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Of Staves and Sigmas
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Can a lifetime of nightmarish visions and other-worldly hallucinations prepare you for an actual world-hop to a realm where your very survival depends on what you can recall from those psychic excursions? Just ask James Wagner, a man whose earthly life from childhood was a tumult of one phantasmagoric episode after another. These outlandish visions, intensifying in capacity and duration over the years, soon make him a danger to himself and others -- so much that, at age twenty-eight, he admits himself to a psychiatric institute for safeguarding and remedy. Initially diagnosed with an undocumented mental illness, his symptomatology is found to be so inconsistent with diagnosable statistical medicine that even the specialists are perplexed. Wagner is subjected to endless batteries of tests and cutting-edge drug therapies, none of which yields even a glimmer of promise. Is he a clever manipulator? Or is his condition truly the first of its kind? Then it happens: a symptom that medical science cannot explain, a manifestation that modern physics simply doesn't allow. Next, a mysterious faith healer with esoteric knowledge arrives at the facility in the eleventh hour, claiming to know Wagner, claiming to possess insight on his affliction. Yet, before the assembled specialists can begin to address the impossible, Wagner's malady peaks, overtaking and finally eclipsing his coherent, corporeal life, whisking him bodily into a bold, new reality and onto a bold, new sphere -- a draconian world of crudity and coarseness, of war and slavery, of lethal humanoid enemies and enlistable allies and maybe a little hope. But in order to exist, the uprooted Wagner must hide his true origin and adopt the customs and penchants of the mediaevalesque society into which he's been cast. And, amid his bewilderment, if he can only recall and unriddle the secrets hidden within his former visionscapes, maybe he can help to ransom this new realm from its own evils.
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