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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:13 pm 
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It is a well written story. And having tried my hand at writing a relatable story from the p.o.v. of a dragon, I know some of the struggle of a non humanoid protagonist. But this is certainly the most alien character in the archives. Thank you for showing that it's possible!

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:51 pm 
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Hello, all! Another week has rolled around, and another M:EMory will resurface from the depths of our history.

This week, we will be looking at: "The Hand that Feeds," by OrcishLibrarian.

"The Hand that Feeds" was originally posted on May 4th, 2015, and was voted into the Archive on August 10th, 2015. It is the second story to feature Tryst, and explores more of her relationships, both professional and familial. Featuring the plane of Phostus, this story of demons, dogs, and devilkin explores what happens when, as the title suggests, something or someone decides to bite the hand that feeds them. Tryst has also appeared in three additional stories: "The Fine Print" and "The Body," by OrcishLibrarian, and "Hide and Seek" by Barinellos.

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:30 pm 
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There are times I wish I were as emotional about wanting the best for my kids, no matter what, and times that I'm very glad that I'm not. Meanwhile, I'm glad that I get to see them every day, and glad that I get to spend time at the office. A dozen years together for a few months apart is an interesting trade, but one I'm not sure I could make.

Meanwhile, Tryst would undoubtedly be happier to accept things as they are and raise her daughter as well as possible under the conditions given, but so would my spouse. No, this isn't exactly what either wanted at first, but the only thing worse than having children is not having them.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:53 pm 
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"The Hand That Feeds" is a story that had a strange, start-stop-start sort of genesis to it. If memory serves -- and it doesn't always, but, for now, let's just assume that I've got the general details right -- I started work on this story in late 2014, very shortly after writing "The Fine Print." The good Barin and I were just sort of batting ideas around for Tryst, and one notion which came up -- and stuck -- was "Adys gives Mira a puppy." (Although, at the time, Mira didn't have a name yet, and the puppy, of course, isn't exactly your typical puppy...) And I remember that I was able to dash the first scene in the story out pretty quick, because I could hear Tryst and Adys arguing very clearly in my head, and I remember being fascinated by the strange dynamics between the two -- neither likes the other, neither respects the other, neither trusts the other, and yet Mira is a link between them, and, as much as each of them fully intends to betray or kill the other, they now have this strange connection. So that was a fun scene to write -- it's Tryst at her usual tricks, which are equal parts honesty and self-delusion -- and Barin was a big help in making Adys's part better.

So, I had the first scene, and I knew roughly what would happen in the third scene. Only I had no idea how to get from Point A to Point C. I didn't have a Point B.

So I just sort of stuck the unfinished story in a mental drawer, and forgot about it for a while.

Then, months later, Barin and I were chewing the fat again -- this time about Phostus more generally -- and the City of Cowards came up. And, suddenly, like the tumblers in a lock falling into place, the scene with Westrick's comeuppance and Tryst's relapse came into my head, and I realized that it was my missing Point B. So I dusted off "The Hand That Feeds," and suddenly the roadblock which had stopped me cold months earlier was gone, and I was able to find my way to where I needed to go.

Usually, when I write, it goes pretty quickly. I'm chasing the phosphorescent tail of an idea, and I'm in something of a blind panic to catch it before it slips away. But I've had a couple stories that sort of came in discrete, staccato bursts, with months or even years between the beats, and this was one of them. It's not the longest I've ever stewed on a draft between concept and completion, but it certainly was longer than the norm.

Anyway, in the end, I'm pretty happy about how the different parts of the story came together, and, while I think you can sort of maybe see the stitches between Point A and Point B, I do feel like they work, and that's a pretty neat thing. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:10 am 
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For some reason, I'd completely disassociated the title with the story.
For my part, the dynamic of Tryst and Adys is this wonderful dysfunction strung between two people (using the term loosely) who have a hand in this. They are, in a way, like the two most extreme divorcees sharing custody over their progeny. What's fascinating in that insight too is their relationship with Mira and what they get from it. Tryst, for all she loves Mira... doesn't seem to think of her as a person. She's using her as a sort of effigy for her own hopes and aspirations. She's a psychotic Stage Mom, albeit one who genuinely adores her little girl.

While Adys?... Holds a genuine soft spot for the tyke, but holds her as an investment. Even if everything goes awash with Tryst, he's getting something from the deal, and Tryst's fierce protection is knowing that if she ever pushes too hard to outlive her worth, Adys will be fine with the consolation prize. A very twisted part of me just brainstormed that Adys might have secretly sold Mira the puppy for some leverage that can be pointed at Tryst if she gets uppity. But I also don't think Adys would do that to the girl. He's no affection for Tryst, but her daughter is something else.

It was a great thrill getting the city of cowards into the story too. I feel like Phostus is a sadly and understandably underutilized setting. It has a lot of cool locations I loved dreaming up. Just the absolutely dismal nature of the miserable existence people choose in buyer's remorse is striking to me.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:30 pm 
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Greetings, everyone, and welcome back to Highlighted M:EMories!

This week, the story we will be revisiting is "Riddles and Rime," by Tevish Szat.

"Riddles and Rime" was originally posted on June 21st, 2015, and voted into the Archive on July 5th, 2015. The story is set on Aralheim, and presents a conversation between a Ingvar, a traveler from a distant shore, and Eydis, a long-lived Rimemage of considerable power and wisdom. The two strangers have shared a terrifying dream, and they seek to understand its significance to themselves, and to the world in which they live. What dire portent have these strangers glimpsed?

Find out, and enjoy!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:37 pm 
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Question for Tevish


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:11 pm 
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Spoiler


Overall, this story was certainly written when I knew where I was going with A Wedding on Aralheim, so as some people suspected, the word choice Eydis uses is very much on point. Wedding wasn't quite set in stone, though; Ingvar was actually going to crash the party and help out in one draft! It should be fairly clear by now that I've been meaning to bring Ellia more to the forefront as a main villain, and to an extent, this story serves to hype her up -- while it also serves as the introduction of Eydis (who will probably get more play if and when I go back to the Aralheim arc, you could say the point is that "Ellia is bad enough that her paying a plane a visit can give sensitives prophetic nightmares". I mean, presumably she wouldn't be alone in that... I have a feeling that Eydis at least would have forewarning if any other heavy-hitting Villain, the type with "Plane-killer" on their resume, was coming around. But as the heavy-hitting villains of the Multiverse go, Ellia is one of the more human-feeling in her current appearances, and unlike (for instance) the Dual-Walkers we've never really seen her operating at or near 100%, in part because her modus operendi doesn't really support her going all-out very often, so I felt that she needed the extra omens. We'll see how perception of her persists through forthcoming stories like Adrisar.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:25 pm 
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Another Sunday has arrived, and so we charge blindly into another Highlighted M:EMory!

This week, we'll be reM:EMbering: "Dorn, the Zealot," by Yxoque and RavenoftheBlack.

Dorn, the Zealot, is a character created in collaboration between Yxoque and RavenoftheBlack. Originally posted on December 4th, 2015, and voted into the Archive on January 25th, 2016, Dorn is a Rhox warrior-priest of a religion known as the Path of the Majestic Storm. As his appositive suggests, Dorn is a Zealot, which is both a rank in his faith and an apt description of his mentality. Dorn has a deeply engrained belief that humans are necessarily evil, and he believes that it is his sacred duty to rid the world, or perhaps now worlds, of their presence. Dorn has, thus far, appeared in two stories, "Vows," his introduction story, and "Dreams and Nightmares."

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:32 pm 
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Dorn began as a post in the Oceanic Bubbles idea thread. On October 24, 2015, I posted this idea:

A non-human planeswalker who has dedicated their existence to the eradication of humans, on the grounds that they are evil and vile and generally responsible for a disproportionate amount of the problems in the Multiverse.


So my original idea for the character did, in fact, stay with him to the Dorn we all know and love today.

The following day, Yxoque responded to that idea with this:

Yxoque wrote:
Could be a pretty decent Green (or Green plus another color) villain, actually. I wouldn't make them too powerful, because "shows up on plane, casts Planar Cleansing, goes away," would get boring quickly. Maybe focus more on scheming, or organizational power. Or add in a strong caring for non-humans so that indiscriminate genocide isn't the default option. Oh and can it be the sort of villain that acts all smart and superior but resorts to aggressive violence really easily? I think that could work well for a character like this.

(And for some reason I'm envisioning them as a Rhox. I don't know why.)

Yxoque's initial ideas, likewise, have stayed through our current knowledge of Dorn. I particularly liked the thought that despite being educated and intelligent, he usually just defaults to physical violence, which we have seen Dorn do several times.

It was a lot of fun working with Yxoque on Dorn's character and history. Much of Dorn's world came from Yxoque, particularly the great Hedge, the massive living barrier between the lands controlled by the various animal-folk of the Path of the Majestic Storm and the no-man's land leading to the Humans of the plane. Dorn's favored aDORNment, his scutum shield, was also Yxoque's work, and I really like it, because it's both symbolic and different. Had this not been a collab, Dorn likely would have wound up with a mace, which is far more generic than the scutum is.

Because Yxoque and I hammered out the general details of Dorn's background and ascension while fine-tuning the character, I found it very simple and relatively easy to write "Vows," Dorn's first story. The entire process for constructing the character and writing the intro story took about six weeks, and while I certainly would like Dorn as a person, I'm very happy with the way the character worked out. I was also pleased with Dorn's use in "Dreams and Nightmares," where I got to show off more of the "priest" side of his "warrior-priest" identity.

I do have another Dorn story in line, but sadly, with my writing time being severely limited these days, I do not know when I'll be able to get to it. But rest assured, Dorn's not done with the Multiverse yet!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:04 pm 
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Hello again! Time once again for another Highlighted M:EMory!

This week, we will be looking at "Siege of the Ringpeaks," by razorborne.

"Siege of the Ringpeaks" was posted to the M:EM on September 7th, 2015, and was voted into the Archive on October 2nd, 2015. Part of razorborne's series of stories expressing the emerging conflict on the plane of Ossia. "Siege of the Ringpeaks" focuses on the isle of Kemil, the home of the centaurs. Here, the war that consumes the islands of Ossia is taking on a new front: the home front.

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:39 pm 
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Greetings, everyone. Like a burning candle, the previous week has melted away, and the time has come to Highlight another M:EMory, bring out a new candle, and light another fire.

To that end, this week we will take another look at "The Fire," by Barinellos and OrcishLibrarian.

"The Fire" was originally posted on January 30th, 2015, and was voted into the Archive on March 22nd, 2015. The piece serves as something of a capstone to the Aliavelli arc of Beryl, the Heart-Scarred, as the story of her struggle to reclaim her name and redeem her sister comes to its climactic conclusion. Beryl's journey started with OrcishLibrarian's "Small Magic," after which other writers got involved in the storyline, such as RuwinReborn, RavenoftheBlack, and the co-author of this piece, Barinellos. The other stories leading to "The Fire" are "A Bet on Kindness," "To Walk Across Fire," "Reclamation," "Friends and Killers," "The Lies We Tell," "Complications," "Between Two Worlds," and "A Name in a Book."

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:31 pm 
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So, a long, long time ago, when "The Fire" first came out, Raven asked me if I had any reflections about how Beryl's story arc had turned out, as opposed to whatever I might have imagined an even longer, longer time ago, when I first wrote "Small Magic." And, when he asked that question, it was hard for me to answer it without getting pretty emotional, because, in an important way, Beryl's story is my story, too. Beryl was how I wound up here at the M:EM in the first place, and she is very special to me for that reason. She also feels very real to me because, at the same time that she was sort of evolving and blossoming in her stories, I was going through a lot of changes in my own life, too, and, while there's no parallel between Beryl's story and my story, I got a weird sense of strength from knowing that she was out there, trying to become the person she knew she was supposed to be, and, maybe, in some small way, that helped me to want the same thing for myself, and to maybe believe that I could do it, too.

Anyway, it's hard for me to not get emotional about Beryl. It was hard then, and it's hard now.

I re-read what I wrote then, in response to Raven's question, and I guess I'm just going to post it again here, because I don't know that I have anything better to say now about Beryl or "The Fire" than I did then.

Quote:
Honestly, it's almost hard for me to explain how much has changed between November 2013 and now. It seems like "Small Magic" was such a long, long time ago -- it's weird for me to think that it has only been about a year since I wrote that story. It feels like much, much longer.

When I wrote that piece, I had essentially no vision for it beyond that immediate story. It would be misleading to say that my plans for Beryl changed since then, because I really didn't have any plans -- as re-reading my commentary on the thread for that story has made painfully clear. I wrote that piece for two main reasons. First, I thought that the M:EM sounded like just the absolute coolest thing since sliced bread, and I wanted in, and bad. Which meant that I needed to write a story, so I wrote a story, and "Small Magic" just happened to be that story. Second, as I was trying to think of something I could write about, I caught just a glimpse of Beryl in my mind's eye, and what I saw fascinated me. I saw long, black hair, combed carefully try to hide a terrible scar. I saw one blind eye, clouded and white, which was always open yet could never see. I saw a face which was angled a little bit down, and a little bit off to one side, to try to conceal what was on it. And I saw this one green eye, just staring out at me from beneath that hair. That green eye was staring at me, and challenging me, and saying: "I see you looking at me. I see the way you're staring. Well, tell me: Now that you've seen me, what do you think? Do you think that you know me? Do you think that you know who I am? What I am? Because that's what everyone always thinks. They all stare, and that's what they all think. But they don't know me. No one does. I don't even know me."

And that was it. I was done for. That was Beryl, and I just knew that I wanted to tell her story.

Only trouble was, I had no clue what that story was.

If you read my commentary on "Small Magic," it's almost funny, how little I knew then about Beryl. About who she was, or where she lived, or what she was like. Those were all gaps, which got filled in later as I came to know her better. I didn't know if she was a planeswalker. I wasn't sure where she fit on the color pie. I didn't have any plans for what she would do after that particular story. I had an inkling that I would write for her again, certainly, but I wasn't sure how.

Here's an example of something I wrote at the time:

Quote:
Beryl clearly has great natural talents for protection, but she possibly has even greater abilities to destroy. The former she knows well, the later she has access to in moments of emotional jeopardy and clearly struggles to control. The same hands that can ward against fire can also set off an uncontrollable explosion; the same hands that can heal a sword through the heart can fry the face of the person who put it there.

And here we get to the internal conflicts which make her interesting to me. She wants to emulate the people she loves, but she also can and does hurt them. She's defensive and private, which turns out to be for other people's safety as much as her own. The more she cares about something, the tighter she holds on to it, the more likely she is to become the instrument of its destruction.

Which all sounds like someone I'm interested in getting to know better. And also suggests a path for going forward.

Clearly, the actual story which kicked this all off requires a major renovation project to get it up to code with the multiverse. I want to do that at some point, but I confess that I don't think I have the metal fortitude at the moment for the murder-your-darlings approach which it's going to require. For the time being, I'm going to just set it aside with the rationalization that it's just one more origin story which, as it has worked its way down to me, has gotten muddied in the details. As an appreciator of that sort of thing, I suspect Beryl would be okay with that.

What I do want to pull out of the story and retrofit slightly for future use is the character. Her powers need a bit of a re-org, and her backstory is murky, but I think she has interesting places to go, which will reveal more about her in the process. To paraphrase Jimmy Stewart, I think she's going to kick the dust of this crummy little non-canon plane of her hobnail boots and she's going to see the Eternities.

And that was how it all started. I didn't know much about Beryl. What I did know was that I wanted to get to know her better.

And, essentially, that was what the next several stories were -- they were just me trying to get to know Beryl better. I didn't have any overarching plan for them -- I just wrote them as they popped into my head, and I learned things about Beryl in the process. "A Bet on Kindness" was a way to get Beryl off her home plane and out into the Eternities, where I could see some more sides of her. (Raven, I think you were the one who pointed out how odd it was for Beryl's spark to ignite then, and not earlier in her life -- such as when she killed her mother, or when she was stabbed through the heart. And I think I basically confessed, and said: "I know, I know, but, it turns out that she's a 'walker, and so now she's going to go 'walking." Not my proudest moment, but, hey, at least I was honest.) And Beryl's chance encounter with Aloise in that story -- which came about because I had just read Ruwin's "Stars and Smoke," and I was immediately fascinated by the notion of what Beryl might say to Aloise were the two of them to meet -- eventually grew into something which, at the time, I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams. "To Walk Across Fire" was me trying to learn a little more about how Beryl saw herself, and how she saw the things she was capable of doing, and how she felt about those things. And "Reclamation" was about me trying to learn a little bit more about Beryl's relationship with her sister, and how Beryl might appear to people other than herself.

And, when I was done with those stories, I had no clue what was going to come next. I kind of felt like I had launched Beryl out into the Eternities, and I was waiting to see what she would do with her newfound freedom. I wondered if someone else might want to write a Beryl story. I wondered if I needed to take a break, to write something else for a while, so that, whenever the time came for Beryl and myself to have our next talk, we might both come to that conversation with a fresh perspective.

Only, things didn't quite go as I'd been planning. Serendipity happened, instead.

First off, on a whim, I added the brief epilogue with Aloise and Fisco to the end of "Reclamation." I still have the strongest memory of writing to Ruwin, to ask his permission. Again, I didn't have any plans for how to develop that little plot thread. I just liked the idea of having it hanging there, where anyone who wanted to could decide to pull on it, and see what might unravel. I remember stressing that I'd written the story in such a way that that final section could be lopped-off, and no one would ever know. But Ruwin, bless his heart, gave me the thumbs-up, and so that aspect of Beryl's future was set into motion.

Meanwhile, Barinellos sent me a message, just to ask what if any ideas I had for Beryl going forward. And, in my response -- the gist of which was that I had no ideas at all -- I just happened to use the word "chessmen." Which Barinellos pounced on, like me on a cake, and said: "Interesting choice of language. Let me tell you all about a pair of people called The Duchess and The Shifter."

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Barinellos and I went back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, trying to hash out a larger plotline about Beryl, and Aliavelli, and what the Missing Pieces might be up to on that plane. At some point, Alessa got involved -- I don't think she had even appeared in a story yet to that point, and she didn't even have a name yet when we started talking -- she was still just "the chronopath." And so some of the plot points in the larger arc came about specifically as a reason to get Alessa involved in proceedings. Astria's strongbox, for example, which had been an enchanted box in the first draft of "Reclamation," quietly changed into a mechanical strongbox in the revised version of that story, explicitly so that Beryl would eventually have a lock which she would need Alessa's help in picking. And the concept of Moira's letter about The Duchess emerged in response to the question of: Okay, so what's in the box which Beryl needs to steal, and why?

Once we had the major plot beats worked out -- all the way to the events which took place in this story -- I remember writing to Barinellos and saying: "Well, that ought to keep me busy for about a year."

I don't know if he thought I was joking or not.

Here's the crazy thing -- I was almost exactly right. That was almost exactly a year ago.

What can I say? My brain moves slow at times...

And, at first, my brain moved reaaaaaaaaaaaaally slowly. Partly because I'd gotten wrapped-up in Jakkard, and I was really focused on writing Jackie stories. But also, I think, because the notion that I knew what was going to happen so far in advance was a very foreign one to me. As I've said many times around these parts, I usually have no clue what's going to happen in my stories, or to my characters, when I sit down to write. I just start with the smallest prompt -- a still image, a stray piece of dialog -- and I just go from there, and I try to discover the story surrounding that prompt. In a lot of ways, I make things up as I go, and I enjoy working that way. I like how it gives the characters room to surprise me. I like how free it feels, how it feels like the possibilities are endless.

By contrast, having so much of Beryl's story plotted in advance started to feel like a weight around my shoulders. I felt intimidated by the sheer amount of story I had committed to telling. I had never, in my life, written anything close to that scale, and I wasn't sure I could actually do it. So I found ways to procrastinate from even starting. And the fact that I knew what was going to happen all the way through felt confining. It felt restrictive. It was like I was shackled to this outline. Worse than that, it was like I was taking Beryl on a forced march through her own destiny, without giving her any choice in the matter. What if what I thought was her story *wasn't* her story? What if she had something different in mind? I always feel like I'm at my worst, from a writing perspective, when I'm focused on plot. I hate feeling like I'm telling the characters what to do, like I'm marching them through their blocking in order to shuttle them from plot point A to plot point B.

Anyway, I sort of felt like I'd embarked on this doomed project before I'd even started.

And that's when the wonderful people around these parts came to my rescue.

Ruwin got me started on the story which eventually turned into "Friends and Killers." He wrote a beautiful first section to that piece, and he let me borrow Fisco and Aloise for a while, which was a tremendous honor. And that story turned into a turning point of sorts, because, from seeing how Beryl interacted with Fisco and Aloise and Diana, and from getting my first glimpse at what Beryl looked like when she was calling upon the destructive aspects of her magic, I learned so much about her. And, although I didn't realize it at the time, because Beryl was still keeping this aspect of her life secret from me, that story was when Beryl really started to fall in love with Aloise. And those feelings Beryl had -- the way she felt about Aloise, and, just as importantly, the way Aloise made her feel about herself -- would go on to become one of the main lenses through which I came to think about her.

Then Barinellos wrote a bunch of wonderful Alessa stories, and that just reinforced for me how much I wanted to see what would happen when Beryl and Alessa met. So that led to "Complications," which I think generated more of a reaction from people than anything else I have ever written. And, over the course of having the discussion which that story prompted, I learned more and more about Beryl -- about who she was, and what she wanted, and why she wanted it. That was when I really began to understand just how much Beryl loved Aloise. And that was when I really began to understand just why Beryl felt like she needed to make things better on her home plane. It wasn't just about justice, or fairness, or any of those things -- although they were all important. It was about Beryl trying to do the right thing, because Beryl wanted so badly to see herself as the sort of person who does the right thing -- or at least tries to. And that might sound like a subtle shift in perspective, but it really knocked some of my lazy assumptions about Beryl on their heads.

And then Raven approached me out of the blue with the kernel of what would become "Between Two Worlds." He had written this beautiful meeting between Nasperge and Beryl, and had taken the two of them to the fire bridge. And, when I first read it, I remember being captivated by how great I thought it was, and then devastated by the realization that I couldn't use it, because Beryl's story was already in motion, and this piece Raven had written didn't fit. Raven can attest to all the half-crazy messages he got from me, trying to figure out how I could possibly fit this story in with the larger arc. My initial plan was to keep it until after the end of this story arc.

I am insanely glad that I didn't stick with that plan. The material was just too good to sit on! So I slipped it in between some of the outlined story points.

It was something I did almost on impulse, which became yet another turning point, because it meant that Beryl got to meet her mother's reflection. And I think that was one of the most important scenes I have ever written. If I may be immodest for a moment, I think it's a good scene. I think it's really, really good. And that's unusual for me. Usually, I'm really down on my own writing -- especially when I'm writing it. (Later on, I can start to see things from a more positive perspective. But, in the moment, I'm usually terrified that I'm bolloxing things up.) But, as I was writing that scene, I had a the sense that it was special. (That sense, on those rare occasions when I get it, terrifies me in addition to exciting me, because it makes me even more worried than usual that I'll bollox things up!) And, in retrospect, that scene had become central to the way I think about Beryl, and it became central to the way I thought about the larger story arc I was trying to tell.

I stopped thinking about the arc in terms of Beryl fighting The Duchess. I stopped thinking about it in terms of Beryl confronting her sister. I stopped thinking about it in terms of Beryl trying to honor her mother's wishes.

I stopped thinking about it in terms of plot, and I started thinking of it in terms of character.

And what I realized was that, this story, this larger story, and all the things that happen to Beryl during it? It's the story of Beryl becoming herself. It's the story of Beryl growing into the person who, as she puts it, she's supposed to be.

And that realization kind of unlocked everything for me, and the next two stories flowed out from there. And I would be remiss if I didn't thank Barinellos for all the time and effort he devoted to provided ideas and feedback on those final two stories as they actually got written.

For example, for the longest time, I'd assumed that, when Beryl and Alessa broke into the Trevanei vault, they'd steal some powerful magic Maguffin, which Beryl would use to defeat the nobles. But Beryl surprised me. She went off outline. She broke into the vault, and there was no powerful artifact there. There was just the Lineage, and a robe, and a necklace. Because Beryl didn't need some powerful artifact to defeat her sister. All she needed was to believe in herself. And so that was what she found inside the vault -- she found more of herself.

And, as badly as Beryl has been kicked around in "The Fire," as much as she's been hurt, I think that's the big takeaway from this arc. I think I've discovered who Beryl is, and who she's supposed to be. And I think Beryl has discovered the same things. And I think, as she says in her letter to her mother, she's ready to try to be that person.

And I can't really explain how that makes me feel. It makes me tear up. It makes me so happy for her.

None of which means that her path has been easy, or that it will be going forward. But I believe in her. I believe in Beryl. I believe in who she is, and who she's supposed to be.

And I owe such an intense debt of gratitude to the other M:EMbers for that. To Barinellos, for being my copilot for basically this past year, for providing his wonderful characters to the mix, and for offering his insightful comments on draft after draft after draft. To Raven, for showing up with Naspege when he did, for opening my eyes to a perspective on Beryl and her story which I don't think I had quite grasped until then. To Ruwin, for loaning me his marvelous characters as well, and for placing so much trust in me back when this all began. So much of who Beryl is now is the direct result of her running into Aloise on that dark, rainy night when she took her first 'walk. And to every single person who read a Beryl story and offered thoughts in response. I learned so much from those comments! So, so much!

I really want to name all those people, but I am terrified that I will forget someone. Please, everyone, you know who you are! Please, please know how indebted to you all I am. I am so, so thankful for your time and your wisdom.

It's so strange to me now to think that this storyline is actually done, that it actually happened. It's surreal, really. On the one hand, I'm so happy that people seem to have enjoyed the stories. And I feel this strange kind of lightness, now that the stories are all public. I don't think I'd realized how much I was stressing about them up until now. Not so much because I wanted to get them done, as because I wanted to get them done *right.* Because I owe that to Beryl. I owed it to Beryl, and Aloise, and Fisco, and Alessa, and Nasperge -- and even The Duchess and The Shifter -- to try to get these stories right.

And, I think that, maybe, just maybe, we did get them right. Not I, mind you. We. Because, like I said, this has been a group effort in a very real sense.

And, now, I finally feel like I can breathe.

It's the funniest thing. For the longest time, I kept pulling myself forward with the promise that, once I finished this arc, I would take a break. I'd take a month off from writing, or something like that. I'd have a chance to relax and recharge. That seemed like it would be my reward.

But, now that I'm actually here?

I just keep thinking about the next Beryl story.

I'm funny that way. I guess Beryl is funny that way, too. As bad a spot as I left her in, she still seems to want me to tell her story, and I still want to tell it.

While so much else has changed since "Small Magic," that's the thing that hasn't. :)

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"And remember, I'm pullin' for ya, 'cause we're all in this together." - Red Green


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 2:53 pm 
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Welcome, once again, to the Highlighted M:EMories!

This week, we will be reflecting on: "Virtues," by Tevish Szat.

"Virtues" was originally posted on June 30th, 2014, and was voted into the Archive on July 19th, 2014. Told in three sections, "Charity," "Kindness," and "Kinship," this is the story of Lourima Viiran, a troubled young planeswalker who trusts nobody and nothing. Is she the victim of excessive paranoia, or is she simply navigating the murky depths of a dark, uncaring multiverse? Find out as Lourima explores her own unique take on these virtues of humanity.

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:36 pm 
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With Wizards making their return to Dominaria, it seems apropos that the random number generator should choose a piece set there. And this week, it has done just that!

The piece that brings us back to that fabled plane is "Aphetto Town," by RavenoftheBlack.

"Aphetto Town" was originally posted on the old boards on March 1st, 2013, and voted into the Archive on April 11th, 2013. The poem takes us the continent of Otaria, and specifically deep into the seat of the Cabal's power, the titular city of Aphetto. Using the cards from Onslaught that mention Aphetto in their flavor text as a basis, this poem explores the dark realities of one of the grimmest locations on Otaria.

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:17 pm 
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"Aphetto Town" is a favorite of mine. It started, as many of my poems did, as a random card selection on Gatherer, where I would go to Gatherer with the specific purpose of finding a card to write a poem about. In this instance, the card that popped up was Severed Legion. When a random card comes up, my thought process is usually to work through the card (the name, the art, the effects/abilities of the card, the flavor text) and I try to decide which element or elements would best fit into the kind of poem I would want to write at that time.

In this case, it was the flavor text that jumped out at me. It made me think about what life must be like in Aphetto, and, as I am a bigger fan of Otaria than, well, most people, I wanted to take the opportunity to explore the Cabal and some aspects of their existence. So, rather than focusing solely on Severed Legion, I went through and found (I think) all the cards that mentioned Aphetto in their flavor texts, and incorporated as many of them (all of them? I don't remember) into the poem.

I was and am really happy with the way this poem turned out. I like the form, and the tone is a strange sort of sing-songy dark that I find really appealing. And I am very pleased with the semi-repeated "In [monosyllabic adjective] Aphetto town" line at the end of each stanza. It breaks the rhythm of the poem in two ways (both by shifting to iambic rather than anapestic, and by being shorter than the other lines). I feel like it provides this eerie, unnatural feeling to those lines that is very much in theme with the content of the poem.

I hope you like it!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:31 pm 
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Another week has come, and another M:EMory is here!

This week, we have a simple dossier for the simple Gruff, by Yxoque.

Pendulum was first created in the early days of the M:EM and was voted into the Archive on April 21st, 2011. Although one of our longest-tenured characters, Gruff has yet to appear in a story in the M:EM Archive. But Gruff is a simple goblin with simple desires, and so, let's take this week to simply...

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:23 pm 
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I aspire to one day be as grounded as Gruff.

Life can feel very complicated, and it's comforting to know that, in a pinch, you can always just try to get by by poking at things with sticks.

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"And remember, I'm pullin' for ya, 'cause we're all in this together." - Red Green


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:23 pm 
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I aspire to one day be as grounded as Gruff.

Life can feel very complicated, and it's comforting to know that, in a pinch, you can always just try to get by by poking at things with sticks.

M:EM Goblins are great. They've also taught us that, in a Pinch, you can get by with a little help from your friends.

:D


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:35 pm 
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M:EM Goblins are great. They've also taught us that, in a Pinch, you can get by with a little help from your friends.

:D
Glad I wasn't the only one intrigued by OL's choice of words :D

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Johann the Bard (The Adventure Zone) wrote:

To anybody reading this, including my future selves: have a good life!

My M:EM creative archive


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