The Candlelight

It will be a short vigil...

When it happens, you'll know. I was walking home from a show, and I heard this cracking sound from an alleyway. That's all it takes. I turned my head, saw it... and my life was changed forever. It isn't without warning, but I didn't know it would send my plans for the future spiraling down the drain. My Free ride at Juilliard, my relationships with friends and family... all gone.   You get a moment of unease, a moment that begs you to just keep walking. The curious, the smart, the brave... we always look. You can feel it. It's like that feeling you get when driving over a hill, you know? it's that feeling in the pit of your stomach. You feel warmth. it's not painful, but noticeable. It rises in the chest and the adrenaline starts to pump.

That's the candlelight and if you aren't careful, it never goes away. You gotta forget... get that shit out of your head. If you don't. Well... it just gets worse.
— An origin story of Beatrice, leader of The Black Betties

Candlelight:
A condition that comes from the measurable effect of pseudo-paranormality on the mind after encountering it. The brain begins to gain insight into reality. After that, pseudo-paranormal activity in one's environment is easier to see. The condition is permanent and becomes more severe with each encounter. The only cure is to forget the encounters, either through rationalization, compartmentalizing, or through induced amnesia.

The Candlelight is one of many mysteries that even the greatest minds find hard to grasp, much less to study. It's the one thing that's universal to the experience of all those caught in The Web as well as those outside of it. The Candlelight is a reaction. The mind of anyone who witnesses the world beneath the world we all know changes on a fundamental level.

Those who have it are forever changed by the experience, no matter how simple or insignificant it may have been. They notice the shadows always seem to have something within them. They see the strings that dictate the actions of all movers and shakers in the world.
Named after candles placed on windowsills during the Middle Ages by those who were "in the know" along with the effect it has on the mind, Candlelight lifts the veil over one's eyes and reveals the world as it is. They begin to put these pieces together and the more they do the more they witness.  

Blessed with a curse

Imagine if knowledge acted much the same way neutron radiation does. It spreads. Exposing yourself to it risks catching it, like a virus. The moment you know what should never be known, the mind has a choice to make: forget, rationalize, or accept the information as truth.   Technically everything has candlelight. All forms of matter, every bit of knowledge, and even abstract concepts like language and faith possess candlelight. Normally, its such a small amount that it's negligable. It builds over time, but even when most grow old it still can't compare to that of the average agent of The Web.   The people of The Web see the candlelight as a cursed blessing. It raises awareness and perception, improving reaction time. It makes you more resilient to the psychological damage. It bolsters the mind, making it difficult to enter. The most important benefit is that it grants a sixth sense, allowing you to search out and find the horror more efficiently, but this is a dual edge sword. While it makes it easier to find them, it also makes it easier to find you.
 

A Painfull Light

Most people who experience this condition usually find the light flickering out quickly. They turn away from the blinding lights into the safety and security of the normal lives they live. Minor experiences and fleeting encounters generally leave the mind unchanged. A strange event that's difficult to explain, but has little effect on your life, won't rock your world too much. A door that slams on its own is easy to dismiss as the wind or the settling of a building's foundation.

There are some encounters, however, that are much harder to suppress. Witnessing a killing, especially of someone you care for, at the hands of some monstrous creature is a memory that will prove particularly difficult to forget. The more an individual can attach themselves to the experience, the stronger the light. Emotional ties often make for the brightest, and curiosity can be equally so.

Even under such stress there are those who prefer the dark. Those in the web have created methods of snuffing out the light as a kindness for those who do not want to know, or are not meant to know. There's always a way to blow out the candle.


Pseudo-Paranormality

  The terms "paranormal" and "supernatural" are taken seriously in The Web. Most encounters are usually explainable using scientific methods, including those that are actually at the hands of what most people would consider paranormal or supernatural.   The problem with these terms is that by using them you are assuming what is happening is not explainable using scientific methods and that these encounters involve something that deviates or breaks natural law.   This couldn't be further from the truth. The phenomenon of ghosts and spirits following their own rules of physics simply have not been released to the public and even the way metaphysical beings function has a set of rules grounded in reality, especially when they take form in the physical plane. They are still expected to adhere to the rules of our universe.   There have only been 12 distinct cases of a true supernatural entity. This is to say that there are only twelve things discovered in the universe that break natural law and therefore the terms Supernatural and paranormal are reserved only to refer to them and others like them yet to be discovered.      

The Magicians of Carthage

  The Magicians of Carthage have a unique relationship with Candlelight. They were a group of scientific explorers who decided to indulge in as much as they possibly could. The severity of the Candlelight they gained gave them unique insight into the way the world works. They are potent mediums and exorcists, and pioneered metaphysical study.
While overwhelming, Tyler didn't feel uncomfortable. Quiet moments of anxiety would swell within him if he stared at something for too long, his mind desperate for more information.
"Morrigan," he called. He didn't receive an answer, but he heard her hand dragging across the wall on the way to the room. The sound of her footsteps came afterwards, rapid and with purpose. She stopped herself at the door, taking her time before opening it. Tyler's hands fidgeted as he swayed, shifting his weight from one leg to the other.

The door opened, and he leaned to the side. He wondered if doing so would give him a quicker view or allow him to speak sooner. His heart beat fast and hard. It seemed like it was bashing itself against the inside of his chest. His breathing grew heavy.
He wasn't annoyed at the wait. He was excited. He stared in eager anticipation as she stepped through.

Morrigan looked the same, and yet nothing like she did before. He stood perfectly still, his eyes widened. The woman was a stranger to him. Every curve, every perfectly tailored article of clothing that covered them, was new. The way her chest lifted and fell with every breath, the clarity of her snow-white skin, even the deep red of her hair, appeared nothing like it did the night before. Her eyes, however, changed the most. The jade green color remained, but the more he stared, the more he noticed how the color danced in the iris, as if the various shades of green were fluids that refused to mix.
— From The Scarlet Ashes
   

Gaining The Candlelight

When the candle is lit, one will expirience a wide variety of things. The world changes with them. They will notice things they never noticed before. One may walk through a library and find a strange wooden door, old and rotten, nestled along the far wall of the room. What's strange is, despite having visited hundreds of times, they never noticed it before. Entire buildings may seem to appear out of thin air. Regions of the world that fail to appear on any map are now clearly visible.   Other changes include the inability to actually explain what is happening to you. Candlelight is about revelation, but it desperately wishes to be kept secret. Candlelight has an effect on language, called Cult's Cant. It makes it remarkably difficult to spread the knowledge you've gained.There is also an unfortunate effect of the candlelight referred to as fading. The brighter you are, the harder it is for those around you to register the fact you exist. You become harder to percieve. Those who knew you in life may forget you ever existed.   Other effects are more beneficial. You can weaponize the Truth youve learned and gaining candlelight makes it easier to gain more. You can sense candlelight in higher concentrations. It's like stepping out from the shade on a sunny day, whether the sun is present or not. You can feel The Candlelight's warmth on your skin, and it's unlike anything you've felt before. This makes it easy to spot others in the know, so long as they aren't suppressing their light.
 

...Turn Away

When the candle is lit, it's always done so by choice. Many will put the blame on the thing they saw or on the cruel world around them, but it was their choice. Their instincts told them to run or to turn away, but the curiosity was stronger. There are many ways to avoid Candlelight and doing so is generally considered a healthier choice. With the innovation of Bliss and Psychic Surgery, those within The Web can now correct their mistake. Interestingly enough, few ever do. You see, in reality, there is power knowledge and in this case literally. Few are willing to give it up... even if they wanted to.

This led to the The Rules of Inclusion. See, it is possible to hide the candlelight. One can suppress their own light and prevent exposure to those without it. Most people in The Web hate the idea of secrecy, though. More and more people resist the light and it gets harder to find new blood with every passing day. For some, life in The Web is a matter of resisting the urge to tell everyone the good news. Even if you do expose yourself, there's no guarentee that it will spread.

Its not that the knowledge, itself, is dangerous. Beauty is equally present, on par with the horror. That being said, some simply can't handle the systemic destruction of their foundational beliefs. Imagine if everything you believed proved fundamentally false. Imagine having to completely reverse a lifetime of conditioning just to accept a sliver of information.

 
Regardless of how it happens, encountering the candlelight forces the mind to choose. It's not without thought, but always happens in a way that feels instictive. It's as if your mind knows your answer before you do...
 

The Blue Pill


The mind instinctively avoids the candlelight, and it will go to any length that protects itself. The following are many methods individuals use to avoid gaining the candlelight even if they are not consciously aware that that is what they are doing.

  • Reject: Sometimes, denial can be an effective way of snuffing out the light. For those who prefer the dark, denial is the easier option. It's easy to say it simply didn't happen at all, or it was all a bad dream. The problem with denial is that it can only work so many times. Before the brain begins to doubt itself.
  • Rationalize: Another easy way out, rational thinking is a way to discredit and debunk the monsters under your bed. It has worked so well many dedicate their lives to doing it. To say it could have been the wind, a trick of light, or smoke and mirrors makes it easy to not dwell on what you've seen. Rationalization doesn't only work through deduction and science. The devoted followers of many of the world's religions find this method easy to use. It's easy to believe the monster you saw was a demon from hell if you already believe in hell in the first place.
  • Medicate: Addiction is common in the web, and it's also a factor in how many learn to move on from the terror they experience. Cannabis and alcohol or even harder substances like opiates, whatever it takes.
  • Induced Amnesia: In recent years, The Alexandrian University developed a means of eliminating memory through various chemical cocktails. They refer to it as Bliss and they can ease the pain of anyone unable to withstand the harsh light. The Oxford Cabal also routinely aids in erasing the memories of civilians and operatives alike through arcane means as opposed to the scientific.
  • The Last Resort:When all else fails, and the pain of knowledge is too much, there is one solution left. Insanity and suicide go hand in hand with the candlelight. The weaker the mind is when confronted with terror, the more likely it is to succumb to such tragic ends.

The Red Pill

There are many ways in which the mind simply cannot avoid Candlelight, and the effects are just as many. In fact, the candlelight is different for everyone. It's impossible to know what will happen if gained and increased. The following table lists the various effects both good and bad that come to those with Candlelight and the level of illumination at which these effects can occur.

Stage one- 0-25%
  • Mild to severe shock
  • PTSD
  • Rapid deterioration of mental state (rare cases)
  • Thrill seeking or reckless behavior
  • Makes one fully visible to those with Candlelight.

Stage two - 26-75%

  • Slight perception increase and awareness
  • Onset of mild depression, Paranoia and/or Anxiety.
  • Ability to sense pseudo-paranormal activity and avoid or seek it.
  • Ability to recall information the subject has never learned, usually pertaining to reality.
  • At this point, it's common for those who knew you in life to completely forget you exist.

Stage three - 75-100%
  • Feelings of oneness with reality.
  • Significant increase in reflexes and perception
  • Hallucinations
  • Though nightmares and night terrors are common among all stages, they are more frequent in stage three
  • It becomes more difficult to percieve those who have less candlelight, and those who have none seem to fade away entirely.
  • Oedipism
  • Visions (not hallucinations)
  • Innate sense of mediumship
  • It is important to know that no one has ever reached 100% Candlelight. The most recorded was just shy of 88%

     

    Eyes are the window...

    Those with Candlelight found it easier to hunt that which they swore to kill, The Magicians of Carthage actively use it for many mysterious purposes, but this power also comes in reverse. Those who do not have Candlelight can often avoid these encounters and the bodily harm that often comes with them.

    The Magicians of Carthage have determined those without the candlelight are difficult to see by those who possess it, and this doesn't exactly pertain to humans. All pseudo-paranormal entities have candlelight. The Magicians often tell civilians in the area to simply shield their eyes for doing so makes them almost impossible to see by anything or anyone with Candlelight.

    The Magicians also learned that Candlelight does not broadcast from the mind, but is a process that happens with the eyes before the image enters the brain. Averting your gaze is an effective way to not be noticed if you are not already noticed before.
     

    Articles under The Candlelight


    Comments

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    23 Apr, 2020 08:31

    Endermen can sense candlelight...   I find it interesting that nobody has ever reached 100% candlelight. What happens when you get there? Do you realize you're living in a fictional world? Was there a race of ancients that were all constantly at !00% and it allowed them to create wonders of magic and technology that the world has never seen since?   The lady in the Quote... was she the green fairy? How did this guy get to know her without getting candlelit earlier? or could a guy just rationalize any weirdness about her indefinitely as long as nothing was too obviously magic?   I guess I should ask the question; why is the magical world seperate from the physical? what makes a magical thing so much harder to take than, say, warfare?

    Sage Dylonishere123
    R. Dylon Elder
    23 Apr, 2020 14:25

    Duuuuuude so many excellent questions. OK. So first, reaching 100% is actually a way of reaching an "ending" in the game aspect of the web. A character that can survive and gain that would allow the party to be given a special ending questline that essentially progresses the world... potentially apocalyptic scenarios may occur. The details are not quite there yet.   Secondly, the woman in the quote is Morrigan, the cultist. Tyler spent the beginning of the story struggling to even remember she existed. The candlelight is gradual. It isn't a either/or lit/unlit thing. The moement he remembers her. Weird things start happening, which he pursued her to find answers to. In many ways. gaining candlelight turns you into a pseudo eldritch being, most just don't want to break normalcy.     I love that you asked this last question. It's something I've been struggling with. In truth, the web is not a secret world trope. It's a transformation of the world. The web isn't a secret. People could look and find it at any time, but most don't want to. Gaining candlelight is stepping into a place where the normal world doesn't exist. If your not a troubleshooter, chances are you never even address the normal world exists unless someone happens to notice you, pulling you back. Its barring for both the member of the web and the newly candlelit person. It's like candlelight works both ways. It's not harder to handle. Entering the web is to break down years and years of conditioning to think a certain way. Magic isnt real right? Then you find that is. It's a hard pill to swallow for SOME. Tyler is a very scientifically minded person. Meeting Morrigan shattered his entire foundation of belief.

    30 Jun, 2022 00:41

    Y'know, I feel like I read this a while ago but I did not recall exactly what Candlelight was! There are some really, really cool concepts in here. I particularly like the origins and the see-saw with memory. It also bears similarity to a phenomenon in my own setting I call The Knowing, but they are definitely distinct (I think you may have read a short story about in the the Tales of Iferwon). Candlelight is so well suited to this world of The Web!

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