Fak Altashfir Item in The Million Islands | World Anvil
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Fak Altashfir

The contents of the Book of Koa'ki has captivated scholars from around the Great Ring ever since it was discovered. But for the Zaman al-Razaz, the true mystery of the book was in the language used to write it.

The text of the book has a number of unusual properties. It can be read in any direction, with different words being formed by the perspective of the reader. It is also supremely context sensitive, with the meaning of any block of text intimately connected to the characters before and after - so much so that rearranging the pages of the book can change the contents. When one accounts for all the possible arrangements of the pages (between rotations, flips, and rearrangements), the total amount of information available in the book staggers the mind.

After a visit to the book, al-Razaz decided to design a device that could replicate the properties of this text. While the magic of the book rendered exact copies of the characters impossible, the inventor compiled the many attempts along with his own observations and created a symbol set for his device that attempted to achieve the same qualities. A key element to his final script were the strange glyphs etched by the Skull-Snails, which he believed had a similar origin as the book's original text. As he expected, the static text could not capture the contextual nature of the book, but it provided a foundation for the Fak Altashfir (a name which translates roughly to 'Decoder' in Nagini).

The core of the Fak Altashfir was a series of spinning wheels, etched with the symbology al-Razaz invented. It was configured by a matrix of cubes attached to the axle, also etched with the symbols. By rotating the cubic matrix, different sets of the internal wheels were engaged and disengaged, at varying speeds. The device would spin for a time, and then the wheels would settle into a particular configuration that differed based on the conditions around the machine at the time. According to al-Razaz, the machine was using the local context as a part of its input and output. When asked how this was useful or even related to his initial goal, he gave a shrug. It was interesting, he would reply, and that was more than enough to keep him working on it.

He tinkered with the device for several years, going through cycles of complicating the internal workings, and then simplifying them to make the machinery more reliable. He eventually was forced to abandon the device when it began to exhibit disturbing autonomy, generating long strings of text of its own accord, with words that seared the tongues of those who attempted to repeat them, and left glowing scars upon the flesh of listeners. When it started to reconfigure its own internal workings, he ripped the device from the water-wheel that powered it and cast the remains into the sea, still spinning as it sank.

While the device is now presumably at the bottom of the ocean, the symbology created by al-Razaz was preserved, and elements of it were later incorporated into his famous Prophecy Clock. There are some who believe that he had created a language that had innate spiritual significance, although those who have experimented with it have been unable to control or even moderate its effects. Text written in these symbols tends to combust, or transform the medium it is written on - there were several reports of the symbols crawling away on their own power and embedding themselves into other objects. Today, the use of al-Razaz's characters is forbidden by law in any place it had been studied, and those surviving researchers choose to do their work in secrecy.


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