Main Ciphers Page
Deciphering the Ciphers
One slightly smog free day in Sigil, I was working out in The Great Gymnasium. Suddenly, in mid stride, I caught sight of Factol Rhys; she was observing an impromptu seminar being given by factotum Meryl. It was just my second day as a member of the Ciphers, and I was very surprised to catch a glimpse of the factol so soon after joining! She was just as everyone had described she would be, and a lot more besides. She quickly glanced my direction and nodded before I even realised she'd moved.
By the time I woke from my admiring daze, she was already walking to the Gymnasium's upper hall. I still felt I should nod in reply anyway, and did. Most likely, she'd meant she approved of me trying to find my place in the scheme of things. I had long since reached the stage of accepting my actions by my own standards before even glimpsing at others approval, but Rhys' nod, if it signified anything -- which I'm sure it did for Rhys does nothing without a reason -- meant a lot to me.
If you don't already know, we who espouse the Transcendent Order's philosophy stress action before thought. Being like water, free and fluid; not letting doubts cause us to hesitate even one step; and eventually uniting mind and body, thought and action into one. Trusting your instincts; making everything you do as natural as breathing; decisions made with not even a preliminary thought. We're not simply thoughtless, however, we do this by finding our place in the universe.
As the ancient Cipher maxim goes, "A fish cannot swim in Mechanus, for he belongs in the Elemental Plane of Water". You think this is a addle-coved example, but you must realise the fish always knows his place instinctively. We sentients know this as well, only we just don't really listen to ourselves enough. Only by trial and error on a quest of self-discovery can we find out what we actually knew all along. Then, by finding the spot we where belong in the Multiverse, we unite ourselves to action-and-thought perfection.
When you're so in touch with everything as a whole, you find yourself naturally entering a state where thought and action, mind and body are unified. You slip into it slowly and intermittently at first, then for longer and longer periods each time. Eventually you Transcend this place and state of being and become One with All. Pretty far out of this multiverse, eh, basher?
"What're you doing here?!"
- A pit fiend surprised by Ellad, an elven Cipher
"I'm here to give you some
- Ellad, whose quick thinking won him another day
Now, all of us being individuals, and especially us Ciphers being more instinctive than most, we tend to approach the philosophy differently to meet our different needs. My needs happen to be finding my own angle on all this. I know for one that my place is definitely as a member of this faction. Once I discover my niche, I intend to rid myself of decisional speculation. I have come to realise that pondering thoughts as of themselves seem harmless enough, but it is when these daydreams invade your decision-making processes that their dangers become real. I feel that inspiration is a very powerful part in instinct and thus action, especially with us of the Order. I have a natural conscious knack of wanting to keep everything I do in balance.
But the Ciphers ain't just about action; there's a time and a place for contemplation and meditation too. It's just best to keep the two separate, on their own terms. Many cutters use the Sensory Deprivation chambers in the Great Gymnasium but I prefer the gate-town Ecstasy. There, Cipher philosophers meditate on pillars -- they sit high up to symbolise them 'reaching for answers'. Chant goes they chose Elysium as it's a peaceful plane, and they're trying to find inner calm: "Peace within, peace without", as the saying goes. Anyway, these periods of meditation allow a cutter to get in tune with his body; all the better to be able to act on its instincts later. Some Ciphers say "I've done all the thinking I need, and now I'm acting." I suppose in a way it's similar to, but subtly different from, the Xaositects, who act on whim rather than in afterthought.
There are many roads to self-knowledge. I once met a petitioner on the Outlands just Spireward from Ecstasy. Unlike many others of his kind, he lacked a little notebook to write his extreme actions down. Instead, he more or less left it up to me how I wanted him to treat me. It is almost like he knew I was striving for balance, yet lacked a little respect for authority. So to compensate, he took me in as a sort of house servant, or "helper" as he called me. When I did something beneficial for him, he would share some insight of the need to find some lawfulness and stability in my life. After he deemed I had learned all I needed from myself, I was definitely perplexed. He of course smiled, knowing that I knew what I had learned all along, and waved goodbye as I sped off to a portal I knew of in Sylvania after nodding my thanks. How paradoxical; a waste of time, yet the best spent in a long time.
Another important facet of our beliefs is the Cadence of the Planes. The theory goes that we mortals share a common heartbeat, and that perhaps the planes have a similar one. Do the powers share it too? The Cadence is a powerful urge that some Ciphers can hear when they're meditating, the more still they are the louder it becomes. Higher-up factors can hear it all the time, the chant goes. Some believe it pervades all planes, others say it emanates fro the Spire itself. Me? I don't know...I've been straining to listen to it for many weeks, but I've not heard it yet. Maybe I'm trying to hard.
So, here I am for the moment; sharing this chant with a mimir, knowing it may be one of the last time I need to reflect on my thoughts. As I stated before though, I am more extroverted than my colleagues, and therefore will continue to care about your journey to oneness as well as mine....by Sune of Toril do I love this philosophy!
Maybe this was just a way for my final thoughts on making decisions to escape my brain-box by explaining them. But I feel I could be doing something right now more constructive. Still, I hope I have enlightened you to some of the mysteries of the Transcendent Order. I too was bewildered at first, unsure of how to proceed. The most wonderful thing about it is is that you yourself are the key. If you really need some guidance, seek it from yourself, for you are the best teacher of all.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I think, no, I am going to go and do something...
- Syle of The Transcendent Order
Copyright 1997 by Jesse Warden and Jon Winter