Saturday, November 28, 2015

Location Files: The River Lethe

There is an important distinction to be made between the removal of memories and the destruction of memories. The former is an easy, almost trivial task. Even with no external stimuli, the mind is constantly losing its own memories. This phenomenon can be artificially induced by either physically exciting the neurons of the subject, or directly manipulating the spiritual essence of the memories. The destruction of memories, on the other hand, is a difficult undertaking. While not outright impossible, it is certainly unfeasible in most cases. Though the following explanation is something of an oversimplification, a memory can be thought of as a message, encoded in light aether and dark aether, in a way that is somewhat analogous to the binary code used by mortals. This message is then “laminated” in a film of quintessence, making it extremely difficult to destroy or otherwise manipulate the contents of the memory. (A full description of the accuracies and inaccuracies of this analogy is far beyond the scope of this handbook.)

In all but the most extraordinary of circumstances, the destruction of memories is cost-prohibitive. It is for this reason that The River Lethe exists, as a means of discarding memories which are confiscated. The obvious drawback to keeping forbidden memories intact is that it is possible for other to retrieve them by merely drinking from The River Lethe. It goes without saying that there are countermeasures in place to ensure that this cannot be done without proper authorization. The waters of The River Lethe are cursed, such that no cup can contain them. This also applies to glasses, chalices, goblets, and any implement which might be used to contain water, regardless of whether or not that is its intended purpose. It follows that, if one wishes to drink from the river, they must drink from it directly. (To do so is to receive The Kiss of Death –Clotho) Any who do so, be they mortal, God, or otherwise, are stricken by an irresistible thirst. This compels them to keep drinking, even as they are overwhelmed by a torrent of paradoxes. False secrets, which contradict the truth, are regularly planted into The River Lethe, so that any attempted offenders cannot distinguish what is from what is not. This continues until their very being is overwritten, and all that remains is a shell, filled with memories. This shell petrifies into a fountain, which slowly returns all the stolen memories to The River Lethe, where they belong. (These fountains ensure that those who gaze upon The River of Oblivion will never forget the price paid by those who cross The Moirai –Chloe)

NOTE: this is by no means an exhaustive list of the countermeasures put in place to ensure that information discarded into The River Lethe remains classified. Consider this a warning: If you somehow manage to circumvent the security system described, you will be caught by a different one, and you will suffer in ways that you are incapable of imagining. It is left to you to decide whether or not the previous statement is vacuously true.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Personnel Files: Lethe (Part 2)

Lethe is, hands down, the flakiest person in existence. Her memory is shorter than Erebus’ temper. She can forget something more quickly than Zeus can get laid. I said, she’s so forgetful, her car keys retrace their steps to find her. OK, sorry, don’t mind my savage burns just then, they were pretty mean. But they were also kind of true. Except for that last one. I don’t think that one actually made any sense.

While it is true that Lethe forgets everything, it’s really not her fault. If anything, it’s kind of ours. When it became clear that we’d need a deity of forgetfulness and oblivion, it was kind of a tough sell. Gods are fated to embody the domain they oversee, and no one wanted to live an eternity with no memory to show for it. Just when it seemed like we’d have to force the role on someone, a young woman volunteered. My favorite niece, in fact. Really, the only offspring of Eris that I particularly cared for at all, if I’m being perfectly honest. She had big dreams. Not of power, or fame, but just to help. She was pretty young around the time of The Divine War. She didn’t see it all, but she saw enough to know for damn sure that she didn’t want it to happen again. We all did. So she wanted to do her part in ensuring that the reign of The Pantheon went as smoothly as possible, even if it meant giving something up. Or maybe her memories of The War were so traumatic that she’d do anything to forget them. But that’s way too sad, so let’s just say it’s the first thing. To this day, her only persistent memory is of The Moirai, and her oath to carry out our will. She knows that, in the distant past, far beyond the grasp of her memory, some version of her would be happy to know that she is doing her very best to build a brighter future. And that’s all she needs.

Lethe is a Maximal Sweetheart. Not because there does not exist someone that I want to hug more than her, but because such a person cannot exist. Her obliviousness has allowed her to remain unmarred by the bitterness and cynicism that claims most who spend too much time down here. Unfortunately, that same obliviousness tends to frustrate a lot of people, who tend to get real nasty. These people really piss me off. Every time someone yells at her, she is surprised, because as far as she remembers, it’s never happened before. It’s scary, and it’s awful, and she’s worried that she’s ruined everything, that she’s broken her promise to the one memory she has. But even when people are being rude at her, she always does her best to try to help them. That’s why I ask that you please be patient and understanding when dealing with her, and not get mad at her. At least, don’t take out your anger on her. Actually, you know what? Screw asking. I order you to be as compassionate as possible when dealing with Lethe. You are to, in no way, intentional or unintentional, cause her emotional distress. If you do, I will find you, and so help me Gods I will fight you. Then we’ll see how you measure up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Personnel Files: Lethe (Part 1)

Though the rivers of Hades number five, there is but one with which most are familiar. It cannot be disputed that any other than the River of Hatred, which takes its name from its cruel mistress, Styx, is the most well-known of the rivers. Yet it can be said, with equal certainty, that The River Lethe is of the greatest importance to The Schemes of The Moirai. Our understanding of Fate is our greatest strength, and our greatest weakness. If, at any time, there is any being with a greater understanding of Fate than is permitted to them, the consequences could be ruinous. This is why every precaution is taken to ensure that the secrets of The Bureaus of Death and Life do not fall into the wrong hands. Yet “every” is not always enough. When this is the case, it is Lethe who sees to it that our secrets are snatched from the wrong hands with all due haste.

When a god of The Pantheon is charged with overseeing a domain, that domain becomes them. Gods of beauty are themselves beautiful, just as gods of terror are terrible. It is fitting, then, that Lethe, Goddess of forgetfulness and oblivion, is herself both forgettable and forgetful. There are few among the residents of Olympus, or even The Underworld, who seem to remember her name, despite her unparalleled contributions to the continuing functioning of The Bureaus of Life and Death. And just as everyone and everything seems to forget her all too easily, she seems to forget everyone and everything with no more difficulty. This makes working with her somewhat challenging, as all business is urgent business. Attempting to make an appointment with her is as futile as asking The Unturning Atropos for mercy. This would severely limit her usefulness to We, The Moirai, if not for her unquestioning devotion to serving Our will. If We command it, she will going to any length, even casting her own memories of forbidden knowledge into oblivion, as unnecessary of a measure as that might be.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Equipment Files: The Loathsome Shears

Though The Grim Scythe is the Primary Reaping Tool of all Bureau Recommended Equipment Loadouts, there are several options for the Secondary Reaping Tool. The Loathsome shears are among the most popular choices, for beginners and experts alike. To a novice, their primary utility is in rectifying the incompetence of those who wield the scythe poorly. If one fails to strictly adhere to the protocols laid out in Equipment Files: The Grim Scythe, an Incomplete Tear is likely to result. Finishing a job like this with the scythe is not advised; The Loathsome shears are specifically engineered for such situations, when life hangs only by a thread. To a veteran, their primary utility is in their versatility. Though they are specifically engineered for rectifying errors, that is far from their only use. In general, they are more effective at cutting through physical matter than The Grim Scythe, and can be more easily wielded with one hand (This is usually not recommended). Though they are an unconventional weapon, this can, in some cases, be advantageous, as enemies rarely know how to counter it. In practice, using The Loathsome Shears is no different from using any other pair of scissors. It is hoped that none reading this need be introduced to the idea of scissors, but instructions are included here for the sake of completeness.

At the bottom of the Shears, you will find two ring-like handles. Grip these, so that your hands are inside the rings. For the purposes of functionality, the shears may be assumed to be entirely symmetrical across the line segment where the blades meet when the shears are closed. Thus, the handedness of the user need not be taken into consideration. Once both handles are firmly within your grasp, move your hands apart to open The Shears. Position the shears such that whatever you wish to cut is between the blades. Swiftly bring your hands together, as if clapping. One might even say that you are applauding the now deceased mortal on their performance on the stage of life, or some such foolishness. This will bring the blades together, and, if done correctly, sever the spirit of the mortal. If another Incomplete Tear results, open the blades again and attempt the same procedure, preferably aiming for a different spot than the previous time. Do not attempt to complete the tear by wrenching the shears about. This will only cause further damage.

It is common practice for Reapers to be equipped with replicas of the Hephaestus-forged artifacts used by the Gods, created by the Cyclopes, Journeymen of the Forge God. Regrettably, this leads to some confusion, as the replicas are often referred to by the same name as the originals. This issue has been circumvented with The Loathsome Shears, which have been given a name such that confusing them with Atropos’s Abhorrent Shears is quite unlikely. Unlike other such artifacts, the Abhorrent Shears are not of Hephaestean make. The nature of their origin is classified, but it suffices to say that they are beyond even the Forge God’s capability. Though the Loathsome shears are incredibly sharp, Atropos’ own are of an entirely different caliber. To even quantify their sharpness requires greater precision than the production of any replica. To assert that the Abhorrent Shears are the most lethal artifact in the universe is no mere boast. It is as true as any of the axioms which govern the mechanics of Heaven and Earth.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Personnel Files: Persephone (Part 3)

OK, look, I know that this section is kind of dragging on, especially since Persephone, admittedly, doesn’t do a whole lot within The Bureau of Death. But I think it’s kind of BS that the freakin’ Queen of the Underworld gets a bio that’s just a bunch of stuff that happened to her in the past. It’s true that her kidnapping had a great and lasting impact on the political atmosphere of “The spheres of the divine” or whatever, but she’s more than just a history lesson. So I want to give you an idea of what she’s actually like, as a person.

Persephone is kind and gentle, especially compared to other denizens of The Underworld. Most see her as a either as a figurehead, a pretty face too weak to belong in The Underworld, or a poor little girl cruelly consigned to an eternity in The Underworld by circumstances beyond her understanding. But she is none of these things.  She can be quite forceful when she needs to be, and abhors nothing more than being pitied as a tragic figure. She has learned to use people’s expectations of her to her advantage, and often gives the impression of being less knowledgeable than she actually is. Now that I’ve written that out, I realize that it kind of seems like she’s some manipulative schemer, but I promise, she’s a total sweetheart. But you don’t want to get on her bad side. Just ask Hades. Not a lot of people know this, but he’s actually super whipped. He knows better than anyone that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and we’ve got, like, three Furies down here. Officially, Hades has the final say on judging the eventual destination of the souls of the deceased, but Persephone has supreme veto power. She has been known to occasionally pardon or damn souls, especially based on their treatment of animals or respect towards nature. And, while she technically doesn’t have the power to do so, Hades always knows better than to go against her wishes.

A thing you should probably know about Persephone is that she doesn’t really like Reapers. That’s not to say that, if you’re a reaper (which you totally are now, by the way) she won’t like you; it’s more that she doesn’t like the idea of reapers. She doesn’t think it’s fair that we force mortals to agree to do our dirty work forever, before they really have any idea what it entails. Maybe she pities you for being forced to an existence bound to the underworld, viewing the place you once called home only in glimpses. That would be rather ironic. And I get where she’s coming from, but I disagree. Being a Reaper is way cooler than whatever you’d be doing right now if you hadn’t chosen to read past that first paragraph. Trust me. But she’s still pretty friendly with Reapers. If you see her, don’t be intimidated by her just because she’s The Queen of The Underworld, and don’t treat her like she’s some delicate flower who might get spooked by a talking skeleton. Just say hi. But don’t make it weird or anything. Just play it cool.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Personnel Files: Persephone (Part 2)

The most outspoken detractor of the methods employed by The Bureau of Death was the Goddess Demeter. It is possible that she truly cared for the well-being of mortals, and thought it morally reprehensible that their suffering is nothing more than a means to an end. Yet it is equally possible that she just felt slighted that she, the Goddess of harvest, as well as the cycles of life and death, was so ignorant to the goings on in her own domains. Regardless, there can be no doubt that the blame lies with her for being too foolish to put together the connection between her two spheres of influence. (In her defense, a lot of Gods have unrelated domains. Like, what does The Sun have to do with music? –Sis) (Perhaps the connection is a secret we’ve decided you can’t be trusted with? –Chloe) She proclaimed that this trespassing within her domain was heresy, and demanded that Hades be punished for it. Hades wanted nothing more than to return to the way things were. For reasons that are lost to history, he believed that kidnapping her daughter, Persephone, would achieve this. (If I keep having to write notes every time we’re unnecessarily mean to someone, my notes will take up half the book –Sis) (Then stop –Chloe) (Editor, see to it that this childish bickering is left in, that new Reapers may know what to expect of the younger of The Moirai –Atropos) Demeter grieved, and intentionally began to neglect her duties as The Goddess of Harvest. Crops withered in the fields, and mortals starved. Yet Hades was unswayed, as he stood only to gain from the accelerated death of mortals. Even against the pressure of the other Gods, he remained steadfast. Eventually, Demeter conceded. If her daughter was returned, she promised to allow the harvesting of mortals to continue as it had.

Though Hades accepted the offer, he would not relinquish his queen so easily. He plotted to use The Old Rules of The Underworld to his advantage. In particular, one which states that “he or she who partakes of The Fruit of The Dead is bound to The Underworld, to remain among The Dead for all Eternity”. Though the law has since been repealed, largely due to the backlash surrounding this particular incident, Persephone is still subject to it, as it was Eternally Binding at the time that she ate the seeds of the pomegranate.  The ensuing case, Hades v. Demeter, ended with the following verdict: Since she had eaten only six (6) of the pomegranate’s seeds, she would be bound to The Underworld for only six (6) months of each year. At the time, she went on record claiming that she was deceived into eating the seeds, yet a later audit revealed that this claim was, itself, a deception. To this day, her motive for eating the seeds is known only to her. There is no ongoing investigation into the matter, and none is planned. The official stance of The Fates is that Persephone is trustworthy, and unlikely to act against the interests of The Bureau of Death. One can speculate about her reasoning all they like, but it is ultimately a personal matter, of concern to none but Persephone herself.