Sunday, October 29, 2017

An Investigation into a Missing Kingdom

Contained within this letter is a summary of my investigations into the missing kingdom; a more detailed report will follow upon my return to court. Regrettably, even after a search of several months, I have failed to discover any physical traces of the missing kingdom. All that remains is an almost impassable thicket of bramble and thorns. While the notion of magic is implausible, I cannot offer any other explanation as to how an entire realm and its people could have vanished overnight.

Though I did not manage to find anyone hailing from the lost kingdom, I did encounter a few merchants that claimed to have visited that land. Though traders have a tendency to spin a yarn and embellish their tales, I was eventually able to piece together an element common to their stories. In the years before the kingdom's sudden disappearance, there was a sudden and great increase in demand for thread and yarn of all types. At the same time, imports of spindles and spinning wheels were forbidden, and any such device found smuggled into the kingdom was immediately burned on sight.

I surmise that there was some element of madness to the rulers of the kingdom; what else would drive them to deprive their people? In the long run, this would certainly have driven their realm to ruin. But overnight? That requires a malice that is more intentional. Indeed, that suits the information that we already have on hand.

It was recorded in the log of our diplomats that sixteen years ago, a great banquet was held in the vanished kingdom to celebrate the christening of a newborn princess. The log notes that six seats were intentionally left empty at the banquet table, yet no noble or diplomat was absent. At first glance, this could simply be a contingency for the odd forgotten guest. Those more attuned to the customs of the other lands would quickly realize that there never was any forgotten guest; those six seats were reserved for six other pagan spirits.

My most educated speculation is that these pagan spirits are to blame of the disappearance of the kingdom. Perhaps they were spurred into action by some dark ritual of a maddening king. Whatever it is, the truth might never come to light. What is clear is that there seems to be little benefit to further investigations into this matter; my fear is that we would provoke the same forces if we are to continue with our inquiry. In any case, there is no urgent and pressing need to survey the area. While our own nation is always in need for more territory, at our current rates of expansion I expect it would take about a hundred years before such a survey is necessary.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Sound in the Night

You should be concerned whenever you feel a chill upon your spine, and yet search around to find nothing that could have triggered it. And if the sense of dread increases further, get out. Perhaps not too suddenly and quickly, but quickly enough. 

A silly notion, you might say, to be flustered over nothing. Nothing but foolish fear, to be dispelled and ignored. But is it really so? A fear is simply an evolved reaction to a stimulus, very often a dangerous one. Our ancestors that feared things that ought to be feared survived. 

And those who did not fear did not live to pass on their bravery. 

Now, reason might tell us what is the source and cause of the fear, and its danger. But sometimes reason fails to adequately identify or understand. Nonetheless, deep in our bones, we know that something is amiss. 

Rather than cowardice, fear is an ancestral danger sense. To ignore it would be folly.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Tale from the Mirror

It is not unusual for those who are steeped in evil to lose perspective, and in the end, cause their own demise. Consider the recent scandal- yes, that of a witch, a murderer, a stepmother, and a queen- which has proved to be a popular study in certain circles. In several of these circles, the discussion focuses upon her means of murder, and on how she could have succeeded if she had employed more effective tools. Certainly, that is true, but it only proves my point- that those who are steeped in evil often lose perspective.

The first mistake is to presume a necessity for murder as a means of achieving one's goals. The Queen desired to remain the fairest in the land, and with her stepdaughter proving yet more beautiful, she saw the solution of murder. Admittedly, this would achieve her objective, but was disproportionately risky. It is a trivial exercise for those with vision to see more benign alternatives.

An early death is rather unnatural, and thus difficult to arrange. Good and willing help is problematic to find, and executing the deed personally only serves to increase the chance of failure, as well as to incriminate oneself. But if the crime was less severe, both of these issues could be circumvented. What if the Queen staged some sort of accident, but instead of causing death, merely caused disfigurement? And it needn't be a severe disfigurement, only a mild one- perhaps a small scar? It would achieve the same ends, which was to remove the stepdaughter as a candidate for the fairest.

But even this alternative demonstrates a lack of vision. It only modifies the means, but does not question the motive. Villains are villains not because they have the means, but because they are driven by the wrong motives. Now, why then did the Queen desire to be the fairest, a Sisyphic goal at best? Here I move to speculate: she valued herself by such a metric, and this was reinforced by her becoming Queen by virtue of her beauty. Under the circumstances, she saw her beauty as the cause, and the method, of her remaining Queen. Not an entirely unreasonable thought, for kings that once chose their wives on the basis of beauty are wont to do so again. Insecurity turned to madness, and tragedy followed.

It is here that I lament the loss of perspective that madness brings. She saw only one means to perpetuate her position, and she took it. But what if she had other means of proving herself invaluable to the king and kingdom? For instance, a tool that could scry and discern the truth? By using such a device to assist in the fair administration of the country, her assessment would not only no longer be reliant on her ultimately ephemeral beauty, but be based on her contributions and virtues.

But alas, that is not what happened.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Criminal Physiognomy

One's fate is not written in the stars, but instead in one's face.

For example, examine the photograph of subject A in your training docket. Consider his morbidly misshapen features. Does he not resemble a criminal? Indeed he is a villain of the most depraved kind! So self-evident is his malevolence that a single glance, boosted by our natural intuition, is sufficient for us to indict him. 

Of course, subject A is only a simple training example carefully selected to demonstrate the general principles of criminal physiognomy. In actual practice, criminal physiognomy employs a rigorous and scientific framework that must be strictly followed for full efficacy. If this framework is not adhered to, then one risks making the wrong arrests.

A mistake that is often made, sometimes even by experts, is to misattribute as a criminal a person who is merely ugly. The reason why this is wrong ought to be obvious. Remember this! A criminal is someone who has committed a crime! A person, however hideous, cannot be considered a criminal until he inevitably engages in his criminal activities. Regrettably, it is only after then that we can act to arrest the transgressor.

Monday, February 27, 2017

To Fight Crime

I'm not a religious man. I'm not a superstitious man. But why am I looking for you now? Sometimes we have to do what we have to do.

What I am is a simple man. I don't know any complicated theories, or possess any advanced thingamajigs. I only know what I know- my two fists, and on occasion a low kick. I just do what I can, whenever I can. That makes a difference.

I fight crime, or so I've always convinced myself. A quick jab to knockout a robber on Monday, a side swipe on a molester on Thursday- these are the results of my actions. Every day, every week. Small steps, but steps all the same. But deep within me I knew that it wouldn't work. Not today, not next week, and not in the end. 

You see, I wasn't fighting crime. I was fighting criminals, and there's a difference. Even if I could fight all the criminals in the city, or in the world, it wasn't the same thing. It isn't possible to fight crime, to punch it in the face, or to floor it with a kick. There's nothing to punch or kick. Crime isn't a thing, or a person. It's something else altogether.

Now, I've said in the beginning that I am only a simple man. I only know what I know- my two fists, and on occasion a low kick. But if something can't be punched, and when kicking doesn't work either, what do I do? I don't know any complicated theories, or possess any advanced thingamajigs. I can only keep on jabbing my fists, and striking with my boot. 

That's why I need you. I know what you can do. You can speak with Gods, and dance with Devils. Maybe not on the same day, but that's none of my business. My plan is simple, and easy to handle. I need you to summon Crime, and make him real. I'll do the rest, with my left and my right.

It sounds ridiculous, but it might just work. And if it doesn't, I'll just have to finish Crime off with a low kick.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Something Bought at a Convenience Store

Nowadays, you can buy a name at any local convenience store. Fairly good ones too, certified auspicious according to the various nomancy guidelines. Those names are not customized, but they'll do fine in a pinch, and at their mass-market price point there's not much to complain about.

In fact, I just bought a name as I was buying breakfast on the way to work earlier this morning. Certainly, it's not something that's an absolute necessity- with this new addition, I have about seventeen names in total- but we can't always live on the basis of necessity, can we?  In any case, the new name happened to be a middle name, which could easily be inserted into my existing names. 
What a thoughtful product! It was certainly an improvement on earlier versions, where only first (or worse, last) names were offered, leading to complaints from confused customers.

While nobody was looking during work, I logged on to my favorite nomacy website and keyed in my updated name. Immediately, countless complex calculations were performed remotely and their results transferred and displayed onto my screen. The predictions on various types of luck were indicated in green and red, foretelling fortune and misfortune respectively. 

My new name, it seemed, did not affect my fortunes in a manner that I had hoped. There were some minor improvements in luck here and there, but on a whole the effect was marginal at best. It was well known that there were diminishing returns to adding further names. There were examples of people who benefited significantly from having thirty or even fifty names, but many of those people employed experts to design their names. I would just have to be happy with my convenience store-bought name.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Importance of Regular Maintenance of Property

The president was waving an origami sword at me in a menacing fashion. Although he was left-handed, he was wielding the deadly weapon with his right hand; immediately, I understood that he was reserving his true power for a later moment, and that he was not yet being serious. There was still a chance for me to get out of here alive. 

"I will give you a chance to learn why you must die here," he said while moving his sword into an attack stance.

I could have performed a sudden sneak attack at this moment by flexing my legs and launching my shoes at the president, but it would most probably have failed. Because I had taken a shortcut through a muddy footpath on the way to the clubroom, my shoes were weighted with mud, and thus any attack made with my shoes, although more powerful due to the added weight, would also be too slow and easily blocked or deflected.

W-wait- did the president anticipate this, and chose this particular date and time to attack? But he could not have known that I would take the shortcut across the muddy footpath.

"You bastard!" the president spat, "It seems like you think you have done nothing wrong. It looks like there's simply no way we can coexist. I can't forgive anyone without a proper sense of time. "

I looked at my watch. What was he talking about? I had arrived five minutes in advance of my club meeting. Could my watch be wrong- oh no!

In the moment that I was glancing at my watch, he had started his attack sequence, and was now moving impossibly quickly towards me! I had made a fatal mistake! I tried to dodge, but it was too late to avoid his well-practiced strike!

The origami sword crumpled against my the pocket of my uniform, but the weapon had done its job and inflicted untold amounts of piercing damage to me. I collapsed to the floor. 

"There are only two times in life. Now, and too late. You can only blame yourself.

Time of death- 310pm. 310pm !?"

As my consciousness faded, my last thing I saw was the president staring at the clock mounted on the wall of the clubroom.