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The Test

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This is a strange phenomena in the Gunnerkrigg Court comic, only known as The Test. Originally mentioned by Red on Chapter 8, Page 12, it is a way in which Gillitie Wood or Gunnerkrigg Court inhabitants might acquire new bodies to live in the opposite faction.

Gillitie Wood inhabitants must die to acquire human bodies. However, they cannot do this on their own. A normal death ends with the life force, the essential essence of the creature, escaping back into the ether. Those who wish to be reborn require Coyote (or possibly some other equally powerful entity) to remove their spirits, which then takes the form of what appears to be a wooden totem. This leaves their previous body in something like a coma, still breathing and with a beating heart, but without the animating force of true life (much like that of Reynardine's original body). Coyote or some other creature then eats them, having been provided with an easy meal. Ysengrin takes the totems to the edge of the forest, where a team of humans collects them to be brought back to the Court.

In the Court, specialists grow new bodies based on the DNA sequences of those wishing to be reborn. Their totem is placed in a receptacle above their growing body, and when the body is complete, a ritual is performed to bind the spirit to the body. The ritual was taught to one of the specialists by Coyote, and he or she has taught it to at least one of their students. It is a rare example of Court approved magic/etheric science. Once placed in their new body, the transfer requires time to learn to walk and talk, and then joins Foley House.

A special case is the regional fairies in the Gillitie Woods, who Coyote describes as "hollow." They are born without their spirits and minds, and therefore do not need Coyote to separate them, as they are already removed. They cannot take their own lives to be reborn or have another test taker do the deed, as this is considered cheating. Their life must be ended through the actions of an previously uninvolved entity or by means of a fatal, unplanned accident. Regardless of the necessity for a violent death, Coyote believes it to be crueler to keep them separate from their spirits. It is suggested that their hollowness has something to do with the Court. It is unknown if their spirit totems appear directly in the Court upon their original birth/creation or if it must be created in some manner.

The court requires a balance in the gender of incoming students, and since all transferring fairies remain female (the exact reason behind this is unknown), all animal or other creature transfers must inhabit male bodies, regardless of their previous gender (or lack of it).

It is not known if the aforementioned process is the same for humans that transfer to the forest, although the single on-screen example did not die. In this case, the subject slowly changed forms instead of having his spirit transferred from one body to another. It's possible that it is as simple as agreeing to take a new form.

The new court medium, while counseling a forest creature on her wish to take the Test, warns her that potential test takers also lose any name that they've been given in their current life. At least in fairy culture, a name denotes very high status in society, so the loss of one is considerable. However, after receiving their new bodies they retain the memories and connections to their previous life. They are very comfortable in the ether, and are able to play, nap, or create complex illusions in their etheric forms while their physical bodies performing complex tasks such as advanced physics and math. They likely have other etheric abilities as well.

Ysengrin is highly disdainful of citizens of Gillitie who choose to take the Test, seeing them as traitors. However, he also advocated that only humans who have taken the Test (and are therefore no longer human) be allowed in the forest, showing that he is not against the Test in principle.

Known examples

  • Alistair Kershaw transformed into a bird over the course of a week. It appears that his Test was simply to agree when his mother asked him if he wished to become a bird.
  • Alistair's parents were never properly shown before the transformation, and it is not known what sort of test they had to pass.
  • The fairies Red and Blue struggled to pass the Test, being the last of their class members to do so. Eventually Ysengrin enables them to do so. By eating them.
  • Many of the students in Foley House are former animals and fairies from the forest, as is at least one of the teachers.
  • A horned rabbit asks her fairy friend to help her appeal to both the court medium and the forest medium to arrange for her to take the Test. Coyote later removes her life force and Antimony takes the resulting totem to the Court's rebirthing chamber.

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