Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 26

The Break-Up

if my skin reflected my heart

it would split like mudcracks

heat scars in a dirt lowland edging a desert

once packed together by the pressures of familiarity

now denied the vital water that brings life to the land

laid barren by the sun’s scorch

the ground splits

my blood leaks out

my heart falling

shattering

no presure to maintain the pieces

the shape is lost

the form gone

meaning left

her death leaves me hollow

the tension in the muscles that wrapped me in hugs

the skin crinkling at her eyes

the full and overwhelming weight of love

is absent now

I am adrift in the air

with no control

no scents of pecan pie or biscuits waft around me

they left when her hands ceased to craft them

the TV stands silently

no more cartoons

gravity still holds for it

at least

but not me

her house

where I had stayed every day

from afternoon until evening

from awakening until school

through breakfast and games and laughter

her house is too empty

it no longer presses love upon me

its high ceiling leaves only space to flow

void that cannot fill

I fall apart


I actually wrote this as a prose piece, but noticed that the imagery might suit a poem better. Rereading the line about shape and form being “lost” gave me the idea to remove all punctuation and capitalization, instead breaking up the piece by lines. Every comma, period, em dash, etc. that was in the original piece became a divide along which I separated two new lines. This poem is less abstract than the ones I normally write, which makes for an interesting point of comparison between my poetry and prose.

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 25

I’ve been weirdly nervous about staying in my dorm this year.

Wai?

It’s become unnervingly common that I feel really down when I’m alone.
Which is troublesome for an introvert.
I don’t want to be around people, but I don’t want to be left alone with my thoughts.

You need a hobby.

Yeah.

I think I may have an option for you.

Oh?

Remember my old Xbax?

Yee.

It’s just sitting at home not being used.
Maybe I could bring it back with me and you could put it in your dorm so you have something to do.

I have games on Spiffy I’d like to play, but when I’m down, I don’t have the energy or the motivation to play them. The best thing I’ve found so far has been playing multiplayer stuff. [X] and I did a bit of Mabinogi over the weekend and I played SWTOR with [X] last night.
I’ve always been a bit nervous around games that are specifically set up with a sense of danger, which is why I did most of my playing of Dishonored when you were sitting next to me. And for MMOs, you pretty much need a friend to keep you occupied, because the story takes a much smaller place. I’ve been trying to work up to Cities: Skylines, since there’s no danger to be nervous about and I don’t need another person to have fun, but then the fear of failure sets in about not planning a functional city or some other kind of mess-up. My anxiety is killing my ability to play games.
I’m kind of a wreck.

Have you thought about going to Behavioral Health and getting some kind o’ medication?

I don’t think I’m bad enough as all that. I can still function perfectly well in school and such; it’s just my free time that’s suffering.

That’s pretty bad.
Stress relief is pretty important.
Also, you don’t function well. You put up a good external front.
You’re constantly freaking out and hating yourself for the littlest things.
I think you maybe should at least talk to one of the psychiatrists there. They are super nice.

I can’t quite get it right. When I had sessions with [X], I could never bring up anything that was bothering me. It was like the boundaries you put on a normal conversation; when someone asks how you are, you don’t tell them the truth. You say, “Fine.” I could never get past that.

Mm.

I told him about stuff that was worrying me, but I couldn’t manage to tell him how it was worrying me.
Like how I mentioned I was nervous about my future, and he set me up with one of those ILP-ish tests like we took in high school, that matches you with jobs and such. We did an “interest inventory” to figure out what was important to me in a job setting. But I was never able to relate that it wasn’t just nerves about my future—that it was existential panic.
I always had to keep myself calm and put-together. I always seemed perfectly capable.
I couldn’t drop the front.

I understand.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be low every time I’m alone to think, but I don’t know how to get better.

I think maybe Behavioral Health would be helpful? The psychiatrist already knows you’re in a serious situation, which is why you came to them. Might help you actually be honest?

I don’t think anyone there thinks I really need help. The closest I got to honesty was on those tests they have you do before you go in, and the one time I put how bad I was feeling on it, [X] asked me about it and I wrote it off as Dead Week stress. It was right there, and I could have talked about it, but I didn’t know how to describe what was going on, so I went with the easiest answer my brain came up with. I autopiloted.
How do I talk to someone if I can’t talk?

No no, not the counseling place.
Behavioral Health.
Psychiatrists, not psychologists.

I thought that was the counseling place.

Nope.
Behavioral Health is in the hospital. If you go there, they know you need help.
Like, that it’s bad enough you’re considering a medical option, not just talking.

I don’t know if I want a medical option. I’m scared.

It’s not that bad.
I went and they just prescribed me a little pill to be taken daily. But more than that, the doctor was like, “Here’s a billion different things to think about in your daily routine.”

I’ll think on it. Thanks for listening to me, and for your suggestions.

Sho.


I don’t think I have anxiety. I’m anxious, sure, but I’m not bad enough that I need medication. There are lots of people who have it worse than me, real people with real problems. Real people with real anxiety. I can’t invalidate them by claiming to have that, when I’m functioning alright. I’m getting by. Other people don’t have that luxury.

I’ve read a lot of Tumblr posts about mental health, just as I was scrolling through my dash. Every one of them said that all anxiety is valid. That you’re no less a victim of anxiety than anyone else, regardless of differences in circumstance. That saying “I’m not bad enough that I need medication” is an excuse that a lot of people with anxiety use, and it can prevent necessary treatment.

But I don’t think I have anxiety. I don’t think those Tumblr posts apply to me. I know something is wrong, but I can handle it.

I can handle it.

Right?

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 24

I am sitting in front of my spicy beef wrap, casting glances at the student to my left. He sits at the table next to me, less than two feet down the bench. He is alone, and does not seem particularly occupied. It is early yet in the school year, the tried-and-true time to make new friends. I want to put down my wrap and say hello. I want to strike up a conversation. I want to make a friend.

The words I speak in my mind repeat over and over in different forms. “Hi.” No. “Hello.” No. “Hey.” Hell no. He doesn’t look busy he’s probably busy. He seems nice he could be a misanthrope. I’ll never make a friend if I don’t need friends.

Think past that. What happens after hello? He politely excuses himself from the conversation. I’ve inconvenienced him for seconds. I’ve created awkwardness. His life is the tiniest bit worse for me having affected it.

I finish my spicy beef wrap as he packs up his stuff to leave. I say nothing. I look only at my table, tracing patterns in the gray.

The world is a terrifying place.

I’m standing in line at Intermezzo, repeating the words in my head. I’d like a chicken sandwich. I’d like a chicken sandwich. It’s simple. I’ve got it. The lines moves and I reach the front. “I’d like a chicken sandwich.”

“Would you like cheese?”

“Yes.” No. I didn’t want cheese. But to pause to think would be an inconvenience to the woman behind the counter. The autopilot response is a defense mechanism, born of panic. At least it comes up with the answer I want almost half the time. Any other time, it’s simply life; to try to fix the mistake would be an inconvenience. Sentencing has been passed.

The world is a judging place.

I’m tired. I got four hours of sleep, which is an hour more than the norm, but I’m breaking down. I can’t keep going like this. But I don’t have a choice; I have to finish the next assignment tonight, before I sleep. I tell myself that I can sleep now and finish it before class tomorrow. What if I can’t finish it before class? I have to finish it now, when I know I have enough time. Which means I can’t sleep. If I sleep, it’s ruined. I fail.

The professor will know it when I have nothing to turn in. They will be disappointed. Not much, but an inkling is enough. Their expectations of me will lower by a hair. I will be lesser. I cannot be lesser.

My friend asks me how to go about dropping a class. She is doing well; her GPA is good, her teachers like her, and she’s able to balance her school and non-school lives. She encounters problems, but she accepts that she doesn’t have to be perfect, and she makes it through alright. I’m angry at her. I don’t tell her. I want to ask my brain why I have to be perfect when she doesn’t have to be. For those tenths of a point on my GPA? What difference does that make? After next semester, I won’t be an undergrad anymore. I may not even continue to graduate school. A GPA will mean nothing to me. A GPA won’t affect my life. Five years from now I won’t even know what my GPA was.

But I have to be better. Not better than her; she’s perfect. I have to be better than myself, were I to do what she does—were I to sacrifice smaller assignments to have more time on the big ones, rather than sacrificing my own health to do both.

I have to be better. I can’t let anything slide in any class; I have to put forward every effort, even if it’s just the last-ditch 4-am paper. I cobbled it together after a night of telling myself that I’m a failure for not doing it sooner. Hours wasted berating myself for wasting time berating myself. The paper will come together, and I will edit it and the final draft will be passable, perhaps even good. Later. Tonight, it is a last-ditch 4-am monstrocity, because it was only a few hours ago that I stopped hating myself long enough to type.

The world is a weighty place.

Sometimes it hurts to be in it.

 

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 23

One More for the Pile

Wow, this shirt is soft
I wasn’t sure I wanted
But I’m glad I grabbed


I wasn’t certain whether the instructions were, “Go up to the thirteenth floor to get a free T-shirt, and write a haiku [about that],” or, “Go up to the thirteenth floor to get a free T-shirt, and [also] write a haiku.” I decided to do the former, since it simultaneously took care of the latter.

Thanks for letting us know about the free T-shirts, Dr. Alvarez!

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 22

Ruminations on the Gallery

The melancholia presses like noir, German Expressionism twisting the set of the mind. I wrap my arms around myself, gripping the jacket sides as I walk, my bum knee wheedling in muted threat. The smell—wafting, circling in the air—rises from the discarded minutiae in their cages. The shop, its cold metal, its stained oil, its faint undertones of old, musky insulation, bleeds through the scent. I am awakened, if only briefly. “Strings Too Short to Save.” Collections of a life lived not cleanly, but too hard. “Memento Mori.” Intonations so vastly removed, my own thoughts so obviously mine, that the work twists under my gaze. I feel as though I am an intruder, stepping upon a life whose meaning is so deep that I must step beyond my own—to risk leaving it behind, to risk drowning. The melancholia. The connection to the death, the observation of the hate—I cannot venture into the second, though the first is well-known. I fear. I fear because of this connection, this understanding that is bordered by walls, too thin.

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 21

Kristi Street
[Address]
[Phone Number]
[Email Address]

[Editor’s Name]
[Editor’s Name]
[Editor’s Title]
[Name of Literary Magazine]
[Address of the Literary Magazine]

[Date]

Dear [Editors],

[Names of the pieces you have enclosed]

Simply put, I am a writer with an ulterior motive. My writing style blends technical accuracy with narrative rhythm, embracing the form of language in addition to its content. The modern reader doesn’t want to pore over a grammar manual, nor do they want to feel as though their intelligence is being insulted; however, readers readily absorb the fundaments of language through natural osmosis. Thus, I craft engaging works utilizing tools that sometimes go unnoticed—for example, em dashes—while writing introspective poetry or rhetorical analyses of the everyday. I bring the reader in with the content they desire, then frame it in a manner they respect. Readers are thoughtful, rational people, and should be treated as such.

My content is influenced by my identity. As a demisexual, genderflux woman who was raised in a rural community, in a working-class household, with a vested interest in technology and society, I extol the merits of representation and progress. As we grow in global connectivity, we are coming to truly embrace the concept that experiences should not alienate, but incorporate. I write about emotions shared by all people, and ideas shared by a few who want to change the world. Fear and sadness color many of my pieces, while others exhibit exultations about the differences of human experience. As my own well of experience grows, so too does my writing.

I am currently a senior at the University of Kentucky, studying for a B.S. in Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Kristi Street
University of Kentucky, Class of 2017
B.S. Candidate in Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies
Undergraduate

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 20

My Unconscious Rules of Writing Structure, or:

Brain No Explain, Only Enforce

On the micro scale:

  • if an adjective or adverb is used, that same word can’t appear again for another paragraph at least
  • words like “stuff,” “things,” and other generalizations are inexcusable
  • never use a general adjective where a specific one will do
    • ex. the azure [not blue] sea
  • em dashes are a must—and should appear whenever possible—but they should not be used in quick succession
  • semicolons turn short sentences into long ones; they should be used to cheat for flow
  • sentence lengths should vary widely and often
    • short sentences in succession are forgiveable when hammering home a point
  • every very long sentence with a descriptive build-up must be followed by a very short, opinionated sentence
    • ex. Since time immemorial, proponents of the philosophy of dualism have asserted that man is a being apart from his own brain—that consciousness is comprised of an exterior, immaterial mind that inhabits the planar position, but not the physical space, of one’s own body. Neuroscience indicates otherwise.
  • if a paragraph ends with a single word on one line, or a paper ends with a single line on its own page, or when the spaces between letters or between words is uneven, rearrange entire paragraphs if necessary
    • some exceptions apply; they’re rarely rational

On the macro scale:

  • forego, for ego, the outline; by the time you’ve finished it, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something, and then you won’t be motivated to continue the actual paper
  • the paper must be written in order, from introduction to conclusion, and edited along the way (better keep thesaurus.com open in a separate tab)
    • since you won’t know the main points until you write them, the intro will have to be a narrative scenario, an opinion, or a description of the topic
      • in rare cases, an introduction may be written after the rest of the paper is complete; this only occurs when the revision stage is so extreme that the original introduction is edited into a state of unrecognizability
  • reread the finished paper and mess with the bits that sound off; repeat ad infinitum
  • if a sentence is pretty, FIGHT to keep it somewhere in the paper
    • even if you axe the entire paragraph and that subject is no longer addressed, figure out which parts make the sentence pretty and add them back in somewhere else
  • every paragraph must have an idea you can directly state in its final sentence—and the following paragraph must begin with a sentence that references that idea (even if only to go in the opposite direction)
    • ex. Thus, the descriptivist approach to language has immense and distinct value. [¶] Yet even so, many vehemently oppose such an ideology, choosing instead to swear by the merits of prescriptivism exclusively.
  • the conclusion must acknowledge a theme shared among the ideas in the transitional sentences
    • failing that, conclude with a call-to-action that pushes the reader to glean their own ideas

 


You have no idea how many times I arbitrarily used one of my own rules to edit this list of rules. I revised this collection for hours.

Why?

Brain No Explain, Only Enforce

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 19

A recurrent, albeit semi-frequent theme in this class seems to be “The Future Intent.” What are the poems I’d like to write in the future? Which genres would I like to explore? What are my goals for writing in the days to come, be they soon or distant?

Well, I do have an end goal, though I have yet to work up the nerve to write much of it. I wish to write a sci-fi/fantasy novel. The setting and races originated as part of a backstory I designed for a roleplay character, but the concept grew until I had a good section of the world constructed. At this point, I even have an alphabet and grammar rules for a language spoken by these imaginary peoples. However, I have yet to write an actual plot beyond a simplistic outline.

Perhaps, if I detail the details here, I’ll come up with the motivation to take it further.


Setting

Sierepireak is a desolate world separated into three parts:

  1. The Blighted Lands are the dead landscapes of the world. All that the light touches during the day becomes dried and cracked. During this time, all living beings must either retreat into the Settlements, covering all openings, or retreat into the Wastes, where impenetrable shadows abound. Any creature caught within the Blighted Lands when the sun rises has the joy of experiencing all of the liquids leaving its body over a period of several minutes, and it is left a dry, broken carcass.
  2. The Wastes are sections of the planet swathed in shadows, reaching about the height of a one-story house around the edges, while stretching upward for several miles in the centers. If one stays within them, one can survive the sun. However, one must contend with all of the other creatures that have retreated into the shadows as well.
  3. The Settlements are the communities where the two known sentient races live. Extending out from the edges of the Wastes, the Settlements vary from small villages to large cities, with the most common Settlement consisting of a district of large estates surrounded by slums.

The two sentient races of Sierepireak are divided by class:

  1. The Masters, known to each other as the Sietairyk, are the ruling class, who have a lifespan of around 300 of their years, or about 600 Earth years. They are large beasts with six hoofed legs, six arms with hands of six fingers each, an upright torso, a prehensile tail, and a cranial central nervous system, somewhat like exceedingly mutated centaurs. They have long, dark hair covering their lower bodies, similar to a yak’s, ranging from green to orange and red, with most appearing as brown. Their upper bodies are mostly hairless, and all are bald; the skin of their upper bodies is a darker shade of the color of their lower bodies. They have two large, almond-shaped black eyes and pointed ears, and all teeth are pointed as well. Their most prominent feature is their ability to control “whims and wishes;” in other words, they can bend reality to suit themselves. This is a limited power, as anything altered by one cannot be altered by another, and large-scale phenomena cannot be created, destroyed, or changed. Their language is Kiaraetalyik, which relies heavily on vowel usage. Each vowel is pronounced individually, with emphasis generally on the “ah” sounds. Both sentient races are fluent in this language, though they have different dialects. Master names follow the pattern of their language, with most being at least four syllables in length. Most emphasize harder consonants over softer ones, though this isn’t an absolute rule. Often, the names will be shortened into nicknames for children, but full names are always used to address adults, as a sign of respect. The sole sexual dimorphism within this race is mammary glands on the torsos of females. There are five recognized sexes, two of which are similar to what we consider “male,” one “female,” one that contains characteristics of both, and one that completely lacks sexual characteristics.
  2. The Shifts, known to each other as the Sa, are the slave class, who have a lifespan of up to 1700 years, or a bit over 3400 Earth years. They are the exception to the Rule of One (the stipulation that anything altered by one Master cannot be affected by another). These beings naturally appear as scaled quadrupeds, with balanced two-toed feet that allow them to sit on their haunches easily. They typically have dark green or yellow skin, with black horizontal stripes. The scales that climb their backs to their necks and heads grow similar to a armadillo’s carapace, with overlapping plates. Their torsos are and arms similar to those of humans, save that they have three fingers and a thumb on each hand, ending in long talons. They sport tails as long as the rest of their bodies and many small, needle-like teeth, with pinpoint eyes and white hair along their chins. Despite their semi-upright build, they prefer to walk on two legs, to allow better use of their hands; however, they can easily lower to all fours for running. Due to a long history of being abused by the whims and wishes of the Masters, they have been afforded the ability to shapeshift. So many times in the past have they been altered by the Masters, they can now alter themselves. Each can memorize a limited number of forms that they can switch to immediately, and may study further forms to take. Thus, memory and retention are prized among the Shifts. The forms they take are copies of the other creatures of the world that the Shifts see while they hunt the Blighted Lands at night for food to bring back to the Masters. Their language is Sa, the same as their race. It features an alternation between vowels and consonants, though there are some cases where two vowels or two consonants are found side-by-side. The meter of the language is always constant; there is never any more emphasis placed on one syllable of a word than another. Only the Shifts speak this language, but because the Shift race has been enslaved for so long, there are many similarities between it and Kiaraetalyik. Sa is generally much simpler. Shift names always contain one apostrophe to separate the two halves of the name. If the name contains an odd number of letters, the apostrophe is placed closer to the beginning. The names typically begin with a vowel and end with a consonant, though any combination of letters can be used in-between. There are no sexual dimorphisms within this race, and all Sa share the same sexual characteristics, though they do have separate concepts of gender, of which five are generally recognized (corresponding to the sexes of the Masters), though (as with both Masters and humans) a larger spectrum of gender exists.

Shifts are not held to slavery by chains or whips, but fear. Because the Masters can bend reality within their own spheres, they can immediately put down any revolt, and any whisper of rebellion can result in the loss of a limb before one can blink. This has resulted in a condition known as Broken, wherein a Shift loses all personality and mindlessly obeys all commands. The Broken are typically elderly or sick, and are relatively few in number. However, whenever a young Shift becomes Broken, it is a cause of mourning for their family. Some Shifts escape slavery—it’s quite easy, given the complete lack of supervision on hunting expeditions—but few survive long in the Wastes; for most, a cruel Master is an acceptable alternative to such as life as the escapees live. Those who do survive have been known to be able to take on the form of the shadows themselves as one of their shifts. Those who run and return are accepted back into their Masters’ households with neither fanfare nor punishment.

The other creatures of the world generally appear to be eldritch abominations of various sizes. Creatures naturally taller than the height of the shadows in the Wastes will fight for dominance within a sphere, consuming any smaller creatures that enter the area and remaining low to the ground, lying with all their length stretched out underneath the ceiling of the shadows. It is rare that these behemoths leave the Wastes, even during the night. This pushes the smaller creatures out into the Blighted Lands whenever the sun sets, which is the time when the Shifts go out to hunt them, aided by their night vision. However, even the smaller creatures are often two to three times larger than the Shifts. The day/night cycle of Sierepireak is relatively short compared to Earth’s, being about ten hours long, and the years last 735 days. This is roughly equivalent to a 306-day rotation in terms of Earth days.


The odd specifics of this world arose from the limitations of the campaign. For example, if I were to lay out specifically how the world was built according to the campaign’s rules, it would look like this:

Technology 4, Magic 0, Psi 0, Inhuman 10 (Shifts only), Divinity 2 (Masters only)
No Mana (-2), Savage (-1), Totalitarian (-1), Extremely Scarce Resources (-2), Extremely Hot (-1)

Similarly, the odd specifics of the races arose from mechanics limiting the character I wanted to play. The initial character I built was a Shift, simply because I wanted to play a shapeshifting alien. So, I contrived a hierarchy wherein reality shapers altered the structure of a species such that they gained the ability to shapeshift. Similarly, as this character was being constructed in the Generic Universal Role Playing System (GURPS), one of the available advantages I desired was Shadow Form; this prompted me to explain why a shapeshifter could transform into a shadow, and thus resulted in the idea that a Sa living long enough in the Wastes could learn the nature of the shadows themselves.

What didn’t arise from a mechanical necessity arose from curiosity. What would it be like to pair a semi-humanoid race with one completely alien? How would concepts like gender, race, and class differ in this setting? Simple desires gave rise to longer questions, as “I want to have the Masters speak in ridiculously long syllabic words, peppered with dozens of vowels,” became “How would this affect their speech patterns? How would this alter sentence structures?” Now, I’ve developed my own system of verb tenses and contrived a mixed imperative/declarative form—and I wanted to include a description of how that worked, but after realizing I’d first have to explain my system of time nonspecificity, I figured that would be best reserved for a separate post. And despite this, I find my grammatical rules to be simpler, in many ways, than English. In fact, I ended up designing my entire alphabet in such a way that it was, to me, a more sensible alternative to the International Phonetic Alphabet; I’ll even spell words out in Sa just to examine how different their sounds are from their representation by English letters. Yes, I nerd out over my own language.

I recognize that many of these details may not be suitable for a novel, and I have no issue with prodding at the reality-warping and grating down the overly syllabic words to make the whole more accessible to a reader—and more conducive to a plot. After all, the original wasn’t developed with a novel in mind, but instead with a mindset of “What can I get away with, and how can I explain it?” I do think a novel in this setting would garner at least some interest, however, if only because it’s a setting vastly unlike anything I’ve personally read. But, if I ever do manage to sit down and write it, I want to do it right. That’s where the fear of failure and rejection and inadequacy comes in, unfortunately, and I have yet to get more than a handful of paragraphs down as a result. So that’s why this is my end-goal. I just don’t have the confidence right now; hopefully, sometime in the future, I’ll have enough to really go for it. Until then, this will remain my “Future Intent.”

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 18

Since I’m on a bit of a roleplay bend after the previous post, I decided to put up a backstory I’m quite fond of.

NOTE TO ANY OF MY ROLEPLAY FRIENDS WHO MIGHT STUMBLE ACROSS THIS:

This is Albrecht’s backstory for the Tir Na Nog campaign—the version with his secret included. MAJOR SPOILERS.


Albrecht von Grimmelshausen was a steadfast guard of House Grimmel for many years. The house—a manor built on a cliff overlooking a storm-tossed sea—was a wonder of its age, constructed of the whitest marble and featuring the most beautiful gardens of any estate in the county.

Unfortunately, while Albrecht stood his guard in an alcove on the forward facade, turmoil struck the family. The most recent Lord Grimmel died without a male heir, and the estate was entailed away. After sitting abandoned for the better part of a decade, the lush gardens had overgrown the manor, digging their roots into the foundations, making the house a leaking mess. After four decades, the sea had chipped away a good section of the cliff on which the house had been impressively, but precariously built. And unluckily, the whitest marble in the quarry had not been, in fact, the sturdiest.

So, after fifty years, the house dropped into the ocean—leaving only the forward facade, and Albrecht, behind.

Albrecht has many fond memories of his time serving House Grimmel. Of course, he wasn’t animate for most of them, but he remembers them fondly nonetheless. He was constructed by the infamous enchanter and smith Adelaide Schmidt (infamous as she later was convicted of 27 counts of fornication with married persons, which the Grimmels used as cause to view each other with suspicion, though they had both given into Schmidt’s charms). Albrecht remembers well the day he awoke upon a table in Schmidt’s laboratory, amid the whirring and clinking of machinations, as well as a yelled, “Shit! I did it again!” before he blacked out, only to reawaken later, this time with both legs attached.

A week later, his instructions newly programmed with the strongest spell developed at the time for animated armors, he was delivered to the door of House Grimmel. Shining brightly in polished steel, laden with fine metalwork and decoration, he was greeted by Lord and Lady Grimmel, as well as their eldest (at the time, only) daughter, Elise. “A fine job, a very fine job,” said Lord Grimmel as he lit his pipe. Once he finally looked up from it and saw Albrecht, the pipe fell from his mouth. “Tall bastard, inn’e?” At that point, Albrecht stepped down from the block upon which he was standing, so that he was only a few inches taller than Lord Grimmel. The Lady of the house eyed Albrecht carefully, checking for rust spots or any other indication that her money’s worth was not fully provided. Apparently pleased, she stepped back so as to let little Elise run forward. “Abee! Abee!” she yelled excitedly, having decided the night before upon Albrecht’s name, despite not quite being able to pronounce it. She’d heard that the impressive horseman in the painting above the fireplace was named Albrecht, and so had decided that it was the perfect name for the family’s new guard, unaware that the painting was actually of Albrecht the Inept, famed for having opened the gates of his estate to a war party who claimed to be a group of traveling performers. He was Elise’s maternal grandfather, and remained above the fireplace only at Lady Grimmel’s insistence that his exploits in the county’s jousting tournaments trumped any error in judgment about traveling performers, who all look like ruffians anyway, and besides, their weapons would have made good props in a juggling act.

Over the next several years, Albrecht watched the family grow from three to six, each of the four daughters as beautiful and charming to Albrecht as the flowers in the gardens, whether or not they were conventionally considered so. He rarely had a view of the family, positioned as he was at the front of the house, but he recognized the ring of each voice and the pat of each footstep. His favorite moments were when the children would play in the front garden, splashing in the fountain and running between the hedges. Oftentimes, they would use sticks as swords, play-fighting the statue in the alcove while quoting stories of valiant knights and dragon-slaying heroes. As they grew, however, the daughters spent more time inside, studying history and learning to sew (save the youngest, who declared that she hated sewing, and much preferred horseback riding; she later knitted saddle blankets for each of the horses and took the crown in jousting at the county fair). When finally the estate was entailed away, two of the daughters were married to wealthy young nobles, and one later to a bard she met in a tavern. Elise remained unmarried, and elected to care for her mother in the inn she owned jointly with her sister-in-law: The Bard and Bowl.

Albrecht’s armor shined brightly in the faded splendor of his alcove as he waited for his house’s new owners to arrive. Gradually, he let himself slip into dormancy. It wasn’t until the great crash of the house into the sea shook him awake that he even realized he’d done so.

Albrecht’s journey from the estate was at first aimless, until his own will to survive took over; unaware of how much time had passed, and worried about the remaining strength in his enchantments, he draped furs across the gaps in his armor to keep out dust and rain. Thus, when he built up the nerve to enter the nearby town, he looked the part of a ragged knight, and not that of an empty suit of armor. The people were politely dismissive of him, but though their dialect was removed from what Albrecht was used to, he understood them well enough when he asked the direction of the inn.

The Bard and Bowl had grown over the years, now featuring its own stage area and a second bar. Albrecht headed toward the nearer one and hailed the barkeep, needlessly clearing his throat to emphasize that he was definitely not an empty suit of armor. After exchanging pleasantries in what must have been, given the barkeep’s look, a slightly archaic fashion, he asked about a prior owner of the inn—one Elise Grimmel. The barkeep sighed, expressed his sympathies, and mentioned that the funeral service several years ago had been lovely, and it was good that her daughter had been able to keep the inn in the family. Gabi always had been a capable woman, taking care of her mother as her mother had before her. No, Elise had never married—at relaying this information, the barkeep gave Albrecht a significant look—but Elise had always said that Gabi was all she ever needed.

Albrecht looked down at his hands for a moment before returning his gaze to the barkeep’s. He asked if he could see her. The barkeep nodded, his suspicions—to his mind—confirmed, and led Albrecht back to the room where Gabi was balancing figures before leaving them to talk.

They didn’t speak much of Elise. The Elise that each knew was different from the other’s, and remembering her remained a fresh wound for both. Albrecht claimed he was simply a mercenary who had stopped once at the inn and found comfort in the innkeeper’s words; this seemed to satisfy Gabi. Before he turned to leave, he asked after a book lying on the desk, well-worn but clearly decorated before the colors faded to inscrutability. “My mother’s storybook,” Gabi explained, her voice cracking softly. “She was always fond of knights.”

Albrecht made a decision that day. For all the little girls who loved stories, for the hopeless and the downtrodden, for anyone who needed a hero: He would be their knight.

Posted in WRD 402

WRD 402: Post 17

Saturday, 06/04
  • Pick up some beer not enough in the budget this week
  • Dr. Dunkleburg — call to set up meeting (347) 555-1406 ✓
  • Interview with Animo Corp IT Monday, noon; get the suit steam-pressed
  • Buy new socks for Austin ✓

Sunday, 06/05

  • Meeting w/ Dr. Dunkleburg today! ✓

Monday, 06/06

  • Interview today! ✓
  • Find cheap monogram service
  • Sale on Hot Pockets at Quik-E Mart Thursday

Tuesday, 06/07

  • Report to 2nd floor for assignment

Wednesday, 06/08

Thursday, 06/09

  • Sale on Hot Pockets!

Friday, 06/10

Saturday, 06/11

Sunday, 06/12

Monday, 06/13

Tuesday, 06/14

  • con sider he alth insu rance
  • Put in two weeks’ no one to tell
  • Download & sell patents from Animo cloud storage no electricity in city, probably illegal even if bldg is debris now

Wednesday, 06/15

  • Compare prices for survival gear Is it stealing if the stores are abandoned? Looting? — survival gear ✓
  • Find materials to reinforce Base. Hardware stores? Assuming looting is forgiveable under circumstances. ✓

Thursday, 06/16

self-defense it wasn’t self, I was protecting him
he protected them why was he on their side?
it was for the Greater Good
  • Restock First Aid kit ✓
  • Tell Austin that
  • Pick up some beer

I designed this list for a character I’m currently playing in a roleplay, as a way to keep track of what’s happened during the game. My character is very neat and organized, but not too big on showing his emotions; therefore, instead of writing down the events as a stream-of-consciousness journal piece, I decided to include them more abstractly as a to-do list—noting how the events affect his present, physical life, rather than how they affect him emotionally (that is, until the emotions become extreme).

For context, Lucien Laskos lives in a futuristic New York City, and he moonlights as The Jackal—his superhero alter ego. However, The Jackal has a copycat who’s been terrorizing the city, and so Lucien is determined to not only track down and defeat the copycat villain, but also to never stray from the paths of Goodness and Lawfulness—save his vigilantism—in order to clear his name. Unfortunately, destiny (and the Game Master) had other plans, as the evil corporation he’d stealthily infiltrated via job application came crashing down around him, in an unfortunately literal fashion. Lying in the dust were several other superheroes, leaving few to stand against the new league of villains who’d arisen. Lucien and his friends gathered the remaining heroes and formed a new base of operations from which to attack the enemy. Then, on a mission to recover a valuable serum, his team was ambushed by a powerful villain. While trying to save his comrade, Lucien inadvertently dealt a mortal blow to the enemy. His sense of Good and Law had been on rocky ground ever since the burrough was abandoned in a panic; now, he’s in a crisis of identity.

Obviously, there are many more details that I’ve excluded—including the explanation behind the note “he protected them,” which is fairly significant—but that is the general overview of a campaign that has encompassed several weeks of sessions. I’ve enjoyed testing out this abstract form of note-taking, and may experiment further in the future.