I can hear something calling. Reaching out for me. I dream of a sea of black with pathways long hidden from prying greedy lying eyes. Of power that could be twisted and used any way that a person can think of. I also seemed to have gained tentacles made of shadow. The hell?The Voidtouched are sentient beings who have survived extended contact with The Void -- and been forever transformed by the experience. They are extremely rare, because such contact is most often fatal (or fatal to the mind and spirit). This is a supernatural/magical condition, and as such, the symptoms of the condition are weirdly magical by nature. Being Voidtouched is obvious to other Voidtouched, but not always recognizable by those who are not.
Transmission & Vectors
Becoming Voidtouched is a side effect of exposure to The Void. The longer you linger in the Void, or the more you walk the Paths, the more touched you are by the Void. In general, the Void is a black space with the paths sprinkled with starlight to show you where to step. The longer you walk or linger, the more the starlight brushes off onto your skin. Into your eyes. On your hair. To be brought into the Void, either as a Voidling (adopted parent/child relationship), a Being of the Void (adopted, or willingly joined), there are warnings. The Void guards those it has jealously and refuses to release them unless it would do more harm then good.
You see, the secret of the Void is that all the chaos and laughter is actually born of pain.No one can tell who will become Voidtouched and who will simply be devoured or driven mad by their exposure to the Void, but one thing they all tend to have in common is a link through suffering and trauma. All known "Voiders" as they call themselves, have been exposed to trauma connected to the Void, and often at a young age. Perhaps it is necessary for the mind to still be somewhat pliable in order to tolerate and thrive in the mindbending weirdness of the Endless Dark.
When I look in the mirror, my normal and forest green eyes have gone to a deep crimson; I've heard whispers from the beyond, calling me to come back—I usually assume these whispers to be my demonic companions attempting contact, but these voices are different and there are more everywhere; I've also noticed a perpetual inkyness and sometimes I even gain additional eyes at random.Those who have stayed for too long within the Void are said to be beautiful and untouchable, their skin or fur or scales becoming a pure black with starlight sparkling, their eyes glowing red and able to see things that they know they can not speak of. Sunny's shifted form, that of a rabbit, was the first known one that was Touched as such. They may also be altered in other ways, such as gaining starlight sparkles in their eyes, developing an "insubstantial" nature to their forms, growing Void mushrooms on their bodies, developing significant and possibly frightening alterations to their anatomy, turning odd colors, becoming elemental fire, or sparkling with starlight. The eyes of the Voidtouched either radiate a certain alien detachment, or develop a depth and an implication of ancient wisdom that shakes all those who meet their gaze. When they are angry, their gaze is as cold and dark as the depths of space, and most rational people find such a look deeply disturbing. The Voidtouched also manifest a range of special abilities, almost as a side effect of their altered nature.
- Sight of Possibility. Like the Path of Possibility, the user is able to see many options for the timeline. They are more 'if this happens, this will happen' kind of scenes and can create migraines or headaches if stared at for too long. Due to this, most users with this ability will learn to scan and let the threads go before the pain sets in and make choices from there. This is the ability that is referred to by House Lapin as "Fiver's Insight". Note: Seers have no way to determine whether any given choice is "good" or "bad". Like all seers in history, they must interpret their visions.
- Many Thoughts. The Void speaks to its children, often providing them with insight and knowledge they could not otherwise possess. It also gives them a facility for lateral thinking. Those who are able to have many thoughts have learned and trained to recognize the ones from the Void and ones that come from their own thought process. They have often worked hard to master this ability and develop coping mechanisms, such as carrying around little notebooks for their thoughts when there are too many in their own heads. This is often diagnosed as ADHD in the present world.
- The Knowledge of Truth. This ability is probably the hardest to learn and master due to the very nature of Truth. Truth is a flowing, shy thing and thus is hard to pin down. There are some truths that are easily known, while other truths are unknown and do not fit what the oracle may consider Truth, thus making it hard to learn the ability. The most proficient users of this ability have found that when they Speak of Truth, they can sound heartless or monotone. They have learned to just say that they are only Speaking the Truth of the situation. Furthermore, even if they know it, they can not just tell someone about it. They must be asked. This ability is sometimes known as "The Bard's Tongue."
- Voidstepping. All known Voidtouched have manifested an ability to teleport, although this takes different forms for each of them, depending on the layer of the Void they are most attuned to.
- Heart of the Void. All known Voidtouched have exhibited abilities that are unique, and specific to "their" layer of the Void. Princess Sunny can manifest a giant maw that encompasses most of her body, and manifests shadowy tentacles that may be used as extra limbs. Lord Galakrond can summon the creatures of The Netherlayers to do his bidding. Tempest Kwake can "shift reality," by "borrowing" pieces of other realities. Sable Aradia has a knack for making use of "Fiver's Insight" and her "Kind Bear" healing powers likely originate from the Void.
Treatment for the Voidtouched usually takes the form of managing bothersome secondary symptoms, such as medicating mental illness and chronic physical conditions. Primary symptoms, such as altered anatomy or supernatural abilities, must simply be dealt with. Some of the Voidtouched have mastered hiding their condition from the world, even going so far as to create illusionary physical forms that conceal the Void's marks. It is impossible to hide from other Voidtouched, however, who are always drawn to others of their kind.
Those who survive and thrive in their Void exposure long enough to qualify as Voidtouched are likely to live extended lives, well beyond what might be expected for their species under normal circumstances. However, they are always drawn to darkness, and may be subject to depression, mood disorders, or simply possess a morbid sense of humour. Their thought processes are chaotic and prone to distraction. Ironically, this usually also manifests as an off-the-wall sense of humour that seems to amuse others as much as it amuses them. There is no known cure for the Voidtouched. They simply learn to manage their condition as best they can.
SERVE THE VOID. SERVE THE VOID. SERVE THE VOID. SERVE THE VOID. SERVE THE VOID.None of the Voidtouched are quite sane, although some manifest more obvious symptoms of their madness than others. Like all mental illnesses, these lapses of sanity may be triggered by varying conditions, and may otherwise remain among the so-called "invisible disabilities;" or, they may be a constant and chronic concern that must be managed with medication. Occasionally their alterations lead to other chronic conditions, as their changed bodies no longer deal with physical reality in the same way, and some of those changes may be maladaptive.
So far, the known "Voiders" have been Wererabbits, Werebadgers, or Werepandas and all have been Literomancers. Since this condition did not change when some of the Voiders became Undead, it is assumed that it also affects Humans and Tome Zombies. Whether or not it affects anyone else remains to be seen.
Being Voidtouched does not seem to be contagious. Rather, it requires direct and extended exposure to the Void. It is possible that exposing a developing fetus to the Void may cause the condition to become congenital. It is uncertain if it can be passed to a Voidtouched's offspring through genetic inheritance, although there is evidence to support this, and some of the secondary effects, such as mood disorders or chronic conditions, may be.
Most Voidtouched learn to hide their condition early, so until recently, they were simply not a factor people considered, or knew to consider. However, with the decision of Princess Sunny and Lord Galakrond to be public about their condition and about The Void, the public is becoming aware of them. Generally, the reception has been positive, as their chaotic sense of humour is seen as entertaining, but it is clear that the public is also repelled by some of their weirdness, such as Lord Galakrond's Void mushrooms and Princess Sunny's strange anatomy. Ironically, the Voidtouched are often perceived as pillars of strength or fonts of inspiration, even when their condition is unknown. They always seem to know what to say that will lift a person up who is struggling -- or destroy a person they take a disliking to. Their presence is much bigger than their physical bodies, and even the smallest among them is said to have "big aura." They are impossible to ignore, and provoke strong reactions in other people, whether that reaction is love or hate. At heart, however, the Voidtouched are always aware they are just not like other people, and most deeply fear being rejected for that strangeness.
This article is a work in progress, and may be subject to changes.
This article is part of a series related to streaming the Game of Tomes. For more information, see Streaming Game of Tomes.