On the Atmai

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a gray-linen-bound parchment book
The writing is in Caladan, and reads:
   On the Atmai
    This is a tome of parchment bound in gray linen, bearing a title in black lettering across its
face.  It is open to page one of six.  It is open to page one of six.  You estimate its value at
about one hundred three gold.  
    It looks about a quarter of a dimin long, one and seventeen twentieths dimins wide, and two and
nine twentieths dimins tall.  It weighs about eleven twentieths of a dekan.
    The commands 'open <item>', 'close <item>', and 'turn page [in <item>] [to <number>]' may be
used with it.  Keeping the gray-linen-bound parchment book costs seven keep points.  The
gray-linen-bound parchment book was created by Chaos, Fixy, and Dodger; the source code was last
updated Tue Mar 15 02:50:43 2016.  The material linen was created by Lost Souls; the source code
was last updated Tue Mar 15 02:18:24 2016.  The material parchment was created by Lost Souls; the
source code was last updated Tue Mar 15 02:18:43 2016.
Spoiler warning: information below includes details, such as solutions to puzzles or quest procedures, that you may prefer to discover on your own.


    Being a Treatise on That Which is Known of the Atmai, with Attention
              to their Influence over the World of Lost Souls

           Worked by the Pen and Hand of the Shadow Lord Kalyxes
                      In the Year 497, Aevo Descensi

  Any commoner knows that there are strange and powerful forces at work in
the world of Lost Souls, from kind deities to secret societies to malevolent
demonic powers.  Unique among these are the atmai, whose involvement with the
folk of the land is a notably intimate one.

  The atmai are said to have their origin in a far-distant plane of existence
beyond the ken of even the wisest sages.  They do not inhabit this weird place,
however; rather, they are brought into existence by the meddlings with our
world which this plane's inscrutable inhabitants reputedly enjoy.  The question
of when they arrived here is unanswerable, for this distant realm seems to
exist outside of our world's time, making any such calculations meaningless.

  An atman is, then, not precisely an otherworldly being in itself, but rather
the agent of such.  For purposes of discussion, however, we will speak of the
atman and the extraplanar intelligence as identical, for the distinction is
barely perceptible to those of our world.

  What is an atman, then?  It seems to be a kind of over-soul, a force which
brings into being incarnations of itself within our world.  It is known that
an atman may incarnate as one being or several, and that they often discard
incarnations much as we would discard clothes, pursuing new possibilities and
destinies.  The forms in which they manifest are of particular interest.

  The incarnate form of an atman, or incarnos, is always that of one of the
many races which inhabit the diverse lands of our world.  Notably, this being
is nearly always a formidable specimen of its kind, superior in body or mind
to the run-of-the-mill individual.  This alone is not sufficient to determine
whether a given individual is an incarnos; there are, however, methods of
making this determination.  First, one may sometimes spy such a being in the
moment of incarnation or disincarnation.  At these times, the entity simply
appears from nowhere, or disappears without a trace!  The more powerful of the
incarnoi also seem to be able to carry objects with them through their period
of non-existence.  Second, one may sometimes overhear incarnoi speaking of
strange matters, alien to our world; care is to be taken, however, in ensuring
that one does not mistake a mere madman for an incarnos, or vice-versa.

  This matter is considerably easier for the incarnoi themselves, for they are
said to have strange powers of the mind which are of particular utility with
respect to their own kind.  An incarnos is capable of sensing the presence and
identity of all incarnoi extant in the world, and of engaging in some sort of
mental communication with them, both individually and collectively.  They can
also divine information about members of their kind who are not presently
incarnate, and seem to often associate with one another on the basis of atman,
leading to alliances that would be nonsensical until this consideration is
taken into account.

  Far more bizarre and terrifying than these abilities, however, is the
peculiar incarnos relationship to death.  While it is not unknown for a great
priest to succesfully plead for divine intercession, restoring a deceased
individual to life, it appears that an incarnos who dies is merely reduced
to an impotent ghostly state, whereupon he generally need only make a polite
request of the deity on his own part in order to be restored to full life and
function!  Beyond the disturbingly cozy relationship with the gods which this
implies, it means that defending oneself from the depredations of incarnoi is
nearly impossible, since a slain one will almost certainly be back shortly, as
strong as before.  It is apparent to me that capture and imprisonment is the
only sensible course to take, should one be attacked by such a being, and this
is itself considerably easier said than done.  I believe I will speak no more
of this presently, however, lest I make myself even more the object of these
beings' ire than I doubtless already am.
  The topic of the names employed by atmai has, historically, been one of
great interest.  It is known that each atman has two names, the first being
a common name which it often shares with one of its incarnoi, and the second
being a secret name which is the key to great power over it.  Much to the
dismay of seekers of esoteric might, however, it has also become known that
the power of an atman's true name can only be invoked by other atmai, rooted
as it is in the distant world of their origin, and that to exercise such power
is considered a criminal act among atmai, bringing about severe sanctions of
a nature unimaginable to us.

  Indeed, atmai seem to have, to some extent at least, their own society and
codes of behavior, which they maintain even while participating in the myriad
societies of Lost Souls.  In particular, it appears  that the slaying of an
incarnos by another is considered to be a vile crime, justifiable only in the
most extreme of circumstances -- though rumors speak of places within our
lands which the atmai have designated as exempt from this rule.  As one might
perhaps expect from such otherworldly beings, their code of behavior extends
not the least protection to the ordinary folk of the land.

  This would be of less concern were the atmai not wielders of formidable
power within our world.  Inescapably, given their innate advantages over the
ordinary individual, they come to possess considerable resources; it is said
that as many individuals of heroic stature within this realm are incarnoi as
are not.

  What is more fearsome than that thought, however, is a piece of information
I have gleaned of which my colleagues in the Orders of the Magi have hardly had
an inkling.  After relentless investigation and many powerful spells employed
in eavesdropping on and making sense of the otherworldly discourse of incarnoi,
I am nigh on certain of this fact: not every incarnos who disappears from this
world has passed into Paradise or dissipated due to its atman's lack of further
interest.  Some few, I hold, undergo some form of transformation and become
part of a mysterious clan of beings, occulted beyond the wildest dreams of any
would-be secret masters, who wield vast power over our world.  To illustrate
the degree of capability I describe, I believe that these entities could
easily, on a whim, annihilate one such as myself as if I had never been.  I
would be wiped from the annals of history and each of your minds like a ranger
brushing over a footprint in the sand.  It may seem comforting to think that
such power must not be frequently or casually employed -- but if it were, dear
reader, how would you know?

  My knowledge is thin indeed on this point, but the scant information I have
nonetheless brooks few alternate conclusions.  If what I surmise is true, may
there be mercy upon the folk of Lost Souls, whose very lives and fates lie in
the hands of inscrutable powers from distant planes.

Relevant Skills

skills gained when read for first time go here

End of spoiler information.
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