Thank you, Buzzy and Fiery! This is useful, but I still haven't found any kind of time measurement with Pandora's Box. I did test out using a keyboard with a numpad, and it does in fact work in Cythera, including diagonal movement 😄 I never knew!
(Disclaimer: This comment is two-and-a-half years late.)
This chron was a beautiful way to bring the magic of a solar eclipse into a fantasy world ^_^
In my opinion, one of the main benefits of writing fanfiction is that I don’t have to invent a setting, I can simply use what’s already there. But you refuse to cut any corners! You pull out all the stops for every single story you write. As readers, we get to experience a new, original world - something we’d usually have to read a whole novel to get - in a single sitting. I’m aware that you had a few incomplete notes and sketches of which to base this world, but I’m not convinced that made your job much easier. I imagine it must have been difficult to attempt to stay true to Moonshadow’s original vision, without knowing much about it.
The Fir’dha world described in this story is different and foreign to anywhere the chronicles have taken place before, and it is beautiful.
It is fun to read more about Ranari, because we never got to see that much of her, and even that was a very long time ago. It’s interesting that she believes the grin’fey should abandon Fir’dha - and that she’s one of the only people who thinks so. I wonder if her previous experience adventuring to other worlds influences this belief in her. Also, I really like the "music cultivates magic" line.
It is sad to see Madaya without her spark. I would like to see what would have become of her after this story.
I disagree with your assertion that Retsy should have bigger roles in The Retsy Chronicles. Although I am fundamentally opposed to Retsy appearing in any post-Kronos story, I think this instalment hit a good balance. If Retsy is going have a second go at life, it should be to learn from other characters, not just whine about her failures.
I am sorry that I did not even comment on this chronicle when you posted it. There’s no excuse for that. It’s bitter to know that this cliffhanger-ending will never be resolved, and that I did nothing to oppose that. Will Ranari, Moonshadow, and Retsy be stuck in the spirit world forever? Will they meet their deceased friends/family? (Is Tae’lin’s daughter there?) Is it possible for them to return to the physical world?
I don’t suppose you’d be willing to share what would’ve happened next, if you had continued with the series? Would Iannah have come next? And if so, would that story have had any connection or continuity to this one?
Really interesting and fun to read ^_^ I was expecting a chron making fun of Tiernan, but I am not disappointed! It feels really good to read a new chronicle again. Thanks for writing! I think Selax is understating this Pandora's powers - with her Box, one can do just about anything.
You’re welcome; I’m glad you enjoyed it. Actually, I wasn’t even thinking of Pandora’s Box (at least, not in terms of the computer program), but it makes the name work better. I finally settled on it after being unable to come up with anything better.
I think that was a good choice, but for a different reason. A first-person Selax story sounds difficult to do because Selax is one of those characters that knows way more about what is going on than everybody else, so you'd lose the suspense and mystery. It's the same reason why the narrator for Sherlock Holmes wasn't Sherlock Holmes. This way we're left speculating and trying to piece together the clues because we're as in the dark as the protagonist is.
That’s a good point as well. Ironically, I’ve been re-listening to some of the Holmes audiobooks recently.
453, I need your help speculating here. I understood the message that using Pandora's Box to cheat at games causes horrible things like zombies rising up to ruin your friends' lives, but my memory of older stories is hazy.
I was hoping that message wouldn’t be so obvious, but at least no one has picked up on the hidden analysis of the early Roman Republic.
Have we met these mysterious cranky old characters before?
I don’t think so though they’ve been rattling around in my ideas bin for some years. Some of their characteristics were only developed recently. However, if they have appeared before, you might tell me what I named them 😛 .
The bear seems like a tavern reference but maybe that's a coincidence (maybe he's actually a dwarf). Then we have tall elf lady who sounds like a high school friend of Selax's.
It actually occurred to me shortly before writing this story that I’d accidentally ended up with an elf, Selax, and a dwarf-like creature, so I tried to come up with a way to make the last one less LotR-like. I think it’s a hopeless case, and I probably should just go with a dwarf and pretend the reference was intentional.
What do you think is happening here? They clearly have some history and are aware of Pandora and are also a billion years old (which has all kinds of deep psychological implications if they were conscious and active for that time). Why did Pandora want Katerei (I mean, besides the obvious)? And if those undead weren't hers, whose were they?
All of these could theoretically be answered in future chrons...
I will say though that Selax and his associates are all rather old and are some of the saner beings to have reached their ages.
I don't know about anyone else, but the main reason I find it hard to write in the TS is I wrote myself into a corner. My character is in a position where if you really stop to think about it, a number of events leading to that point should have played out differently, and so there's an insurmountable disconnect between what I want said character to be/how I want them to grow and where they are in the story. I also feel like I'm locked into a plot by myself that is workable, but built around the involvement of several other players' characters, and as they've all graduated from writing fanfic, carrying that burden alone gets exhausting. I can't really take that back without undoing well...pretty much most of that side-plot from the past TS and a half, which is too much for me to paper over and handwave away.
I’m running into a similar problem. My major issue is that there’s still a lot of story to write, and I’m having a great deal of trouble motivating myself to do it, even though (or perhaps because) I’ve ended up having pretty much total control over the plot in Cythera.
Since there really isn't anyone other than you left, I don't think there's a point continuing the story if you aren't motivated to do so. So if you have some way to wrap it up, go for it. (I'll still write my chron anyway and rip-off incorporate elements that I think would fit.). If not, then maybe try someone else.
I have a rough idea of the ending, but it’d take a lot more writing than I’ve been able to convince myself to do. I could post a summary in the form of some kind of flashback, but I’ll to have to ruminate on how that might be done in a somewhat interesting fashion.
I'm not likely to participate in any future TSes. The stories I want to tell have grown more complicated than I think the format supports. Something like a team chronicle series may be worth a try instead, or else perhaps return the TS format to more simpler free-form stories and have the complicated narratives fully shift to the chrons. (It should be easier to accomplish this since the long-form writers are all inactive in the TS now anyway.)
In terms of setting, I don't know. But given the massive author/character turnover and dramatic changes in characters since the beginning, I think if you do try another TS, it should not conform to any existing fanfic continuity. That may also help draw back some of the people that could possibly be interested in a short-form TS. It also lets you revisit the game setting in a way that hasn't been heavily...uh...modified to accommodate a lot of ideas some of us shoehorned in half a lifetime ago.
Our previous efforts to go back to a simpler format didn’t go very far. I’d like to try again, but I suspect the result would be the same. Team chronicle series may be the best way forward for the time being. I might try a chron challenge based around the idea of what the TS characters might look like in a more game-based setting and see if that stirs any interest.
I'm inclined to agree with all three of those. I'll add the 20th anniversary ones under the tribute section and the speedruns one to the useful information (though it might move if someone can think of a better subject).
Rapierian dodged another of the whirling "shadows," feeling the burning heat on his face as it barely missed him. He let fly another arrow at Alcyon, but her answering bolt of lightning tore through the projectile and struck the wall beside him. Anticipating the blast, he rolled with the force of the explosion, closing with his opponent. Alcyon again retreated rapidly down the corridor. The ranger knew she was just stalling to cover the retreat of her allies, but, try as he might, he couldn't close the distance any faster.
Persephone stumbled back, reeling from the heavy blow of the golem. With a roar, Tantalus leapt to her defense, trying to drive his axe into the golem's leg. The stone monster barely seemed to notice, throwing him aside. Still, the moment brought the magess time to recover and throw a fireball into the creature's face.
Behind her, she heard Sisyphus and Prometheus engaging the other golem.
Normally, the fight should have been over swiftly. Skilled as the four undead mercenaries were, the two golems were large and powerful, apparently untouched by any attack. However, as Beorn had said, his spell kept reanimating them every time they fell.
Suddenly, the ground heaved around them, throwing all combatants to the ground. The wind rose to a piercing howl as a sudden tempest erupted. The world flared green as a second star burst to life in the mountains above them.
Persephone hardly noticed any of these events, however, for she felt something else. A massive explosion of wild, chaotic power swept over them. The distant thread of Beorn's control--not active but a menacing threat--snapped, and they were free.
Stumbling to her feet, she saw the others rise. Hesitating, they all stood for a moment, uncertain what to do now. Then, driven by the curse and by the desire for revenge, they rushed toward the glow without a word.
Behind them, the golems rose as well. Like the undead, the spells that controlled them were broken, and they paused in confusion, bereft of goal or purpose. Then, they spotted the mercenaries heading up the mountain. With a roar, they followed.
Above them, Katerei worked quickly, trying to draw as many of the symbols as she could. Beorn leaned over the fissure, the Crolna still glowing in his hands. The kaleidoscope of purple and green continuing to grow by the minute. The wind screamed about her, and she could hardly stand as the ground rocked beneath her.
She had no idea how much time had passed--minutes, hours, days?--when Beorn's head snapped up, startling her. With glowing eyes, he looked toward the north. Then, he began step away from the fissure, slowly pulling the Crolna out of the heart of the storm. This change had no effect on the fissure however. If anything, the chaos rose, and the din about them increased.
Looking toward the sky, Katerei saw nothing...until another flash of the eerily colored lightning illuminated a small black dot, tearing through the clouds in its speed. With a sinking feeling, she realized then what Beorn had sensed.
Struggling to complete the spellwork laid out on the scroll, Katerei somehow frantically managed to draw her weapon. Rapidly, Beorn turned from the fissure, hastily slipping the Crolna back into the pouch at his belt and drawing his swords.
They were only just in time as Selax broke threw the tortured sky and dove on them out of the gale.
@Wizard Well, domains are relatively cheap and even if he doesn't want to keep the website up, that doesn't necessarily mean he wants it taken over by a porn domain. Long running website domains tend to be a good target for scammers and spammers.
Since the livestream, this topic felt like the last important thing to discuss. Tree of Life was confirmed an incomplete side-quest, Seldane as a language with historic inspiration, and then the hints given about the Cythera sequel.
Looking back through the prophecies, I'd thought of a couple comments as well.
In the first prophecy, I agree with your uncertainty about the Lost returning. See, I'd initially figured the "Voice of a God" referred to Alaric and the Lost being the mages, but then with the Voice being destroyed as the last act of the Tyrants, it must be a reference to the Cult of Scylla, which makes sense given the religious overtones tying them together. But that does leave the question of Lost. It makes me wonder as to the nature of the Scylla themselves. Perhaps a subservient species to the Undine or exiled or something, but are they trying to come back in opposition to the Undine? Or are the Undine themselves the Lost? Tavara said the Undine played him for a fool with Abydos, but he was clearly still associated with them during the times of the Cult, despite UrSylph saying the "traitor" attempted to subvert the humans by worshipping false gods.
Again, I agree with most everything you say about the second prophecy. I'm also baffled why it says the Traitors do not fail since that seems to invalidate the Comana brothers. But from what we know about the Cythera sequel, it's not clear that we actually saved Alaric at the end, so I guess they didn't fail? If so, it's also unclear whether or not they were responsible for Alaric's fall or something more insidious (recall gandreas specifically called out "trust no one" when we spoke with Jhiaxus during the livestream).
The Hidden does seem like the Undine since they joined forces with the Traitors, but my initial thought was the Cult of Scylla. That feeds back into prophecy one where the connection between the cult/scylla and the undine is not completely clear.
In this case, I think assigning Master to Alaric is the most reasonable interpretation. The in-game mention of Master is interesting though. Perhaps the Hidden are the scylla and they are trying to overthrow the Undine? Comana may also have been trying to overthrow the Undine in the same way Tavara was working with them while seeking personal revenge.
The third prophecy beginning with the end of the second age and passing of the Great Unifier lines up with the first and last line of prophecy two, suggesting to me that the "Second End" is a reference to the second age ending.
The rest is really open to interpretation. Are there more Air and Fire around to wreak havoc? We know the land will break into pieces, so is the One to Many Cythera itself or a reference to the crolna being broken again? The world is mentioned as being sundered separately, and so is the Opener of Ways (crolna from prophecy two) but as One.
The Fifth Element seems to tell us how the Cythera saga will end. I thought humans had been referenced as a fifth somewhere before but may be misremembering. These "Walkers" seem like something different. I suppose today that refers to zombies, but I expect here it refers to humans or a class of humans like evolved mages.
Those are my long rambling thoughts about the prophecies.
One and Two are mostly clear. I just question the exact nature of the Cult of Scylla and how they tie into the Lost/Hidden. That question affects a couple little things, but in the grand scheme of the things, we know the third prophecy is more concerned with Alaric's death and the havoc of the other elements until the "Walkers" appear.
I hope this covers a lot of the discussion that was had about the prophecies on Discord. Thanks again for making the topic!
... This reminds me I still need to make a topic about difficulty level in Cythera.
Good point about transliterated as a separate branch, Buzzzzy! I guess it's true that we don't know what all was inspired by Egyptian or Greek, and you and Pallas are right about the original intention for the language possibly being different.
Adding their names and places makes sense too. I recall having some discussion in the past about whether Ayrit and Maayti are the formal place names or more general terms like "home."
It's opening in a separate window for you because the .rtf file downloads and gets recognized as a TextEdit document by your system. You can disable automatic opening of downloaded files to avoid that, so it would just go to your download location and you could choose what to do with it. That's considered a little more secure but wouldn't change much otherwise.
To avoid the Rich Text version download, here's a plain text version which will open directly in most browsers: