Deal 1239: The darker the better

Beer is the magical drink that created civilization. Fermenting grain makes water safer to drink. Finding enough grain to ferment drove agriculture. Tending the grain made it more practical to remain in one place year round. Brewing also encouraged cultivation of yeast, and certainly lead to reliably leavened breads. Bread and beer lubricated many social gatherings, to such an extent that “breaking bread” is still a metaphor in use today.

Tea, on the other hand, only appears after beer and bread are established. It is often seen alongside silly dainty sandwiches with the crust cut off.

Don’t get on the tea bandwagon.

Stick to the originals. Beer and bread.


Deal 1232: Mana

At times, it seems as if only a generous supply of magic could support life here. Magic would explain many things, and would certainly make survival easier. Magic comes at a cost, it too is dependent on a steady flow of its source. And mana is not particularly common here, any more than it is anywhere else.

Magic, then, is not the sole explanation.

Where it is found, the usual tooth and nail competitions are not. Life survives without the usual impulses to do battle and war over limited food supplies.

With a mana supply, life is peaceful.

For those able to use it, of course.

Without mana, or the means to use it, life remains a brutal competition.

Either way, life is found in some decidedly weird places.

And this place is more than a little weird. The caverns all over the planet are deep and warm enough to prevent the water from freezing, while remaining cool enough to retain enough dissolved oxygen to keep things interesting. Mana likely supplies the glowworms that illuminate the caverns. We don’t know for sure. But it is the only reasonable explanation for their abundance in areas without obvious sources of food.

We can only infer its existence from evidence like the abundance of the glow, since most of us are unable to sense it directly and it has, so far, eluded all attempts to sense with instruments.

The longer I live in this strange place, however, the more I begin to feel a second sort of warm currents. Mana is having its effect, and change is inevitable. The last member of our party to discover the ability went mad. So I am also disobeying a sensible standing order by not reporting my new abilities.

But I am sure I am not going mad.

I won’t go mad.

The madness will not consume me.

Nor will the nearly invisible beasts of the greatest depths that I begin to sense moving around well outside of our most remote explorations.

I am not mad, so I won’t go exploring.

Today, at least.

Today, I remain with the group, and wonder what the deeps may hold.

Besides an abundant source of mana, that is.


Deal 1183: Fire

I walked away from the party concerned about how I understood reality. I had just seen proof that a kind of comic-book voodoo works. A burn mark on a drawing of a hand traced from the visitor’s hand became a blister on his actual hand, and on the very finger where the paper was burned. He explained it away as simplistic voodoo. We crumpled up the paper after marking the finger. After only a few minutes, his finger healed. The paper was now clean when uncrumpled.

Except when it suddenly went up in flames.

And left me with ashes on my palm.