders, (in general, I like the suggestive tone of this paragraph, hinting at vague rumours rather than confidently identifying causes. However, in the spirit of Santharianization it wouldn’t maybe go amiss to name a few religious orders – True Vision Cult, for example? - I’m sure you know more than I do!) and rumors persist of some practicing a ghastly rite before inhuming their dead the (that[?]) concludes with the removal and subsequent cremation of the tongue. (The last half-sentence, starting from ‘and rumors’, isn’t clear. There is something grammatically wrong with it, and the reader doesn’t know who inhumes whom. The religious orders inhume their diseased apostates? But when and why do they die? I wanna know!)

Effects:
Sufferers of Mist Madness are reduced to mere shells of their former selves. Often they will refuse to leave a given spot, becoming highly reclusive and even hermit-like. They may possess (maybe better: “be possessed by”[?] abstruse fears and compulsions, such as keeping lights lit. These compulsions take a very real hold over their fragmented thoughts (add comma) often leading them to ignore things as elementary as sleep or food. The "secondary" forms of Gibbering Madness are said to be less severe than the "true" affliction, but no less debilitating for their supposed "dilution". (What do you mean by ‘secondary forms’? The kinds incurred not in the Mists, but through other means? Should be said more clearly, methinks.

Treatment: Treatment of the afflicted by Mindsmoothers has done little. Whatever the injury to the mind of those struck with Mist Madness, it is too great for even these mystics (Are mindsmoothers mystics? More ‘gifted healers of the soul’, I think?) to even begin to repair. Most often, the afflicted are left to their own devices, and will often die without anyone noticing.
The infamous Amrildul IshHlazil (This paragraph doesn’t really say anything about treatment, and rather belongs into the Myth section, I think, where you take up the story of Amrildul. Also, you may want to restructure and embellish this passage a bit, as I am left with quite a few questions on my mind: Who is Amrildul? [Below you imply that he is a Kurakim, but I think we should be told that a bit earlier.] What is he infamous for – just his mist madness, or something else as well?) died in 1578 a.S. at the age of 36. Exact dating is difficult to determine, since his body was only discovered by the tremendous smell of decay emanating from the cell where he was kept.  Judging by its state, Amrildul may have been dead a month before anyone noticed. Thankfully for this chronicler, there were some Eyashenes as well as a Kurakim healer that took an interest in IshHlazi’s mad ravings and recorded some of the more lucid portions of his speech. Several copies of these notes were burned as heresy by Kurakim religious authorities, including one set that was the subject of a mob tearing it to pieces before turning on its scribe.

Myth/Lore:
Much of the study of this affliction comes from a solitary Thergerim scholar who lived with the so called “Mad Kurakim” Amrildul IshHlazil* who believed he had encountered what he called a Gibbering Obscurity (a tharianization from the original Thergerim Taal: KodeniArilpra, Blasphemous Twilight), as it is referred to by the "witness"[1]. (Why is “Blasphemous Twilight” translated as “Gibbering Obscurity”? Couldn’t it be that the Thergerim scholar has just made up his own name, in addition to Amrildul’s preferred term?)

(You may want to add a bit to the story of Amrildul here. What were the effects of his madness on him? Did he have any colourful compulsions or delusions, maybe? Why was he imprisoned?

Also, as I was reading the Myth section, I thought at first that the “fragmentary report” below concerned Amrildul. Only at the end I noticed that this couldn’t be the case, since the afflicted person reported below was killed, whereas Amrildul died forsaken in his prison. Maybe alert the reader to the change in topic, by saying something like: “Another glimpse into the effects of Gibbering Madness is provided by the following report of a Kurakim expedition into the Mists, which met a terrible end. The report was found in the possession [etc.]”)


The following fragmentary report was found in the possession of a rather elderly Kurakim dwarf, whose father acquired it from the original author circa 1230 a.S. While the document was translated into Tharian, sections of it were left untranslated at the request of the owner. Moreover, the names of the dwarves involved and the location of their unfortunate quarry have been blotted out in the Tharian manuscript.

“It was truly horrific. The five of us had gone to see what had become of young […]. We found his body frozen out in the […]
His hand, frozen with an ever accusing finger, led us to a box canyon. (What’s a box canyon?) We turned back, having found nothing. We paid no heed to the wind, thinking it was nothing more than the strangeness of the place, and the late hour at which we were choosing to return. Little did we know how wrong we were.

A storm came down on us from out of a seemingly clear sky. We managed to huddle in a cave, though the storm wailed about for three days. None of us slept. We had little enough food and water, and no fire. In what must have been the middle of the third day (add comma) [...] began to mutter to himself. We could not hear his whispers, whatever grim portents they were of things to come.

That evening he began yelling in a loud voice “The Shadow Dog! It feasts on fear! It slakes its thirst on panic! It devours the sun! Its eyes are as the endless void, its mouth a gaping cavern!” With a cry he fell on [...] with his axe, taking him by surprise. (As I said in my previous post, it remains obscure to me why fear of the Shadow Dog should induce the afflicted person to slay his fellows?) He slew him and turned his fell gaze then upon [...] who managed to take three steps away from him before falling to the macabre fiend that had possessed our companion. Another swing saw a third laid low, my own father.

Taking hold his axe, I managed to wrest it from his grasp and hewed through his arm. As I made to kill him, he screamed a ghastly scream, a noise I fear I may never forget though I live to see the beginning and end of a new age."

[1]The chronicler would inform the reader of the lack of solid reports regarding the veracity of the information provided on the individual in question. Much of IshHlazil's raving was incoherent and those parts that could be distinguished were scarcely things to make sense of (add comma) including the assertation that he was "a small evil pie made of mushrooms and dirt". (Not quite sure here: IshHlazil asserted that he himself was a small evil pie? Maybe this could be made clearer.)

In general, a good idea that goes well the the Osthemangar theme. I wouldn’t mind a few more colourful details of the kind I’ve hinted at in my previous post. Hope these comments are useful!

Shabakuk
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« Reply #5 on: 02 November 2009, 11:02:27 »

You know...I wonder if there could be a few more ways to get this malady other than dwelling within the Mists.

- There could be a myth regarding the mystran in that the touch or influence of this entity bestows Gibbering madness.

- Another source could be that this is a curse that can be given by orcen shamans (a divine curse) to their enemies. Specifically a certain old sect of Osther-Oc shamans. Yet another divine magic concept in my near future.

- Another legend could tell that this affliction was used in certain battles by dark elven clerics of Coor. The War of the Chosen, Battle of Osthemangar, Battle of the Hegedorn and the Battle of the Witchking's Night would all fit. Perhaps the affliction was given to route and demoralize the enemy. Legend tells that the affliction is given from Coor himself (originating in the Mists fits well with this as the Mists are said to come from the Netherworld).

- The Mist Hunters would possess divine magic in the form of protective to'avatars to keep them from being afflicted by the Madness. This is a concept I am currently proposing. Essentially, the to'avatar could be in the form of an amulet or small item carried by each Mist Hunter.

- Other possible names for this could be Nether Madness or Gibbering Darkness.
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« Reply #6 on: 02 November 2009, 13:12:58 »

Azhira, I really don't like the idea of it being administered as a delivered thing. It's an atmospheric effect more than anything else. Kind of like living downriver from a waste plant and drinking the water. It doesn't matter if it's a day, a week or a decade you go without it, if you keep exposing yourself, eventually you'll get something. I'll do some reading up on the Mist Hunters.
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« Reply #7 on: 02 November 2009, 22:05:32 »

That's fine Valan, but your Overview and Sources need to be clear somewhat on how one obtains the affliction.

The Overview states that proximity within the Mists gives the affliction. Then, you go on to say that the malady also comes from other sources such as magic or witnessing a certain horrible creature or abomination. I would distance the malady from the Mists and instead give it a wider source of origin.

If you localize the malady to within the Mists alone, you'll need more sources and myths to further ground the illness. I would use other explorers to the Mists (perhaps Marvan Swiftrook, who discovered Cort'Mangar, could have been suspected of falling victim to the Madness after his encounter with the Shades). Also, orcen sources are good to have. Much of the Mists' lore comes from the orcs, or the Kaaer.

Remember, the Mists is not a place that experiences alot of traffic. Most explorers to the region are never heard from again. Alot of the area is known only from orcen lore and Mist Hunter lore, as well as my super explorer extraordinaire, Saryas Kelweather. I suggest making this affliction more well known in other populated areas with rumors that it also afflicts those who explore the Mists. Make the Mists source secondary not the primary.
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No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith. And that, I fear, for any reasoning, conscious being, would be the cruelest trick of all.
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« Reply #8 on: 03 November 2009, 04:15:27 »

It's difficult to articulate the thought without going into strangeness and ranting, but I'll try to give it a go.
Originally, it was just a plain copy of the Gibbering Obscurity into an "Affliction of the Soul". After having done that, I realized that what I'd written down in the Myth/Lore reminded me a little of cavern fever and I borrowed a few pointers from the optional "Sanity" rules presented for D&D.

The "symptoms" for lack of a better word, might never be exactly the same, so Gibbering Madness from the Mists became a sort of catch-all for what could very well be a few distinct but highly similar Afflictions.
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« Reply #9 on: 03 November 2009, 08:05:23 »

(What’s a box canyon?)

Shabakuk[/color]

A box canyon is one that only has one entrance/exit. It's a canyon that is a dead end. They are used rather frequently in Louis Lamore Westerns. Many times an army which is pursued by a greater force will hole up in a box canyon, with an easily defensible entrance. Sometimes this is a really bad idea, as the enemy leaves a blocking force in position, and then simply rides around to get on the sides of the canyon, and shoots them full of arrows where they cannot escape. Alternatively, they are the location of a hopeless last stand where the defenders are destroyed to the last man. One box canyon I would like to use is the site of such a massacer. Legends of hidden treasure are there, plus, the ground is not only covered in bones, with lots of sinkholes to catch unwary explorers, but is the site of oil and natural gas seeping out of the ground, and filling the holes. An unaware person, could pass out from the gas. The hero becomes trapped there by people looking for the treasure. He manages the escape by climing the canyone wall, but someone sees him, and a mage throws a fireball, which ignites the gas which is in the air, and causes an explosion which wounds the hero, and incireates the villians. (Sorry I got off track. I got going and couldn't stop.)
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« Reply #10 on: 03 November 2009, 09:32:14 »

Sivartius pretty much nailed it Shab.
A box canyon is box shaped, one entrance, and yes, famously used as the site of a last stand, quick retreat or or massacre.
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« Reply #11 on: 10 November 2009, 07:01:43 »

That should address your comments Master Anfang. All that bright Lime is your fault after all  grin
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« Reply #12 on: 10 November 2009, 23:04:12 »

And my comments? Any of them? I still think some aspects should be made more clear, as mentioned above.
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« Reply #13 on: 10 November 2009, 23:09:55 »

Working on that. I have no knowledge of the Mist Hunters, beyond the short piece you have here on the boards, and I haven't looked into the religious magic info just yet.
It's a little hard to say I've done anything when I haven't started to do the research. grin
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« Reply #14 on: 10 November 2009, 23:21:13 »

The only on-site "official" Mist Hunter stuff is in the Osthemangar entry. I am currently working on a full Mist Hunter entry now. I just think it deserves a mention since they actually hunt in the Mists and are protected from your malady using Kaaer divine magic (to'avatars). I also feel that this malady deserves some lore relating to Coor and the Netherworld. Maybe some sages think this is a malady one gets from Netherworld influence. You say it comes from being in the Mists, but remember the Mists is a result of the opening of Osthemangar and many sages believe the Netherworld "leaked" into Caelereth corrupting it. I feel its an important cross reference.  thumbup
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No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith. And that, I fear, for any reasoning, conscious being, would be the cruelest trick of all.
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