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    Comic Relief Elysia's Avatar
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    Default {chimerical}

    VINCE: You asked me why I played earlier, and I didn’t have a real answer for you then, but I do now. (PAUSE.) I played because this is the kind of game where you get to know people for who they really are. It’s too fanciful to really believe in, but it’s all we’ve got. It’s all we ever had. You’re right. Nat was right. There’s an Ultra Beast in all of us.


    But there’s a Silvanus in all of us too. It’s stitched together from a dozen mismatched pieces and it’s different depending on how it catches the light, but what makes it legendary is when you can look at it and realize that it’s yours, that it’s you, and that it’s okay for other people to see it for what it is, too. It becomes more beautiful than anything else when you take all those pieces and craft them into armor strong enough to take on the world.


    Come on. You’re right. It’s time to move on.
    Last edited by Elysia; 03-04-18 at 04:10 PM.


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    ♥Fiction♥ URPG Staff Smiles's Avatar
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    i gotchu ♥️


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    A PREEMPTIVE APOLOGY: there's no way I'm going to do this story justice! It's beautiful with profound and unusual promise - in fact, it's my favorite URPG story without a doubt. I think I'm going to read this ten more times and still get a new reading or nuance from it. And I'm absolutely STOKED about it. It's an honor to die with this last one. Now, put me in Coach!


    That ducking title - Chimerical, "existing only as the product of unchecked imagination". Whoa. Are you kidding me? A note about one's incredible imagination and the worlds it makes you build so soon? Is this for real? NO, IT IS, and I'm still going down the dictionary yet - "DNA that's been all sorts of spliced together" or, in another sense, all the weird components that make us hurt and live and that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. The mosaic is perhaps one of the most beautiful metaphors of Natalya that we receive in such as short time. She's a literal mixmash of experiences that've made her who she is, and, combined with the story of literal DNA (and family) that we get later on, that makes this one a real heart breaker. Plus, Silvally and Bucket metaphors? I'm going to go on about that later too cause that's awesome.


    Given to fantastic schemes, always dreaming, always

    kai - mei - rical

    God I love you forever


    That first paragraph is amazingly epic; that's the first layer of storytelling right there, the layer we always worked for: the amazing epic story that's filled with heart and adventure and slaying dragons and opening up new lands! The part of the story that we work the hardest for that, ironically, doesn't matter -

    The second paragraph: "word became flesh on a steady diet of imagination, fortunate dice rolls, and wish fulfillment." Whoa. This is a story about a game we very much love; this is a story about the ability to make worlds out of your imagination. Okay! okay! this is a big news! Also the prospect of "wish fulfillment" hits me so hard after reading Vincent's words about how this was such a bad idea in the first place- getting so much fulfillment out of this practice of writing and playing, it was never the reason we should have played in the first place -

    Third paragraph: in which I literally screamed at my seat. There's a player behind the screen, someone who was deeply hurt in such a frighteningly realistic way. That's the thing family's best at: "ignoring each other" levels of realism and pain that have arisen so quickly in a story that's supposed to be about slaying lands. And at the end of this paragraph, we're desperately asking: what happens to Nathalie? We know already that her older brother and her are wolds apart. Different terms of fun for the both of them, different terms of meaning. There's an immense difference and chasm between them already. I can't stop reading this. "Ignored by most of the people in her life - and especially her older brother" ugh my heart breaks forever.

    Fourth paragraph: Omg, this story isn't about Nathalie at all? No. We realize it's not. Bad things happen to Nathalie but it's really about the story of people carrying on with her story. Oh dang. She's already dead. This is tragedy. It's genius world-building in the space of 200 words. What will we do with the tremendous weight of her story? Of her hope and love? His name is River. We're desperately hoping he doesn't mess this all up.


    The dialogue is smooth, so very smooth, so very human. When we finally get to some more traditional story, it's gorgeous. You prove that you don't need to exert this excellent command of language all the time for readers to know it's there. The image of the rolling hills of Alolass is particularly precious; this game is gorgeous on the outside. I particularly enjoyed the moons as a parallel for urpg politics: it's what this game was supposed to be, about making decisions that are the best for players and a reflection of what's true for the games. And they (the game masters) never needed to agree about the positioning of the moons. The most important part was the fact they had that discussion and moved on together, and could still be friends after - I'm sure Vince and Allie butted heads quite a bit kek

    If I have one recommendation, I think I wanted to see a little more of that juicy exposition suspended right between the moment River admits he lied to her and the moment he comes back the next day. We as readers know that he genuinely thought about A Lot of Bad Stuff that night - he found her mini's the next day, for proof of that. But the cut straight into new dialogue from that singular section seemed a little unfitting.

    Othertimes, I loved when the dialogue was cut by exposition. It's neat to see that Natayla took on 35 damage (in the seconds before the venom and fire come~) while River and Vince deliberate about what to do next - we're brought back to two layers, the one wherein this is just a game and the other where they're trying to keep their dear loved one alive. Cool positionalities you're playing with there!

    On one level, this is a beautiful story about grief, loss, and the love of those who've been long departed. On another level entirely, it's a metaphor for what we make of meaning and how we make due with a chaotic and painful world. These are some of my favorite lines:

    VINCE: We’re all missing things, and this game had them. My first DM got started because his dad had just gotten out of prison and it was the only way they knew how to connect with each other. One of the girls in our old group played because she could be a badass warrior queen instead of a wallflower. I got this guy from my intro to Java class because he loved writing poems and his bard character could literally kill people with rhymes. And Nat played because… heck, I don’t know, she had all sorts of reasons. Because it let her save people, because she got to write the happy endings she wanted, because it gave her something to do with that big crazy brain of hers.

    But I don’t know what’s supposed to happen now.

    RIVER: But it’s not a stupid story. It’s special. It’s so much more than that. It’s not just a thing I saw or that you picked up or that she looked at; it’s something that she got to breathe life into, and that we got to breathe in as well. She put a little bit of her heart in there in the hope that it would sprout to life too, and the craziest thing, the thing I bet she wouldn’t believe even if she were here to see it? It did come to life. It grew so much more than she ever imagined it could. This world is a part of her, and now it’s a part of us, and it’ll always be a home for anyone who wants it. That’s what made this place magical.
    These were all breathtaking. Combined with the concluding moments that reveal the (ultra) beast and the Silvanus in all of us, these moments really gave an overarching framework for the bigger story that was Nathalie / Allie. This was the world she created for others, and in the carrying of that story, we see the immense sadness and also joy others are left with in lieu of loss. It treated themes of loss and destruction and healing in such constructive, mature, and profound ways. I really have no better pieces of advice here; if anything, I'm in awe over Allie's story, and the bigger story, Vince and River wrote by remembering her. Thanks for sharing this huge, huge part of her with us.


    Firstly I love that we never get physical descriptions of Allie, Vince, or River. It doesn't matter what they looked like irl; this was supposed to be a place where you built worlds with your imagination and invited others to join them. Picturing Vince as that elf with the pink tunic is a bit great though!


    VINCE: (Sighs.) Okay. Sorry for the sass. Please don’t report me to my manager; let’s just get this over with. Welcome to the Unusual Repository of Playable Games. My name is Vincent. How can I help you?
    There couldn't have been a better introduction for this boy. We fall in love with him instantly. He's got a quip for every situation, and his "deception" checks were so nerdy but so-doubled-edged too. We need a deception check on everything, huh? Vincent's great at reading the room. He also speaks in such a hilarious, developmentally-appropriate way that makes him feel like the perfect best friend. In the above, he's sassy, but he also doesn't want to get fired. He talks jokes about Great Gatsby; River likes to switch up his beers before the games. His opening paragraph is perfection.

    In the best of ways, nothing prepares us for Vince's break down in the middle. In an immensely fitting way, the climax(es) of this story are actually those latent realizations of the characters themselves. Vincent is an amazing metaphor for unconditional friendship: carrying on Allie's story when she's gone, to such an extent that he literally god-mods her back to life to have her by his side again in a fictional world. This says TONS about the levels of psychological destruction warring on in his head without her. In real life, he's nerding about, taking on a job to distract himself from the pain and suffering he feels from the loss of his best friend. He's memorized her world. He lives for her. He's the perfect foil for the brother who's the furthest thing from a family member to her. Of course, it's wondrously fitting that they'd have to be on the same team to complete the quest.

    Also I admire that Cor-vin piece so much. There's a little bit of us in everything that we write, and Vince's assertion to not "give me crap for decisions I made when I was thirteen" hurts in the best of ways. In such a short span of spoken words, you really give an exceptional sense of the worlds and friendships shared among Allie and Vincent. The saddest thing is that Vincent speaks of her in such a phenomenal way, it's almost as if he hasn't registered that she's dead. His living on with her story becomes the locus of him, so much so that it reminds us how much we give to others we love a lot. With a love this big and bright, in tandem with their attitude to do right for others, we learn this:

    That was when we learned that we probably weren’t going to be the charismatic saviors of Aloloss so much as the fire-and-brimstone kind.
    They were doomed from the start.

    A line I'm never going to forget from our boy:

    VINCE: Like I said, no pressure. We can just start you with a new character and this time, build it better.

    Allie, the more beautiful of the two twins imo if we're going to go real far -

    Her campaigns were legendary. She was one of the founding players of the Dungeons and Dragonite community in Loveland.
    She has so many beautiful symbols scattered throughout. Beginning at the Campaign lorebook: proving that this whole game is immense and that there's a lot to get through; but secondly, proving that anyone could do well if they just tried to play the game and work harder and harder at it. Her lorebook doubles as an amazing symbol of that which is set in stone, that which she's directly given to other players. That book, containing her literal story, was forgotten by River and cherished later on by both him and Vince. It's crushing when you realize that was all that she ever wanted.

    Allie's story, a past that we peer into, provides the best climaxes of the story (fittingly so). We have these golden lines to carry forever:

    VINCE: Oh, no, that’s because Natalya’s home got burned down by Talos right before the quest started. She wears the bucket on her head as a reminder of how she tried and failed to put out the flames before they consumed her family, and she swore in the ashes of that dark night that she’d only take it off once Aloloss had a strong enough protector to ensure that no one else would have to hurt the same way she did.

    “I am not Invincible, Sir River,” Natalya says stiffly. Even beneath the helmet, her grimace is visible in her voice. “And I would be a fool for wanting to be.”
    The first point speaks to the everlasting love she has for those within Alolass. The second quote speaks to the worlds expected of her, the worlds she gave, and ultimately everything that was taken away from her. the ending conclusion that she saved everyone, "Except herself," is easily the most devastating line I've read from fiction.

    You do an amazing thing with temporality here - Allie's been dead for a long time. Since November. And yet, the realizations of her today drive so much of that past plot forward. We live River's shame for ignoring and lying to his sister - we feel her story bubble up out of him, and in a weird way, his contemplation and breakdown is also like another act of love or redemption for her spirit.

    Points for Magearna's gift as a metaphor, as well as for the details behind the Really Killy murderdeath weapon. The happiness metaphor of Type: Null -> Silvally is so pure and hits so deep. The memory metaphors and the plates and the entire metaphor of being "mismatched" is literally everything. You took the best parts of what this weird, amazing pokemon was given and somehow made it more epic, made it shine with the gold under its beautiful bucket. There was no opportunity wasted here, no lack of critical and insightful reflection in the completion of this character arc.

    She died in November. Bless her for days.


    I want to hate River. I want to say he doesn't have a right to be angry for Allie's death like Vince does. I want to say that he ignored her; and when he finally took a stand to engage in her big world and moment, he did so in such a half-assed way. She was already dead. So I want to hate him. But that's not fair.

    Maybe the point was that he’d spent too long trying to figure out what the cool thing was, or the clever thing, or how he could be just like Natalya… but maybe the real secret was that, in this world, he could do anything.
    Maybe I stopped hating him right here. When he realized the magic that she wanted to invite him into this whole time. When he fought against the winter ice ultra beast and actually got into character - when he tried, and came back the next day, and the day after to explore these amazingly vibrant parts of his sister's mind that he had never bothered to before. The little details go a long way with River - when he misses the phone rattling off the table cause it's been ringing so long; when he forgets the couch waiting for him; when he desperately claws at the truth, thinking Mallory is named after his ex-girlfriend that he ditched his sister for.

    Just when I think I can start liking River, we get this shockingly huge moment:

    VINCE: No. You don’t get to hide behind her. This isn’t Natalya talking. This is me. This is me and Nat. (PAUSE.) She was convinced that there’s no way you could’ve known, because you couldn’t have lied to her for so long. And I kept telling her she was stupid, that at best you would’ve been seven years old and of course you would’ve been old enough to know, but she stood up for you every freaking time. She refused to believe that you’d ever lie to her, especially about something so important.
    Family sucks. The things you do to the people you love, the lies we carry... when the story tells us, "River has no words. There are no words. But he has to try." It's already over. People will hurt her; people never deserved Allie's love and imagination; and River has to live with that for the rest of his life. This part of the story was particularly so devastating because we as readers also know the truth - she's not coming back - and there's no end to the conflict for River. There's certainly not an end for Vince.

    Maybe River's biggest character-building moment is agreeing to paladin again, cherishing the memory of his sister at the end of it all. There's nothing he can do about the past, but he still has time on earth to find peace with it all. whew.



    From here, River can see all of Aloloss. It is broken in many ways and whole in many more. A warm wind blows from the east. The sun is rising.

    All is well.
    a hopeful and loving vision for the future! I'd say River deserves it after putting in so much work to find his sister and realize what she was all about; and Vince deserves it always for being more of a brother to her than River ever could have been. the part where he asks him to help "pick up the pieces" touches me in a heartbreaking place. We're here for you guys in spirit, Ral.

    The fact that there's an Ultra Beast in all of us - and Natayla acknowledges that too - were perhaps the most haunting words of the whole text. There's a little fault in everyone, but there's a hero in everyone, too! And we're left with these astounding images of rebirth, new life, and growth. The image of "armor strong enough to take on the world" is gorgeous because we know what really matters is the will to don it and go to war in the crazy world of imagination, hope, and dreams they'd be thrust into. Despite all odds. Despite the fire and brimstone they were doomed with in the first place. These guys are really my heroes.



    a worthy last capture ♥️


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