An essay by Dr. Iolanthe Osmandius, as provided by Antoinette McCormick
Illustration by Cory Caywood
The first time I died was an accident. First attempts at anything are awkward, but mine, hastily planned and frantically executed, was almost my last. Fortunately, I have learned a few tricks and some valuable lessons in my many deaths since–information you might find very useful, should you ever find yourself faced with a similar situation.
Believe me, you just might.
At some point in their careers, many practitioners of the numinous arts will find themselves the objects of derision, investigation, or public insurrection. Too often, what begins as calumny quickly turns into calamity: last year, 750 sorcerers, necromancers, and alchemists living in the Ordinal Zones outside the Vespertine Territories were the victims of violent attacks. An estimated 17% of these were fatal. In fact, unless you are lucky enough to live within the impenetrable wards of the Vespertine Territories, you will have a 75% chance of being the victim of crowd contagion–the bonfire of insanity generated by a throng of pitchfork-wielding, crucifix-waving, homicidally minded hicks–within the first five years of your vocation, alone.
You know this day will come. You have acknowledged its possibility since you invoked your first spirit, cast your first Star of Chaos, or pulled that first phial of what you thought was a much-vaunted, viscous elixir–one that probably turned out to be vinegar–from the ether. Call it an occupational hazard, but it is the burden shared by all practicing Occultists.
Why play the odds? Readiness in the face of the inevitable beats a last ditch improvisation in a faulty dirigible by any phase of the moon.
A prudent practitioner is always prepared.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2013 collection.
An itinerate lecturer and alchemical practitioner, Dr. Iolanthe Osmandius was last seen leading a magical symposium at Conlegium Obscuro. Her sudden disappearance, following publication of this treatise in the inaugural (and only) edition of Artifice Weekly, continues to baffle authorities.
When not writing, Antoinette McCormick, a handmaiden of Western medicine, prefers to cast healing magic. Her work has appeared in The Vermont Literary Review, on a comic-themed tour poster for the musical group, Alice in Chains, and is forthcoming in Blood Moon Rising.
Cory Caywood is an illustrator, concept artist, and designer specializing in science ficition and fantasy. His work can be viewed at http://www.floatinginspace.netFollow us online: