Friday, December 22, 2017

The Last Jedi: Lies and Heroism


Image result for the last jedi

Perhaps you've heard, a new Star Wars movie was released last week. I had a lot of different thoughts on it, so I figured I would share them with you, whoever you are.

I liked the movie overall. I accept that it had some flaws, but most/many of them I can justify and understand. The only thing that I can't really justify is the amount of attempted humor throughout the movie. I didn't think it was anywhere near as excessive as Thor: Ragnarok, but I also think it feels a bit more out of place when it does show up. I didn't really have a problem with it, since I felt like they placed it in okay places, but I know people who really did.

It's impossible to share the rest of my thoughts without spoilers, so consider this your SPOILER WARNING

If you do not want to see spoilers for The Last Jedi (and potentially other Star Wars movies), read no further. Bookmark or save this page, and come back when you have seen the movie. Seriously. I am going to spoil almost every major point or twist.

So, there's a lot going on in this movie. Truthfully, I'm going to need to see it at least one more time before I feel like I really have a handle on all of it. But, there is a central theme running through both/all three sides of the story that I couldn't help but notice. It's a theme that's near and dear to my own heart, since it's the focus of my book series as well.


Central Theme: Heroism and Other Lies

Image result for star warsThe original Star Wars movies (IV-VI) followed a traditional hero arch. Luke went from simple farm boy to hero, taking up (Episode IV), learning (Episode V), and mastering (Episode VI) the powers of the force and everything that came with the mantel of being a hero.

The prequels followed a traditional tragedy arch where Anakin rises to power, becoming a hero; is corrupted by that power, turning away from heroism; and falls victim to it, becoming a villain and losing everything they care about.

Throughout these movies, the idea of heroism is ever-present. There are good guys and there are bad guys. The good guys make bold and heroic moves, battling evil in the name of good. It's easy to root for them.

In the current trilogy, good and evil may still be apparent, but, especially in the Last Jedi, what counts as heroism may not be.

In the opening events, we see Poe direct an extremely heroic assault on an enemy ship. We see a bomber pilot heroically sacrifice herself to have victory. But then, the value of this action is called into question later on. Throughout the movie, Luke talks about how the Jedi had vainly set themselves up as heroes. He spoke of how their claim, that the force was their own power, was selfish and misunderstands the truth. He spoke of how people looking to Jedi and others as legends can prove problematic, especially since at the height of their power the Jedi still failed.

These are fascinating and engaging ideas in a series that's always been about how one person with a laser sword can be super powerful. Especially looking at how Rogue One looked at the value of people working together with a unified effort.

Sure, the Rebellion has always been there in the other Star Wars movies, but it's always felt insignificant in comparison to the big figures, and especially in the original Star Wars movies, it was always more about defeating evil than building up good.

I feel like The Last Jedi and Rogue One have inverted that. There are still big heroic figures, but their actions are in support of something larger than themselves-something that isn't just "let's destroy the bad guys"

This is also somewhat spelled out in Finn's plot arc with Rose. He was excited about wrecking the fancy city with the bad people, she was excited about setting the creatures free. He was going to sacrifice himself to destroy the enemy, she wanted him to live to keep hope alive.

I'm very interested in things that can look at heroism through varying lenses, even if moving away from the less traditional ones can be less cinematic at times.

Subtheme: Heroic Death



Image result for star wars ghosts
Heroically dying for something used to be a theme that was super interesting and significant to me. It became much less so as I grew older and realized that living for something is a lot harder and more significant (although less cinematic) than dying for that thing.

A lot of people die in The Last Jedi. A lot of it happens through self-sacrifice. Some of these sacrifices are painted as acceptable/okay/good, while others are looked at more critically. The sacrifice of the bombers destroying the dreadnaught is frowned upon. Finn isn't allowed to sacrifice himself to stop the cannon (even though, based on what they knew at the time, if he didn't do that, not only would he still die, but everyone would die.) However, Holdo is allowed to go down with the ship. Luke is allowed to expend all of his life force facing down Kylo Ren. This seemed contradictory to me to begin with. I couldn't understand why sacrifice was praised in some situations and looked down on in others. It seemed thematically inconsistent.

And then I realized what it was. Poe and Finn were both trying to destroy weapons of the enemy-trying to fight evil. Luke and Holdo were both sacrificing themselves so that the rebels could survive/get away. Of course, it could be argued that Poe/Finn were also trying to destroy the enemy weapons so that the rebels could survive/get away. However, there is an internal consistency with the sacrifices based on the pro-good not anti-evil message the movie seems to be trying to make.

Predictions: Episode IX and Beyond

Image result for first orderNeither the First Order nor the Rebellion are in a very good state at the end of Episode VIII.

The primary leadership of the First Order is gone. Neither Kylo Ren nor Hux would make a great leader on their own, and I'm pretty sure that their continued working against each other won't help. Possibly we'll see Phasma again. She'd probably make a better leader overall, but I am not sure if she could jump rank enough to be in charge, especially with Kylo and Hux already fighting each other for control.

The rebellion is what now...20 people? Something fairly small.

This does not set up the third movie of the trilogy to follow traditional paths. Normally, when I think of a trilogy, I think that two forces are both growing across the series so that when the third movie hits, two massive forces are colliding. Rather than two injured and broken forces, like what The Last Jedi has left us with. Which isn't to say that the next movie can't be interesting.

I could see the Rebellion trying to rebuild. How you start a rebellion from a small number of people is an interesting question/theme to me, but generally not one to start exploring in the last movie of a trilogy.

With all this in mind, I am predicting that in the end of the trilogy, both the First Order and the Rebellion will be no more. The cycle of war between two forces that were really opposite sides of the same coin will be at an end. I think that it will end without a sure path as to what the galactic government will look like beyond that point. I think that it would be cool if Rey and Kylo join together and turn towards facing the task of creating a better galaxy together. But I don't know how likely that last bit is to happen.

If/when Disney moves on to X-XII, I'd like a trilogy focused on trying to establish order/rebuild a better future in the aftermath of a galaxy that's spent the better part of three generations at war. But I don't know if that will happen either.

In light of Carrie Fisher's death, I think that Leia won't be alive in the next movie. I think they'll have killed her off in between The Last Jedi and Episode IX. I expect that characters will have some nice words to say about her passing. I wouldn't even be surprised if there's a funeral near the beginning of the movie.

I'm not sure if it will happen in the next movie or later on, but I think that the clip with the boy at the end is meant to indicate that there are others out there who can use the force. This probably means a new Jedi (or otherwise probably light-side-oriented force user) academy may be comin in the future.

Other Thoughts

Origins

Image result for star wars rey last jediRey

Rey's origin was...a little disappointing. But I think that was supposed to be the point. And it plays in with the "anyone can be important" type heroism subversion that I like from the movie. Going in, I just really thought she would turn out to be a Kenobi.

Snoke (and the Theme of balance)

At this point, I assume we'll never know Snoke's origins. But they seem, to me, to be either really important or really plot-hole like. Snoke is an amazingly powerful force user-maybe the most powerful we've ever seen in the movies. Presumably, someone had to teach him that. Who? The easiest answer would be the Emperor, but I don't know if that is the truest answer. If it's someone who is still out there, then there still could be a powerful evil force user out there (since Kylo is strong with the force, but not very smart and somewhat "conflicted".

Of course, there is another way of looking at it. Snoke did mention that Rey's light arose to balance out Kylo's darkness. If we are to believe this is true, then it is possible that Snoke's darkness arose to balance out Luke's light. We also see this on Luke's island with the tree of light and the pit of darkness, further emphasizing the balance theme. That would be interesting thematically, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense plot-wise.

More about Balance

Image result for star wars rey last jediIn the prequels, they talk about the prophecy about the one who will bring balance to the force-especially in relationship to Anakin. It gets mentioned before the Council is even aware of Darth Maul or other evil force users. It has always seemed to me that they are utilizing a different definition of balance than the one I'm familiar with when they're asking for balance. In the prequels, the Jedi are definitely the most prominent force users in the galaxy. The light side is present, overwhelmingly. When Anakin kills off most of the Jedi (except for Yoda and Obi Wan), he leaves two force users on the light and two on the dark. Equal. Balance. The prophecy fulfilled. The force in balance once again (instead of having one side overwhelming which presumably keeps it from becoming balanced). Cause yeah, balance isn't peace. Balance isn't order. Balance is equal parts on each side.

If that's the case, then perhaps after Endor, the force raised up Snoke to balance out Luke. Luke started his school. Kylo became a force of darkness. The force raised up Rey to balance out Kylo.

This also means that if Kylo or Rey converts, either the other one will convert and they'll both switch sides, or else the force will try to raise up two force users on their opposing side to balance them out. It also means that if a new Jedi academy is built up, either a new wave of sith/dark force users will rise up to balance, or that the force will go once again out of balance (which might be better off).

Slicers/Code-Breakers

Image result for snoke last jediI really like hackers in things. I like heist-like things. From my understanding from my limited interactions with the now-non-cannon Star Wars Expanded Universe, Slicers play a pretty significant role in the setting.

I was really excited that this movie included a Slicer. I was really disappointed when he turned out to have the personality flaws that he had.

I realize that's not big and important, but it was meaningful to me, so I wanted to say it.


Star Wars is the official property of the Walt Disney Corporation. All images from the movies are copyright Disney.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Wrong Wolf

Image Copyright Disney 2015
I recently re-watched the movie Tomorrowland. Released in 2015, Disney's Tomorrowland is a very thematic movie that has a good message and, like most science fiction movies that aren't already a part of a major franchise, it was not a financial success.


I don't blame this entirely on the movie being science fiction. I liked it a lot, but I also accept that it's not a great movie. And while I like the theme and the message it's trying to send, I think it raises a very valid problem while its solution is somewhere in between too general and too implausible to be useful.


But that's only sort of tangential to the point. In the movie, the characters reference a "story" about two wolves. In real life, it's actually an old Cherokee Legend.


The Two Wolves

The story/legend goes that there are two wolves that are constantly fighting. One is darkness. It's doubt, fear, hate, and everything that comes about through negative thinking and focusing on negative things. The other is light. It's hope and ingenuity and creativity and everything that comes from focusing on the good. The story asks the question: which wolf wins the fight? It also provides the answer: Whichever one you feed.


This is an interesting philosophy for me, but it's also a difficult one in practice. It's interesting to me as a writer, and it's interesting to me as someone living in the current political climate.


To Acknowledge the Wrong Wolf is the Feed the Wrong Wolf; To Fail to Acknowledge the Wrong Wolf is to Feed the Wrong Wolf.

To focus on the darkness is, to a degree, to feed it. It's to make that wolf stronger and more able to fight. However, to ignore the darkness is to allow it to exist. By not being aware of the evils of the world, one can fall victim to them. In being aware, by not making others aware is to allow them to fall into them while you remain safe. But, at the same time, I know that when I look too hard at the dark things in the world, when I think about them too much, it causes me to collapse. It feeds the wrong wolf.


And there is so much wrong with the world that it's overwhelming. I don't think anyone disagrees with the idea that there is a depressing amount of things wrong with the world today. So, if everyone already knows that things are wrong, is there any point in talking about it at all? Is there any point in acknowledging that wolf as it eats the elephant in the room?


Well, yes, at least, I think so. Because not everyone agrees on which things make up the darkness and how it manifests. Not to mention that there are many new manifestations all the time. So, the only way to reach the truth and to spread the truth is to acknowledge it and talk about it, even/especially with people of different opinions. To what end? To do something about it.


Of course, when speaking to those who have differing opinions on specific manifestations of that wolf, it's important to do this in a civil, informative, and open-minded manner, being willing to adjust ones views in the way of superior evidence, and being willing to walk away when it becomes clear that a) the other side isn't providing arguments based on reason and fact and b) that the other side isn't willing to listen to fact. Continuing in an anger-based discussion is nonproductive, and it feeds the wrong wolf.


To Be an Author is to Direct the Wolves' Food Supply

When people read, when people engage in fiction, it touches them. A lot of people don't acknowledge this, but there is something inherent in the way that our brains interact with fiction that makes it affect us.


We might disagree with the premises and ideas proposed in a fictional source. We might understand the examples and ideas being presented to us, recognize the author's point, and not take it. But, even if the author's goal isn't accomplished, the reading still affects us. It might even affect us by causing us to dig our heels in more against whatever ideas the author is proposing.


So, while they can't always control what their effect will be, authors have an effect on how people deal with the wolves (on a personal level as well as a societal one). Authors can end up making people feel hopeful towards the future, or making people feel doomed. They can make people aware of evils in the world, or they can make/keep people ignorant. And they can do so much more.


Heroism and Other Lies: A Dreadful Balancing Act

I've mentioned before that I'm very pro progress. I think that our development of robotics and artificial intelligence is really cool. I think that we're on the verge of all sorts of advances in medicine, technology, and numerous other fields. I think that's good. I want humanity to embrace that. I want us to work on building a shining shimmering future (like the ones that we used to imagine; like the place depicted in Tomorrowland). These things are exciting, good, and hopeful. These things feed the right wolf.


But technology development isn't without risk. Especially when the people who control it are motivated more by profit than by progress. There's a lot of darkness that can be brought about by technology. The same inventions can be used to feed either wolf, and a lot of times they are held by or bought out by those who primarily feed the wrong one. (See the entire Cyberpunk genre)


I didn't set out to write cyberpunk when I was starting Heroism and Other Lies, but I more or less ended up there regardless. One of the major themes of Heroism is technology and the future and hopefulness vs. consequences. I really wanted to be able to paint the future with a hopeful brush while acknowledging and demonstrating the risks of our current paths. I don't know how well I did or didn't accomplish that in season 1. I have a pretty good idea of how to better balance the two in season 2, if that were ever to become a thing.


Dragons, Wolves, and Shadows

The working title of the novel I'm currently working on is Dragons, Wolves, and Shadows. It isn't the name that I want to go with, but even the fact that it's a working title is somewhat telling. All three of those elements are elements of the wrong wolf. Does my project contribute to the wrong wolf, or does it provide hope that we can beat it? I don't know.


I do know that partway through what I have already, I became aware of a rather dark and hopeless tone in the story-because the start has to work to set up a lot of the things that will be worked against the rest of the book. I went back and altogether created another character, just to add some light early on.


I end a lot of these posts this way:

I have no idea what I'm doing. I want to feed the right wolf, but the truth is that most of the time I don't know how. When I am hopeful, it is hopeful about being able to overcome the darkness. Without the dark, I don't know how I'd be able to be hopeful or feel or think positive things.


I feel, with my writing, that especially if I expect to have an audience, it's important that I feed the right wolf, and that I help other people to do so as well.


But I think a large part of the problem is that I don't have the solutions. Hope alone isn't enough to solve the problems of the world. Ignoring them doesn't work either. But I also don't really know how to fix or face them. I don't know how to stop the wrong wolf. I guess maybe I hope that if I shine a spotlight on it, someone who does know how or who can do something will be more likely to notice and do something. But in doing so, I'm afraid that I just make the shadow bigger.







Friday, December 1, 2017

Place Clever Title Here

Hi.


A lot has happened since last time we talked.


I can remember telling you that I wasn't dead, nor was I dying, and now I've vanished for like two months. It's not very honest of me. Hopefully I'll do better, but I'm not sure what I can promise. It's often hard for me to know what to give.


The Toybox Closes

Last night, the Toybox closed for good. The campaign ended. The Toybox crew had found a portal to the realm from which Vinka had been assembling her universe-altering efforts. They were accompanied by knights riding Xi-Drakes, Aeon Priests, WRENCHes, and reality-bending flying entities from another planet.


As they traveled Vinka's realm, each ally was necessary against a particular challenge. The Xi-Drakes took on some flying monsters that acted in Vinka's defense. The Aeon Priests battled members of the Convergence and kept their esoteries from taking effect. The WRENCHes worked on a mechanical machine that was producing numerous automaton warriors. The aviators used their powers to hold back the Iron Wind itself.


In confronting Vinka, she revealed that she also had her own Toybox, which she utilized to begin her universe-altering process. The Toybox crew worked to disrupt her efforts. In doing so, there was a burst of light and Vinka vanished. In the wake of the reality explosion, the Toybox crew could see and sense the nanites throughout the air and saturating the worlds. They could access and manipulate them.


However, the Shadow took advantage of the opening as well, pouring up through the void and disrupting the nanites, separating connections and threatening to divide up all of existence. The Toybox crew worked together to hold the shadow at bay and to use their new-found nanotech power and understanding to sift the shadow out and cast it away.


They returned to the world, having saved it from the existential threat and being no longer tied to the Toybox.


Dragons, Wolves, and Shadows

I have written 56,000 or so words for what I'm hoping is to be my next novel. I'm only about 1/3rd-1/2 done with the draft, so I'm hoping that I'll continue to be motivated to finish it.


When I'd tried to plan what I would write for my next novel, I kept wanting to do something that could be written quickly and in short segments, sort of like Heroism and Other Lies. However, as I thought about it, and as I prayerfully considered what would be best to write, I kept coming back to this idea.


So, like I said, I have more than 50,000 words of a draft of this novel. It's a big sci-fi epic story with numerous point-of-view characters and multiple anachronistic worlds and all sorts of stuff going on. I'm really excited about it, but I'm also just hoping that I can manage it all and that I can keep myself motivated to finish it.


Heroism and Other Lies: Season 1

I am working on putting together a volume that contains all of the season 1 episodes of Heroism and Other Lies in one book. I actually wanted to have this done by part way through last month, but I'm still moving forward.


Cypher System One Shots

I'm working on two different one shot adventures for cypher system. Both of which will be run, hopefully, in January. Consistent with my "the book I ended up writing met the opposite of the criteria I started out with," I'm not sure either of the adventures is turning out the way I'd planned.


One of the adventures is being planned primarily based on having two new players that are getting introduced to tabletop RPGs in general. So, I thought that I'd go with something pretty straightforward. Except that the idea I ended up with ended up being relatively complex and a little twisty. Not to the point that I think it'll be problematic for new players, just that it wasn't really what I set out to do.


The only fictions that I know of that one of the players like are Doctor Who and Star Wars. So, with that, I decided to go for a space opera type adventure where the players are the crew of a space ship on one side of a galactic conflict.


The other adventure is being planned based on introducing an RPG player whose experience is mostly with Pathfinder to the Cypher System. I'd talked to them about settings, and they decided that a futuristic science fantasy setting (similar to that of Numenera or that which I used for the Toybox) would be what they're most interested in. So, I started planning based on that.


I wanted to go with a dungeon crawl type adventure, something exploring ancient high-tech ruins probably, since Numenera is pretty rife with that. However, the idea that I came up with ended up being an urban noir mystery suspense thing.


So...we'll see if either of the adventures end up like I'm planning or what ends up happening.


I would like to be able to format both adventures so that I can put them out with the Cypher Creator System, making them available to people in the world to purchase. Whether or not I can do that will likely end up depending on what adventures I end up with and how those end up running.


Caerwent Down

There's a bit of a gap until the start of the next campaign that I'll be running-about two months, till February. However, the plans are already in motion.


The next campaign will be using Numenera and will be based on the players attempting to find the remains of a once great (and space/dimension traveling) city-state and to raise it up once again. I probably won't post updates for it, like I tried to do with Toybox, especially since I won't have the issue of a rotating group, but we'll see what happens.


This Blog

I want to do a better job of updating this blog. When I first started it, I was updating twice a week. I would like to get back to that (or at least to once a week). I just need to figure out what to post. When I have thoughts on writing and RPG topics, I want to try to write about them, but I'm not convinced that I have cohesive thoughts on new topics often enough.


So, we'll see...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Volos: An Offer of Help

I was talking to Gilthk the diruk when the woman known as Cherub approached me. “Iadace Volos, you’re getting the diruk to help in studying the Trilling Shard or maybe to help defend against the margr? I can help you out, no worries, you’ve got nothing to worry about us Ring of Deva at all. I’ve heard you’re the reserved type so I’ll just get to the point: We were ran out of our own village because an artifact we found mutated us. Since then we took some jobs to earn some shins and shelter while disguising our mutations with a special device I made. Unfortunately it broke at some point so we had to make use of disguise kits but here in Ellomyr, we don’t have to hide as much since there’s plenty of people here helping out who just don’t happen to conform to the human from. I see you have a hard time trusting people but right now, there are margr coming to kill us all. There’s nothing complicated about that at all and I’m pretty sure everyone’s too busy thinking of ways to save each other from the margr than they do on hurting each other. Can’t you see everyone trying to find a way to save Ellomyr, how my sister is asking Rihanur to better use the device against the margr? There’s still plenty of time so I can actually help you with anything you need, so long as it involves helping people and not hurting them.” Cherub smiled sweetly as she waited for a reply.


"Of course," I answered to Cherub's offer of help. It wasn't my shard or even my city, after all. "Like Rihanur, I also am trying to look at the Shard to see if it can be used against the margr. I think that this is one of many ways of trying to defend the city. I think there are plenty of other secrets within the area-who knows what among them might be able to be turned against the invading abhumans? I hope that some of this can be worked out." To the end of me solving my puzzles, I thought to myself. "It seems that you have skilled nanos with you. It makes sense to pool our efforts, to share what we can figure out and to utilize our command over the nanotech as a unified force. I am happy to have your help, and to offer my own."


Previous Entry: Helping Hands


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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Volos: Helping Hands

It appears that I wasn't the only one who wanted to see if there were defensive capabilities of the Trilling Shard.

Rihanur, an extraterrestrial who wears some sort of mechanical armor, has already begun work on this same effort. I have offered to work with him in his efforts, hoping that we might pool together our power and knowledge. My knowledge extends to planes parallel to our own, but he may have knowledge of other planets and places far away within our own dimension. Rihanur has already attempted to climb the Shard, and is working on mechanical devices by which to access its inner power. This could prove valuable.

Erizel Lezire says that she is from another realm-from what I've seen of her, I believe her. She brings great knowledge to attempts to unlock the Shard's potential, not just for the use against the abhumans, but possibly many other uses as well. She may prove useful in solving the mysteries that brought me here-once her attention is less focused on the issue of the invasion.

A man named FaĆ«l has offered support and oversight in the efforts, but I do not yet know much more about him.

A group of nanos, apparently under the guidance of two women named Lamia and Cherub, have offered some help as well. They study the shard and try to find deeper secrets.

Together, I am convinced that any powers the Shard holds will be unlocked.

The diruk that I met earlier was named Gilthk. Like most diruk, he is hard to get a read on. However, he seems determined to help the city, and there is much to do that someone of his nature could help with.

There was a group of even stranger strangers who have arrived in town to offer help as well. With them is a woman who breathes fire who has been organizing the development of a numenera-powered defense tower that will shoot lightning down on foes. I believe that my handle of the numenera could be helpful with the construction of this device, but I admit I am hesitant to offer my support.

Who are these strangers? Why are they helping a nowhere town like Ellomyr? I am anxious about their arrival. I worry they may be after me, or, worse, the same secrets that I seek near here. It is possible that they are even Convergence agents who are acting to their own selfish goals. Perhaps, after building the tower, they will turn it on the town, destroy the populace, and then search for the secrets themselves.

I do not know, but I hesitate to introduce myself for fear that they might recognize me. I do not trust people who offer help for no reason.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Volos: Better Defenses

The townspeople have begun to build up walls and ditches to defend themselves against the abhuman threat. I, personally, believed that there had to be something more productive than a wall or ditch that could be found.

To this end, I found myself once again in the town square, staring at the trilling shard. There were many stories in which it's vibrations had sent out shockwaves-destroying those it deemed as enemies; generally the monsters or clear villains of the story. And yet, no one knew how to make it work.

There is no such thing as magic, there are only machines. The Convergence had been very clear on that point. The shard was not a magical floating stone, it was a long ago discarded machine. Perhaps it didn't even have stone around the outside to begin with. Regardless, every machine had to have its function. If the stories were true, if the shard could be directed against foes, how could I activate it? What were the conditions necessary to cause the function to run-and run in a way that would specifically target the abhumans and not the townspeople nor the structures of the town itself-limited though they were.

If the stone were hollow, I believed that I could get inside and then I would be able to see if I might find answers there. However, I didn't know if the stone was hollow, and touching it-and subsequently passing through it-might be seen offensively through the town. It probably wasn't hollow anyway.

I returned to my original question. Does the device create its vibrations, or do they come from another dimension-one that I might find and enter. I do not know, but I would like to. If the device is merely a gateway, and the true source of the vibrations lies in another realm, then perhaps I can get to that and utilize it in order to fight the abhuman threat.

Then the townspeople would be grateful enough that they would aid me in solving the puzzles that I was trying to work through.

As I wondered about this thought, I noticed many of the villagers moving past me. They weren't running, but they had a quickened pace that I associated with fear. What were they moving towards? Well, they were all going in different directions-maybe to shelter? What were they moving away from? Had the abhuman hoards arrived already? Nieten had seemed to indicate it would take more time before they got here.

I traced their movements back and saw, moving slowly through the town, a large-nearly humanoid rock creature moving about. I sighed. People always feared what they didn't understand, and these villagers certainly didn't understand this creature. Maybe they did think it was an abhuman, or some other monster come to haunt them.

I knew it to be a Diruk from my studies. A visitant. Its was descended from beings that had come to the Ninth World well before it was the Ninth World and that had since lost all knowledge of their origins, let alone any path back there. Diruk, I knew, were not traditionally violent or threatening to local communities-provided those communities let them be in peace. Whatever had brought this creature to the town, I believed it wasn't a threat. With this in mind, I moved to greet the creature, hoping that I might make things easier and less chaotic with its arrival.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Volos: Branches

Today the city was gathered in fear. A local glaive named Nieten, along with a group of newcomers to the town, reported swarms of abhumans gathering on the outskirts of town.

The beasts Nieten described were margr. Simple brutes, easily put down by anyone with training. Except that most of the villagers don't have training. I'm not much of a fighter myself.

If Ellomyr is to be wiped off the map by abhumans, can I find the answers I seek and get out before the destruction occurs? Or, perhaps, it would be easier to find what I'm searching for without so many people in the way...

I shook my head. These aren't my thoughts. These are the thoughts of the former Convergence member that I once was.

I closed my eyes and allowed myself to drift so that my mind entered the Outside. From here, I could see different paths that I might take. I could abandon these people. The village could be overrun and a massacre could occur. I could try to help in building up the town's defenses. Perhaps it might stand a chance-with the help of the other locals and visitors here. I could put my focus into trying to unlock the mysteries that had guided me here-and here, more branches. The mysteries seemed to still be a mystery even to the other realms. So many possibilities. Maybe the secrets would empower me to save the people of the town-maybe the secrets would destroy the town before the abhumans ever arrived.

Every world, every possibility, it was a new branch. I felt myself becoming sick, and I had to pull away from it all.

What am I going to do? Will I leave these people to their fate? Will I simply seek my own answers, and then decide what to do after I find them-if I find them in time? I do not know.

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