Disclaimer: Babylon 5 and its characters don't belong to me. The characters mentioned all belong to J. Michael Straczynski.
by Christine Anderson
aka Anla'shok Ivanova
Written for the Theatrical Muse 'five senses' challenge.
Blaylock, who was a contemporary of my teacher, Elric, cultivated the talent of shutting off various of his senses. He and his followers believed that only by denial and self-mortification could they come into a full spiritual union with the tech. Blaylock would shut off his sense of taste even when consuming the most bland of foods; I remember wondering to myself why he bothered to do so, if there could truly be that much of a difference. But I suspect it was the intent behind his actions, rather than the actions themselves, that held the most meaning for Blaylock.
I never learned his spells, nor wanted to- save only once, when my sense of smell was more of a hindrance than a help. I envied him the talent in that moment. Blaylock, of course, would not have used it then.
Blaylock's apprentice, Gowen, was initiated in the same year I was, and though I never spoke much to him before our retreat to the hiding place, I privately held a view of him and his teacher that was not entirely dissimilar from Federico's. I thought them strange and misguided, putting themselves through things that were not required. I thought there were easier paths to control.
I learned that for some that is not so.
But beyond that, there is a truth to Blaylock's teachings which I have only begun to grasp in the years since his passing. In some ways what he taught was almost less about denial than about survival. What could you exist without, and still continue to survive? Blaylock might have come to need the tech to a degree few others did, but he did not *need* sight or hearing, taste or touch or smell.
When Tilar cut his hands, flayed the tech from his palms and fingers, though the wounds never healed, Blaylock carried on.
And I must admit, if only to myself, that I do not know that I could have done it.
As mages we are taught not only to use our senses to their fullest extent, but to control the perceptions of others; what they see, what they touch, what they hear. And to this end no sense is more essential than that of the tech itself. Without it, I would be... I have been... less. I had not realized entirely the extent to which I relied upon the tech until it was rendered inert by the Shadows. Before my initiation, I had thought the tech involved only in casting spells. It is not. The tech is always active, always a part. It is as essential to who I am as my own name.