Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Zelda Dungeon Articles

I've been back in electricity for a while, and I am thankful for it.  

Anyway, I have been working on an article for the Zelda Dungeon website and just got my kick-in-the-pants to hurry up and edit it.  I wrote it up for fun, but the editor of articles over there gave me a deadline. This is cool, it means they're most definitely interested in the article to post it.  All I really need to do on it, according to folks who've given me feedback on the rough draft, is a little bit of expansion.  I am happy that my writing is in-demand, as it were, even though it's fan-geekery that I'm doing for free. The article will be "Broken Worlds: The Meloncholy Settings of The Legend of Zelda."  - Explores darker and sadder elements of the games, but mostly, how the settings of the games all seem to take place among ruins. 

It'll be my second article for the Dungeon.  My first was "The Legend of Zelda and Religion."  I was surprised at how well-received it was, actually. I asked the moderators specifially to watch and moderate the comments closely for fear of it turning into a flame-fest and it didn't (at least last I looked in on the commentary).  In the end, I was VERY PLEASED that people visiting and commenting a website for videogames were so much more mature and rational than the people I see on websites for "actually for serious" topics, such as news-sites.  Seriously, I go to news websites addressing religion and I see people flip their nut on articles that are just cold statisitcs.  (Looked in on an article on Huffington Post regarding demographic-statistics for the five largest religious affiliations.  The #3 spot was kind of iffy - some were glad to be included/acknowleged as existing while others in it were "Oh HOW DARE you include us in this!" Yeah, crazy, and that doesn't include the "random preaching" and ego-feeding that have nothing to do with the original article that seem to be staples there).  Eh, anyway, I'm glad my topic didn't get that - because apparently, videogamers know how to keep their peace, as in "Hey, we're all different, but we all like the same awesome game series, yay!" 

I expect to work on more "worldbuilding speculation" style articles for the Dungeon in the future.  I'm thinking of one about the various fan-interpretations of Dark Link, I might take on the Sheik Gender-Debate (if I'm brave), I might try something about the nature of Zelda fan fiction writing... or I may go to the Topic Pool on the restricted Article Writing/ Proofing portion of the forum for members-of-rank to search topic ideas. The possiblities are endless.   

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Longing for Old-Timey Ways...

Just in case anybody actually reads this (such as my AIM friends who never comment because they don't have blogs and facebook junk or just because they have nothing to say)...

Due to an electrical problem at my apartment, I've been forced off the grid for a bit. The problem started yesterday and will probably be fixed sometime this afternoon, but if not, it may take a few days. 

Its interesting to see just how dependent the average modern American has become upon technology and electricity. I was watching a TV show on Discovery Channel the other day (when I had the TV) all about how a solar flare could knock out the grid without warning.  My guy had to scramble to get ice to put in a cooler to save our food... I'm wondering just how I'm going to get lunch without a microwave (dunno if I have enough money on hand for fast food, spent much of of my spare cash on lunch yesterday before we knew we had this problem).  If worst comes to worst, I could have cold leftover tempura... but I don't know what Bob's having.

Makes me wish for a root-cellar and a wood-burning stove. 

Why I'm able to type right now is becuase Bob has a laptop with a battery he charged using our car (I think, he bummed something to get it charged) and were bumming someone's stray wireless signal. I can't use it for long.

Just letting people I know and love in the Wired know that I'm out for a while. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

In Defense of Fairy Tales

In Defense of Fairy Tales

This is something that’s been on my mind for some time, something of an issue of philosophy and the nature of fiction.  

I like to read websites, blogs and whatnot that deal with topics like theology and opinions on spiritual matters. While I’ve found that arguing with people on these topics is futile and just leaves everyone involved hurt and/or angry, I still find such topics and even the often contentious commentary that goes with them interesting reads.  There is something that comes up consistently that really bothers me, however. It is the ascertation that some people have that they “don’t read fairy tales” or think people are stupid and silly for “believing in fairy tales.” 

Strangely enough, this doesn’t bother me in the way you’d think it would bother a theist – well, not overly much, anyway (having people whine that things dear to your heart and things stuck in your brain that you cannot snap your fingers and get rid of just to please them are lies that you’re dumb-as-bricks for holding them will always be annoying, but the idea/position of “right back atcha!” keeps it from being too much of a concern). No, the thing that bothers me the most when people make such ascertations is this:

The disrespect for fairy tales.

I’m serious.  For one thing, I think that anyone who truly has *no* appreciation for myth and fiction of any kind must have really boring bookshelves and nearly empty DVD racks.    Such people are rare.  From my experience, most of the people who whine about “fairy tales” whenever confronted with any idea of a spiritual nature (and mind you, such people are usually the ones who seek out articles on religion, spirituality and philosophy just to get their $0.02 in) probably don’t really believe what they imply – that is, that fiction is worthless or lacking in power.  Several of these kinds of people? I’ve seen them using avatars of anime characters or usernames gleaned from characters in Lord of the Rings.  I remember reading a news/opinion article that addressed questions of the afterlife and among the commentators on it was someone (who made it clear that they didn’t believe in an afterlife) speaking of how the “Circle of Life” philosophy from The Lion King spoke to them as a truer idea than anything anyone religious ever said to them. 

Not a problem, really, except that I recall this person and the scads of people agreeing with them condemning the writer of the original article and other people on the thread who did believe in/hope for an afterlife for “believing in fairy tales.”  - Indeed, I found it very weird for people to condemn something for being “fiction” while proudly admitting they’ve taken a bit of life-philosophy from a known fiction.  It all makes me think that people don’t really have a problem with people “believing in fairy tales,” the only problem they have is when people happen to take philosophy from fairy tales that they don’t personally like.

What I’m getting at is this: Fiction has power.  Fiction has a power that most people don’t realize.  People are quick to call an ideology they don’t like “fiction” as a way to diminish its power and are easy to see anything “fictional” as having little to no power compared to that which is “real.”  At the same time, I think most of us take more of our personal philosophies and ideas for everyday life from fiction than we realize and that our society has been revolutionized by fiction in ways most of us don’t stop to think about too often. 

I’ve found, as both a creator and a consumer of fiction (a reader, watcher, gamer), that putting deep thoughts, serious issues and even potential powder-kegs into the setting of a fictional world and with fictional characters is a great way to deliver a message and to ease people into accepting (or at least just listening to) said message much better than if it was told “realistically” and straight-away.  Personally, I find the wildest of science fiction and fantasy (yes, fairy tale!) settings some of the best way to do this.  People can really change the world with this stuff. 

Think, for instance, upon Star Trek.  I never got into The Original Series (though my beloved is a bit of a Trekkie)… I was there for The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.  However, I do know something about the cultural impact TOS had.  The first interracial kiss in a TV show… someone who was both Black and a woman as a mission-officer, and, of course, all the “interracial” stuff regarding humans encountering aliens.  Subsequent series continued along those lines, telling stories that wouldn’t have been accepted if told straight-away or even in a “realistic” show, but could be gotten away with being told with aliens in a far-future setting.  Beyond that, there were lots of fictional gadgets and doodads in that show that set geek-imaginations spinning so hard that said geeks tried to replicate them in real life – the result: innovations such as cell phones. (At least, that’s how it went down according to a History Channel special I saw). 

I’m sure my life has been saved by fiction at various points.  I can think, in particular, about how the anime series Haibane Renmei helped me work through some issues regarding depression and came to me at just the right time.

Heck, if all religion-of-any-kind disappeared tomorrow (and I mean all spirituality – all beliefs in transcendent things immediately gone from people’s hearts)… I wouldn’t “stop believing in fairy tales.” On the contrary. I can easily see myself starting a quasi-religion based upon a known fictional property just for the heck of it.  Knowing me, it would probably be “Vashism” after Vash the Stampede, the main character in the anime series Trigun because I love, with complete honesty, his philosophy of “Love and Peace” combined with practical pacifism.  Barring that, I might go with a “faith in the Three” form the video game series The Legend of Zelda, as the idea of Power, Wisdom and Courage in perfect balance appeals to me. Such things might not qualify as true religion (since I’d find it hard to build transcendent hope on known fictions), but it’d be close enough to make some people angry because I’d do the governance-of-life philosophy-bits of those fictions hard. I’m sure I’d not be the only one, either.  Actually, I’d ask people in the non-hypothetical here-and-now world  to rent them some Trigun and try out the Vashism right now – if everyone practiced it, the world would be a better place. (And donuts would be sacrament).    

There are people out there who will not listen to the words and writings of history’s great philosophers, but who can quote Gandalf the Grey and take his words to heart.  There are probably more people who can quote Gandalf, in fact. Fairy tales, indeed.

So, if you ever find yourself wanting to dismiss something or to diminish its power or “threat” by proclaiming it “fiction” or a “fairy tale,” think about what you are saying for a moment.  Do you really want to give the thing that you hate that much power? 

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's Friday, Have a Skull!

A bit of art/jewelry I finished crafting. 


I found the partial skull while on a walk - rather unusual for a surburban area. When I've lived more in the weeds and wilds, discoveries like this were much more common. It was already very clean, but I bleached it mildly just to make sure of its cleanliness, got out my paints, gold leafing pen, beads and etc. and here you go. The shell on the crainium is polished freshwater mussel shell (personally polished - I used to gather mussel shells at one of the creeks in my area and polish them to make jewlery out of them, I broke a few up for mosaic-purposes).  

As I said on my Deviant Art page, if anyone is interested in owning this, make an offer.  By the way, it still has teeth. I am unsure on the species, but guessing by its size, I think it was a young groundhog.

I have so much of this kind of stuff to show off. I suppose if I get an actual readership - should I make Friday "Skull Day" on the blog?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Meeting at the Edge of the Desert

Refer to here for the world outline:  

                                                     The Static-Lands Saga

A Meeting at the Edge of the Desert

There was a man among the Ilkhan who had inexplicably become the leader of a movement. Perhaps it was his eloquent speech or his passion, but he had not set out to be a figure of note.  Vinchente Lapaz was simply a man who loved peace and wished more people loved peace.

There was a time when the leaders of Vale thought him a dangerous subject, although he generally kept to the Ilkhan territory in the Land-of-Always-Night.  Vinchente was made an example of by having both his antlers cut off.  Unlike the antlers of a deer, an Ilkhan’s antlers were never shed and never grew back.  The stumps of severed antlers remained perpetually raw and open to infection. Blood would ooze from the wounds as the scabs flaked off. Aside from the constant irritation and the greater health risks the severing of antlers presented one, it was considered a grave disgrace for an Ilkhan to lose an antler.  When he was freed after having this disgrace done to him twice-over, Vinchente was confronted by a crowd of his followers, who all stood together with short swords in hand and, despite his loud and weeping protests, bent low before him and cut off each other’s antlers as a show of solidarity. 

That, however, is a story for another time. This tale is about a meeting Vinchente Lapaz had in the desert with a leader among the Vule and the conversation that they had.  Vinchente was younger then and had both of his antlers.  He dressed in robes of red to symbolize the blood shed by his people. 

The man journeyed from his home in the Dark through the Gloaming Lands and into the Day.  He bypassed the major population centers, keeping to the quiet forests.  The entrance to the desert was abrupt.  The trees did not thin out until the forest was met by tall cliffs, great formations in gold-red stone with a narrow gap that formed a gate into a world of clay-flats and sand.  Vinchente thought he would go blind when he first beheld it.  The shadows cast by the cliffs were cool, but the wind off the desert plain felt like the heat cast by a smelter’s fire.  The distant desert mountains were pale blue and melded into the sky. 

It was always high noon in this place.  Vinchente had a purpose here.  He’d received a message from the chief of the Vule’s Great Southern Tribe.  The chief wished to have words with him about a “shared problem.”  Lapaz almost had a heart-attack when a large creature vaulted down in front of him, landing upon a rock. 

“The Ilkhan I summoned,” the creature stated in a gray voice. 

“Uh, yes…” Vinchente replied cautiously. 

“You have become a leader among your people,” the Vule said, “More effective than the kings, chiefs and generals.  The young among your kind are listening to you.” 

The two got a good look at each other.  Vinchente was a man with graying blond hair and slim antlers upon his head – those of a four-point whitetail buck, in hunter’s terms.  The light hair at the edges of his broad ears was gray.  The Vule was a typical specimen of his kind, a wiry man with a beak instead of a nose, sharp eyes, black hair mixed with black and gray feathers, a bird’s tail protruding from beneath his light clothing and feathery wings for arms, the edges of which had hands.  He was nearly a perfect melding between a human being and a common vulture.  Strangely, he was not ugly.  He had a long, trailing mustache from each side of his beak.  His gray eyes reminded Vinchente of swords.   

Noticing what part of his body Vinchente was looking at, the vulture-man replied; “Your eyes… brown… like the droppings left by a horse.”

Vinchente’s jaw dropped a little. 

“This is not an insult upon you.  I find the color pleasant…rich.  I am Gris, High Chieftain of the Southlands Tribe of the Proud Scavengers.” 

“Vinchente Lapaz,” Vinchente answered, “a scholar-turned-speaker.  I never set out to be a leader, but many have chosen to follow my words.”

“It is because you have a message of pride for your people,” Gris replied, “and they respond to it in hard times.  Your kind are wise and beautiful, unlike they that threaten us both.”

“To tell you the truth, sir,” Vinchente ventured, “I am a bit nervous.  I have heard many things about your people.” 

“What have you heard?” Gris asked, shifting his wing-feathers. 

“That your kind are a fierce people and do not suffer fools to venture into your desert lightly.”

“You are alive because you are not a fool.”

“I have also heard that your people eat your kills – and not just animals, but of the Races, even your own.”

“Not members of our own tribe, no,” Gris answered, “Long ago, it was not that way.  When we Vule encountered the Valiens and the Ilkhan, the rituals of both regarding the dead became a source of fascination for us.  My tribe buries its own.  When we are at war with the Northlands Tribe, however, we drag their dead off the field of battle, for they make fine meat.”

Vinchente shuddered. 

“I’d invite you to have a meal with me.  I have a soldier of Vale ripening in a dry wash.  I know, however, that you are incapable of eating as my kind do.  Your system would react violently to the rot that my people define as flavor. 

Gris then laughed, noting Vinchente’s look.  “Don’t be so appalled – he was just a Valien, your enemy and mine.  He knew what he risked in coming out here.”

“I am sure he had a family,” Vinchente answered.  “And I am not so sure about enemies.  I prefer to think of certain people as…misguided.”

“You are a generous man,” Gris said, a smile coming to his lips – which were of a human nature below his beak of a nose.  “That generosity will bring you only pain.  I called you here because my people would like to join with yours – the Southern Tribe, mind you, not our enemies in the north of the desert.  The people of Vale, having dealt with their own and unified their society have become a serious threat.  Your people have been conquered by them and have suffered tremendously.  Don’t let their attempts at ‘tolerance’ deceive you.  They want nothing more than the end of everyone unlike them.”

Vinchente scratched his chin.  “The man that wants to live in a world where everyone agrees with him on everything is a man that wants to live in an empty world, alone.”

“They have ‘cleansed’ their own people,” Gris re-iterated, “and their powers remain discontent.  Your people are falling.  In your own lands, they are squeezed tight and taken by oppressive laws.  The cities of the Vale are filled with suicide, mostly among the young of your race.  Your blood cries to be avenged with their blood.”

“There are open hearts among them,” Vinchente Lapaz contended.  “It is they that I wish to reach with my words.  Things will change.” 

“Obstinate faith!” Gris screeched, “You have the potential to unite your people, more than any other.  You can conquer they that conquered you.  You must, in fact, if you wish to survive – you must!”

Vinchente paced in the sand and watched his companion hop about on rocks.  He looked back toward the stone desert gate.  “Why is this important to you?” he asked, “For the most part, Vale has left the desert alone.”

Gris leaned down low so that he was beak-to-nose with Vinchente, “Do you wish to know the real reason that the Valiens leave the desert be?”

“Is it not the lack of resources?  The Vule may live in a place such as this, but the people of Vale, much like the Ilkhan, need water and lands that grow green things.”

“Vale would even wish for my paltry lands,” Gris answered.  “Think about how the Valiens deride your people.  They insult the various gods and spirits that your people believe in, all of your ways and cultures.  They look down upon you for your very appearance.  They dare not insult Pah-sha.”


“Our take on ‘God,’ I suppose,” the Vule leader explained, “The Life Force… the Great Soul that we believe centers itself in our own desert.  The Valiens know their place before it.  They dare not speak of it.  They dare not speak ill of the rest of our ways, either.  We know that our food-ways alone are abhorrent to them, but they dare not bother us to enforce theirs – even when we take some of their own that wander here!  There is a reason why that has nothing to do with the barren nature of our lands.”

Vinchente sighed and continued to listen.

“They leave us alone because of our violence,” Gris said.  “The Valiens fear us.  They know what the Southern and Northern tribes do to each other.  We murder our own without mercy over small the smallest of contentions.  The prowess of the Vule in war is legendary and we are known for our touchy tempers.  I have thought of killing and eating you five times during this very conversation and have had to restrain myself.  The Valiens know that to give insult to us is perhaps the one thing that will unite the South and North and bring our whole wrath upon them. I have, on occasion, flown over Vale and have heard the speech of its citizens.  The Vule are mentioned in hushed, awed whispers when we are mentioned at all.  When I have revealed myself, my spear in hand gleaming, I am bowed to and given utmost respect.  They’d never do that for an Ilkhan.”

“That is true,” Vinchente admitted, “but respect given in fear is not true respect.”

“That may be so, but it is better than what your people have suffered.  I fear that Vale is getting bolder.  I fear that the fools may invade the desert.  More of them venture here than in years past.  Also, I respect your people genuinely.  I would like to see you survive.  That is why I called you here to share my wisdom.”

“You are saying that the only way for the Ilkhan to survive is to become vicious.”

“Precisely.  Put Vale in its place by making it fear you.”

Vinchente began to walk away.  “Thank you for the talk, sir,” he said, “But I think I shall continue things my way.  I fight with words, for hearts and minds.”

“Then you shall continue to suffer.”

“Peace is no coward’s road.”

Vinchente Lapaz made his way back through the gate.  Before he exited, Gris flew overhead and dropped a single large black feather.  “Keep that,” the Vule leader said.  “When you look at it, think about my words.” 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Last Dream

The world's outline/first chapter is here:  If you've read it first, this story will make more sense.

I have a couple of other Static-Lands stories that I've written before this one. I just finished this one today, but I'm quite excited about it and the stories are in no particular order, anyway.   There is a character here based upon my cat. Yes, she really does do that "regal" thing with her paws.

This is a story dealing with ideas of the Afterlife in the Static-Lands.

The Static-Lands Saga

The Last Dream

Among the Ilkhan in the Land-of-Always-Night, where the moon paints the grasses silver, there are as many religious beliefs as there are people.  This includes thoughts upon what happens to the thoughts and emotions of people after they die.  The most common conception of the Afterlife they have is of a vast country – a sort of layered dimension that roughly mirrors the Static-Lands.  However, this idea was common quite a while before the Static-Lands themselves became static. 

As the most common stories tell, this spiritual plane is layered.  On one end of the plane are the Barrens.  The Barrens are a gray desert of cracked earth under gray skies that go on forever.  They are baking or frigid, depending upon the soul that finds itself there – whichever the soul finds the least comfortable, even though it goes beyond a physical sensation.  It is always a lonely place.  Anyone wandering the Barrens feels utterly alone.  They are never physically tormented (how could they be, lacking a physical body)? The soul may or may not be tormented by the voices and images of people they have harmed in life.  They may simply be left to the lonely desolation. The experience is said to depend upon the individual.  The Barrens are a dry place for dry hearts. 

Some believe that there is an even lonelier place beyond the Barrens.  It is usually described as darkness – the place of annihilation, utter oblivion.   

On the opposite end of the immortal plane there is said to be a place of incomparable beauty and perfect peace.  This place is called the Celestial Forest.  It is not an easy place to get to as it lies atop a great cliff.  According to the old Ilkhan myth, a soul that is ready to go to the Celestial Forest only goes to the edge of the cliff and from that place on the rocks; they are pulled up onto it.  No one can climb up there on one’s own. 

Between the Barrens and the Forest lies every state in between.  The Shade is said to intersect with the mortal world and souls wandering there are seen and felt by the living as ghosts.  The Shade is also the place where distressed spirits that linger may give rise to zombies if their anger and sorrow is strong enough to “bleed” back into their dead bodies.  Many Ilkhan believe that reincarnation is also a possible state of a person’s spirit and that it happens to people in the Shade.  People wandering the Barrens have to find their way to edge and into the Shade for it to happen to them. 

Some that believe in this parallel-world hold that those consigned to the Barrens wander there forever in shame, sometimes heading toward the oblivion Beyond and that there is no hope for them whatsoever.  Others believe that with enough reflection, that Barrens souls can find their want into the Shade and even to the base of the cliff that leads to the Celestial Forest. 

There are guides for the dead.  This is a very common belief for the Ilkhan.  Which guide a given person gets depends upon the state of their spirit.  The guide for people who are ready to go to the Celestial Forest is said to be a beautiful golden stag with enormous white wings edged in crystal.  Rainbows glance off his wings like light scattered by a multitude of prisms.  He is silent and will fly a soul to the edge of the cliff on his back and will go no farther. 

The being that takes the souls of the petty, the paltry and the vicious is said to be a pale woman in a dark cloak astride a skeletal horse.  Her arrival is said to be marked by the sound of rattling chains and for this reason she is called the Lady of Chains as well as her more common title – the Scavenger.  She carries chains that bind the soul so that she may carry it to the Barrens without it harming any spirits between the starting point and the destination.  A few claim that they have encountered her and lived.  They say that she calls her frightful steed Andreas. 

The companion of people who are caught in the Shade is a small cat that is black with white markings.  She is, as the legends say, quite chatty and full of cutting remarks. A shaggy black dog with glowing eyes is thought to guide those destined to reincarnation.  He is believed to appear most often to those who have committed suicide.  They who take a voluntary exit from life are said to have missed some of its most important lessons and thus must repeat life – but they are at least given a fresh start.

Most of those that lived in the Land-of-Always-Night did not think these things only applied to their souls, but to the spirits of all. 

A young man of Vale who was familiar with these legends never thought that he’d experience them.  Dayen was a soldier on a special task; He’d been ordered to undertake a small scouting mission into the Great Eastern Desert at the far end of the Land-of-Always-Day.  He’d proved himself a valuable spy before and his commanding officers wished to be aware of the latest movements of the Southern Tribe of the Vule.  Dayen did not know why this information was coveted – an invasion was not being planned just yet, but maybe his mission was to be the beginning of a new conquest. 

He never completed his mission.

Dayen was wandering a dry streambed lined with brush and thorny trees when he heard a sharp screech.  Before he could unsheathe his sword, he saw a gray scaled bird’s talon come for his face. There was the noise of steel scraping on steel and what felt like a punch to his entire body.  He drew in a sharp breath, but it didn’t come and his chest felt weighted.  His mouth tasted of metal and there was an indescribable smell. In an instant, the pain was gone. 

“What just happened?” he wondered aloud.  He found himself standing upon the half-clay, half-sand dirt of the desert but the desert looked different.  Everything seemed to be under a haze or mist.  Every object glowed slightly. 

“Don’t look,” said a voice behind him.   

“What?” Dayen asked turning around.  He saw, a small distance off, a Vule warrior hunched over something. To his horror he realized that it was a body.  To his further horror, he realized that the body had the same face that he saw in the mirror this morning. Resting beside it in the dry streambed was a spear with a bloody tip.  The Vule warrior was prying off his armor and pulling down his clothing.  The vulture-like creature put the broad blade of a fierce knife to his bare middle. 

“What is he doing?” Dayen demanded of no one in particular.

“I told you not to look,” the voice he’d heard before told him.  “He is preparing to cut out your liver.  It is one of the very few parts of a kill that the Vule eat fresh.  After that, he’ll leave the corpse and let it rot in the sun a little before coming back to it.”

Dayen looked around frantically.  He saw a small creature padding over a group of boulders.  A small black and white cat sat looking at him, cocking her head to one side.

“What’s going on?” Dayen asked. “Did I slip and hit my head or something?”

“Nope,” the cat replied. “You’re dead.” 

The young man’s jaw dropped. He shook a little and looked down at the misty outlines that now comprised himself.  He was not solid. He could see the floor of the desert through parts of his body – or what would be his body if he were still within it. For a split second, he considered calling upon his goddess, Materia-Machina, before remembering that she guaranteed no one an existence after death. She only cared for the living.

“No, no, no, no, no!” Dayen replied, pacing. “You aren’t real.  I know you… I’ve read the Ilkhan myths. You’re one of their Agents of Death – the little cat. Aren’t you only supposed to come to them, anyway?  Look at me – human! If I’m dead, I’m supposed to be gone… no more.  This is a hallucination brought on by this wretched heat!” 

“We come to anyone,” said the cat. “I am Nyah.”


“Like this – Nyah, a half-meow, a bored meow.”  The cat hunkered down and put her forepaws out in front of her, crossed, as if she were trying to look regal or superior.

Dayen blinked, still trying to figure things out. He could see through his feet and a cat was talking to him. He figured he must have hit his head hard or, worse, the cat was right.  

“I am Dayen of Vale and if I am dead, I shouldn’t be seeing you. I shouldn’t be seeing anything.”

“How come?” asked the cat.

“Because when you’re dead, you’re dead!”

“Have you ever been dead before?”

“Of course not!”

“Then how would you know?”    

“This is not real.”

“What is real?” the cat flicked her tail and licked her chops casually. 

“What do you mean, ‘what is real’ you little dream-beast?  I’d better wake up soon.  Being passed out baking in the sun can’t be good for me.  Real is what you can feel, touch, taste… everything you can measure and say ‘here it is.’  Agents of Death are fiction.”

The cat got up and paced about on the rocks.  “What is real is what you perceive to be real, is it not?  You would not touch if you could not touch.  You would not taste if you had no tongue.  Did you know that sometimes, the human brain can construct false memories whole-cloth if given the right suggestions?  What about when you are asleep and dreaming – of course no dream is real to your waking mind, it is all merely the subconscious, the brain arranging memories and impulses, perhaps with the construct of a narrative, albeit usually a strange one… but to you while you are in the dream, it is absolutely real… except of course, in the rare case of the lucid dream…”

Dayen yelped as he watched the Vule warrior again. The creature was feeding on one soft organ or another.  Dayen’s ghostly form took on a decidedly green tinge. It felt most strange to him, feeling the need to vomit but lacking the stomach necessary for it.

“Perhaps this is a nightmare for you?” said the little cat.  “That is your body there. I suppose if you believe you are dreaming that it accounts for how easily you accepted a cat speaking to you in your own language.”

“Exactly. This is a stupid dream. I want to wake up.”

“I am afraid that it is your lot to wander here.  You’re an honorable young man without much malice of heart, which accounts for why the Lady of Chains did not come to take you to the Barrens - yet, you aren’t quite ready yet for the Hart of Gold and the Celestial Forest.  You have much pride to put away before you can enjoy that.  Maybe it’s just that you died too swiftly, hmm? No time to even ponder it.”

“I’m not dead!” 

“Yes, some poor spirits wander for a long time before accepting that fact.  I’m afraid that you will not likely get a proper burial, either. I’m sure your people will find you when you are clean, white scattered bones.  It’s not so bad. It is the fate of many animals.”

“Pheh!” Dayen groused throwing up his hands, which to him looked spectral.

“You must be careful, now.  You can go either way – toward the Forest or toward the Barrens.  Your state of soul is up to you.”

“I don’t believe in souls! At least not immortal ones!”

“Yet, here you are.” 

“Listen, you little fuzzy demon, I have believed all my life that dead is dead. I was certain that once I was gone, if I saw anything at all it would be darkness, an eternal sleep. What you’re trying to tell me is that I’ve shifted into some fluffy afterlife believed by the fools my country is bringing into well-deserved subjection. Once someone is dead, they know no more!”

“You may be right,” said Nyah.

“Huh?” Dayen asked. “All this time you’ve been telling me I’ve been wrong and now you say that I am right?”

“Not that you are right, only that you may be.”

The young man scratched his head, or did the best approximation of that a disembodied spirit could do. 

“You might be right about not existing,” Nyah explained. She lay back down, crossing her paws over one another again.  “Objectively, you may no longer exist; however, existence and non-existence are mutually-exclusive states, are they not?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Wouldn’t it make sense that they are so mutually-exclusive that the brain that exists cannot properly process lack-of-existence and that the perceptions thereof just would not register – therefore, the last thoughts said brain has - perhaps the last strange visions drawn from the deepest myths it remembers as the blood and air are fleeing it are truly the last thing it ever knows.  Now, seeing as the state of being and the state of non-being are so exclusive of each other, perhaps the last thing one’s perception registers are one’s eternity.”

“Come again, cat?  I think my brain just exploded.”

“Nope! Your killer is leaving it to the maggots.” 

Dayen sat down on the rocks next to Nyah.  “I was put to sleep for a surgery once.  When I was in training, my swordplay partner and I had an unfortunate accident and I was left with a rather serious wound.  The doctors needed me nice and still so they could stitch it up.  I was drugged.  As I was going under, I felt darkness encroach upon me.  I always thought death would be like that.”

“You woke up.”

“Of course I woke up.”

“Where did you go when you were asleep?”

“I was told that I was asleep for many hours, but it felt like nothing to me. One moment, my eyes were closing and darkness was swarming all around me.  The next, I was groggy and felt the warmth of bandages.  There was nothing there – just nothing.” 

“You only remember it as being one-moment-to-the-next because you woke up. What if you didn’t wake up?”

“Wouldn’t I have only been in darkness?”

“Maybe you only remember darkness because you were closing your eyes, or because your vision was failing.  That little bit of darkness felt like it was all that was there and would have felt like eternity if in the next moment you had died.”

“Well, I expected that.”

“What if the last thing you saw was something strange and visionary, your distressed brain looking to puzzle out what was happening to you and reaching deep inside for the last or deepest bit of mythology engrained within it?  What if you had died in your sleep while having a dream?”

“Hmm.  I’d still expect darkness, nothing.”

“Darkness is just a euphemism.  Even darkness is a kind of existence.” 

“So, you are saying that right now, I am in the last throes of my stupid, dying brain?”

“Maybe and maybe not.  This could be what the brain truly believes it is happening – it really is a tricky organ. Seeing that not-existing would be beyond its processing power, it may be, to you, an eternity – your eternity.  On the other hand, this could be decidedly real and you are a ghost, meant to wander the desert near where you have fallen until you can find a way to go elsewhere.”

“Will you be straight with me?”

“How can I be straight with you? I am a cat.  I also am at a loss to explain to you anything that you cannot accept.”

“So, if I am an actual spirit, where do I go from here?  From the myths I know I do not want to go to the Barrens, so I suppose I should head to the Celestial Forest, but how do I get there?”

“It is a state of soul. Swallow your pride.  You’ll know, eventually, which way to walk.”

“How so?”

“It’s your dream, you tell me.”


Friday, April 1, 2011


It's a silly day, so I might as well post a silly topic - even though this is an actual rant, not a joke, it's just on a goofy topic.  Oh, and it snowed a little in my area today. Snow in April. What happened to my Spring, dagnabbit?!

In hanging out on the Zelda Dungeon forum, I was confronted once again with a particular fandom-controversey among fans of the Legend of Zelda videogame series. And I realized once again that, quite some time ago, I commited a huge "sin" in this fandom!  

Unless you want a huge argument, never, ever bring up the topic "Link and guns" on a Zelda forum. It's almost as bad as saying that "Ocarina of Time" is *not* your favorite game of the series.  No, actually it's worse. People seem to accept that I like "Twilight Princess" for my own reasons, but the idea of a future Zelda game in which Link (protagonist, player-character) handles any form of firearm?  Hoo, boy....

But my best-reviewed, most acclaimed fan fiction, a fan fiction I co-wrote with a friend, a fan fiction that's garnered so much attention that it's been featured as a Fanfic Reccommendation on the illustrious TV Tropes wiki...

Involves Link being a gunslinger. 

Oh, noes!  It's here, if you want to read it:  The Great Desert  

It's The Legend of Zelda combined with sci-fi/Western.  Yes. My co-writer (Sailor Lilithchan) and I originally met and befriened each other in Trigun fandom (Trigun is an anime/manga that is a future-set Western) and we both loved Zelda... we started hashing ideas back and forth in AIM and thus the monster was born. It's not *entirely* a hash-apart thing... Link does still make use of swords, and of course, ultimate evil can only be banished via the Master Sword, as per game series tradition, and there's magic, and fairies, and undead things, and neighboring dimensions, and Hyrule's goddesses, though they show themselves be a bit... different... in this story than how most people think of them.  Still, it's an unusual setting, and despite the swordsmanship, in it... Link uses a gun.

I'm surprised I haven't been flamed out of the fandom for this fic, honestly.  It's such a contentious issue. I think my co-writer and I made it work, but still...

I would not object to a future Zelda game in which Link handles firearms - as long as they're the right kind. I'd hate to see some kind of gritty modern warfare reboot of Zelda, but a game that, like some of the games already in the series that feature pirates and steampunk adventure, I wouldn't mind seeing him with a flintlock pistol in addition to the sword, or, if a game was made that was like the fanfic Lilith and I created - a Hyrule that's "advanced" out of the Medieval Stasis but hasn't gotten futuristic or completely modern yet, perhaps taking a stint in a "Wild West for Hyrule" era - but keeping the magic elements, of course.   Or... a magic-powered psuedo-gun. 

He handles the energy guns in Super Smash Bros. just fine.  In fact, he does so hiliaroiusly in Melee' if you play the Young Link version on Tiny Melee mode. The trigger is bigger than he is!

Anyway, I just continue to find it amusing that I've commited one of the gravest sins in my fandom, yet it seems I've gotten away with it.  

Ride, Link, ride!