Blog Archives

WHAT DO YOU THINK – HISTORY AND MYTH?

As I said in an earlier post:

THE SHERIFF AS CHIEFTAIN AND THE CHIEFTAIN AS SHERIFF

while lying in bed last night (hardly able to move due to my Body Beast training) I was studying myth and folklore and legend and history when I decided to make, for my own benefit and for the benefit of my novels, a list of those attributes or traits or conditions or characteristics most common to certain myths and histories and folklores, etc.

So I made a list of the following myth, folklore, history, etc. sources and started to list those kinds of things found in them.

Rather than simply disclose my own list (and thereby taint and prejudice your thoughts on the matter) I thought I’d simply ask you this question.

What do you consider the chief or most important traits of myths and folklore and histories that arise from the following sources, and what they produced?:

(For example, it could be anything from tribal face painting to the Holy Grail to a magical White Stag. If I don’t already have it listed then I’ll add it to my list.)

Sources are:

Finnish

Nordic/Germanic

Rus (including Russian and Eastern European)

Viking (Western and Eastern/Byzantine Vikings)

Irish/Celtic/Scottish

British

Italy/Roman

Frankish/French

Israel/Syrian/Middle Eastern/North African

Greek/Cretan

Appreciate your help.

Anyone with an interest in history, myth, legend, folklore is welcome to contribute their ideas.

 

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MYTHS OF THE SCOTTISH, IRISH, CELTS, AND THE NORSE

Been away awhile busy at other things. Slowly kicking back in.

Here’s something interesting I found in the meantime. Good source for gamers. Good source for writers.

MYTHS OF THE SCOTTISH, IRISH, CELTS, AND THE NORSE

LUKE CAGE – THE FORGE

Netflix Original Series ‘Marvel’s Luke Cage’ Adds to the Cast

Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley and Rosario Dawson join the series!

“Marvel’s Luke Cage” has added four important characters with Misty Knight, Shades, Rafael Scarfe and Claire Temple. The series will be streaming everywhere Netflix is available in 2016.

Simone Missick to star as Misty Knight

MoreI

Simone Missick (“Ray Donovan”) has joined the cast to play popular character Misty Knight, a Harlem police detective who is determined to learn the truth about Luke Cage.

“We know fans have waited years to see Misty Knight brought to life, so we had to find the right actress,” said Executive Producer/Marvel’s Head of TV Jeph Loeb. “Simone blew us away with her performance as the strong-willed cop on a mission.”

Theo Rossi to star as Shades

MoreI

Theo Rossi (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Bad Hurt”) has joined the cast as Shades, a ruthless criminal with ties to Cage’s mysterious past.

“Theo Rossi is a swiss army knife–no matter what you bring to him, he has a tool for it–and he’s playfully unpredictable,” said series Executive Producer and Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker. “His Shades will be someone you hate to love.”

Frank Whaley to star as Rafael Scarfe

MoreI

Frank Whaley (“Ray Donovan,” “Pulp Fiction”) has been cast as Rafael Scarfe, a hard-nosed NYPD detective who partners with Misty Knight in their Luke Cage investigation.

“Frank Whaley has a wiry intensity that he’s imbued in Det. Rafael Scarfe,” said Coker. “He’s a great counterpart to Misty, and a wonderful actor.”

Rosario Dawson reprises her role as Claire Temple

MoreI

Actress Rosario Dawson, celebrated for her work in “Top Five,” “Sin City,” and “Kids,” will reprise her role from “Marvel’s Daredevil” as nurse Claire Temple. Her blossoming friendship with Luke Cage will have a major impact on both characters’ lives.

“We are thrilled to have Rosario in another one of our television series,” said Loeb. “Her performance as Claire Temple in Marvel’s Daredevil was astonishing and we can’t wait to see her shine in Marvel’s Luke Cage.”

It was previously announced that Mike Colter (“Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” “The Good Wife”) will play the charismatic lead character, Luke Cage, in the series. Mahershala Ali will play his archrival Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Cheo Hodari Coker (“SouthLAnd,” “Ray Donovan”) will write the series’ first two episodes in addition to serving as showrunner and Executive Producer along with Loeb.

After a sabotaged experiment leaves him with super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) becomes a fugitive trying to rebuild his life in modern day Harlem, New York City. But he is soon pulled out of the shadows and must fight a battle for the heart of his city – forcing him to confront a past he had tried to bury.

“Marvel’s Luke Cage” is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios for Netflix.

More on Marvel.com: http://marvel.com/news/tv/25106/netflix_original_series_marvels_luke_cage_adds_to_the_cast#ixzz3m1bryjnR

THE END OF MARVEL

The Marvel Universe Is Coming to an End in May 2015

222

OMG!

The Marvel Universe as you know it will be coming to an end.

Today at a live press event at Midtown Comics in New York City moderated by Marvel PR man Chris D’Lando, Marvel Comics’ Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso announced that the Marvel Universe will smash together with the Ultimate Universe and will be replaced by Battleworld — a mashup of many different Marvel realities.

Take a moment to compose yourself.

This huge development has been in the works for some time in Jonathan Hickman’s years-long Avengers saga. The heroes have been trying to stop a series of universe-ending “incursions” where two universes collide with one another. The inciting incident to May’s eight-part Secret Wars event will be when the heroes fail to stop the regular and Ultimate universes from crashing together. The resulting Battleworld will the Marvel Universe going forward.

“This is putting an endcap to decades of stories and starting a new era. When you see the scope of the event, [you will] see what we’re willing to do. This is a place where we’re going to be bringing new pieces onto the board and taking old pieces off. You guys will be yelling and screaming, loving and hating in equal measure,” Alonso said.

It was clarified that Battleworld will be the Marvel Universe during, through, and after Secret Wars. None of this is an Elseworlds, What If, or any other kind of alternate reality — it’ll be the setting for in-continuity stories that will all count going forward.

Late last year, there were a batch of teaser images harkening back to big Marvel events and such, and during the press conference it was revealed that each of those teasers will be a new comic book series. However, those are just the tip of the iceberg. Many new comics will be announced within the next two weeks, both ongoing series and limited.

In addition, D’Lando said that Marvel will be partnering with the likes of Hasbro, Funko, UpperDeck, and more to make new products to get fans excited for Secret Wars. He also mentioned that the Marvel games team will be coming up with some new “interactive content” for fans. Could a Secret Wars video game be on the horizon?

For those wanting to read Secret Wars, Marvel will be releasing a free Secret Wars #0 comic on May 3rd’s Free Comic Book Day that will act as a primer to get you ready for the event. Both Secret Wars #1 and #2 will be released in May, written by Hickman with art by Esad Ribic. IGN Logo

Joshua is IGN’s Comics Editor. If Game of Thrones, Spider-Man, or Super Smash Bros. are frequently used words in your vocabulary, you’ll want to follow him on Twitter and IGN.

COMPACT OF THE BASILEGATE

This is the compact or agreement which is signed by every character who wishes to serve in the Basilegate. Of course the requirements to be chosen are rigorous (they were looser in the beginning but became more standardized and more selective over time) and one cannot just join, one must be both sponsored and invited since the very existence of the group is unknown to most people, including most high representatives of the government, military, and church. No one, even the Team Members themselves are absolutely certain who knows of their existence and who does not, and whereas many people know of the group’s existence as a Diplomatic Team, this is merely a cover for their far more secretive and covert activities.

There is no such Compact or agreement undertaken by members of other teams though the Hoshi has an oral agreement, the Oro does as well, and the Caerkara has a legal agreement but nothing really similar to the Compact, which details duties, careers, obligations, rewards, and future potential advancements.

 

Compact Of The Basilegate

By authority of the Emperor Nikephorus, Basileus of New Rome and the Roman Empire, it has been ordered that the Strategion, War Academy of Constantinople, create an official legation known as the Basilegate, the Imperial Legate, to be constituted in the year 805 Anno Domini.

This legation shall be charged with those official duties expressly demanded by Emperor Nicephorus and his representatives. These duties shall include, but are not limited to the following services; Work against the enemies of the empire, internal and external, the suppression of enemy raids and pirating activities, land and seas, the securing of lawless areas and the capture or elimination of criminals, action as official enquirers, action as emissaries and diplomats and as representatives of the Empire and King, and to render whatever other services are deemed fit and necessary by the Empire. That this legation shall swear allegiance to the Emperor and his servants and representatives and shall swear allegiance to the Church in order to serve the Empire as needed.

This legation shall by law and structure be attached to the Strategion and shall receive their orders from the War Academy and from those representatives of the Emperor placed in command of the legation.

The legation shall be initially equipped at Imperial expense, which shall provide arms and armor, and tack, tackle, and gear for their provision. All additional gear and equipment will be provided from War Franchise at reduced cost, as well as reduced cost for training and what additional supplies are as required for the execution of official duties. In addition such travel expenses as are accrued, either by land or by sea shall be compensated as long as those expenses are acquired by conduct of official assignment. Furthermore all additional expenses shall likewise be compensated, whether of travel or of board or equipment or supplies or of food and the legation shall be housed at imperial expense whenever they are stationed in Constantinople.

Whatever additional rewards accrue to the legation shall be theirs to keep and dispense with as they see fit, but the legation shall not be empowered to collect fees or levy taxes in the name of Empire, Emperor or Church. They shall not levy taxes or fees of any kind while executing official duties but may keep rewards and payments they receive for additional services in the name of the empire as long as such additional services do not detract from or conflict with their primary duties and services.

This legation shall travel and execute their duties with the full approval and official support of Empire and Church, but shall remain a secret legation, unknown to the general populace and civil and military authorities, with the exception of those individuals and authorities who need to be aware of the nature of the legation. The legation will travel as needed in disguise. The legation shall be free to act as necessary to execute their duties and are fully empowered to take whatever actions necessary to execute their duties as long as such actions do not imperil the sacred honor of Emperor, Empire or Christian sanctity.

In reward of six years of honorable service this legation and all of the individuals of this legation shall receive in compensation; farm lands of their own in Anatolia, severance pay upon termination, and their farm lands shall be free from annual land taxes, in perpetua. In addition if the members of this legation shall further continue their service beyond the term of their six years either as a renewed legate, or in order to train their successors, or to teach at War Academy or University then they shall also receive; a small estate built upon their granted farm lands, shall be empowered to levy taxes for the Imperial Theme which they inhabit, and shall be granted a seat with the Emperor in Constantinople during Communions performed on High Holy Days. The enumerations of this contract shall constitute the entirety of the duties and compensations respected by all members of this legation and their superiors and their Emperor.

End of Compact

THE SUNKEN CAER SIDI OF LYONESSE

The Lost Land of Lyonesse – Legendary City on the Bottom of the Sea

The Lost Land of Lyonesse – Legendary City on the Bottom of the Sea

In Arthurian legend, Lyonesse is the home country of Tristan, from the legendary story of Tristan and Iseult.  The mythical land of Lyonesse is now referred to as the “Lost Land of Lyonesse,” as it is ultimately said to have sunk into the sea. However, the legendary tale of Tristan and Iseult shows that Lyonesse is known for more than sinking into the ocean, and that it had a legendary presence while it remained above ground. While Lyonesse is mostly referred to in stories of legend and myth, there is some belief that it represents a very real city that sunk into the sea many years ago. With such a legendary location, it can be difficult to ascertain where the legend ends and reality begins.
The story of Lyonesse most logically begins with Tristan and Iseult. The story of Tristan and Iseult is a tragic story of love and loss. It is an Arthurian tale, inspired by Celtic legend. It is said that the story was possibly the inspiration for the romance of Lancelot and Guinevere, as both stories push the boundaries of love, family, loyalty, adultery, and betrayal. While the story of Tristan and Iseult can vary based upon who is telling it, the plot follows a common theme. Tristan, a young boy from Lyonesse who has been orphaned, it taken in by his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, which borders Lyonesse.
Tristan and Iseult. The End of the Song by Edmund Leighton
Tristan and Iseult. ‘The End of the Song’ by Edmund Leighton, 1902 (Wikimedia Commons)
As the years pass by, Tristan is very loyal to his uncle, as he raised him as his own son. When Tristan is grown, Mark sends him to Ireland to retrieve the fair maiden Iseult and bring her to Cornwall, as she and King Mark are set to marry. Tristan loyally follows his uncle’s orders, and journeys to Ireland.  On the return trip from Ireland, however, the pair are exposed to a love potion and fall madly in love with one another. Iseult eventually arrives in Cornwall and marries King Mark, but the love potion is very powerful, and Tristan and Iseult cannot deny their love for one another. Tristan and Iseult both love King Mark, but their love for one another is stronger. Eventually the pair is discovered and King Mark is devastated. While Tristan should be sent immediately to the gallows for adultery, King Mark harbors an affection for him, as his nephew. King Mark agrees to forgive Tristan, on the condition that Tristan return Iseult to him. Tristan does so, and he and King Mark make amends.
Iseult with King Mark, Edward Burne-Jones
Iseult with King Mark, Edward Burne-Jones, 19th Century (Wikimedia Commons)
In most variations, the sinking of Lyonesse occurs well after the stories of Tristan, Iseult, and King Mark take place. The sinking itself is not mentioned in Arthurian legend, although some say that Lyonesse sunk when Tristan left for King Mark’s court.  In Lord Tennyson’s epic Idylls of the King, Lyonesse is the location where Arthur and Mordred fought their final battle. One passage foreshadows Lyonesse’s sinking:

Then rose the King and moved his host by night
And ever pushed Sir Mordred, league by league,
Back to the sunset bound of Lyonesse –
A land of old upheaven from the abyss
By fire, to sink into the abyss again;
Where fragments of forgotten peoples dwelt,
And the long mountains ended in a coast
Of ever-shifting sand, and far away
The phantom circle of a moaning sea.

There are some variations in the legends that surround the sinking of the land. Prior to its sinking, Lyonesse would have been quite large, containing one hundred and forty villages and churches. Lyonesse is said to have disappeared on November 11, 1099 (although some tales use the year 1089, and some date back to the 6th century). Very suddenly the land was flooded by the sea. Entire village were swallowed, and the people and animals of the area drowned. Once it was covered in water, the land never reemerged. While the Arthurian tales are legendary, there is some belief that Lyonesse was once a very real place attached to the Scilly Isles in Cornwall, England. Evidence shows that sea levels were considerably lower in the past, so it is very possible that an area that once contained a human settlement above-ground is now beneath the sea level.
Scilly Isles
Some believe that Lyonesse was a real place attached to the Scilly Isles (pictured). Source: BigStockPhoto
It is said that all that remains of Lyonesse is today’s still-standing island of Scilly. Fisherman near the Scilly Isles tell tales of retrieving pieces of buildings and other structures from their fishing nets. These stories have never been substantiated, and are viewed by some as tall tales. They also say they can see remnants of a forest when the sea is at low tide. On a more ghostly and spiritual level, some claim to hear the church bells of Lyonesse ringing during stormy times. As the legends of Lyonesse continue in today’s story-telling, it also remains a part of modern English literature. In 1922, Walter de la Mare wrote:

In sea-cold Lyonesse,
When the Sabbath eve shafts down
On the roofs, walls, belfries
Of the foundered town,
The Nereids pluck their lyres
Where the green translucency beats,
And with motionless eyes at gaze
Make ministrely in the streets./
And the ocean water stirs
In salt-worn casement and porch
Plies the blunt-nosed fish
With fire in his skull for torch.
And the ringing wires resound;
And the unearthly lovely weep,
In lament of the music they make
In the sullen courts of sleep:
Whose marble flowers bloom for aye:
And – lapped by the moon-guiled tide
Mock their carver with heart of stone,
Caged in his stone-ribbed side.

It is no surprise that the story of the sinking city of Lyonesse has come forth with many variations throughout the years. The image of a large, functioning city inhabited by thousands of people suddenly sinking into the sea, never to emerge again invokes an image that is both awesome and horrifying. From the legendary tales of Tristan and Iseult, to Arthur’s final battle with Mordred, to the stories of a city being swallowed by the sea, the tales of Lyonesse invoke a vast array of thoughts and emotions by those who wish to know more about this legendary city, and who like to believe that it’s legendary tales are founded upon a very real lost city.
Featured image: Artist’s depiction of Lyonesse being swept away (AnnoyzView)
Sources:
The Legend of Lyonesse – Lyonesse Falmouth. Available from: http://www.lyonessefalmouth.co.uk/legends/legends.html
Lyonesse – Wikipedia. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyonesse
The Land of Arthur: Lyonesse – King Arthur’s Knights. Available from: http://www.kingarthursknights.com/theland/lyonesse.asp
Lyonesse – Princeton. Available from: https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Lyonesse.html
Lyonesse, the lost land off Cornwall – Legend of King Arthur. Available from: http://www.legendofkingarthur.co.uk/cornwall/lyonesse.htm
Tristan and Iseult – Wikipedia. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristan_and_Iseult
By M R Reese

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE – AŒSEI-SÎDELHI FĖLIJ

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE
THE LAY OF THE ELDEVEN

AŒSEI-SÎDELHI FĖLIJ

The Tareåsarmãrl of the Felidic Sîdh

Being the Great Tale of the Fate of the Sidelhi, First of the Eldevens

Then did the Sidelh appear, the first of the Eldeven folk, and none knew from where, or how they arose. And their appearance was as a shock, and a surprise to the Nephýařla, and to the H’alel, for the Sidh had been foreseen by neither, and neither knew from where they came. And the Sidelh themselves could not explain their lives, for they were living souls, and wise, but knew not how they came to be, or from where, or why.

For a while did the Nephýařla watch the Sidelhi from afar, as they approached the lands in which dwelt the H’alel, and the Nephili. And the Nephýařla sent secret emissaries to the Sidelh and they did converse and parley one with another, each seeking to learn what they could of the other. For the Nephýařla did not know if the Sidelhi came as enemies, or unknown strangers, and the Sidh knew nothing of the Neph, or of any of the peoples of the world. So much in word and deed did pass between them, and yet much went unsaid and unlearned, for the Sidelhi did not know from whence they arose, or how, and the Nephýařla would not say from whence they also arose, nor why. But finally, being satisfied in themselves with the nature and intent of the Sidelhi the Nephýařla returned to their own places and left the Sidh to approach that part of the world then inhabited by the H’alel, and their mates, and their children the Tardeeks.

And when the Sidh did arrive then the young Tardeeks saw the females of the Sidh and that they were very fair and pleasing to look upon. So because of the beauty of the females of the Sidelhi the Tardeeks took many of them as wives, and with some consent did the Sidh in those days betroth the Nephili (for in those days they were not foemen, but new companions one to another), and by some clever means known only to the Sidh did their women-folk bear the giants off-spring. And the offspring of the Sidelhi became the Tardeem, the Adharma. And the Adharma were, and yet still are, the half-giants, larger than the Sidh but smaller in statue and strength than their fathers, the ancient giants. And the Sidh also bore unto the Tardeeks the Gabar, the Deirae, the Great and Renown Ones, terrible in war, firm and fixed in form, and as shrewd and strong as any beast of the field. Yet the Gabar were smaller than their brethren, the Adharma Tardeem, being the same in stance and statue as their parents, the Sidelhi. But both races were also sure and powerful, like their forebears, and neither did fear any that lived. Even their own sires.

Then did the H’alel look with envy upon the Tardeem and the Gabar, for they too wished to possess the females of the Sidh for themselves, as their children did. For they reckoned the Sidelhi to be a people filled with lore and wisdom, and beauty, subtle, like themselves, and in this they did not err. And they thought well that the Sidh would make of them the companions of which they wished, and that the Sidh folk would be naturally inclined with favor towards themselves. Yet in this they were much mistaken. For the H’alel were very different from the Sidh, and although both folk were filled with cunning and craft of their own, they were alien and estranged one to another. And the female Sidh did not desire to be wives to the H’alel, and they could not produce offspring between the two. So some of the H’alel did abduct and steal away some of the Sidelhi and they did many unnatural and dark things to those Sidh they held captive, and to themselves as well in order to make them true for each other. But these things all failed and gravely frustrated the H’alel, and in their foiled lust and desire they took to rape and rapine against the Sidh. And in their anger and jealousy the H’alel forbade the Tardeeks and the Tardeem and the Gabar from taking anymore wives of the Sidh.

In those days the H’alel had grown great, waxing to the full measure of their craft and their power, and they had taught many arts and skills to their children the Tardeeks, and the Tardeeks in their turn had taught these things to their own children and grandchildren. And the Tardeeks as well had taught their arts to the Sidelhi, and the Sidh learned much that was noble and high, but the Sidh also had secret and unknown arts of their own, and they held these arts unused and unseen. For they had envisioned from afar what was to pass, and they held their craft in cunning abeyance for the day in which their foreknowledge would bloom in blood. As it was foreseen and spoken as a watchword among them;

Asö læbethl karavądyarcølmed urýl Sîdelhi-ryt gařthe boľgaed, Saêđr jya gűayaţr…

Which is to say, “The secret arts of the Sidelhi are to be held against that day when the spear of naked war is broken by craft, and by guile…”

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE – ĦLO’SĶIEŊL

III. Being a Small Section of the Lay of the Myth of the Eldevens – Below is to be found a small section of one of the most ancient versions of the Lay of the Eldeven.

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE
THE LAY OF THE ELDEVEN

ĦLO’SĶIEŊL
Before All

Being the Account of the Arrival and of the Old World

Before all there was another Iÿarlðma (another world, another Ghanae). In those days many ancient and wondrous things visited Iÿarlðma from elsewhere, wandering this world and inhabiting it for brief seasons, yet never long lingering. The world in those days was broad, and deep, and untamed, filled with many archaic and dangerous creatures full of strange life. Many things did creep and crawl and did seek out the untrodden secrets of hidden recess which are now long buried beneath the deep mounds of great age. But none with mind and soul, as we think it now, yet lived to walk upon Iÿarlðma, or to measure out her expanse, or count her passing years. Those days were long, and many, and continued unabated, huge and unknown creatures stalking all the lands both near and far.

Then came the Nephýařla (the Neph, the Other Ones). They settled upon the lands, reshaping the djarńae (ground?) after their own will, planting, growing, hunting, and killing the huge creatures which then freely roamed the world. Still other creatures they tamed or remade according to their own secret intentions, so as to befriend or to belabor that creature as they best saw fit.

With them the Nephýařla brought the H’alel, the forebears and forefathers of the ancient Nephili, the mighty Tardeek. And the Neph made living souls as mates for the H’alel, and to serve them, and they mated and bore forward offspring who became the Nephili, the ancient Tardeek. And even the young Tardeek were as very large, tall, and strong Eldeven, but as they grew they became gigantic, and some became monstrous, and all of them were fearsome to behold. And the Tardeek were great and grave in battle, so that any who saw them watched in awe, and fled from them for fear of their great strength and tremendous height and might.

And for long ages the H’alel and the Nephili lived together, and the H’alel taught the Tardeeks many useful arts and many cunning and clever things. For the Tardeeks were monstrous and powerful, and being versed in all the H’alel taught them they could move great weights and build many terrible and wonderful monuments and could carve out mountains to build homes in which to dwell. And the H’alel were proud for a season with their offspring, and yet the H’alel were beings of craft and lore, and ever did they seek to know more craft and lore, and as time passed they grew dissatisfied with the labors of their children and grandchildren, and with the crudeness and naïf of their mates. For their mates were not as they, and were more sensual and unrefined, and more like their children, who often disdained subtlety in favor of strength and power. And the thoughts of the H’alel grew dark, and did wander far and wide throughout Iÿarlðma seeking those more like themselves for companionship. And they found none, for the Nephýařla who had brought them into Iÿarlðma had moved into the deep places of the world, and to dwellings far sundered, engaged in their own pursuits, and had left the H’alel to their own devices and pleasures. And the H’alel despaired of finding any like themselves, as mighty as themselves, or as subtle and cunning as themselves. Then in the Spring of the Morning of the faring of the Eldevens upon the earth did the Sidh arrive, and the H’alel were taken unawares.

SAMARKAND: THE CITY OF SAMARL

Continuing on with the myth of Terra-Ghanae (or Earth-Iÿarlðma).

Below is described the Capital (political, military, and spiritual) City of the Realm of Kitharia, and one of the main cities of the Sidh. In addition it is the home of the Samarls, the de-facto rulers of the Sidh and a major influence upon the other Eldeven races.

Samarkand (The City of Samarl): The city of Samarkand sits in exactly the same geographic point as the city of Samarkand on our world, but resides in Ghanae (properly called Iÿarlðma by the Eldevens). Both cities also share the same name. However all similarities end there. Samarkand was designed by the Sidelh but was built by the Adharma. Both races share a similar view of architecture in that they encapsulate information in material objects. Books or written materials are rare among the Sidelh and completely absent among the Adharma. The giants instead are excellent masters of mnemonics, and therefore pass history thousands of years old down orally with very little variation or embellishment between transmissions. They also weave information into every building, statue, column, piece of furniture and art, and physical device they create. The entire city then is one huge library of historical, arcane, and mythological information if one knows how to read the text.

Samarkand is the capital city of Kitharia, the most populous and powerful nation known among the Eldeven peoples. Since the Sidelh are slow to reproduce they have invited many other races of Eldevens to dwell in their city and the Sidelh are actually often outnumbered by the non-Sidelh living there. Nevertheless the non-Sidelh are often granted citizenship after a time, as are their families, and so often easily integrate into Kitharian society, to become stout defenders and loyal citizens of their adopted homeland.

The ruler of the Samarkand, and by extension Kitharia, is the individual known as the Samareül. He is elected by a secret group of individuals and once elected he takes no public name other than his title of Samareül, which means Priest-King. The Samareül is elected for life, and is rarely deposed. The Samareül is the supreme judge, most influential political leader and chief priest of Kitharia, being considered the living representative of Samarl, or God. Strangely enough however the Kitharians and most Eldevens for that matter have no formal religion or religious beliefs, and most seek no relationship with God at all. Instead the relationship between Samarl and the Eldevens is considered the de-facto representative relationship and chief obligation of the Samareül.

(The current Samareül is looking to change this state of affairs wishing to make a religious and spiritual relationship among the Kitharians and eventually all Eldevens to be a matter of personal relation between the individual and Samarl. This has led to strained cultural, societal, political, and in some cases racial [such as between the Sidelh and the Lorahn] relationships among some parties, and to the establishment of a strange interlinked alliance between the courts of Samarkand and Constantinople on religious and spiritual matters. I’ll discuss this in more detail in a later posting.)

The city is dominated by an acropolis into which is carved (in the fashion of the Adharma who carve their homes into mountainsides) the Palace and administrative houses of the Samareül. The acropolis is also said to contain numerous secret passages into which the Samareül and his officials keep stored many ancient and secret artifacts and devices, including weird machines which are said to be able to peer into other worlds and through time. This acropolis is called the Jlæthÿlîrel. There is also a rumor that the passages themselves have created a sort of scrying channel and that the channels may be decorated with glyphs of unknown design. This acropolis is sometimes called the onŵl-Samarkando, or, Helm of Samarkand.

The city also has numerous districts in which various Eldeven races mix rather freely, but it also has segregated districts. These are most evident between the Sidelh, and the small enclave of Adharma (who rarely take citizenship) who prefer to live there for periods of time as trusted resident aliens. Politically the situation is stable at most times, except during periods of war. There is a large public gathering area called the Msýthariørl where public elections, entertainments, athletic events, public rites, demonstrations of arcane force and skill, and debated counsels are held. It can hold nearly one-half of the entire population of the city at any given time.

There are also a number of industrial and manufacturing districts to produce and market goods, the Eldarik Houses, the Armories and Internal Towers, the Plarshoel (or, Walking Houses – the giants built the city so that certain buildings can move around the city on tracks, allowing the city to be reconfigured for both ease of trade and transport, and for periods of war and self-defense – unknown to most the city walls can likewise move allowing them to be “interlocked” in various defensive configurations as needed), the sa-Elturaere (the Temple for the study and practice of Elturgy and Elturael – Arcane magic), various markets and domestic areas, the Jmyatŗ Skella (the Crafting District), the Tĕna (Quarters of the Peace Officers), the Nhil (the Warband Quarterings), and the newly created Praşklyřt (the Hall of Investigation – to study and counteract the creation of monsters, discussed later).

As mentioned above the entire city is also a sort of architectural library. However many believe that actual Elturgy was used by the Sidelh to recast the work of the giants so that a secret code now also lies hidden within the structure of the city foundations. To what purpose no-one is really sure.

The River Qira runs through the city (including partially underground) and the river Qala now runs completely around the city in a near perfect circular moat, and then runs away through artificial channels so that the river approaches the city from the East and leaves by routes facing due West, South, and North.

The city is composed of seven plateaus, or levels, the highest being the Jlæthÿlîrel, and the lowest section being an underground area of hot springs and baths called the Myņil.

 

THE MYTHICAL SILK ROAD CEMETARY

I love the Silk Road. I’ve been studying it since college and I once did a major paper on Buddhist missionary efforts Westward and Christian missionary efforts Eastwards along the Silk Road.

Superb discovery.

1,700-Year-Old Silk Road Cemetery Contains Mythical Carvings

by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | November 24, 2014 07:40am ET

An ancient cemetery – silk road


[Pin It] A cemetery dating back around 1,700 years has been discovered in Kucha, a city in China. The city played an important role along the Silk Road trade routes that connected China to the Roman Empire. Archaeologists have uncovered 10 tombs in the cemetery, seven of which are large structures made with bricks. This image shows part of the cemetery facing north.
Credit: Chinese Cultural Relics

A cemetery dating back roughly 1,700 years has been discovered along part of the Silk Road, a series of ancient trade routes that once connected China to the Roman Empire.

The cemetery was found in the city of Kucha, which is located in present-day northwest China. Ten tombs were excavated, seven of which turned out to be large brick structures.

One tomb, dubbed “M3,” contained carvings of several mythical creatures, including four that represent different seasons and parts of the heavens: the White Tiger of the West, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Black Turtle of the North and the Azure Dragon of the East. [See photos of the ancient Silk Road cemetery]

The M3 tomb also “consists of a burial mound, ramp, sealed gate, tomb entrance, screen walls, passage, burial chamber and side chamber” the researchers wrote in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

The cemetery was first found in July 2007 and was excavated by the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, with assistance from local authorities. The research team, led by Zhiyong Yu, director of the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute, published the findings in Chinese in the journal Wenwu. The article was recently translated into English and published in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

Who was buried here?

The identity of the people buried in the cemetery is a mystery. The cemetery had been robbed in the past and no writing was found that indicates the names of those buried or their positions in life.

The seven large brick tombs were likely constructed for people of wealth, the researchers said.

But, when the skeletal remains were analyzed, the researchers found that the tombs had been reused multiple times. Some of the tombs contain more than 10 occupants, and the “repeated multiple burials warrant further study,” the researchers wrote.

City on the Silk Road

The excavators think the cemetery dates back around 1,700 years, to a time when Kucha was vital to controlling the Western Frontiers (Xiyu) of China. Since the Silk Road trade routes passed through the Western Frontiers, control of this key region was important to China’s rulers.

“In ancient times, Kucha was called Qiuci in Chinese literature. It was a powerful city-state in the oasis of the Western Frontiers” the researchers wrote.

For the dynasties that flourished in China around 1,700 years ago “the conquest and effective governance of Kucha would enable them to control all the oasis city-states in the Western Frontiers,” the researchers said.

In fact, one ancient saying was, “if you have Kucha, only one percent of the states in the Western Frontiers remain unsubmissive.”

Chinese Cultural Relics is a new journal that translates Chinese-language articles, originally published in the journal Wenwu, into English. The discovery of the 1,700-year-old cemetery was included in its inaugural issue.

Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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THE OTHER WORLD/WORLD’S APART – PART 2

Continuing with the description of The Other World…

 

II. Briefing on the General Setting of Terra Ghanae (Earth/ Iÿarlðma) – Terra Ghanae is actually two worlds. The first is our world (Terra), where most of the gaming activity takes place. The game and campaigns themselves are set primarily in Terra (the Latin term for Earth), the time frame being around 800 AD and the geographical and national setting is the Byzantine Empire. The common base of operations is Constantinople.

Our world, Terra, is as it was in the era of 800 AD, historically, socially, militarily, and so forth. However recently several strange things have occurred which have severely concerned the Emperor and the leadership of the Eastern Orthodox Church. These strange events have prompted the Emperor and the Orthodox Church to band together to form a secret team that is charged with discovering the cause(s) of these weird and uncanny events, and to put a stop to these strange events, if possible. Most of the players play characters in this team, or in one of the related teams. This main team is called the Basilegate, or translated, the Emperor’s Legate.

At about the same time a group of Buddhist Monks (and others) in the Orient has been having visions about these same disturbances and has formed a team of their own to travel to the West and investigate the same phenomenon. That team is called the Hoshi, or The Footbridge.

What is actually occurring on our world at this moment is that our world is being invaded by beings and creatures from the other world, that world being named Ghanae (though various languages render the term differently), and the people who inhabit it. No one in our world knows how these creatures are coming here or exactly from where they originate, and this information is also hidden from the players, who must discover these events for themselves. At about the same time (slightly later in time frame actually) another group of beings from this other world are also trying to find a way into our world and eventually succeed at their efforts, and are then able to come to earth. These beings are what would normally be referred to in the game as elves, dwarves, giants and others of their kind. None of these people or creatures is indigenous to our world and no humans are indigenous to their world.

These peoples are collectively called the Eldeven peoples and consist of the Jukarn (Dwarves), Sidelh, also called the Caer (Elves), Lorahn (Eladarin), Gheriks (Halflings), Avafal (the “New Ones” or “Fallen Ones,” literally the offspring between Men and Eldevens), and so forth. These creatures are more akin to various human races in that they can all intermarry and interbreed (though the rate of intermarriage is no higher than on our world at that time period), than they are to separate species. There are also other beings who are allied with the Eldeven, such as the Adharma, who are a race of Demi-giants, and their half-brothers, the Gabar (Renown Ones, offspring of the Sidelh and the Nephili). Though the Adharma and the Gabar are not considered Eldevens.

There are two reasons that the Eldeven peoples desire to come to our world, the first is that they are seeking to hunt down and recapture or destroy most of the monsters that have escaped to our world from their world. The second I will explain later.

The Eldevens come to our world in disguise hoping to accomplish their various missions without being discovered. They encounter humans (us) however, as they must in our world, and eventually some men begin to understand that the Eldeven party is not human. There are various reactions to this discovery, some believe the Eldevens to be demons or devils come to invade our world and that they are somehow allied with the monsters who are also invading our world. Some believe them to be angelic messengers sent from God to assist mankind against the invasions of monsters, and to help stop the plagues and the disasters wracking the world at that time. Some believe them harbingers of the Apocalypse. There is a schism between both those who are in government (the Court of the Emperor), and those in the Church, with either group being divided into two camps, those who oppose the Eldevens and consider them enemies, perhaps even demons, and those who want closer relations with the Eldevens and consider them helpful, perhaps even Agents of God.

The Eldevens themselves send a scouting, expeditionary, research, and monster hunting party called the Caerkara, or the Expeditionary Force into our world. Once it is discovered that this party is composed of non-human creatures the decision is made in Constantinople to send out the Basilegate to hunt for and try to make contact with the Caerkara, and to discover the true nature and motives of this Eldeven party.

While these monster invasions are in the process of occurring and shortly before the arrival of the Eldeven team, various plagues, earthquakes, famines and other natural disasters begin to afflict our world. Some people connect these calamities directly to the monster invasions, and some directly to the arrival of the Eldeven party. Still others see the Eldeven group as possible allies with whom they can work to help combat both the monster invasions and the various natural disasters. Eventually the Court at Constantinople comes to believe that the Eldevens may be the people of the legendary Prester John. The Patriarch of Constantinople and the Church remain more skeptical.

 

Samarkand (The City of Samarl): The city of Samarkand sits in exactly the same geographic point as the city of Samarkand on our world, but resides in Ghanae (properly called Iÿarlðma by the Eldevens). Both cities also share the same name. However all similarities end there. Samarkand was designed by the Sidelh but was built by the Adharma. Both races share a similar view of architecture in that they encapsulate information in material objects. Books or written materials are rare among the Sidelh and completely absent among the Adharma. The giants instead are excellent masters of mnemonics, and therefore pass history thousands of years old down orally with very little variation or embellishment between transmissions. They also weave information into every building, statue, column, piece of furniture and art, and physical device they create. The entire city then is one huge library of historical, arcane, and mythological information if one knows how to read the text.

Samarkand is the capital city of Kitharia, the most populous and powerful nation known among the Eldeven peoples. Since the Sidelh are slow to reproduce they have invited many other races of Eldevens to dwell in their city and the Sidelh are actually often outnumbered by the non-Sidelh living there. Nevertheless the non-Sidelh are often granted citizenship after a time, as are their families, and so often easily integrate into Kitharian society, to become stout defenders and loyal citizens of their adopted homeland.

The ruler of the Samarkand, and by extension Kitharia, is the individual known as the Samareül. He is elected by a secret group of individuals and once elected he takes no public name other than his title of Samareül, which means Priest-King. The Samareül is elected for life, and is rarely deposed. The Samareül is the supreme judge, most influential political leader and chief priest of Kitharia, being considered the living representative of Samarl, or God. Strangely enough however the Kitharians and most Eldevens for that matter have no formal religion or religious beliefs, and most seek no relationship with God at all. Instead the relationship between Samarl and the Eldevens is considered the de-facto representative relationship and chief obligation of the Samareül. (The current Samareül is looking to change this state of affairs wishing to make a religious and spiritual relationship among the Kitharians and eventually all Eldevens to be a matter of personal relation between the individual and Samarl. This has led to strained cultural, societal, political, and in some cases racial [such as between the Sidelh and the Lorahn] relationships among some parties, and to the establishment of a strange interlinked alliance between the courts of Samarkand and Constantinople on religious and spiritual matters. I’ll discuss this in more detail in a later posting.)

The city is dominated by an acropolis into which is carved (in the fashion of the Adharma who carve their homes into mountainsides) the Palace and administrative houses of the Samareül. The acropolis is also said to contain numerous secret passages into which the Samareül and his officials keep stored many ancient and secret artifacts and devices, including weird machines which are said to be able to peer into other worlds and through time. This acropolis is called the Jlæthÿlîrel. There is also a rumor that the passages themselves have created a sort of scrying channel and that the channels may be decorated with glyphs of unknown design. This acropolis is sometimes called the onŵl-Samarkando, or, Helm of Samarkand

The city also has numerous districts in which various Eldeven races mix rather freely, but it also has segregated districts. These are most evident between the Sidelh (the elves) and the small enclave of Adharma (who rarely take citizenship) who prefer to live there for periods of time as trusted resident aliens. Politically the situation is stable at most times, except during periods of war. There is a large public gathering area called the Msýthariørl where public elections, entertainments, athletic events, public rites, demonstrations of arcane force and skill, and debated counsels are held. It can hold nearly one-half of the entire population of the city at any given time.

There are also a number of industrial and manufacturing districts to produce and market goods, the Eldarik Houses, the Armories and Internal Towers, the Plarshoel (or, Walking Houses – the giants built the city so that certain buildings can move around the city on tracks, allowing the city to be reconfigured for both ease of trade and transport, and for periods of war and self-defense – unknown to most the city walls can likewise move allowing them to be “interlocked” in various defensive configurations as needed), the sa-Elturaere (the Temple for the study and practice of Elturgy and Elturael – Arcane magic), various markets and domestic areas, the Jmyatŗ Skella (the Crafting District), the Tĕna (Quarters of the Peace Officers), the Nhil (the Warband Quarterings), and the newly created Praşklyřt (the Hall of Investigation – to study and counteract the creation of monsters, discussed later).

As mentioned above the entire city is also a sort of architectural library. However many believe that actual Elturgy was used by the Sidelh to recast the work of the giants so that a secret code now also lies hidden within the structure of the city foundations. To what purpose no-one is really sure.

The River Qira runs through the city (including partially underground) and the river Qala now runs completely around the city in a near perfect circular moat, and then runs away through artificial channels so that the river approaches the city from the East and leaves by routes facing due West, South, and North.

The city is composed of seven plateaus, or levels, the highest being the Jlæthÿlîrel, and the lowest section being an underground area of hot springs and baths called the Myņil.

I AM IRON MAN

Iron-Man-3-Review

Image Credit: Disney

Downey hemmed, hawed, said that Marvel is planning a whole lot of movies. “We’re in the middle of negotiation,” he explained. Ellen didn’t roll her eyes, but she kind of rolled her eyes. “Okay, yes,” he said.No other information is available about the movie, and it’s doubtful that Marvel will announce anything official until after the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The studio currently has a few open release slots throughout 2017 and 2018–not to mention the possibility that they could announce tomorrow that they’ve decided to release Iron Man 4 on March 25, 2016, just to mess with Warner Bros. The Iron Man movies have generally charted their own path with the character, taking story arcs like “Extremis” or characters like the Mandarin and putting an entirely new spin on them. So the movie probably won’t be called Iron Man: Armor Wars, even though the Shoulderpad Suit deserves the cinematic treatment, and Iron Man probably won’t meet King Arthur, even though that seems like an ideal role for Benedict Cumberbatch or Michael Fassbender or your other favorite British person.

It’s also worth pointing out that Downey merely confirmed there would be an Iron Man 4 but didn’t specifically state he would be in the movie–which could lead a conspiracy theorist to assume that Iron Man 4 will star Don Cheadle’s War Machine…

KING AND GOD IN INDO-EUROPEAN

Another one in Indo-European

THE OTHER WORLD/WORLDS APART, PART 1

Today I would like to begin a series of posts on my World Milieu for our ongoing Dungeons and Dragons game. These posts will give a brief description of the world I created which my family and other players has been playing for about 10 to 12 years or so now. It is the third world setting I ever created and it is approximately 20 years old. This is my High Fantasy Game Setting (World). I have another setting which is more comparable to a Swords and Sorcery world, with some super-science, and it is my Low Fantasy Game Setting. I may describe it later on.
 
I have been playing D&D since I was about 14 to 15 years old. Beginning back in the 1970s.
This setting can be found under the category, The Other World.

 

I. This is a brief description of my D&D game milieu, and how it works.

Two Worlds: There are actually two worlds (in The Other World/Worlds Apart setting), our world, circa 800 AD, and the setting upon our world is semi-historical. That is most of the things that happen in our world, as the setting for the game, involve real world historical figures, cities, cultures, religions, technologies, societies, military forces, economic systems, and so forth of that era. The exceptions to the historical rule are the introduction of the player characters themselves (who often encounter real people of the time, like Charlemagne, as well as legendary figures like Roland).

In addition there is another world, geographically identical to our own (called Ghanäe by men, and Iÿarlðma by the natives) but inhabited by completely different creatures and operating by different rules. This other world will be described later in this thread but creatures such as Elves and Giants inhabit it (though they do not call themselves that) and only a few human refuges from our world can live there. Most humans who travel to that world do so by accident and become far longer lived than normal humans but most also become sterile over time. A very, very few have over time interbred with the local populations on that other world but it is an extremely rare occurrence when that happens and the offspring sometimes fall prey to strange diseases and fail to mature. Some of the off-spring who do live past adolescence are also naturally sterile or barren. As a result the human population, which never accounted for more than a few hundred individuals is now nearly extinct.

As well as Elves and other such creatures, monsters also inhabit that other world. They sometimes escape their own world and come to ours.
The Setting Upon Earth (Terra): The City of Constantinople is the center of most activity in the setting on our world. It lies along one end of the Silk Road and Byzantine contacts run throughout Western Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe, as well as into Russia, the Near East, Syria, Persia, and into parts of the Orient, and finally down into Egypt, and into Northern and Eastern Africa. As far as sea travel much of the Mediterranean is open to them as well as the Black Sea. Giving the players and their characters a wide area of territory in which to explore and operate.

The Byzantines are at almost constant war with the Persians, and the Bulgars. At other times they fight with the Muslims (becoming more and more frequent), various barbaric tribes, such as the Goths, are at odds with migrating tribes from the East, face occasional rebellions in Egypt, Syria, and in the Holy Land, and still hope to regain some control of territories in the West, such as some of the early Italian city-states (other than Ravenna).

They are also involved in religious disputes such as the early stages of iconoclasm, as well as suppression of heretics such as in Egypt and in Syria (which makes them very unpopular in certain parts of the Empire, and among certain groups of peoples like the Copts). The Patriarchs of Orthodox Catholicism (although there has been no real schism as of yet) are often at odds with the Pope, who the Byzantines sometimes see as an ally, and sometimes see as a problem.

The main group of players operates out of the city of Constantinople, or New Rome, as their home base.

Constantinople (New Rome): It sits upon the Golden Horn (Kera), is the capital of the Byzantine (Roman) Empire, controls the naval trade throughout the empire and into the Black Sea, is the home of the most advanced technology in the world at that time, is immensely wealthy, incredibly well-built and well defended, and is one end of the Silk Road. It is also the center of the Orthodox Church, as well as being one of the most populous cities in the world.

It has contacts throughout Northern and Eastern Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and into India. It is the home base of operations for many of the player parties.

I modified the city somewhat from its true historical analogue. It now includes the Strategion (the Imperial War Offices and College), the Thematic War College (for educating and training Theme Generals and officers), the Stoa Inventi (the official Inventions Laboratory, where Greek Fire was developed, the Inventi being based upon Alexandria’s old Museums of Invention), the Thaumaturgion (the place of Miracles, where prophets, Church Fathers, and Saints congregate and study, and where relics are accumulated and studied), the Palacial Library of Blachermae (containing the official Imperial records, census, texts, and histories), the Academy of Sagae and Holy Art (where Icons and holy art are created), and the Library of Deoklarion (where a number of unique and unusual texts from the ancient world, and holy writings, are stored and copied).

I also slightly modified the Imperial Palaces, some of the churches, like the Holy Apostles, and some of the monasteries, like Studios and Myrelaion.

The city also contains several harbors, the Industrion, the Galatan Naval Reserves and the Galatan Industrion (across the straights), the Garrison of the Imperial Legions, several Forums and markets, Constabularies, Aqueducts, numerous churches and monasteries, several underground cisterns, palaces, the Walls of Theodosius, the Walls of Constantine, the Walls of Septus Severus, the Chalke Gate, numerous other famous Gates and Towers, the Million, several important streets and highways (like the Mese), the shipyards of Caesarius, various public baths, sections of underground and buried ancient city, artwork and statues, obelisks and columns and stelae from all over the world, the Chain of the Golden Horn, the Lykos River, Hagia Sophia (the largest and most famous church in the world), the Great Treasury, the Acropolis, and of course the Hippodrome which also served as a city-wide public amphitheatre. And the city is divided into Demes so on occasion there are Deme riots as well as riots in the Alien (Foreign) Quarter. Of course I don’t really need to mention the political machinations since “Byzantine” is an historical watchword for all things politically devious. Though to tell you the truth it wasn’t really any worse than anywhere else, and often far better and far more civilized than most places at the time, just usually far more complicated because of the immense number of political players and institutional and organizational interests all simultaneously vying for influence. It was a lot like modern American politics to tell you the truth. Far less bloodshed but far more underground corruption and devious maneuver. And strange ambition.

Constantinople regularly sees foreign visitors, tradesmen, merchants, dignitaries and even would-be invaders, everyone from Arab Bedouins to Viking Raiders to Russian Steppemen to embassies from Charlemagne and from other parts of Europe to traders from the Italian City States to diplomats from Ethiopia and Persia and even India.

The official and state language in the Empire is Latin, but the “Lingua Franca” is Greek and most Byzantines (Romans) and almost all residents of Constantinople, including resident aliens, speak Greek.

In addition there is the other world, like ours, but with native populations of elves, giants, dwarves, etc. Whenever these creatures come to our world they often infiltrate Constantinople in disguise. And sometimes monsters that have escaped this other world come to the Empire and ravage the countryside surrounding Constantinople. So it is a very interesting place for the players to live in and adventure from.

For information on some of the adventures that take place in this setting then see this post: Adventure Ideas.

I have recently begun to modify this setting to be used for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons play.

THE PEASANT GIRL AND THE WITCH

…Then (Baba) Yaga broke her (the peasant girl) in pieces and put her bones in a basket.

Now the stepmother sent her husband for his daughter. The father went and brought back only her bones. As he approached the village, his dog barked on the porch: “Bow! wow! Bones are rattling in the basket!” The stepmother came out with a rolling pin: “You’re lying!” she said. “You should bark, ‘A young lady is coming!'” The husband arrived; and then the wife moaned and groaned.

There’s a tale for you and a crock of butter for me.

 

Hmm… That was even more vicious than I was expecting. But that entire tale was fascinating as it involved a little peasant girl being sold into bondservice to the witch Baba Yaga.

Meaning it was really about being sold into the service of a well-known murderer.

There’s a lot to be pulled from this story. And  a whole nother story embedded in it about how to regain your freedom.

I keep thinking how much good such an obverse Baba Yaga tale might have done those little girls abducted in Nigeria had they been properly trained in escape and evasion.

Or even just simple observation and patience.

HERCULES (SORT OF)

I went to see Hercules this afternoon. I needed a little work break and since I was already ahead of schedule I decided to relax and go see the film.

I thought about writing up a standard movie review and posting that, but after seeing the film I decided against that approach and idea.

First of all let me say this in regards to the film; it was nothing like I expected.

I had expected a rather simple-minded and plodding-plotted ass-kicking action film. And it certainly had its moments of fine action sequences. From the previews, and knowing nothing of the graphic novel(s) on which it is based (I purposely avoided reading them to be ignorant of the storyline), I had expected an upgraded and far more upscale Conan type of movie with Hercules serving as the mythologized version of Conan as the super-strong monster-slaying, justice-inflicting hero.
It certainly started out that way, as a slightly upscale version of that last (horrible) Conan film.

But it quickly evolved into something else that I did not expect at all and so I was confused by the first 20 minutes or so of the film. After that things began to solidify and I began to perceive the direction in which it was moving.

After the film was over (and I had originally expected little more than an exciting and hopefully enjoyable diversionary entertainment) I was actually left thinking. Not by the obvious and overt and easy to read statements of the film, or the rewriting of Herculean mythology in an attempt to make him into a modern man, but of the fact that Hercules and his entourage were all perfectly modern men by their very nature. Modern men who had to overcome their own modernity to become worthwhile people.

Hercules was indeed a “modern man” for a reason I shall not mention (to avoid spoilers – but it had nothing to do with him being a mercenary) but that was perfectly explained by the ending lines and post-film animations. Yet otherwise (or on the other hand) Hercules was a lion-skin wearing, war-club wielding (an ancient weapon and motif) throwback to an age of chivalry. Or the Greek version of pre-chivalry. And in many respects this is the very Hercules of actual mythology. People tend to forget that Hercules is this lion-skin wearing beast-killer who is also driven so mad by a petty and vindictive and vain goddess that he becomes a killer-beast. So the lion skin serves much the same function as sack-cloth and ashes to the ancient Prophet. Yet when not driven mad by Hera or hounded by monsters Herakles is the very model of Greek Chivalry and self-sacrifice and heroism. Or in any case as close as the Greeks ever got to the ideal on a personal level. For Hercules is almost the polar opposite of Achilles, the semi-divine who would be considered a god by setting loose his own Furies in war for personal glory, whereas Hercules is the demi-god who wishes to overthrow the misguided and often pathetic tyranny of the gods themselves, and by so doing end the typical Greek ideal of glory. This is shown in the ceiling mural scene near the beginning of the film. Hercules does not aspire to be a god, he aspires to overthrow the gods.

So the more I thought on this the more interesting the film became. Not because of the overt clues about Hercules modernity (such as Hercules wearing the head of the lion as a prop that could not possibly be the real head of the Nemean lion), but because of the underlying and prophetic mythological ones.

But the Thracians were also perfectly modern men, but in a manner much easier to recognize. Easily shaped and molded they immediately fell under the sway and vassalism of whomever claimed political power. Despite the fact of who obviously was most concerned with their welfare and despite the fact of who trained and developed them, they bent the knee immediately to any and every tyrant who gave them orders. They were easily “enthralled,” in the way modern men are usually easily enthralled, be they Germans under Nazis, or more recent modern men completely passive and subservient to their elected governments.

Rather than rising in revolt against the obvious tyrant all they could or would do was fall in line with whoever sought to command or control them.

In this respect Hercules was very much an essay on modern men, on how easily and passively they bend the knee to that tyrant who dares to command them.

So in both those respects the more I think upon the film the better I like it.

But it was not what I expected to see or hear, at all, when I first walked into the theater.

It was not an action and adventure entertainment dressed in ancient Greek garb, but rather a more subtle and political exposition on both the cynicism and perceptions of modern men and on their inherent weaknesses of character and nature dressed in the garb of Greek mythology.

And in that respect I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That might seem a strange review for such a film, but in many ways it was a very strange film.

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN: THE BLOOD OF UNCANNY MONSTERS

Essay Twelve: The Blood of Uncanny Monsters*

“The Blood of the monster is the doom of the unwary.”

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

“Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.”

“History is not the story of heroes entirely. It is often the story of cruelty and injustice and shortsightedness. There are monsters, there is evil…”

“… I prefer the monsters of my fancy to what is positively trivial.”

Synopsis: The Blood of Monsters is far more than the blood of simple animals, or the nerveless sap of tree limbs. The blood of the monster is a deep, potent, ancient, terrible thing, capable of warping the world, and either wondrously enabling, or viciously crippling and killing, the Hero. Beware the blood of the monster, and do not easily discard the tremendous potential it encloses within itself.

Essay: In myth it is often the case that the blood, tissues, organs, or parts of a monster have unique, if not astounding properties of their own, quite apart from those possessed by the whole or intact, living creature itself.

Yet far too often these additional (or inherent, really) “monstrous characteristics” are overlooked (sometimes entirely) in fantasy, mythological, and magical gaming. Monsters are slain, their blood washes over the characters to no real effect, and the monstrous bodies or corpses thereafter simply discarded, as if they were the inconvenient, tiresome, or useless detritus of the true business of adventuring. No real consequences ensue from, or for, the slaying of monsters, from being in close proximity to them when they are killed, or from being washed and covered in the gore and curses and hatred and pollution and ferocity of their ultimate demise. The death of monsters becomes a mere mathematical and mechanical expression of character survival beyond beastly endurance, rather than a fascinating cosmic struggle between weird and uncanny physical, supernatural, and magical forces and the life-force of men. And the killing of monsters likewise has either no additional benefit, nor any additional consequence, other than the taking of their treasure or the removal of their objection to whatever goal(s) the hero currently or ultimately pursues. In short the monster is far less a real monster, far less a real threat, far less weird and far less dangerous, than if hunting and killing monsters implied nothing more mysterious, fantastic, and potentially lethal than a mere exercise in hit point reduction to “less than zero.” As a matter of fact killing most monsters in many role play games implies a level of danger and consequence that is exactly that, less than zero. Once slain or nearly slain a monster is then no more of a real threat than the paper-tiger number stats used to summarize his imaginary existence. But is this really a proper expression of the idea of monstrousness? In the imagination? In myth? Or even in-game?

Certainly not so in myth, where the blood of monsters and weird beings often has dramatic (and even sometimes life-long) effects upon the heroes who encounter such marvels, perhaps even upon nearby observers, other monsters, or the very landscape itself. In this respect I think myth is often far more engaging, richer in content and implication, tremendously more interesting, and far more versatile than typical fantasy (or other genres of) role play gaming. Monsters actually mean things in myth. They are not simply the enemy soldier du jour, dressed in some fantastic garb of hoary yet impotent flesh or rotting, undead sheets of nothingness. They are not merely “tactical challenges” as would be the case as if an infantry battalion in a wargame were suddenly compressed into a single fearsome body and sent forth to fight tooth and claw against armed adventurers. Instead monsters are “danger incarnate,” they are a warping of the woof of existence, their being alters and changes things around them, they bend reality, sicken or extend it, they reshape nature (physical, mental, and spiritual) into a monstrosity of devastating potential. In myth (from which spring the sources of the idea and shapes and names and forms of monsters in role play games) monsters are dangerous, deadly, uncanny, they distort the nature of the things they encounter, and they do all of this both within and well-beyond the very narrow confines of combat. It seems to me then that the monster should be returned to his more natural (or unnatural, depending upon your point of view) state(s) of being, a being that exudes, reflects and engenders corruption, weirdness, lethality, and real, unremitting and unrepentant peril. Both in life, and in death. *

In short I am advocating the idea that even the blood, tissues, and corpses of monsters might very well, and even in some cases definitely should, have effects both upon the characters encountering them, and upon the entire atmosphere and environment of the role-play milieu. That monsters become far more than mere combat automatons, far more than just tactical challenges, far more than an enemy in a rubber mask and a plastic suit of armor who can execute feats of multiple backflips or shoot acid from a naphtha gland in his mouth.

Monsters are not simply monsters because they look weird, because men find them to be distasteful, evil, ugly, frightening, gigantic, or unique adversaries. Monsters are also monsters because of their peculiarly monstrous qualities, which extend far beyond motive and appearance and down to the very marrow of their bones, as well as throughout the blood or ichor that washes unseen through their twisted veins. And that when this blood (and/or body) becomes exposed to the world at large, when it stains the flesh of the hero, and when the bones of monsters litter the landscape, other things occur of definite and noticeable effect. Things that are sometimes wondrous, things that are sometimes terrible, occasionally even more horrifying in implication or outcome than the threat of the original monster itself. (I use the term monster in this respect in a very generalized sense. Of course the same “monstrous properties” might be said to exist for supernatural beings and alien creatures, in horror/supernatural/adventure/superhero, and sci-fi gaming. And I would hardly argue against the same types of monstrous properties I am advocating for mythological and fantasy based monsters is such cases. Rather I would just expect that given the nature of the creature in question that such properties would manifest differently, but also quite obviously, in those other types of circumstances.)

TO BE CONTINUED…

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