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The ultimate book of forbidden knowledge, whose pages and readers are one and the same.
Based on Verotica #1, a comic book which I am sure will haunt my nightmares for years to come, by Grant Morrison, Eric Burnham and Ted Naifeh. This excerpt from the comic depicts the initiation of Entry 207, The Meat Chamber.
The Braille Encyclopaedia is a huge cabal of mad, lonely souls. In order to enhance their appreciation of the tactile world, every member has been made blind, deaf, mute, and anosmic. Only the cult's spokesman and recruiter, a powerful magician known only by the pseudonym "Mister Index," retains the use of all of his senses, and even then, he envies the other members of the cult, because they understand the Encyclopaedia on a level that he could never approach.
Even without his magick, Mister Index is incredibly charming, and most potential members end up falling in love with him. When he first makes a new "friend," he will go to great lengths to ensure that their every secret desire is gratified – and to ensure that the candidate is willing to perform obscene and depraved acts, as Mister Index pushes them further and further. However, Index will never participate in these events until he decides the candidate is ready to join the cabal. When the candidate is finally permitted to touch Mister Index's naked body in the dark, they discover the lines of rough, raised scars, spelling out braille phrases like "Entry 71, Father's Secret Room," or "Entry 88, The Deadly Insult," or "Entry 117, The Miracle of the Severed Face." Index then invites the candidate to come and read the entire Braille Encyclopaedia, but warns that if they accept, they must give themselves completely to the society, abandoning all sensations other than exquisite pain and all-consuming pleasure.
After they accept, the initiation occurs. All of the cult's members are gathered in one place, and the initiate is permitted to browse a few entries. The initiate's own naked body is briefly touched by the other members of the cult, but most members will quickly move off to touch somebody more interesting. Mister Index then leads the initiate to a private room, where their body is slowly and painfully scarred with whatever new text is to be integrated into the corpus.
The candidate has now become an Entry. Index bids them goodbye, and promises that he will always make his flesh available if they wish to consult him. The new Entry's eyes are blinded, eardrums punctured, tongue amputated, and nasal passages scarred. The process is incredibly painful, and Mister Index does not initiate anybody unless he is certain that they will willingly endure it in order to become a living page in the ultimate book of forbidden knowledge.
Because the Entries have been stripped of every sense except touch, they are all completely hardened or completely failed on the Isolation stress meter. Most of them are very badly messed up on Helplessness and Self as well. Names are meaningless within the cabal, where they recognise each other simply as "Entry 63, The Heaviest Burden" or "Entry 100, The Unwelcome Guest." A number of the Entries are adepts, each practicing a unique and highly focused form of self-taught magick.
As part of their initiation ritual, every member of the Encyclopaedia shares a minor proxy to every other member. This proxy skill begins at 5%, and increases by 5% every time they attend the initiation of a new member, maxing out when it reaches their Soul stat. This allows them to share their emotions with one another, and if two or more Entries are in the same room, it gives them a rough sense of each other's physical location.
This is not an adept "school" as such: it has no name within the cult, and it would be very difficult for such an adept to teach their magick to someone else. But due to the highly ritualised experience of being a part of the Encyclopaedia, many members have each independantly come to some very similar conclusions. These individuals are not mageekians, but true adepts: their worldview has been completely shattered and rebuilt, and they are able to produce intentional magickal effects. However, given their multiple disabilities, they are even more dysfunctional than most adepts.
Braille adepts cast spells related to sensory deprivation, depraved sensation, and the Encyclopaedia and its contents. Some formula spells are common to multiple braille adepts: most can numb you beyond any pain, or make themselves imperceptible. Many can learn your secrets merely by touching you, and quite a few can fill you with a sudden desperate need to have sex with them. However, each adept has different charging schemes and taboos, and plenty have totally unique formula spells. For example:
Entry 41, The Faculty for Loss and Entry 3, The Drowned Egg both charge up simply by being read from beginning to end. They each have different taboos, though: one does not move any part of his body while someone is touching him, while the other will lose all of her magic if anybody touches her face.
Entry 17, The Child Beneath The Floor lives only to read other Entries, but she is careful never to let her fingertips touch anything that isn't alive. When she needs to, she can make people temporarily cease to exist.
Entry 80, Teacher's Magic Wand sculpts clay figurines, and charges up by having other people touch them. However, she keeps the finished sculptures in a ritually purified room kept in total darkness, so that nobody will ever see them.
Entry 71, Father's Secret Room gains magical power every time he injures another person, but all of his power vanishes any time he ejaculates.
Entry 65, The Loathsome Melody gains charges by ritualistically acting out an event described in his Entry. He is able to form a psychic bond with tenebrae, feeling whatever they feel. The rest of the Encyclopaedia is fine with this, but they don't understand it at all.
WHAT YOU HEAR:
- Mister Index is a Confessor, and the Braille Encyclopaedia is a living record of all the most unspeakable sins he's ever absolved. Those who confess their sins to him become Entries in his book, and recieve the ultimate absolution.
- Mister Index is a Bibliomancer, and each chapter of the Braille Encyclopaedia is transcribed from a totally unique book that everybody assumes was destroyed centuries ago.
- Mister Index is one of the last truly powerful Cryptomancers left in the world, and he's also a high-ranking avatar of the Chronicler. He can use his Chronicler powers to learn all your secrets just by looking at you, then he charges up by telling you your own secret desires and convincing you to act on them. The fact that he's a Chronicler is the reason why he can't join his lovers in their senselessness. He has to remain objective, in order to document the whole affair on the body of the next initiate.
- These Braille guys are a very controversial topic within the Sect of the Naked Goddess. Rumour has it that the members of the Braille Encyclopaedia know what the Naked Goddess' deal is, and quite a few of them are channelling Her. They're constantly being humiliated, objectified, and hyper-sexualised, but no matter how much you might want to, they'd never let you touch them.
- The Braille Encyclopaedia is just a crazy rumour passed around by Bibliomancers. Seriously, the ultimate book of magick, forbidden to be read by anybody except by the book's own living pages? It's all just a bookworm's wet dream, nothing more.
- The Braille Encyclopaedia is actually a constantly-growing set of instructions for a complex magickal ritual which allows you to create an entire universe. When this world ends, the 333 members of the cabal will all come together and perform that ritual, and their collective agenda will determine what the next world will look like.