Team Yennifer > Team Triss

First Note: This is a massive Witcher spoiler. Like anything and everything for the franchise.

Second Note: I can’t believe I’m doing this. Here’s looking at you, Mac. (You can find the Team Triss opinion at his website at this link)

Third Note: Mac’s post has more about the setting. I just kind of dove in.

yen

Today I present to you how Gerifer is the ultimate ship in the Witcher franchise. (Totally went there)

Is it Yennifer’s onyx hair which glistens like silk under the torchlight? Her porcelain skin which shimmers? What a delightful illusion Yennifer conjures with her sorceress skills, that could take a hunchback and create such a tantalizing creature?

While I argue that Yennifer is the better beauty of the two, let’s not stop our gaze with such base assets!

Geralt of Riva, the brutish stoic of a Witcher, is quiet and intense in most cases. He is burdened by the decisions he makes. His heavy soul can easily overpower the playful or light of heart.

Enter Yen. When they first met, Yen was hunting a djinn. Using numerous elves and humans, she was able to obtain her object of desire. Strong willed, she pushed all others aside so she alone could claim the bounty! So moved by her beauty of character was Geralt that when the djinn would certainly kill her, he wished for them to be tied by fate for all eternity. What a romantic! But for any other woman, Geralt has been notorious for brief beddings!

There are times where Geralt’s heart is weak, weighted by the millstone of morality and duty. When hunting his adopted daughter, Ciri, he had to destroy a holy tree to perform a ritual which would gain him information. However, the tree being holy and cared for by people he respected, he could not bring himself to do it. Yen took on the burden. She stripped that tree of magical energy in two seconds, knowing it would bring Geralt closer to a girl he saw as a daughter.

But there is more! When the caretakers of the tree approached, shunning Geralt and Yen from the island, Yen took all the blame that Geralt could keep in their good graces. What kindness, despite such a cold exterior.

My friends, Yennifer is not only beautiful, but prudent and strong willed. She knows what Geralt needs and will obtain it though he cannot dare to reach for his goal. Geralt is the moral anchor that reminds Yennifer sometimes the ability to do something isn’t the reason to do it.

So I argue, the true romantic ship of The Witcher, is Gerifer!

 

 

Exhaustion

I swayed back and forth, unsure what was truth and what was hallucination. I was too tired to discern.

Is that the proper path?

The voice whispered to me, and I squinted sallow eyes. “No.”

Why travel it?

“Because I’m lonely.” I stood back up, brushing sand from me. I huffed and continued forward, leaning so to keep my body going in the direction. Standing straight up would lead me to stopping, dropping to my knees, and passing out. Or weeping. I wasn’t sure which was the bigger need.

Lonely? Even if you are not lonely, the paths you take are stupid. If it is not against My Will, it is simply against better judgment!

A smirk revealed brown teeth. They were not brown from decay, but with my tongue I could feel all the grit building up. I took a sip of water and spat to wash out my mouth. “I will always choose the same option. I will choose it every fucking time. I thank You for all You forced down my throat, but if you do not want me to defy common sense, remove my heart. Remove my soul. Put them aside and consume me with Your Will. Otherwise, just let me make my damned mistakes.”

The village was real. It existed. A small village with a couple dozen families, a few hundred people, and I knew them all by name, and they knew me, and we hated each other. We despised each other. But I couldn’t be happier, because there was a woman who was an exception.

You will be crushed.

“I will be alive.” The people looked at me as if I were mad, and perhaps madness consumed me, but I stood when I finished weeping, the tears cutting a clean trail through my dirty face, and I hobbled towards her hut. My knees ached and my ankles felt as if they would give out. But they kept together, and I stumbled forward until I rapped three times on the door.

The voice of angels replied, “Coming. One moment.”

She opened the door and saw me, and she teared up and brought her hands to her mouth. I laughed, my eyes crescents from bulging cheeks. She remembered, and she looked happy to see me. Until the door shut and I dropped to the floor.

“Please,” I begged, “Let me in. I’m a simple man, and I look only for company.”

Liar.

“I am sorry for my cruelty. You are a good person. I wish to be here for you.”

Deceiver. This brings only pain.

“I can put it aside. I can just be a friend.”

There are not enough cows and goats in all G’desh to create the heaping pile of shit you are spewing, not in five centuries.

He was right. I didn’t care. The door opened, and that was all that mattered to me.

Sandstorms and Will-o-Wisps

“No. No no no no.” I dropped to my knees, slack jawed, as the storm passed.

I saw a half dozen illusions, beautiful and filled with hope. There were three that I reached out for, three that I wanted. The rest were too easy to pluck, and they would not give fulfillment. Then the storm stopped, and all I saw was ruin. Will-o-wisps. Fucking will-o-wisps.

The feeling coursing through me was strange. False hope always does that. Was it anger? It wasn’t quite anger. As I looked out at the wastes, the fallen buildings which were not populated for centuries, there was a lacking desire to smash it all.

Despair wasn’t quite right. I had no desire to die or hurt myself. There was no wish for death, though based on my predicament it was plausible. Maybe I would find a usable well, but the chances were slim.

Frustration. Frustration and disappointment. I nodded, those were the feelings. I was thwarted again, denied again, brought out somewhere in hope, and then I was left wanting and empty, like every other time. I put my head in my hands. “Not again.”

You wanted to know what to do. You acted. You were to do nothing.

I smirked. Then grinned. Then smiled until you could see my teeth. That smile turned into a chuckle, which exploded into a laugh. Or cackle. Cackle would be more correct. My frustration turned into hysteria. What else could it morph into? It wasn’t the first time I sat in that position. It would not be the last. I would pray that it would be the last, but it would not. I learned too much from false hope. From dashed hope.

That’s the spirit. Laughter.

That storm raged on forever, and I prayed so hard to understand it. And the voice was right. Now I understood. I understood everything, and that everything was nothing. I stood up, exhausted from the trip. From the hopes and dreams. From the breaking. From dehydration. I shambled through the ruins of some old city.

Up ahead. To the right. Now go into the third house on the left. Yes. In the basement. It’s the only house in the entire city with a basement. They were greedy people, but their hearts were hardened so your life could be saved. Aside from this well, they were good people.

There was a well where the voice said I would find one. I drank from it, pulling up buckets. No matter the plight falling on my head, I at least had a strong survival instinct. There were too many people back home relying on me. I could not fail them.

The water was fresh, a delightful taste on my splitting lips. I let it pour down my sand scoured front, and it both felt cool and searing as it agrivated the wounds from coarse sand. I didn’t mind, though. The water was plentiful and I filled the three goat stomachs I brought with me, corking them for safe keeping. I found lizards which were sunbathing, and I caught them and cooked them so I could eat. They were filling, and I slept well, using food and water to stave off the onset of depression.

In the morning, the sun rising, I surveyed the ruins, and found a few useful pieces, mostly leather and metal to be remade later. I stashed them and went to the outskirts of town, to the east where the sun was rising.

Where to next?

I shrugged. “You’re the guide. I’m just a follower.”

Even after I led you here? After I tricked you?

“You taught me. You fed me. My heart was doing no matter when I didn’t follow you, and the food and water didn’t taste as sweet. I will take two of three. Every obstacle you give me is a lesson.”

What was the lesson here?

“I don’t know. But I’ll figure it out. You’ll reveal it. For now? Harden my heart. Keep moving.” I lied. My chest ached as if something inside me pulsed, fighting for room. I would swallow that bitterness down in time, and by the next morning it would be gone. But for the day I would let it rest inside me.

You’re a horrible liar. But you are right. You’ll figure it out in time. East seems as good a direction as any. We should continue.

Morality of War

Charles spat, sitting on the rock in the middle of the battlefield. The fight was finished, they won or so people said, and Charles was just too tired to tend to the corpses and soon to be corpses. The youths could do that, along with the peasants at the nearby village.

He spat blood, which trickled down from a wound on his lip. There was a cut over his eye, as well, leaking down his temple and cheek, a gift from some forgotten punch at the wrong end of a lobster glove. It was slight consolation that the man was likely dead.

A boy sat by Charles. His name was Ricken, and he was nearly twenty. The boy fought like a demon, though he was naive, unable to keep his head after a mug or two, and most certainly unwitting to a woman’s body. Saving himself for his betrothed he’d say when they went to a new town and the women went to him.

Ricken said, “Sir Charles, do you need assistance? I can help you off the field.”

Charles spat again, “Nah, boy.” He surveyed the bloody field, watching the people work over the goods. “I just like to remain in the moment. Remember the people lost.”

“Our people? Your friends?” The boy sat down on the ground. The blood was going to seep into his britches, but he’d realize that soon enough.

“Nah, boy.” He pointed to a corpse. The man wore red, when Charles’ leather was green. “That man there, you think he has a family back home?”

Ricken shrugged, “He was the enemy. Does it matter? One more bastard who will be poorly trained and thrown in as fodder.”

“Watch your mouth, boy. You could have been that man’s bastard.”

“No. I’m not on their side. I’m not in their country.”

Charles nodded and thought for a few moments. Ricken wasn’t special. Charles was once that way, but then he lost a lot of friends. Something just clicked when he came home to see three boys suddenly without a dad. He pointed to a man in green, “What of him? He left a bastard.”

“He’s a peasant. They rut whatever they can get in. Little better than dogs, but harder to train and less disciplined.”

“For a religious boy, you’re a right prick, Ricken.” The man grinned, then laughed. “I was like you once. Remember, everyone you killed, they’re fighting for the same reason we are.”

“Horse shit.”

Charles laughed harder, “Why are you fighting, boy?”

“For the honor of our kingdom, because they attacked us, and for the good of the faith.”

“So are they. Hell, they’re not even heretics. They read the same damned book we do. They hear the same old men give the same crusty message, something from thousand years back. There is a shifting line in the sand, and when we were conscripted, we happened to be on this side.” He stood, using his flamberge as support. “Toby over there,” he pointed to a man in his early thirties, carrying bodies, “his village is now on the other side. His family needs to swear allegiance to the other bugger on a throne, while he guts and kills on this side. When he goes home, he’ll strip his armor, wear peasant’s clothes, and pretend this never happened.”

“He’s a traitor,” the boy exclaimed. The enthusiasm was giving Charles a headache.

“To whom? His king a thousand miles away sitting on a throne made of fresh wood, with velvet under his ass? He’s a good king, make no mistake, but the man does not know Toby. He knows me because I’ve killed a good many in his service. He is a good and just man, I do like him, but he doesn’t know Toby. Toby doesn’t know him. You know who Toby knows?” The boy, wide eyed, shook his head. “Toby knows his wife and three kids. So is it better to be a traitor to his family or to his king, according to the faith.”

“I…I don’t know,” he stuttered. Something was breaking behind his eyes.

“Book says to hell with kings. Says love and family. I would pick family every time, and I consider the king my friend.” He slapped Ricken on the back. “You should be dragging corpses, though. Get to work.”

Embrace the magic of the world

I see more and more that magic is simply science in a time that doesn’t understand it. This bothers me. When did we disband magic as the whimsy, unpredictable, difficult to control, and beautiful work of art that it should be? When did we done lab coats, throw magic into a sterile white room, and start to write thesis papers on it to make it normal?

There are so many real forces in the world which we understand about as well as a grocer understands nuclear physics. There are always new and exciting things on the horizon, but all we seem to take away from it is, “Tomorrow, we’ll explain that, too.” And we apply this to magic in our fantasy worlds.

This isn’t a long post, it’s not even really angry or a rant. It’s a sorrowful plea. Keep the whimsy in your magic. Keep the joy and happiness. Keep the unpredictability and imaginative workings. Leave the labcoat at home and create imperfect walls of glass, brick, rock, wood, or some other strange and unclean element. Just keep it fun and unexplained. Keep us marveling at the unknown going forward. It’s all I ask.

Fix Me

Why don’t you fix me?
I can’t help myself.
Why don’t you fix me?
You know I’m fading still.

Fix Me, Icon For Hire

Gears ground together, poorly lubricated and having accumulated much dirt in the grimy underbelly of Torzikov. The once beautiful brass finish of his plated body was now tarnished from the soot and extreme heat being so close to a lava river. His left eye died long ago, the blue illumination which he perceived through now a blackened, useless orb. Several occasions caused him to want to pluck it out, but while his strength failed due to leaky fluid veins, the mount for his eye was as strong as ever.

He struggled through the compact tenements to his master’s workshop. He never understood why she remained down in the pits, or why she refused to fix or dismantle him for parts. With AI still intact by some strange, machine god miracle, he asked several times. Every time, though, he was dismissed to fetch parts, or she left the room never to bring up the subject again. There was some glimmer in her eye, he thought, when she looked at him. It was equal parts fondness, hatred, and pity.

The workshop took up the entire bottom two floors of a building. Each building lifted up into the black sky, becoming the foundation for the city proper some hundred feet up. Structural supports would creak under the strain of holding up the nobility, the people of means, and he knew master could go up there at any time. She had a pass, there were petitions from hopeful patrons so that she would make them great works of comfort and beauty. Every time, she turned them away in a lavish way. But a no was a no, and every business suitor would send a dejected follow up letter. Some were wrathful, others mournful. A few became arrogant that she could not be as talented as the myths surrounding her, and others told her she was a lava drowned fool without a sense of the finer things.

A bell above the door rang when he entered. If that didn’t give him away, surely the whirling sounds of his ill-maintained parts would. A gear snagged, and clanked in a repetitive cadence. Master said, “Put the parts on table three.” She didn’t look up from her welding, the bright blue flame hypnotizing to the one good eye of the clockwork man.

When he put the box down, the gear was still snagging. He could feel it grinding down the brass. Soon his right arm would have severely limited functionality. A quick thunk to his arm, and the gear stopped snagging, spinning as it was meant to. But he was aware of his body, and he knew the gear wouldn’t last much longer.

Again he looked to his master as she worked on some modern marvel, no doubt. It would help the people down below and give them a new life, one with as much ease as the gentry up above. Or so he hoped.

He said, “I have delivered the box.” The voice was a metallic sound, faded from his younger days ten years, three months, and fourteen days ago. Four years, five months, and two days ago she stopped promising a new voice box.

She looked up for a moment, and even through her goggles he could make out her eyes. They were beautiful, and exquisite masterpiece no doubt put there by her own master, her own creator. However, after near forty years, her creator continued to maintain her, or gave her the ability to maintain herself. If only she cared that much about her clockwork servant. The pump for his lubricants felt strange, a pull on it like something was wrong. However, a quick internal diagnostics showed nothing to be the matter.

She said, “I saw. Did you need something?” The blue flame of her torch guttered and died.

Something came over the brass man at that moment. He blurted out, “Fix me.”

The words pulled again on the valves and pumps in his chest. Was his AI giving him new sensations? It had been a while before he absorbed new information, and rarely did he ever bring in emotional stimuli.

She gave out a quick snort of laughter. “No,” she said, then took her ignitor and clicked it a few times in front of the nozzel of her torch until it caught and sparked a blue flame.

“Please. I am fading. I am blind. My liquids are near empty, my gears worn and chipped, and even my AI is acting strangely.” He approached her, moving his arms clumsily. Though the gear caught again, it was not making movement in his right arm easy as the machine tried to find the right movement again.

This gave her pause. Then she turned off the torch and put it down, lifting up her goggles. It was difficult to notice, but there were thick soot lines which showed how dirty her face actually was. “What do you mean your AI is acting strangely?” She approached him and started to look into his eyes, though spending the greatest amount of time on his left. “Your eyes dilate.”

“What? What does it mean, master? What does it mean that it feels like the pumps and valves in my chest are being tugged on most painfully. I should not feel pain.”

She dug around for a screwdriver and opened up his chest plate. All his workings were working just fine, if aged and leaky, but they were all in place. “This is excellent. This is great news.” She kissed his cheek and steam blew out of the back of his head. Never had her lips pressed against him. “On the table with you. I need to make a phone call.”

He went to lay on the table, waiting, his chest exposed, still aching. His master picked up the phone, a new invention of the past few years, newer than he was, and she said, excitedly, “Doctor Hostoff, please. Yes, I’ll wait.” There was impatient tapping of her foot. “Dimitri, it’s Alexandria. You won’t believe it. He’s feeling emotions.” Another pause. “Of course I’m talking about our brass man. He is feeling emotional pain. We did it. I’ll bring him right up in the morning. Need to polish him up first, make him serviceable.” A pause. “Of course it was worth it, and Dimitri, don’t question my methods. AI isn’t a human. We can treat them as we please. I’ll see you in the morning. Be waiting at the university.”

The clockwork man understood. He was being used, a tool to his master. In the early days she said she loved him. But that was many years ago, he thought, as she approached him with glee, and started to work on repairing his countless broken parts. It felt like his chest sprung a lubricant leak, yet he never looked so shiny.

Josha’s Last Night of Freedom

Based on a FB group I started to get people writing. There are weekly exercises, and this was the first one. The goal was to write about a support character without ever bringing a protagonist into the story. This helps flesh out a support character. Some people have actually caused their support character to change based on this. Josha will never change, though. Here is Josha, the mentor of Kessem in Drowning the Sands of G’desh.

Josha bit into the cork in his vial and yanked it out, the pleasant thrum of the glass reverberating. Red liquid sloshed about in the alchemist’s bottle and he took a swig. The red dripped down his chin and he wiped it with the back of his white tunic. It slowly made its way down the bottle as well, leaving sediment.

Hamed laughed and grabbed for one of the other vials with the same color liquid. He took out the cork and also took a gulp, sighing in delight at the drink. Abram was apprehensive and said, “Alchemist, how can we trust this? What will it do to us?” Abram was the youngest at twelve, but the three usually got along. Either way, their destinies were intertwined and they would need to learn to work together. It galled Josha to no end that the snot nosed child followed them around so often.

However, Hamed was always in good spirits, and he responded, “What it’ll do to you is get you good and drunk so you can actually have some fun.” Hamed was to be the Sultan when his father passed, which was likely soon enough. He was still a teen, a couple years younger than Josha, but he was the last son and his father emphasized a desire to have youth on the throne. His brothers, each a great general, seemed to relent to the pressure of father. The one who did not was sent to the front lines to never return.

The bottle looked strange in Abram’s young hand. He analyzed it, swishing it about in the glass bottle, shaking up the ingredients. Josha groaned, “Don’t do that, boy. You’ll destroy the composition.” He swirled his own wine, “You gently swirl. Then check the streaking. That tells you how thick it is. When you open it, let it breathe.”

“You didn’t let it breathe,” he shot back, snarling.

“That’s because I don’t care what it tastes like. I just want to get drunk and do something stupid.” He took another long pull and laughed, lifting the bottle up. He could feel it in him, the thoughts in his head swimming. Internally he gloated at how his judgment was impaired and the rest of the day was out of his control. “Now open your damned bottle before your mom asks you to suck on her for your milk.”

The boy grumbled, but did as he was told, opening the wine bottle and drinking from it. Hamed pushed him to take as deep a drink as possible, then went to finishing half his own bottle. Josha scoffed, “How much you think I made?” His tongue felt numb and his lips moved in ways he didn’t mean. “Take time, Hamed.” Josha had to sit down, and leaned. The concoction was stronger than he planned, but that would do fine enough. “We going to Kazab?”

“Of course. We have some festivities planned, too. Not often we get above ground,” Hamed said, then pulled up his friend.$