Tyler looked up from the page with narrowed eyes. "Cults can't? Cults can't… what, exactly?" Morrigan crossed her arms and shook her head, "No, a cant is a kind of secret language used by a particular group. This is a little more complicated, though. Hold on." She clasped her hands together and carefully constructed every word. "Do you remember how hard it was to understand the Candlelight?" "Yeah. I still don't really get it beyond a few basic details." "Exactly. I can't even explain it, which only makes it more confusing. Cult's Cant is why it often seems like we talk in riddles." Morrigan leaned forward, "For example, I want you to try and explain to me what you do understand about candlelight." "Okay," he said. He put the thoughts together, constructing exactly what he wanted to say before speaking. "To be in the know is to be a beacon, like a candle in the darkest of night. Through insight, we become radiant." Morrigan smirked. "See? I know what you're saying, but really think about what you said." She leaned forward and rested her hands on the desk. "You haven't explained a thing. Spout that on a street corner and you'll be hauled off to a padded cell."
Of all things to ask me about... Cult's Cant is hard to understand and even harder to explain. It's the product of attempting to explain color to those without eyes. The candlelight is by far the least understood yet most studied anomaly in the web. It permeates every form of matter, and beyond. It's a tool and a hindrance, a barrier that makes it even harder to actually accomplish our goals. Cult's Cant is an Anti-language that developed naturally in the presence of candlelight but to call it a language implies many things. It implies the language must be learned, but Cult's Cant works in reverse. You already know it. Everyone does. The moment you gain the The Candlelight, it's a part of you, but you'll endeavor to stop speaking it from then on. Candlelight is a force of nature, a universal law that takes effect the moment you perceive it. Cult's Cant is what happens when candlelight is revealed by a secondary source. Even discussing the candlelight itself will be done in Cult's Cant. Instead of experiencing the thing, you are trying to gain knowledge of a thing vicariously from someone else. The candlelight is still there, by proxy, and it refuses to have its secrets spoiled. If you want to know, you're going to have to work for it.
Speaking in riddles
I'll try to explain as best I can, but I too suffer from this… irritating anomaly. The cant is a linguistic barrier that separates those in the know from those outside. It also separates those who are more radiant in candlelight from those they speak to who have far less. Attempting to speak of any subject that contains candlelight will result in one of two outcomes:
- You will fail to find the words and resort to excessive use of figurative language, waxing poetically and often looking like a fool while doing so. This often happens at inappropriate times and in response to critical questions that make one look as if they aren't even paying attention. Though, sometimes they really aren't. Funny enough, this is actually considered a success, or at least as successful one can be without resorting to absolute truth.
She giggled through labored breathing, “We are nothing, a grain of sand in a dune sea. Not all questions have answers, nor do they need to.” Tyler began to shake his head, unsure of what she meant or what could have possibly prompted such a statement. Morrigan stopped him, placing a hand on his cheek once more and shaking her head. "Sorry," she said. She gave a nervous chuckle, one that soon spiraled into a brief second of maddening laughter. "I got carried away."
- You will distill the gist of what you're trying to say, oversimplifying the concept to a point where the statement is just misleading and only half correct. The Web is incredibly complex, and the minute details happen to be the most important part.
"Monsters are real…"Refer to the example. The term "monster" implies the supernatural or at least instills the image of a bloodthirsty beast that doesn't fit on the tree of life. This is not true. Out of thousands of specimens studied, only 12 are considered supernatural, and that's because we lack the science to truly understand them.
Oh, it gets better. Even Cult's Cant has candlelight and speaking it can spark the candlelight in others. This implies that not only does candlelight exist within physical matter, but also in the very concept of the thing you're talking about. This is why Cult's Cant exists. By making it impossible to convey truth, it never spreads unless the curious truly think on what is said. It keeps up the masquerade, a veil of secrets some organizations desperately want to lift. For us in the know, who seek to spread knowledge for mutual gain, it's an endless frustration.
Uses and Annoyances
The weirdest thing about Cult's Cant is its most important rule: if you know, you know. If you are trying to talk about something and speaking to someone who also has that knowledge, they will hear your rambling and completely understand what you're trying to say. If you know, you know. Then again, some have more information than others, which means that if you know some but not all of what is being said, you will only be able to understand to the limit of your knowledge. If I talk about an anonymous plant you are aware of, though know nothing past the fact that it exists, then you will easily know the subject of the conversation… nothing more.
Below are the common ways we in the know use Cult's Cant to our advantage, as well as ways it interferes with our ability to operate efficiently.
- Secrecy: those wishing to keep their secrets often won't even try to resist speaking in Cult's Cant. Those who know will know, and those listening in will be none the wiser. While this clandestine exchange of information was suspected of cultists for centuries, it's actually a very recent use of the cant, and The Web was the first to do it.
- To Grow The Flock: Cultists have been using the cant for years, but not for the same reasons most assumed. If a cultist is speaking to you normally and suddenly spouts a series of phrases in Cult's Cant… Well, I hate to say it but consider the conversation is effectively over. They're not talking to you anymore. They're talking to your friends, partners, companions, or whoever else is also in that room. The phrases are meant to mesmerize those who hunger for meaning and often lure the curious to the open arms of an ancient, eldritch deity.
- To Speak of Truth: There is a way to circumvent Cult's Cant. Some have learned to harness Truth as a weapon, and to actually speak such truth one has to mull over and prepare what they want to say beforehand. For those who are intellectually inclined, and in possession of an extensive vocabulary, bypassing Cult's Cant is simply a matter of thinking about it. This is dangerous, however. I believe there's a saying for it, actually: The truth hurts.
- To Protect: If the truth hurts, you may seek to preserve the minds of those who hear it. You can resort to Cult's Cant in an effort to NOT speak Truth, gradually easing the recipient's mind into a state of knowing. The key to the cant is thought. The more you think about what's said in the hours. Days, weeks, etc. after the fact, the better your chances of actually understanding it.
Fun Fact: what's in a name?
Originally, Cult's Cant was only used by cultists, hence the name. Before The Web was officially created, those in the know were few and far between. Knowledge was harder to find and even harder to pass on. Cult's dominated the world of candlelight for eons. They've seen things you couldn't even imagine. Until The Magicians of Carthage came, they were the only ones who knew of this peculiar language barrier. This caused some problems. Much of the misunderstanding and animosity suffered by cultists can be traced to how those who were less knowledgeable reacted to the cultists' strange way of speaking. They were accused of speaking in riddles, being insane, and casting twisted spells to poison people's minds when in reality they were just desperately searching for the right words.
On the tip of your tongue...
The first time using Cult's Cant can be a surreal experience. You know what you want to say, but it suddenly becomes impossible to do so. You will stutter and pause more than you should. It's like your brain walks out in the middle of its shift. This is only made worse if you manage to get the words out. What you say makes perfect sense, yet isn't what you really meant to say. It will feel off, like a picture on a wall tilted just a little too far to the left. Sometimes it can be easily inferred, especially if speaking about simple subjects, but it's always buried under layers and layers of useless words. Ironically, abstract concepts are often pretty clear, even when spoken in Cult's Cant. They can be easily understood no matter what words are used. Don't get excited. There is always the chance it will be misinterpreted by those who don't already know what you're saying.