Chapter 13:


A Snowed Abode

It was quite a remote island here, where the lab happens to be situated... Pax and Clemens had never, actually, been here, but they felt as if they knew the area well, for it was along the same clime as their own, glacial dwelling, except this little isle was the further geography can eat into a more temperate environs... and nearly in the middle of these two aspects of the weather.Bookmark here

Full of trees frozen by the weight of their very existence, there were also snowy hills encircling the lab... that led to the northern part of this little piece of the land. Following the woods covered by the heaviness of the soft, crunchy texture of the blizzard that blanketed all, both alive and inanimate, the two companions went to see what the edge of this land floating on water told them in visual terms, but there seemed to be... someone there. Just gazing into the nothingness beyond, solitary and meditative, what could be noticed from afar was a pointed hat on top of this person's head - at least we presume a person, for all we know a hologram from the furthest distance in the universe was beamed at right this point to deceive us, but never mind such fantastic notions for now, and let us only judge based on empirical evidence in front of us...Bookmark here

"Pax..." This person said as soon as they were engaged, surprising both of our travellers with their apparent foresight and knowledge of their own very identities.Bookmark here

"How do you know my name? Who might you be?" Pax asked, with utter amazement at the sheer fact that a stranger... on an island he has never been to before... knew who he was...Bookmark here

"I am the mage, Ventus. I have observed you and your home, Nix, for as long as Ignis seemed to be about to pose a threat. For even if it is the last remaining state of its kind, it could still unleash chaos... especially with the archetypes." Now this seems to be a knowledgeable person we have come across... still, is it not a bit creepy to observe strangers under normal circumstances? Or, perhaps she had some birds' eye view of Nix and only occasionally glimpsed Pax and others when they happened to mingle outside? I mean, she could not see all and hear all with her mage abilities, surely? Or am I too optimistic? Also, why only with the archetypes? Thousands of years in history have went down with states and empires waging war, and they had no special capabilities other than offensive technology. Or maybe the archetypes could be classified as that... as natural versions of tanks, possibly? I might be overthinking it, here...Bookmark here

"You know about them? We have only read of them being mentioned in books, so far. Would you know for certain if the monarch did indeed get hold of them? The lab down below is trying to confirm this, but what is it you could tell us?" Well, yes, Pax, and do not forget to ask her if she is related to the lab, considering their scientific point of view about this (although she is obviously not a 'two')... knowing you, though, you will in all likelihood forget, albeit the questions asked at least are still mostly relevant, I got to admit... would also like to know how much she monitored Ignis' institution, but let us strive for the former, at the moment...Bookmark here

"I did happen to study the possibility of archetypes, since as a mage they are related to my capabilities to utilize the ethereal qualities of the netherworld, but they are far deeper than even that. Imagine if the ethereal is the ocean, and all land on top is what can be seen, primarily physical abilities... the archetypes are at the bottom of that ocean. Not just on top of the solid rock in the depths, though, they fill the gaps and nearly reach the very core of the planet..." Oh, quite the strident analogy, if I may opine... but 'netherworld', really? Who is she, Hades in disguise? Her comparisons do seem to reference one of the books from Ignis, though, which I believe connected the archetypes to the Hadal zone, the deepest region of the ocean... this is, I assume, all merely a metaphor, but I suppose it might make sense if one were to try to categorize and characterize various capabilities. With regards to physical abilities, though, If, say, a 'punch' is an island... does that make martial arts an archipelago...?Bookmark here

"The core? What does that represent now? Is there possibly an emergent danger from these archetypes?" Clemens clamoured, although they were all indeed very relevant questions, it is just that the question-to-words ratio is particularly high, is it not? Well, for all anyone knows mages might love such quotas... 'emergent' is an interesting word, by the way, for it implies that acting as a collective, along with presumably something, or someone else that might... instigate, perhaps? That they would suddenly come into being. Kind of like how consciousness is purported to emerge when there is a congregation of neurons... the 'core' in this similitude could mayhap be the neurotransmission involves in relaying chemicals, with the archetypes' apparent amendment of social interactions (if, hypothetically, each person is a nerve cell).Bookmark here

"There might be. That is what I need to seek out even further, though, and why I would like to ask to join you on your investigation and attempt at getting to the bottom of this. For the core, the quintessential interactions that each life has to one another, might be at risk of alteration if archetypes get even more embedded than they might already be..." Well, that seems reasonable enough, and we get to have another interlocutor... although perhaps not one we were already too familiar with before, and maybe not someone who goes very much beyond information, but who knows, there might be hidden depths yet...Bookmark here

"Makes sense, I suppose... you would be welcome to join us, in any case..." You just suppose, Pax? I mean, based on everything we know so far about these creatures... or whatever essence they may be... you just suppose what someone else, who happened to be studying them for some time too, happens to say? It is merely a matter of inference, honestly...Bookmark here

So, then, at any rate, they themselves went from two to three, with this new ethereal mage joining them (that is to say, she dabbles in ethereal sources, she is not quite ethereal herself yet, although she might possibly dream of being some day...) - all the merrier, one supposes. And, so, they went back down below, to the lab once more, to see if, perchance, the central scientist there had finished their analysis... they could have also simply tried to transform snow into food like they said they wanted to do, or turned some other viscous substance into a liquid, because why not... but one hopes that they concentrated specifically on this analysis for now, being of utmost priority to Pax and all... and even if Pax himself is an expert procrastinator, one might still truly hope that, as these purportedly professional scientists, that these 'twos' did indeed not fall to the eternal trap of the lure of procrastination, and instead... oh, let us just go...Bookmark here

As soon as they entered once more, just like before when they were suddenly teleported to the lab along with their inhabitants... the main scientist guy came near them quite quickly, just to announce, so excitedly...Bookmark here

"We managed to finalize our understanding of our analysis!" That is our answer, then... the trap remains unsprung! (That is a word, right? But, really, "finalize our understanding" sounds so robotic, does it not? Maybe they are two robots? Like a duopoly? Ah, never mind...)Bookmark here

"Cool... what might it be, then?" Pax said with almost an equal amount of excitement... but not quite, as he himself had not done the research, of course... in fact, how can anyone be excited for anything they do not do in the first place? One is barely excited for things done by oneself, seriously... anyway, at any rate, let us thus see what the results were, finally...Bookmark here

"Before our capture it seems like we did manage to translate all the data to a useful implementation, but since it was done automatically we had no time to go over it, you see, and then somehow the monarch found that out and arrived here before we could do anything about it..." Wait, a useful implementation? As opposed to one done for no use? Why would anyone even implement anything if they do not find any use for it? Talk about redundancies... and 'translate'? I do not suppose that merely implies a language translation... although with all the jargon they commit to, one supposes that might be useful... actually. Who does anything automatically, also? Why would anyone have potential breakthrough research result in anything automated? For how much these 'twos' are assiduous, they do seem to forget to... implement, some... useful, features... do they not?Bookmark here

"That is... quite a fast reaction... what did the analysis reveal?" Pax responded, with an equally baffled facial expression, as he was kind of expecting the result itself, not history... but it is still all contextually interesting, certainly... and truth be told, the speed of their capture does seem suspicious... might need looking into, too...Bookmark here

"It seems like our experiments did cope with the energy produced by the inherent potency of the essence... in other words, with the aid of one of my colleagues here, we replicated the atoms from this substance, and by doing that it appears it started some sort of chain reaction that opened a portal to the world of, what we presume is, the domain of the archetypes. We think it is them because the substance appears to envelop the entirety of life, a boson that links all, if you will, with the exception that these fundamental types... before... had not yet quite managed to rise up to the surface, from the depths of the abyss..." And here one thought that Ventus had quite a slightly confusing analogy... well, not really I suppose, maybe confusing if one focused on the 'top of the land at the bottom of the ocean' part, if one fails to imagine and visualize where it might possibly be referring to, but this... where does one begin? First of all, how do experiments 'cope'? Is that sort of, like, the machine calculating all the data coping with the heat? Or having enough of a processor, or memory? Well, anyway... what about this 'inherent potency', though... is that expecting energy to have some quality by default? What if it is lifeless and dull? Also, I am not sure they ever quite explain why atoms need replication? Are they so small that otherwise they would disappear from the first of the universe as soon as they arrive? But, then, how does anyone notice them at all in the first place? Also, if there was a chain reaction, does this mean it might have gone... nuclear? These 'twos' might be playing with fire... but, so far at least, they have had a lucky escape... a substance that encircles life itself, though? What a thought... kind of like water, possibly? A boson, though? Is that, perhaps, the sibling of a certain bovine fellow...?Bookmark here

"Uh, huh..." Pax, completely and utterly flummoxed, thereafter responded with... for who would not be? Here I tried to make my own non-computational analysis, but I was not in the middle of a conversation with a scientist while standing up, to boot... makes a difference, you know?Bookmark here

"Now it seems the institution at Ignis stole the result of that experiment... we have the data, you see, but not quite the materials produced from the substantial reaction thereafter, if you can imagine... oh, my apologies, I was too absorbed in my research, but I just noticed you got someone else with you?" Well, only now they notice... how absorbed can two be? I also would not imagine it was past their capabilities to have been so occupied by something else that somehow made time seem to go faster than they thought it would... and so giving the thieves a good while at a chance...but who knows? What could the materials be, anyway... the energy? Surely they did not just bottle up a chain reaction, or something...?Bookmark here

"Hello, there." Ventus promptly replied, having been referenced... "I have too been studying these archetypes, although not from a scientific basis like you do... mine is a more direct experience, as a mage, but I realize how potentially dangerous it is that someone so unstable has gotten the results of your experiment, and as such I suggest that we go and try to retrieve it, for if we do not who knows how many other lives might be affected..." That is a good point, still, one has got to wonder, if she rarely changes her countenance, and yet seems to think about others' safety... does that mean all of that is buried deep inside? Emotions that see no daylight? Sounds like another analogy for these archetypes in their abyss...Bookmark here

"Ah, well, 'we' can not quite go ourselves, of course, for all we are dedicated to is conducting academic research, and we are quite too small too to go against such mighty force... if we may say so ourselves... by all means, though, if you three can try to do so, we would feel ever so safer..." Ah, they finally admit their stature... or could they have possibly realized only realized? Since it is all relativity, you see... with Pax, Clemens, and Ventus being so much taller... they must feel like they're ants in comparison... although one assumes they do not quite have an inferiority complex when it comes to scientific thinking... well, perhaps when it comes to losing materials and results, yes... but then, living on such a remote island, they could not have had much help...Bookmark here

"We could try," suddenly Clemens piped up... "but with these enhanced capabilities at their command now how much could we truly do? Could anyone make a reasonable guess as to our chances?" Come on, believe in yourself, three heroes of destiny! You shall truly not be forgotten if you step onto... your fate!Bookmark here

"Abysmally, sorry to say..." Well, that went well, after my little pep talk, there... "a sword is no match for these infernal creatures... but, I know of something that might help... you see, there is an island, not too far away from here actually... the clime is still too unbearable for us, though, which is why we settled for this compromise here, slightly below the edge of the world, on the colder side, which we delight with... this tiny isle, though, could be described as the furthest one can go before polarity reverses... the tip of Locus, our rock in space... it is, though, on the temperate side... not quite our preference for permanent living, and it is more of a ruin, at any rate..." Alright, so, besides your weather preferences... are they suggesting we just live there, or something? Perhaps just long enough until the archetypes destroy all down south, below, and everywhere else... before we re-emerge into... a new and odd world, looking for friends... but in reality some jester has taken over? Ah, wait, this is just some flight of fancy of mine, so it will likely have nothing to do whatsoever with what what comes next... but seriously, a reversal of polarity truly sounds like a moment when one is travelling by airship straight into some drake...Bookmark here

"How... could a ruin ever help...?" Exactly what I was thinking about, Pax! Never anyone mind the fantasy, how could a ruined world ever help us?! Oh, they mean just some regional ruins, not an entirely ruined world, got it...Bookmark here

"Ah, quite the relevant question... as if you can read our mind" - no, they really cannot read any minds, I guarantee it, you are just a lucky two, I swear... "as it was what we were about to get to... well, you see, we have read of a legend once, an ancient tale of forgotten lore... of scientists, centuries ago... who once had an experiment go a slight bit awry... we admit, maybe not 'slight', as it destroyed their lab and a few personnel too... the isle up north was, in fact, once their laboratory, which had to be evacuated thereafter, by the few that survived.... well, you see, we read that the resultant experiment unleashed an overwhelming amount of energy from an unknown origin, and no one could live for very long up there, but you three could go there a bit we reckon. It is not quite radioactive or such, just a ruin mainly... but then again, some people might look at our lab, what we consider our home, and think it is a ruin with all this spread about like a vicious tornado just waltzed in here..." Oh, well, at least they are self-aware... also, I wonder if those centuries ago were their ancestors... and if disasters are genetic? Although, if they were, they are certainly their unlucky counterparts... these, on the other hand, have mostly been on the side of Tyche...Bookmark here

"Ah... well, possibly, that could be seen as such, all depending on perception... but, at any rate..." Pax was saying, before being interrupted by Ventus...Bookmark here

"Yes, we should go up there. I know of the place too, and I think that due to the amount of ethereal energy that perpetuated for so long there might weapons, if they were left behind all these centuries ago, that were imbued with some of the capabilities of this potency. This, along with the legend you read of, is all hypothetical though, of course..." Why does everyone always speak hypothetically? Is there no one ever here who just says what is most likely reality? Well, I suppose it is not quite ever certain, no (wait, who am I even replying to, here)... also, I thought 'potency' was some scientific jargon used only by them, but she suddenly uses it, thus destroying my hypothesis... sadly. Does what she say imply that the energy at this place turned it into some potential forge, at any rate? Across time, forged through centuries... sounds cool?Bookmark here

"Indeed it is... but it is also your best hope against the institution as of now. Since it is an island, though, you would need a way to get there... luckily we have been working on something, but it is yet again a prototype, unfortunately... could you possibly help us construct what we have so we could see if it works?" Are we going to be scientific interns now, or something? Well, one has got to admit, though, it is quite interesting to construct... something... that gets one on an island? I mean, how is that physically possible? Or is this simply another one of those crystals?Bookmark here

"Could you possibly... grab an oblong from the fridge, and place it in the metallic chute; pick a single leaf from the pot in front of the fridge, and lay it on the stand of our portable computer. Also, get the vial with the miniature thunderstorm in it from the cabinet nearby also, while you are there, and mix it along in the glass cylinder... I think these three could be used in the construction of the mobile jazz!" Whoa... what is all this? It was going so scientifically smoothly too... for the twos. Are they suddenly dabbling in pseudoscience, by any chance? Because all of this cannot possibly, for the sake of all that is rational, be anything remotely scientific... I mean, what oblong? Is that an noun, or an adjective like it normally is? As it does seem some random item they conjured up from their literary legends... and why it is in a fridge I could never fathom, honestly... and by metallic chute I assume that refers to the ventilation system pipe that comes out in the room on the left? Unless it is for something other than ventilation... as I doubt an oblong is 'air'... and what in the world could a single leaf do near a computer? This all makes even less sense than Pax ever did, I swear... not the mentioning the vial...Bookmark here

"Mobile... jazz? These cannot possibly be scientific terms...? How... a miniature thunderstorm...? Ah, I am not even going to bother asking any further..." Well, for one we share a similar sentiment... as, one assumes, it could only be more nonsensical words, really... science makes eternally more sense than that, even if it uses all the jargon possible, and the reader is a novice, for it is at least decipherable... what all this is and does, on the other hand...Bookmark here

So, before they went and tried doing any of this whatsoever... they decided to take a tiny break (procrastination is always the path of least resistance), and chatted to the other... three twos... if that makes any sense, but it should by now... they themselves are not perfectly comprehensible, but in comparison to our latest request here surely they would be a slight bit more... and they could be fun, why, I bet after we leave here we would miss them, marginally...Bookmark here

Now that the results had come back the other three also had some time to think about them... and process them through whichever logic may be that they usually think with...Bookmark here

"Our experiment worked! We were delighted that replication seemed to work, even if it was stolen soon after!" The two directly below the central room said, very apparently happy that it worked, although how someone can be happy after saying and acknowledging the latter is incomprehensible to me... or perhaps they are eternal optimists?Bookmark here

"Ah, but would not that be worse than if it had not been stolen at all? If it did not work then it probably would not have been stolen... or if it were then it would have been non-functional...?" Pax replied, kind of mirroring my thoughts for once, and I suppose that presupposition makes sense... but then, if nothing was ever invented, so it would never be stolen, nothing is ever made... so, it seems it might be a tad self-defeating...Bookmark here

"But! Our proof of concept! We are no longer theoretical! The world has not ended, either!" They are indeed what I theorized they might be, then... it still is such poor reasoning though, that because the world is still here it is all fine, as nothing could even be said if the world was no longer here, so the point would have been moot... and thinking that they themselves are not theoretical is so laughable... so if they did not have this proof what would they be, illusory?Bookmark here

"Yet... is this not being a slight bit reckless, not caring about new, stolen technology? What if it was something that could annihilate you all?" Pax stated, apparently being more reasonable than usual... why, typically all he does is procrastinate, and while it does not carry the risk of total obliteration... it does slowly erode one's will...Bookmark here

"Then we could invent something else to annihilate them first, possibly!" Oh, yeah, and I am 'possibly' going to take another step whereupon I suddenly grow wings in my feet and become Hermes incarnate... possibly...Bookmark here

"Not if it was stolen again..." Exactly, Pax! Since... when did you actually become logical...?Bookmark here

Thereafter this 'two' simply resorted to his absolute obsession with alliteration, if one can indeed call it that, and not just plain incoherency...
"We will water wriggling waste!" To which, of course, our three had no clue whatsoever as to what their reply could ever be composed of...Bookmark here

There was also the one in the room with the vials and fridge, the two who offered us a drink before... and thinks one of life's great ambitions is to make snow edible? Either way...
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"I am wondering now... could these hypothetical archetypes possibly go well with food? They might be like a spice, coriander or cumin..." Well, of course this is their line of thought, why ever would they think about anything other than everything that could possibly combine well with food? How, though, could it ever be a spice, and not, say, some soup... the primeval kind...Bookmark here

"Uh, I think you have got the wrong end of the stick here... perhaps you can keep trying to turn snow into some kind of food? Because I doubt some creatures from the abyss of the netherworld... will have nothing to say about your current aspirations..." Of course, Pax! Oh, these little ones would probably be food themselves if they ever came face-to-face... but, who knows, they might be adopted as pets too? Or... mascots!Bookmark here

"Oh, that is what they are? But wait, is that like snailfish or... a demon from the depths of an inferno?" Well, at least the train of thought is heading in the direction, now... just be sure not to crash straight into a wall of metaphors, here...Bookmark here

"Whoa, you seem to go to extreme ends pretty quickly... but I suppose one might see why those two might be confused for these archetypes, being so down below the literal ocean floor... although I reckon demons are mostly mythological... but no, that is mostly used just as a analogy..." Are they though, Pax? Do you not know that classically daemons used to ferry messages between gods? Are you now going to convey the surprise that all those I mentioned previously are fictional, too? Why, they had temples built for them, and if Pons has a whole flying thing he lives in, then that should be proof enough that the temples represent something concrete! (Or so would some logic go...)Bookmark here

"Analogies, metaphors... if you cannot cook them, what use are they? Can we even double-blind experiment with them? No? Waste of time, then..." What... no, that is not the point... are these two gastronomists, anyway? I bet those small portions they serve for critics would fit them...Bookmark here

"Well..." And why do you need a bore with water, Pax? Oh, not that kind of well? Oh, well...Bookmark here

After that the only resounding thought this two had for all eternity was...
"What if... snow can make us bigger?!" To which Clemens could only manage an 'oh', for what a mouthful of a surprise such a random idea is, although I am certain we would be more surprised if indeed snow could elongate someone...Bookmark here

Last, but not least, those at the other end of the lab, who before seemed quite interested in fixing and/or maintaining, so what does anyone reckon was managed, now?
"I have heard about the research results... do you think this energy might benefit by a helping of snow?" Not snow again... I mean, I understand one can be quite interested in something that is so abundant all around oneself, but rarely do people do that with air, so...Bookmark here

"Uh, I do not think so? Why do you happen to be so fixated with snow, anyway?" Exactly, Pax... hey, could he, per chance, be reading this now? Maybe just not telling me? I mean, some thoughts seem to correlate every so often, but then again there are coincidence all over time...Bookmark here

"If we were surrounded by sand then I would be looking for ways to use sand, but until then we can only have an endless supply of snow..." Well, at least sad does not simply melt away...Bookmark here

"Of course... you know, actually, if you do find a way to turn snow into... energy, as you mentioned you were trying to do... I think now that might be useful in solving some problems that might lead to conflict... but I am not entirely sure that... if what is in the data is archetypes, that they could in any way change with any amount of snow..." One would think that is obvious... what is next, pouring coal? Smelting cheese? They might be random idea generators...Bookmark here

"No, but we need the energy to power our experiments in the first place to find these novel substances!" Sure... but at this point you might have more luck if you construct tiny wheels and hope ants would think that they might arrive somewhere, some day... maybe? Also, why novels? Have you, by any chance, considered encyclopaedias? Just wondering...Bookmark here

"No one is arguing against that..." Pax ended with, in some sort of serious pose, with his eyes slightly shut, presumably so he could avoid being tripped up by the tiny wheels...Bookmark here

"Such snowy energy!" Is all this two could muster after that... I believe, for all eternity, and reverberating through all time, as snow could do with its alteration of sound perception...Bookmark here

In any case, the trio decided to finally give in, and get the other trio (of items) in place, for even though it seemed entirely improbable that they could somehow transport them to some island separated by an ocean... they decided to trust in the zany ones, for once... and hope that they are not just spuriously wrong for some odd reason, which is probably even more likely...Bookmark here

Jazz it was, too, like a wave of sound just riding them off to this nearby land... how they got this, though, they were not sure about at all, for how a miniature storm is able to become some improvised raft of melodies... one knows not. That was also just one of the three eccentric ideas that could serve as some conveyer, and impart it did, like a smooth ripple along the bay of some cool trees. It was their latest in their exploration for what could likely be beneath, and why would they ever merely cease at the uttermost reef? Until they gained knowledge about these archetypes they would not cower from a tsunami...Bookmark here

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