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The Astrals of the Iron Lake

by Ren 3 months ago in body modifications
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An anthropologist studies a group of individuals surrounding a lake made of liquid metal.

Photo by Etienne Desclides

Anthropology Log: 45th of September, 7840

I’m beginning this log with a brief introduction into the culture I will be involving myself with for the next several months. They call themselves Astrum Sapiens, or simply Astrals, referring to a Latin word signifying stars, constellations, or heaven. They exist on the periphery of the Iron Lake, maybe 100 miles due north of the New Chicago Republic, though their existence in similar circumstances in several other places in the world has been noted by my friend and colleague Hamish La Parc from the University of Versailles. The conditions surrounding the Iron Lake are particularly interesting to me, as I remember hearing about them as a young boy and being absolutely enthralled by the concept of a lake of extraterrestrial ferrofluid that responded so strongly to the reversing of the magnetic field of the earth it created new life. It was Dr. Juni Lao who first explained to me that she was not convinced that the lake had created life at all, so much as it had simply influenced the life around it during the last magnetic shift. She stated that, because strong electromagnetic fields can have psychological effects on people, it was reasonable to assume that the Iron Lake had merely influenced much of the local population into behaving differently.

That conversation was, roughly, 5 years ago, and I’ve been researching and studying how humans interact with the Iron Lake ever since, fascinated by the very concept of minerals influencing minds. Not long after the magnetic field shift brought attention to the lake, a small subset of humanity, and an even smaller subset of local faunal populations migrated to the region. No one, up until now, has offered a reasonable explanation as to why they migrated in the first place, and certainly no one has successfully explained their behavior. While their origins certainly are mysterious, I can’t help but wonder to myself something that has been on my mind for five years; what keeps them together? I’ve seen fads come and go my whole life; people these days seem unable to commit to anything for very long. Yet, these Astrals have lived in a brand-new community for well over 26 years with little to no problems, and no single being has ever left. They aren’t forced to stay against their will; yet, no being, flora or fauna, has ever left. Regardless, I’ve still got some miles to go before I meet up with the Astrals. Tomorrow I intend to record my first meeting and interview with one of the Astrals, making a note of their use of language, in particular.


Anthropology Log: 46th of September, 7840

The Astrals are actually a very accepting group of individuals, much to my surprise. I figured they would be hostile to outsiders, but I was pleasantly surprised when my liaison to the group met with me on the outskirts of their community accompanied by several others. One of the first things I noticed about this particular group was the lack of clothing; certainly, La Parc and other anthropologists have noted an aversion towards traditional clothing for several other similar groups, but this group seemed to forgo them entirely. I found this strange as the average temperature in the region surrounding the Iron Lake can reach as low as -10⁰ C in the winter. My liaison was an Astral named Pom, an incredibly tall and lanky individual, completely bald, with two bright yellow eyes that seemed to pierce through me as we spoke. Around his head were what appeared to be a series of stones embedded into his skull, linked together by some kind of golden wire. I inquired as to what they were.

Pom explained to me that, when the first group arrived at the Iron Lake, they plunged into its deepest parts and recovered several strange pieces of technology. One of which was a type of golden wire that had an incredible electromagnetic interaction with the stones that settled on the bottom of the lakebed. The very first community experimented with affixing the stones to themselves in the form of jewelry, but soon realized that, once the wire and the stones touched the human flesh, they became permanent features. Eternally affixed to the bodies of the Astrals, impossible to remove. It was these stones and wires that allowed them to communicate with one another without physical speech, something I found particularly interesting. Their language was represented through a shared web of consciousness, sort of like telepathy. Everyone wearing the stones was able to communicate with anyone else also wearing the stones. What is even more interesting is that the stones seemed to hum, vibrate, and even increase in luminosity when an individual was communicating. Pom and I tested this when we got to the village and found that the range of communication is roughly 30 meters. The very first lithophonic culture in the world.

Another note about communication, the words that Pom used, when he physically spoke, were not altogether very different from the common language used throughout the world. Their words were about 25 years more antiquated, but I attributed that to the lack of outside contact. Most individuals we encountered, however, seemed incapable of forming physical words, as they had grown so accustomed to their telepathy, and Pom had to translate much of what the Astrals were saying. I chose not to examine the buildings today, instead focusing more on Pom and the language of the people. Tomorrow, I intend to closely observe both the housing structures themselves, as well as how this community is structured. Hopefully, I can figure out what their connection is with the Iron Lake.


Anthropology Log: 1st of October, 7840

Today Pom showed me around the village and explained some interesting characteristics of the Astral’s housing. Each house, containing a group of four individuals, is roughly 10m x 10m, each with two floors; the first floor being a communal area, with a type of kitchen and something one could call a living room, and the second floor being composed of bedrooms. Aside from a few personal decorations, each of the houses look practically identical and are made from some hard rock that was rough to the touch but had the appearance of smooth steel. I was graciously allowed to examine the inside of one of these houses, courtesy of an Astral named Lanette, and found that the interior contains furniture fashioned from wood and animal furs, some personal items, and some cooking materials. I was surprised to learn, however, that their relationship with the Iron Lake seems to have slowed their metabolisms, as they eat very infrequently, some going as long as several days without consuming anything.

It was just after leaving Lanette’s structure when I realized I had not seen any children in the community. There were roughly 600 individuals here, and yet not a single child. I asked Pom about this, and he seemed confused at first, seemingly not understanding what I meant by children. After some further explanation by me, he understood what I meant and informed me that there have never been children at the compound, and everyone is the same now as they were when they first arrived. It was here where I learned that the Astrals do not age as the rest of humanity does, I asked Pom his age and he claimed he was 74 years old, but to me he didn’t look any older than 50. Perhaps the fluid from the lake, or the stones attached to their bodies slows more than just their metabolism. I intend on taking some samples back with me to the university to be studied by a few colleagues who would know more about this sort of thing than I.

As for social structure, they live in houses, as stated previously, in groups of four. From what I gathered from Pom and by interviewing several of the Astrals themselves, these four individuals live in a sort of equitable marriage where each member of the group relies on the other three. They seem to share most everything between their group but are not opposed to helping other groups in need. I am told a frequent activity among a household group is to link arms in the middle of the floor and hum gently. This supposedly creates a web of consciousness specifically between their four minds where they can explore each other’s thoughts and communicate in an ephemeral, transcendental sort of way. Unfortunately, the sun began to set before I could observe one of these ceremonies in person.


Anthropology Log 2nd of October, 7840

I didn’t interview anyone today; I simply walked around the community and observed their behaviors. I even had to ask Pom not to do any translations and only explain things to me when I explicitly asked. He was still very excited to show off his culture. As I previously mentioned, the Astrals do not wear clothes. Yet, as the temperature began to sink slightly with the October winds, I pondered how they were able to keep themselves warm. I watched one group of individuals approach the Iron Lake, walk into the extraterrestrial fluid, and then emerge fully coated in the magnetic liquid. For them, perhaps this constitutes a type of clothing. Not all members of the community participated in this practice, though, as I suspect some do not like the texture. I conducted a few experiments on the fluid myself to determine its magnetic properties. It does have similar behavior to traditional ferrofluid, although its ability to seemingly insulate whatever surface it coats is quite remarkable. This is just a hypothesis, but I believe the connection with the telepathic stones is what allows the fluid to sit cleanly on their bodies without slipping off. The fluid writhed and jiggled slightly as they moved, but never once fell from their skin.

I quickly became captivated by their way of life. Regardless of the rocky and seemingly barren terrain, the Astrals can farm a very particular type of fruit that seems to be rich in mineral content. This, supplanted with meat occasionally hunted by teams comprised of individual household groups, makes up the majority of their limited diet. Individuals spend much of their time lounging around, conversing with their neighbors, and tinkering. They regularly visit the Iron Lake to procure more stones and gather tinctures of the fluid which they use to create interesting inventions. Some seem to be functional: lamps, batteries, tools, etc. Others, however, seem to be created solely with the intention of recreation or art. One individual crafted, by way of heating and hammering several types of stone, a magnetic frisbee-shaped object that she and several others played a game with. Another created a glass box containing what appeared to be an aurora. I couldn’t help but ponder to myself what effect their interaction with the stones had on their way of thinking, and I suppose there was only one way to find out.

Anthropology Log 29th of October, 7840

Pom led me to what I could only define as a blacksmith, where one Astral was intently hammering several of the strange rocks into a headband using their special gold wire. If my goal with the Astrals was to understand them, the only way I could accurately do so would be by experiencing life through their eyes. I asked Pom if the procedure would hurt at all, and he explained that it may be uncomfortable at first, but that any discomfort would be alleviated shortly. Quietly, the Astral finished his piece and soon after, Pom walked towards me, ready to affix the wires and stones to my head. As they placed the stones on my head I felt an immense amount of pressure, like a balloon just on the cusp of blowing itself up, my brain felt like it was expanding outward past my skull. And then…just as the final of the stones was set into my head, I felt nothing. Peace, tranquility, comfort, I felt at one with the world and at peace with myself and then…I felt everything. Every emotion known to mankind exploded within the deepest confines of my soul all in an instant. The world around me became bright and shining, the cold of the air dissipated into a soft warmth that wrapped around me like a hug. I heard Pom’s voice, but it was different now, deeper, more refined, I realized I was hearing him not with my ears, but with my mind.

This level of exquisite peace and outstanding euphoria has continued for the past several hours since having the stones applied to my head and shows no signs of slowing or stopping. I think I will remain here, among the Astrals, for several more months, or quite possibly years. Time seems to have a different meaning to me now, it seems sort of…smaller…less significant. Undoubtedly my colleagues will be upset at this extension of my travels, but they will simply have to get over it, as I am far too steeped in this culture to back out now, not when there’s still so much for me to learn.

body modifications

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