Zoeticism is often conflated with nature-magic, as both were an especial purview of the pre-Landing cultures of Old Habadad and others. While the two schema possess certain undeniable similarities, they are also in fundamental opposition to one another. Nature-magic, at its core, is “about” the anhillation of idenity and subsumption of self into the large whole which is the so-called natural world. Little wonder that in these enlightened days few deign to practice it! Zoetic mysticism, however, is about the alteration, creation, and redefinition of identity. Quodiron is a zoetic construct, as is drydeath, the small rebellion of the body’s cells. While the principles of the system could be used to synthesize new sapience from previously inert material (as, it has been argued, was done in the creation of the Sibeccai and possibly the Velvet Men), the zoetic ethics popularly ascribed to the Six Sages do not admit such practice. The First Sage, Able, and the Fourth Sage, Weariness, broke from the other four to declaim
A SEACAVE UNDER THE ISLAND OF GREEN FOAM
“Yomno declines to protect you,” Zully tells Ol-Rasta. He holds a freshly-scribed pad, and his eyes glow with the Jelly God’s own light. “But It thanks you for your efforts on Its behalf.”
“‘On Its behalf?'” Vera Ilermaken echoes. She’s a little disoriented, which is only to be expected after using the mill that permits instantaneous passage twice in such rapid succession, not to mention the shift from a thousand feet up in the air to a hundred feet below sea level and many thousands of miles, to boot.
“Hardly. Are you Its spokesman, then?” Ol-Rasta, on the other hand, seems not at all disoriented.
“I have that honor.”
“Destroying Ka-Rone, tearing down the Tower of Tongues, and killing the Most High has been on my to-do list for a long time. It wasn’t for your boss’s benefit.”
“It won’t be a killing blow,” Zully explains. “For as long as men have the capacity for evil in their hearts there will be a Dark in the Mother Countries.”
“Very poetic, but at best tangentially related the thrust of my argument. The Dark is one thing, the Most High another. It took centuries after the Landing for the Dark to spread and coalesce to the point that it could assume temporal power. The Yadd Island drydeath will cripple it. In a few days, when –”
“Its forces are marshalled and well-prepared,” Zully intones. “Your time is measured in minutes, not days.” The last of his received wisdom is fading away.
“What are you talking about?” bursts out Vera. “I mean, I consider myself to be both fairly patient and fairly sharp, but –”
Ol-Rasta silences Vera with a wave of her hand: she gestures, and Vera loses the ability to speak. Zully, pulled from his godhead-induced reverie, starts towards her. “What…?”
“Oh, she’s fine. When I built her I put in a mute option. And,” Ol-Rasta continues as she gestures again, “a catatonia option.”
Vera falls to the floor of the cavern.
Ol-Rasta cracks her knuckles. “Minutes, you said?”
Zully’s eyes are unfocused. “…yeah. It’s, you’ve got to…”
“Then we’ll have to hurry. Now, boy, I am accustomed to explicating my clever actions, and Vera here isn’t much of an audience in this state, so you’ll be coming along.”
There’s a slight sense of pressure in Zully’s ears. “Yes’m,” he hears himself say. He’s never said “yes’m” to anyone in his life. “Why did –” he’s compelled to begin to ask, but she mercifully interrupts him.
“An excellent question. These caves are all part of the Jelly God’s domain; Yomno observes all that happens here, including, according to my sources, that which passes through the minds of those who tread here. In this manner my work will never be forgotten. Grab her feet.” Ol-Rasta is already bending to heft Vera at the shoulders.
“Feet! We’ve got to go.”
“Where are we going?” Zully hears himself ask as he obediently helps pull Vera up off the floor.
“We are going to die. She,” Ol-Rasta punctuates with a pointed glance down at Vera, “is going to heaven.”