Hi everyone, this is the first chapter of my debut novel. For information and links to other chapters click the link down below : Reddit - Dive into anything The Great One sat on his throne, gazing longingly into the hearts of man. Something was coming and he could feel it. Destiny riding on a white steed, like the tales of man long ago, coming to uncover his secrets. He could see it all, the wall, the castle, and the so-called gods that built it all. The ego of these creatures was laughable, if only the Great One could still laugh. He could still speak sure, but only through means not of man’s common means. Vocal cords were a commodity long since lost in this place. As the Great One observed the coming destiny he could feel the approaching storm, in a hail of flesh and blood, the only things that the Great One lacked. He would never give up, never retreat to these things as they approached, for this was the Great One. He looked back to the castle, viewing the scene in its entirety, and he felt something like happiness enter him.
Divinity. That is what connected the walls surrounding Dundis castle, not stone or metal, this was not a mere wall but a divine gift from ones above. Divinity sealed the wall, made it whole, the walls sealed together without mark or blemish, something no man could ever replicate. The wall had stood for a century, and would likely last ten more, there was no weakness, no flaw in design. 50 metres tall the wall was unscalable, unbreakable. No man could break the wall, it was the Vaunghe empire’s crowning gift, their wonder of the world. Those that were hired to clean the wall’s dirt and grime were heralded as the truly faithful, and all longed to help the gift of the gods. And yet despite this the Alizian’s watched, standing with armies around the great wall, waiting to breach its crust and destroy the core.
The Vaunghe had watched their foes throw everything they had, hundreds of men attacking the steel doors of the wall to no avail, an attempted archer attack quickly squashed by the wall's height. The Alizian military was strong, a blend of the Alizian warriors and Strolim blacksmiths made for a truly terrifying army. The army was so terrifying that the Vaunghe inside the castle doubted there were any more Vaunghe troops left, this was the end to a long battle between man and man. Even the soldiers left weren’t particularly important, just those lucky enough to guard the king and a few trainees. But the Vaunghe felt their luck running out.
The food supplies had run low, even if the nobles weren’t in the castle there was no chance of resupply. The few men who had eaten in the past few days stood alert, gazing down from the ramparts at the enemy. The soldiers knew they had to either surrender or fight, but the Vaunghe were passionate people, they could never leave behind their identity in favour of life. So the men waited, bows and arrows at the ready, for the next attack. Heavy items such as ingots and chairs lined the rampart, ready to be thrown off at a moments notice.
They had waited in this position for many cycles, and as day turned to night, and night turned to day the Vaunghe were exhausted, finished with whatever feeble attacks these barbarians had planned. They could throw whatever armies and arrows they wanted at the wall but it would remain unphased, forevermore. When the Alizian’s next attacked they would be met with the last strength of the Vaunghe, and it would be a story remembered for milenia by man and the gods.
As the morning sun rose over the wall, the enemy was revealed in all their glory. Even from so high above the Vaunghe could see the glint of silver from the Alizian military. The bright greens of the Alizian armour created a dazzling sensation that they were one with the grass, which blended in so perfectly with their clothes. They stood in their thousands, armed with whatever they could find, and even on the wall the men could see him.
The slaughterer, the murderer, the man, the myth and the legend Osmund stood alone on an overlooking hill. The fiend was well known by the Vaunghe, he was likely the greatest foe that had come from the opposing sides. Vaunghe generals often fled at his coming, or surrendered first, but rumour had it that Osmund gave no mercy. Overseeing his army to destroy everything that was left, the Vaunghe soldiers knew today really was the end. The figure on the hill moved closer to his army and screamed. The battle-cry of the Alizian’s shook fear into each of the Vaunghe atop the rampart, being so loud that it even reached so high.
The hundreds of troops began to move in sync, forming three individual groups of soldiers, with 10 metre spaces between each. Each contingent comprised six hundred men, easily dwarfing the 82 Vaunghe soldiers that were left. But the Vaunghe were not afraid, at least not afraid of a breach anytime soon. These walls were built to withstand any damage, no man could breakthrough one.
Between the troops was movement, indeed there seemed to be movement down all three rows of men in blue. The Strolime empire had finally revealed themselves, with their short stature and mental prowess the Strolime were gifted inventors not expected to appear on the battlefield. And yet here they were, almost one hundred of them hauling forth three large metallic objects. The sun bounced off of these objects into the Vaunghe’s eyes.
None of the men had ever seen objects like these, seemingly composed of pure metals and on wheels. Some thought they were a testament to the gods, some holy objects, others believed it to be some new invention from the Strolime, however none of them could say anything for certain as they were pushed closer and closer to the wall. The Strolomites stopped in their advance, approximately 20 metres away from the wall. The purpose of these objects had yet to dawn on the men, although one of the younger men on the rampart claimed he could see small objects poking through the metal, which was now aimed at a forty-five degree angle towards the wall.
As the Strolimites halted their advance many began to move away into the safety of the Alizian wall, likely afraid of any precautionary Vaunghe archers. One of them, a rather short and plump soldier, stayed with the object, placing a hand on it and turning to the wall. It was a fleeting moment, but for a second it seemed the man was gazing at the Vaunghe soldiers in shame. One last condemnation to the ones that began this war, before it would all come crashing down. But then the moment passed, and the short man moved as the rest did, doing a slight zig zag to avoid arrows.
And now, just as quickly they had come, the Strolomite’s were gone in the ranks of the Alizians, still waiting in their groups for something, and then they came. Three figures, two women and a man, moved between the lines just as the Strolimites before them. These three wore no armour, only the greens of Alizia upon their tunics. They stood beside the objects and began to reach their arms into the underside of it. Before the Vaunghe’s eyes the objects began to turn slightly, aiming even more directly at the wall.
One of the Vaunghe had enough of this display, and raised his bow. There were low winds on this day, and he was a good enough shot to reach at least one of the Alizian soldiers. He aimed his bow, finger on the drawstring, and released. It is likely that this arrow would’ve drawn first blood in this battle, however the arrow never reached its target.
In the split second before the release of the bow, the Vaunghe noticed the smoke billowing out of the bottom of the devices, the flames that shot out, and finally they noticed for not even a fraction of a second the object that shot out of the metallic thing, something white and red that hit the wall in an instant.
The wall shook, and the following barrage of these objects shattered any notion of divinity. Crashing and crumbling the rampart was launched, sending soldiers flying everywhere. The Vaunghe beside the wall were subject to the falling rubble, both the crumbling stone of the walls and the miscellaneous objects they had left upon the wall. All of the objects crushed the few Vaunghe left, save for the few sickly starving soldiers left inside the castle’s inner walls.
Down went the walls, such a harsh strike against the wall that nothing stood in the path of this monster. The roaring splattered through the castle, the screams of the falling wall waking the King himself from his slumber. Such a vast creation had fallen in seconds before the might of the Alizian’s, and now there was nothing left but to watch the battle unfold.
Smoke flooded the inner walls of the castle, casting the few remaining into fits of coughing and blindness. The walls finished their crumbling, and yet the roars didn’t stop. These were not the roars of the wall but the war cries of the soldiers outside, and they began to get louder, echoing through the walls of Dundis and into the ears of the weak nobles and soldiers.
Through the smoke they came, weapons raised and charging the weak. The few that tried to fight were slaughtered, cut down by a sea of green soldiers. Those that were choking, sputtering or raising their hands in defeat were spared, hauled through the hordes and into one of the stables facing the inner wall. They were to be tried and jailed, for no human regardless of their crime should be killed. It is simply not the Alizian way.
Out of the one hundred and fifty two people who were in Dundis, forty two had died in the wall’s destruction, and a further eleven were detained by the Alizian military. There was nothing that the Vaunghe could do, save for locking their doors, shield themselves and hold out for as long as possible. The Vaunghe forces built barricades in their castle, locking away the Alizian combatants for as long as possible. And during all of this Osmund waited. Waiting for his time to end this war, this travesty of battle that had gone on for too long, and that time finally came.
* * * *
Osmund stood alone atop the hill, and watched the madness unfold. The walls crumbled at the face of these weapons with no more effort than a straw house, and the plumes of smoke assaulted his men, although not to the extent of the inner wall. After a few moments of sputtering and choking the men cheered, for this was the moment that they had been waiting for, the end of such a long war now in the Alizian’s favour.
The Vaunghe capital was in shambles, their military long crushed underneath Osmund’s almighty power, and all that was left was the King. Hiding behind his walls as if he didn’t deserve this loss, this final failure in his life. Osmund was willing to spare as many people as he could, it was the Alizian code, but there would be no mercy for the King. This wasn’t one final battle between two great armies, that conflict happened weeks ago, this was the last breaths of a psychotic monarch being silenced amongst the last of his troops.
Osmund gazed longingly at Dundis, the ruined walls and advancing soldiers and doubted. He felt something was off, something was very wrong with all of this. His heart began to thump, as Osmund’s eyes turned every way to understand what was wrong, what abnormality was here. It grew and grew, Osmund began to shake at what was about to happen, nothing was right here Osmund should be somewhere else helping someone, there’s something wrong here something very-
Peace. Osmund’s heart stopped thumping, body stopping its perpetual shaking. He looked again to the marching troops, now almost entirely inside the walls, and looked back to his back, and the reserve Strolomites that now stood. They were cheering, marvelling at the success of the assault, and how the god’s gift had saved so much effort on their part.
Such strange creations composed of metal and flame, Osmund marvelled at the power the gods possessed. These devices were so unique in design Osmund doubted if any army could defeat them. The large red tubes they released could easily destroy an entire village by itself, but with one hundred of them an entire valley could be bathed in flames. Something truly abnormal in this world, something so parallel to the code of battle that no army would ever think of it.
The Vaunghe were once considered to be the greatest fighters, with the tournaments they created bringing forth the greatest warriors from throughout the land. Their dedication and power were unmatched in ferocity and violence, some called the Vaunghe the standing due to their unmatched will to always get back up. Osmund recalled his days in the tournaments, those peaceful days when he was not yet a hero to people, but a simple military man. He was still only Osmu back then, and yet even those of the time knew he would be something special. As Christoff used to say, ‘Ozzie you’re going places, big ones’. Osmund missed Christoff, It had been so long since their last meeting, and all Osmund wanted was to meet again one last time.
Osmund’s assistant came to him, a younger Strolomite by the name of Gizmu. Gizmu was rather muscular for a Strolomite, a strong figure contrasting his associates' plumper bodies, and stature was fairly tall for one of his people at 6’5 ft tall. Hazel hair protruded through a blue helmet, and for the first time Osmund considered what his assistant could look like. Gizmu was one of the many Strolomite’s who refused to show their face until military success, a tradition that Osmund respected. He had no doubt that Gizmu's true face would one day be revealed to him, as the man possessed genuine prowess in the fields of agriculture, something sorely missed in the modern military.
“Osmund, your team is preparing now, they’ll come soon. I advise you to prepare your armour sir, as it won’t be long before you’re sent in.” Osmund sensed mild concern in Gizmu’s voice, but didn’t pursue it.
“Thank you Gizmu, my friend. I’ll begin my preparations, tell the guests to meet me here when they are fully prepared. And do ensure they understand that there is still risk of injury on this mission, ensure each of them wears their armour.” Osmund’s voice was deep and echoed his long life, commanding a sense of authority amongst all Alizian forces.
Osmund left the hill, passing the cheering Strolomite’s and the peasant farmers who supported the army, and entered the rows of tents. They stretched out on either side, one for every four soldiers, until he reached his own tent. Entering Osmund was surprised to discover a fellow commander still asleep in his bed, snoring away peacefully.
Osmund removes his upper clothing, the clean tunic falling to the ground. While removing these clothes Osmund kicks the sleeping man in the leg, which doesn’t actually amount to anything rather than halting his snoring. Osmund kicks the sleeping soldier again, this time in the buttocks, which does a far better job of riling him. The man looks around wide-eyed, before settling onto the sight of the giant Osmund.
“Hey, why'd you kick me? I almost had a bleedin’ heart attack don’t you know not to meddle with a sleepin man?”
“Don’t you know that you were meant to be on the battlefield at the crack of dawn? I don’t know what kind of promotion you’re expecting when you aren’t even going on the battlefield. Do you really want to be Balmun forever?” Osmund spoke coldly, now reaching for his chestplate.
“Well no sir. But the thing is I actually have a very cunning plan, I thought of it all myself.” A smile falls upon the man’s face, whose head bears an uncanny resemblance to a potato.
“And what is that?” Osmund halted his preparations briefly.
“Well if I say I was there but didn't actually go, who’d think I wasn’t? I can just sleep through it all until the battle is won and no one would be the wiser.” Osmund puts a hand onto Balmun’s fleshy shoulder.
“A fine plan, if I wasn’t your commanding officer you buffoon. By the gods I believe some divine creator mistakenly put a turnip in your head instead of a brain because no noble’s son has ever been as frankly idiotic as you have. You’re coming with me to the battlefield, and I suggest you get dressed or you’ll be facing the last of the Vaunghe army with your flopping cock dancing for all to see.” Balmun stood and began to slip some clothes on, as Osmund completed his own set of armour.
Osmund’s armour bore the mark of a noble family, some rich fools who wanted their family crest to be associated with a bloody conflict and a dangerous murderer. Osmund wore it because of the armour’s quality, customfit to encompass Osmund’s 9’5 ft tall body, something no other armour was able to achieve. Osmund’s height was always an oddity, reaching far above the average 8ft heights of most Alizian’s, and making him one of the tallest figures in the lands. It was this height and his skin’s colour that earned him the name of the black death, which he wasn’t particularly fond of due to the mention of his skin. And even then Osmund certainly didn’t feel like a black death, whatever that was meant to be, rather he felt like death itself. Osmund was to be fifty years old by the end of the week, and it showed on his body. The hair that was left on his head was grey, and while still possessing an impressive form Osmund’s body was not in its prime, he was old.
Osmund looked at himself in the full body mirror, grabbing his longsword and leaving the tent, dragging a half dressed Balmun with him. Back through the tents they travelled, back past the now eager Strolomite’s and atop the hill where Osmund’s infiltration team stood. In any other battle Osmund would’ve despised the one that left this group with him, a collection of subpar and mediocre soldiers with all the military future of an Otter in a stew. But then again Osmund’s battle history did feature a lot of important people dying under his watch, so perhaps this was for the better.
The force began with Edmun, a cross between a prostitute and a noble who unfortunately takes more from the noble. An egotistical brat, as well as a greedy goblin of anything that isn’t bolted down, Osmund had borne the unfortunate duty of his company for months, since the initial assault on the capitol. The man could barely hold a weapon, save for slight skill with a flail of all things which he wore by his side. It was a gold plated flail as well, specifically made for beating in the heads of the poor Vaunghe soldiers stupid enough to get close. Blonde hair obscured blue eyes that spoke to his red-light mother, in fact for a noble’s son Edmun had all the appearance of an incestuous dullard. The man had survived by pure luck, and was the only casualty that Osmund wanted his side to suffer.
The Enick twins Humun and Eumun were up next, named after their family crest of the god of alcohol Enick. In contrast to Edmun these were a pair of real soldiers, Osmund had seen the fruits of their labour many times. They were great at the art of flanking, Humon’s greataxe paired alongside Eumun’s spears proved to be an unbeatable combination. The only issue that Osmund had with the pair was their… peculiar relationship. While the two were great fighters, whenever they were together anything else became impossible to comprehend. Osmund had once caught the pair attempting to seduce a goat wearing a knight’s helm, and while they were drunk there is still clear evidence of idiocy amongst them. The pair were identical in appearance, burly figures of 8’5ft, short cut black hair and overgrown beards stretching down their faces, however the distinguishing feature between the two was Eumon’s cleft lip, which gave his speech a lisp.
Josmu was far more a scholar than a soldier, although Osmund enjoyed his presence greatly. Since they first met the pair had hit it off, often discussing each other’s lives in Alizian taverns across the kingdom. A gifted archer, Josmu was the son of two aspiring poets and enlisted into the military voluntarily to assist in the war efforts. Osmund had a great deal of respect for the man, and hoped that the two would one day have a drink together, and ruminate on the past once more.
And then there was Jumun, a gifted soldier and one of the few Osmund thought could take him in his prime. Long strands of red hair ran down her rough face, a pointed nose and peculiar eyebrow shape giving her a perpetual look of disappointment. At a height of 9’2 ft she stood almost toe to toe with Osmund, in fact there were many aspects about her that reminded Osmund of himself. The first was her attitude, she treated every war as a tragedy of its own, and yet she would never fail to perform against her enemies. Skilled in most weapons Jumun’s life had been long and arduous, her worn out armour covered in patches and dents. Osmund had offered her a new set of armour once, to which she vehemently refused, telling Osmund that she wished to end the war in the armour she started it in. Currently she held a single large sword nearly identical to his own, and Osmund predicted that she couldn’t wait for the battle to be over.
The group stood facing the smoking walls, watching the now descending Strolomite’s retrieve the three gifts from the gods. Pushing them back up the hill would take tremendous strength and a long time, which is why nearly double the number of Strolomite’s assisted in the endeavour. Osmund cleared his throat, prompting the looks of the team. All of their eyes were of Balmun, who was somehow already panting after a 2 minute drag through the ground. Osmund released the man and pushed him towards his new comrades, to which he sulked.
Osmund could see through the smoke of the ruins now, noting the strangely high number of bodies present from Osmund’s view. It appeared that there were more forces than originally estimated, as it was initially guessed there were around one hundred and fifty soldiers inside. Judging by the number of corpses inside those numbers clearly forgot to account for the possibility of trainees inside of the castle. This may be a slightly larger fight than initially predicted, although even supposing there were another hundred or so trainees locked inside rooms there were things Osmund could do against that.
“Alright then, good to see that some of you actually bothered to wake up today, Balmun, and I think we all know that this mission is going to end the war.” Balmun raised his hand.
“Sir I have a very cunning pl-”
“Shove your plans up your slacker buttocks, you idiot. Now then, I’m gonna say this once, because quite frankly the more chances I give Balmun to interrupt the more likely I’ll butcher myself with this sword. Now then we are the backbone to the forces, our mission is to help take individual points of conflict from alternative points. We will accomplish this with the leaked maps of the castle gained from Vaunghe intelligence. Now then, originally it was believed that we were dealing with only around one hundred and fifty troops, but it looks like someone didn’t remember the number of rookie troops that are trained here, so we could be looking at a few more troops than expected.” Osmund saw the hand raised but tried to ignore it. The man with the potato for a head seemed adamant however, and raised his hand higher. When that didn’t work he raised both arms.
“By the gods what is it?”
“Well sir, what kind of weapons do you think they have?” Osmund stopped in his tracks, not expecting anything even related to an actual important question. A smile formed on his face, it seems that even fools can think every now and again.
“Decent question my friend, we can probably expect the basic mix of swords and axes, likely shields also, but we may have one or two archers running around however it’s unlikely any survived the wall’s collapse.”
“That is good Osmund, once we take a few down I need a weapon, I like the swords myself.”
“What’s wrong with your sword?”
“I left it in the tent sir.” Osmund cupped his hands into his face, cringing against the stupidity of this man.
“Listen…. just everyone follow me please, I mean by the gods man. Come on. Listen I don’t think we will need any armour with us today, we have the single thickest piece of meat just over there as we speak.” Osmund points towards Balmun, who turns to see what everyone is looking at. Without another word Osmund begins to walk down the hill towards the castle, muttering things that even the gods consider a little racy.
* * * *
The ruins of Dundis stood firm in their strength, with the ruined walls blemishing what was once a grand fortress that none had penetrated. Tall spires protrude from the shapeless stone complex. Along the gateway was a path leading directly into the Dundis entrance, which stood slightly ajar. Fragments of the wall had crushed many parts of the outside, with simple wooden stables and trees crushed by the weight of the plummet of the debris. The architecture that remained spoke to the complexities of the Vaunghe, as spiralling patterns adorned the walls of the castle, interlaced with rare jewels that coated the walls. The Vaunghe were so fortunate with minerals that one could find them coating their walls, despite the fact that no one other than a fellow Vaunghe was ever meant to see such a thing.
A veil of embarrassment and determination clashed as the group descended the hill, weapons at the ready. The group had reached the ruins of the wall now, debris coating the grass and the bodies that were surely there. Even destroyed Osmund still felt some of that divine power the Vaunghe always babbled about, he felt the strength in the walls and not for the first time wondered why the gods would bestow such a gift upon such a vile group.
The group began clambering through the ruins, over the cracked pieces of stone and through the divine walls final remains. There was a smell here, the remnants of smoke colliding with the smell of blood, but there was a third smell, one that Osmund knew well. It was the smell of inevitability, heavy in the hair. That which is unlikely to happen always will happen, and when it does the smell adds to it all, the smell of fate and destiny runs through this place.
Inevitability hides everywhere, in the trees and the skies, carried by the wind through it all. From nature it was born, but in man it thrives, the building’s will one day fall, the kingdoms will fade away, and everything will one day lead to something else. From every beginning comes an end, and each end becomes a beginning, this is how it has always been. This place thought itself against such things, and inevitability infected its walls, creeping along slowly rotting the once great walls into a hellish nightmare. Now the bubble has burst, and the smell of inevitability crowds the world, taking over everything.
Moaning. A low whimper. A cry for something. Calls for assistance. A terrified yell. Osmund approaches the source of these noises, his team close behind. At the source of these screams is a Vaunghe soldier, somehow alive after the rampart’s collapse, covered in piles of stone and smoke. His outstretched hand reaches towards Osmund, who in turn takes it.
The man mutters something, sputters blood, and begins to fade. As he does, Osmund moves towards the rocks, feeling against it. Somehow the rocks aren’t as heavy as they should be, and Osmund slowly moves the rocks. The first and second rocks move, and after some struggling Osmund moves the third rock, revealing a bloody leg, spurting forward. Osmund realises how the man survived, the remains of a metal box squashed around him. As the rampart fell the man landed inside, narrowly missing an immediate demise. Now he sat, bleeding in and out of consciousness, and moaning for help. Osmund put his hands around the man, slowly lifting him, and moving forwards into the inner walls.
There are running medics here, and as they see Osmund’s approach they run to him, taking the injured man and placing him onto a table. The man may survive, they told Osmund, however his bleeding may take too much from him. As Osmund turns to leave he hears the voice, the message of the man.
“T-t-th-than-” It was shaky, interrupted by coughs and convulsions, but bore strength, and Osmund felt the ghost of a smile play upon him.
“It wasn’t an issue.” And with that Osmund left the tent, admiring the surroundings in focus for the first time. Eyes bore into him from his party, and yet no one said anything, they couldn’t. Many had called Osmund a monster in his time, they had seen him do bad things to bad people, and yet none would call him a monster, for there is no such thing. Osmund is not some black death, he’s another beast entirely.
For the first time Osmund admired his surroundings, the inner walls were now filled with wreckage, and looked back to the tent. It was amazing how quickly the medics could establish tents, the battle had occurred for less than an hour and already there were three tents established side by side. Besides the wounded Vaunghe soldier were three other injured soldiers, each seeming to be hit by a minor injury likely from the smoke inhalation.
The captured and surrendered were lined up against the castle's wall, being carefully monitored by over sixty members of the contingent. There were only around twelve or thirteen of the captured, smoke-covered and sputtering. On the ground were bodies, those rookies that tried so valiantly to protect what they cared for. They now lay, looking up to the sky blindly.
Osmund saw the bodies and felt his stomach turn. The desire came back. The shaking returned, alongside it the painful sharp stabbing thoughts. Everything changed, he forgot who he was. What kind of person would approve of this, what even was Osmund was he real or fake, how is he even conceiving things like this. What is reality and why is it real, why can’t he understand-
Silence. Peace. Osmund returned to himself, the shaking never happening at all. He looked down at the bodies and continued to walk. There was nothing he could do for them, not anymore. The eyes of his group bore into him, shattering something that had broken a long time ago. He raised his hand and motioned for his team to follow, leaving this travesty of death and life behind.
Footsteps. Osmund turned to their echoing sound, the way they bounced through the place was unbelievable, the way it echoed between the walls and the castle structure itself. Through open castle gates he ran, a messenger in green, sword in its scabbard and now approaching Osmund. The man tripped on something, a large rock of some sort, before standing, dusting himself off and reaching the group.
“Osmund, we have hit the enemy’s points of defence.” The man was young, maybe twenty, and no more than twenty five.
“And? Where are they?”
“There are three fronts, the first is in the scout’s tower where a group of Vaunghe are amassing weapons and barricades fast. We can no longer enter the tower, as the amount thrown down makes common entrance impossible. The second location is the garden, where we believe the last of the nobles and the King himself are. We’ve faced harsh opposition from the enemies, who have formed a wall of shields to protect the door. Finally we have the guard’s quarters, where a few amount of Vaunghe are in active combat as we speak, although that will likely be taken without need for intervention.”
“Good job soldier.”
“Thank you sir.”
Osmund removes a slip of paper from his garb, and admires it in the sunlight. It was a complex map of Dundis, including the secret passages and escape routes of the entire place. It cost the annulment of many Vaunghe men and women, but was worth all the effort. Consulting the map Osmund noted the existence of an escape passageway inside of the tower. It was obscured behind a wall, thus explaining the lack of windows on that side.
“Report back to your commander that we’ll begin with the tower, there are several clear passages into an alternative staircase. Launching a pincer attack we’ll defeat the enemy and allow for the redistribution of forces. By that time I expect the guard’s quarters to be taken, allowing us to completely overflow any opposition protecting the garden.”
“Yes Osmund, I will inform her now.” And with that the young warrior ran back through the castle’s long iron gates.
And thus, the final battle was upon them. Osmund looked upon Dundis, the last symbol of the people who had taken everything from him, the ones who had slaughtered so many innocents, so many that Osmund cared for, and now the end was finally in sight. But it didn’t feel like the end, Osmund could feel no conclusion approaching, it felt like something else, as if this was all leading into something more, some grand massacre the likes of which Osmund had never seen. There’s a darkness ahead, something far worse to come than the echoes of a fallen monarchy, and as Osmund stands he can feel it inside of him, gesturing sensually, awaiting his return to the beginning. In a mental prison of nonexistent existence lies the mother, a slight smile on her lips. She awaits the grasp of Osmund forevermore.
Having been extremely excited about the new production of Pacific Overtures in Japan, which is directed by Matthew White and will be transferred to Menier Chocolate Factory afterwards, I finally managed to snatch a ticket for the final performance in Tokyo. Honestly, this is not my favorite Sondheim show as so many elements in the show feel like semi-authentic but not quite there yet, which conglomerates in somethings akin to uncanny valley if you speak Japanese and know the culture closely. So being able to see the show not only performed in Japanese but reimagined with the input of the Japanese cast piqued my interest the moment I saw the announcement. Overall, I was pretty impressed…until “Next.”
So basically, the production seems to be based on the script of 2017 John Doyle production at CSC, which was quite controversial given the cuts but which I nevertheless loved for its clear and thoughtful storytelling (I don’t mind cuts as long as they make sense in the context of the specific production and to me they did in John Doyle’s version). It ran 110 minutes without an intermission. What really surprised me was the book scenes. Most of them actually worked in Japanese, with a newfound sense of gravitas and nuances that the English language could never quite deliver. I often find the book scenes of Overtures done in English rather affected, sometimes to a degree of jarring-ness like watching anime dubbed in English. Sometimes they work, but they just don’t deliver as much, or at least differently than in Japanese. Here, the book scenes grabbed by attention like never before and they built up the tension much more effectively, making me shed a few tears at scenes I never did.
This is unfortunately not the case for the musical numbers though. As Sondheim is pretty strict and thoughtful with every note and lyric in his works, the translation just cannot achieve the same level of acuity and, well, mastery. Sure, some of the tanga might sound more interesting in Japanese, but in a language where there are so many much better short poems already, they sound amateurish in comparison if you studied Japanese Literature. This is probably due to the fact that the translation is more concerned with getting across the meaning in the original text than capturing the spirit. I saw the production of Merrily in Japanese two years ago, which was a transfer of the 2013? London production also to open on Broadway this fall. The Japanese Merrily also suffers the same problem of translation. You could feel that lyrics are at times fighting against the limited meters instead of becoming one with it. Maybe future iterations could prioritize keeping the spirit alive but what Sondheim does with his works is so much reliant on the unique aspects of the English language and the cultures associated with it, so this is a Herculean task for sure.
Nevertheless, hearing the score and seeing it performed by an all-across spectacular cast was enough to make up for these inherent flaws, at least to my personal enjoyment. My biggest gripe though, is that “Next” is performed unironically. The reason John Doyle’s production worked for me is that at its core, it tried to tell a story about a victim inheriting the mentality of the perpetrator. What I mean by this is, in Doyle’s production, you can see the damage the colonizers did to Japan on a fundamental level, which snowballs and culminates in the haunting image of a young Japanese girl picking up the gun, signifying the same kind of brutal acts Japan would do to its neighbors in the name of co-prosperity. When you take this away and instead make the final number to symbolize the diverse society Japan is going to become, the cuts are suddenly rendered meaningless, with all the tension built up till this point nixed to a sudden halt. It is like removing the hidden message of the danger of Social Darwinism in the revised text and instead saying that Social Darwinism is the way to go, because look at how amazing today’s Japan is (Emperor Meiji’s monologue directly leads up to the cast doing a dance number with the projection in the back showing a traditional Japanese painting of Mt. Fuji turning into a vortex of contemporary artworks).
This production emphatically reminds me that if you want to make Overtures work, not only to satisfy some audience members’ exotic fantasies but to actually work, you need to dig at the irony that is already there in the text, which also apply to almost all other Sondheim shows as we see in the gender-reversed version of Company. Anyways this is just my two coins but any thoughts?
I've been watching C2, and one thing that comes up often is the characters making sleight of hand checks to cast spells without anyone noticing. Besides being against the rules (which isn't necessarily bad) that states that spellcasting is audibly noticeable because of the necessary pitch and resonance the verbal components take to set the lines of magic in motion, it turns the Subtle Spell metamagic option almost useless, as any spellcaster can cast subtly as long as they succeed in a sleight of hand check, seems like a weird decision by Matt tbh.
Hey all, for the first time my wife and I have a new home to call our own and there's some work that needs to be done, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen. I'm being told that we should get all the plumbing redone because the pipes are cast iron and not flowing well and I was hoping to get a general contractor to replace the old tile and such.
I'm going to be reaching out to Eco Relics to see if they want to salvage any of it but I was wondering if anyone could point me to some reputable companies in the area that can do good work without taking advantage of the fact that I have zero experience in renovations. Let me know!
So for the last several raids the community has tried to settle on a relatively simple strat, one that doesn't require too much coordination from our random online allies. Obviously we don't yet know what tricks Samurott will have, but I came up with something that I think will work barring something crazy. For those who don't want to read further, the gist is that one person brings a Koraidon that knows Helping Hand, and the other 3 bring Iron Moths that know Acid Spray and Overheat. There is a backup plan (in case Samurott has a Ground type move) where the other 3 use Armarouge. Koraidon uses Attack Cheer turn 1, then Helping Hands whichever Iron Moth is healthiest. The Moths use Acid Spray turn 1, then only use Overheat if Koraidon used Helping Hand on them.
I know that these pokemon choices seem odd, but I'll explain. I wanted pokemon that could threaten a OHKO without needing to buff themselves, only debuff the enemy. I also wanted a relatively small number of different pokemon involved, where everyone's job would be pretty self-explanatory. Since Sun provides a huge boost to Fire moves, I started there. Overheat, Flare Blitz, and Pyro Ball stood out as strong moves. Among the pokemon with access to 1 of those moves, Iron Moth, Armarouge, Miraidon, and Koraidon were the only ones that also learned the appropriate debuffs.
Koraidon looked promising, but even with Samurott at -6 def it JUST BARELY misses the OHKO. It looks like a great option to solo, but a full group of them may end up waffling between Screech and Swords Dance and accidentally trigger the shield. So if we're aiming for a OHKO with strangers, Koraidon will have to settle for bringing the Sun and Helping Hand support. Miraidon also doesn't quite have the juice, though there would be a good argument for bringing it instead of 1 Iron Moth to provide Electric Terrain.
Iron Moth and Armarouge, obviously, suffer from their weakness to Water. However, Sun reduces the damage by enough that both comfortably survive any 2 non-crit Water moves that might come their way. They both also outspeed Samurott and we get the KO on turn 2 so they shouldn't even need to survive a 2nd attack unless Samurott throws one out in the pre-fight. Iron Moth is pretty clearly superior as it has notably higher SpA and 4x resists Bug. It is less physically bulky, but it hits so hard that you can actually invest more in defenses and still hit the KO. The only reason to consider Armarouge is that Iron Moth takes a TON from Ground moves, where Armarouge can take 2 of anything Samurott knows.
Now, there are still things that would turn this sideways. Samurott resetting its stats turn 2 would be bad but manageable with a change to turn 1; Armarouge could Calm Mind or set up screens, Iron Moth could Light Screen or Electric Terrain (for Quark Drive), and Koraidon could Defense Cheer. This is riskiest for Armarouge, which takes big chunks from Megahorn regardless. The scariest thing for me though would be Rain Dance. Any of these pokes could easily run Sunny Day but the fight becomes less and less predictable if a weather war breaks out and most of the team is 1 rain-boosted Hydro Pump away from death. Speaking of making the fight unpredictable, Samurott has access to both Taunt and Encore, but honestly if it does that I'm probably only running it with friends.
Now for some damage calcs so everyone can see that we get the KO and aren't KOd ourselves. Our Iron Moth is actually oriented heavily toward bulk, as a paltry 48 SpA EVs are enough to guarantee the OHKO.
48+ SpA Life Orb Iron Moth Helping Hand Atk cheer Overheat vs. -6 0 HP / 0 SpD Tera Bug Samurott in Sun: 9982-11745 (100.5 - 118.2% of 30x hp boss) -- guaranteed OHKO0 Atk Tera Bug Samurott Aqua Tail vs. 0 HP / 252 Def Iron Moth in Sun: 102-122 (33.8 - 40.5%) -- guaranteed 3HKO0 SpA Tera Bug Samurott Hydro Pump vs. 0 HP / 216 SpD Iron Moth in Sun: 96-114 (31.8 - 37.8%) -- 85.6% chance to 3HKO
Armarouge needs a good bit more SpA investment and takes much bigger chunks from almost any move that isn't Drill Run, but it still survives as long as we actually need.
164+ SpA Life Orb Armarouge Helping Hand Atk cheer Overheat vs. -6 0 HP / 0 SpD Tera Bug Samurott in Sun: 9954-11714 (100.2 - 117.9% of 30x hp boss) -- guaranteed OHKO0 SpA Tera Bug Samurott Hydro Pump vs. 0 HP / 252 SpD Armarouge in Sun: 114-134 (36.6 - 43%) -- guaranteed 3HKO0 Atk Tera Bug Samurott Megahorn vs. 0 HP / 96 Def Armarouge: 118-139 (37.9 - 44.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO0 Atk Tera Bug Samurott Aqua Tail vs. 0 HP / 96 Def Armarouge in Sun: 86-104 (27.6 - 33.4%) -- 0% chance to 3HKO
So there we have it. A pretty simple yet effective strategy that strangers could pull off without coordination. They might even have the power to punch through the shield if an Iron Moth gets antsy and attacks without the Cheer or Helping Hand, depending on exactly what surprises Samurott has in store. So what do we think, does it have potential?