The Master Assassins

The Masters are a group of eight assassins directly under Fenrir. They form the Council that convenes at times in Ganpon. There are two masters for each Domain, one Senior Master and one Junior Master. The Junior Masters are usually newly promoted wolves and are generally younger than the Senior Masters. The oldest Master, aside from Fenrir, is Baghdad at the age of 65. The youngest Master is Sparta at the age of 15. She was also the youngest Master in the history of the order. The Junior Masters are also the partners of the Senior Masters as they are equals and each watches one half of their shared Domain.

In the event a Senior Master is removed from their post due to death or demotion, the Junior Master is elevated to Senior Master status. Very rarely are Junior Masters passed over for that promotion but it depends on various factors and is decided by the Council, the final say coming from Fenrir. Sparta became a Junior Master because her predecessor under Athens was conspiring against him, seeking to kill him and become Senior Master. Athens found out and reported it to Fenrir who had that Junior Master removed and killed. Sparta was the only wolf in the East who showed the most promise as a leader and was made Athens’ new partner despite her young age.

There are four females and four males on the Council. Below are the names, wolf types, ages, branches, and statuses of the eight Masters. Included is Fenrir for comparison.

Pompeii is a 30-year-old red wolf assassin and Senior Master of the North. She watches the Far North in Genbu’s territory. Her partner is Cairo, a 23-year-old Tundra wolf assassin and the Junior Master of the North. He watches the southern half of Genbu’s territory.

Athens is a 45-year-ol Eastern wolf assassin and Senior Master of the East. He watches the Far East in Seiryu’s territory. His partner is Sparta, a 15-year-old Indian wolf assassin and the Junior Master of the East. She watches the western half of Seiryu’s territory.

Baghdad is a 65-year-old Arabian wolf assassin and Senior Master of the South. He watches the Far South of Suzaku’s territory. His partner is Thyatira, a 33-year-old Tibetan wolf assassin and the Junior Master of the South. She watches the northern half of Suzaku’s territory.

Thessalonica is a 40-year-old Eurasian wolf assassin and Senior Master of the West. She watches the Far West of Byakko’s territory. Her partner is Corinth, a 26-year-old Arctic wolf assassin and the Junior Master of the West. He watches the eastern half of Byakko’s territory.

Lastly, there’s Fenrir, the 4500-year-old dire wolf assassin and the Grandmaster of the Order. His territory is strictly Ganpon, the capital of the Human Empire in Suzaku’s South. He has no partner but his three most trusted assassins are Rome, Syracuse, and Damascus. Their ages and wolf types are unknown, though it’s rumored that Damascus isn’t a wolf at all but a dog bred to look like a dire wolf, the American Alsatian.

There is some weight to the rumor as Damascus is always used as Fenrir’s decoy and enemies who walked away alive confirmed it was him at first before Fenrir showed himself. He’s not as big as Fenrir but of all assassins, he’s the closest in size and appearance to him. How a dog could be a transformer is the great mystery and Damascus himself usually calls himself an overlarge wolf. Other rumors say that he’s a true dire wolf like his master but Fenrir is quick to affirm that he is the last of the giant transforming wolves. Still other rumors state that Damascus is the son of Fenrir, hence his resemblance to the ancient Grandmaster. All World may never know the truth behind him.

Theme Naming – All World

I’ve noticing that with some groups of beings in All World, I’ve followed some Theme Naming. Take the Assassin Order of Wolves. Except for two, the named assassins I’ve written about  (or plan to) follow a particular naming pattern. They’re named for cities (ancient and modern) in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Eight are Master Assassins and three others are Fenrir’s most trusted assassins. Aside from Fenrir, the other assassin who doesn’t follow the Theme Naming is Tiberius but he did have a city-based alias he used for thirteen years hiding as a family dog. He was called Emmaus during that period.

The eight Masters are Pompeii, Sparta, Thyatira, Thessalonica, Corinth, Baghdad, Athens, and Cairo. The former four are female and the latter four are male. This keeps the Assassin Council equal in terms of gender, even though Fenrir brings the male count to five. His most trusted assassins are Rome, Syracuse, and Damascus. They’re not Masters but they’ve impressed Fenrir a lot during their years as assassins for Ganpon HQ. I’ll likely write a post about the Council and give some more info on the Masters.

Another group with Theme Naming are the Emperors and Empresses of the Human Empire. They have exclusively Japanese names, since Ganpon is a mixture of Japanese and Chinese architecture. The Imperial Palace happens to be based on the Forbidden City in China while the surrounding city is set up like a Japanese town encircled by a large wall.

The werewolves also follow Theme Naming. Several named werewolves share the names of epic and Biblical figures. They are Gilgamesh, Vashti, Esther, Jezebel, and Beowulf.

The dinosaurs follow some Theme Naming but they’re usually named for a trait they have. Inferno, for instance, has an impressive color pattern on his scales that invoke images of flames. Same for his mate, Pyra, and son, Ember. They’re less intense in color than he is.

That’s about all the groups I can think of that use Theme Naming. Next post will be on the Master Assassins.

Fenrir, The Assassin Order of Wolves, and The Fenrir Conspiracy

I’ve written on Fenrir before but I decided to give a bit more info on the ancient Grandmaster, his Order,  and an old conspiracy theory surrounding him. The bits detailing more on Fenrir and the Order were originally going to be two separate posts but I might as well consolidate them all into one.

As written before, Fenrir is the ancient Grandmaster of the Assassin Order of Wolves (AOW). He’s the only dire wolf assassin left in the world (since the dires of Island Reptilia are normal, non-transforming dires). All his subordinates are extant species (arctic, grey, etc.). His mortal enemy is Altair, himself the Grandmaster of the Roc Assassin Order (RAO) and is part of a one-sided rivalry with Gilgamesh the werewolf.

The Fenrir Conspiracy is an old theory that’s as old as Fenrir himself. The theory is that the Fenrir name is merely a smokescreen and that Fenrir isn’t really as old as he is, or even a dire assassin. Hardcore believers think that the Grandmaster isn’t the same wolf through all of history. The first mention of Fenrir dates back 4,500 years ago and has been noted in historical events ever since. They discredit that a being that isn’t a High King or the Shogun could have lived for so long. They think that the original Fenrir was so good at what he did, his name became a useful tool and has been used by successors to the Grandmaster title.

A major hole in the theory is that whenever Fenrir moves on a target or gets publicly involved in anything, his methods never change. If he was just one of many successors to the Grandmaster title, historical records would reflect that. Each assassin under him have their own style. Fenrir is different because his style never changes. Part of the hole is that assassins find a style that suits them and they stick with it. They become so ingrained in their way of doing things that they are adverse to learning someone else’s style, even to keep up a ruse. Because history blatantly states that the style of Grandmaster Fenrir is always the same, it further proves that Fenrir truly is an ancient wolf.

Despite the evidence, there are still hardcore believers in the Fenrir Conspiracy. Neither Fenrir nor the Order attempts to quash the theory because it’s actually a very useful tool. If Fenrir needs a decoy, he’ll ask a trusted assassin in his branch to take his name and place. He’s not without his fun side and relishes revealing himself as the true Grandmaster to his enemies. It’s often the last mistake they make. While he enjoys using the conspiracy theory for his own ends, he can’t abide anyone who abuses his name. Aside from his intended targets, Fenrir has also made unsanctioned kills on imposters. Despite a rather negative profession, Fenrir has a good reputation, honor, and sense of justice. Imposters are usually criminals who use his name to commit crimes and to control towns and villages through fear. The Grandmaster regularly sends out warnings, reminding the entire Continent of the price imposters pay if they’re caught by the Order.

Thought not without his merciful side, sparing an imposter found guilty of using his name depends on Fenrir’s mood at the time. It also depends on the severity of the crimes committed in his name. Extreme cases where he kills imposters with no mercy are those who oppress towns and villages and a number of immoral crimes, like rape. Other cases result in him letting the fakes off the hook up to three times or imprisonment. Very few imposters caught by the Order are actually used as informants. These informants understand Fenrir’s desire to keep his name clean and they requested that in order to make up for their wrongdoing, that they be allowed to live and to keep the Order informed of things they may not be aware of. A number of things in remote towns and villages were brought to the Order’s attention through informants. An example would be  a case from 200 years ago where an imposter was using Fenrir’s name in order to rape women without consequence. Fenrir personally had that man held in the branch house nearest the victimized town until he could arrive from Ganpon and deliver the death sentence himself.

Fenrir runs a tight Order. While he is the Grandmaster of the entire Order, he has a council of eight Master Assassins under him to run the branches around the Continent. Each Domain has two branches, covering north and south of each Domain. The Masters must send word to Ganpon if they feel a decision is beyond their power. Certain imposters, for instance, did such heinous crimes using Fenrir’s name, that the Masters who had them imprisoned didn’t know if their authority was enough to warrant extreme punishment. They would send a case file to Ganpon for Fenrir to look over and he would tell them what they could or could not do to the prisoner. In a few cases, like what was written before, a few special cases warranted Fenrir to appear in person and deliver the punishment.

Any and all major missions, usually the assassination of regional government officials, also must be sent to and approved by Fenrir before the mission is a go. He’ll report it to the Emperor or Empress and ask for their opinion of the matter. Though the Order is an autonomous entity with their own laws and lies outside the laws of the Human Empire and other Nations, Fenrir makes it a point to discuss high end assassinations with whoever is in charge of the perpetrator’s race. He allows them to make the final call and he gives the order. If he feels that an assassination is the only way, he’ll circumvent requests for his wolves not to kill a perpetrator.When a previous Empress was revealed to be a very corrupt woman who abused her power to the point that the Empire nearly fell apart, Fenrir disregarded the human council’s pleas for her to be spared on the grounds that she was pregnant with the next heir. He personally planted the dagger that ended her life as well as the life of her child and forced her husband to abdicate the throne, allowing her younger brother to succeed the throne. That mission made him infamous for quite some time because he didn’t show mercy to an unborn child.

The High Kings themselves usually don’t discipline Fenrir, because they trust his judgement. His judgement has rarely ever been wrong and they have faith in his ability to do the right thing. The case of the corrupt Empress shook their faith in him however. He was subjected to his first and only inquiry in his long life by the High Kings and the Council of Myth. He defended his decision on the grounds that if the Empress were allowed to live, she would’ve destroyed the Empire. When asked why he didn’t spare her until her child was born, Fenrir gave no answer aside from saying that he had to serve the greater good. If the Empress were allowed to live long enough to give birth to her child, it would’ve been too late to save the Empire. Her brother was a better man for the job and was hard at work at repairing the damage. Though conflicted at his lack of mercy for a unborn child, the High Kings let Fenrir go with a severe promise that they would personally take his head if this happened again.

The Order mostly deals with the Human Empire but has been called in by the animal Nations if needed. They are considered the Empire’s elite guard. Internal corruption and ineffectual leadership in the Order is kept quiet from the outside world. Fenrir makes an annual round trip to all the branches of the Order, making sure the Masters follow the code. If he suspects a Master of either corruption or ineffective leadership when he’s not around, he’ll ask his most trusted assassins from his own branch in Ganpon to infiltrate the offending branch and keep an eye on the Master. If the Master is found to be ineffectual or corrupt, they are removed from their post (by force if necessary) and a list of nominees is sent by that branch’s rank and file for Fenrir to look over. He’ll choose a new Master based on performance, leadership skills, and qualifications. Ineffectual Masters are merely demoted while corrupt Masters are brought before Fenrir and the other Masters for an inquiry. Punishments vary from demotion, banishment, and in extreme cases, death. It’s the general attitude of the Order that it’s better to be demoted and lose a little honor than it is to be found guilty of corruption and lose everything.

Next post will detail Fenrir’s relationship with Altair and the Roc Assassin Order.

The Great Desert/Sanctuary

I was rereading something and was inspired to give a little blurb on one of All World’s defining geological features. It’s known as the Great Desert. It’s a gigantic expanse of sand that covers a good portion of Seiryu’s East along the border to Genbu’s North. It has a bad reputation though well-earned. I’ll tell you how it came into existence as well as why it has been reputed as a dangerous place.

Back in the beginning, the Great Desert was called Sanctuary. It was where the Almighty breathed life into the world and where all creatures and plants of the earth had their beginning. Sanctuary is the birthplace of the Kings, the Shogun, and the Sovereign as well as the forerunners of all creatures, including humans. In the garden that it was, there two special trees. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. When the Descent occurred and the human forerunners were banished,  Sanctuary was guarded by the Almighty’s flaming Sacred Sword. It guarded the Tree of Life and Sanctuary became a forbidden place. When the Landless Time buried the Continent and Island Reptilia underwater, Sanctuary was destroyed and reverted to a desert after the waters receded. Legends tell that the Sword of the Almighty still stands guard where it was placed. Legends also say that the dead remains of both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil still stand. The flood waters had uprooted and drowned many, many tree but those two in particular were two of the very few whose roots prevented that from happening.

The Great Desert, as it came to be called, became associated with evil because those who wandered into it seeking the Trees never came out again, even if they went in fully prepared with food and water. It’s also the only place in All World that is truly dead. Nothing grows or lives in it. Shogun Yamata no Orochi claimed the desert as his territory because his duty is to prevent others from entering it and to find those struck down by the Sacred Sword and reunite them with their souls. That is the Sword’s ability. It cuts down any and all who manage to find it and the remains of the Trees. The souls cut free from their flesh are stuck in sort of limbo until Orochi is able to use his God-given ability to reunite them with theirs bodies.

Over the course of the six thousand year history All World has seen since its formation, the numbers of wanderers into the Great Desert number only in the low one-hundreds, a vast majority being humans.  Orochi himself is successful 95% of the time at turning the curious away from the desert. The other 5% were those who either disregarded his warning or never met up with the gigantic eight-headed serpent. Orochi is not permitted to violently prevent anyone from entering his territory. He can do little more than to warn the curious of the dangers but the choice is ultimately up to them.  Out of all those who went in and met their fate from the Sword, Orochi was successful in saving all of them except thirty. Those thirty souls weren’t found in time. Their bodies expired and the souls were taken into Paradise. The Shogun, as written in his bio, originally had no intention of policing the border to the Great Desert but was compelled into service.

Though Orochi has immunity from the Sword’s soul-rending power, even he dares not enter the Desert unless needed. The Sword acts of its own accord and has attacked him every time he came to retrieve a body rent of its soul. The Almighty had granted the Shogun special armor that he wears at all times to make the serpent well-protected from the duty-bound Sword. Orochi is always uneasy in its holy presence because he is evil by virtue of All World’s fallen state and the Sword strikes down all evil that comes across it. Innocent or vile, it makes no difference. All who live in a fallen world are judged the same by the Sword.

The Almighty has told the Kings that when All World’s clock ticks down to zero, He would remove the Sword from its place in the Great Desert and that would be the sign that the end was at hand. As the Desert is in Seiryu’s Domain, the dragon King has made it his unending duty to keep a close watch on the sword from his Castle, via the Seer’s Ball. Even ancients like himself fear the Desert and the Sword within but they haven’t forgotten Sanctuary, their birthplace. Their hope is to see it again in Paradise when things finally tick down to zero and are reset.

The Joys of Editing

As you all know from my About Me section, you know that I help a Malaysian girl, Krystle Kuan, with comics she’s worked on for several years. They include Transformers and her original work, Wolf Brothers. What you may not know is that I’m not paid for the work I do, which is edit her scripts into proper English (and dealing with the fact that Asian countries write in Queen’s English instead of American XD). I do, however, have some form of payment in the fact that I get my name on the finished product as well as the product itself for free. Krys and I are currently working on a sequel, simply titled Wolf Brothers 2. It’s going follow the Wolf Brothers, half-wolves and twins Carlos and Travis, on their next adventure and joining them is their cousin, Fred. I don’t know too much about the story just yet, only that Fred will be trained by his cousins to be a better fighter. He lost his father at a young age and his mother recently passed away so Fred is going to be living with his cousins and their parents.

Wolf Brothers 2 is the second of a planned trilogy. The first Wolf Brothers manga was the twins traveling to another village on a mission to find missing children in place of their father, a wolf beast named Khoval. At the village, the brothers are aided in their mission by a girl named Clara who prayed to Khoval (who has clairvoyance) to come help them. Clara eventually ends up as Travis’s girlfriend. Fred already has a girlfriend, a human girl named Mina who appeared in the offshoot GiD manga, Wolf Rookie: Be My Pet.

Wolf Brothers 3 is a project I can’t wait to work on. Carlos, the elder twin, doesn’t have a girlfriend but Krys and I are going to really pool our talents together and make a story of how he meets my character, a wolf girl named Raine. She’s actually a re-purposed, renamed incarnation of a wolf I roleplay on the Blackblood Alliance wolf forum named Starfire. This whole idea of Carlos meeting Starfire/Raine began with a contest Krys ran on DeviantART and in which I placed third. I started thinking what if we could expand on my entry and make it a main series story like WB and WB2? After all, Carlos is the biggest hit of the three guys with the fangirls and yet, he doesn’t have an in-story girlfriend. Well, that was a year or so back but once work began on WB2, I brought the idea up to Krys again and she’s all for it.

At this point, we’re going to continue work on WB2 but I already am starting to develop Raine’s character and I have a bio started on her character. Like Carlos and Fred, Raine has wolf ears and a tail. However, while Carlos and Fred have normal colored hair (brown and black respectively), Raine’s is white. Everything about her is white, except her belt which is black, and her wolf form has patches of silver. Her eyes are also an unusual color; gold. Unlike Clara and Mina, Raine also wears her hair short.

I was thinking about the guys and their girlfriends (future GF in Carlos’ case) and they’re pretty balanced out in terms of appearance. While Carlos and Travis are identical twins in the face, Travis looks pure human. Carlos has the ears and tail, as written above. Fred has the same traits as him and he’s also half and half. The girls, however are the opposite. Travis and Fred’s GFs are both human while Raine’s a wolf-girl.  It basically boils down to three humans and three wolf-like people. Travis may be part-wolf but he has no obvious wolfish traits like his twin, aside from the ability to transform into one. I like how that all works out, especially in their relationships. You have the human Travis and Clara, the half-wolf Fred and human Mina, and the half-wolves Carlos and Raine. I should suggest to Krys that she draw the guys and their girlfriends in one picture so we can see them all together.

I love working with Krys. I take pride in my half of the work and at least neither of us has to rush. It takes me awhile to get in gear and edit any pages that need it because it takes awhile for them to get to me. Both of us work real jobs, her for an animation company and me subbing in school cafeterias. All in all, the work we do on these projects is worth it all the time. I may not be paid for it but just seeing my name on the cover and holding the book in my hands is worth everything.

Tale of Two Brothers/Character Study (DQ8)

I’m revisiting a game I’ve loved for a number of years now. It’s a Playstation 2 title called Dragon Quest VIII. I have several favorite characters from the game but I would like to talk about one of my favorites and his brother. My absolute favorite is Marcello, Captain of the Templars and one of the major antagonists. His brother is Angelo, one of the party members. Angelo is Marcello’s half-brother, sharing their father but with different mothers. Marcello, the elder, is the illegitimate son of a noble and a household maid while Angelo, the younger, is the noble’s son by his wife. I’m not going to go into huge detail about their role in the game but I’ll touch on it when detail is needed.

Let me give a little more background on Marcello.  His father’s wife was having difficulty bearing a child so his father had an affair with a maid, leading to Marcello’s birth. He was to be the heir but things went downhill quickly when his father’s wife finally gave him a son, Angelo, when Marcello was a boy. He and his mother were thrown from the household with nothing to their names. His mother soon died and Marcello was taken in at Maella Abbey by the Abbot of the time, Francisco. Abbot Francisco helped raise the boy who was a very good student and became a Templar Knight. He lived a good life at the Abbey but his hatred for his father and his half-brother didn’t subside. Abbot Francisco was the only one keeping him in check until his death at the hands of the main antagonist (at the time), Dhoulmagus.

Marcello was an ambitious man and he made it his private mission to stick it to the nobility. Apparently, his common blood makes him somewhat of a black sheep in the game’s religion. I came to the conclusion that the Templars, at least, were mostly nobles in blood, if not the entire church heirarchy. High Priest Rolo mentions at the Holy Isle of Neos that Marcello never would’ve become Abbot at his age without his recommendation. He even made mention of Marcello’s common blood. The Captain wasn’t about stop his rise to the top with merely the title of Abbot. He was soon promoted to the Lord High Priest’s (think the Pope) guards as Commander.

After certain events, Marcello was able to frame High Priest Rolo for a crime he wasn’t responsible for; the death of the Lord High Priest. The whole point was for him to get Rolo out of the way, leaving him the only qualified individual in the church to take over. He immediately took the chance to force change on the world, wanting to do away with the nobility by proving that one could climb the social ladder without money or connections and on the sole virtue of merit. The party stops Marcello at his ascension ceremony which sets into motion the last bit of the game; going after the final boss and true antagonist.

Switching gears over to Angelo, this Templar was always getting into trouble. Angelo really stood out in the order. His uniform was red  (all other Templars wore blue), he was a gambler, skirtchaser, all around pretty boy with a rebellious streak a mile long. Angelo’s parents died in a plague that swept through his hometown and he ended up at the abbey at around nine years old. The first person he spoke to was none other than Marcello, his elder brother. Angelo didn’t know it at the time but even after learning the truth, his path went in the opposite direction. He wasn’t nearly as dedicated to the Order as Marcello was but I think the entire reason Angelo acted out so much was because deep down, he wanted his older brother to acknowledge his existence. I think deep down, Angelo just wanted Marcello’s approval but when it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen, Angelo just started rebelling like it was going out of style. That is one way I think the two are similar because I think the reason behind Marcello’s schemes was because he was to trying to legitimize his own existence.

Marcello wasn’t without his good points. He was shown to be capable of great kindness. Like I wrote above, Marcello was the first person Angelo spoke to when he came to the abbey. Marcello didn’t know his name at the time and wanted to give him a hand because their situations were virtually the same. It wasn’t until he asked Angelo’s name that things did a complete 180 and he took on the cold personality we first meet him with.  After Abbot Francisco’s murder, of which Marcello had accused the party of attempting before learning the truth behind Dhoulmagus, the Captain was humble enough to apologize for the misunderstanding and he’s the one who gives you the World Map. Nevertheless, he practically kicks Angelo out of the abbey, under the pretense of Angelo helping the party track down Dhoulmagus for the murder of the Abbot. Angelo saw through that but he welcomed the chance to escape the abbey at last. He never felt at home much there so it was no big deal that Marcello was throwing him out.

I once saw Marcello summarized thus: in a different world at a different time, he would’ve been a hero. His ambition and desire to tear down his world’s social conventions for the good of the common man seem almost democratic. He just went about it all the wrong ways. It was he that ended the Lord High Priest’s life and he tried to take over the church so he  could possibly start an uprising against the nobility. Whatever noble desires he had as a younger man, I think he was twisted when he was blinded by ambition and hate for the noble class because of his misfortune. Another one of Marcello’s strong points is the fact that he resisted, and even subdued, the true antagonist’s influence. Dhoulmagus and two other bearers of a scepter containing the spirit of the main antagonist were mere puppets with no will of their own. The scepter had passed to Marcello after certain events and the main antagonist tried to take over his body. Marcello possesses a strong will which beat back the influence and allowed him to remain in control. That control was only broken when the party defeats him at Neos, turning him into the fourth and final puppet that led to the main antagonist getting his body back.

A major flaw to the Captain’s character is the fact that everything that happened because of him, he tried to pin the blame on someone else.  When his plans fell apart after Neos, he tried to kill himself by falling to his death. Angelo, who I think had a change of heart between the party’s arrest and their victory over Marcello in battle, was able to save him. Angelo told his brother off, saying he would keep living knowing that the brother he hated his entire life took pity on him. Marcello disappeared afterward, giving his Captain’s Ring and a threat to Angelo. He’s never seen again in the game after that.

Marcello joins the ranks of personal favorites, Sephiroth and Sesshomaru. They all have similar flaws that make me fall in love with their characters. All qualify as jerks in some form or another and I seem to like jerky characters like them. Sephiroth, Sesshomaru, and Marcello definitely have shown they had kindness or compassion at some point in their lives. Sephiroth and Marcello showed such kindness or compassion when they were young men, with Sephiroth going nuts after learning half-truths about his origins when he was 25 and Marcello growing ambitious to the point of being just a couple steps short of being truly evil over the course of his life. Sesshomaru is the opposite. He starts off as a major jerk to his own half-brother, Inu-Yasha and slowly learns compassion over the course of the Inu-Yasha series. Sesshomaru’s first act of compassion was bringing a child named Rin back to life after she was killed bu wolves and it culminated to the point where he mastered a sword technique that was meant to be given to Inu-Yasha afterward. Sesshomaru, in his own way, was able to help his brother achieve mastery of his blade. He stopped being an antagonist some time before then, showing up to fight Inu-Yasha once in a while, but I think his desire to kill him died out somewhere along the way.

I love wonderfully flawed characters like Marcello. He was a very engaging character to me the very first time I set foot in Maella Abbey and came face to face with him. Having Dragon Quest VIII localized in and the voice actors from the UK was a bonus. Hope you enjoyed my little character study.

The Sad Reality of War

Came across a comment on DeviantART that struck a nerve so I decided to share my thoughts. This person detests soldiers. The sad thing is that soldiers are the reason America exists. Soldiers in the 1770’s and beyond died for him to have the right to say he detests soldiers. This may come off as jaded or cynical but it’s historical truth that peace between nations of the world never lasts. War is an unending reality. Most countries are born through war. Few were born through peace, if any. I think it’s futile to hope for world peace brought about by man’s hand. It’s not futile to hope for Jesus to come back and truly bring world peace. Only God can do that. Humans are fallible beings. War was hardwired into our collective consciousness since the Fall. There’s nothing we can do to achieve world peace on our own. That’s impossible.

This person also says we should pull out of all the countries we have troops in (Germany, Japan, what have you) and start peace negotiations. I’m of the opinion that even if we do that and succeed at such a venture, countries like North Korea, Russia, or China won’t leave us alone.  I doubt any of their governments are interested in peace with us so I’m not holding my breath. This is why I can’t wait for Jesus to come back. The world will be made right again. All the fighting, greed, and sadness will finally be wiped out and war will cease forever. I no longer hope for world peace because it never lasts for a significant amount of time. It’s cruel to hope for and achieve it, only for it to die a horrible death through a war. As I think back, even when I was too young to understand it, I was living through nothing but wartime. I only took notice when 9/11 happened.

It’s possible to support our troops while simultaneously not supporting whatever war they happen to be fighting. I’ve spent seven years of my life supporting our troops while giving the war itself contempt. I have soldiers in my family. One served in WW2 (God bless his soul). Another served in Vietnam. Yet two others served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t like coming across people who detest our troops because they come off as ungrateful for the rights they have, which are protected by our troops. It’s far better to hate war in general while keeping the troops out of the hate fest. They are willing to put their lives on the line so we can continue to exist.

Soliders fought for our freedom over two hundred years ago and this country was one of many that was born through war. That will never change.

FF7 Love Triangle Debate

Please think about the following post if you’re a fan of FF7 and either of the two ships in the TxCxA Love Triangle. I’ll even bake a cake for you if you do. Let’s get started.

It’s recently come to my attention that other people were duped, as I was, by Lifestream.net’s false claims that Square said that CloudxTifa (known as Cloti) was the canon pairing based on inconsequential events in the game. Such events are ambiguous at best and all scenes between Cloud and Tifa or Cloud and Aerith can be interpreted either romantically or just as friends. There is a trope for this sort of thing. It’s called Shrug of God. Square has neither confirmed nor denied Cloti or Clerith (CloudxAerith) as canon. Their stance has been, since the game’s release nearly fifteen years ago, that it’s up to player interpretation. Therefore both Clotis and Cleriths are neither wrong nor right in their ship.

I personally am a Clerith shipper. There was something about Cloud’s interaction with Aerith that nailed me hard. That said, I’m a Clerith fan who adores Tifa as well. I named my cat after her. The thing I hate most in the shipping war are fans on both sides who have it in their head canons that the two girls hated each other. It proves they weren’t paying attention. I should tell you that FF7 was a test in paying attention to detail. Anyone can play the game and see no evidence of animosity between them where Cloud was concerned. Anyone who plays through the game and is still convinced of that fails the test.

Another thing I hate is people claiming either girl is a horrible person. I had to correct someone’s image of Tifa on dA because she associated her with the wrong image, based on clothing and misinterpreting her personality. It was on a journal entry I wrote when I duped into thinking Square torpedoed my ship by declaring Cloti as canon so no one can accuse me of starting a fight on someone’s deviation. When I say correct, I mean my Berserk Button was pushed and I read her the riot act of how wrong she was. Fortunately, we were able to resolve the issue when I explained to her who Tifa really was. I have yet to come across anyone badmouthing Aerith.

Now, the Shrug of God business. As long as Square doesn’t meddle in the fans’ shipping choice in a game where it was always ambiguous, I think we can all agree that neither pairing is canon and that the war is rather pointless. Clotis and Cleriths are neither wrong nor right. But Jana, it’s so obvious Cloud loves Aerith. Is it? Cloud’s actions can be interpreted anyway you want. Shrug of God dictates it is what you personally make of it. But Aerith’s death practically makes Clerith impossible. True from a certain point of view. Aerith’s death torpedoes the ship pretty well but there’s also the fact that just because someone dies doesn’t mean you stop being in love with them. Therefore, I only call it partially sunk. Word of God would be the only the thing that would sink it completely. Aerith being Doomed By Canon means nothing in how a Clerith interprets the interaction between our beloved flower girl and Cloud.

Tifa was a good friend to Cloud and Aerith and I don’t deny she also had feelings for him. But I also know that when they were kids growing up in Nibelheim, Cloud was antisocial and Tifa didn’t really pay attention to him until he left home to join SOLIDER. As the two girls were always interacting with each other whenever the party split up, it’s canon that they were friends, best friends even. In the end, it was Tifa who helped Cloud put his mind back together. It’s easy to influence the outcome of the dating subplot but again, it’s all up to fan interpretation. Even the Dating Scenario is pretty ambiguous and doesn’t prove anything at all. Friends of the opposite gender can do the same thing.

Here’s my humble opinion: if it had ever come down to Cloud canonically choosing the girl he loves without a doubt, I know the girl who lost out would be take the loss gracefully and step back, happy for her best friend. I know both Tifa and Aerith well enough to know that they would be willing to sacrifice their own happiness for each other if it came down to Cloud choosing between them. They both come off as selfless to me and that is something more people in the shipping war need to realize. They both have their strengths and their weaknesses. We should embrace them as they are and embrace the triangle the way it was meant to be portrayed: completely ambiguous and encouraged by its Shrug of God status. Cloud opened up to both of them in different ways and it’s plain that deep down, he cares about them both.

BTW: about the precursor at the top. The cake is a lie. GLaDOS has invaded my head and I wrote this whole thing with her voice in mind. It probably helped with my neutral standpoint on the subject.

The Loss of Pets

Recently, a lady at my church had to have her cat put down because health problems came up that weren’t going to go away. That got me thinking about the pets I’ve had over the course of my life. We’ve had a dog, two rabbits, fish, several gerbils, and birds. Sasha was the family dog. She was one of the most important members of the family, in my eyes at least. My brother and a friend found her as a puppy wandering around East Toledo were we used to live. The friend’s family took her in but after a couple of months, the dad lost his job and Sasha came to live with us. She stayed in our family for about fourteen years until declining health meant it was time to ease her suffering. She had arthritis in her hind leg and a split-level house like mine is no place for a dog with that issue. Nothing but stairs. I don’t remember this part clearly but apparently Sasha’s hips also went. On a medium to large older dog, when the hips go, that’s the first sign that the dog has to be put down to prevent prolonged suffering. I miss Sasha something terrible and it’s been 12 years now.

My sister had two rabbits. One was a mini-lop named Damon. We got him when he was a year old. He developed a neurological disorder when he was five. He wasn’t responding to medication and we had no choice but to put him down on March 22 a couple years ago. That’s a significant date for Sis and I because that’s when our adoption was finalized. I remember crying the day before and the day of. Several months later, Sis got Momo, a black baby rabbit. For reasons we don’t know, she suddenly died not long after. Writing about them is bringing back the pain I felt at both their deaths. It’s hard. I hope everyday that I’ll have many years with my cat, Tifa, before I have to say good-bye. We got a new rabbit, Honey Bunny, just before Christmas and it seems she’s going live a long life.

My boyfriend’s had four dogs in his life. First, there was Spike, a bear of a dog and friendly. He, like Sasha, was put down due to old age. I was just starting to date Eric, my boyfriend, at that time so I didn’t have a close bond with Spike. A week later, Eric’s parents brought home Ace, a black lab pup. He’s hail and healthy. They then got Oscar, a Dachshund puppy, from his grandma, followed shortly by Oscar’s father, Sammy. Last summer, Oscar had a freak accident. He jumped off the arm of a Lazy-Boy and broke his back. If you know Dachshunds, you know that when they turn six months old, they develop degenerative disk disease. Oscar was two years old. Sammy’s still around. I envy Eric because for Spike and Oscar, he arranged to have them cremated and now their ashes are sitting on their mantle. I envy him because, in a way, he got his dogs back. All we have of Sasha is her collar. The rabbits are buried in the backyard.

Just this month, my best friend lost all her animals in one blow. Her kitchen caught fire and all the animals died from smoke inhalation. She had a pit bull, a cat, a ferret, a guinea pig, a rabbit, and a rat or two.I know her pain but not to that scope.

While this whole blog is rather depressing (I started crying at writing about the rabbits), I hold onto one hope and that’s the hope I’ll see my animals again when I get to Heaven. It’s comforting to think that maybe all the pets you’ve had over your lifetime are up there chilling with Jesus and they’re waiting for their humans to join them. The Bible is concerned with man’s salvation and place in this universe. It doesn’t tell us about what awaits our animals when they die. I think that’s a good thing. It allows, at the very least, a sense of peace and closure when a beloved pet passes away to think that they’re chilling with Jesus. I think that while God made humans the pinnacle of His creation and that Heaven is our real home, I think He also meant for animals to enjoy Heaven with us. Everything on this earth was crafted by God for God.

It’s nice to imagine that perhaps Jesus is playing fetch with Sasha, Spike, Oscar, and Bailey, my friend’s pit bull. Or that he’s sitting on his throne, stroking my friend’s cat, Minnow. Maybe even sitting in a green field caring for Damon and Momo. It’s comforting to know that there’s a possibility of us seeing our animals again when this life is over. Even if it turns out that it’s a meaningless hope in the end, we won’t know until we get there.  A human soul has to be redeemed but an animal’s spirit, even in a fallen world of animals preying on others, is faultless in the scheme of things. All the bad things of this life are all Man’s doing. The animals were given the tools to survive in this fallen world but they aren’t responsible.

I don’t know how many Christians who know me well share my thoughts on what I think happens to animals when they die but if nothing else, it’s a great comfort. The Bible neither confirms nor denies the possibility that animals go to Heaven like saved people do so we’re free to hope that we’ll see our pets again when our time comes. It’s better then to spending the rest of your life worrying about  it. All we can do now, for those of us who lost a pet or will inevitably lose a pet in the future, is keeping moving forward and keep our eyes on the prize: Heaven, and the possibility of seeing our furry/scaly/feathered friends again.

Nice Discussion Part 2: Final Fantasies VII and X

Part two of my on-going discussion with my correspondent.

My correspondent brought up the theory that Final Fantasy VII and X were connected somehow, mainly based on the the fact there’s an Al-Bhed character named Shinra who talked about using Spira’s lifeforce for energy and going to other worlds. The similarities to the Shin-Ra Electric Power Company and mako energy act as Red Herrings. It’s misleading to think that there’s a connection based on that alone.  I don’t buy it. Square also says it was a wild idea they had and shouldn’t be considered canon to either game. I just think it’s all shout-outs to VII which, love or hate it, is one the greatest games of all time. With all the variables and contradictions, I don’t see a connection plotwise that would indicate that that VII is a direct but distant continuation of X’s story. It wouldn’t be the first time Square reused a name. The character-named-Cid tradition’s been going on since VII and pre-VII games, barring at least FF4, had a Cid retroactively added in later re-releases.

I came across this before on FanFiction.net and someone there had wondered at a connection between Jenova (VII) and Sin (X). The answer is obviously no. Any gamer worth his/her researching salt would know that there are more differences between the two monsters than there are similarities. Jenova is a cosmic threat. A veritable virus that consumes the lifeforce of planets she crash lands on and then uses the newly-dead planet as means to travel the cosmos in search of another planet to consume. Sin, on the other hand, was a monster created by Yu Yevon during the Machina War between Old Zanarkand and Bevelle with instructions to protect Dream Zanarkand and destroy any city that grew too large or too reliant on technology. However, Yu Yevon was unable to control the beast. The process of summoning it destroyed his mind. Sin was left to follow its instincts alone and it indiscriminately destroyed anything in its path. I find Sin to be a pitiable creature, not knowing anything else by destruction.  It’s something only Kefka would love. Jenova, I have no such sympathy for.

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