The King of Azkaban, a short story by Harrison Aye

The King of Azkaban, a short story by Harrison Aye

            0

“So, why don’t you leave, then?” the ruined man asked. He looked a dementor himself, wearing a ratty black cloak over his striped garb and having a face so sunken it barely existed at all.broken man

“Erik, as I have told you many times before, I have as much left to go to as you do,” Sirius Black responded. “I’m old, hurting.”

Erik coughed and laughed at the same time. “As much as I had, you have now. Azkaban is my home, my doom.”

“Is that why the dementors leave you alone?” Sirius asked.

“No, my friend. They leave me alone for the opposite reason that they ignore you.”
“Because I can transform into a dog?”
“Dogs, like yourself, are innocent, subjects to their upbringing.”

“If you’re the opposite of innocent, then you’re guilty. You’re not the only one here who is.” Sirius laughed into his hands.

“No, I’m not, but I hold regret and desire punishment for my crimes, which is the opposite of knowing that you’ve been wrongly accused. I am a ruined man, and I made myself this way. I have no emotions to feed them.”

“What did you do that was so bad?” Sirius asked.

Erik raised a bony white arm and pointed out the narrow slit in the stone.
Sirius did not bother to squint and peer through. Erik meant the dementors. What else could be out there? “What about them?”
“It’s quite the tale.”
“I have time, obviously,” Sirius said, stretching his arms and folding them behind his head. “I’m stuck here, the same as you, Erik.”

“Only I am stuck, and Erik isn’t my name. It’s Ekrizdis, and I’m nearly eight hundred years old.”

And so Ekrizdis told his story, and Sirius listened.

            1

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Ekrizdis held that quote above all others. He kept it on the tip of his tongue like a motto. The triumph over death consumed his life. Immortality, but more… Power.

These were Dark thoughts, he knew.

He didn’t want to be a Dark wizard, but he had no choice. Life came from darkness, just as death sent people towards the light. He intended to live.

The poor soul on the table stared blankly up at him. A muggle sailor, drawn in from the shores. Ekrizdis hadn’t intended to catch them in this way when he had built Azkaban in the middle of the North Sea. He had wanted seclusion. Though he had cast disillusionment charms over his castle, the muggles blindly sailed all too near anyway.

Ekrizdis used this.test subject

He swished his wand in a triangle. “Animostium!”

A gray light emanated from the tip of his wand and hit the muggle. The sailor began to convulse involuntarily, beating his arms against the bindings holding him to the table. Momentarily, the muggle’s skin faded, as if it dissolved into transparency, but then restored in color as the convulsions ended.

“Not dead, are you?” Ekrizdis murmured. Creating spells required trial and error. He had previously tried a straight-down wand movement rather than the triangle, which had killed his last test subject outright. He cracked his neck and shook out his shoulders. “Not even half-dead.”
The muggle stirred and began to moan. “Please—plea…”
“It would be worse for you if I waited until morning,” Ekrizdis said, and he swished his wand in a circle before pointing. “Animostium!

 

            2

The siren’s beauty melted off her face as he drew nearer. Twisted, sharp teeth punctured out from a wide grin. Scales spiked through the smooth human skin, and her shimmering long hair became a tangle of skunk-smelling seaweed. Her maiden’s hands became a lobster’s claws.
Ekrizdis gave the goblin-made mirror to the monster, who handled it gently and examined herself over. Sirens desired magic from land-dwellers, but made little of their own works to trade (not to mention, they often ate any humans who attempted to speak with them!).

She would treasure this particular mirror, Ekrizdis knew. It showed the siren the glamor, the spell shrouding the monster within. The siren in the mirror depicted a woman with perfect skin, emerald scales, sky-blue eyes, and pristine-white teeth.
siren and mirror            “I can procure other objects, or perform magic on you from the methods of my people.” Ekrizdis waited a minute before continuing his pitch. The siren was too preoccupied with herself. “Also, the remains will be tied to the docks, here. You’ll be hunting men the same as usual, only I get to have them first and you’ll be rewarded.”
The siren nodded. “I will sing.” Her voice wisped through the air like strummed harp, and Ekrizdis found it hard to keep from blushing. Warmth crept into his cold body, even as the spray from the sea touched his face.

The Dark wizard nodded, and then he mushed wads of clay into his ears. As the siren began to sing, he cast a spell on her. “Sonorus.” Even through the noise-canceling clay, the amplified voice of the siren flooded his mind with warmth and desire. Ekrizdis fought the compulsion to jump into the sea with her.
Several hours later, he saw the first ship. Now, he’d net his prey.
Ventus oceanumala!
A terrible wind shot out of the end of his wand, and the ocean stirred.
Ventus maxima!

A colossal wave jostled the ship, tipping it each way, and Ekrizdis poured his magic into the storm’s upkeep. Finally, the ship rocked to one side but did not right itself. The crew poured out into the waters.
“Corporavem!”
A flailing sailor flew from the waters onto the land.

 

            3

“They choose to stay,” Ekrizdis said to himself. He wondered if his victims intended to ward off any further muggle sailors from approaching or if they just didn’t know where else to go. The ghost-like beings swarmed and circled his castle, and dark clouds gathered around them.

The winds, ice cold.

Ekrizdis had once envisioned himself as a treasure to civilized society. A man who defeated death, disease, fragility. A man who brought true peace to the world. His castle, Azkaban, the pinnacle of modern medicine and science. Perhaps, someday, it would be a museum to his great achievements, a monument to a new age without suffering.

But what he had brought into the world, so far, he called the Tormented.

He had tortured many muggle sailors, ripped their souls out, and forced them to keep only a torn piece of their life-forces. The ghastly beings were his creations, and the price of his Dark spell experimentation soared around Azkaban, a tribute to the horrors he had committed.

Animostium hadn’t been the correct Word.

Magic was finicky like that. The meaning, the recitation, the ideal behind the word mattered. The concept of what the magic would do amended what would be produced.

Anima, soul. Ostium, door.tormented

But his magic could not conceptualize a door to the soul. How can a person be a door? So the spell had failed him, but not without price. If eyes symbolized windows into the soul, then the mouth had become the door. It tore a black hole in between life and death, and mouths crave and taste and lick their lips.

The Tormented faded partially as their souls drained through their mouths. Their bodies became phantasmal. They flew, hungered, searched, and consumed every happy thought that came too near them. His victims. Hundreds and hundreds of shadows peered over his shoulder at every minute.

Animavelum had been the correct word, and it had taken him a year to figure it out.

Velum, a veil. Death was a curtain, not a door. This spell had almost cost him his life, the first time.

            4

“So, you’re trying to tell me you created the dementors?” Sirius asked.
“Yes, need me to spell it out?” Ekrizdis replied.

“What about that veil? How did you almost kill yourself?”

Ekrizdis shook his head. “I had no way to contain it when I made my first attempt. Killing rips the soul apart, I know this now. But, to make a veil, two men must kill each other. I had stupidly tried to accomplish this myself.”

“A veil.” Sirius laughed. “Gives a new meaning to a wedding veil. A very cheery thought.”moon tat 2

Ekrizdis shook his head. “Weddings are a union of two who are living. A husband stands under an arch and draws back his wife’s veil to kiss her. A union in death covers them both in a veil.”

“Great, now I’m envisioning a dementor in a bridal gown. Erik, you may now kiss the bride.” Sirius stretched his legs out. “Speaking of, why didn’t the dementors ever kiss you? Aren’t you the one who claims to have tortured them? Shouldn’t they have wanted to get revenge?”

“My magic, over the years, turned me into something closer to them than a man. I have hardly any soul left for them to feast upon. I had become Death.”

            5

Two bows unloaded arrows at once.

Two muggle bodies dropped their weapons and fell on both sides of the room, dead.
Animavelum!” Ekrizdis shouted, his wand swishing in a triangle shape.
Two gray lines of fire spit out of his wand, one headed at each of the dead muggles. After the fires began to consume them, the fires headed for each other. A triangle of gray flames formed between the three.

The fires met under an archway. Made of stone, the arch formed a door-shape tall enough for a man to walk through. On the top of the arch, a small gemstone glittered.

The veil summoned out from the Undergloom and spread across the triangle, filling it like the skin on a bat’s wing.

Finally, the veil latched onto the archway, and then Ekrizdis fell backward, his wand flying across the room and shattering on a wall. Ekrizdis saw the gemstone on the top of the arch fill with gray light as he passed out.scissors 2

When Ekrizdis came to, he saw that his spell had worked. After a thousand tries, it had actually worked. He had contained the veil between life and death within a stone archway.

Would it really be cloth? That was the purpose of his spell. To make death into a tangible material, something workable.

His mother, Atropos, had passed down a pair of goblin-made scissors, which he took out from a drawer after finding his feet. The goblin had claimed that the scissors could cut through magic. Would they now?

He stretched the blade out to the archway, touching it for the first time. It waved like a blanket hanging out to dry. He snipped at it.

 

            6

Stitched together, his new cloak vanished completely on one side. The other, so that he would be able to find it, he sewed in shining, silvery cloth. He secured the cloak with powerful spells, enchantments, and curses to make it impenetrable, sturdy, and reflective of any harmful magic that might hit it.

The cloth cut from the deathly veil reflected invisibility because the world of the dead could not truly exist in the world of the living. So, light flittered through it, as if it were not there at all. This would be crucial for entering the veil, as any mortal that touched the veil would die. The cloak could be handled, however, and would protect him as he passed through.

One of the Tormented entered the room uninvited. It ignored him, but came to the stone archway like a moth to a flame. Ekrizdis watched as the ghastly creature stretched out a single finger and touched the cloth of the veil. It tugged at it, ripping a piece off. The veil in the archway grew back the lost piece and resealed itself. The Tormented consumed what it had torn off through the lone hole that formed its mouth. A strand of gray fell from its back, like a cutting of cloth.

Ekrizdis speculated that to touch the veil himself would kill him, but the Tormented had hardly any soul left. The Dark wizard laughed. “Ventus!” A gust of wind blew out of his wand and knocked the ghastly being back.

He had work to do.

The gemstone at the top of the stone archway no longer glowed with gray light, but that was as it was meant to be. Ekrizdis cast it off with his wand and floated the gem to himself.

Energized with the veil, he would turn the gem into a portkey, of sorts. Normal portkeys targeted a distance, a measurement of space, but this would be different. No distance separated life and death. Also, most portkeys departed on a schedule or instantly when grasped, however, Ekrizdis would need this object to be useable whenever he wanted.

An object from the living world to return him to life. He filled it with the power of death to reach into the Undergloom. This would be his most important tool. For what was the point of entering death if he could never return? Anyone can die, after all, and everyone does eventually. Death wasn’t special.

Ekrizdis, wearing his cloak and holding the portkey to life, entered the veil under the stone archway.

Drawing back the hood, everything shone too bright to see for a few minutes. He had expected death to be harsh, ugly, but as the Undergloom came into focus, he saw green trees.

The world of the dead looked similar to an old forest he used to play in as a child. The colors were muted, the expanse blurred, but he recognized the grove of elder trees that covered the plain. A rope swing hung from one he remembered his father pushing him on long ago.

Ekrizdis walked through the grove, wondering if he’d also find his old tree house. Perhaps death formed uniquely to each within. Would he ever meet another person, then? He wondered.

Something moved in the distance. He hurried toward it. The elder trees thickened strangely and less light crept in from the canopy.

The movement came from a herd of threstrals, the winged, skeletal-looking horses that could only been seen by a person who witnessed death. Ekrizdis had read about them and certainly had seen death, but these were the first he had been near. The threstrals picked at the blue grass under the elder trees.threstral 2

Why are they here? he thought. If this is my version of death, my elder grove, then why do I see creatures I’ve never known before?

Ekrizdis went to an elder tree and pounded on it. It rang unnaturally, like a hollow metal drum. He reached up and snapped a branch off. He turned it to look closer and magic sparks flew out of it. He waved it again. Light flowed from the tip, sparking each way.

“Never have I felt magic flow like this!” he said to himself.

After shattering his wand during the creation of the veil, Ekrizdis had procured another from a wandmaker immediately, but it hadn’t chosen him. None of the wands he had tried since had felt natural. After hours and hours of testing, Ekrizdis bought the one in the box closest to him and left the shop.

It performed mediocre magic.

But the connection to the elder branch spoke to him the same way his first wand had, so long ago when he had been a child waving sticks in a store, but even more. He took several branches from the elder tree with him, and on a whim, he took several tail hairs from the threstrals.

Many magic creatures could be used in making wands, so why not threstrals? They were rarer than unicorns or dragons, but the idea was not unheard of.

He would bring the components to the wandmaker in the morning, if, of course, his portkey worked as planned. He took out his gem and turned it thrice in hand.

He opened his eyes within a sea of Tormented. They had gathered around the veil, to suck at the strips of death’s cloth. They had transformed now, cloaked, as he was. Frayed gray strands of cloth ran from their backs, arms, and bodies as they ate from the stone archway.

Ekrizdis used his magic to push through them, fighting the instinct to fall into the cold mists and cry.

 

            7

Ekrizdis stood on the roof of Azkaban. Thunderclouds shrouded him from light.
His past few weeks had been spent at an inn on the mainland. Rumors and chatter of a Dark wizard in a sea-castle circulated in the pubs. He needed to act on this, he knew.

Upon returning to Azkaban, he saw that Tormented swarmed his home like flies on a dead pig, and a chilly wind blew in his face. All cloaked in gray, now. Pale imitations on his own beautiful cloak. He wondered if they could turn invisible, too, but how could they if he could still see them?

His life’s achievement was shrouded in horrors. He had been victorious in his quest to enter and return from death. His cloak shielded him, his stone resurrected him, and his wand, he had come to find out, painted death like a brush on a canvas. He had taken his newly crafted wand to a dueling club to test it out. No one matched him. Even his weak charms bested duelists who used Dark jinxes that might have put him out of consciousness.

bards bridge            One such man had tried a killing curse, only to have it rebound and slaughter him instead.

Ekrizdis had mastered the art of death. No, he was Death.

And yet, would any society praise him for his good works when it took such horrors to accomplish? He knew he needed to fix what his mad schemes had cost him. The wizarding community would arrive to him sooner than later. What would they see? His progress in the field of medical and scientific magic? No. He needed to revive the Tormented, or else Azkaban would never become a monument to his accomplishments.

And he had brought a dead man back using the gem.

Yesterday, a man walked within his elder grove. It looked like a shade of his uncle. Ekrizdis did not speak to him or draw near. Instead, he used his magic to take the man back into the world of life. His uncle, it was clear from seeing his face up close, returned only as a shade. Ekrizdis believed he could fix this, rejuvenate his body and possibly the bodies of his victims from before.

But, first, he would need more test subjects.

He peered off into the seas around his castle. It had been a year since he had seen his last muggle ship. Not even the siren’s song would bring them with so many Tormented hovering around his castle. The ghastly beings created an aura of fear that kept anyone from approaching, not to mention the dark clouds and cold rains. Perhaps he would be forced to go to the village and steal muggles from their houses.

“A ship.” The words slipped from his lips before he understood. Out, beyond the storm, a ship approached. This will be the last I’ll need, he thought with hope.

Ventus oceanumala!
A terrible wind shot out of the end of his wand.
Ventus maxima!” He had done this too many times before. The ocean became a mad stew overboiling. The ship turned side to side, but then righted itself.

Ventus maxima!” Ekrizdis shouted again.

But instead, the ship became shrouded in a bubble of light and sailed on as if the seas still carried a gentile breeze. It sailed right up to Azkaban, and Ekrizdis could even see the name on the side, The Bard’s Bridge.

Cheated of his test subjects, Ekrizdis flew down the steps of his castle. If not victims, these obvious magic-users would be treated as guests.

If they kept their wands in their cloaks and spoke kindly, then he would show courtesy, if not, then it was good that his wand, created from the world of the dead, bested even the strongest duelists.

Three men approached his castle’s front entrance. If they had intended to kill him, they could have flown on brooms into his windows. Teleportation was impossible within the zone of his castle, he had seen to that much protection. But no, these three used a wizard’s rule of hospitality: non-magical entrance at the door.

They were young, he noticed. Perhaps they merely took curiosity to the rumors that persisted on the mainland.

Ekrizdis pushed the wooden gate to his castle open.

“Welcome to Azkaban, travelers,” he said, bowing. “I am Ekrizdis, the lone occupant of this fortress. Might I ask your names?”
The tallest and thickest spoke first. “Antioch is my name, but your spell tried to wreck our ship. How should I feel welcomed?”
“Antioch, remember your manners. I am Cadmus Peverell,” said the second. He was pale-skinned and skinny. “We’re all Peverells, actually, brothers. The other is Ignotus.”

The third brother smiled and bowed, but said harshly, “I’m with Antioch. This guy says he’s the lone occupant here, but fails to note them floating above us. What are they?”
Ekrizdis blew out through his mouth. “A story too long for the doorstep. I invite you to come in, Peverell brothers. But first, does your ship require proper docking? How does it stay afloat without you on it?”
“Old Beedle waits for us. He’ll man it until we’re finished,” Antioch said, stepping through the gate.
The other two brothers followed, and Ekrizdis sat them in a cold room with several chairs, far from his laboratories upstairs. He lit a fire and brought out a bottle of cherry wine.
Only Cadmus accepted drink. The other two sat, wearily.

“I’m impressed,” Ekrizdis said, pouring himself a glass. “Your magic surpassed my own, handedly. I have heard rumors, whilst on shore, of a Dark wizard living on the sea. Therefore I’ve shrouded myself in protections such as the storms.”
Ignotus laughed. “Don’t play coy. The rumors are about you. That’s why we are here. Isn’t that obvious? I want to know—”
Cadmus interrupted, “Ignotus, please don’t—”
“No, we might as well get it over with. What is going on in this place? What are those monsters flying outside?”

“Ghosts, simply put,” Ekrizdis lied. “They haunt the seas. I have come here to study them.”
“You don’t strike me as a magizoologist,” Ignotus said.
“I’m trying to learn the secrets of invisibility,” Ekrizdis lied again. “No spell accomplishes a true ability to vanish yet, however—”
But the conversation ended there and then, as the Tormented themselves entered the room, hungry.

            8

“Did they die here?” Sirius Black asked his friend.
“No. Antioch, in the chaos, grabbed my wand from my hand and asked me how to kill the dementors. I told him my wind spell to push them back. He kept my wand. Cadmus found my experiments and notes, and destroyed it all. He took my gemstone for himself. Ignotus carved the stone archway out from the floor and moved it onto his ship to take back to England. He stole my cloak for good measure.”
“And what did they do with you, Erik?”

“They forced the truth from me with a potion. For my crimes, Antioch wanted to kill me outright. Ignotus wanted to force me through the veil one last time. Cadmus, however, won the debate. I would be left to live with my victims. Before departing, Cadmus took me aside in private. He had lost a loved one, and wondered if perhaps we could resume the work later in secret, to bring her back.”

Sirius Black stood up as the door to the cell unlocked loudly and opened.

Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, stepped in with an entourage of officials and politicians. They filled the room with the scent of newly-tailored suits and chattered in whispers to each other. Fudge’s voice silenced them all: “And here, a prisoner who I deem nearly-reformed. You’ve all heard of Sirius Black, of course.”
He waved from his group to Sirius. The eyes of the crowd beamed around the room.
“Good evening, Minister,” Sirius said, smiling. “Or morning, I suppose. It’s hard to tell in this place.”
The Minister laughed. “Good afternoon, Black.” He turned to his colleagues. “Of course, we could never allow him out, no matter how changed he is. The incident with the muggles and the finger is too well known and connected with the Potters. I would be thrown out of office for the mere suggestion of it. But Sirius is reformed, a model prisoner. In fact, the dementors leave him alone so much that this is the only cell I can stand to be in for any length of time. The other cells are swarmed with them.”
“Got the crossword, Minister?” Sirius begged.
From behind his cloak, Fudge produced a newspaper. “Of course, lad. I knew you’d ask.” He shuffled his group back out the door. “Now, the next part of our tour is for—”

The cell door shut and locked.

sirius black            “He speaks as if you’re not there,” Ekrizdis said.

“He didn’t even notice you,” Sirius replied, looking at his newspaper. “Did Cadmus ever return?”
“Yes, years later, and regrettably. I showed him how to return a shadow-form of his old love. For my act, he sailed me back to the mainland, but I heard he killed himself, in the end. I have no idea where the gemstone went. The Ministry of Magic finally took the Azkaban story public. Some wanted to use the place as a prison, you see. With my freedom, I went to the Ministry in disguise and renamed myself Eldritch. I spent many years fighting for the destruction of my old castle, but I failed. I resigned myself to fake Eldritch’s death and return here, to my initial punishment, to spend the rest of my life with my victims.”

“Long live the King of Azkaban, then! You’re quite imaginative. Tell me, if your story is true, then how are you still alive?” Sirius asked.

“Does Death himself age?” Ekrizdis laughed. “My experiments made me closer to a dementor than a man, like I said. I mastered death, but I’ve failed at life. I’m stuck in eternity.” He paused to cough. The pattering of the rainfall echoed through the room. “I deserve this, but you don’t, Sirius.”

“I don’t, but I don’t have a reason to leave, either.” Sirius snuffled and pawed at his newspaper. The picture on the cover depicted a family visiting Egypt. Seeing a happy group of relatives all together like that was a foreign ideal to him. Sirius had a cousin close, here in Azkaban in fact, and he loathed her.

The mother and father in the photo smiled. His own mother had been a witch of a witch. All dead, he thought. Even my brother. He scanned each kid’s face, wishing he had had siblings like them. A young boy in the photo held up a rat, and Sirius felt the air leave his chest.

* * *

That’s the end! Thanks for reading! Send me a tweet and tell me what you think.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim – My thoughts and ideas for improving whatever game comes next

I didn’t want to write this post until I had gotten all of the main game’s achievements/trophies, including the platinum. I know it’s late coming, but Skyrim was a long, long game for me. 230+ hours! I’m the kind of person that likes to play parts of games, move on, and come back later when I feel like it, so it took me a while (since 2011!) to finally complete it (but I did!).

I absolutely MUST start off by explaining the way I felt being a PS3 player. The unfinished product I purchased at game’s launch kept me from playing at around level 30 until the patch finally arrived to fix the bugs. Also, the DLC came so much later than it did for other users. It made me feel poorly treated as a consumer. When I finally got the DLC, it was exceedingly glitchy. The vampire DLC glitched out to the point where I couldn’t complete it because the castle gate locked and wouldn’t open. This issue had been noted for many PS3 players, so, after some research, I resolved that I had to reset my game to an earlier save file. The only problem was that the save file had to be a MUCH earlier save file because of an earlier action I made that set the glitch off. I lost about 15 hours of progress, which is more than what I put in for the entirety of most full games. It was awful. Also, the Build-A-House DLC was fun but really, really glitchy. None of the build-a-statues wear the armor I put on them, instead duplicating old items and standing naked. The items I placed in my house moved sporadically as if I had a poltergeist, and all the doors in my house, which I wanted to leave open, would close themselves for no reason.

PS3-specific awfulness aside, what can I say? I believe Skyrim is probably the best game that has ever been made.I truly loved every second of gameplay. Even with losing a whopping 15 hours due to a glitch, I wanted to keep going. I played through the glitches because the game was so immersive, such a wonderful escape, and so much gerd-derned fun that I couldn’t stop. Bethesda is the best studio in the world. I can’t stress this enough. The game, even though it is from 2011, is still the best game out there, imo. I could go on and on forever about the things I love about this game, but that would be pointless.

This blog isn’t meant to butter people up. It’s also not meant to tear game developers down.

My blog is a blog of ideas. I call it, Creative Enhancement for Nerd Culture for a reason. I’m not a game dev, so I know that I’m ignorant to the work it takes to make a game, so don’t feel like I’m chiding anyone. I think Bethesda is insanely talented. This is just my dreams and desires. Anyway, without further ado, here is my want-list for whatever next Elder Scrolls game Bethesda does next…

 
 

 

1. Make less followers, but make them more in-depth

There are a billion-trillion followers you can pick to join you during your 200+hour journey. Almost every player I know picked Lydia and kept her for the entire game.

Why Lydia?

Because you got her in Whiterun, which is where most people go in the beginning. She’s quick to get. On the main quest line. She’s also not much better or worse than anyone else you can get.

Why is that?

 

Maybe your follower could be a golem that needs help to become a man again

Because Lydia, like almost every follower, is not all that interesting. Followers in Skyrim don’t have much to say. Some particular ones have city-specific things to say. Some have more dialog than others. I tried a few followers, but I mostly stuck with Mjoll the Lioness for the game because she was the most chatty (although, I would also recommend spending some time with Cicero if you let him live). There’s not much of a reason to choose Lydia over the mercenary at the inn, because Lydia doesn’t have desires, needs, or much to offer to the plot. She’s just a mindless follower who you can send in the kill a giant for you or hold your gear when you’re overburdened.

My suggestion is this: The developers should make one or two REALLY awesome personal followers rather than a million boring ones. Why have 50 followers if most people will just pick the first one they get and stick with her? Bethesda, don’t waste time on that. Make one follower, and make her really, really interesting. I think the one thing New Vegas did right was have interesting followers with their own quest lines. You can talk to them more. Now, Mjoll, for sake of example, had a quest. Returning her sword, only then could she be made a follower. Not a very complex quest, truly, and by the time she was a follower, there wasn’t much else she had to say.

Imagine if your one well-imagined follower had involvement in several of the quests? Imagine if the one follower had ideas to add during conversations with other NPCs? If you only had to make one follower, then you could make her have more unique dialog. Mjoll would often talk over the quest-giver with her canned dialog. What if Mjoll would have added to the conversation instead? You could create relationship building mechanics, depending on how you treat her or talk to her. She could have her own desires, goals.

So, make one follower, and make her awesome. Don’t make a million boring followers.

 

 

Click the jump for more!
 

2. Perhaps followers, or Leadership (you might call it), could be a skill.

Much like conjuration, Leadership could give YOU exp for the enemies your followers kill. That way, if you’ve outfitted, treated kindly, and worked to make your follower all she can be, then perhaps you’ll get more exp from the actions she does. This would also allow for new follower-specific perks. Perks for the dogs at your side. Perks for your battle trolls. Whatever! Tell me this isn’t an awesome idea. It seems like there could be good alternative options for keeping a follower alive than simply making them revive after a period of time. Let them become stronger as I do!

 

 

 

 

3. One more thing about followers (including dogs, other pets, battle trolls, etc…) allow CLIPPING!

I really hate getting stuck in a small closet or room because my follower is blocking the doorway. Just allow me to pass through followers. Just do it. I know that’s unrealistic, but just do it. It’s a video game. It’s more unrealistic for a game character to stand there looking at me stupidly because I’m trapped in a small room with no space to move. Maybe just allow clipping when the jump button is used or something. Anything. This is the reason I couldn’t allow my dog Meeko to follow me around on my quests: he would trip me up CONSTANTLY. I would be stuck almost every time I entered a door or cave. Let me walk through them. This is a gripe I’ve had with all Bethesda games.

 

 

 

4. Allow me to craft any style of armor with any type of metal

I really like the look of Dwarven armor, but I was already finding orc by the time I had the perk to craft it. I had this thought: what if you could craft any look to armor using any metal. That would mean I could craft ebony-Dwarven armor. It would be differently colored, but it would be the same shape and ebony-level of defense. I think that would add more variety to the armor aesthetics and variety in the loot drops. I want to be able to look awesome and have the best defense! I don’t want to have to wear demonic armor just to have the best defense! I play as a white knight!

 

5. Custom sigils, banners, and armor.

There are so many options to change the face/look of your character at the beginning of the game. The only problem I have with this is that you never see your character. Like, ever. Once you put on a helm, you’re done looking at your character’s face. It would be more awesome to have more options to customize armor than facial structure, imo. Like, just the ability to add a spike on the shoulders or a cape draping down your back. It would be cool if you could “plate” your armor in a color, which would essentially mean a put a lens of color over whatever armor you want. Nothing too complex, I mean, but just a semi-transparent color on top of the normal texture.

It would also be really awesome if players could design their own banners and sigils. I would love to be able to slap my customized logo on my shield, on the hilt of my sword, my breastplate, or as a flag above my house. It wouldn’t have to be too complex. You know how Illustrator has a Livetrace function? Maybe players could draw a picture irl and then show it to the Kinect or Playstation camera, and then the game could livetrace it into a pure black sigil. Then, the player could select what color the sigil should be. Done. They could use it like a stamp on armor or flags. Sort of like how LittleBIGPlanet uses stickers.

 

 

 

6. So, you now have a custom banner… now, where to hang it? My freaking CASTLE, of course!

beautiful sunset hypnotizes you into giving me a castle

Bethesda, I want a castle.

You’ve allowed us to purchase houses in almost every town, but, much like followers, most players just pick the best place and use that. Actually, most players buy two houses during the course of the game. 1. The cheapest one so that they can store their stuff safely. 2. The most expensive/awesome house in the game. The rest of the houses usually go-either untouched, or bought only to complete a quest.

Forget all of that. In the next game, allow us to own one, giant, awesome, powerful, spectacular CASTLE! Of course, a castle needs a town below it. Peasants at your disposal. Guards. Defenses. Etc. Etc.

I’ve been the Master of Wizard’s Colleges, Fighter’s Guilds, Assassin’s layers, etc, etc… But once you’ve beaten a guild’s questline, you don’t feel all that powerful. Next game, I would LOVE to be the Lord of my own town, with true ruling power. Maybe this is a long-term game goal, but wouldn’t it be amazing if I could rule an entire city? I want to be able to select which merchants are allowed to set up in the marketplace. I want to select with defenses line the towers and walls of my city.

 

Perhaps I come to own this castle which is in shambles, and as the player, I am in charge of rebuilding the ruined town and fixing the place up. Maybe, with the world once again at war (War never changes, I hear), I must hire guards, soldiers, even an army to man the defenses. Is that a cockatrice I see in the distance? Better make sure my guard towers are ready to heave firebombs at it. When I’m out questing, of course my steward can keep the peace (perhaps he even goes mad with power and attempts to take over… he can be replaced). I could create laws (skooma is legal here, prostitution isn’t, gamboling is on Thursdays). The best part is the money. This time, I’m not raking in a few gold coins here and there, I’m pulling in taxes so I can build new towers on my castle and better defenses. Town money can be a different wallet than my personal fund.

In Elder Scrolls, you always ascend to be the top of everything you join, but becoming a town’s Lord might finally give my character the feeling of true power. This leads me to my next sentiment.

 

 

7. I don’t have to be the top-ranking member of every guild.

It gets a little ridiculous to be the Master of the Thief’s Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, the Companions, the College of Winterhold, and the leader of the Empire’s Army. Did I mention that I’m the freaking Dragonborn? To be sure, it fell off the believability scale by a few miles. Also, once I was leader, there wasn’t really much power in the title. My first act as leader to all of these guilds was to leave and never return. Quests over, there’s nothing left for me there.
Instead, I would like it better to watch other character become the leader. I always felt bad for abandoning the guild after the quests, but there was never anything left to do after the quests.

What if I left the guild, thinking that the questline for it was over… and a month later, after doing other things and forgetting, I received a message asking for help, and a new mission would begin. That would surprise me. If you need to make me the Master by the end, at least give me something real to do with my power. Perhaps I could become the leader of the guild quicker and then be forced to struggle with the position from the seat of power. Then the questline could end with me deciding on someone to rule in my place.

It feels bad to abandon the guilds after becoming the Master. What if, instead, I appointed a replacement who would occasionally report to me or ask me to come back and deal with something? It would be cool if new quests would occur this way, so that the old guild does not feel dead and gone after I’ve conquered it.

 

 

 

8. Destruction spells need to be reworked. Drop mana.

I always pick Brenton, because I want the mana boost. However, I always have to force myself to use spells. The spells are never as effective as using swords. The mana costs are always too high, the recharge rate is too slow. I loved the feel of using fireball and the flamethrowing spells, but it always became one and done. Swords are always what you end up using. Always.

I say take out the mana cost altogether. Does it cost mana to swing a sword? It might cost stamina, but I can still swing a sword when my stamina is depleted. Let me use Destruction spells as much as I want. Perhaps you can keep mana, but if you have mana you deal bonus damage, kind of like how with more stamina you can do harder sword swings. I still should be able to cast a fireball without mana, though. The cooldown is pointless, since it’s so hard to hit your target anyway. Seriously, about 75% of my fireballs miss their target. I have better aim with the bow. It makes the mana cost all the more. If you still need a cooldown, then make it voluntary… the more you hold and charge, the more damage. So, if I want to fire a hundred fireballs, let me, it just won’t deal as much as one well charged one.

Also, I found the top fire and ice destruction spells a letdown. They cost too much to use, even after investing most of my skill increases in mana. Also, they weren’t fun because they took too long to cast, and I would end up getting hit before being able to use them, more likely than not. Let me be able to run/move while casting the best spells.

 

 

 

9. Firebolts are not as fun as fireballs.

Let’s be clear, here. Don’t make firebolt the better spell. Sure, it’s more accurate, but it’s not more fun. I want to see the BOOM. Make the fun spells the best spells, not the other way around.

 

 

 

10. Frost shields are annoying because it obscures your view.

Cool spell, useless because it’s annoying and loud and I won’t use it.

 

11. The flamethrower spell is awesome.

I wish it had a bigger, broader, longer version as an expert level spell.

 

 

12. NEW TOPIC: Horses.

Horses should be way faster. Done.

 

 

13. I played Dragonborn DLC. That was not dragon riding.

That was being on a dragon as it went wherever it wanted. You know what we want. Let us fly that thing wherever and however we want. Maybe there could be giant eagles in the next game or something. Flying mounts would rule, but only if I get to control them.

Also, it’s annoying when your horse spawns every single time I use fast travel. Just let me “call” the horse when I need it. Oftentimes, it would spawn and then get killed by a monster or something.

 

 

14. The map was pretty and pretty confusing.

The new overview map was a step in the right direction. I loved that it told me when dungeons were cleared. It was gorgeous.

For the next game, give it a functionality upgrade over the aesthetic one. It was hard to find where I was and where my quest markers were. Make them glow red or something. There are too many icons to see one from another like that.

 

 

15. Get rid of the map’s clouds or let me turn them off.

Often, I wanted to look at the map’s terrain but couldn’t because there were too many clouds.

 

taken near Seattle, which has Skyrim-like landscape

The clouds change the look of the map constantly. It’s a big map; it takes hours and hours of use to learn where everything is at, especially because it gains new icons every time you look at it. The clouds over the map add to this problem, because it turns a previously green section of the map white, and leaves a previously white section of the map orange. It’s hard for a visual learner like me to learn a map that changes color depending on the weather. If I could turn clouds off, I would have been much less annoyed by the map.

 

16. I want to know why the snow elves now hide in dwarven ruins.

The story of the dwarves’ disappearance is BEGGING to be told. Please, tell it! Maybe the next game should be about the dwarves, set in a time right before they disappeared! Please!

 

 

 

17. The load times were extremely long, make them more interesting.

I get that it’s a big world, but if I forgot a sword in a castle, going back inside was a huge pain because I’d be faced with a few minutes of loading screens.

I LOVED looking at the models. What a great idea. Please expand upon this idea by making the appearing model completely random. I’m telling you, I saw the werewolf and the lizard bartender every other loading screen. It got old. I saw Whiterun’s sigil a billion times.

Don’t make the model based on the location that is loading, because it means that I’ll just see the same few models over and over again. Make the models completely random, so that way I can get a broader range of models to look at and admire. By the way, the models are wonderfully made. Thank you for putting in the detail.

 

 

18. I want an Endless Dungeon mode.

What this means is that there should be one randomized dungeon that never ends. When I’ve beaten the main storylines, give me a final challenge. Make this final dungeon have “rooms” that increase in difficulty as they go. You can bring in anything you want, because it doesn’t affect the main game. You never come out of the dungeon. You go until you die. There’s no loot, only points. That’s right. Kills are worth points, here.

In the Endless Dungeon, you go from room to room until you’re dead. The enemies get harder. Sometimes you rechallenge the bosses from before. Whatever. You die, and your score is posted to a leaderboard, and then you’re sent back into the main game. You cannot save while inside the Endless Dungeon. You can only play until you die.

This would be a fun way to bring a leaderboard and online challenge to your friends. Perhaps player could even design rooms and throw them into the “Friends’ Dungeons” which would mix friend-designed levels in with the standard, or the ominous “Players’ Dungeon” which would house ONLY levels created by random players from the Internet. Of course, posted levels would only be allowed to be added if the designer could beat them themselves! This would check the difficulty. Perhaps then, as each monster would have a different score, the score totals could be used to measure difficulty and placement in the room factor. You get me, right?

 

 

19. My final idea is Duel Mode.

It’s simple. Players can leave the main game with their characters, taking whatever they want, and enter a set and limited location to duel with other players online. This would have no effect on the main game, but it would allow you to test your gile against the other characters people have built. This would extend the life of the game indefinitely.

There could be two modes. Open Arena and Showdown.

Open arena would be for up to six players all at once. Showdown would be one-on-one duels. Simple.

The arenas would be locations within the game, only all the doors and caves would be shut and the boundaries would be limited. Perhaps a giant force field or wall would encase the locations. So, Whiterun could have been a stage, ending at the walls. Players placed on opposite sides. Find each other, duel. First to four kills wins. Done.

The Throat of the World could have been a good level. The inside of a Dwarven ruin. A giant open grassy field. Wherever. There doesn’t have to be NPCs or wildlife (save maybe a few horses) during Duel mode, just you and the other player in a limited space. Once the match was done, then you could go back to your single player game, with nothing gained or lost (except pride).

Instead of a leaderboard, which would be pointless as you’d be fighting people at all levels, you’d get a “trophy room” displaying the heads and names of all of the players you’ve killed. How awesome would that be? You could view your friends’ trophy rooms and compare. OR maybe you could send the severed heads by letter carrier to your friends’ games. Also, finally there’d be a reason to have such a detailed character editor at the beginning of the game. A room devoted to looking at the faces that are usually hidden under those helmets.

 

 

 

Well, there it is. My Skyrim thoughts and wishes for the next Elder Scrolls game. Don’t take my criticism as me hating the game. Like I said, I believe Skyrim to be the BEST game ever made. Truly, I do. It’s just my wishes and constructive feedback. 


If you have feedback or ideas, post them in the comments! I’d love to know what you think!

Click that little follow button on the sidebar to keep up with my posts! Follow me @Oxyborb and check out my website at http://www.harrisonaye.com Thanks for reading!

Orcs kill because they are evil

 

For a writer, productivity is balanced against sociability. I had hardly any social life this past month, but I was insanely productive. I called it, “Unraveler History Month,” because I worked tirelessly on the historical background.

One thing I love about books like Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings is that sense that the world is lived in. There was history before the events in those books, and it makes those books feel real. I want that element in my book. I want to know about the wars that happened in my world, how particular cities got their names, why there is an abandoned castle in the middle of the forests, and how all of that figures into the motivations of my characters.
 

because it’s evil

Something that I don’t like in novels is mindless evil. Orcs, ready to kill and eat manflesh simply because all orcs are evil. Creepy men wearing black eye shadow that want to kill you for no apparent reason. A monster that emerges from the depths because it was prophesized to kill everyone because it’s evil.

Evil itself, I feel, is not a reason. Prophecy is not a reason. It’s not logic. Did XXX kill everyone in town simply because he’s evil? No. Often, though, creatures like orcs are willing to do their master’s bidding for no other reason than they have black hearts, but that seems like a cop-out to me.

My “evil” characters are driven by true motivations. My monsters have reasons. Even my environmental antagonists have reasons. Logic that reads more that, “Because it’s evil. Why else?”

 

So, my history.

I’ve been working on building a timeline that spans over 4000 years. It lists EVERY single King or ruler during that time period… for all five nations in my book. For some, it even gives details on how they died and why so-and-so replaced them instead of so-and-so.

So, I’ve been working on that, noting every major war, battle, triumph, gain, loss, marriage, event, etc, for a span of 4000 years. I’ve also been building my giant family tree, listing all of my major characters and their families (hundreds and hundreds of names). I’ve been preparing myself for a new read-through (I always make a giant list of things to work on as I read, and also mark up my document with comments with smaller stuff to weed out before the read). I’ve been reworking this system I had for mystical/magical stuff, too.

I might write more on magic later, though.

Hope your day is going well! Thanks for reading! Keep in touch; follow me on Twitter: @Oxyborb

True Ultimate Evil: A fighting game concept

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a video game where you have no choice but to play as the most evil characters ever created? A game where no heroes exist…. Well, I had a fun time imagining what that game would be.

TRUE, ULTIMATE EVILLLLLL!!!

Okay, so, take the style of Smash Bros and add the most evil characters ever instead of the Nintendo cast. Tell me it wouldn’t be awesome to fight as the Borg Queen against Frieza from DBZ. Sauron vs. Lord Voldemort. The Wicked Witch of the West vs. Alien.

You don’t have to tell me how impossible this game is. I know. Disney would never make a game with DC, Cartoon Network, Universal, and every other major movie studio combined. I get that. This is just my personal fantasy. So, here goes:

Characters: I know there are a ton of the classic horror movie monsters I didn’t add. However, I didn’t want this game to be overridden by just classic monsters; I wanted a good blend of modern and classic, so I left characters like the Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Mummy out. I also wanted a few cartoony characters to diversify from the realer characters, which is why I picked Mojo Jojo along side of The Joker.

If I left any characters out, if you disagree with me, leave a comment with your own character list!

Starting lineup:
Freddy

Borg Queen
Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Sauron
Darth Vader
Frankenstein’s Monster
The Joker
Ursula the Sea Witch
Exorcist Girl
Frieza

Unlockable:
Voldemort
Alien

Rita Repulsa
Chucky
King Geoffrey
The Wicked Witch of the West
Angelica Pickles
Clockwork Orange Guy
Mojo Jojo
Slenderman
Davey Jones (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Exclusive to Nintendo:
Bowser

Exclusive to Sony:
Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal

Exclusive to Microsoft:
Gruntilda from Banjo-Kazooie

DLC Characters:
Jason Voorhees
Khan
Dracula
Zomboss
Gannon
Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg from 5th Element

Agent Smith
Magneto
Randall Flagg from SK Novels
The Duck Hunt Dog
The Hamburglar
Diablo
GLaDOS
Zuul from Ghostbusters

Stages:

Earthen Mountains from Dragon Ball Z
The Borg Cube from Star Trek
The Death Star from Star Wars
Under The Sea from The Little Mermaid
Mount Doom from The Lord of the Rings
Elm Street Dreams from Nightmare on Elm Street
The Sewers from It
The House of Laughs from Batman
Unlockable Stages:
The Battle of Hogwarts from Harry Potter
The Toy Store from Chucky
The Iron Throne Room from A Song of Ice and Fire
The Woods from Slender
The Flying Dutchmann from Pirates of the Carribean
Observatory from Powerpuff Girls
Munchkin Land from The Wizard of Oz
Thanks for stopping by my blog!
UNRAVELSPACE UNRAVELTIME

Hit by a flying V.

Hit by a flying V.

No Joke.

Walking back to my room, I saw some very low flying ducks.
“Hey, look at the ducks! Cool!”
They flew closer. There was about 14-16 ducks flying in a pair of V formations stacked on top of each other like a double-decker bus. They were quacking a marching hymn.
“Wait.”
They avoided the trees. They didn’t feel like landing apparently.
“They’re coming right at me.”
A mallard wedge was about to slice me down the center.
Lucky my spider-senses caught on.
l i k e b e i n g s t r u c k b y R a f i k i ' s s t i c k

l i k e b e i n g s t r u c k b y R a f i k i ‘ s s t i c k
written in 2007

In whom do you confide?

f12kFNx

While they migrate their hands into the position of the awkward turtle, I have been studying their reactions to the paralyzing ideals and commentary. While they have been averting their gaze and marauding the bait, I have been focusing in on the automatic articulations of their body’s clumsiness. A foul smite once and awhile may seem to be my only reward, however I find a consequence that does appeal. A certain pang of brutality tunes and refines a core and braces it further for the unseen other; a battered throat does not choke on stone soup, but uses the leverage to digest the thick roots for the desired nutrition.

The first time my room mate has ever been gone.

67_512087855048_1635_n

It is strange, in my room,
Sure, his computer will hum,
but then so will I,
but I’ll pick the tune.

For a time, on my own,
Sure, the quiet consumes me,
though it will not last,
though I wish it would.

Hope for it, with his sake,
Sure, it is not even real,
at least it’s for a while,
at least he’ll feel it once.

Back to it, he will come,
the music box with turning knobs,
gears that click and spin,
uniform and trill.

Alas, he will come to find, when in the mill it rains,
And time will come to take away the chance for a change.
Alone and stiff full of regret, you’ll finally realize,
A certain music box has been blaring out your eyes.
Across the universe, the globe, and the hall,
Apparently the fraction found was not that big at all.

Alas you will see and find only one way left to go…

…It’ll be strange, in your room,
Sure, your computer will hum,
but then you will too,
there will be no tune.

Crank the bar, music box,
slowly looping is the sound,
eerily so low,
uniform and trill.

End.

please note that I wrote this one in 2007