by tooth & claw dragons

where darkness and chaos reign...
Welcome to the land of dragons and elves; demons and death. Here, you may weave tales of all creatures, great and small - magic is found in everything, and many worlds one can explore are open for discovery. By Tooth And Claw Dragons, often shortened to BTACD, is an original high fantasy role-play site with over eighty species and ten solid worlds, fifteen years strong. Freedom of creativity is boundless within the established lore, and member suggestions are not only accepted, but encouraged. We release new content monthly, and are always expanding our wondrous Realms. Come and play with magic, honor the great gods, and beware the balance that governs all...
 
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 JPG's Shack of WTFness, 'cause too lazy to think up a cool name
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Doot doot, please see title, this space for rent.

Hallo thar!

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user posted image

A little blurb trying to explain what Icarath is in the form of a short scene. Once it gets approval, will post it to BTAC dA group.

***
For Lethias's Eternal Peace

Mortals. Particularly the lesser humanoid races. Such fragile creatures. Their bones were so brittle, that they had to devise ways to keep them still as they healed ever so slowly. So many vulnerable, soft, fleshy points. And even if one did not kill them, they lived such short lives - barely reaching two-hundred years at best.

So much work was to be done on these fragile creatures if they were to serve the Lady Lethias and the Death Clan as anything more than a meal. Kurai was not a realm for the weak. However, these creatures were also some of the most plentiful, and therefore made decent test subjects.

And for Icarath, that was its own delight.

The insectoid N’Vaen stood between seven to eight feet tall - an insectoid Zirus, with trunk-like, plated, segmented legs. He possessed three sets of limbs on his torso, with the top pair being a set of scorpion-like pincers - the rest of his arms were segmented with thin, grasping finger-like extremities. A massive tail with a glistening stinger reached here and there for various implements to be utilized on the subject for today - the subject which was restrained to the iron disc-like table via shackles.

As Icarath worked, an orb glowed with an intense yet sickly and unnatural neon green light above the subject, casting its haunting tint on the barren, windowless, solid stone walls, stained with liquids best left unspecified. The eerie green glow illuminated the creature’s terror-stricken face as Icarath tinkered, dissecting the test subject.

The fleshy humanoid screamed with an unholy note as Icarath peeled away the ribs, snapping them off methodically with his scorpion-like pincers. His multitude of eyes simply stared, focusing on the subject - unable to convey any sort of care, whether sympathy or pleasure.

Today, he would finally fix the problem of these non-demon digestive systems. Such inefficiency. They could not process bloodwater or the native plantlife. Disgustingly pathetic. So troublesome. He grasped the stomach and felt it, squeezed it, prodded it, all while the restraints held down the thrashing, wailing human. As the creature screamed and thrashed with more intensity, the light pulsated with increasing frequency, trying to keep the fragile life alive.

“Lord Icarath! The human cannot take much more!” his lab assistant shouted, attempting to overcome the screaming.

“No concern necessary. Continue direct exposure to reiatsu spectrum." His voice was like the grumbling of a dragon's stomach, yet had the mechanical monotone of a golem. Brief. Blunt. To the point.

“My lord, I meant we cannot maintain their vitals - they are about to-”

As if on cue, the orb flickered and flashed, before slowly dying down, as the human’s screaming slowed to a gasp before fading into silence. The scent of its exposed viscera and associated fluids and wastes was starting to mingle with the other scents of past experiments.

“Unfortunate. Next subject. Cannot delay digestive system study.”

Human cattle. A somewhat plentiful commodity, and easy to catch and breed. However, so fragile. But if he could make these human cattle into expendable but formidable soldiers, that would give the Death Clan an edge over the War Clan.

Glory to the Death Clan. In Lethias’s triumph, may all be granted Her eternal peace.

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Prayer of Lethias's Covenant

White mistress, Goddess hound,
Pelt, pale like settled, sleeping ashes,
Eyes, red as the oceans themselves.

Grant us the presence to strike fear and terror that shatters the wills of warlords and kings.
Grant us the strength to instill your eternal peace upon this cacophonous world.
Let your terror force them to their knees, begging for an end to the discordant symphony of life.

All of this in your glorious name, for your eternal peace.

Amen.

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Legend of the Winged Knight
Before the Formation of the Sky Pirates

“Momma, momma, I’m scared!”

The huge, hulking cyclops restrained the crying girl with one tree-sized arm, as he helped his two fellows - a troll and an ogre - clean out the overturned carriage - the nobleman being forced to stare on helplessly. Around him were his dead guards and servants - clutching his arm fearfully was his wife. And all his last resort was the act of a dog that had been kicked too many times.

“Please, don’t hurt her!”

The ogre looked back at the nobleman, with a mockingly lazy leer. “We know you have more riches than that, ya ritzy, boujie, spineless twat. We’ll be keeping this little ‘un until you cough up more.”

“H-how much more do you want?”

“If you have to ask, then this little thing can’t be worth that much.” The ogre put his massive fingers on either side of her head - veeery slowly starting to twist.

“Please stop! I’ll pay any-”

A silver-white blur dropped from the sky onto the cyclops, embedding its polearm into the leviathan of a man-beast, eliciting a cry as the spear pierced not only its eye, but it’s brain with a clean shot. As the creature started to fall back, the blur continued - kicking off the creature and catching the girl, hitting the ground in a tumble and tossing her to the nobleman unceremoniously. The creature landed with a thunderous crash, muting her sobbing cries of “daddy!”

A pair of white feathery wings fanned themselves out, and a helmeted knight with armor of Halgian-make made its way over to her polearm to yank it free - revealing it to be of a curious Kurai design, a naginata. The knight spun the shaft as it turned to face the two other giants, pointing the naginata threateningly at them, in spite of its diminuitive size - not even half of the height of either of its opponents.

The knight spoke in an androgynous muffled tone. “I will not tolerate the endangerment of children - whether a bluff of a threat or not. I would highly suggest you back off from your ill-begotten gains if you know what is good for you.”

The troll roared. “Puny avian. Think you can just march in and bark orders at us? Get off your high horse you chicken-winged prick!” The beastly creature then drew a large, crudely constructed blade which had more in common with scrap metal than a functional sword. As he swung the blade , the avian knight tucked in its wings and rolled back and away underneath the swing, quickly springing up into the air, spreading its wings to take flight, and drawing its short bow.

Fire reiatsu gathered into the tip of the arrow point, as she started to recite a quick prayer. “By Daama’s blessing, may thine flame burn as brightly as the morning sun that vanquishes the terrible night. May mine arrow’s flight be true, and result in a mercifully quick death to the enemies of all that is good. Amen.” With the closure of the prayer, the avian let loose the blessed arrow.

The arrow sailed, seeming anticlimactically, right past the troll’s ear.

“Hah! The lippy cunt couldn’t hit the broad side of a cliff face! Stand still, scrawny, this will only take a-”

Suddenly, the troll found himself wordless. Namely due to the flaming arrow embedded in the back of his neck.

Did the arrow bounce? Did the arrow ricochet? Heaven forbid, were physics defied just so the arrow would strike true?

The winged knight gave no indication that things had strayed from its plan. “That’s a warning shot. Flee and trouble others no more. If your hands do not drop that blade, I will command the holy fires from that arrow to consume your flesh where you stand, staring with that foul mouth of yours. I dare you to try me.”

The troll was too consumed by its hate to heed the warning, and stomped its foot as its raised the blade above its head. The flames did as foretold, as the troll let loose with an unholy shriek as the flames consumed every single inch of flesh on his head. The troll thrashed in pain, flailing about on the ground.

The knight’s shoulders sagged, and it made a ritualized gesture, as if praying for the monstrous being’s doomed soul.

But as it finished the gesture, the ogre slammed her from behind with his massive club, slamming it into the side of the valley with a cry of UGH! - leaving a small crater in the valley’s side.

The helmet fell off its head, revealing a snow white ponytail and skin just as pale and fair. But before anything more could be made out, the knight grabbed its helmet and replaced it upon its head to conceal its features.

The ogre was not letting up, and had raised its club to smash the diminuitive knight into the ground. The knight stared for a moment, still reeling from the smashing blow from before.

The knight drew its bow and aimed it up. “Try to bring that club down - I will have pierced your skull before it can finish me. And if you doubt my aim, ask your friend - if he’s not already burning in the burning infernos of the Soulplane’s Hell!”

The ogre froze. It considered his options. The momentum would surely finish her off and squash her flat, but he’d probably be just as dead in a few steps from an arrow to the skull.

The ogre started to back away, club still raised over head. Another step. Another step and then running as fast as its legs could carry it.

The knight fell to its knees, shoulders sagging. It removed its helmet and wiped at something inside, drawing the gauntlet back out. Blood.

“Are you alright?”

The nobleman stood with his spouse, the daughter sobbing into her mother’s bosom. “I don’t know how I can repay you.”

The knight shook its head. “No payment necessary. If you will excuse me, I will attempt to flag down a carriage.”

The nobleman placed a firm grip upon her pauldrons. “No, no, you rest. You’ve done enough. Our family is indebted to you. You can tag along with us while you heal up. Besides, we’re in need of guard detail as…” He gestures to the guards slain by the giants. “If nothing else, think of it as a blessing from the gods.”

The knight hesitated, hiding its bloodied gauntlet behind itself. “Understood.”

The daughter reached out for the knight’s helmet. The knight stiffened, but removed its helmet - revealing a pale-skinned, white haired young Halgian angel, bleeding from the side of her mouth - her eyes heavy with fatigue and pain, but still offering a smile to the child.

“I am Kari.”

“From Halgia?” the nobleman inquired.

Kari hesitated. “‘From.’ No longer ‘of.’ If anyone asks, you do not know my name.”

The nobleman quietly nodded, deciding it rude to pry further. “We will camp here for the night and see to your wounds - from the looks of things, you’ve probably suffered some internal injuries. Our destination is not too far off, and can wait.”

Kari nodded, and wandered to the wreckage of the carriage, and rested against one of the wheels.

“I will...accept the blessing you offer. Thank you,” she muttered before closing her eyes for the first time in what seemed like ages.

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Love of the Light/November 2017/MC8 Entry

The little farming settlement never stood a chance against the wrath of the heavens.

The Halgian Empire’s valkyries came down upon the tiny hamlet like the divine fist of the One, crushing the feeble resistance of the Fallen sympathizers on the little village, which had committed the grave crime of housing a wounded Fallen - a Halgian that had turned away from the Light via heresy and blasphemy.

Aragonius watched the burning village. His face was surprisingly frozen and stiff in contrast to the ravenous, roaring inferno. The armored seraph donned in gold-lined divine metal plate had long since be numbed to the guilt that serving the Light brought upon his heart. It was for the peace to be heralded by the Light, and there could be nothing that would slow his pursuit of that peace. If blood had to be spilled so that more would be preserved, then so be it.

His righteous anger was all the more justified since the Darkness had taken both of the only things he held dear to his heart closer than his crusade.

He had tasked his daughter with the task of taking captive what intel said was a low-ranking demon. He believed she was up to the task, and had faith she would make them all proud - him, the Halgian Empire, and the Light.

Then came the news. It was widely assumed the demons had taken her - to what end, he dared not imagine. Perhaps to be eaten, to be raped, or to be sacrificed in some depraved ritual that he dared not imagine

Shortly after receiving the news, his wife fell ill, and shortly thereafter died - the autopsy had credited it to grief. In sending their daughter on a single mission, he had lost nearly everything.

So Valkyrie commander dedicated himself to the only passion he had left: condemning the enemies of the Light.

“We found her, commander!”

The exclamation roused Aragonius from his thoughts. Two Halgian paladins each tugged on the arms of a woman, covered in bandages, quite clearly in the early stages of healing, the wounds still soaked with bleeding.

“The hunting hounds of the Empress…,” the Fallen wheezed, and spat at Aragonius, still held up by the two paladins. “ I would have died peacefully even if you hadn’t shown up...these farmers committed no sin except attempting to ease my pain. And yet, here you are...to slaughter the helpless innocent in the name of your forsaken Light.”

Aragonius narrowed his eyes underneath the visor of his helmet, his heart feeling like it was twisting in his chest, his cheeks flushing ever so slightly. It was scum like this witch that had taken everything from him. Whether she had a hand personally in the death of his daughter, or whether she was just part of the cabal of sin that were demons and Fallen, all of them would share in the judgment he would dispense with no mercy, no hesitation, no salvation.

“No.” He answered simply with his booming, deep voice. He unsheathed the Institoris - the gold-hilted, divine blazing bastard sword, which he used to render fiery condemnation upon the wretched and corrupt, the blade ablaze He held up his infamous sword to honor the Light above, allowing the sun’s light to reflect off the blade. “I do not slaughter innocents in the name of the Light.”

The seraph then glanced at the wounded Fallen as he gripped the blade’s hilt tightly. “Only the guilty.”

“Of what am I guil-”

Before she could finish her question, her head was rolling, spraying blood on the silver-white divine metal plate of the paladins and the Valkyrie Commander. With a snort, he started to wipe the tainted blood off of his blessed blade with the back of his gauntlet.

It was then a single cry echoed through the settlement, piercing the sounds of razing and murder.

“NO!”

It was then a winged knight with tarnished Valkyrie armor touched down, wielding a polearm that looked to be tainted by demonic influence. The blade was shaped in a distinctly naginata style - a form which originated from the demon realm of Kurai.


And something about that voice plucked at the worn heartstrings of nostalgia. Something familiar. Something which he had lost.

“...Karitia? Daughter?”

‘Karitia’ remained silent, as she removed her helmet, allowing her snow white ponytailed hair to fall. “...I go by ‘Kari’ now. I was the one who brought that soldier here. They were dying. I had hoped to give them Daama’s peace.”

“You brought a tainted abomination to our pure citizens, forcing my blade upon them!?” The rage that seeped into his voice forced his Valkyries to back off in alarm.

“Yes!”

Aragonius stared at her defiant word. His head swam with a raging storm of thoughts - doctrine and emotion clashing against each other within the confines of his head. This was his daughter. One of the things that he cared about was now back within his grasp.

No. No no no. Love of the Light. That came before all else. All. Else.

She was tainted with sin. He had to save her. Perhaps if he corrected this mistake himself, he would still save her soul. He would do it. He would purge her.

He looked to the two Valkyries. “Go. Find the survivors. Leave none standing.” As they left, Aragonius turned to Kari. His tone dropped, and his volume lowered as he spoke - almost defeatedly. “You side with the Dark. So be it. I will not sheath my blade when it thirsts for justice. Not even for you.”

“Justice…” Kari’s whole body seemed to recoil at the misnomer. “This is not Lady Daama’s justice! Your justice is a perversion of her will! An abortion, an abomination!” Kari barked back, pointing sharply between his eyes across from the other side of the decapitated corpse.

“I will hear no words from your lips, so tainted and twisted by the dark. Heresy and blasphemy drip from them, and I cannot bare to see the beauty which I had sired befouled by such sinful rhetoric! I will save you by purging you! En garde!”

As if to punctuate the challenge, Aragonius’s eight wings flew open. He then charged forward, gripping the hilt of Institoris with both hands, eyes burning with reiatsu and stinging, salty vapor, and brought down his flaming blade upon Kari’s head.

Her eyes were steely, calm in their gaze. She had expected this. She knew what her father would do, how he would react upon seeing his daughter’s beliefs as they were, unfiltered and unclouded by rank, filial ties, and doubt. Without flinching, she brought up her naginata to block the blade, and thrust forth with a swift knee to Aragonius gut, before throwing her wings forward and flying back to get some distance between herself and father.

“For the sake of Lady Daama’s justice, I will stop your sacrilege!” She ignited her naginata with light reiatsu, preparing her attack.

“Heresy from a heretic!” Once again, the Blade of Institoris lit ablaze with the fires of Aragonius’s conviction.

***

The delicately framed, white-furred, draconian lightbeast looked up to the starry sky. A bittersweet smile scorned her face as she shook her head gently.

She could feel two of her worshippers fighting. And it would seem that her futile dream of a day without pointless conflict would not come true today.

It was bad enough that they worshipped her. She was no goddess. She did not deserve their worship. But then to kill in her name, as if she would want it, condone it as a goddess? Contemplating this was like being stabbed, the dagger then twisted as it was wrenched free.

“It is so ridiculous,” she mused, her voice choking as the words left her draconic maw. “Utterly ridiculous. Why? Why do they always do this?”

***

Try as hard as she might, Kari, the one known among some in Vystriana as “The Winged Knight,” simply was outmatched in experience, speed, and strength against her more grizzled seraph father, who still stood upright, his breathing only slightly accelerated. Her naginata felt heavy. As she gazed up into the sky at her father, flying above with all eight wings, her naginata only grew heavier as she realized the futility of her struggle.

“I’m sorry, Lady Daama,” she whispered in desperate prayer. “I couldn’t stop him. Forgive him, for he knows not what he does.”

He dove, his blade ablaze. Like a falling star, right at Kari, who could only barely muster the strength to bring up her naginata’s shaft to defend herself.

As he did, a raging, pained cry resounded throughout the Evylonian sky.

“WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!?”

The shaft was cleaved in two - and Institoris buried itself deep into Kari’s shoulder, all the way to the middle of her chest.

With a brief, pained whimper, she managed a tired smile at her father. “...Amen.”

The winged knight slumped as consciousness and life left her, blood still dripping down the blade, over Aragonius’s gauntlet and down his arm until the droplets fell off his plate. Both pieces of her naginata clattered from her hands onto the blood-stained soil.

Aragonius caught her, cradled her close to his breast, and whispered into her ear.

“Lady Daama, forgive her, for being so foolish. Forgive me, for being so weak. Amen.”

It was then that the Halgian Paladins returned, gasping for air, leaning on their haunches as they attempted to catch their breaths. They took a step back at the gruesome scene before them, but quickly composed themselves, knowing it suicide to even ask.

“Did you get all the survivors?”

“No sir. One escaped. The others are currently searching for her.”

A thought crossed his mind. He looked at his daughter, the color still flush in her cheeks, though fading, following the life that had already left her body. She would want him to spare the heretics, no doubt. But he served the Light, not his daughter, nor his guilt.

He looked to his men, his eyes like cold, unfeeling steel. “We do not leave until we find every. Single. One of them.” Each word dripped with the weight of his convictions, punctuated with his intent of rendering swift judgment “That is the duty of the Valkyries. We have our duty. Go.”

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"Freak"/MC6 "Month of Music" Winner

A squire’s life was hard for a being such as Chimaera. While most squires were treated with some level of condescension - especially the bloodthirsty ne’er-do-wells of the Black Knights of Leartes that he shared company with - Chimaera could not even claim camaraderie with more than a handful of individuals. What with his seemingly childish appearance accompanied by the monstrous and beastly features of his tentacle arm and various assimilated aspects of other creatures, the flesh golem found that even in training exercises, it was better to put distance between himself and the group.

Today’s exercise was no different so far. Bikks, a recent orc recruit, and Wedgel, an apparent constant companion of the aforementioned orc, were his partners for the patrol.

As they traded remarks about who would to get to bash what head in, Chimaera found his senses attuned to the forest they were patrolling, wrapping his cloak around his leather-armored self to hide his hideous left arm - the tentacled one - from the world. His monkey tail curled underneath the cloak. Sure, the cloak made him conspicuous, but it was better to leave his form to the imagination - after all, the reality of his monstrosity dwarfed what people imagined was underneath.

Suddenly, an orcish bellow disrupted his focus. “Oy, Chimmy-chum! Wedgie and I got a bet going. If we sees baddies, last ‘un to bash a head in has to buy drinks! You in!?”

Chimaera glanced back at Bikks and Wedgel, his pupil-less eyes gazing from Bikks to Wedgel with a lethargic pace. “You mean of the alcoholic variety?”

“Er...yas!”

Wedgel chimed in. “Eeeheehee, yer a knucklehead, Bikks! Chimmy don’t drink! He’s a kiddo!”

Bikks nudged the goblin. “Shut up, yous gabbin gob! Ise just tryin’ to be...friendly and stuff.” Bikks then grinned toothily at the boy.

Chimaera shook his head at the antics, and resumed keeping vigil over the area as they advanced, while Bikks and Wedgel started arguing over something or other, as they tended to do. He drew himself further into the cloak, wrapping it tightly around himself.

His thoughts turned to the only creature that he could really identify with - the mimic, Dorah. In spite of their demeanors being polar opposites, she was more open-minded to his monstrous form, without treating him as such. Perhaps because she understood how much variety there was to be had in form.

It was at this point during his thoughts that he heard the whispers.

Finally found you…

The boy stopped, stiffening, eyes scanning the area. His right, human hand went to his short sword’s hilt.

“Oy! Chimmy! You spot da baddies?” Bikks bellowed. He could hear Wedgel’s high-pitched giggling.

I see you’ve brought friends. I suppose I’ll have to entertain them too.

Chimaera started to back away, eyes still scanning the area for any sign of the source of the whispers.

(The Glade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofFckFUqYxU )

From behind a tree, an effeminate silver-haired, ponytailed man in a maroon open vest and long-sleeved white shirt befitting that of castle wait staff stepped out, adjusting a set of leather gloves.

“Whozzat? He dun look like no baddie. Look like some bougie wanker.”

Wedgel shouted shrilly. “We are the Black Knights of Leartes. Tell us why yer here or we’ll shank ya where ya stand!”

Chimaera eyed his two companions, before returning his gaze to the silver-haired man. “...we are the Black Knights of Leartes. We are patrolling the area, as we’ve had reports of odd creatures sighted in the area. Would you happen to know of these odd creatures?”

The man grinned - his smile so wide that his eyes seemed to be squeezed shut. “A smelly orc, a loud-mouthed goblin, and a freak of nature want to interrogate me about odd creatures? Surely you jest.”

Chimaera frowned, but inhaled.

Before he could reply, Bikks stepped between the two.

“Who ya callin’ smelly, ya ritzy twat? Gimme dat lip again, and ah’ll smash ya with m’ hammer.”

The well-dressed stranger continued to smile as he turned his squinty-faced look to Bikks. “Excuse me, lapdog of Leartes, but I need to speak with your little friend here. So if you could please bring about your stench elsewhere.”

“Ah’m not sure if I understood everytin youse said to my face, but I don’t like the looks of ya. So it’s hammertime for ya’s!” With a swift motion, Bikks drew out his mighty warhammer and swung it at the frail, effeminate stranger, who leapt out of the way with surprising speed, allowing Bikks to embed his hammer into the ground.

“Bikks, stop - we are not to-”

Drawing an...umbrella? from seemingly nowhere, the stranger jabbed the tip at Bikks’s left eye, extracting a pained roar from the orc. Wedgel rushed over to tend to Bikks as he thrashed about, roaring and clutching his face.

“He is fortunate that I can barely stand the stench of him alive, let alone dead and rotting.” The stranger’s pleasant grin had neither intensified nor faded. He then looked to Chimaera who had since drawn his short-sword and loosened his tentacles from the cloak, holding a dagger with each tendril. “I’m here to reclaim you for Master Icarath. For Lethias’s purposes.”

“I do not know your master...I serve Leartes and only Leartes.”

“You speak of your god like he will swoop down and save you himself.” He paused to clear a lively, amused giggle from his throat.

The well-dressed demon raised a gloved hand into the air, and snapped his fingers. The earth shook, rumbled, and trembled in fear. As the first emaciated, bony hand burst from the earth, the stranger giggled. A humanoid being with a death-like gray-blue hide crawled from the earth, a similar set of tendrils to Chimaera’s own. Unlike Chimaera, the creature held no veil of boyish innocence. Hairless, its beady black eyes devoid of any life, and its mouth only uttering monstrous hissing. Its joints were bent in inhuman ways, beyond that of any contortionist.

“It seems you do not recall what you are.” The stranger clicked his tongue, and wagged his finger. “So much to explain, so little time. First, let us administer the rod, so as not to spoil the child.” With that, he pointed his finger for the creature to attack, still maintaining the same grin.

The creature snaked out his tendrils, grabbing a tree limb above, and swinging at Chimaera with a shrill screeching cry, its right hand revealing long deadly nails - each one the size of a knife - aimed at his throat.

Chimaera brought up his short sword to guard against the nails, but the momentum caused the creature to crash into him, knocking him over, the creature tumbling as it landed a short distance away.

Suddenly, he heard the shrill cry of Wedgel. “Back, back I said, freak!”

“Wedgie, I can’t blasted see! Blood, blood everywhere! Point to the thingy I’m ‘sposed to smash!”

Chimaera eyed the two fellow squires, who were being set upon by another of the creatures. Wedgel was fending it off with his dual-daggers while trying to cover for the half-blind Bikks, his eye still bleeding heavily.

Chimaera then glanced back at the creature that was attacking him. The creature leaped again, hissing as it flew through the air for another strike at Chimaera.

Using his monkey tail, Chimaera grabbed a knife from his boot, and stabbed it into the creature’s chest, as he guarded against the claws with his short sword, kicking the creature up and over himself.

Leaping to his feet, he reached inside his cloak with his tentacled limb, and drew three more knives from his boot/leggings.

“You!” He shouted at the creature.

The creature obliged him, turning, hissing. He also drew the attention of the stranger, who had the same sickeningly content smile on his face. “Oh…?”

It was then that the sound of thundering hooves came galloping about in the distance. An awkward, confused silence set upon the area beneath the galloping storm.

“Hah!” Bikks laughed, forcing it through the pain. “Ya hearz dat? Dat be our boyz to back us up!”

“Mn.” The stranger rubbed at his chin with his gloved hand. “I could wipe you two out easily enough, but they might be too much trouble...I suppose we will have to continue our chat another time. Until next we meet, remember..." He grinned at Chimaera. “To this world, you are, and will always be, a freak. When you desire true purpose, seek your true home.” As he said this, the creature and the stranger faded, as if having never been there.

(end music)

***

The calvary arrived, and Bikks was patched up. Wedgel volunteered to give the report, but given his shrill voice and Bikks being incapacitated, the lieutenant colonel heard it from Chimaera. All three were commended for their good work on simply surviving, having been set upon by an apparent demon, well beyond their own skill.

Chimaera decided to leave out the parts where Bikks and Wedgel had not exactly been professional.

In the healers’ tent, Chimaera returned to Bikks and Wedgel, the former of which was seated on a hastily set up bench, head wrapped up halfway to a mummy.

Bikks was the first to break the silence, with sedated mutterings. “Oy. Thanks, Chim.”

“It was part of Black Knight duties - to ensure survival of comrades when it does not interfere with the mission. The chances for survival would have dropped if I had not maintaine-”

Wedgel jabbed Chimaera with his elbow. “Just say ‘You’re welcome,’ kiddo. Then rub it in his face.”

Chimaera looked to Wedgel. “If I’m not mistaken, rubbing something in another person’s face is considered rude.”

Bikks laughed raspily. “It’s alright - I like the little wordy bastard like he be. But I tells ya, I wish I had the chance to smash the heads of those...things.”

“The Lieutenant Colonel will file a report on our behalf. Until then...I believe you said last one to bash a head in had to buy drinks. Given that none of us ‘bashed heads in’...” Chimaera offered a small smile. “...does that mean we all buy our own? ...water for me of course.”

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Darkly Divine Musings: Daecuru: Effortless and Perpetual Legacy

Even as I remain trapped here in this crimson prison, my influence upon the realm of mortals still remains strong.

My deathgrip on the hearts and minds of your leaders and warriors will never loosen. It is absolute, and is as part of your insignificant existence as the rising and falling of the sun. As long as those in the realms draw breath, so too will they draw swords.

You fight over all sorts of petty spats. And do not give me that lie you tell yourself about it being for some perceived goodness within you. I know why you do it.

You hate the darkness - those that you think embody the darkness, those that you believe have been so corrupted by darkness. Ironically, you point at a mirror just as much as you point to your neighbor.

When you boil all of your petty squabbles down, what you did was simply point at them, and say: ‘they are no longer worthy of life.’ In that moment, you believed yourself a god over the living and the dead.

And I, as the god of wrath, anger, and hate, did not even have to lift a talon to cause this.

Even should my resurrection be foiled, your little war between the Faction, Snakekind, and the accursed dragons has proven that even should I somehow die, my legacy lives on eternally.

So long as there is a code you live by, so too will you pass judgment on others. And I must say, although it pleases me greatly that you would do it so hastily, you, as mortals, make poor judge of mortals.

Your leaders and prophets all make me, Daecuru, out to be part of some larger, divine darkness. While that may be true, I question whose darkness would be more frightening - that of the all-encompassing reign of Death...or the surprising torrent of potential atrocities which dwells within your hearts and souls.

My my, such atrocities. These dragon slaves you claim will fight tyranny. The lives slaughtered mercilessly by your knights, who were sworn to protect others. The self-righteous anger that burns within your dearest Queen of Gold. HAH!

I shall return one day. I only hope you leave something for me, Daecuru, to destroy. For now, I continue to sleep, yet my legacy of blood and violence will continue forevermore, whether I eternally dream or become a living nightmare upon my release...

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Darkly Divine Musings: Lethias: Eternal Peace

It is so ironic that I am given dominion over not only death, but fear. It is a morbidly amusing reflection of the absurdity of life.

Mortals fear death. They do everything they can to avoid dying, prolonging their existence, subjecting themselves to trials and tribulations in order to achieve just another year or two on their already pitifully short lives.

But why? In death, there is no fear. There is no no anxiety, no panic, no worry...no pain.

When my demons kill, why is it not considered a mercy? Our realm is one of death, war, famine, and pestilence; a reflection of our sibling rivalry and the little game we play forever and evermore.

Every second the clock ticks, every grain of sand that falls within the hourglass, their bodies are rotting slowly - they may not see it, but what do we call it as pains and aches enter those tired bones? When organs start falling, one by one? When the despair of mortality settles upon a tired, weakened heart, the rhythm slowing...slowing...until it stops?

And that rubbish about how your loved ones will carry on their memory? For how long? So few will stand the test of a few generations. Many will fall and fade into the oblivion of non-existence. Their life will have meant nothing.

I am the Mistress of Death, the Living Nightmare, the Pale Lady, the White Omen. I am Lethias. And in spite of my terrible titles, I offer to this wretched universe a simple gift of peace.

My eternal peace.

Imagine it. No fear. No sorrow. No uncertainty. No despair. No decay. No pain. Nothing.

Even I shall cease to be. Even the accursed One and its counterpart.

As the legend goes…”The war that raged between the deities never ended. It changed form, yes. Alliances shifted, yes. But to this day, the four kingdoms, War, Death, Pestilence, and Famine, fight bitterly against each other, as it will be until the world perishes forevermore. For in the beginning was a void, and so it shall end.” I offer them a path to that beginning. To a void - a complete lack of eveything.

So, my demons, fight on. For my eternal peace will come soon. And you shall be lulled into the eternal slumber with my whispers of fulfilled promise made of sweet, sweet, nothing.

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Forgive Me Father for I have
MC8: Final Stand - November 2017 - Third Place Winner

The little farming settlement never stood a chance against the wrath of the heavens.

The Halgian Empire’s valkyries came down upon the tiny hamlet like the divine fist of the One, crushing the feeble resistance of the Fallen sympathizers on the little village, which had committed the grave crime of housing a wounded Fallen - a Halgian that had turned away from the Light via heresy and blasphemy.

Aragonius watched the burning village. His face was surprisingly frozen and stiff in contrast to the ravenous, roaring inferno. The armored seraph donned in gold-lined divine metal plate had long since be numbed to the guilt that serving the Light brought upon his heart. It was for the peace to be heralded by the Light, and there could be nothing that would slow his pursuit of that peace. If blood had to be spilled so that more would be preserved, then so be it.

His righteous anger was all the more justified since the Darkness had taken both of the only things he held dear to his heart closer than his crusade.

He had tasked his daughter with the task of taking captive what intel said was a low-ranking demon. He believed she was up to the task, and had faith she would make them all proud - him, the Halgian Empire, and the Light.

Then came the news. It was widely assumed the demons had taken her - to what end, he dared not imagine. Perhaps to be eaten, to be raped, or to be sacrificed in some depraved ritual that he dared not imagine

Shortly after receiving the news, his wife fell ill, and shortly thereafter died - the autopsy had credited it to grief. In sending their daughter on a single mission, he had lost nearly everything.

So Valkyrie commander dedicated himself to the only passion he had left: condemning the enemies of the Light.

“We found her, commander!”

The exclamation roused Aragonius from his thoughts. Two Halgian paladins each tugged on the arms of a woman, covered in bandages, quite clearly in the early stages of healing, the wounds still soaked with bleeding.

“The hunting hounds of the Empress…,” the Fallen wheezed, and spat at Aragonius, still held up by the two paladins. “ I would have died peacefully even if you hadn’t shown up...these farmers committed no sin except attempting to ease my pain. And yet, here you are...to slaughter the helpless innocent in the name of your forsaken Light.”

Aragonius narrowed his eyes underneath the visor of his helmet, his heart feeling like it was twisting in his chest, his cheeks flushing ever so slightly. It was scum like this witch that had taken everything from him. Whether she had a hand personally in the death of his daughter, or whether she was just part of the cabal of sin that were demons and Fallen, all of them would share in the judgment he would dispense with no mercy, no hesitation, no salvation.

“No.” He answered simply with his booming, deep voice. He unsheathed the Institoris - the gold-hilted, divine blazing bastard sword, which he used to render fiery condemnation upon the wretched and corrupt, the blade ablaze He held up his infamous sword to honor the Light above, allowing the sun’s light to reflect off the blade. “I do not slaughter innocents in the name of the Light.”

The seraph then glanced at the wounded Fallen as he gripped the blade’s hilt tightly. “Only the guilty.”

“Of what am I guil-”

Before she could finish her question, her head was rolling, spraying blood on the silver-white divine metal plate of the paladins and the Valkyrie Commander. With a snort, he started to wipe the tainted blood off of his blessed blade with the back of his gauntlet.

It was then a single cry echoed through the settlement, piercing the sounds of razing and murder.

“NO!”

It was then a winged knight with tarnished Valkyrie armor touched down, wielding a polearm that looked to be tainted by demonic influence. The blade was shaped in a distinctly naginata style - a form which originated from the demon realm of Kurai.

And something about that voice plucked at the worn heartstrings of nostalgia. Something familiar. Something which he had lost.

“...Karitia? Daughter?”

‘Karitia’ remained silent, as she removed her helmet, allowing her snow white ponytailed hair to fall. “...I go by ‘Kari’ now. I was the one who brought that soldier here. They were dying. I had hoped to give them Daama’s peace.”

“You brought a tainted abomination to our pure citizens, forcing my blade upon them!?” The rage that seeped into his voice forced his Valkyries to back off in alarm.

“Yes!”

Aragonius stared at her defiant word. His head swam with a raging storm of thoughts - doctrine and emotion clashing against each other within the confines of his head. This was his daughter. One of the things that he cared about was now back within his grasp.

No. No no no. Love of the Light. That came before all else. All. Else.

She was tainted with sin. He had to save her. Perhaps if he corrected this mistake himself, he would still save her soul. He would do it. He would purge her.

He looked to the two Valkyries. “Go. Find the survivors. Leave none standing.” As they left, Aragonius turned to Kari. His tone dropped, and his volume lowered as he spoke - almost defeatedly. “You side with the Dark. So be it. I will not sheath my blade when it thirsts for justice. Not even for you.”

“Justice…” Kari’s whole body seemed to recoil at the misnomer. “This is not Lady Daama’s justice! Your justice is a perversion of her will! An abortion, an abomination!” Kari barked back, pointing sharply between his eyes across from the other side of the decapitated corpse.

“I will hear no words from your lips, so tainted and twisted by the dark. Heresy and blasphemy drip from them, and I cannot bare to see the beauty which I had sired befouled by such sinful rhetoric! I will save you by purging you! En garde!”

As if to punctuate the challenge, Aragonius’s eight wings flew open. He then charged forward, gripping the hilt of Institoris with both hands, eyes burning with reiatsu and stinging, salty vapor, and brought down his flaming blade upon Kari’s head.

Her eyes were steely, calm in their gaze. She had expected this. She knew what her father would do, how he would react upon seeing his daughter’s beliefs as they were, unfiltered and unclouded by rank, filial ties, and doubt. Without flinching, she brought up her naginata to block the blade, and thrust forth with a swift knee to Aragonius gut, before throwing her wings forward and flying back to get some distance between herself and father.

“For the sake of Lady Daama’s justice, I will stop your sacrilege!” She ignited her naginata with light reiatsu, preparing her attack.

“Heresy from a heretic!” Once again, the Blade of Institoris lit ablaze with the fires of Aragonius’s conviction.

***

The delicately framed, white-furred, draconian lightbeast looked up to the starry sky. A bittersweet smile scorned her face as she shook her head gently.

She could feel two of her worshippers fighting. And it would seem that her futile dream of a day without pointless conflict would not come true today.

It was bad enough that they worshipped her. She was no goddess. She did not deserve their worship. But then to kill in her name, as if she would want it, condone it as a goddess? Contemplating this was like being stabbed, the dagger then twisted as it was wrenched free.

“It is so ridiculous,” she mused, her voice choking as the words left her draconic maw. “Utterly ridiculous. Why? Why do they always do this?”

***

Try as hard as she might, Kari, the one known among some in Vystriana as “The Winged Knight,” simply was outmatched in experience, speed, and strength against her more grizzled seraph father, who still stood upright, his breathing only slightly accelerated. Her naginata felt heavy. As she gazed up into the sky at her father, flying above with all eight wings, her naginata only grew heavier as she realized the futility of her struggle.

“I’m sorry, Lady Daama,” she whispered in desperate prayer. “I couldn’t stop him. Forgive him, for he knows not what he does.”

He dove, his blade ablaze. Like a falling star, right at Kari, who could only barely muster the strength to bring up her naginata’s shaft to defend herself.

As he did, a raging, pained cry resounded throughout the Evylonian sky.

“WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!?”

The shaft was cleaved in two - and Institoris buried itself deep into Kari’s shoulder, all the way to the middle of her chest.

With a brief, pained whimper, she managed a tired smile at her father. “...Amen.”

The winged knight slumped as consciousness and life left her, blood still dripping down the blade, over Aragonius’s gauntlet and down his arm until the droplets fell off his plate. Both pieces of her naginata clattered from her hands onto the blood-stained soil.

Aragonius caught her, cradled her close to his breast, and whispered into her ear.

“Lady Daama, forgive her, for being so foolish. Forgive me, for being so weak. Amen.”

It was then that the Halgian Paladins returned, gasping for air, leaning on their haunches as they attempted to catch their breaths. They took a step back at the gruesome scene before them, but quickly composed themselves, knowing it suicide to even ask.

“Did you get all the survivors?”

“No sir. One escaped. The others are currently searching for her.”

A thought crossed his mind. He looked at his daughter, the color still flush in her cheeks, though fading, following the life that had already left her body. She would want him to spare the heretics, no doubt. But he served the Light, not his daughter, nor his guilt.

He looked to his men, his eyes like cold, unfeeling steel. “We do not leave until we find every. Single. One of them.” Each word dripped with the weight of his convictions, punctuated with his intent of rendering swift judgment “That is the duty of the Valkyries. We have our duty. Go.”

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Credit goes to Elf and Sherni for giving me the idea of this.

Rule #F69:
If you're going to be dumb, know what you're doing and do it loud and proud. PUNCH WITH PASSION USING YOUR FACE. NOTHING IS WORSE THAN “BORING.”


Picture this for a moment. It’s aerobics day in a middle school classroom. Everyone’s doing exercises - and the teacher has you all doing disco and the freaking macarena. ...also dabbing, just to drive the cringe home. One student is putting 20% effort, and looks absolutely miserable. The other kid looks like he could be the next Richard Simmons if he wanted to, and he knows he’s being an idiot, but damned doesn’t he look like he’s having fun.

...who do you think ‘won’ that day? The former kid looks like a loser joe schmoe, while the latter - yeah, maybe some kids will laugh at how stupid he looks, but if he owns that stupid, can't really tease him about it, now can you?

Here’s another. Once upon a time, in a theatre class, JPG was in a group full of men and we had to do a dramatic reading improv. ...unfortunately this particular passage had a very sensuous fortune teller. And we all looked at each other like ‘...what the fuck do we do man’

The theatre instructor noticed this as well as our lackluster performance, and grabbed my script, barking at us (jokingly) GIBME DATS.

He then stormed off to the prop room, and we heard him rummaging around. He comes back in with a fruit basket on his head he’s holding up with his hand, and putting on the worst stereotypical female gypsy accent I’ve ever heard and we’re all busting a gut at the show.

He then told us some important words I will never forget. “I can work with someone who overdoes things. I can’t work with someone who undersells - because that means that’s their limit.”

In each of these, the passionate fool beats out the cool and calm sane person.

While this mostly works for comedy and satire, when you decide to do these things, punch with passion, and don’t be afraid to take a hit to the face - in fact HIT it with your face. Go all out. Hold nothing back.

Passion can mean several things - as an example, me and another student were some of the best in our theatre class. We both had the play “Cyrano de Bergerac” - at the time all I understood about the play was it was a knight with a ridiculously huge nose.

I was a bit of a mopey twat back then, but I still had some of that same passion I do today. Back then I did a straight reading of a certain passage where Cyrano says these lines:

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“My old friend—look at me,
And tell me how much hope remains for me
With this protuberance! Oh I have no more
Illusions! Now and then—bah! I may grow
Tender, walking alone in the blue cool
Of evening, through some garden fresh with flowers
After the benediction of the rain;
My poor big devil of a nose inhales
April…and so I follow with my eyes
Where some boy, with a girl upon his arm,
Passes a patch of silver…and I feel
Somehow, I wish I had a woman too,
Walking with little steps under the moon,
And holding my arm so, and smiling. Then
I dream—and I forget…
And then I see
The shadow of my profile on the wall!”


My reading was dramatic, full of anguish and angst. But I sold it big and I sold it good. I think that was when I caught the theatre teacher’s attention.

My friend? The other awesome student? His was light, comical, and amusing af. He played up the big nose like a prop more or less.

The theatre teacher made sure to highlight how we both chose the same play, but had RADICALLY different interpretations.

But we had one thing in common - we put passion into our characters. We made each line count. We left no stone of the passage unturned.

Nothing is worse than 'boring' and fading into the background - unless you're an NPC anyway. And even if it’s a NPC, a NPC can make or break a scene. Make the everyday merchant a star. Look around you and see how little people like McDonald’s cashiers and Starbucks Baristas become lively actors in of themselves if they can be so arsed. And think about how there’s only two types you remember: the low-energy miserable assholes and the ones that brighten your day with their antics.

You can even see this in youtube with shows like the Room. Wiseau might be a shit actor, but he had...an ODD passion. Nontheless, there was a certain energy to how he failed, and he even has a documentary on it.

Utilizing passion, the worst you can do is fail like a star.

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On Mary Sues, Shadows, and You
Apparently the term Mary Sue is seeing a resurgence.

The term "Mary Sue" refers to a character who, very loosely defined, seems to have everything work in their favor somehow or someway. For further background reading, the Wikipedia article works pretty well, and any youtube video can give you a general overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue

As a writer and roleplayer, I have a love-hate relationship with the term. The term, no doubt, gets thrown around way too much by both critics and laymen alike.

As of why it has come up, apparently Riri Williams as "Iron Heart" is coming up again, and Rey from Star Wars has been labeled with this as well, as well as several other media characters.

I haven't been keeping up with pop culture any more than the drama, but I like talking about crap that no one cares about so HEY IT'S MY FAVORITE PAST TIME.

The term comes from a character of the same name created in 1973 for a parody Star Trek fanfiction story - a story written by a fan: Lieutenant Mary Sue was youngest Lieutenant in the fleet the tender and unrealistic age of fifteen and a half years old. She satirized unrealistic characters in Star Trek fan fiction, which often starred 'youngest, smartest' people ever to graduate from xyz, usually having high marks in a variety of subjects, from athletics to astronomy, and often ending up in favor with a big established character such as Kirk or Spock. S/he then saves the day and is often either celebrated by the entire ship or grieved if they happened to die a martyr's death.

It is a common insult utilized by anyone remotely interested in writing as a hobby in the modern age, leveled against characters one does not like - this is NOT saying that the criticism is never warranted, but acknowledging the fact that it does tend to get thrown around a lot.

It should be noted that our golden mama derg is not fond of this term, and has written her own views about this, which are not necessarily in contrast to my own. But there are characters which we can agree vaguely fit this bill, which is what this essay is about.

It should be noted - and this part is relevant, rather than a sidenote - that the term now effectively include characters that are clearly a fantasized ideal of the author. Whether that's accurate or not, it is a noted trend.

What I've noticed is that the creators of glaring Mary Sues tend to have issues in their own lives - moreso than other authors. While most authors have some...sort of tragedy or mental illness or whatever going on, those who create perfect characters with little to no flaws who demand all other charries worship the ground they walk on...tend to have mental issues.

That isn't a term I throw around lightly.

A part of what we normally call self-esteem - self acceptance if you prefer - comes from the ability to have one's ego be resilient against the judgment of others. The stereotype showcases these authors to give 'no ****s about anyone else". That's not quite true.

What they care about is their own perception - and that perception is dependent on the kind words of the people surrounding them - that MAY translate into the fictional characters themselves. What one may notice upon closer inspection is that the Mary Sue author in roleplay is that the Mary Sue author often lashes out when other characters dislike the character - or when other authors dislike the character.

This may result from a link with the idea of being talented = being a decent person. If one is not talented or excellent, they are not a decent person. This is different from the healthy mindset of talent = merit, because it assumes the baseline of 'human' as 'talented' - and let's be quite frank, if I named a given field, most of us would not be able to claim that we were talented in that field.

These people often do not accept failure very well, and may be outright neurotic about failure, which is why their characters simply don't or cannot.

This issue becomes more complex when you see Mary Sues that thrive off the opposite: hopelessness - but even that seeks pity, which is a form of attention and can be seen as a desirable resource for some.

Gary Stus are similar - and also reflect the psychology of the boys that often play them - they seek to be hypercompetent as to prevent ever failing. Failure is unacceptable in their eyes, which is clearly unhealthy.

Please note this is different from the toddler wanting to be superman and invincible - as far as I know anyway. The toddler is simply testing limits and boundaries and exploring, so it's hard to pin down any sort of mental disorder or whatever to this behavior. Instead, I would look at it like the difference between a teenager and a toddler who fries ants using a magnifying glass. One does it to be a sadistic asshole who has no care for those smaller than himself. The other simply is exploring, and probably needs to be set straight on why that's not okay.

Of course, I have no stats to back these up, so it's just some possibilities. I do have a few examples though.

One time, in a certain group, we had a player who essentially had his half-dragon character be a druid and a messenger of death. Another who was a super psionic lynx. A fire mage, and I really forget all the others. And not for lack of trying to remember. Really, his characters were cardboard cut outs of each other who acted as a posse - each defending the others in the group. The player could not take criticism, and he always had to try to be the show off and romance basically a character from each player, as if they were a collection. We had to kick him out because he was a bit of an uncooperative prick.

The guy kept coming back, each time begging for forgiveness, but never really learning. And I suspect a big issue was his background, which involved fatherlessness and being part of an adopted home, IIRC.

Another one threw out of character shitfits any time one of his characters got criticized as unrealistic and attention whorish - he'd be the sort to bring robots in modern settings - like, plain modern. And they weren't...like...comedy robots, we're talking robots with full fledged dramatic backstories. That makes you stick out like a sore thumb - and not in a good 'special' way. Reading through his journals, it becomes clear he had issues with self-acceptance, being mindful of his manners, and also emotional control. He'd constantly blame others for shit he brought upon himself, and was quite a bit of a "white knight."

There was one who I have spoken of before - he had female characters with...certain amputations. Characters that dug out their eyes and fought blind. Etc. And this was for a relatively light-hearted Pokémon setting, mind you. In our mini-setting, he had no friends, and a lot of his artwork had a theme of self-mutilation. Sadly, I would not be surprised if he actually committed suicide sometime between the last time we met and the end of this sentence.

One common thing these authors had? A shit sense of self-worth and therefore the worth of people in general.

What should be your take away from this, young artist/writer? Well, in order to make a good character, you must be able to confront that insanity that we artists/writers so cherish. You must be able to accept that you're not perfect, you're no saint - you have monsters and the capability to be a monster. While these are vague metaphors and whatnot, I promise that as soon as you accept some of the 'inhumanities' about you as human, you make your characters that much more human and connect-able.

This is not a foreign concept - I have often spoken to some of you about the importance of accepting the Jungian-shadow. Jung believed your 'shadow' was the part of your mind which is uncomfortable for you to accept. Perhaps it is the bit of you that is vain, a lover of attention, very hateful, judgmental, etc.

And we all have it - some aren't as big as others - but regardless of size, it's important to acknowledge when creating good characters - especially villains.

It's also a spectrum - some of you are more aware than others. A complete lack of awareness leads to the creation of your typical Mary Sues - because any 'undesirable' trait is kept in the shadow.

The acceptance of the shadow also allows for one to become more empathetic and understanding of others.

Of course, one should also accept the shadow when one is ready. If you force it, it could drive you mad.

This post has been edited by JPG: May 25 2018, 10:22 AM

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