I built the
castle with my own two hands, clueless, but hopeful, placing brick upon brick,
grimly satisfied and deeply shaken whenever walls tumbled and euphoric whenever
they stood. I had no blueprint, no scaffold, no leading hand – I vibrated with
insecurity, in a swallowed perpetual terror that a black swan might come along
to break one of my wings with his.
my anxiety by stuffing it with pride, remembered all that I had built and all that
was still standing. I became smug. Covetous. Sneered at all those who seemed to
build no walls at all. They were fools; naked to the universe and unashamed, while I
sucked on the piece of apple in my mouth like an addict. I needed to know. Needed to add floor
after floor, wing after wing, my hands often bloody and my tongue often thirsty
I met some people
who had built palaces themselves. I loved and hated and feared them. Some of
them lavished praise on my castle, their words turning into mortar and
fortifications before my eyes. Others seemed intent to bombard me; they loathed
my very foundation, the land, the air I had built on and tore into me with
But I did
not falter. I defended my walls. I grieved the ones that had fallen, yet knew
that it was for the better, re-purposed the bricks and built new structures
from shambles. I was tireless, breathless, each breath a brick, haunted by
black swans and the idea that my whole castle, my whole life, my whole work, could fall to
pieces and my calloused hands would mark me no genius and no pioneer, but a fool.
night that passed and every morning that rose, I grew faster and faster when
pacing my hallways and tracing my stones, panic electric in every step. I turned in circles, frantic, manic, perfectionistic, and when I had nowhere else to turn, I turned on the castle. I convinced myself that something so fragile and painful could never be true. I kicked
the walls down all by myself, proclaimed it suffocating and rigid and artificial and cruel
and wrong, hated how it had me confined, like a bird in a blood-gilded cage,
forever tied to the walls like some dumb creature of no understanding.
free and left. Just left. Like a child carelessly drops a flower once all its petals are
torn and there is nothing left that’s entrancing, I let it all fall to the
ground with a veil of detachment weaved into my eyes. Everything I had once
considered my personal duty, the source of all of my pride and arrogance and
self-worth, the very reason for my existence – I dropped it. I ran out of my
castle towards something that was deliciously not-mine: the horizon.
subjective. All was irrelevant. All was in a state of perpetual flux. The very
sky was my castle and I the black swan that defied it. I was one of the
homeless now, empty and free. I tasted numb fingers and soft hands and soft
hearts and soft brains. I let myself go, allowed myself to be swept away by the
tides of existence - from one shore to two shore to ten shore. I never
questioned. Never complained. Basked in the warmth of the sand and the light of
the sun, accepted the bite of the wind and the wetness of rain.
time, I grew dissatisfied. Was this really the truth? A life without any
attempt at understanding, at ordering, at classifying, at comparing, deducing,
progressing, building, tinkering, experimenting, creating myself? A passive
existence like that, forever just nodding and calling it life… somewhere inside
my liquified brain, I nursed a rebellion against my acceptance. I was a king. I
wanted to shape, to create, to lead and to conquer. I wasn’t made for swimming
along with a smile on my lips. I was born to bleed from my hands and to love
blood. I wanted sweat. I wanted the sweet release of laurels, of success and of
honour. I wanted my castle back. I would rebuild it better than ever. Slowly,
sluggishly, incompetently, I turned around and heaved my amorphous body against
the gust of the wind. I walked into the great unknown, first toes on soil, then
wading back into black water and swimming against a towering tide, all in darkness.
I had no idea where I was, who I was and how I would get anywhere, but I just
kept at it, pushing, crawling, floating, step after step and breath after
very slowly, in a crawl of time in which day and night seemed as one, I pieced
together a map of my world. I found oceans, jungles, deserts, snowy plains and
lush forests, mountains, reefs and abysses. I realized that I knew many of
these places. I had walked through them in my dreamlike stupor of blind
detachment, stumbling ahead without ever stopping to think. This time, I
rested. Hidden behind stone monuments, corners jutting out of the sand, stuck
between the branches of fir trees, I found bricks – some of them were my old
ones, carried far away from my castle by the wind, just like myself. Others were
new. I’d found them and tossed them aside without any inspection.
I traced every one of them. Some turned to steel in my hands, others crumbled
to dust and returned to the earth. Hands bleeding once more, I carried them
home to my castle. The more bricks I found scattered all over the world, the
clearer I saw my castle in my mind. I knew where it was. And now, I also knew
where it wasn’t.
Finally, there it was. My old castle on the horizon. It was reduced to ruins and rubble; only a few
trusty walls were still standing up to the elements. Without clearing off the ivy and
moss, without even stopping to dust off the floor, without looking around the
lower chambers at all, I collapsed on my cracked throne and breathed. It was no
longer one breath a brick, but a fortified brick every conscious breath. I have changed.
So, here I am, sitting in the dust of my own escape. Master of destruction,
disciple of construction, the king of the ruinous castle, and weep.
I know that
I will never be only a king again and never only a wanderer. I am something new.
I will wander the world to build my castle and my castle will follow my steps.
I am no prisoned madman and no homeless fool. I am free. And I choose to build
and re-build and re-build and forever re-build a home.
black swans come. I dare them. Invite them.
If I perish
with just one solid brick in my hand, all of it will have been worth it.
Why Jon's reign will bring Hope & Dany's won't... Or How the Dragons’ Colors foreshadow the Fate of the Realm
I was thinking a long time about the fact why GRRM made Rhaegal a green dragon. For Drogon, his coloring is clear: black and red as representation of the Targaryens. Viserion, I thought, was going to be Jon’s: he is cream and golden, but often referred to as the white dragon, a color closely related to Jon. And his name is Viserion, like Jon was thought to be his father’s Visenya to fulfill the three-headed dragon prophecy. How wrong I was I realized when Viserion became an ice dragon / wight.
So, here’s my theory about how the dragons’ colors foreshadow the fate of the realm if their respective „dragonriders“ win the war and become King/Queen of Westeros:
Viserion is cream and golden, but better known as the white dragon. After becoming a wight his eyes get that icy-blue color. His new rider is the Night King (a king, as foreshadowed by the golden color). If he will win the war, Westeros will probably turn into a snowy ice desert, populated by ice wights. The entire real will become what was once only north the Wall, a place that gives a foretaste of what is to come under his rule. An eternal winter and the end of humankind.
Drogon is black and red, the personification of the Targaryen sigil. His rider is Dany. If she wins, she will secure her rule through „fire and blood“ against any opponents, like she displays in The Queen’s Justice. (And that there will adversaries to a Targaryen restoration in Westeros is clearly foreshadowed as well.) By doing that, she will probably burn down some parts of the realm and is going to be ironically exactly the „Queen of the Ashes“ she said she doesn’t want to be.
Rhaegal is green and bronze. Bronze is associated with the First Men and the Crown of the Kings of Winter, a reference to Jon, the new King in the North. But what about the green? Green is a symbol for hope, nature, recreation… and spring. We all know what the final book is called: „A Dream of Spring“. Together with it’s former title „A Time for Wolves“ (which I allow to play with and create: „A Time for Wolves to dream of Spring“…), I dare to say that the wolves/Starks with Jon leading the way will rebuilt the realm and start a new era in Westeros.
Even the dragons’ flames represent that:
Viserion’s now icy-blue flame -> ice and wights
Drogon’s red and black flame -> fire and ashes
Rhaegal’s yellow and orange flame with veins of green -> spring associations
The interesting part is that the dragons are not necessary to let these scenarios happen:
The Night King can kill all remaining humans with his army, turn the people into wights and the realm into ice.
Dany’s Dothraki won’t resist their culture: This is a horde of about 100.000 men (and only men, we never saw a female dothraki in Dragonstone or on the ships, or am I wrong?) who will want a woman (probably several). How many westerosi lords or common people will give their daughters voluntarily to them? And Dany promised them a conquest and land in Westeros. How many lords will share their land or are willing to deal with the sacking and raping hordes? That’s a formula for a new civil war that will lead to fire and ashes.
Jon, on the other side, is the only one whom a dragon won’t help to achieve his kind of reign, since „dragons do not plant trees“. I think that tells us that he is the only one to not happily use „his“ dragon, like Dany and the NK are doing. He will be rather hesitant to mount one of these „Gorgeous beasts“. For me, that foreshadows the extinction of the dragons to enable a new dawn and a new spring for humankind. Jon will have other help: his people (the North, the wildlings, even the Vale and probably the Riverlands) and, certainly, his family. (And we all know who is associated with symbols of recreation/reconstruction, aren’t we? ;) )
To sum up:
Night King = Viserion = white & icy-blue = ice desert, winter & wights
Dany = Drogon = red and black = fire and ashes
Jon = Rhaegal = green = spring, hope and reconstruction
Lip was headed for the Alibi, on the lookout for a drunken Frank who’d caused some chaos just an hour before. He was less than surprised as the smell of a fresh strawberry cigarette crept up on his senses, followed by two cold and red-polished set of fingers on each of his shoulders. “Good morning, idiot,” you laughed. “Jesus Christ, you got nothing better to do than follow me?” he sighed. “Uh oh, what did Frank do now?” you questioned. He scoffed, putting a fresh cigarette in his mouth. “Well, for starters he decided to come home instead of wander the streets like a bum,” Lip replied.
You rolled your eyes as you walked beside him. “I brought my knuckle ring with me. Wanna borrow it?” you asked. He laughed slightly at the offer. “Save it for another time,” he answered. You smiled as he used your cigarette to light his. You two were friends—sort of. You had your roller coaster traits that went together perfectly, households equally at their full occupancy rate. It was hard not to find something in each of you that wasn’t likeable in the other’s eyes, however. You played pool at the Alibi every Sunday, too, like an unspoken commitment birthed from the friendship. You followed Lip into the Alibi and then all over the rest of town, listening to him bitch about how you wouldn’t quite bugging him—you loved it.
You stopped on the edge of town near the deserted snowy trails by the lakes at the end of Chicago. “Well fuck, where is he?” Lip growled. “…Wanna do something better?” you asked. He looked at you as you tilted your head. “Wanna crash a rich peoples’ party? We can even make-out in front of everybody to make the old people uncomfortable,” you joked. He looked around in hesitation before he replied. “Let’s make sure they can see the tongue,” he responded. You were taken aback. You were kidding…sort of. You smiled slightly, waiting for him to say he was fucking with you, but he never did. Instead, he took you by the hand and dragged you back into town. Oh, and you did more than just make-out at the party.
First headcanon of the blog! Why not kick things off with a little angst?
•The Champions’ bodies were never actually recovered after being killed by their respective Blights.
•Just as their spirits were trapped inside the Divine Beasts, so were their physical bodies (this is why there are no actual graves or tombs for them in each of their homes).
•But of course their people each had their own ways of honoring their fallen warriors.
•Daruk was as strong as a mountain. To honor this characteristic about him, the Gorons carved an enormous image of his face in the cliffs above their city.
•They embedded the most precious gemstones from their mines within these cliffs, and Daruk’s visage was framed with sparkling rubies, sapphires, topazes, and diamonds.
•Daruk had a brother who spoke some words for him at a gathering near the cliffs. This brother eventually had a son, who eventually had his own son which he named Yunobo.
•A large feast is held every year on the day of Daruk’s valiant fight against the Calamity, to celebrate his heroic strength and carry on his memory.
•The landing that Rito warriors utilized to take off from was officially renamed “Revali’s Landing” to symbolize their Champion’s effort to fight the Calamity.
•Every Rito in the village placed a candle for Revali in the middle of the the landing, and lined the entire structure with their sharpest arrows to signify the warding off of evil.
•Revali’s parents were both already dead, but he had a younger sister. She was so devastated by the loss of her brother that one night she flew off toward the Hebra Mountains, not packing anything with her.
•She never came back. Search parties were unsuccessful. This is why there are no current descendants of Revali in Rito village.
•Brilliant Zora architects crafted a statue of Mipha and placed it in the heart of the Domain.
•The day after its construction was finished, the Zora gathered around it in a circle and listened to words spoken by King Dorephan, as he recounted Mipha’s life.
•At the end of the King’s speech, every Zora warrior raised their spears to the sky in salute to Mipha’s kindness and bravery.
•However, little Sidon couldn’t handle attending the ceremony. But afterwards he felt so guilty about not going that he’d go and sit by Mipha’s statue everyday.
•Deep in the highlands of Gerudo Desert, Gerudo craftswomen constructed a statue in Urbosa’s memory.
•When the statue was finished, all the Gerudo made a pilgrimage across the scorching desert and snowy plateaus to gather at the statue; there they all knelt before it, and the warriors placed their weapons into the ground to kneel on them in respect.
•It has since become a Gerudo tradition for young women seeking to become warriors to make their own pilgrimage to the statue. The statue is now known as the Eighth Heroine, immortalizing Urbosa among the seven great heroines who protected the Gerudo in ancient times.
•Urbosa’s aunt was the Gerudo chief. When her time passed, her daughter became the new chief. She was a valiant and gracious chief, but died before it should’ve been her time. It was then that her daughter Riju took up leadership of their people.
“New York City buzzes with a special kind of energy. I’ve never felt anything quite like it,” Newt observed.
The both of you were inside his case. You’d just finished feeding the creatures and decided to take a break in the shade of a tree. You both sat, almost touching, with your backs leaning against the strong trunk. Unbeknownst to you, Pickett the bowtruckle was climbing around in Newt’s hair and he was patiently waiting for him to stop.
You asked Newt about his travels and he delighted in telling you. He raved of deserts and snowy plains, high mountains and ocean cliffs, and of course the creatures. You could only imagine how many more stories he had that he wasn’t getting around to sharing.
“You’re a fascinating person, Newt,” You heard yourself say. Perhaps you were a little sleepy, and that sleepiness was causing you to be a little less self conscious. You noticed that he was blushing. Suddenly, Pickett decided to hop into your hair. “Oh no Pickett, leave her alone,” he reached for him.
What if Luke and Leia were "switched at birth" (or rather, the difference is how they were split)? Prince Luke Organa? Leia Skywalker?
When she is nine, Leia sits her uncle and auntie down and, small face screwed up with determination, asks for an increase of her allowance. She has prepared points and counterpoints. She cites both local and intergalactic codes of labor law.
Her uncle frowns at her for a long minute once she’s done. She holds his gaze, stare for stare, chin untrembling, because that’s how he’d taught her to when they went to barter for parts at Toshi Station.
“Alright,” he says.
“My bedtime should be pushed an hour later, too,” Leia tries and her aunt laughs and tells her to go do the dishes.
When Leia is twelve, she organizes all of the children of local farms into a union. Their parents think they’re kidding until they hold their first strike.
Luke grows up in a green world. He still learns to fly early, eager to get empty air under his feet and never quite sure why. His father is a senator. His mother is an academic and she tells him stories and stories about faraway worlds– snowy planets and desert ones, lava and ocean, the places fire and ice meet.
Luke does well in schooling, or well enough for how often he spends staring out the window at blue skies, staring at the bottoms of clouds and imagining what they look like from above or within. Every elective he has to take he turns toward flight– physics, physiology, aeronautics, history.
He listens at the dinner table when his father talks about right and wrong, about justice and democracy, but he responds with engine makes and models and what new simulator scores he’s earned.
His parents wanted a child, though, more than anything, and this is the one they got. They wanted a child and they wanted peace. There are so many ways to save the universe. When Luke asks for their blessing to apply to the flight academy, his father kisses his cheeks and his mother tells him how proud they are of his choices.
When his father’s favorite protege goes off on what is supposed to be a routine diplomatic mission, Luke is the pilot. He sees the Imperial cruiser coming in and cannot outrun them, though he tries.
When he sees the junior senator (Isabel, 22, she came to dinner at his parents’ and made his mother laugh about ancient literature) face Vader and spit calm lies in his face about diplomacy and innocence, Luke wishes he could be so brave.
He is bundled off with the rest of the civilians on board. They are herded into pens like cattle somewhere in the Death Star’s bowels, waiting for shipment to mines or weapons factories or, who knows, gladiatorial arenas– whatever it is the Empire does with prisoners.
Meanwhile, on Tatooine, Leia’s uncle has just bought two new droids. When she cleans the R2 unit she finds a recording of a beautiful young woman in senatorial white calling for Obi Wan Kenobi.
But the R2 is a flight risk and Leia ends up out in the badlands, chasing it down. She is in Old Ben Kenobi’s little house when the Stormtroopers come to burn her farm. She feels it happen, but she doesn’t recognize it in the pit of her belly. She has never lost anything before, nothing that large.
She thinks it must be excitement, as she turns her father’s lightsaber over and over in her hands. Her stomach sinks to her toes. Bile rises in her throat. She smells smoke and she thinks she must just be nervous. New futures do that sometimes, spreading out open wide at your feet.
(Luke feels it when Alderaan dies.
He doesn’t know what it is, but he feels it all the same as he sits crammed in a windowless metal room with the rest of the crew. Someone is crying. Someone is praying.
He gets a waft of his mother’s perfume– lilacs and old pages and dried ink– and it hits him like a blow. A world is dying, gone. He doesn’t know.
He feels his father’s broad hand wrap about his shoulder. He thinks he is just homesick.
He will be homesick for the rest of his life.)
Obi Wan and Leia find Han in the bar, hire the Falcon, hit the sky. Leia’s never been off world before and she feels the ground disappear from under her feet. (The ground vanished the moment she stumbled out of her speeder, smoke on the wind, and saw skeletons fused into the sand).
Luke waits in the dark. He thinks about his mother’s stories of epic adventurers, great deeds, heroes. He feels very small. He thinks about the young senator stuck somewhere in this base in a cold room, secrets buried under her ribs. Someone here in the dark is crying. Someone is praying.
Luke moves once, slowly, around the room. He spots the calmest person he can see (a fifty-something woman with wide hips and her knitting needles out). “We need to figure out what we have among us,” he says. She looks at him and he adds, “I don’t want to die here. Do you?”
“Su-Lin from Maintenance has got a concealed blaster in her purse, I think,” says the woman, whose name he will discover is Mabel. “And Ricky from the cafeteria plays a lot of strategy games. Let me fetch a few people. You go talk to the flight crew.“
The Millennium Falcon arrives as Luke’s escapees are marched onto a supply freighter ship by four of their own in stolen Stormtrooper armor. Luke slips off the freighter right before they close up and Mabel lets him. “I’m going to see if I can get the senator,” he says. “You get these lot off, okay?”
“You take care of yourself, kid,” says Mabel. “You need another pair of hands?”
Luke shakes his head. “It’s a long shot either way. Just get them home.” (None of them know yet that home is no longer there.)
He meets Leia and Han in the hallways, because they almost shoot him before he yanks his helmet off and his flailing hands convince them he’s for real.
When they get the senator out of her cell she groans aloud at the sight of Luke. “Your dad’s gonna kill me,” Isabel says, and then she goes pale, remembering. Luke’s belly fills with ice.
She tells him about Alderaan. She stumbles over a sorry but Luke grabs her hand and tries a smile and says, “No, c’mon, Isa, senator, ma'am, we’re going to get you out of here.”
They do. They lose Obi Wan to Vader, none of them knowing it is a fight between brothers happening in the belly of that ship, that it is a death long overdue, one Obi Wan has clutched to his chest for years.
But Obi Wan was the last piece of home Leia had with her, except for the clothes on her back. She cries, curled up in a seat on the Falcon, and not even Han is brave enough to say anything about it.
Luke sits behind Chewy as they fly through the rock and debris that had once been Alderaan. The only thing he has ever wanted to do in life was fly. He closes his eyes. Someone is weeping, here in the dark.
When they reach the base, Luke, an Alderaan pilot’s wings still on his uniform, volunteers for the rebel attack force. Leia shadows Isabel, swallowing up the chaos and rapid-fire conversation of the rebel base as people shove report and requests and questions and admonishment and greetings at the rescued senator.
The first time Leia hands Isabel the report she was looking for before she even reaches for it, Isabel turns and takes it and grins. “What did you say your name was again?”
“Leia,” she says. “Skywalker.”
“Well then, Ensign Skywalker, you stick with me till this over, okay by you?”
When Luke fires the shot that takes out the Death Star, it is not with Obi Wan whispering in his ears. It is his old flight instructors, his fellow pilots– a bunch of adrenalin junkie kids, desperate to fly. He wonder if any of them were off-planet, if a single one survived. When Luke fires that last shot, he hears his father’s voice at the dinner table, talking about right and wrong, diplomacy and faith.
The shot flies true.
Leia touched the lightsaber first, but it’s still Luke who goes to train with Yoda. Leia doesn’t have time for that– she’s stumbled into a rebellion she’d barely even heard rumors of and she’s drowning herself in it. Isabel makes excellent introductions for her. Leia eats breakfast with Biggs, one of her old union buddies, one of her first henchmen, and it’s almost like having a little piece of home with her.
Luke had grown up on his mother’s stories, and he knows how badly she would have wanted to meet the last Jedi living. Yoda tries to teach him to lift planes and face fears, to listen to silences, but Luke keeps on asking him about their Code, their history, how all this came to be. He takes notes. He has Yoda teach him how to build a lightsaber before he ever lets him teach him to wield one.
When the dreams come– about Leia, about Han, about pain– Luke doesn’t let Yoda stop him. He had already been absent, once, when the people he loved had died.
But they lose Han. Luke loses a hand and Leia finds him.
While they plan their attack on Jabba and their rescue of Han, Luke takes a few minutes to digest what Vader told him on that platform and he decides he doesn’t give a crap. He has a father. His name was Bail Organa.
When they attack the second Death Star, Luke does not turn himself in. He gives Anakin Skywalker no second chances. He pilots an X-Wing, guarding the fleet as they wait for Leia and Han to bring down the shields, which they do. Vader and Palpatine burn on the unfinished hull of the second Death Star.
Luke hugs his sister and tells her about Vader. She hugs him back and doesn’t bother with the rest of it. She didn’t have a father, but she had an uncle and an aunt and they had been enough.
After things settle, Luke gets Han to take him on as a third hand on the Falcon. He wants to see every world his mother ever told stories of, and there is Leia to make sure that the Falcon is doing Good in the universe as well as just making the occasional reasonable profit.
Leia goes from rebel lieutenant to politician– it’s a line she’ll cross back and forth many times for the rest of her life, complaining that she doesn’t quite see the difference.
When Leia finally gets important enough to be worth kidnapping, Isabel makes sure she’s in the rescue party that brings her home just so Leia can laugh and roll her eyes and tell her she’s too short to be a Stormtrooper. (”Stormtrooper?” says another rescuer to his friend, glancing down at their New Republic greys.)
Luke writes Mabel every now and then to let her know he’s still breathing. She sends him back pictures of her grandchildren and knitted caps to keep his silly head warm. It’s cold out there, after all.
BLM New Mexico Las Cruces District Hosts Girls Summer Camp
Story by Deborah E. Stevens. Photos by Eileen Davis and McKinney Briske.
Adding to the list of accomplishments for the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, the BLM Las Cruces District hosted a week-long day camp from June 20-24 for 12 fourth-grade girls from Sunrise Elementary School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The camp focused on field trips and hands-on activities aimed at building the girls’ awareness of their surrounding public lands and natural environment.
The camp was co-sponsored by the BLM Las Cruces District and Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The BLM’s Fort Stanton Snowy River Cave Conservation Area, the Lincoln National Forest, and White Sands National Monument also participated.
“Watching the girls engage and enjoy our public lands is so rewarding and inspiring,” said Eileen Davis, BLM Las Cruces District volunteer coordinator. “And for a week in June, the BLM Las Cruces District and other agencies had the privilege of introducing these girls to a variety of science, technology, engineering, math, and conservation activities, specially designed to build their literacy in these fields.”
The horror genre is subjective. What scares one person won’t
even phase another. But despite
this, there are three universal guidelines towards creating an effective horror
story. These concepts even apply to roleplaying games and video games, so
everyone can learn from these three guidelines.
for these goes to Cinemax of Cheshire Cat Studios. Some added points by me, and pictures by google.
First: A compelling premise / setting that generates a creepy
atmosphere. This is the “hook”
on which you ensnare the reader / player, and it will be one of the first
things they interact with. There are as many premises of horror as there are
sadistic authors and game masters, but the most effective of them play into the
fear of the unknown, which is a universal fear across all cultures. These
settings are not limited to, but usually include some form of character
isolation from the rest of civilization; unfamiliar environments; or familiar
environments that are wrong and
corrupted somehow; and unpredictability. You don’t know what lurks in the mist,
or what made that weird sound in the basement, or who left that bloody
handprint on the wall….
Psychological horror seems to skirt
around this requirement, but it still plays into the fear of the unknown. A
bright sunny day in the park is normally not conducive to a creepy atmosphere,
unless your character is hallucinating. Then all bets are off. But that fear of
the unknown is still there, because you don’t quite know what is real and what
isn’t real. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get
Limitations on sight are a simple
but effective way to generate atmosphere. I remember seeing an experiment on TV
a while ago. Participants were shown four pictures of different landscapes- a
prairie, a desert, a rainforest and a snowy forest. Overwhelmingly, the participants
chose the prairie. They thought the desert and snowy forest would be difficult
to live in due to the weather and resources, and they didn’t want to live in
the rainforest because they couldn’t see very far into the picture; they
thought predators could be lurking behind every tree and bush, just waiting to
pounce. This is why most western horror stories take place in the woods, or why
the mist in the Silent Hill series is so damn creepy, or why almost every
horror environment is dark and dreadful. Not being able to see threats coming
plays into the fear of the unknown, and is a primal instinct that a good author
and set designer can easily exploit.
Second: A relatable protagonist. If the atmosphere is the hook to get the reader’s attention,
then the protagonist is the “vehicle” through which the reader or gamer
experiences the horror. A well-written protagonist is essential, and having
them be relatable to the reader makes the horror all the more, well, horrific.
Tabletop game masters are somewhat
off the hook in regards to this, as they don’t have too much control over how
the characters are designed and represented, but that’s part of the fun of pencil and paper RPGs (and
remember, “fear of the unknown” mwahaha). For game masters, this is why it is
important to relay to their players what kind of environment and style of game
they will be playing in. It then becomes the player’s responsibility to make a
character that works for this particular game chronicle.
The most effective horror
protagonists are Regular Janes and Regular Joes thrust into a bad situation. They’re
“everyman” characters who have lives, friends, families and jobs that they want
to get back to. They tend to be vulnerable to their environment, and are not in
control of the situation (that’s the antagonist’s
job). We the reader or player, want to see these characters struggle, and build
empathy with them through their overcoming adversity and problem-solving. And
since this is the horror genre, such a character usually only escapes from the
situation by using his wits and cunning, divine providence, or sheer dumb luck.
And a happy ending is not guaranteed- most “happy endings” in the world of
horror mean “you get to live another day.”
Good horror protagonists will
likely not have any combat training. While it is possible to have a
gun-slinging badass or a martial arts master in a horror setting, the threat
level needs to be increased to out-match the protagonist’s abilities; remember
that a horror protagonist needs to be vulnerable to his or her environment, and
cannot be in control of the situation. If a protagonist can just shoot his way
through the whole setting from the first minion to the Final Boss Monster, the
setting ceases to be scary. It is advised to avoid this “arms race” between
protagonist and antagonist, as the more powerful each character becomes, the
less relatable they become to the reader, and the less horrific the story
becomes. Just say no to badassery and hello to mediocrity.
Third: Incentive to keep going. If the setting is the potatoes, and
the protagonist is the meat (…apt metaphor?), then the incentive to keep going
is the “secret sauce” that will either make or break your gourmet meal. This is
perhaps the most important point of all three of these guidelines. Having a
horror-inducing atmosphere and a compelling protagonist means nothing if your
protagonist has no logical reason to remain within the environment. What
motivates them to try and solve the mystery? What compels them to venture
further into an increasingly hostile environment? And what in the nine layers
of hell is driving them to completely
ignore their instinct for self-preservation?
Fortunately, the motivations to
keep going despite the scariness are myriad and nigh-infinite. Perhaps the
protagonist lost their friend, or a family member in the abandoned ghost town;
perhaps their car broke down and they can’t just leave; maybe the shopping mall
they were in has turned into a freakish torture-dimension and the only way out
is through a portal or something; maybe they’ve been kidnapped by deranged
cultists and are now running for their lives; or maybe they want revenge on the
antagonist, and are willing to go through hell to do it. Or maybe they’re
experiencing hallucinations that are frighteningly real and the pills don’t seem to be working….
Survival and escape can also be used as a motivation, and there is no shame in
using them. Getting out of a horrific situation with one’s life and/or sanity (mostly)
intact is a struggle against adversity just as much as anything else.
If you do not include a motivation
to keep going, perceptive readers are going to notice, and this is the worst
possible thing that can happen to a horror story. They will be thinking “wait,
what? Why doesn’t he just leave?!” and will be ejected from the narrative.
Rather than immersing themselves in the story and letting themselves experience
the thrills and chills vicariously through the main character, they’ll be
analyzing why your protagonist made such a brain-dead decision to keep going
into these lethal situations.
In the Creepypasta universe, this
is why the majority of “haunted bootleg video game” pastas do not work (among
other reasons); the protagonists in those stories can simply shut off the game
console / computer at any time. There is no danger, and they do not have a goal
other than playing the bootleg game for the sake of plot contrivance. The same thing applies to “lost
episode” pastas, and to the first three Five
Nights at Freddy’s video games. And yes, Freddy fanboys, I mean it. The
first night on the job is excusable- the protagonist obviously got more than he
bargained for. But why oh why does he
keep coming back to his incredibly dangerous, minimum-wage job every night when
he could just quit at any time and get a safer job? It is never explained
within the game.
To finish this off and show these
guidelines in action, I’ll be using Cheshire Cat Studio’s example from the
video of these three guidelines. Credit for this idea goes to LaughingMan.
You’re a 12ish pre-teen, and you’re
in a rusty, abandoned amusement park at night. You’re stuck there, and have to
get out. Oh, and you have this John Wayne Gacy-type serial killer in a clown
suit in there with you. He’s known for killing and raping his victims. Probably
in that order. And you’re next.
have to explore the environment to solve puzzles, open various gates and crawl
through various chutes and tunnels. There are few places to hide, and the
killer clown is actively hunting you. You have to cover your tracks, or else
he’s going to follow you. You can’t hide in the same place over and over again,
because he wises up to that and starts checking bathroom stalls and lockers,
etc. And you don’t know where he is half the time, since he walks around semi-randomly.
Oh, and be careful opening those noisy, rusted gates. It’ll draw his
have all three guidelines covered. A creepy atmosphere with the amusement park,
along with the fear of the unknown with the serial killer hunting you. You have
an established protagonist that is very vulnerable to environment, since you’re
a child and can’t hope to fight the serial killer clown. And you have a very
clear motivation to keep going by just getting out of the park alive.
Title: Countdown Fandom: BTS-fandom / A.R.M.Y. Pairing:Jikook Warning: death mention, blood mention, violence, angst, crying Jungkook (crying author) Rating: O for oh my God I can’t believe I wrote this. Word Count: 2 022 Summary:Jikook + Hunger Games. Sequel to these:Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 The Hunger Games began and I don’t know how to write proper action scenes. But here we go… Guess who will die in the next chapters? ahahahahaha Author’s Note: I’m sooo not ready for this.
An emotionless, machine-voice says, and Jungkook’s throat is dry and his eyes are wet with forming tears. Five minutes, and he has to step into a glass tube what will take him to the arena. He swallows thickly and looks at his stylist, Son Sungdeuk.
“What do you think about the clothes, Sungdeuk-ssi? What kind of arena is waiting for me out there?” he asks, voice dripping with fear.
“Well, uh, the clothing is simple, black and easy to move in. It’s warm but it’s not enough to protect you against freezing. The material is light and airy… Uhh, honestly, I have no idea. I’m sorry, Jungkook-ah” the man looks away sadly. He and Jimin’s stylist, Bang Shihyuk developed a liking for the boys and the farewell is hard for them as well.
“It’s okay, Sungdeuk-ssi. Thanks.” Jungkook tries to smile but it’s more like a grimace.
“Three minutes until start.”
“Oh, I almost forgot!” the stylist dramatically clutches his heart. “It’s forbidden and against the rules, but whatever. It’s yours and I decided that you have the right to wear it.”
Sungdeuk places into Jungkook’s palm the small, worn metal pin. It’s a golden butterfly attached a ring around it. The butterfly is connected to the ring only by its wing tips. It’s the last gift of Jungkook’s mother, he gave it to his son with the words, ‘It’s a lucky item, it’ll protect you.’
“One minute until start.”
“Thank you.” Jungkook says quietly, his thumb circling on the pin.
“Tributes, step into the capsule. Ten seconds until start.”