"The hand that rattles the Cage is the hand that rules the world..."
-- Cager proverb

Copyright 1999 by Jon Winter, art by Karl Mikalsen


( Planar / male quesar / Transcendent Order / NG )

The quesar are a secretive and baffling bunch at the best of times, but few are more so than Savoire. There are almost more rumours flying around about Savoire than about Shemeshka the Marauder herself, at the moment. One can only hope that most of them ain't true, else the forces of Good are in a far more desperate position than anyone's ever imagined.

The chant goes that the number of guardinals in Elysium is dwindling, though of course the race'd never be so open as to admit there was a problem. Still, chant is chant, and this particular piece has been doing the rounds for some time. Perhaps, it claims, there ain't enough cutters these days that think the right way to create the petitioners they make guardinals from.

All this boils down to one thing: the guardinals need numbers to swell their ranks, and Savoire's task is to find ways to do just this. It ain't known if he's the only cutter with this mission, but he's certainly the most visible, and probably the most daring too. Now most of the chant that follows is pure speculation, and it's (hopefully) partially or completely wrong, but here it all is anyway...

It's a commonly known fact that the quesar is sponsoring the Transcendent Order to the tune of hundreds of jinx each week, via donations he makes at Iarmid's Other Place. It's mainly used, on his insistence, in recruiting new cutters to the faction, and a large portion of that is spent in the gate town of Ecstasy. He also works closely with Clarion, a Guardian aasimar. While this blood's not a Cipher himself, his connections with Upper Planar Beings can only help him in his quest. Presumably, Savoire hopes that the faction's path to enlightenment persuades bloods to shift their moral stances closer to those of Elysian petitoners. To have more good bashers in the Multiverse can't be a bad thing, but it doesn't help the guardinals until they're actually turned into petitioners.



Cage Rattlers:--
Barren, Clarion, Julius the Symmetrical, Nux, Vaysolar.
Uncaged: Faces of Sigil:--
Adamok Ebon (p.28), Iarmid (p.46), Ly'kritch (p.62), Qaida (p.80), Alluvius Ruskin (p.86), Tripicus (p.102), Unity-of-Rings (p.104).


Well, this is where the sinister element comes in. According to dark chant, the quesar's known to pay assassins to slay neutral good cutters so they'll wind up on Elysium all the quicker. Don't get me wrong; I'm not believing that scream for a second, but it can't be denied that Savoire has been spotted dealing with Adamok Ebon, a well-known killer-for-hire.

Alternatively, the chant links the quesar and the bladeling for a very different reason. This rumour reckons that Savoire hired Adamok to hunt and recover a live deepspawn for the guardinals. These hideous monsters are said to give birth to clones of any creature they swallow. The plan, it seems, is to feed volunteer guardinals to the beast in the hope it produces more celestial offspring. Greybeards reckon that 'normal' deepspawn (much as any creature that horrific can be normal) can only replicate mortal prime creatures, but perhaps the guardinal elders believe they can use magic to modify one to give birth to their kind too. Even if it didn't create real celestials, at least they'd look close enough that casual viewers (read: fiendish spies) wouldn't realise there are quite so few guardinals as the chant claims.

Savoire ain't alone in his machinations, be they real or fictitious, however. The ursinal scholar Tripicus often meets with the quesar, perhaps suggesting new avenues of approach to his assignment, or maybe supplying him with the piles of jink he uses to garnish all his contacts. The movanic deva Unity-of-Rings is another confidant of Savoire, though what they talk about simply ain't whispered about. Knowing the deva, though, it's probably something frustratingly cryptic and circular in nature.

A more recent piece of chant claims that the quesar did a deal with the shadow fiend Ly'kritch, paying it handsomely to sell him a particular gemstone. Anyone who knows the dark about shadow fiends will realise they trade in trapped minds, and Ly'kritch apparently is no exception. The stone contained the trapped spirit of a wisdom incarnate; the shadow fiend assumed that the quesar merely wanted to free the imprisoned spirit, and charged a steep price indeed. Savoire is far more canny than that, however. He put the incarnate to a far better use, in the service of his great cause.

See, the quesar was worried that many bashers who're good undergo crises of faith, when they're not sure whether they really believe in the concept of goodness. Well, the quesar's intention was that the incarnate could flit from one Doubting Thomas to the next, showing these cutters the true face of good through the incarnate's near-divine wisdom. Waverers could therefore be gently cajoled into the right choice, he reasoned. That way, when they died, they'd surely head for a brighter future in Elysium.

Whether the quesar persuaded the incarnate to act on its own free will or using a geas spell is unknown.

If you still believe the chant, you'll be interested to hear that for a time the plan seemed to be working well. For a few weeks, the number of good priests ditching their beliefs and joining the Athar dropped, and there seemed to be a perceptible tide of goodwill sweeping the Cage. Savoire was pleased indeed with his work. That is, until the incarnate started to behave erratically, and began converting evil bashers to the cause of good as well as the waverers.

In order to keep tabs on the incarnate's meanderings around Sigil, the quesar's been befriending evil bloods whose outlook of life's changed dramatically in the last few weeks. For instance, the ettercap spider merchant Nux was until recently a spiteful little sod, but without warning turned into a thoroughly nice (if a little self-deprecating) basher. Savoire has befriended her to check how the transformation's gone, and whether it looks like it'll be permanent. So far, it does.

Rather more daringly, the incarnate then went on to possess and convert Barren, a marraenoloth who was spending some time away from the festering Styx. The next week when the Oceanus scoured out the Ditch in the Hive Ward, the marraenoloth grabbed a skiff and left the Cage to ply his trade on the Upper Planar river instead! The quesar has since been spotted by a school of delphons on Barren's skiff being steered through Eronia, apparently deep in conversation with the yugoloth. After the marraenoloth, the incarnate jumped into Vaysolar the saurial mage. Savoire is currently shadowing the hornhead and observing his actions from afar. Presumably when the time is right he'll befriend that cutter too.

Only Julius the Symmetrical seems to have cottoned on to the quesar's little scheme; the jermlaine philosopher has noticed the recent number of evil bashers turning good, and is starting to ask awkward questions, loudly. It's just a matter of time before things come to a head, and who can say what fate could befall Julius at the hands of a ruthless quesar with dark secrets to keep hidden.

As for what the quesar's superiors think of his actions, who can tell? Presumably they either approve or they're being kept in the dark; Sigil's a good place to keep a secret bottled up from those outside, even if the rumours that leak around the Cage guarantee a berk almost no privacy while he's here...

( Planar / neuter incarnate / HD 4 / NG )

The wisdom incarnate that Savoire freed calls itself Sage, in the common tongue at least. It was trapped in its gem when the creature tried to enter the mind of a paranoid priest on Elysium. Rather than being allowed to feed off the priest's wise actions, Sage was sucked into a magical device intended to stave off possession. The priest was later slain in an ambush in the Lower Ward (perhaps the basher had a right to be paranoid after all) and the gem somehow found its way into the hands of Alluvius Ruskin. She swapped the stone for some other magical gems with the shadow fiend Ly'kritch, and then the quesar purchased it and freed the incarnate.

Sage began working for Savoire's good cause by keeping unsure disciples of good on the straight and narrow, jumping from mind to mind when its job was done. See, when a cutter's a host for an incarnate, the incorporeal being feeds on the quality of the host's emotions; in Sage's case, wisdom. When the host performs a wise act, or makes an informed or enlightened decision, the incarnate basks in a glow of nourishment. Unlike most incarnates, who merely feed and contemplate, Sage has discovered that in order to encourage the host to continue his actions, it can choose not to absorb all of the energy, and instead reflect a portion of it back to the host. The host then feels good about his actions, and is more likely to repeat them in future.

Once the incarnate has established a pattern of rewarding 'good' behaviour and withholding energy when the host acts 'wrongly', the host's subconscious starts to learn. Given time, Sage is apparently able to alter a host's perception enough to change their alignment, and what's more, the subconscious persuasion seems to last after the incarnate has departed. Just to make sure, Sage leaves a small incarnate seed within the host's psyche, that glows with its own pure goodness.

But as the Takers say, there's no such thing as a free bag of gold. As Sage left more and more seeds behind inside the disciples of good priests and Upper Planar natives, it became more and more deranged. The fact Sage was imprisoned for so long inside a gem probably didn't help either, but as time progressed, it became increasingly clear to Savoire that Sage had forgotten it was only supposed to be boosting the morale of the good troops. Randomly, it started attacking the minds of evil cutters too, working its mind games and converting them to goodness.

First was Nux, a poisonous little ettercap...she was swayed to good in a few days. Barren, a marraenoloth and dark to his very core took longer; about a week of moral warfare was waged between incarnate and fiend. These conversions cost the incarnate dearly; Sage left a large fragment of itself behind in each one to combat the darkness, before jumping into Vaysolar, a black-hearted saurial wizard. Though Sage is weakening drastically now, the battle with the saurial's ego is being won slowly, and it's probably only a matter of time before the incarnate takes a new host.

In fact, Sage has spotted an aasimar cutter who seems to have fallen from grace, one "Qaida". The incarnate knows her name from when it was imprisoned in Ly'kritch's jewel pouch; it learned that many of the minds in other gems there blamed the aasimar for their capture. So Sage thought it'd be wise to make the aasimar realise the error of her ways. And since aasimar are inherently good, figures Sage, it shouldn't take too long either...

Cage Rattlers
Consult the Mimir Again