The Discordance: An introduction to The Discordians

Bamboozlers can smell their own...

"Another game, Mr. Hale?" The man asked as Tyler gasped for breath, taking in air so deep it hurt his lungs. "Mr. Hale?" he chimed again. Tyler's vision returned to him, the bright colors fading it from the dark. As he tried to gather himself, the sounds bombarded him. He heard steady streams of rings and whirls, blaring tones from slot machines. He noticed the green felt on the table before him, the smooth hands of the dealer. Did he say something?
"No, thank you." Tyler said without knowing why. Tyler felt himself straighten up in the chair, scanning the poker table and playing with the chips in his hand, but he had no intention of doing these things. His body, his words, were not his own. He felt a sudden panic, as if locked away in his mind while another controlled his every action. He tried to put the chips down. He tried to speak. The casino shook slightly, sending a trail of drywall dust down onto the poker table from the high ceiling above. The harder he tried, the more violently the building shook.
"Careful," the dealer said, "This is a fragile place. Don't bring it all crashing down. You may never get another chance." Tyler tried to move again and the building trembled. The dealer looked up and scanned the cracks that formed across the entire building before shaking his head. Tyler felt lost, frustrated. He only wanted to ask a question, but seemed to endanger himself and the dealer with every attempt. He wanted to understand, picturing performing such a simple action perfectly and-
"What is this?" Tyler mused in wonder.
"Ah," the dealer grinned, "There you go. Your in our dream, Mr. Hale. Another game?" Tyler imagined himself nodding, imagined himself giving a look of confusion, and each action occurred immediately, "Your dream?" Tyler asked, picturing the action clearly.
"Not literally, poor choice of words. Our muse is a better term," he explained, picking up the deck of cards, "Welcome to the house of cards, Mr. Hale." The dealer shuffled the cards in his hands, cutting and riffling with grace and speed.
"What brings you here?" The dealer muttered, and a woman came from the side dressed in a golden gown. "I'll take this one," she whispered, parting the other dealer on the back. The man backed up, made it clear that he hid nothing in his hands or sleeves, and walked away as the woman took his place. She picked up the cards, and the way she moved them as she cut the cards made it impossible to follow what cards went where. She stopped, smiled at Tyler's look of wonder, then drew a card: the king of hearts. She placed the card back on top, and began working the cards again.
"Who are you?" Tyler asked, and she cocked an eyebrow as she cut the deck repeatedly.
"The one who saved you your life,” she replied, “you’ll find me a valuable friend. Lucky You.”
— From The Scarlet Ashes
Those who seek The Prestige must go through a deadly rite. They bathe in the essence of metaphysical concepts. Imagine what it must be like to bathe in thought. What would it taste like when you drink the waters of love? What would the essence of death smell like? You'd be surprised. Love smells of passionate nights and Mom's cooking. Death smells not of decay, but like perfume; a distinct scent made from the extract of botanicals that went extinct far before we crawled from the primordial slurry.

The Prestige is busted. Some gain the ability to cast spells from countless genres of arcane power and learn talents beyond their wildest dreams. Most, however, won't be so lucky. Most get a minor talent. They get a single ability, or a handful of skills that don't match the risks taken to gain them. It's unfair, but life isn't fair. These powerful masters of the arcane have to discover their power after that in a string of trial and error.

They just happened to receive these gifts, and in reality should be delighted they survived the rite at all. It's not only unfair, it feels like being the punch line in a cosmic joke, and the Discordians still can't stifle their laughter. Those men and women, the ones with all the gifts, can't touch the one power a discordian has. The Discordians are the exception to the rule. " What rule?" You ask. Any rule.

The need to misbehave

The discordians delight in being the troublemakers. Those who are too overpowered fail to understand the simple, but effective talents the discordians use. Some practitioners find it hard to believe Discordians have any power at all. The truth is far more complicated. Isn't it always?

Their relationship to The Candlelight , as well as The Static, is different compared to anyone else in The Web. Firstly, a discordian can internalize The Static, making them hard to target by other practitioners. This also changes their environment. The world starts to synchronize to an unheard melody and the strangest things happen thereafter. Many believe this effect led to the development of The Synchronicity Theorem, the first principle of Arcana Discordia.

Secondly, Discordians are cosmic comedians, as if our unfeeling reality needed a good laugh. They are the universes comic relief. They have a slight advantage when dealing with the negative effects of candlelight. They are cruel optimists, able to find twisted humor in all situations. This isn't madness. It is who they are. Discordians subscribe to chaos, and are the only ones capable of learning Arcana Discordia. They went through the rite, believing that they would emerge with phenomenal cosmic power. They believed it would give them strength, vitality, and hope. They then promptly died. After that experience, you need a good sense of humor.

Fun Fact: The House of Cards

The House of Cards is an anomaly in The Web. It is a repository for luck, both good and bad. It is the domain of luck, but it is not governed by any particular entity. The House of Cards is built by the discordians that pass through. Each discordian adds a new dimension of complexity to the casino, and that complexity will vanish upon their death to make room for the next discordian to join.

The House of cards appears as a standard casino. The colors, the games played, even the uniform worn by the dealer, change routinely. The casino is a shared experience fashioned in the minds of the discordians that currently occupy it. Its existence is a secret, and the many things that go on within are just as much so. Discordians visit The House of Cards in their dreams, unable to dream of anything else for as long as they live.  

Joining The Discordians: It's your lucky day.

Those who die in the rite may open their eyes and find themselves in a casino. They will be impeccably dressed, sitting at a poker table before their dealer, who asks if they'd like to play another hand. The process is slightly different for everyone. Those in the hot seat will be told of their death in brutal honesty, for sure, but then are given a series of tests. The tests can be lectures, provoking thought problems, and even just casual conversation while the two have a game together, and all while being dealt horrible hands by the dealer. The dealer only stops when the potential recruit has given up, denying another game.

Now this part is critical, so listen close. It's so important it's plastered in full view on the casino walls in the most commanding font possible: “Don't forget to tip your dealer.” Don't be greedy, be generous. It's not the dealer's fault that your game was pathetic. Be honest. It's not like you need the money now. By tipping the dealer you accept your fate. You don't point your fingers, you bow out of life with dignity. You could insult your dealer. You could fail every test, but if you give a pleasing enough tip, you're in. This time, though, every card in your hand is wild.

You get to wake up from the rite, going loud just like the rest of them. You wake up laughing, finally getting the joke you've been hearing since birth. You get to keep your life, but you'll never practice the prestige as promised. That is the price, but don't forget: luck is in your corner now. All the doors are closed, but chaos holds one open, just for you. Arcana Discordia is a gift offered to you when fate stole your life. It is one of many gifts you're given, if you're willing to work for them, that is.


Fun Fact: Luck be a lady...

Miss Fortune, The Keeper of the Golden Orchard... Any discussion with a discordian will usually feature a mention of “Lady Luck.” Though no one knows exactly who this mysterious figure is. Discordian women often claim to be Lady Luck during the review of someone they can sponsor. The thing is, Lady luck doesn't exist. Well, she might not exist, or she may just not exist at this time but will exist…

Lady Luck is a symbol, an idea, as well the patron saint and lover of every discordian. She is a paradigm, an example, and a personification of (mis)fortune. Some paint her as a queen, eager to give and her subjects are eager to receive. She is also painted as a tyrant, capable of bringing untold horrors your way if you upset her. In this way, Lady Luck is also a fable, A cautionary tale designed to keep a single fact in the mind of all discordians: Luck is fickle

The Saucy Wink

A curious gift given to all discordians is what they call "The Saucy Wink." It is the most blatant, suggestive wink the discordian can conjure and when given, offers one or two seconds of secrecy. During this precious little time, the discordian can communicate in any way with anyone who knows what The Saucy Wink is, or at least, has witnessed the discordian's performance of the wink before.

With this tiny, seemingly insignificant talent, a discordian can easily determine if someone else is a discordian as well. For this reason, the discordians never reveal it to those not initiated into their tribe. No matter how loud or obvious the wink is, or how many people are around, even if they are looking in the eyes of the discordian who winks, it will never be noticed.

This has allowed the discordians to freely operate, infiltrating other organizations simply for the chance to use it on everyone they meet and sniff out their own. This scavenger hunt is an obsession. Many discordians meet each other in The House of Cards, but seek to meet others in the real world as well. A challenging task when you're sworn to secrecy, but a task easily done with this useful tool.

A School of Very hard knocks

Other forms of the prestige involve the practitioner learning on their own and at their own pace. This is done with little to no involvement from others, save for the occasional answered question or demonstration. Arcana Discordia must be taught. While the skills can be learned naturally, it usually requires a bit of persuasion. Remember that dashing dealer? There is a reason your tip can save your life. Being a discordian is not a matter of being chosen. It's a matter of being sponsored.

Every dealer is a discordian. They review all those who pass through The House of Cards. Even if you fail to impress one, another may step in to give you their tests. A sponsor isn't there to deem you worthy, all are welcome in their midst. They are there to determine if you could be worthy. A sponsor risks many misfortunes on your behalf. They stick their neck out for you, and failure isn't an option. Should they risk it, and their sponsorship go south, they will spend years getting back into Lady Luck’s favor.

Your dealer chooses to give you a shot, and events will always conspire to bring the dealer to your door. Days, weeks, months, even years may pass, but they will find you… and they will teach you. The persuasion is usually done by putting you in life threatening situations. Sometimes they are gentle, but there is always a bit of pain. By knocking you down, they show you how to stay up. The pain is meant to cause an instinctive reaction with the static and, if successful, your initiation is complete.

Teaching The Fine Art

Some of those sponsored are more stubborn than others. Some people can master the initial theorems of the art with little effort. The stubborn ones think too much. Logic hinders their abilities, making mountains of molehills. These fledgling few need a change of perspective, and it happens in often infuriating ways.

The sponsor resorts to attacking the mind instead of the body. They recite the hardest riddles with the simplest of answers. They pose complex puzzles that are as difficult to solve as you choose to make them. In the end, every sponsor knows they have chosen correctly when their ward refuses to play by the rules.

The discordians know that they lack the arcane prowess of other practitioners, so why bother having a dual under those conditions? The discordians never agree to a bet they know they can't win. They never play a game they know they're going to lose. This doesn't teach them how to use Arcana Discordia, but it does lay the foundation for it. More importantly, it teaches newbies how to stay alive.


The Discordance and The Web.

Discordians do not form an organization. The implications would be far too embarrassing. Instead, they mingle in other organizations hoping to meet others like them. They are neither good nor bad, rather they can be either at any given time.

Some operate among the villains of The Web, waiting to turn the tables when the good guys come. Some work with The Web itself, choosing to assist those with admirable goals. Others go undercover, hired by other organizations to gather information on an enemy. Then you have those who are just along for the ride and what a wild ride it is.

They are often considered lazy, or lacking in ambition. They seldom work if they don't have to. There is a bit of irritation, likely caused by envy, on the part of other practitioners. The discordians have it easy, learning their talents without having to spend long nights reading a boring text. Many practitioners wonder if they have gifts at all, as the Oxford Cabal can't figure out how their relationship with luck works.  

Tyler shook his head, "I don't believe in luck."
"No one asked you to," she said, giving the cards a final cut, and drawing the king of hearts, "some people believe the earth is flat. The facts are irrelevant to them too."
"That's not luck," Tyler said, pointing to the king in her hand, "you knew where the card was the entire time. Luck is a trick." Her eyes narrowed and she slammed the king back on top of the deck. She made several cuts, then riffled the deck. She then took the cards neatly in her hand, closed her eyes and hurled the deck into the air above her. As the cards scattered, she opened her eyes, keeping them fixed on Tyler’s as she reached out and plucked one from the air in a swift motion. The cards fell onto the table and floor, some drifting up to 15 feet away, but the king of hearts held firmly in her hand.
"I am not a trick." She growled as the building trembled around them, breaking apart into piles of rubble. She tossed the king to the side. “My name is Isla Walker. You've had a rough go, Mr. Hale, but fortune favors the bold.”
“I didn't have much to do with it.” Tyler replied.
“You say that, but you'd be surprised.” Isla said.
“Why am I here?” Tyler asked after a long pause.
“I have no idea," she replied, a smiling growing as she shook her head, “That's why I'm the one sitting here. A boy who doesn't even believe in luck drops in my backyard unannounced.”
“Not by choice, I didn't mean to-”
“Do you subscribe to chaos, Mr. Hale?” The word made him perk up, sitting straight in his chair as he listened. “Ill take that as a yes.” Isla began, snapping her finger. The cards blew up in a gust of nonexistent wind and settled in a deck on the table, “Life is a game of Russian Roulette and the universe doesn't play it fair. Chaos makes it possible to win. You say it can't be done. The house always wins, right? Chaos lets me play the game of life on my terms. It's a cheat; a "Lifehack" that opens so many possibilities.” She handed Tyler the deck of cards and smiled, “Give it a shot. Let us dance with the devil's daughter, thee and me." Tyler began to shuffle and cut the cards, " Let us flirt with chaos. Only then will you know what it's like to have a chance at her bed. She, the patron saint of ne'er-do-wells. To cast your lot with her is to play the game of life with marked decks and loaded dice.”
Tyler drew the top card from the deck: The Queen of Spades. Isla nodded, and he slid the card in the deck. He shuffled many times, even did so many more times over at Isla’s request. “Now, take the top card. With a bit of luck-” Isla paused as Tyler drew the queen of spades from the deck. “How?” Tyler asked.
Isla gave him a saucy wink, “you’re welcome.”
— From The Scarlet Ashes

Articles under The Discordance: An introduction to The Discordians

Cover image: by Carl Raw


Please Login in order to comment!
8 Mar, 2020 00:57

A very interesting and inspiring article. I like the house of cards, as well as the saucy wink. Only a few changes I would advise, such as using more pictures. Also the very last words: 'You're welcome', should have a capitalized Y.   Regardless, an incredible read.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
8 Mar, 2020 01:09

Woahhh, Heya aevri! Thanks for the like and comment! I am considering a couple more pictures once I find them to add some aesthetic goodness and oof. Nice catch there. thanks for that. XD thanks so much!

8 Mar, 2020 03:17

Sooo, say you wanted to make a discordian with a bit of a different flair. I was thinking about a guy who has a revolver that he only ever loads with three or four shots, and he spins the chamber every time he makes a shot. He might be a terrible shot, but the bullets always come out when he needs them, and never come out when he'd be better off without the gun going off.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
8 Mar, 2020 03:29

That is actually reasonable, and very doable. I'll be going into more depth with these guys (they are in the project im workin on) that character would be fun, and thats on concept alone. .

24 Jul, 2020 22:28

Back here again. It's been awhile.   "why bother having a dual under those conditions?" do you mean duel?   I never said how funny the saucy wink is. Makes me think of pride and prejudice.   Also, all this talk of chaos and trickery makes me think of Discord from MLP.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
24 Jul, 2020 22:56

Ah, I thought I fixed that one. Thanks! Yeah, the house of cards is my next article, so wanted a refreash. The sauce wink is without a doubt my favorite simple power and I'm pretty sure I recently watched pride and prejudice when I came up with it. I just love it so much.   I never watched mlp but I'll take your word it. The name certainly applies XD   Once again thanks for the comments. I'm definitely overdue for a crit on the next stage of paradox's story. Soon my friend. Ima catch up on SC and get my streaming under control, then your at the top of the list.

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