Deal 917: unchained

Out of the great wastes of the ordinary occasionally arises someone extraordinary. This is because narrative necessity requires it, or because statistics has long tails, or some similar mumbo-jumbo. Regardless, it always happens. The problem is, noone can predict whether the extraordinary one in a million shot is a hero or villain.

The Brothers of Grace have assembled peacefully at their temple compound in the hills as long as history has a record. Eventually, one of their number was bound to join the ranks of those few who have shaken the universe at its core.

We may never know what exactly happened to Brother Boom. But forensic analysis of his story tells us that his messy end was, in the end, not entirely a surprise. His unfortunate name was the result of a draw of a tile from a hat, as is the custom as each novice shrugs off their worldly past and takes up the cowl. Like other brothers gifted with less fortunate names before him, he bore his with grace, and didn’t appear to be anticipating his troubles.

Today, of course, the hilltop where the compound used to sit is missing.

Some say that the temple was built on the cone of a dormant volcano, and not all dormant volcanos remain dormant. Certainly, the pyroclastic flows that followed the early morning explosion are consistent with that view.

And yet, there is the small matter of the experiments. The Brothers of Grace welcome the pursuit of knowledge, and provide an environment where nearly anything can be studied without concern for appearances to outsiders. Rumors abound of a cabal of brothers (some say a research team rather than “cabal”) interested in the properties of certain rare minerals, especially certain metals. Merchants had delivered large quantities of yellow earths to the compound over the past decade. What was being done was never discussed. And now we may never know.

Downwind of the temple some artifacts have been discovered. One of the more significant is a large portion of a journal or diary, which apparently belonged to Brother Boom. It discusses some properties of the metal refined from the yellow earth, including the mysterious illnesses that befell Brother Child and Brother Fatman. It also discussed the fact that the metal did not seem to like to be cast into large ingots, and could grow warm if too many ingots were stacked in the same shed.

Brother Boom seemed to be addressing the problems of storage, and had worked out carefully what the largest amount of the metal was that could occupy a volume without a catastrophic result.

No more Brother Boom.

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