The Pulse: Discordia, on Fallar Ultima

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Alive

For the past several weeks the Demon Saints had been collecting information from the other universes. What they’d found out fit with what Farenn told them: the Baulians were making a move toward the Soul Star.

The Baulians still didn’t understand the larger context in which they were operating. They were only aware of the Green Buzz and the Violet Hoop universes, and they still believed that they were the only ones to harness the full potential of Orange Technology. The Green Buzzards communicated regularly with the Baulians, yet not being an expansionist empire, the Buzzards negotiated a non-aggression pact that seemed to work fine for both sides. Unknown to the Baulians, however, the Buzzards also communicated with the other ten universes — on fractal frequencies that were denser and smaller than those of the Baulians. The latter literally couldn’t see what was floating, drifting, or speeding right in front of their eyes.

The only Baulian who seemed to understand the implications of infinite infraction was a Fractal Mystic named Rablanar. Luckily, however, no one was really listening to him, except for a few unemployed philosophers and sci-fi writers. These two groups were incapable of developing any communal momentum because the philosophers found the fiction of the writers both illogical and fantastical, and the writers found the prose of the philosophers unreadable.

Farenn had been tasked to monitor the degree to which Rablanar’s theory was guiding the upper echelons of the Fractal Mystics, and to ascertain whether or not it had sown dissension between the Masters and the Mystics. But as it turned out both groups were drunk on their own infractions, believing somehow that they were so deep that no one could delve beneath them.

Farenn conveyed his amusement to the Black Horde. How could the Baulians so completely misunderstand the very thing that gave them power over the Lactaris and Humans? With your indulgence I quote from the great human poet, William Shakespeare. Please note that I change the singular pronoun to plural, without, I think, disturbing the cadence of his iambic verse:

Let it work,
For ’tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard; and ’t shall go hard
But we will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon. O, ’tis most sweet
When in one line two crafts directly meet.

Farenn’s fondness for intergalactic comparative literature sometimes exasperated his superiors. Just when the Black Horde wanted to know exactly what strategy he counselled, he referred to the Fractal Mystics as Rosencrantz, combining the Hamlet reference with a completely different reference to Dante’s mystic Rose, the mere idea of which would have excited the olfactory glands of the Mystics. He then referred to the Fractal Masters as Guildenstern, combining the Hamlet reference with a reference to a stern business gild, which in many ways accurately described the Masters. Farenn felt it would be pointing out the obvious, so he didn’t explain to the Black Horde that in Shakespeare’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were completely interchangeable. This added a brutal irony to the subtle word play of his references, suggesting that despite their vaunted differences, the Mystics and the Masters were equally blinded by their base Baulian nature.

Nor did Farenn remind the Black Horde that Hamlet had been sent by the Danish king to England, and that the Danish king had given Rosencrantz and Guildenstern a letter instructing the English king to kill Hamlet. It would have been most helpful to mention — especially to Knifestream, who ground his razor-sharp incisors whenever he even smelt a metaphor in the vicinity — that during their passage to England, Hamlet re-wrote the letter, substituting his name for those of his two treacherous, interchangeable friends.

Confounding even the most erudite of the Demon Priests of the Black Horde, Farenn concluded with the following: The big question, as I see it, is this: If Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are in the dark about the designs of Hamlet, how much did they really know about the intentions of the king?


Next: The Ties That Bind

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