Saturday, April 28, 2012

Excerpt 2 for the Pioneer of Jasmines

Old Joe glances up from his work-in-progress at the young man in front of his souvenir stall. Its that time of the year again, he thought. There was an annual period when a certain amount of foreign tourists would come to the Cerulean Cave. Unlike normal tourists, however, these foreigners kept to themselves vigilantly, almost as if they were in an occult. This young man, however, seems to be different. Dressed like any other, Old Joe can sense that his demeanor is similar to those "odd tourists", as he called it, yet there's something else in his eyes, something that drew him to Old Joe's hand-crafted souvenirs.

"This carving of Metagross looks very... lifelike."

"Ah, sonny, great tastes there. It was carved in likeness to the one that belonged to an ex-Champion of the Hoenn region, who traveled here not long after his resignation. You can have it, along with that one of Groudon over there." Old Joe points to another carving he made at the far corner of his stall.

"Have you seen the legendary Pokemon too, sir?"

"Not in my time, sonny - not in my time. Can't say the same about you though," Somehow, Old Joe could imagine this polite young man in the presence of legendaries as being quite astute. Probably just me getting senile, he chided himself.

The young man smiled briefly at the comment, bought his wares, and left. As he rounded a corner, Old Joe finally noticed a metal gauntlet upon the side of its backpack.

The gauntlet blinked at him before its owner - no, trainer - disappeared from sight.

*               *              *

"You're in Kanto, for goodness sake. Why don't you buy some Pokeballs?"
"You know the reason well, Dalson - I chose this path when I had Corrin, and I'm not gonna turn back."

Zheng was answered with the rolling of his acquaintance's eyes. The debate between them has been going on for a long time - whether to use Pokeballs or not in their trainer careers. And in this final moment, it seems that their paths have diverged for good.

"Cheer up, Dalson - its not like we can't still be friends."
"Just promise me we'll meet again someday."
"Of course, though I take it you're going to start your adventures here?"
"Yes - what about you, Zheng?"
"I think I'll pay a visit to the Viridian Forest. There's a rumour I'd like to invetigate."
"Really? And what's that?"

Zheng only smiled to his friend's protests. The two friends enjoyed the rest of the evening with each other, knowing that the imminent departure will separate them for a long time.

Excerpt 1 for the Pioneers of Jasmines

Battered and bruised, Zheng resolutely pushes himself back up. He was running before he was fully upright, but yet again, he didn't make ten steps before being hurled bodily backwards by a shockwave that ripples visibly upon the area of barren loam miles in diameter within the Viridian Forest.

"You should've just let me at him. You're as insane as he is, agreeing to this," said a voice in Zheng's head. "No, I'm not, and neither is he. You saw it as surely as I did - he performed both Rock Polish and Swords Dance only thrice, meaning he still innately understands the law of the Original One. There's nothing you can do anyway. You'll have to land in order to attack, and he only need one Earthquake in this state to defeat you."

As if on cue, the Rhyperior bellowed his challenge. Through his telepathic connection, Zheng understood the message within the roar - "Hiding behind your treacherous trainer, Metang? Come face me, you who learned nothing but cowardice from humans! Let us pit bright starsteel against solid granite, and see who is the stronger!"

Zheng smiled wryly as he mentally pictured Corrin flexing his claws, itching to rake the Rhyperior's eyes as he (Corrin likes to be referred as 'him') continue to telekinese himself higher than the effective range of the Rhyperior's attacks. "Remind me again why you want to do this, Zheng."

"Because I can understand the hurt in his eyes."

Corrin mentally kicked himself. That was Zheng all right. So willing to emphatise with other Pokemon's pains and griefs, Corrin wondered if it would bring about their downfall. No, he won't. Not on my watch.

A sudden movement that was never there before drew Corrin's attention. That idiot. While the wild - no, abandoned - Rhyperior was venting his lungs at him, Zheng actually used that momentary respite to get within striking distance of the rock behemoth. Instinctually, the Rhyperior swiped a massive foreclaw at the puny human.

"No!" In that instant, Corrin reversed his telekinese, simultaneously imbuing his claws with his mind as his grey-blue body plummets under the combined forces of psychics and physics. Knowing he was too late, Corrin's only thought was to take the humungous monstrosity down with him, laying in final rest with the one human he trust and the opponent he tributed to him.

"... You won."

Those two words, with their bass tones, literally stopped Corrin in his tracks. Zheng smiled, briefly, his hand on Rhyperior's horn as his body dangled within the potentially bone-crushing grasp, before hugging the said horn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Magi Maxims

To understand the way of mages and wizards, we must first ask - what is the nature of magic? Some say magic is the way of defying nature, wild and unpredictable. Some say that magic is right there, accessible to anyone "intelligent" enough to find it and willful enough to access it. Some claim that magic is but the manipulation of energy and/or matter.

Whatever the case, in a world where magic exists, it has provided many benefits - usually taken for granted - in the lives of those who know how to wield it. Yet the adage "with great power comes great responsibility" remains firmer than the changes wrought to the dogma of magic. Those who can use magic are often as capable of great good as they are of equally, if not more, powerful destruction.

However, magic is not just a weapon. It can also be a trade, an art, a vision. Those who use magic almost definitely will pursue the study of magic, in an attempt to understand better its nature and its role in the bigger multiverse. Magic is a study as diverse as the study of life itself - branches as unrelated as hypnotism and necromancy can be traced back to magic at their roots. Thus, all wizards immerse themselves eagerly into their pursuits, asking for no more than the time and insight to discover what they seek.

In a way, magic is not so much different from the advanced technology available in this reality - both made contributions to achievements that would be impossible using conventional methods. However, should either fail utterly, what would happen? In each respective reality, both magic and technology would be the foundation for the structure of the society and lives of its inhabitants. The falling of either would almost immediately precede a time of anarchy and chaos, as the world would collapse from the heights it had scaled. In the end, perhaps there would be enough to survive, scavenge, and walk a new path to rebuild the world. Or perhaps the world would be the only thing left, not its current population.

- adapted from various sources

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Paladin Precepts

Paladins are knights who pledged themselves to religion instead of any human liege. They are the military arm of the clergy they serve, sort of an "army of the god" that they believe in. A paladin is well known for his zeal, chivalry as well as nobility, and is often heralded as the savior of humanity from the evil blights the lands.

To people who knew the awful truth, though, a paladin does not make a good friend. He follows a rigid - if not extreme - code of righteousness and morality, and he holds all others with equally high standards. As "mere mortals" would have a few scruples themselves, a proud paladin may often look down upon them with disappointment, if not disdain.

In his believe, a paladin views the world as a chiaroscuro painting - there are no moral standards except black (utter evil) and white (purely sacred). A simplistic view, I'm sure, but too much so. A person can only be standing beside a paladin, or standing against him. Therefore, a lot of conflict may arise because of this simple standpoint.

If one paladin's zeal is considered powerful, what of an order of paladins? Imagine, hundreds or even thousands of warriors, who believe in one god and one cause, charging through any obstacle in their quest for the fulfillment of the order's decrees - sounds way too close to religious fanaticism to me.

Perhaps the flaw of paladins, the one common flaw, is that they devoted themselves too much to the clergy and to their god. For the former, any pragmatic man can break free of his chains easily - "A Paladin's power comes not from the clergy, but from God. With or without the clergy, we are still Paladins." But for the latter, to doubt is to betray - and when religious zeal clashes against common sense, a paladin is in for a terrible dilemma indeed.

- adapted from various sources