The Stone Cold Heart(h)

Hearthstone Noir

Another rough day in the city with nothing to show for it but a half-empty bottle of Old Noggenfogger and a Piloted Shredder. Little guy was hanging in there, but he was down to two health after a clumsy dance with Sludge Belcher’s cousin Slime. Across the board, Confessor Paletress stood on a busted-up stairway to heaven, and you know how the song is sung: “There are two paths you can go by.” For me, a lifetime of good intentions had more or less sent me in the opposite direction. We’re talking Rank 10. I’ve seen more Paladin secrets than Garrett’s seen hairstyles.

What could I do. I ended my turn, and wondered if maybe that Overwatch all the kids were talking about was worth a gander.

Garrison Commander arrived. Wonderful. That’s sarcasm, by the way, if you’re taking notes. The boy with the angel’s face healed himself for two, and then she walked in. Legs up to her hips, and that pale blue skin only a banshee queen can pull off and not look like a cosplay kid with serious daddy issues and a mountain of therapy bills.

Her red eyes stared through my soul, or at least what was left of it. “I have no time for games,” she said. Another self-heal, and next came Doctor Seven: PhD, RNG, FML. I dutifully reached for the concede button and the other half of that Old Noggenfogger, when priest-boy offered, “My apologies.”

Something about that apology stuck in my craw. Maybe I was going down, but not without a fight, damn it. I ran my good old Shredder into Sylvanas, and who should decide to show his face but Mr. Doomsayer. I tossed a handy Arcane Shot at the banshee queen, muttering “Thanks for the mammaries”. The Sayer walked over to the other side, and I managed a Webspinner and a token Steady Shot for good measure before ending my turn.

The Doom did his duty and made everything go away. Including my spinner, and my empty hand was graced by none other than the King himself. Mr. Krush and I were old friends. On my turn, I introduced him to the priest.

They didn’t get along too great.

Finished The Witness

Finished The Witness. Again. I mean I did the 7 lasers, down the mountain, flying elevator ending. And then I did the Final Challenge, got the last hex diagram ending. Also there’s the cave hint to find the secret hotel and weird PoV ending. And now I’ve gotten all the puzzles, so I’m at 523+135+6. I still have not found all the audio logs, so I guess one more ending to go.

One can get the 664 puzzles by finishing one of several puzzles last, but the “last” puzzle would seem to me the environmental puzzles associated with the “Secret of Psalm 46” video. Ostensibly, one would solve that last puzzle, and see that one had done 664 puzzles, and wonder if that number meant anything. I Googled it– and there’s not much (or, there’s a whole heck of a lot, because pretty much everything has been mentioned, ever, online. The internet really is almost Borges’s “Library of Babel”). But what popped up at the top is Monserrat.

664 is the area code for Monserrat, a small island in the Caribbean. Hello, island? It doesn’t have the same shape as The Witness island, or, it sort of does if you want it too badly enough- roughly oval, with a mountain on one end (actually, it’s a live volcano).

But one would have, ostensibly, just listened to a lecture that pointed out the folly of trying to find meaning in all these numbers and coincidences. Or, if not folly, the meaninglessness of such a task. And yet, in that lecture was mention of Masquerade, a book that acted as a treasure hunt for a real, actual treasure buried in a real place.

Then again, Masquerade said, in no uncertain terms, that there was treasure to be found. The Witness does not make this claim. And besides, what would one do, fly to Monserrat? If one could afford to just up and fly to Monserrat, what does one need with treasure.

Afterall, the other video lectures speak to:

  • Art as interpretation only, with science being the only discipline where reality is created (via change)
  • Giving up what you “want”
  • Recognizing that you are all that exists and where you are is the only place that exists
  • Completing a task is a kind of death
  • There is no one reality, but levels of complexity that depend on a define one another.

Taken together, this all speaks to there not being any significance to the Montserrat Coincidence. If one were to go there, to “check things out,” the trip itself would (have to) be its own reward.

We look for meaning in things, desperately, and the result is art. That’s all fine and good, and one could take a trip to Monserrat to look for meaning there. No matter what one found, one could write a book about the trip. Or make a documentary. Or post a blog of photos taken on location. The search for meaning creates meaning. There’s a seductiveness to that– back in the day when scientists were really getting fired up about quantum mechanics, they were, more or less, finding all of the stuff that they thought they would find. It was almost as if they created realities just by looking at them. Schrodinger’s cat, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty, all of that coming into play via real-life experiments.

The Witness is a piece of art. (What else could it be). I suppose if enough people got enthused about the Monserrat Coincidence, and did something about it, reality could change. The island might see an uptick in tourism. The game’s creator might decide to go there and hide clues to the game’s sequel. But now we’re getting into the realm of will. How would you feel if you were to have come across the game a year from now, solved all 664 puzzles, looked it up, got excited, flew to Monserrat, and found a bunch of gamers there who said they did the same thing as you, found nothing, and decided to make something for people to find anyway.

A little disappointed? I would be. Not unlike when the writers of “Lost” finally admitted that they were making it up as they went along. We want there to be meaning and purpose. But at the end of the day, there is no meaning without a Creator and a Grand Design, and let’s face it, belief in a creator can only stifle curiosity.

Hather, Crusader

Daily writing exercise, 750words.com

Backstory for one of the characters I play in Diablo 3.

fiction by Jason Edwards

Hather, Crusader, born of the unholy union between an Angel and the human woman he seduced. Ludicrous to say he. It fell from the sky, a casualty of war, and destroyed a farm in its falling. A young girl came across the body, not alive but possessed of never-dead, and she was taken by its utter beauty, that touch of God, a shred, a figment, and for itself her sudden awe struck it, too, as a mirror is struck, a wicked kind of incest, rendered it a he in her emerging lust and they locked, she becoming a woman even as it became a man, and for a moment they were as one, and a child was conceived. Nephalem. Of course, the woman was a girl once more and died in child birth.

But before she died she was outcast, of course, and the baby was to be given away, sold, for slavery, for wolf food, for ballast in the dark art of some necromancer’s spell. But the baby was half angel, half possessed of the never-dead, and lived. And grew. Taller and stronger than those around her. Beautiful in a terrible way. Only the blindest of lust merchants were too soul-blackened to be afraid, and they for their efforts wound up broken, sometime in half.

When the Crusade came through on a march from one holy place to the next, she joined them. Despite their strict forbidding. She attached herself to a knight, himself a sad and brooding man having lost his wife and child in a fire, having only joined the Crusade because he was too cowardly to work his own death himself. He barely noticed her, ignored utterly the whispers and gossip that ran through the army and its baggage.

She watched his every move, in camp, in battle, and soon she too took up arms. her size and strength lent themselves well to combat, and when the camp was assailed one night by brigands, it was Hather who stood triumphant over the bloody bodies. Alas, one of these was her master, who had finally won his hard-sought reward.

Hather dressed herself in his armor, took his name, and carried his standard in the wars. After a time, few remembered where she’d come from or that there was even a knight before her. And her deeds in fighting were glorious. This army of holy knights beat back infidels in every dark corner of the globe, their leader taking them deeper and deeper into lands long forsaken for their demonic influence.

The deeper they went, the harder she fought, and though they always won the day, pyrrhic victories whittled the crusader’s forces. The fought devils, demons, hellspawn, and slew them all, until the company was but a dozen men and Hather herself, each of them hardened and honed by surviving terrible engagements to be evil’s greatest fear.

Their leader was possessed of a holy zeal, bordering on the unnatural, and he found passage to some of the most terrible places in existence. The fought the damned’s lieutenants, entire legions of evil incarnate, cutting a swath through hell until they came finally to Lucifer’s throne, Pandamonium, where they faced Diablo himself.

Ludicrous to say himself. Diablo, it, the Prime Evil, fifteen feet tall, razor sharp claws of steel, a mouth full of fangs dripping with poison, eyes of fire, and horns drenched in the gore of those judged wicked. Hather was numb-struck, for all the prime evils have that same shred, that figment of God, but in the devils, corrupted, turned in on itself, a rip in the fabric of God’s universal existence.

In all her years of battle and warfare, Hather had only ever fought through skill of arms and triumphed by virtue of her might and strength. But on this day she found herself ovecome with rage-lust. She flung herself at Diablo and locked with him in terrible combat. As Diablo called his minions around him, the last of the Crusade’s company fell, as did the devil spawn, until only the Prime Evil and Hather remained.

They fought for days, Pandamonium falling down around them. Hather’s sword flashed, her shield slammed against Diablo’s attacks, which grew more and more feeble as the fight raged, and though Hather, too, received grievous wounds, they only made her swing her sword faster, until Diablo’s body was cut in two.

Hather stood over the Prime Evil’s body, and knew that this was only the beginning. For evil never really dies. Hell melted away around her, and she was left standing on a plateau at the foot of Sanctuary. In the distance, a star fell from the sky, a sign that her journey must begin again. And so she rode, this time alone.

Trying to Play Games

Posted over at Bukkhead’s Boring Gaming Blog on Anook

Yesterday was the last day to get F1 for the Xbox 360 for free using Games with Gold, so I did, and I played it. More or less through the tutorial, which earned me two achievements: Going for Gold and Training Day. I didn’t finish the tutorial completely, however, as I was not able to finish one of the races fast enough. F1 is too technical for me, too real-life. I appreciate that driving formula one cars is very difficult, and that others racing games are just accelerator mashers. Well, I’m an accelerator masher. I’m the kind of guy who wants to be able to hit a corner at top speed, bounce off a wall, then take a jump and crash through a billboard (yep, I’m talking about you, Burn Out Paradise.

Today was the first day you could download Just Cause 2 for free (Games with Gold again) so I did. Now, this is a game I rented for the PS3 from Blockbuster (shows you how old the game is!) and played a good chunk of, and then downloaded again for PC via Steam, and played about the same chunk of. With those play-throughs, the completionist in me was too hung up on liberating all the little towns around the island before getting to the main mission. Well, to heck with that this time around. Then again, I say “this time around” as if I’m going to play again. We’ll see. So far I’ve gotten achievements for First Taste of Chaos, Welcome to Panau, and Casino Blast.

I just don’t have any gaming urges anymore. I went more or less all of May without playing Hearthstone. I dibbled a bit in WoW, dabbled once or twice in Starcraft. Maybe June will be better. Heroes of the Storm goes live tomorrow, so maybe a larger player based (and therefore, less-awesome players) means I’ll finally get into a real multiplayer match. Or maybe not. I might end up just writing all day, silly blog posts about what my favorite kind of sandwich is.

Sigh.

There are plenty of dudes older than me who manage to game. And I work from home, darn it! I should be the hardest of the hard-core! Tomorrow I’ll grab the first offering for June for XBoxOne, a game called Massive Chalice. It’s turn-based, and set in a fantasy realm, so maybe it will compel.