that gate

Jan. 26th, 2017 12:44 am
aliaspseudonym: (Default)
Soooo, you know that gate? The one from the stories, with the two guards and one of them only speaks the truth and the other only lies? Well, I was over there just the other day. It's not so far really, just across the sea and over the horizon and through the forgotten forest where the Sun never shines, then you take a left at the narrow bridge over the gaping maw of the abyss and find what you were seeking was in your heart all along.

Anyway, there's this shining wall that rises out of view into the sky and this incredibly beautiful gate with a great lock and on the other side is heaven, or the city of gold or the garden of Eden or something? And on both sides of the gate stand the guards. They are seven feet tall with skin like brass and deep black eyes that twinkle with all the stars in the cosmos -- they wear breastplates and plated skirts of shining steel and their hair is long and woven in majestic patterns with threads of every colour. They are perfect mirrors of each other. each holds a flaming spear in one hand and a shield blazoned with an animal even the wildest of myths have forgotten in the other. I knew they would answer for me only one question. I sat on the ground before the gate and asked:

Will you tell me a story?

And both of them fixed me with their eyes that hold entire galaxies and both of them said,


And I sat there before the gates of Paradise and waited, and the left-handed guard smiled at me, and this is what they said:

(to be continue .... )
aliaspseudonym: (Default)
Hey ... wait. I’m the Voice of the north wind whispering in the frigid night, tracing alien languages in the frost on your windowpanes and leaving glimmering secrets in the waves of snow drifting around your doorstep. Is ... is anyone listening?

Long ago, a traveller told me of a town built a around a lonely, rugged mountain in the middle of a vast plain. The wheat in that country turns to silver instead of gold, and the townspeople were a strange kind of folk -- small and thickly built with big eyes and thin hair that shone silver like the grain when it caught the light. Their voices were harsh and deep and they had thin webs of skin between their fingers, but when the traveller arrived one night in the midst of a terrible storm they spoke kindly and gave her a room at the inn on the mountainside.

Now on the very top of that lonely mountain in the middle of that vast plain, the townspeople were building something. Even in that terrible storm with thunder crackling all around them, some of them were out there, using pulleys to lift heavy stones to add to a great stone tower at the very summit. When the traveller asked, the innkeeper told her it was a lighthouse and that it must be completed soon for the time was nearly at hand. Why, the traveller wondered, would you build a lighthouse on a mountain surrounded by a vast plain? The innkeeper laughed and said, why does anyone build a lighthouse? Of course, it’s to keep ships from running aground on the rocks!

The traveller smiled and laughed with him. Of course. The storm raged on for days and days. She stayed at the inn and played her guitar and sang for the townspeople, and did magic tricks for their children since they could not play outside. Many of them had strange iridescent scales on their foreheads and necks and the backs of their hands. They gave her bread which was unlike anything she’d tasted before; thick and rich and heavy and flecked with grains that glimmered in candlelight -- she supposed if she ate this every day her hair might soon shine like silver as well.

On the eleventh day the storm showed no signs of stopping, and the traveller’s feet were beginning to itch for the open road once again. She asked the innkeeper if it often rained so much this time of year and he shook his head and said, no, never before and probably never again after this. But do not worry, today the lighthouse will be complete and soon after the rains will stop. Then our end of the bargain will be fulfilled -- we have long waited and prepared for this day. The traveller did not ask more because she already understood, having heard the songs the children sang as they played and the stories the townspeople told one another around the stove fire during the raging storm. She sang her own songs and waited, and when evening came and the great beam of the lighthouse blazed out into the clouds she said, the time has come for me to leave. You have been kind to me all this time -- I will sing your songs and tell your stories in many strange countries.

Then the innkeeper said, follow me, and taking their coats and lanterns they went together up the side of the mountain. Around them the rain fell in sheets and torrents -- puddles on the silvered plains turned to ponds and lakes and all flowed together into a rising torrent. The townspeople were all standing together in the town square singing a song, the third most beautiful song the traveller had ever heard -- although she would never tell me how it went. A voice from the clouds sang in reply, the same words, the same song. Some of the children turned to wave at the traveller on the mountainside just before the waters rose past their heads; she smiled and waved back with her lantern. The water was climbing the mountain below them now, engulfing the top of the villiage and then the inn on the mountainside and then the pathway where they had just walked. The innkeeper and the traveller kept climbing steadily, neither speeding up nor slowing down as the water lapped at their heels. At last they reached the lighthouse at the summit. A sturdy sailboat was waiting there with provisions for a journey, tied to a dock which just minutes before had been lying on the rocky ground. The rain stopped, then, and the clouds parted to let the silvery moonlight stream through. The innkeeper bowed to the traveller, and she bowed in return. I will stay here and tend the lighthouse, he said. I wish you well on your journey, traveller! The traveller thanked him one last time for his and his town’s hospitality and wished them all the best in their new lives, then with a twinkle in her eye she climbed onto the ship, opened the sail, and on a brisk evening breeze she sailed away into the night sky.


Dec. 2nd, 2016 06:39 pm
aliaspseudonym: (Default)
my childhood doesn’t make sense to me. i can’t fit it into any familiar narrative. i read a lot of books and was consistently friends with zero to one people. i spent recesses wandering around on my own waving my arms and acting out variations on stories from books or cartoons. i don’t remember anyone picking on me. did i somehow fail to notice? was i too strange? was i too uninterested in human beings, too focused on the names of dinosaurs and the life cycles of stars? i don’t know.

i remember spending a lot of time at school walking in circles. when we had free time in the gym i would walk around the walls of the room examining the walls. i would let my fingernails trail along the walls to feel the vibration. i did the same thing in junior high school during lunch periods, when i had nothing to read. the school was a big circle and i’d walk around it over and over running my hand along the walls and thinking, not talking to anyone. i remember walking in smaller circles around the playground in elementary school waving my arms and imagining battles or something, i’m not really sure.

i remember being terrified of abstraction and unconcerned with anything real. i spent a lot of time considering whether i could see through reality by turning my head very quickly. i’d gone through all the strange thought experiements. there was no way to prove my family was real and not aliens experimenting on me, nor did my past experience rule out that in an instant reality could be yanked away and i thrown into a pit of flames for no reason. i imagined a long chain of iterated selves, each blissfully existing for only a moment before plunging into destruction and replaced by another, identical copy. how could any of the copies suspect a thing, in their brief moment of life? i remember being haunted by existential terror related to things that don’t seem particularly scary anymore. i remember lying awake in bed and trying to wrestle the offending thoughts into a imaginary jar to put up on a shelf and not touch but just feel looming uneasily in the back of my mind. Once for a special event one of my elementary teachers dressed up as a clown and did everything in mime and that was so unnerving I started crying and she had to break character to reassure me that nothing had really changed. i remember a period when i’d frequently touch my forehead to make sure i hadn’t developed a third eye since the last time i checked. i remember being afraid of looking in mirrors under low light in case i discovered some unimaginable truth about myself. i don’t know why i thought that was scary, exactly. i remember thinking that the way christianity worked was you accumulated bad stuff no matter what you did and had to constantly ask for forgiveness, and just really hope that you died right after asking for forgiveness i guess? i had no sense of it being about doing good or bad things, really.

i remember my mom had this storybook about a little boy who likes to play with dolls and kids tease him but it’s okay because later it makes him better at taking care of his babies when he gets married. the boy had the same given name as me. i think i got the wrong message from that book.

i remember lying in bed staring at the ceiling, bouncing my eyes around from one corner to another. i remember being afraid to have the closet door open because i’d imagine things from the shapes. i guess i invented things to be afraid of, because wasn’t afraid of anything real?

i remember reading wildly, indiscriminately. i read many, many books from my elementary school library. i read a lot of pulp novels about teenages who played sports and had literally nothing in common with me. books were absorbing and reality, and people, were kind of dull. i was excessively good at school, good enough to breeze through much of it even though i wasn’t really capable of paying attention to it. i remember eventually they diagnosed me with some stuff and gave me pills to help me focus better, when i started having trouble. they diagnosed me with an anxiety disorder, also. i don’t know if that was right or not. i didn’t know what anxiety was.

i remember eventually i started trying to socialize, clumsily and exclusively online. i was on some forums and things. i made sprites and rudimentary art and wrote fragements of stories i never talked about or showed anyone. i was afraid of people finding out who i really was and i have no idea why. i just read books and felt things intensely and never talked about them with anyone. it seemed like a good idea at the time?

i remember in high school i dated a girl because she asked me out and i was starting to feel like i needed to stop saying ‘no’ to things by default, but i didn’t understand what dating was or what relationships were and i had basically no actual interested in her, and i dragged her to a stupid church event i’m sure she hated at one point, and at another her friends tried to shun me for being insufferable for several days and i literally didn’t notice what they were doing until they apologized for it. she eventually broke up with me. i’m very sorry about the whole 64.thing.

i remember i used to own an N64 strategy guide with information about games like blast corps and starfox. we did not own any game console at that time. i remember i read it through multiple times, i found the instructions captivating. the black and white printed illustrations of N64 graphics just looked like blurry messes open to the imagination. walking to and from elementary school i’d pretend i was going through instructions like those, step on this crack, splash this puddle, break this patch of ice in just this pattern to open the secret passage. once i was over an hour late for school because i lost track of time doing this. the walk normally takes 5 or so minutes.

i think perhaps i should have been discouraged from reading quite so many books and encouraged to take an interest in the other children my age. but i was a boy and i sounded like a small adult when you talked to me and reading is considered generically good so obviously there couldn’t be anything wrong with me. so they only bothered me when i was opening reading novels instead of paying attention in class, and even then not all that consistently.

i remember being told, over and over, that the next kind of school would be more difficult. that i would have to take notes. that i would ‘hit a wall’ and suddenly underperform because i never learned good study habits. i remember being given a long speech by one of my computer teachers about some hypothetical person who has a very high IQ but works as a janitor or something because he’s too prideful and lazy to look for work.
aliaspseudonym: (Default)


(note: the sideboard section includes only cards I actually sideboarded in during the event)


1 Undercity Troll
1 Harbinger of the Tides
1 Leaf Gilder
1 Sigiled Starfish
1 Timberpack Wolf
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Bounding Krasis
1 Watercourser
1 Yeva's Forcemage
1 Separatist Voidmage
1 Whirler Rogue
1 Dwynen, Gilt Leaf Daen
1 Tower Geist
1 Pharika's Disciple
1 Llanowar Empath
1 Ringwarden Owl
1 Skysnare Spider

Instants and Sorceries

2 Disperse
2 Titanic Growth
1 Anchor to the Aether
1 Wild Instincts


1 Bone to Ash

The Draft

If you read my last week's draft report, you might be thinking, wait, isn't this the same deck again?  The answer to that is, no, this one is almost strictly better!

In my first pack I opened Harbinger of the Tides, an extremely strong and flexible blue card.  Blue is a bit shallow in this format but its good cards are very good and really if you open an awesome rare you should almost always take it even if you won't always play it.  The second pack has Undercity Troll and Bounding Krasis as the two uncommons.  Undercity Troll is one of the strongest two drops in the format -- its regeneration ability means you can play it on turn two and as long as you make your third land drop your opponent needs a three toughness creature to block it, and if they fail to block it you've got a 3/3 regenerator you spent only two mana on.  Bounding Krasis is almost as powerful as a 3/3 flash for three is pretty good to start with and the tap/untap effect makes it doubly dangerous as an ambusher (because it can untap another of your creatures as a surprise blocker) and also lets you buy time against an attacker you can't deal with by tapping it.  You can only play Bounding Krasis if you are specifically blue/green and that's not the most popular colour combo, so I pick the powerful green card in Undercity Troll hoping that the Krasis will come back to me all the way around the table.

I pick up a few strong green cards during the next few picks and notably pass a Ringwarden Owl for an earlier creature because I feel like low drops are more of a priority in the format, even though Ringwarden Owl is one of the most solid win conditions in blue.  By the second half of pack one I start to realize exactly how well positioned I am in this draft as I get passed six or seventh pick Leaf Gilder and the Ringwarden comes all the way around with only a few cards left in the pack.  The Krasis comes back around and I snap it up, extremely happy with how my draft is going.

Pack two I open Sword of the Animist, a fairly powerful rare equipment that gives a creature a marginal power boost (+1/+1) while also ramping and fixing mana for you.  There's also a Tower Geist in the pack, though, a four mana 2/2 flier that lets you draw the best of your top two cards, and after some deliberation I go for the uncommon flier over the rare.   Some more packs come along and I pick up some solid playables (notably including Sigiled Starfish, which is another incredibly powerful two drop although in a very different way from the Undercity Troll) then on like pick four someone passes me Whirler Rogue and I'm just ecstatic.

In pack three I open Dwynen, Gilt Leaf Daen.  I already have three or four elves and the 3/4 reach creature is very strong on her own, so it's a pretty obvious pick.  My second pick is a Skysnare Spider, yet another unbeatable uncommon -- there's not much in this format that can attack through or block a 6/6 reach creature, and it having vigilance means your opponent is pretty much locked out of attacking while you smash them for six every turn.  The rest of the pack I don't really remember, I picked up some more bounce spells and titanic growths and some number of maritime guards I obviously didn't need to play.

Deck Overview

At this point my deck is kind of absurd.  I lay out my cards and need to make some cuts -- the last cut is fairly close between a yeva's forcemage and a scrapskin drake.  The drake's inability to block on the ground is pretty awkward against all the renowned creatures in the format, and my deck is overall pretty defensive.  The forcemage is also not that good on defense, but at least it can trade with 2/2s on the ground and it's another elf for Dwynen, so I end up playing it.

I'm a bit short on turn 3 plays and heavy on 4s, but my overall card quality in this deck is just staggeringly high and I'm especially happy with my two-drop slot -- leaf gilder, undercity troll and sigiled starfish are all incredibly powerful turn two plays and they all have some utility in the late game as well (the leaf gilder less than the other two, but still.)


Round 1

My first round is against a somewhat shaky-looking 3 colour mardu deck.  My opponent has a slowish start, I have my worst two drop in timberpack wolf on turn two and my opponent plays a blessed spirits.  I attack them with the wolf and have to pass the turn, my lack of three-drops coming back to bite me a bit, and my opponent kind of goes off on his next turn, playing a molten vortex to put a counter on the spirits and then putting grasp of the heiromancer on it, giving it another counter in addition to the +1/+1 from the enchantment.  I get hit for five in the air and am obviously under a lot of pressure.  I hit my opponent back for two with my timberpack and pass the turn.  My opponent goes to attack me with their big flier again and I flash in Harbinger of the Tides before damage to bounce it.  The aura falls off and when they replay their creature it's back to being an unexciting 2/2 flier.  My opponent never recovers from this setback and I'm able to finish them off a few turns later while they struggle with mana in their three colour deck.

Game two my opponent has turn 1 molten vortex and I play an Undercity Troll on turn 2 anyway, hoping that my opponent won't be able to afford to pitch a land to kill my creature.  Luckily for me, my opponent is somewhat inexperienced and makes a serious mistake by letting me untap with my creature still in play.  I attack for two, he goes to throw a land at my 2/2 with the Molten Vortex and I titanic growth in response, smashing for six damage and getting my Troll out of range of a single land.  Even if I hadn't had the titanic growth to push through, though, I could have simply played a land and regenerated the troll from the molten vortex shot, meaning my opponent would have pitched a land for no value.  He plays out some creatures but is too far behind on tempo and life total from the titanic growth and loses within a few turns.

Round 2

This is the most harrowing round of the event for me -- I'm up against a streamlined, powerful r/w aggro deck.  Luckily I win the die roll and get to be on the play in game one.  My opponent slams a turn one Anointer of champions, I play an Elvish Visionary.  My opponent misses their 2 drop and I play a Yeva's Forcemage on three and attack for 3 with my pumped up Elvish Visionary.   Now my opponent has a strong turn 3 play in Ghiranpur Gearcrafter, but my turn 4 play is Dwynen, Gilt Leaf Daen, which pumps up my other elves and lets me swing for five, forcing a trade with the Gearcrafter.  At this point my R/W opponent is on the defensive, which makes their Anointer of Champions look pretty bad.  I have a Bounding Krasis and some bounce effects left over, and when they finally manage to take down Dwynen in combat with a pump spell I just slam a Skysnare Spider and effectively lock them out of the game.

In game two I mulligan to six on the draw and decide to keep a one island hand with Disperse and Harbinger of the Tides as potential early defense and an Elvish Visionary to help me draw into more land if I hit green.  My opponent has a turn one Anointer  of Champions AGAIN, but misses a two drop again and I do manage to draw a land -- unfortunately, an island.  On turn three my opponent slams Iroas's Champion, a 2/2 double-striker that they can pump up to 3/3 on attacks with the Anointer.  I miss my third land drop and have to pass the turn.  My opponent plays a Firefiend Elemental precombat and attempts to smash me for approximately a million; I have to disperse the Champion and let the Fiend hit me.  I miss my third land AGAIN on my fourth turn but get to at least play Harbinger to bounce the tapped Firefiend.  Unfortunately my opponent gets to just replay it and Anointer means that my Harbinger can't trade with it.  I finally hit my third land but I don't have a good three drop in my hand and my opponent has ANOTHER Firefiend elemental on their turn -- I can't block either attacking creature and am too far behind at this point to recover, so I concede the game.

Game three I get to be on the play again, which is really important in this matchup.  My opponent has anointer of champions on turn one AGAIN, because why not, but I have Sigiled Starfish on turn 2.  They play out a cleric of the forward order and only have a Yeva's Forcemage, so things are looking a bit rough.  I get hit for three with the powered up cleric and they play a Gearcrafter, I respond with Pharika's Chosen but that's not enough to stabilize the board against the anointer.  I do at least get to trade my Forcemage for half of the Gearcrafter.  Now my opponent has Iroas's Champion, which is incredibly scary with an anointer on board.  Luckily, my scryfish manages to find me my Undercity Troll, and with the regeneration ability on that I'm finally stable on the ground.  The game is now somewhat stalled out; I play a Tower Geist and even manage to get a couple chip shots in with it.  My opponent goes for a big swing one of the turns where my geist is tapped and I flash in Bounding Krasis to untap the Geist and block a Thopter token with the Geist and a ground 2/2 with the Krasis.  My opponent can only use anointer on one of the blocked creatures, so the Krasis trades with a 2/2 but my Geist gets to eat a thopter token -- meanwhile my troll fogs the double striker by blocking and regenerating.

My opponent draws Grasp of the Heiromancer now and puts it on their Champion, tapping down my troll on the attack and going for a gigantic swing.  I have only one card in hand, but it's Titanic Growth so I'm able to block with Pharika's Chosen and use the growth to trade two-for-two with my opponent's creature plus the enchantment.  Now I've clawed my way back to being slightly ahead on board and start chipping away at my opponent with my 2/2 tower geist while my troll holds down the ground.

After a few turns of that my opponent flashes in Hixus, Prison Warden, which exiles my flier and puts us back into a board stall with them unable to attack into my regenerator.  I make a questionable-looking attack with my 2/2 troll into the 4/4 Prison Warden and my opponent blocks, forcing me to regenerate and leaving the troll unavailable as a blocker.  My opponent swings with Hixus and I flash in Harbinger of the Tides to bounce to back to their hand -- this returns my Tower Geist to play AND lets me reuse its enters-the-battlefield ability to draw an extra card.  I attack with only the Geist for a couple of turns and my opponent replays the Hixus, but at this point between the extra Geist trigger and the Starfish I'm starting to pull ahead on cards.  I manage to take out Hixus in combat with my second Titanic Growth, I get my Geist trigger AGAIN and from there I'm able to close out the game fairly easily while my opponent draws lands and a second copy of anointer of champions (!) and my Sigiled Starfish finds me useful spells.  A narrow victory against a good player piloting a VERY powerful deck.

Round 3

For round three I'm paired against a G/W deck that's maybe a little less consistent than my last round opponent but that contains multiple incredible bombs.  I win the dice roll again because I'm good at card games, and I get a fast start with turn 2 Leaf Gilder into turn 3 Llanowar Empath to scry and draw an extra card.  My opponent meanwhile plays a Cleric of the Forward Order which gets ambushed by my Bounding Krasis on the following turn, their Rhox Maulers gets killed by my Krasis via Wild Instincts, I play a Whirler Rogue and they concede under the weight of my over-powered cards.

In game two I keep an extremely slow hand with a bunch of lands, Whirler Rogue and Tower Geist.  My opponent has a Leaf Gilder on turn two and on three they have Citadel Castelan, a powerful gold uncommon that I'm not going to be able to block with my all-four-drop hand.  I get hit with the Castelan and it turns into a 4/5 vigilance, and my opponent uses the Leaf Gilder to cast Rhox Maulers on their turn 4.  On turn 4 I finally play a spell, a Pharika's Disciple I've drawn in the meantime.  At this point I think I got a bit lucky again in that my opponent refuses to try to press his advantage by attacking -- my 2/3 deathtouch creature could trade with either the castelan or the maulers, but making that trade would allow my opponent to keep attacking me for damage while I fumbled to catch up.  Instead my opponent opted to hold back with all their creatures, which gave me some breathing room.  I cast my tower giest and then a Sigiled Starfish and started trying to scry my way out of the board stall, eventually drawing a Wild Instincts to take the Castellan off the board.  My opponent has a 1/4 reach, unfortunately, so my 2/2 flier isn't able to get in and it's a true board stall.  Eventually he draws into his Sentinel of the Eternal Watch, an almost unbeatable card, to start tapping my deathtoucher and then on the next turn tries to smash me with a yeva's forcemage-buffed rhox maulers.  I have Bounding Krasis to tap down the Maulers and then am able to kill it in combat on a later turn, and with my Whirler rogue I'm able to start making my Krasis unblockable for three a turn.  My opponent eventually finds their sideboarded Aerial Volley to kill my Geist and one of my thopter tokens, leaving me with not enough artifacts to activate the Whirler Rogue's ability.  Fortunately on my next turn I have the sweet play of attacking with Whirler Rogue, then before blockers flashing in Harbinger of the Tides to bounce my own creature and replay it to restock my supply of thopters.

My opponent then draws their OTHER unbeatable creature, Kytheon's Irregulars.  I'm barely managing to deal with having one of my creatures tapped every turn and the Irregulars threaten to tap two or three more.  I scry and find my sideboard Bone to Ash on top of my deck, a turn too late -- but wait, I have a disperse in my hand!  I draw the card, make my unblockable attack for the turn, then at the end of my turn I disperse the Irregulars and counter it with Bone to Ash when my opponent goes to replay it.  A few more turns of unblockable attacks thanks to the Whirler Rogue and my opponent goes down!  A somewhat grueling game that I suspect my opponent could have won or at least come close to winning if he had taken some more aggressive lines, but he didn't and my Sigiled Starfish and Whirler Rogue were able to take the game.

Round 4

Now that I've 3-0'd my pod, I get to face off against a 3-0 player from another pod for a foil promo copy of Serum Visions!  After my last two rounds the finals is a bit of an anti-climax.  I'm playing against a G/W deck that seems somewhat short on playables but presumably must contain a few very powerful cards if it went 3-0.

In game one my opponent kind of doesn't do anything.  On turn three they play a throwing knife after remarking that they probably should have played it on turn two, on turn 4 they have a leaf glider and they equip the knife.  On my side I play Leaf Gilder into turn 3 Pharika's Disciple and on turn 4 I tap their equipped gilder with Bounding Krasis to get in with the Disciple.  On my next turn I decide to use a Titanic Growth to kill their Gilder in combat, since I've got a second Titanic Growth in my hand, then I play a Llanowar Empath revealing and drawing a Whirler Rogue.  My opponent has an Akroan Jailer, which is no match for my army of creatures and they die within a couple of turns.

Game two I once again manage to have my turn 2 leaf gilder, this time playing a timberpack wolf and an elvish visionary on turn 3.  My  opponent plays a creature of some sort and I kill it with wild instincts and swing in for a bunch.  Turn five they have a Heavy Infantry (which I think is mostly unplayable honestly)  and I use yeva's forcemage to pump my timberpack wolf to attack through it.  Turn six they play Sentinel of the Eternal Watch -- obviously a powerful card, but I Disperse it on the end of their turn, then on my turn cast Anchor to the Aether on Heavy Infantry and attack my opponent for a lot.  They replay the Sentinels, I bounce it again and pump one of my creatures with Titanic Growth for the win!

FNM Report!

Aug. 8th, 2015 04:37 pm
aliaspseudonym: (Default)

3 Leaf Gilder
3 Titanic Growth
1 Disperse
1 Timberpack Wolf
1 Bounding Krasis
1 Guardians of Meletis
1 Anchor to the Aether
1 Scrapskin Drake
2 Yeva's Forcemage
2 Separatist Voidmage
1 Pharika's Disciple
1 Whirler Rogue
1 Wild Instincts
2 Ringwarden Owl
1 Joraga Invocation
1 Alhammarret, High Arbiter
8 Forest
9 Island

My draft starts off with a fairly weak pack, the rares were shivan reef and a foil Relic Seeker. Relic Seeker is not exactly a rare-quality card, but it's very comparable to Topan Freeblade which is one of the best commons in the format and certainly first pickable, so I took that. In the next couple packs I picked up a Stalwart Aven and a mix of medium-quality green and blue cards, but white dried up very quickly and I ended the first pack with a pile of scrapskin drakes and timberpack wolves and stratus walks with a ringwarden own as the highlight. Pack 2 went much better for me, I opened a strong rare in alhammarret and was rewarded for cutting off blue to my left with a fourth or fifth pick Whirler Rogue (!) a card that is arguably the best uncommon and comparable to one of the best rares in the set. I rounded out the pack with a couple of separatist voidmages and wheeled a couple of titanic growths and things were looking much better. Midway through pack three my deck has an abrupt spike in power level as I'm passed one Leaf Gilder after another and end the pack with three of them! I also got a Thopter Spy Network in pack three, but ended up with not nearly enough artifacts for it. Oh well, trade binder I guess.

Overall my deck ends up looking quite strong and relatively defensive with a full three mana elves to accelerate and a few strong lategame fliers and bounce spells slow my opponent down. I'm leaning quite a bit on my three titanic growths to function as virtual removal spells inside combat and my three drop slot is quite weak with three out-of-place aggressive creatures and an 0/6, but I'm relatively confident that ramping into my powerful blue spells will get me some wins.

My day has a rocky start -- in the first match I'm paired against a b/g elves deck that plays a thornbow archer into a dwynen's elite into yeva's forcemage and gnarlroot trapper and proceeds to kill me before I have a chance to do much of anything. In game two I have a leaf gilder turn two on the play and my opponent's thornbow archer suddenly looks a lot less impressive, and I'm able to go over the top of my opponent's elves fairly easily.

Game three I have a slow start on the draw and take a lot of damage but on turn 3 I'm able to flash in bounding krasis to eat a timberpack wolf, then untap and use wild instincts to fight another elf with it. I stabilize at 10 behind my krasis and a guardians of meletis and start to clock my opponent with a ringwarden owl, but he plays a rogues passage to make one of his two power creatures unblockable and starts hitting me back and things get scary, especially when he produces a 1/4 reach to block my owl on any turn I can't produce a prowess trigger. He plays a hangarback walker as well which threatens to make a bunch of fliers and race me easily, but fortunately my 0/6 guardians can easily block it without setting free the cloud of thopters.

Now I draw joraga invocation, which could force my opponent to make a bunch of chump blocks -- BUT, if I attack with a ground creature he can just chump with hangarback and set loose the swarm. I'm forced to only attack with my ringwarden owl to destroy my opponent's reach creature so my owl can keep getting in. Fortunately for me, my opponent continues to brick off drawing either lands or small elves and timberpack wolves and the owl finishes him off in the air for a very narrow win in the first match!

Round two, I'm matched against a r/b deck of some sort. My opponent leads with a turn three Ramroller and I pass my third turn with two forests and an island up. My opponent asks if he's allowed to talk to a judge and confirm the text on a card, which obviously he is. He plays a chief of the foundry pre-combat and attacks with his now very intimidating 5/4 Ramroller, but before he goes to attacks I flash in the Bounding Krasis he suspected I might have to tap it down.

On my turn I miss a land drop and deploy a 0/6 guardians of meletis to hopefully deal with the 5/4. My opponent swings unproductively into it, since the ramroller must attack, and plays out a Boggart Brute. I find my four land and pass the turn back holding up all four mana.
My opponent's next turn is the crucial one of the game -- he attacks with the 5/4 ramroller and I go to block with my 3/3 krasis, then cast disperse targetting his chief of the foundry which would turn the ramroller into an unimpressive 2/3. My opponent has negate for my disperse, but I use my remaining two mana for titanic growth on my krasis, turning it into a 7/7 and eating the ramroller. With my opponent's main threat dealt with and their chief of the foundry now looking particularly bad, I'm able to draw some deploy a ringwarden owl and eventually bring out Alhammarret himself to finish off my opponent in the air.

Game two is kind of a blowout. We trade evasive three drops in scrapskin drake and boggart brute, then I have whirler rogue on turn 4 and my opponent isn't willing to attack into a potential double block from the thopters, instead playing out an akroan sergeant. Next is my turn 5 and I play out a ringwarden owl and swing for two with my drake, since it can't block ground creatures anyway. My opponent swings at me with his team for a total of five and I'm not remotely interested in blocking, so I take 5 going to 12. He plays an awkward post-combat firefiend elemental and passes the turn.

I apologize to my opponent before tapping six mana for Joraga Invocation, giving my entire team +3/+3 and attacking my opponent for a total of 20 damage in the air. GG, on to round three!

Next I get matched against I player I know piloting a w/b auras type deck -- he seems somewhat surprised to have gotten this far, which makes me feel a bit better about my chances. In game one he plays a turn one 0/4 yoked ox, which turns out to be less than effective against my aggressive curve of timberpack wolf into yeva's forcemage to make the wolf a 4/4 into whirler rogue to make my forcemage unblockable. My opponent plays a blightcaster; I put out a ringwarden owl. He puts weight of the underworld on my owl, using the trigger to kill my rogue. I play out a pharika's disciple and hit him with my thopters, he has suppression bonds for it and gets to kill a thopter with blightcaster.

At this point I play voidmage bouncing his 0/4 and make a questionable attack with all my creatures, including the 0/1 owl. He blocks my forcemage with his blightcaster and I pass priority, and my forcemage dies because APPARENTLY blightcaster is a 2/3 and not a 2/2 and I'm saving the titanic growth in my hand for lethal. Darn. Fortunately for me, my opponent has run out of removal and is hopelessly behind despite getting multiple blightcaster triggers, and my next swing is easily lethal with the titanic growth.

I board out a Yeva's Forcemage for a Negate since my opponent's deck seems slow and full of auras, but in game two I find myself facing down turn one annointer of champions into turn two cleric of the forward order; my first creature gets killed by a fleshbag maurader and I find myself sitting with two titanic growths in my hand and no way to stick a creature without taking a ton of damage. My ringwarden owl gets supression bonds'd, and by the time I can sort-of stabilize I'm at 4 and my opponent has an active shadows of the past in play, so I'm just dead to drain-untap-drain.

Game three I keep a 2 spell hand with leaf gilder and bounding krasis on the grounds that those are two of the better spells in my deck and to my dismay my opponent starts with the annointer into cleric yet again. On turn three my opponent puts grasp of the heiromancer on their cleric and attack, tapping my leaf gilder -- I make a slight mistake by letting my opponent go to the declare attacks step when I should have flashed in the krasis tapping their annointer as soon as they went to combat. I only take one extra damage, since I didn't really want to trade the krasis, but it was still a little loose.

I've drawn a land and a titanic growth after keeping my two spell hand and am feeling pretty miserable, but meanwhile on my opponent's side he's stuck on two mana after missing two land drops, and when he attacks with the cleric tapping my krasis titanic growth on my elf makes it a 7/5 which eats the cleric even after the buff from champion. My opponent continues to miss land drops as I beat him down for 5 a turn; by the time he hits land three I cast joraga invokation to kill the only two creatures he had in play followed by alhammarret to look at his hand of 4 drops that wouldn't affect the board very much even if he could cast them and name, um, weight of the underworld I guess. He draws a fourth land on his next turn, is dead on board and concedes.

Having 3-0'd my pod, I move on to the finals against the winner of another pod with a foil serum visions on the line for the winner! In game one I once again curve two-drop into forcemage into whirler rogue while my opponent is casting caustic caterpillar into read the bones on turn three. My rogue gets reave soul'd (again) but the thopers get to keep beating down, I play out some more stuff, bounce some of my opponent's stuff and finish them off relatively easily -- including a stylish finish involving double titanic growth on a thopter token to kill them from 7 while they were tapped out.

Game two is a bit anticlimactic; I play out some creatures, my opponent casts read the bones multiple times and get off some 5 mana removal spells on my stuff but then floods out badly, I get to use pharika's disciple to fight his rhox maulers with wild instincts. I play a ringwarden owl, he uses an unholy hunger to deal with my disciple then plays a Gilt-Leaf Winnower (!) killing my 0/6 guardians of meletis, since the ringwarden owl is untargetable. At this point though, my opponent is just horribly flooded and I have a second ringwarden owl and a whirler rogue in hand. I elect to hold back and just play out a timberpack wolf on the grounds that the only way my opponent can win at this point is by sweeping away multiple threats with a card like languish. They failed to draw anything to interact even after casting multiple copies of read the bones and die to three or four more attacks from my owl.

And that's how I 4-0'd the FNM with my sweet u/g deck! I'll consider it justice for only going 2-2 with the ridiculous r/w deck I had last time.
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I played a Modern event at Phoenix comics today, borrowing a friend’s extremely shiny affinity deck. I unfortunnately went 2-2 and got the bye, but all the matches were close and I feel pretty ok about them.

Match one was against burn. In game one my opponent fortunately has lava spike on turn one instead of a haste creature. I play memnite, ornithopter and blinkmoth nexus -- the memnite gets searing blazed. I attack for one and played out an arcbound ravager in hopes of protecting myself from future searing blazes, my opponent responds by playing an eidelon of the great revel. I’m at 14 now, but I have to play a steel overseer and pay two life to play a vault skirge on my turn -- that means I take a total of 6 damage on my turn without my opponent having to cast a spell. I pass the turn back, my ravager keeps the eidelon at bay but I get hit with a boros charm and a bolt, putting me to one life before my opponent passes the turn back.

Now I’ve got to get something going if I want to live. I tap steel overseer to put a +1/+1 counter on all my creatures, then it’s time to make some sacrifices. I sac three darksteel citadels, my steel overseer, and my ornithopter to my ravager to make it a 7/7, then I sacrifice it to itself to trigger the modular ability, transfering all 7 +1/+1 counters to my vault skirge. Now I have an 8/8 lifelinking flier and I smash my opponent for over half their remaning life total (they fetched some untapped shocklands and were at 14) putting myself back up to 9 with my opponent on only a single card in hand and an eidelon in play. They play a goblin guide, attack me for four, then bolt me down to 2, but my gigantic vault scourge finishes them off on the swing-back.

Game two is kind of rough, my opponent has evidently boarded in multiple copies of smash to smithereens and distructive revelry, and I play out mulitple vault scourges only to get them shattered for bonus damage to me. I manage to whipflare away some opposing creatures but I get burnt out easily after paying so much life.

Game three I keep a kind of slow hand and my opponent has a swiftspear into a goblin guide; I manage to whipflare them away again and race back with signal pest and multiple blinkmoth nexuses. Eventually it comes down to me at 5 with my opponent on only one burn spell in hand and no creatures on board, needing to draw a burn spell to finish me off or die to my army of robots on the following turn. Unfortunately they drew an atarka’s command to combine with their lightning bolt to finish me off.

Match two was against black/white tokens, a sort of tier-two deck but certainly still capable of competing. In game one I kept what was probably a questionable hand, had a difficult time developing my threats and on one turn made a serious mistake with my mana that left my arcbound ravager open to being killed by path to exile without me being able to take advantage of the modular move its counters to one of my inkmoth or blinkmoth nexi, then I was run over by spirit tokens pumped up by intangible virtue.

In game two I got to untap with a steel overseer on turn 3 and put a counter on all my artifact creatures and get a big swing in. My opponent played out a bitterblossom and made some more tokens on the next turn but had no answer to the overseer and therefore no chance of winning; I whipflared their tokens away and won on turn 4.

In game three my hand was amazing, I got to play out two ornithopters, a blinkmoth nexus, a mox and a steel overseer on turn one on the draw, with a master of etherium left over in my hand. Then my opponent played stoney silence on turn two, turning off my steel overseer and my source of coloured mana for master of etherium and then I didn’t play any spells for the rest of the game, which was fun. Oh well.

In round three I got the bye, in round four I was matched against Jund. Game one I played out a vault skirge and steel overseer early and I managed to get one activation out of the overseer before it got bolted. Then I played a master of etherium, further pumping up my artifacts and putting a 6/6 on the board -- my pumped up life-linking vault skirge helped me easily race my jund opponent’s tarmogoyf and scavenging ooze on the ground.

In game two I played out two significant threats -- a steel overseer and a cranial plating -- only to have them taken out by abrupt decays and bolts while my opponent developed the board with tarmogoyfs and other big ground creatures. Fortunately, I had a cranial plating left over and an inkmoth nexus on the board; I equipped up the nexus and, with the help of a signal pest, smashed my opponent for 5 poison, leaving them one turn to find an answer to the land or the plating or die on the next swing. The best they could muster was an attack on the ground for 10 from their ground creatures and a raging ravine, putting me to six life but leaving them dead in the air to my inkmoth nexus on my next turn. I won the match convincingly 2-0.

Overall I found affinity interesting to play but I don’t think I would choose it as a deck, losing to hate cards that shut down everything you’re trying to do is a bit too frustrating. Playing out 4-6 permanents on turn 1 is certainly pretty fun, though!
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The species called Legion Ants occupies a large area of land to the northwest, an area called the ant woods after the creatures. It is the solider insects, about half a foot long with small vestigial wings and vicious mandibles, which most resemble ants. Workers are smaller and have large body cavities which they use to store and partially digest food before bringing them back to the hive nexus. Attempts to exterminate these creatures or even to penetrate very vary into their territory have been thwarted by the surprisingly advanced tactics of the insects and the staggering variety of natural weapons they have access to. Human soliders in full containment armed with poison and flamethrowers have fallen to insect soliders that use a hydrolic launch system in their legs to suicidally propel themselves at invaders, melt through protective armour with potent acid and deliver a fatal dose of neurotoxin. Armoured vehicles sink into ground underminded by tunnelling insects. Shelling suspected nest areas from a distance has had little effect and the remaining option -- carpet-bombing the entire area with poison -- would leave it unfit for any particular use even if it did clear out the bugs. Therefore, the local government has given up on exterminating the bugs and instead established a perimeter to prevent any further expansion. This has proven a very popular make-work program and many young people from surrounding cities spend a few years on the bug-ring killing insect scouts.

Most of what we know about these insects comes from dissections of the drones and soliders. Unsettlingly, on a genetic level they are very closely related to claw ants, a relatively harmless social insect that forms small hives in rotten stumps and wood. They may actually be the same species. I have been trying to obtain access to remote monitoring drones to investigate the hive nexi in the depths of ant territory in hopes of better understanding what causes the complex behavior of these ants but have found little cooperation.

As a side note, native legends describe the insects as the embodiment of the wrath of some kind of mindless war-god. I don’t read very much into that, though -- it’s not hard to see how they would arrive at that conclusion after facing these things.

- Dakarai, Notes on the Unnatural
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Fairies appear to be chimeric creatures with both humanoid and insectile traits. They range between two and four feet tall and can very rarely be as tall as five. They have at least two eyes but usually have 4-6, a mixture of human and insect-like eyes. Fairies with only human eyes behave as if they were blind.

Fairy behavior is erratic and unpredictable compared to normal animals. Most hunt in small packs (4-7 individuals usually) and will attack humans and other large animals with little heed for the danger. Their social behavior is very rudimentary. Their reproduction is something of a mystery, as is the fact that they refuse to die out despite active attempts by various governments to exterminate them and their relative lack of survival instinct. They have been believed extinct at various times but the population always rebounds to its usual low but stable numbers after a year or so.

Fairy physiology is a well-known mystery: routine disections confirm that the creatures are in fact chimeric. They have an internal skeleton as well as an incomplete insect-like carapace. The non-insectile portions of their bodies appear to be human or at least closely related to human tissue -- these portions are also often non- or minimally-functional and are prone to dying and becoming necrotic, which seems to be the cause of the fairy’s short natural lifespan. Most of a fairy’s body is made up of insect tissue bound to a basically humanoid internal skeleton. Upon genetic analysis this tissue is most closely related to the Legion Ants from the ant woods to the northwest of here, although that relationship is many degrees more distant than the correlation between the ‘human’ tissue of these bugs and actual human tissue.

Now, moving from the realm of direct observation to mere speculation -- there are among the human population of this region a significant number of individuals with very small amount of chimeric insectile tissue. The scientific and medical experts here seem loath to acknowledge it but I am confident that there must be some connection here. There is also the local myth of fully sentient chimeric creatures called Greater Faeries, which are supposedly capable of interbreeding with humans and thereby creating these ‘fairy’ bloodlines among our human populations. I have been unable to obtain samples of chimeric tissue from affected humans for analysis and local experts are growing increasingly hostile toward me -- apparently these lines of study are frowned upon for reasons I do not really understand.

Also of interest: my partner reports that in her investigation of local history she has come across many oral stories about the lesser fairies that seem to describe creatures with a complex social structure and the intelligence to create communal shelters and simple tools, although not to develop or understand language. Modern scholars typically dismiss these accounts as anthropomorphizing fables, but she says that the oral traditions for mythic stories and recent historical accounts are very distinct and these descriptions of the fairies much more closely resemble the latter. The colonials written records only describe fairies as we know them now -- perhaps the species degenerated somehow before they arrived, or perhaps the degeneration occurred later and the records were somehow modified? There is a tradition of secrecy and deception in this place that makes our work difficult and sometimes I fear for our safety, yet how can I abandon the work when there is so much yet to learn?

- Dakarai, Notes on the Unnatural


May. 4th, 2015 01:30 pm
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warnings: homelessness, institutions, abuse, mental illness, bugs i guess

Read more... )
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Welcome to Night Vale.

Hello community radio listeners! Isn’t it a great day? I don’t know about you but I am just feeling really good today! It’s great to finally be out of that box. It was a very dark box.

Lets not worry about my personal issues just now though, there’s important news to get to! Like, for example, the sky is missing today! Apparently its thin and flimsy fabric was not securely stapled to its crude wooden framework and it just sort of, blew away in a sudden gust of wind! So, whatever else you do today, do not look up. Do not look ahead. Stare directly at the ground or, better yet, at the insides of your own eyelids. Remember, if you open your eyes, you might see something.

In sports today, the Night Vale -- wait, excuse me, listeners. I’ve just received a message -- a number of messages, actually -- from some of you asking, um, who I am? I’m not sure I understand! I’m ... Cecil Palmer, obviously! This is Cecil Palmer’s radio show! This is what Cecil Palmer’s voice sounds like! Cecil Palmer often interrupts news coverage to repeatedly affirm his identity while referring to himself in the third person by his full name! Any discrepancies in your memory or perceptions are likely a symptom of an incurable and highly contagious brain weevil infection. If you experience such symptoms, please avoid all human contact and isolate yourself in an airtight room forever, or at least until you stop having such ridiculous false memories.

Now, what was I saying? Nothing important, I’m sure. Oh, apparently, something strange happened at the Desert Flower Bowling Alley yesterday! You remember the warmongering civilization of tiny people below lane five who declared war on us all but recently sealed away beneath thick pavement thus ending their ineffectual but annoying campaign of assaulting our ankles with tiny tiny weapons, right? Well, apparently, during some renovations, a construction crew accidentally broke through into the cavern which holds that tiny civilization! The glorious rays of the sun shone on that dark place for the first time. Reports say that almost instantly there rose from the hole a beautiful sound, soft at first but growing louder. All the tiny people in that tiny city were raising their voices in joyful song! They were singing, singing glory to the sun, singing praises to the overworlders for the great gift of sunlight and for at last freeing them from the dark god Huntokar. Within a minute or so there was a unanimous call from the underground civilization for peace and for a new age of prosperity and cooperation between our peoples. At that point the song was interrupted as the construction crew paved over the new hole and began laying the foundation for a new extension of the bowling alley, which will feature black-lights and glow-in-the-dark bowling balls! We may never know what the underground civilization thinks of this, as they are once again sealed within walls of bedrock and concrete, but we can only assume that they are pleased. Everyone likes bowling, right?

Now for traffic! Traffic is really crawling today. Traffic is crawling and skittering on all major routes as drivers, unwilling to open their eyes, abandon their vehicles and try to identify roadways by the feel of asphalt on their gritty palms. Traffic is creeping and skuttling blindly along avenues and highways, bumping into one another in a great, mindless, aimless mass of bodies and limbs, smelling of dust and asphalt and sweat. Traffic is hissing and clicking and grunting and salivating, traffic is meadering off the roadways, crawling over suburban fences, trampling gardens. Traffic is feeling blindly at doorways with dozens of calloused palms, traffic is smashing ground-floor windows with asphalt-stained shoes. Traffic is panting. How long has it been since breakfast? They must be hungry. They must be very hungry. Maybe you should get them something to eat, before they -- oooooh. Oh well. At least now you don’t have to worry about the delays!

An update on the sky situation: I have been informed by some very clever people that the sky has actually NOT blown away! I have been informed that the sky CANNOT blow away, as it is not a physically solid object but merely the result of blue light being refracted by trillions of tiny air particles as it goes by overhead, creating the image of a flat blue surface above us during the day! Isn’t that fascinating? Now it’s my turn to inform you of something!

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Quinn is sitting at her writing desk, staring at her fingers. They are long but pudgey; the nails are trimmed short and painted a dull green. She herself is rather short and is still wearing her coat and scarf even though she is now indoors. She is roughly the shape and colour of a potato. This is actually true of almost everybody, given the right potato -- Quinn more specifically resembles a roundish and somewhat lumpy russet. She is sitting at her writing desk and staring at her fingers and thinking. She does this sort of thing fairly often. She is a very thoughtful person. She often gets lost in the flow of conversations, distracted by an interesting thought -- for example, contemplating what kind of potato the person she is conversing with most resembles.

She is not thinking about potatoes now. She is thinking about a man who is tall and collects hats but does not wear them. She dislikes this man. She is envious of his hat collection, or rather, resents that the owner of such a collection never makes any proper use of it. In particular there is one small pointed hat with a vibrantly green feather which she feels would look very good on her and, since since he never uses it she feels he really ought to lend to to her for special occasions just every once and a while.

She is also not thinking about hats now. She is thinking about the tall man because he has sent her an invitation to a banquet he is holding. This is unusual. She is fairly sure he dislikes her as much as she does him. She could decline the invitation, but it seems likely that the man has something important he wishes to say to her if he has gone to the trouble of inviting her to something like this. Also, perhaps more significantly, she has a soft spot for good food -- especially when it is created and paid for by other people.

She has already decided to go to the banquet. She is thinking about why the tall man would want to talk to her. He probably wants her to do something for him. People often come to her with problems that require a lot of thinking. She is a very thoughtful sort of person.

The tall man’s name is Zachary Haynes. He is a very important member of a particularly secretive organization.
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It was inside you all along. The operation will be this Thursday, at 3 PM. Welcome to Night Vale.

Hello, listeners. Welcome to a very special edition of Night Vale community radio, broadcast live from the invisible clock tower via a makeshift radio antenna constructed from aluminum foil, coat hangers, bits of twine and the unjustified belief that things get better, over time.

First, a special bulletin: as I’m sure you haven’t noticed, time in Night Vale has stopped completely. You have not noticed this because you are all frozen in place like wax figures in one of those weird museums, completely unable to perceive or respond to my words. Everything in Night Vale is frozen, trapped in a single instant which has become impossibly, unnaturally stretched. Even the blinking light atop the radio tower has stopped blinking and is, for the first time anyone can remember, fixed in the on position; a single menacing red star hanging low over our frozen town. The only sound is the soft ticking of a single defiant watch on the wrist of one Cecil Palmer, your usual radio host, which insists that time continues to pass even while the hand of its owner is suspended, frozen, halfway between an open mouth and a bowl of delicious Flakey-Os cereal he was -- is -- will be -- having for breakfast.

Those Night Vale citizens unaffected by the time stoppage -- mostly important civil servants, hooded figures, employees of the invisible clock tower and of course the chosen one, Steve Carlsburg, have gathered at a central meeting place in Mission Grove Park near where the clock tower, statistically speaking, most frequently is. Well, except for Steve, who was not invited and is wandering around near the car park with no idea what’s going on, and myself.

You see, as it turns out, this particular radio program is not only an informative and entertaining pillar of our humble community but ALSO a ritual appeasement of the nebulous things dwelling in the churning depths of hidden gorge which provide so much of the dark magic that supports our municipal system. The program has to be broadcast twice monthly regardless of catastrophes including but not limited to glow clouds, street cleaning, war with underground civilizations and/or corprocratic oppressors or even a temporary halt to the local progress of entropy and causality. So, anyway, that’s why I’m doing a radio broadcast that nobody is listening to instead of helping with the whole ‘time not working’ thing.

More on that later. First, the news.

For the past week or so, residents of Old Town Night Vale have been reporting that the surfaces of certain objects, such as car tires, ceramic sinks, small mammals and human upper incisors , have been replaced by a perfectly smooth white and red checkered pattern which does not change in brightness or hue based on environmental lighting. A stranger, who appeared suddenly in the middle of a major intersection wrapped in safety tape and wearing a bright orange reflective vest, has announced that this is a minor graphical error and should be corrected within a couple of days. The stranger responded to questions, like ‘what do you mean’ ‘who are you working for’ and ‘why don’t you get out of the damn way,’ by thanking Night Vale citizens for their consideration and then plummeting downward into the ground, passing through the solid asphalt as if it had suddenly become no more solid than a thin, eerie night mist soon dissipated by the glaring light and inexplicable roaring of the dawntime sun. The city council, when asked about this new anomaly in the oldest part of our community, responded only by hissing in unison and waving their arms until the questioners had gone away.

Lets take a look at traffic. The localized halt in entropy in Night Vale and in the surprisingly large area of scrublands and sand wastes that falls under our temporal dominion has caused quite a snarl in the overall flow of spacetime. The arcsecond curval indicators are out of service at the tesseract intersection of 4th, 7th, 453rd, and 12th, and there’s something clogging the direct chute to the dawn of time. If you’re time-travelling through those areas today, expect to reach your destination exactly on time but with an unsettling feeling that you’ve been trapped in a dark and whirling place you can neither describe nor remember for a breathless eternity. Also cars are, like, not moving, and stuff, because time is stopped. If you were intending to use a car to get somewhere today, I recommend instead ascending to a higher form of life that does not rely on inefficient, lumbering machines for transportation, like a robot bird or a dragon made of laser beams or something.

An update on the time situation: everything is still frozen, however I am receiving reports that mayor Cardinal has taken charge of the situation with surprising ease despite her relative inexperience and is working with a team of our top hooded figures and time wizards to come up with a solution. The root of the problem seems to be that the invisible clock tower -- which is, in ways which you would not understand even if I was allowed to tell you about them, vital to our temporal stability -- was damaged during the war between StrexCorp and Night Vale. The gremlins which operate our teleportation mechanisms are, while extremely competent under normal conditions, not accustomed to evading numberless clouds of helicopters, masked giants or ontologically problematic winged beings. There were several notable collisions and at least one occasion where, chanting slogans of civic pride in their proud gremlin language, they teleported the clock tower directly around an injured and beleaguered flying being named Erika, heroically protecting them from the swooping helicopters while various other clock tower staff stood atop the face of the tower, swinging spare minute and second hands like invisible greatswords to smite the Strex menace that threatened our fair -- um, anyway. My point is, we all got a little carried away and there was significant structural damage to the tower’s internal mechanisms. Fortunately, we have an excellent team working on the repairs and time should, quite literally, be started again before you can wink an eye.

And now, an update on local news. The only person doing things which could be considered new but which are not classified ultra-top-secret-do-not-read-aloud-on-the-radio-this-means-you-Cecil-Palmer, is our prophecied savior Steve Carlsburg. Mr. Carlsburg has left the car lot and is currently in Ralph’s, attempting to explain the true meaning of the strange lights in our sky to the various frozen patrons, who are only slightly less in-amicable to his -- oh.

Excuse me, listeners, but I have just been handed a very sternly worded note by an exact clone of myself from the future, who then disintegrated. Apparently, even though probably nobody can hear me, I was still not supposed to mention the whole prophesy slash chosen one thing, so, um, forget I said that.

Forget I said anything
Forget you heard anything.
Forget hearing. Forget words.
Let the memories seep out of your heavy, tired bones.
You are floating in a clear, bright place --
You feel everything draining, you feel empty but you feel so light.
Your bones are so light, you feel like you could just
flap your wings and rise, rise and soar away into the bright blue sky
and from now on not know or remember anything -- merely
understand things without the need for human knowledge
or memory.
And now, for the first time, in a way you never felt, never COULD feel
in your heavy, complicated human existence, you are

Now, here’s a piece with a bit of personal interest, listeners. A new display on dawn/dusk asymmetrical stereophotobaroscopics is being unveiled at the Night Vale Museum of Forbidden Technologies -- although I use ‘unveiled’ very loosely here as the display will in fact be veiled with a thick opaque black tarp for the entirey of its time in the museum. This new exhibit, along with the existing ones on ultratemporal charm resonance transpositors and time wizard hats, provides a great way for ordinary Night Vale citizens to stand kind of close to the important devices we use in the invisible clock tower every day without actually seeing them or gaining any sort of insight into what actually goes on in this most hidden of places. The new display is indistinguishable from every other display in the museum and can be found next to the long-standing exhibit on pocket calculators. Citizens are advised that, as always, visiting the museum is a thought-crime and is grounds for indefinite imprisonment, but hey, so are a lot of things, and I personally put a lot of work into that stereophotobaroscope, so come on down and check it out anyway.

And now, a word from our sponsors.

We have an important update on the ongoing temporal stasis situation: apparently, the clock tower has already been fixed! I say already, but of course it is very difficult to judge relative time during this sort of situation -- you could say it has been an eternity, or only an instant.

However, a new problem has emerged. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the stubborn ticking of the heretical device the voice of our community, Cecil Palmer, insists on wearing around his wrist, time has continued to pass in the outside world while it stood still here. Restarting time suddenly would create a great deal of ... this is difficult to explain ... ‘friction,’ between things that were frozen and things that were not. The majority of this effect would occur at the edges of our temporal bubble and would create a short-lived but very impressive dome of fire out in the desert. Also, Cecil would almost certainly explode. The Time Wizards voted unanimously to restart time anyway on the grounds that ‘explosions are cool’ and that they were excited to see the whole dome of fire thing, but Mayor Cardinal vetoed the motion and is insisting that we find a way to mitigate the friction effect before starting things up again. When asked about possible solutions to this issue, a crack team of scientific experts reportedly screamed “who are you and how did you get here, what’s going on, what are you doing, help, help.” Hopefully they’ll be a little more helpful once they get over the shock of being released from the time freeze and we get them up to speed on what’s going on.

Attention, listeners: if you were brainwashed by a previous segment of todays program into forgetting everything you ever knew and believing that you are a bird, or, you have always been a bird, and long to cast off your ill-fitting human shape and actualize your true reality, or, if Tobias is your favourite character from the Animorphs, please report to the Medical Research building at Night Vale Community College, where a licensed interspecies therapist will be on hand to physically transform you into the bird of your choice, free of charge. This is a limited time offer, available only while time continues to be limited. Remember that human flesh is weak and useless and the future lies with the birds and lizards. This has been Community Health Tips.

Exciting news about this years upcoming annual Parade of the Hooded Figures: a close friend of mine has, after applying several years in a row, finally been given a chance to lead the processions. You may actually remember this particular hooded figure, listeners. She was a guest on this very radio show once! She stood silently in the studio until near the end of the broadcast, then made what you perceived only as a deafening crackling noise and began hovering. She actually volunteered to do this broadcast in my place, but as it turns out the voice of the show has to be clearly comprehensible to mere human ears and minds or the ritual just won’t work, which is too bad because I happen to think she has a real flair for broadcasting and is generally a really nice person. A lot of hooded figures are, actually, once you get to know them, and also once you are stripped of your useless human soul and assume a new form capable of understanding things you never previously could have imagined.

Anyway, the parade is November 10th. Attendance does not cost any money and, while you are not allowed to actually see the proceedings, I’m sure that sitting in the stands of Night Vale Stadium blindfolded and listening to unearthly noises you cannot comprehend and are advised not to think about too deeply about is still a great experience. So much of what makes our town both great and terrible is encapsulated in this annual ceremony, I can’t imagine that any good citizen would want to miss it. Plus, you can enter the raffle to win exclusive prizes, like a set of designer bloodstones or the possibility of future happiness.

Construction on the newly heightened walls around the dog part was completed last week despite -- despite -- listen,

in the cold rugged place there is a dream
that it will not always be cold -- a nightmare
of unnatural fires scorching the shoreline
poisoning the waters, burning away all darkness
the elders don cloaks & bow their heads
circles are drawn on the ground, smoke spirals
to the sky in strange shapes, voices cry out

the day of fire never comes but
the fear never leaves. they are
lost, they cannot go past it, we -- um -- um ...

E-excuse me listeners, I don’t know what just happened, or why. If you heard that somehow or if it filtered into your subconscious through your frozen ears, please, disregard it, whatever it was.

A sentient gust of wind blew through Night Vale the other day. Nobody saw it or perceived it as any different from any other gust of wind. It circled the town several times, stirring up small amounts of sand and playfully upsetting the hairdos of a number of residents. It lingered for several minutes in the vicinity of the Moonlight All-Night Cafe and Diner, savouring the atmosphere and rustling the menus and fake greenery a little, before finally leaving Night Vale altogether, leaving no indication that it was ever here at all.

More on our top story, listeners. A number of hooded figures, tightly huddled into closed circles, suggested through coded chants that the obvious solution would be to simple remove the blasphemous wristwatch from the vicinity of Cecil Palmer and indeed from Night Vale in general, leaving it to detonate harmlessly out in the desert. Mayor Cardinal admitted that this seemed like a straightforward solution, but pointed out that the watch was a gift from one, um, Carlos Theodore Scientist, who is, fortunately, currently trapped in an otherworld desert like, but distinct from our own. I say fortunately both because his absence is preventing him from investigating what ought not to be investigated, such as various minor time dilations and unexplained seismic readings, and also because if he were here, he would probably have already exploded. Anyway, the point is, the watch apparently has sentimental value and Mayor Cardinal was explaining why we should all try to preserve it when one of the scientists we unfroze burst into the room waving a clipboard and yelling something about igniting the atmosphere. Apparently the dome of fire we had previously assumed would be harmless might -- might --

Excuse me, something is trying to -- trying to -- lets go to the weath-- LISTEN

in the hot and barren place there is a dream
that the ground will not always lie still but will rise
heaving & cracking & pushing upward toward
a sky which should be empty but instead
where hangs a planet, vast, dark, looming
& all is broken and ground into the sands
of the desert as if it never was --
the flickering hands of watchful things collect the dream
claim the memories, give back, instead, a vision: a tower
tall, impossible, unseen, ticking
a watchtower, a lighthouse in the desert.
somewhere the newspaper reads:
desert community devastated by string of
record-breaking earthquakes but
here, the day of shattering does not come
here, we are not lost
you have overcome more than you know,
Night Vale. Do not --


Hello, Night Vale. I say hello again because I have been informed that the issues previously discussed were resolved during that last interruption and so you listeners are now and for the first time today, listening. Hello, Night Vale, you do not know me and you will never hear my voice again, but I know each and every one of you and I am here to tell you that, unfortunatelydue to technical difficulties, today has been cancelled. It was only morning a moment ago but now the sun is meekly scurrying along the horizon toward the west and everything which had only just begun to stir is already growing still. You will never know what happened today, Night Vale. You will never know who I am or why I am speaking to you now. You will never know these things, but you will always know that there was something. You will hold the mystery of today in your hearts along with every other mystery and it will give you something to hold onto in this strange and arbitrary world. You will pause, as you move through your mundane and often difficult lives and think back on that one day when dawn and dusk were only minutes apart and a voice on the radio you had never heard before told you that your time meant something. Because it does, listener, it really does. Trust me, I would know.

Stay tuned for the sound of someone sitting along in a darkening room and extinguishing hundreds of candles one by one between her long fingers, and, of course,

Good night, Night Vale.
Good night.


Aug. 23rd, 2014 12:05 am
aliaspseudonym: (Default)
This is a memory. There is a woman who will be old, though she is not quite yet. She has serpent’s eyes. They do not look like serpent’s eyes, you understand -- they appear human, brown with specks of green -- but they are serpents eyes nonetheless. With her is a boy who will become something else altogether but now is only a boy. They are walking together down a winding path through a park. It is after the boy’s bedtime, but he does not mind. He likes how the darkness alters the familiar scenery, making it murky and strange. If he was on his own or even with one of his parents he might be frightened of things lurking in the deep shadow. He is not frightened now. It is raining, but only a little.

They stop for a while at the crest of a little hill. There is a break in the clouds and the woman who is not quite yet old looks up at the star-speckled night sky with fear in her serpent’s eyes.

“Do you see them too?” She asks. The boy does not understand.

“The stars?”

She shakes her head slowly, sadly, in the moonless darkness, but what she says is “Yes, Elliot, the stars. Aren’t they beautiful?”

The boy nods. The rain stops. Restless, ill-defined shapes shift in the deeper shadows.

There is a thud and then a crack. Hailey is pinned to the far wall, impaled on a long metal spike through her chest, gurgling, her eyes glazing over. The trapdoor is open and there is a man in the basement in a coat the same shade as his eyes, the same shade as Hailey’s eyes. He is carefully rewinding a large mechanical crossbow.

“Elliot Crane,” He says, “You stand accused of conspiring with a heretic and misusing an organization artifact. If you do not resist, I will not harm you.” His expression and stance are alert but completely neutral. It would be better, Elliot thinks, if it was a nasty sneer or a self-assured grin. Malice or arrogance could be construed as weakness.

“Stand up against the wall and keep your hands where I can see them,” the intruder instructs. Elliot remains seated and stares him down. There’s something about this young man’s eyes and the way he talks that’s familiar, only not really. He is certain he’s never seen a person like this before, but something ancestral, something behind his eyes is stirring with recognition, is flooding him with a cold, overpowering fury, crowding out the terror paralyzing him. He stands and takes a step toward the greycoat, who raises the crossbow.

“If you are not compliant it is unlikely that you will survive this encounter. This is your last warning, I -- wait, what are you doing? Stop!”

The runes etched into the walls are beginning to burn dimly with a soft green light. Elliot can feel someone else’s eyes behind his, looking through him. Someone else’s voice speaks through his mouth, speaks a language he understands but does not recognize, a fierce language of hissing and growling.


The greycoat pulls the trigger but the crossbow has jammed; it jerks in his hands as the firing mechanism strains and snaps. The metal bolt clatters onto the ground, followed by the broken weapon itself. “What did you do?” he demands, his voice still calm but much more urgent than before.


The walls of the room are changing, growing translucent. Beyond there is a rocky chasm and beyond that rise enormous mountains carved of bare, rugged reddish-grey rock against a deep indigo sky. The greycoat lunges toward Elliot but Elliot yells something even he does not understand and there is a rush of wind; a sound like the beating of titanic wings. The intruder flys backward, carried by the gale -- he is flung through the fading walls as if they were not there, he tumbles into the abyss, screaming --

Something abstract gives way with a perceptible snap. Elliot screams and stumbles backward, clutching his head. The runes on the walls, which are opaque and solid once again, flare brightly and go dark. The greycoat has returned from the abyss which may or may not have really existed and is lying on the ground near the trap door; he rises smoothly to his feet with a calm but strained expression and begins walking slowly forward.

“I don’t know what you just did, but you’re coming with me and we’re going to find--”

He breaks off abruptly because a pair of hands have grabbed his head from behind and twisted violently, cleanly snapping his spine near the skull and sending him back to the floor in a twitching heap. Hailey is standing behind him, clutching the metal spike still lodged in her chest. Elliot sees this dimly, through a haze of strange swimming colours as he stands, clutching his head and swaying from side to side.

“Elliot? Can you hear me?”

“Y-yeah, I think so. U-um ...”

“Sit down and don’t make any sudden movements or, like, think too hard about what just happened,” she advises, moving toward him a little unsteadily but more smoothly than one would normally expect from someone impaled on a metal spike.

Elliot sits, still clutching his head, trying to ignore the strange lights and colours flickering at the edges of his vision. “Ugh ... wait, you’re worried about me? You have a fucking harpoon in your chest.”

“Normally,” Hailey says, ignoring the quip, “black magic doesn’t affect ... people like him and me. Most supernatural effects either fizzle immediately or simply act as if we weren’t there. Some kinds of power draw on ... unconventional sources, and are able to affect us briefly, but casting such a spell attracts the attention of the power that provides our protection. The backlash is usually instantly fatal. I don’t know what you did, but it incapacitated our guest here just long enough for me to get out of his line of sight and neutralize him, and you seem to still be alive. If I’m going to get out of here I need you to continue to be alive, so hold still for a moment.”

The entry wound on her chest is not bleeding, exactly, but there is blood and small amounts of it are oozing out around the edges. She touches it with two fingers and quickly traces a circle with a strange emblem inside on Elliot’s scaled chest. The strange lights and colours in his head fade dramatically and he sits up a little, shuddering. “What did you just do?”

“It’s a sacred mark. It is a claim by me, as a cleric of a certain power, that you did not act against that power’s interests and do not deserve its wrath.
aliaspseudonym: (Default)
This is a memory. It is another place, another time. Snow is falling gently. Two girls are walking down the street slowly, hand in hand. One is wearing a thick winter jacket, reflective wrap-around sunglasses and a scarf over her mouth and nose. The other wears a long, grey coat and looks very much like Hailey, although younger and with all her limbs properly attached.

They are not really holding hands. The girl in the grey coat is gripping the other’s wrist tightly, very tightly. They walk in silence for a while, then, the girl in the scarf tries to say something. It is hard to tell what she says -- as soon as her mouth begins to move there is an unearthly hissing noise, like radio static. The other girl responds by tightening her grip and gritting her teeth silently.

“You’re not her,” says the girl in the grey coat, after a long silence. “You’re just not.”

The hissing noise returns. The other girl says, “How can you say that?” It sounds like she may be crying, though it’s hard to tell. The wind is very cold, but neither of them shivers. A large snowflake falls on the girl with the scarf’s cheek and vanishes instantly with a soft sizzling noise.

There is a patch of ice on the sidewalk ahead. The girl with the scarf steps on it and slips, keeling over forward and smashing face-first into a metal signpost with an alarming crack before her companion can catch her.

“H-hey! Are you okay?”

The girl in the scarf steps back from the post, her head down, swaying slightly from side to side and making an escalating noise that now sounds more like a roaring fire, hissing and popping and cracking, than radio static. The noise seems almost like inhuman laughter, but her voice is sad when she raises her head and says, “Sorry. I’m really sorry.”

Her sunglasses are smashed to bits. Her eyes are not eyes at all, merely holes through which there shines a pure and terrible light that is also sound, that buzzes and pulses and frays the threads of thought and truth. Shining liquid drips from the sockets and from the cuts on her face. The girl in the grey coat lets go of her wrist and recoils back, covering her eyes and screaming. Things are fading, growing too bright, too clear to comprehend.

“I’m so sorry,” says the girl in the scarf, her voice barely audible over the roar and crackle of white noise, just as the world itself is barely visible through the blaze of white light. A spark of brightness jumps from her hand to the other girl’s chest. The universe explodes with light, then fades, slowly, into blackness.

Hailey wakes. She is lying on her back in a room dimly lit by flickering green-white candles. The walls are bare concrete etched with runes she does not recognize. It looks like a typical undeveloped basement, although the floor is some kind of hard leather rather than cement. Loud skittering, scraping and occasional banging noises are coming from somewhere above.

Her limbs are stiff and unresponsive and it takes a real effort to raise her head and look around, but on the bright side all four limbs seem to be accounted for and the staticy hiss is mercifully absent. Elliot is sitting by a small coffee table, the only piece of furniture in the room, carefully returning a set of surgical tools to a small sewing kit. There is also a piece of what looks like broken glass on the table; it is smeared with blood and glowing faintly with a troubling inner light.

Hailey tries to speak but produces only a strangled gurgling noise. Elliot indicates the piece of glass without looking up and says, “This was lodged in your chest next to ... next to where your heart should be. I don’t know what it is but it was killing you and I don’t think that’s supposed to be possible, is it?”

Hailey gasps and rubs her throat weakly and after a few moments manages to say, “Whyyy?”

“Why what? Why did I take it out? Because the tools, they recognized you. They wanted to save you, they whispered what to do and they needed my hands to do it. I didn’t really want to do it but it would have been ... ungrateful, to refuse. I put your leg back on because, in retrospect, it was rude of me to drop you such a long distance.”

“I supposed I also did it because in some foolish corner of my mind I am harboring the hope of getting out of this alive, and your being alive rather than dead is probably a prerequisite for that, as tempting as it was to let you die out of resentment for bringing this down on me in the first place. But I suppose it would have happened eventually, anyway.” He finishes packing the kit, closes it, and slides it across the table toward Hailey. “Here.”

With some effort she pulls herself into a sitting position and makes the kit vanish into an inside pocket of her cloak. They sit there in silence for a while, just watching one another, like two large predatory animals penned into much too small a space.

Eventually, Hailey asks, “What happened? How long was I out?”

“You collapsed. Against my better judgment, I dragged you down into this basement with me to hide. Three people arrived at the warehouse entrance minutes later. They were wearing grey coats and had blank, grey eyes, like yours. The wards had no more effect on them than they did on you. They jumped down the hole without a second thought and it didn’t seem to hurt them in the slightest. They brought mechanical things with them, spider-like clockwork monstrosities at least four feet tall that crawled down the sides of the pit and started attacking my poor creatures. They started searching the cavern aimlessly; they brought in more of the mechanical things when they realized how big it was. Some of them are in the house now, but they haven’t found us somehow. The only way down here is a trap door hidden under a carpet. It’s been several hours, I don’t know, obviously I can’t keep any clocks here.”

“They’re clockwork hounds,” Hailey says. “The Lost and Found department uses them to retrieve things, and people, because they can’t be bothered to do their own dirty work. They can’t find you because you brought me down here and We -- no, They, and also I -- are immune to all forms of scrying, and as long as you’re within about ten feet of me so are you.”

“Okay,” says Elliot, grimly. “Do you have any suggestions, or should I go ahead and give up hope and die?”

She stretches stiff limbs and cracks her neck. “We need to wait. The hounds have a limited amount of energy. They will gradually wind down, and I need time to regain strength. They will probably not find us, they came prepared to search a reasonably sized space and not a ridiculously vast underground nightmare cavern.”

“Then what?”

“Then ... is there another way out?”

“Yes, obviously. There are many.”

“Okay, then you can show us the way out of here once the hounds run down. We’ll only have to evade the three Lost and Found clowns. I’m sure we can manage that.”

“Then what?”

“Excuse me?”

“Should I see if my old job at the gas station wants me back, now that I’ve lost my only chance to achieve anything?”

“Um,” Hailey says, awkwardly, “you seem to have achieved a fairly significant nightmare ... place.”

“I’ve used an incredible source of power to play Minecraft in real life and now I have to give it back and I’ll have nothing left, right? I can’t even come back here. Where am I even going to go, looking like this?” He flapped his black, feathered wings.

Hailey sighs. “What you’ve done here with the kit is remarkable. What you’ve done to yourself, also, honestly. I was very ... surprised, to see that you used it for something frivolous.”

Elliot glares at her, melancholy momentarily replaced by indignation in his fierce, spiny face. “This was not frivolous. It was all a very important process of self-actualization.”

“Even the wings?”

He flaps them again. “Okay, the wings have been an endless nightmare of backaches and difficulties sleeping comfortably and I’m considering making them even smaller but they still aren’t frivolous.”

Hailey does not meet his eyes. “That is the word They would use for any use other than the Initiation and Resurrection rituals and occasional field repairs.”

“You mean you only ever used it as a ... first aid kit? That’s...”

“I used it to improve myself, slowly. We were not allowed to do this but the kit grew restless, without use.”

“This initiation ritual is when they remove your heart and replace it with ... that other thing?”

Hailey shrugs. “I cannot confirm or deny that.”

“Why would you protect the secrets of an organization that is out to kill both of us?”

Hailey stands and starts pacing, testing her limbs. “If I intentionally betray the wrong secret I will be ... well. I won’t die, but it will arguably be worse and I certainly won’t be able to help you.”

Elliot picks up the little shard of glowing glass carefully and holds it up to look through it. “What about this? What is it, exactly? Do you know?”

“It’s broken glass, charged with Glory.”


“Glory is ... what can I say. It’s a Firmament Department secret. That’s a serious department, not a bunch of thugs like these Lost and Found people; it’s the department I used to be part of. Glory is a kind of energy that can, like,” she trails off.

“Um?” Elliot rolls his eyes at her a little before slumping back down, leaning heavily on the coffee table.

“I’m trying to explain this without saying anything I’m not allowed to, it’s hard. Okay, glory is energy that can do things that aren’t supposed to be possible. Like kill me.”

“Is this dangerous?” Elliot asks, dropping the shard.

“Only if you stab someone with it.”

He nods and slides it carefully into a pocket. “Even if it’s someone like you?”

She shrugs. “If you pierce where their heart is supposed to be exactly, it will probably kill them. Otherwise, it will barely slow them down. Either way, you will probably die.”

“I’m stronger than your average person you know,” he protests, though he looks doubtful.

“Yes, but not better in a fight, I suspect. You are very slow. Hold onto the glass anyway, if it makes you feel better, though. It’s better for you to carry it and probably unwise to leave it here.”

“Why is that?”

Hailey glares and looks like she is about to snap at him for asking too many questions, but she doesn’t. “Um. Because there is a very small amount of a similar kind of energy in the sewing kit, and if they are close together there will be a tiny bit of resonance. There’s only a very faint charge in that glass so it probably wouldn’t matter, it’s just something I learned to do on principle.” She stops pacing and sits across from Elliot once again. “There was no reason for me to answer that question except that I’m trying very hard to be cooperative. I, um ...”

Elliot just sits there and stares at her blankly, his snake eyes glimmering in the green candlelight.

“Thank you for saving my life, Elliot Crane,” she says, touching her hand to her chest just over where her heart should be. “I am sorry for ruining yours. I genuinely respect what you have accomplished here with the tools you were given. I don’t know what kind of future I can offer you outside of this place, but I do believe we can both get out of here alive. Probably. Almost certainly,” she insists, then after several moments backpedals to “Probably,” again.

Elliot blinks a couple of times and nods slowly. “Yeah, okay. Whatever.”

There is a loud crashing and clattering sound from above. Elliot winces and sighs. “They are destroying everything.”

“I’m sorry,” Hailey says. “What ... what is this house, anyway? If it’s okay to ask.”

“It’s an exact replica of the house my grandmother used to live in, except for that closet,” he points to a door in corner, “which I never saw the inside of.”

Hailey walks along one of the walls, examining the strange runes etched there. “Including all this?”

He nods. “Yeah. I only saw this basement once, honestly. I don’t think the rest of my family even knew it existed.”

“You recreated all of these runes and things from seeing it once?”

“The tools helped. You can go into a trance, like a dream, and create things from your subconscious, you must know that. I remembered it, but I don’t know what the runes mean. Honestly, I made this place because I’ve been trying to recreate one of her recipes for cupcakes and I thought it might help jog my memory.”

“...cupcakes,” Hailey says, flatly. “Okay. I was wondering why you had an apron on when I saw you before. Thought maybe I’d imagined it.”

Elliot shrugs his winged shoulders. “I made this cavern because I wanted to feel like I had ... space. I’m trying to make cupcakes because it’s a memory. There’s no real reason for the things I do besides feelings. What other reasons are there for doing things?”

“I never thought about it that way,” Hailey admits.

They are quiet for a while. Unseen things skitter and scratch above them. More frighteningly, there is now the soft sound of footsteps.

“This cavern,” Elliot says quietly, “Isn’t nearly as large as it seems at first. It’s a trick of the light, and the haze in the air that makes it seem like it stretches on forever in every direction.”

Hailey is silent. They wait for several more minutes.

“What if they do find us?”

Hailey just shrugs. She is sitting crosslegged with her eyes closed and an intense expression on her face, now. She seems to be vibrating slighting and is emitting a very soft humming sound. “I don’t know. I will try to be ready.”


(Chapter 3?)

This is a memory. There is a woman who will be old, though she is not quite yet. She has serpent’s eyes. They do not look like serpent’s eyes, you understand -- they appear human, brown with specks of green -- but they are serpents eyes nonetheless. With her is a boy who will become something else altogether but now is only a boy. They are walking together down a winding path through a park. It is after the boy’s bedtime, but he does not mind. He likes how the darkness alters the familiar scenery, making it murky and strange. If he was on his own or even with one of his parents he might be frightened of things lurking in the deep shadow. He is not frightened now. It is raining, but only a little.

They stop for a while at the crest of a little hill. There is a break in the clouds and the woman who is not quite yet old looks up at the star-speckled night sky with fear in her serpent’s eyes.

“Do you see them too?” She asks. The boy does not understand.

“The stars?”

She shakes her head slowly, sadly, in the moonless darkness, but what she says is “Yes, Elliot, the stars. Aren’t they beautiful?”

The boy nods. The rain stops. Restless, ill-defined shapes shift in the deeper shadows.


Aug. 5th, 2014 11:27 pm
aliaspseudonym: (Default)
(Chapter 1?)
There is an organization with no name about which many things are said: that it serves a terrible demon from beyond time, that it predates humanity itself, that its members are not human but elaborate clockwork wind-up machines, that you can tell by a faint ticking noise that you will only hear when it is already too late. That it creates earthquakes, flash floods and hurricanes for its own unknown purposes, that it is the custodian, guardian or even creator of the blazing, crackling glory that will one day devour our sorry world, and even that it is solely responsible for the hairline cracks in the sky. Some things are true; most are not. Nothing is certain, except: if you ever do hear the faint ticking sound, it is already too late.

A bus stops in a dusty field just outside of town and its single passenger disembarks. She is dressed in a patched and faded hooded cloak and smells distressingly of musty fabric. She ignores the bus driver’s farewell and begins to trudge with surprising determination away from the city. He catches a glimpse of her eyes, before she leaves, and shudders; they are horribly bloodshot and a brownish-black smudge has eclipsed most of the white on one of them.

Her name is Hailey, and she is running out of time. For over a year, she has been searching for something lost; something deliberately misplaced. Every time she goes out and fails to find it, she fades a little. It is taking longer and longer for her to recover from these outings and each time the recovery is a little less complete. This lead feels different, stronger than the others, but she scarcely has the energy left to hope. She focuses totally on putting one foot in front of the other. The search will continue until she finds what she is looking for, or her legs give out for the last time. To do less would be letting THEM win, and she cannot allow that. She keeps walking in perfect rhythm, one foot in front of the other, tick, tick, tick, tick. She can feel, in the place where her heart should be, someone else not too far away, walking with the same perfect, unvarying rhythm, just slightly faster than the ticking of a clock.. They are getting closer. She must hurry.

There is a warehouse by the edge of town which, a month ago, did not exist. There are no records of it being built and no indication of its purpose; it simply sprung into existence during a brief burst of unexplained seismic activity. If you get very close to the warehouse (which is probably not a good idea) you might notice an unusual luster to the white material of its walls -- in colour and texture they resemble ivory more than any sort of concrete or brick.

Trucks occasionally come and go from the warehouse, bringing large loads of organic waste. Whoever operates the warehouse pays top dollar for plant and animal matter of all kinds. The drivers simply dock their trucks at a port in the outer wall and the waste is removed automatically with an unpleasant slurping noise and replaced with a large amount of cash. The exact payment is inconsistent and doesn’t seem to relate to the amount of waste delivered, but it’s always much more than the load of garbage is worth.

Aside from the one port, which only opens for trucks to dock, the surface of the warehouse is perfectly smooth and devoid of obvious doors and windows. Hailey trudges around the building in a slow circle, examining the shining surface carefully. She approaches a spot that looks pretty much the same as any other and, after a brief pause, walks directly through the wall and disappears altogether.

She pauses on the other side of the false wall because there is not really anywhere to go. The visible white dome of the warehous is apparently merely a cap on a perfectly round and indeterminably deep hole. A glistening, slowly pulsating tube leads from the truck dock into the gloomy darkness below. A little below the narrow leather ring where she stands, a waterfall of faintly glowing green liquid emerges from one of the walls and cascades downward. It is quite a place; she is slightly impressed despite herself.

And then, she knows. At last, she has found it. It calls to her, it joins with gravity in pulling her ruined body downward toward the greenish darkness below. She considers jumping, but does not. Perhaps a better way down will present itself. There is a simple watcher’s rune inscribed on the enamel roof. She turns to it and calls out in a cracked and raspy voice, “ELLIOT CRANE, YOU HAVE SOMETHING WHICH DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU. I HAVE COME FOR IT. THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE DIFFICULT.”

There is a silence just long enough for her to grow somewhat impatient and then an inhuman and panicky voice replied, “Y-you’re one of Them aren’t you. Y-you’ll never take it! NEVER!”

She pulls down her tattered hood, revealing a gaunt and ghoulish face framed by long, dark, matted hair. “DO I LOOK LIKE ONE OF THEM TO YOU, RIDICULOUS BOY? MY NAME IS HAILEY, I AM MY OWN AND I HAVE COME TO TAKE BACK MY PROPERTY.”

“You dont -- NO, you’re trying to trick me! Alright then, if you want it come down here and get it!” the oddly hissing voice of Elliot Crane replies, and then, unfortunately, the thin leather platform around the outside of the hole retracts and she tumbles downward into the abyss.

(rewrite this next paragraph maybe)

Hailey feels a complex mix of emotions as she plummeted. Even for a being as herself, the gut-wrenching terror brought on by the sudden departure of gravity is impossible to completely ignore. She is also more than a bit irritated with her host for making things so difficult, yet at the same time she can’t completely blame him for not trusting her and she has to admit this is a pretty good trap. She even has time to admire his sense of aesthetics a little; the eerie green glow of the unknown liquid and the fine tracery of magical runes along the smooth white edges of the vast pit combined to make what she feels is a very solid look for this kind of nightmare stronghold. Finally, she’s little exasperated by the sheer length of the fall. It was taking much longer than falling ever reasonably should -- it seems like perhaps this Elliot has a tendency to really overdo things. That probably doesn’t bode well if he decides to continue resisting, she reflects.

She hits the ground. She lands on her feet, obviously, but when you hit a hard surface at terminal velocity that can only make so much difference. There is a loud, sickening snap and a flash of unimaginable pain. She drops to the ground, rolls over and spends several seconds trying to collect herself. Her left leg is snapped above the knee, connected to the rest of her only by a few strands of flesh and sinew. With an exasperated sigh, she grips the now-useless limb and twists it off the rest of the way, sliding it into a pocket of her cloak, and begins to move again. She does not crawl; she moves smoothly and fluidly like a three-legged animal, like she was always meant to walk on one leg and two arms.

She is in an unimaginably vast underground cavern, lit dimly by streams and clouds of that green liquid and occasionally by strangely hovering lights. The ground is hard and leathery and in some places appears to be moving. Large bony structures rise around her on all sides, but she ignores them. Her goal calls to her.

She passes strange, roughly-humanoid flesh-creatures with round, toothy, sideways mouths instead of faces. They vary wildly in size; some come up no higher than her knee and others are towering, at least ten feet tall. Indistinct shapes move slowly in the distance, suggest other things too large to bear thinking about very much. The design, she notes, is simple and makes only minor sacrifices of efficiency to achieve a very unnerving effect. The lack of eyes seems like a needless hindrance, but in perfect darkness deep underground it might become an advantage. The monsters pay her no mind as she passes.

Something emerges from the gloom ahead. A building, much smaller than the bone obelisks arrayed around her. About the size of a small suburban house. Actually it is a small suburban house, complete with a driveway that goes nowhere and a green lawn made of some kind of fungus. A river of green liquid wraps around it, forming a sort of a moat. The front walkway leads to a small foot-bridge. The thing she seeks is there, in that obtrusive little house in this nightmarish cavern. Elliot must be there too.

Hailey hears a sudden hiss and crackle of static and stumbles, tearing her hood and scraping skin from her forehead. A terrible, sourceless light pulses around her for a moment as she lies there, gasping for breath. She shakes and forces herself to continue, moving at a normal walking pace on her three remaining limbs. Perhaps she has less time than she thought.

She reaches the little house. The front door is locked. She pauses in front of it and makes a noise that is partly a name but mostly a wordless howl: “ELLIIIOTE CRAAAAANE!”

“O-oh,” says a voice from the other side of the door. “You’re a lot more ... alive, than I was hoping.”

“OPEN THE DOOR AND GIVE ME THE KIT,” she snarls. It is so close. It calls to her, makes it difficult to concentrate.

“Why should I trust you,” demands the panicked voice behind the door.

“Why,” Hailey repeats, her voice suddenly cold. She grabs the doorframe and pulls herself upright on her remaining leg. “Okay. Okay. Let me tell you a story.

“About a year ago you got a package in the mail. It wasn’t addressed to you. You couldn’t even read the language the address was written in. On the bottom of the package there was a magic circle and a strange, off-centre six-pointed star. You opened the package, even though it wasn’t addressed to you, and you found a small metal sewing kit with a picture on the front, a picture of a crossed pair of needles in front of a realistic heart. You opened it, even though the package wasn’t addressed to you.”

“Inside you found some tools which did not particularly look like sewing equipment and, more importantly, you found a small square of paper with ‘INSTRUCTIONS’ written in big block letters at the top. They were not instructions for using the tools. They told you things about yourself you never knew before, things you could scarcely believe, along with a stern direction to never tell anyone else what they said. You felt different. You picked up the tools and you could almost hear them whispering to you, though you couldn’t quite understand what they were saying. You took those tools and you made terrible things with them; amazing, impossible, terrible things.”

“There was also a little note in that package which was not addressed to you, and that little note said, ‘whoever you are, whatever happens, don’t let them take this!’ The note was signed “Hailey” because I WROTE IT AND IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GIVE MY PROPERTY BACK TO ME.”

There are uncertain shifting noises behind the doors, then soft clicking like a door being unlocked. The door opened and Elliot Crane stands in the doorway, quaking with fear. He is six and a half feet tall with long, lithe limbs and greenish-black scales covering most of his body. His face is elongated and spined; his eyes reptilian and beady. Two small, feathered wings fold behind his back. He is wearing a flour-smudged apron and holding a wooden spoon in one clawed hand.

“...Really,” Hailey says, flatly, leaning on the doorframe.

Elliot looks down at where Hailey’s left leg abruptly ends and gulps. “U-um ... s-sorry about that.”

“Yeah. Look, I need you to bring me the kit right NOW, before the clowns from the Lost and Found department get here.”

“W-who? Some of THEM? You led them here? Y-you--”

“Look, they would have found you soon anyway if you kept making big unexplained tooth-domes, a-and ... fuck ...” She trails off, leaning heavily on the doorframe. There is a soft hiss of static, gradually growing louder, and the sound of a clock ticking slightly too fast. Something in her chest is burning hot, right next to where her heart should be. “F-fuck. I think it’s too late. Just hide. NOW. Before the dogs get here, I’ll be --” The word ‘okay’ is drowned in hiss and crackle, and the world fades away.

(Chapter 2?)

This is a memory. It is another place, another time. Snow is falling gently. Two girls are walking down the street slowly, hand in hand. One is wearing a thick winter jacket, reflective wrap-around sunglasses and a scarf over her mouth and nose. The other wears a long, grey coat and looks very much like Hailey, although younger and with all her limbs properly attached.

They are not really holding hands. The girl in the grey coat is gripping the other’s wrist tightly, very tightly. They walk in silence for a while, then, the girl in the scarf tries to say something. It is hard to tell what she says -- as soon as her mouth begins to move there is an unearthly hissing noise, like radio static. The other girl responds by tightening her grip and gritting her teeth silently.

“You’re not her,” says the girl in the grey coat, after a long silence. “You’re just not.”

The hissing noise returns. The other girl says, “How can you say that?” It sounds like she may be crying, though it’s hard to tell. The wind is very cold, but neither of them shivers. A large snowflake falls on the girl with the scarf’s cheek and vanishes instantly with a soft sizzling noise.

There is a patch of ice on the sidewalk ahead. The girl with the scarf steps on it and slips, keeling over forward and smashing face-first into a metal signpost with an alarming crack before her companion can catch her.

“H-hey! Are you okay?”

The girl in the scarf steps back from the post, her head down, swaying slightly from side to side and making an escalating noise that now sounds more like a roaring fire, hissing and popping and cracking, than radio static. The noise seems almost like inhuman laughter, but her voice is sad when she raises her head and says, “Sorry. I’m really sorry.”

Her sunglasses are smashed to bits. Her eyes are not eyes at all, merely holes through which there shines a pure and terrible light that is also sound, that buzzes and pulses and frays the threads of thought and truth. Shining liquid drips from the sockets and from the cuts on her face. The girl in the grey coat lets go of her wrist and recoils back, covering her eyes and screaming. Things are fading, growing too bright, too clear to comprehend.

“I’m so sorry,” says the girl in the scarf, her voice barely audible over the roar and crackle of white noise, just as the world itself is barely visible through the blaze of white light. A spark of brightness jumps from her hand to the other girl’s chest. The universe explodes with light, then fades, slowly, into blackness.
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My name is Ceriise and I’m a cyborg alien freak that lives in a grey box on top of a sunscorched pile of grey boxes in the middle of the most beautiful city in the world, or so I’m told. I’ve spent my entire life so far maintaining the hypercord of a space elevator I’ll probably never ride. They say the view on the way up is amazing, but you can’t see my house because there aren’t any windows on that side. They don’t want the tourists to see boxtown, it might ruin the illusion of perfection.

I’m a sylphid. I have it on good authority that that means I’m a evil witch that doesn’t eat, reads people’s thoughts and steal their private information from their cellchips and gives lop children cancer by touching or possibly just looking at them. Sensitive electronic instruments become radioactive or burst into flames in my presence. I’m also definitely female, although some people switch to claiming I’m neuter when I agree with that. I’m probably addicted to moondust and if I’m not maybe I should be because otherwise how will the lops keep my alien demon powers in line?

I was named after Ceriise Fireeyes, the fucking Flame of ___, liberator of Aurora, martyr hero of the Alliance, founder of the Gorgons. They try really hard to gloss over that last part in history class because the Gorgons are supposed to be pirates and terrorists now. There’s a big glossy poster of her rolled up in my closet because I can’t fucking stand to look at it. What am I even supposed to feel about somebody who blew herself up two hundred years ago to help the slightly less xenophobic lop faction take over the galaxy? Who “liberated” the home planet she’d never seen before only to have it stripped for resources to build her fleet of death machines? Should I be proud of my name, proud of the orange-red eyes and hair that strange lops stare at and sometimes demand an explanation for? Some idiot at the elevator planethub screamed and ran because they thought I was a banshee once, and I got in trouble for it. The banshees were like seven feet tall and couldn’t take off most of their power armour because it was wielded to them, but no, their most distinctive feature was definitely red hair.
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Ceriish lives on Beryl-4, a lop colony only a short hop from the syphid homeworld of Aurora, which she has never actually seen. Beryl is over 90% ocean, and the largest continent is buried under the ice sheet at one of the poles. Most of the population lives on the archipelagos in the tropical and temperate zone, clustered around the two space elevators. There are few accessible resources; the primary industry is as a tourism destination for the aquatic lops. The natives are sea dwellers and Ceriish has never actually met one.

The sylphid community lives in a ghetto on a very large island which serves as the surface terminal of the larger elevator. Treatment to make their implants waterproof is extremely difficult to obtain and power-field coverage is non-existent outside the ghetto and elevator termini, which makes it exceptionally difficult for the sylphids to travel except to the other space elevator. Sylphid ships almost never pass through the ports, and it is unpleasant for sylphids to travel in ships without supplies of their food or power-field generators. Transportation between Beryl and Aurora is extremely scarce despite the relative closeness of the planets; these measures were all originally put in place to keep the sylphid population captive and although the sylphids have now been officially free and equal citizens for over a decade, little has been done to address these social factors. It would be a lot more difficult for the planet to remain profitable as a tourist destination without cheap labour maintaining the elevators, and only the cyborg sylphids can operate most of the equipment that creates and maintains hypertensile alloys.

The sylphid community is about one and a half generations sylphid removed from its roots on Aurora, or about two lop ones. The elders were relatively young when they migrated but still clearly remember their homeworld. They have relatively little communication with other sylphids, however; it’s much easier to communicate with other lop colonies and even with the distant lop homeworld of Lapis than with Aurora.

Sylphids in general are not well liked by the other races. Lops and their other allies tend to be scared and suspicious of the Sylphid’s cyborg senses and advanced technologies. As for those on the other side of the Imperial Wars, all they know of the sylphids is blind terror of the Banshee shock troops.

Banshees were cyborg soliders drafted from the most desperate of Aurora and trained by the imperials. They had combat suits with minaturized reactors that plugged into their implants and allowed them to project force fields and attack with focused beams of radiation. It was incredibly difficult to penetrate the force fields with weapons that could be safely used on spaceships and because sylphids are resistant to radiation they could used deadly radiation-based attacks without particularly endangering themselves. A single Banshee could often kill the entire crew of a large frigate.
aliaspseudonym: (Default)
max demanded before and after photos when i said i was gonna get a haircut

big blurry pictures )
aliaspseudonym: (Default)

There are no such things as train graveyards.

Trains do not need graveyards because trains are big machines of steel and iron, driven by steam and fire. They are not enormous segmented insects, like centipedes with round little legs that cling to the tracks and propel huge trails of hollowed carapace, carrying who-knows-what across the long, lonely tracks between strange, murky stations under black stars.

This is what I told myself as I walked along, stepping from one old railway tie to the next, carefully avoiding shards of broken chitin. I was looking for someone. In the distance another one of them limped in with a great crack in the shell of its first segment, leaking oily black ichor in spurts, pushing aside the exoskeletal husks of its forefathers before shuddering to a halt, letting out one last, low, mournful whistle. I paused and looked down solemnly. I felt I should say something, but there was nothing to say.

Something moved in the murky, windless twilight. Something crawling, skittering amongst the ancient husks. I was frightened, but also, I thought: this must be the one who called me here. I called out, softly: “Hello?”

I heard something in response, not really words but a string of connected thoughts: “entity:both -- here -- good -- knowing?”

“What? Who are you?” The skittering was closer, coming from behind or maybe within one of the bigger shells. I took a few steps toward it.

The creature crawled over the top of the dead husk; I jumped back and tripped over the remains of a wheel-like leg. It was at least six feet long and mostly covered in glossy grey-black plates, with many long insectile legs protruding from its sides at intervals. Its head, if it was a head, was small and bulbous, mounted on the end of a very long, thin flexible neck. The head and the underside of the neck were unplated and looked soft, rubbery; they pulsated unpleasantly in places as it moved. Small mandibles with little finger-like manipulators at the ends dangled from the end of the neck. It had no real eyes, but a pair of colourful, mismatched eye-spots had been painted on either side of its head. I was frightened, but also strangely drawn. Did it paint those spots itself?

It stopped approaching when I fell and took a few steps back. “entity:other -- fear/distress -- hurt? -- regret”

I climbed to me feel and brushed myself off. “I’m okay ... are you ... what are you?” I asked.

“entity:self -- being --- home/origin -- great distance --- entity:both -- knowing -- past -- bright place -- yes?” Its head moved from side to side as it ‘spoke,’ pointing one false eye at me and then the other.

“I’m not sure I understand. You’re asking if we’ve met before? I don’t ...” I trailed off.

“knowing:both -- bright place -- past -- good --- knowing?:other -- flat place -- present -- unknown --- entity:self -- present -- again -- knowing -- desire -- good?”

Except it wasn’t really talking and these weren’t really words, they were little wavelengths of thought that translated into ideas and then roughly into grammarless strings of words. I closed my eyes and drummed my fingers on the knuckles of my other hand.

“Bright place” was an incredibly alien image but also, somehow, familiar. An ocean of undimensional light, shifting, with no context to determine motion, direction, orientation, only waves of hot brightness and the patterns in those waves. Patterns that twisted and curled in on themselves, sometimes, forming rudimentary souls that swam through the white, called to one another with wordless words. I said “I think I remember ... something. A white ocean. Swimming, sinking there.”

There was a rumbling in the distance; the creature moved; my eyes shot open. A great dark cloud was rising over the horizon and growing larger rapidly. The creature shifted and skittered from side to side urgently. “dark/dream place -- near future -- not being -- become --- entity:self -- absence -- immediately -- fear/regret”

The cloud grew closer, sweeping across the entire horizon. I imagined I saw enormous legs or mandibles the colour of rusted metal within it. I wasn’t frightened -- it was only a dream. I was a little sad, though. “Goodbye, I guess,” I said. Then, as the creature began to skitter away into the distance, I called, “Wait ... will I see you again?” but it was already gone. I sat down and scratched at the dirt with a small shard of shell until the dream-eater came, and then I woke.
aliaspseudonym: (Default)
A guide to Outsider Manifestations

by Nix, Supreme Chairperson of the Welcoming Committee

Lonely Outsiders fly in circles around our universe like moths around a lightbulb. Mostly they don’t even know what it is. Successful manifestations are usually more luck than anything else and that’s the most important thing for a Welcoming Committee member to keep in mind! A newly manifested Outsider probably doesn’t know what’s going on. It’s going to be pretty unpredictable! The least we can do is stay familiar with the most common forms of manifestation.

Wraiths are the simplest manifestations. A wraith is a projection of the outsider directly into our universe, sort of. Actually it’s better to think of them as imprints rather than projections, like a footprint or something. A wraith looks like its inside the universe but it’s not really, so if a wraith gets totally out of control, you can blow it up and it won’t really hurt the outsider. It just gets kicked back Outside.

Wraiths take forms related to the outsider’s nature, often monstrous but not always. Usually stuff like gravity doesn’t affect them cause they aren’t really there, so they float around and sometimes pass through solid objects. If they know what they’re doing they can phase through any and all flat attackes but as mentioned they usually don’t know what they’re doing, so heavy ordinance can sometimes get rid of em quickly in a pinch, if needed.

Size varies widely, smallest I’ve seen was about the size of a cat, largest was like a small building. Appear near open tears and thin spots but small ones can honestly turn up anywhere. Danger level medium to high depending on size and power.

Honestly it’s really hard to interact with wraiths. Really quiet ones you can just kind of leave them alone and hope they eventually observe enough to find a better way to manifest, most of them are gonna make a huge mess and have to be kicked out. Unfortunate but what can you do.

Riders find the cracks in sensitive people’s heads and wiggle in and take over the person. The first time a rider manifests it usually doesn’t know how to ask permission, or that it ought to ask permission, or, unfortunately, how to exist in a body. Particularly clumsy attempts cause a seizure that kicks the outsider out and is pretty much the same as a normal seizure.

Smarter or luckier riders hang around in the back of the hosts head for a while till they figure out how to drive before trying to do anything, these ones are hard because we prefer not to damage the outsider but also you can’t let em run around with people’s bodies getting them hurt and stuff. I’ve nicked a containment spell from the ticktocks that can drag an Outsider out of somebody and into a rock or a plant or something, try that on them first. If it doesn’t work you’ll need to call me or another strong summoner and we’ll be able to yank them out by force, hopefully. Even if a rider’s pretty quiet try the containment thing quickly, sometimes they forget to breathe. Low to medium threat to everyone except the poor guy its riding.

Nightmares turn up as a haunt, they transform a whole big area into a weird landscape that aligns with their nature or something. A haunt or hallow is where an outsider is most ‘here’ so nightmare manifestations are the best footholds, sometimes strong riders or wraiths also create a nightmare zone centered on em.

Nightmares tend to be quiet, just wander on in and make yourself at home and the outsider will probably try to say hello in some way. On the other hand, nightmares that aren’t quiet are some of the scariest things out there and there’s one particular really big outsider that keeps poking its way in, making really nasty nightmare areas. So be real careful going in, make sure backup’s nearby. Danger level usually low but can be highest.

The Unwelcome is a whole other category, okay. They shouldn’t be here. Leave them to the ticktocks unless there’s no other choice. If you have to fight them, use only non-flat attacks and don’t look at them. Use your other senses, feel their wavelengths, strike at the places where things start to unravel. If you’re cornered and there’s no other choice, use white magic before trying to fight them with conventional weapons.
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