Folded

Sandy Pug Games
5 min readSep 3, 2020
An image of a yurt in a valley

Wind kicked up dust from the field below and carried the scent of sweat and blood to Calagaan’s yurt. The 8 ruby candles arrayed around their throne wavered just a hair, and a single bead of sweat trickled down the side of Calagaan’s face. Their breathing remained steady, the blank, empty expression on their face seemed as immutable as time. The roar of the two armies below seemed to bow and warp within the confines of the tent, as if the yurt was underwater, or its plain canvas walls were made of stone.

There was magic in the air. Random flashes of light, arcs of electricity, strange shapes that seem impossible but are gone before you can really see them, all of it churning, chiming with the musics of reality. Almost peaceful.

Below, the battle was a stalemate. Hordes of chariot mounted women threw their lances in perfect coordinated brutality, sweeping at the edges of the Gargan forces lines, while Gargan’s responded with swift and precise crossbow fire. The melee was slow moving, a clashing of shields and exploratory jabs, each side daring the other to commit or break. There was blood on the soil already, rivulets of it descended from the east, where Calagaan had attempted a feint, and an entire brigade of cavalry had been exsanguinated.

Almost directly across from Calagaan’s yurt was another tent — this one higher than it was wide, and seemed to twist on itself, undulating unnaturally and occasionally coughing out plumes of deep, purple smoke. If one listened closely, even over the din of the battle, strange music seemed to hum from the Gargan Battle Wizard’s sanctuary.

Calagaan winced and 300 men were instantly incinerated. The Gargan wizard had trapped Calagaan’s mind in a shifting wooden puzzle box made up of thousands of shifting wooden cubes, each surface of which was a game of chess. Calagaan struggled, the mental image alone was overwhelming, but every wizard’s first lesson was to resist the urge to visualize their duels. There was just too much information for the mind to process; even the simplest conflicts were a deluge of stimulus, and spending too long trying to make sense of it was an mistake many young wizards make, but only once.

An abstract image showing a sort of fractal dimension

The Gargan wizard’s trap demanded Calagaan solve and win a thousand simultaneous chess matches, which was impossible even for one of the greatest minds the Miai school of sorcerers had ever produced. Instead, Calagaan reached out a thousand hands and jammed them into the edges of each board, flipping them, then joining them into a long ribbon of checked fabric. Calagaan tweaked their wrist just so, as the ribbon twisted back on itself impossibly, forcing the Gargan wizard along a Mobius strip a billion miles long. The mind whizzed around it a few times, testing its boundaries, bouncing off of the edges, each collision sending a shower of contrasting fireworks across the valley. For a second it looked like that would do it, the ground beneath the Gargan flank cracked like glass, and more than a hundred men were pulled down into the abyss below. The chariots turned and charged, looking to capitalize on this moment and end things here, then their wheels turned to snakes and the body of the chariots burst into a mist of fine splinters, with their riders soon following suit.

The Mobius strip cracked down the center, briefly shifting back to the checkered pattern of the chessboards before solidifying into a vast and interlocking series of abstract and non-Euclidean shapes, with Calagaan’s power at the very center. They flexed, just a little, and the sound was beyond deafening, it was celestial in volume, a billion tightly locked gongs the size of galaxies clashed with a sound that could tear planets apart, echoing off of Calagaan’s mental firebreaks, cracking the obsidian that protected their truemind.

More Fractals

So Calagaan’s will became gas, and they flowed through the cracks and edges in the metal structures. They expanded, growing larger and larger until the gas encompassed everything, and then grew larger still, doubling, tripling, quadrupling over and over again. Every particle of Calagaan simulated within the Garganian’s warmind, straining it to its limit as they bounced off one another, more and more with each passing moment. Somewhere, the Gargan wizard was smirking. Calagaan had made this a battle of brute force, will against will, and nobody made minds stronger than Gargan.

The warmind expanded, infinitely in all directions, every edge led into its opposite end, looping the universe they battled in back in on itself — Calagaan began to drown in themself. Their grasp of the gaseous form began to waver and outside the yurt a cliff face came to life and destroyed a company of grenadiers, a horde of spirits began to descend from the darken sky with blades in their hands, and the sun itself began to drool liquid hot light across the once-stable line of spearmen contending with Gargan’s westernmost flank. The Gargan wizard was pouring more and more of their power into the battle outside.

This was their final mistake.

As the walls of the warmind began to fold in on themselves, they compressed, tighter and tighter like a mirror held up to itself, showing a million billion realities collapsing toward themselves. It was close, a hairs difference on either side and Calagaan and their mind would have been lost, but as the two ends of the planes touched, they unraveled, folding this way and that. The Gargan wizard barely had time to realize what had happened before the trap was turned inside out, blossoming into a beautiful, yet simple, origami hummingbird. Folded a million times, across at least 14 dimensions, it was perfectly inescapable. Calagaan took one deep breath, and opened their eyes. The yurt was completely still, and the busy silence of nature sauntered in the air.

an oragami bird

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