myaru: (Default)
Fire Emblem: Fates has some surprisingly catchy music. I might buy the soundtrack. What I'm really waiting for is an illustration book or companion guide, though. Please do give me lots of Xander artwork. I'll buy it twice.

Not going to comment much on the game right now, though, except to rejoice in all of the cute sibling reunions and supports I'm getting now. :D I've been kind of lazy with supports, and to be honest, the romance bits - at least the interactions the avatar has - feel like a trainwreck. It must be the animation choices they made for the bonding/invite scenes. I get that Fire Emblem is a dating sim now, but let's preserve some dignity, shall we? :/

Can I romance Xander? Why didn't I check?! I'll take a blushing Xander any day.

Yeah, I'm bad at posting. Sorry.

We've been getting a lot of rain this week, which is amazing. It'd be perfect weather if rain didn't mean that our internet service has to crap out at regular intervals.
myaru: (Default)
I'll do Fire Emblem 10, since the Tellius games were like... the pinnacle of my FE obsession, I suppose. Next in line would be FE6.

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1. The first character I fell in love with/was drawn to (gameplay/personality, where applicable):
Micaiah. She was competant-- she didn't die all the goddamn time Laura, Jill, Leonardo, EVERYONE ELSE. FFS guys, can you try to survive at least one hit each? That alone will make me like a character at least a little (and hate another one too much), but her conflict, especially in later chapters of the game, was really compelling. Moving on to Elincia in Part 2 was the biggest disappointment of my life, and I was fucking thrilled to go back to Daein and Micaiah and her willingness to commit war crimes in the name of a country and people she loved for some inexplicable reason. It made her interesting.

This might surprise some people. I didn't lose my love for Micaiah until I started liking Sanaki a lot more. It felt a little like I couldn't have both, but that's not why I went that way - just how I see the change in affection now.


And seventeen more... )
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Caeda)
The ending is so inconsistent/vague about what happens with the kids - and I care mainly because of my favorite, and well. Spoilers, see cut tag. :/

Anyway, the plot continued to be hilarious, but I still enjoyed it through the end, and may even play it again to get more supports. (This would be unusual for me; I don't replay games nearly as much as I used to because of the time investment, but I want to see more.) I was really bad about getting supports this round. Also didn't abuse pair-up nearly as much as I should have, I think. And Rally was indeed broken once I started using it.

Spoilers. The long version of my ~feelings~. )

Short version: lots of fun, but these guys are seriously too dumb to live. Mark was right. I'm not being lazy; there actually isn't much to say about the story since I last posted, except wait, really? What made that sound like a good idea? Which I've already said a few times.

Interestingly, if I were going to write fic for this game, I'd be most interested in slice of life, or small personal stories (e.g. Sully visits Sumia post-game and insert-some-drama-lost-pegasus-whatever, and they bond more), which is exactly what I loathe when I contemplate fic for just about every other game in this series! I literally do not care at all what happens in any of these places, to most of these people. I didn't even get a real sense of the world, which is... kind of sad. As sparse as I accuse the Archanea games of being, they still give me that much. And more.

I'll probably buy some DLC eventually. Right now I should probably get back to work. Between FE13 and season 2 of Game of Thrones, I haven't been doing much.
myaru: (Dragon Age - Alistair)
Hmm. :| Look, I don't mind a story full of holes when the characters are likable, but I think this would've been better if Valm and Ylisse (etc.) were on the same continent. Really - just one, simple change. It might've improved the story by a significant percentage, because: reasons. )

tl;dr, Valm needs more development, or how about any at all? More than that, the story needs to be unified.

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Hate Paralogue 17, man. :| I had to ditch all of my mid-level weapons and invest in the heavy firepower; it didn't matter as much for the really awesome units, but some of them are just not doing enough damage without, and at this level they should be. I'm sad to say that both Henry and Libra fall into the sad category, and as soon as I've got an S support between Henry and Olivia, I may well get rid of him-- unless he starts doubling, in which case he might actually be useful. It's not that he doesn't have firepower, but that he doesn't use enough of it. So to speak.

I love this support/pairing mechanic. That's more fun than just about anything else. Which, I mean - the gameplay in general is fine. Great, even. I like the changes for the most part. I'm not at all sorry I bought the game. Wish I could say the same for the story, is all.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Tharja)
Spoilers right up front, up to chapter uh, god-- 16, I think? )

Anyway, I've been wasting a lot of my time doing paralogues and map encounters to beef up my troops and supports. I have a full compliment of promoted units now, although I still want to get Henry up there to marry him off to Olivia, at least, as at his lower levels he's frankly terrible when it comes to being useful in a fight. Once they're paired off I might ditch him again. And then there's Libra - I have no idea who to pair him with. :/ So aside from Chrom and my Tactician, nobody else has S supports yet. I fell off the rails with that - too concerned about getting Sully/Sumia and a bunch of other friendship supports. Also, my party is mostly female, so there isn't much in the way of options... though believe me, if I could marry some of these awesome women to each other, I swear I'd have the best party ever. (I do love that FE games have so many kick-ass female units. Say'ri looks capable...)

I seriously considered promoting Cherche to griffin knight, but I like weapon flexibility too much, and went with wyvern instead. I guess I could always use a Second Seal if I change my mind?

Cordelia has the worst magic stat ever.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Tharja)
It came to my attention that you can, in fact, have a mage on a pegasus in this game. They heard my prayers.

Sully and Sumia = OTP. )

Wow, all of that, and only one tiny paragraph was about the story. I need to find something else to write about. More self-centered writing posts, go.

Also, Tolkien, I guess. I need to finish that Silmarillion re-read. I got sidetracked by Second Age stuff. I want to punch Turin so badly sometimes that I need to step back and obsess about something else, like the epic fall of Numenor. (This is an exaggeration, but still basically how I feel.)
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Rafiel and Nailah)
Amazing, an FE game that looks like it was made in the twenty-first century! Color me impressed. (Seriously though, FE games are so goddamned old school, and they don't always benefit from it. /rpg snob) The bundle!3DS is really pretty, so I'd say it was worth a bit of a wait just for that. The artbook isn't much, but whatever, pretty pictures I guess.

All of the characters are immediately likable in some way, which I consider a good sign, and they're no more gimmicky than Mia or Kieran, or - if you want a more recent example - Luke or Cecille. Fem!Marth is still cuter than the canon version, but gosh, I'm a pushover for that kind of thing. Chrom is okay, and my avatar is a no-nonsense, punch-you-in-the-face hottie, so I'm satisfied. A pegasus is the only thing that could make her better. (I mean, a mage on a pegasus? Why not? I feel this is a thing that has been missing in my life.)

Marriage still weirds me out, but at the moment I have an eye on super-serious knight guy. I LIKE MY MEN SERIOUS.

There is very little to say about the game so far, unfortunately. I mean, it's FE, so the gameplay is fun, I don't hate anyone yet, and the acting isn't too bad. I appreciate being able to move around on the map. It still reminds me strongly of Suikoden Tierkreis, and I have to wonder what it is with DS RPGs/etc. and multi-dimensional horseplay. Getting a bit WiFi happy, aren't we, Nintendo? Still? It feels like a trend. What better way to make people buy DLC? Though to their credit, Tierkreis didn't make you buy anything - it was totally serious about making your world multi-dimensional soup, and they made an interesting storyline out of it. We'll see what FE13 does...

... by which I mean I avoided all spoilers and all discussion about the game prior to release, so I have no frigging clue what it's going to throw at me (except for a few confession screenshots, which were scary). Life is better that way.

I guess I need an icon for this game, now.

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The whole concept of DLC still irritates me a little bit. Just sell me the game when I buy it, why don't you? All of it? Instead of nickel-and-diming me to death?

/old woman, get off my lawn, etc. etc.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Sanaki dreaming)
If we come to a point at which I'll have to check a script to have a discussion, I pretty much won't bother. I'll shed a tear for losing the argument and move on. That said, though, I think I need to let you all know that I've revised my list of Tellius favorites to include Lekain and Valtome, and potentially Lekain/Valtome, but only because Oliver is too glorious to devote his person to only one other individual.

But in all seriousness, I wish I had given these guys more thought when I was still writing fic. If I rewrote the Summer Chronicle now, they'd be much better developed, I think, even though the game gives me no reason to imagine anyone but Hetzel might have redeeming qualities. Oliver is... questionable. He switches sides, but he does so in the creepiest way, and continues to creep until the end of the game., and so I'm just not sure I can take him seriously. His conversations are priceless, though. He's got that in his favor.

Lekain, on the other hand, is either pure evil (Micaiah, Reyson) or "deeply scarred" (Rafiel), and completely delusional. That's kind of hard to work with. Valtome isn't much acquainted with sanity either. Seliora and Numida hardly do anything. I have to wonder how these men arranged the death of an Apostle and made people believe the herons actually killed her. (I could swear there are townspeople in some chapter or other that do not in fact believe it, but like I said: laziness and scripts do not work well together.) And it's not that I doubt people were angry enough to believe at the time, but that the senators themselves were trustworthy enough to listen to, lulz. Look at them! And do you really expect me to believe the nobility was against Misaha across the board, and completely behind these jokers?

... where was I going with this? Right: I was going to attempt to solve this problem. Cut for totally serious and super-clever headcanon. )

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If I were going to rewrite the Chronicle, I supposed I'd have to be more clever. It could be so different, though! I regret that.

I have not yet gotten a shipping notification for my FE13 pre-order, which is just as well - I'm still reading A Dance With Dragons and will probably finish it before going back to gaming. I have to admit I'm not burning to get my hands on it, anyway, because even the little bit I know about it is... questionable. Kind of like Oliver.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Caeda)
You know where I'm going with this.

Before My Unit, there was... )

More serious questions might be:
a) why hasn't this danger been introduced in a serious light instead of what we got?
b) are FE armies accompanied by camp followers?
c) do our virtuous heroes make use of them??!

Actually, the Catria thing could be interesting if taken seriously. Duty IS harsh, and she can't have him. But. What would it add to the story? Nothing really. Also, I think this topic is old news. I should go find the fic that made me think of this and read it.

Camp followers are interesting though. Some people might be able to agree that Shinon or Gatrie might pay a girl for ah, company, or Makalov, who everyone seems to dislike. But those same fans might dig their heels in if you suggest, oh... Oscar. Or Hector, or... gosh, everyone in FE8 seems so asexual.

I frankly don't get sexy vibes from many of FE's characters, excepting Tellius for some reason. I'm betting it's the artwork. As hot as Michalis may be, he's got nothing on the herons, and even my mother thinks Sephiran is pretty hot.

(Not kidding, by the way. She said it when I showed her the art. Didn't even have to prompt her. :P)

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Yeah, so. I'm not close enough to any of the FE canons to do serious posts anymore, but I can still BS when the mood strikes me. Maybe next on the list will be the various mechanics of bird tribe mating. I mean, those questions need to be answered, and they haven't been discussed nearly enough!
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Minerva)
W-wow. The moment Sheema said, "My soldiers are not expendable!" (chapter 16) I felt this uprush of love for her. Like, I really love her and want to actually use her as a unit, because she seems so... so sincere and good, actually concerned for people!

This is unexpected. And if I use her, it means I have to use her boyfriend to maximize my profit in support conversations, and that means I have to boot the only marginally expendable people on my roster: Horace and Catria. I must say I am not quite at peace with this decision, but... :( Catria has been lagging a bit behind this playthrough, though not as badly as Marth. The latter is mostly my fault, but he's so damned fragile it's hard to find opportunities to use him. The RNG screwed him on strength, too, which hurts a lot when he's not exactly a beefy unit to begin with. I suppose I could use an arms scroll and give him a silver sword. That might help a tiny little bit.

Okay. Marth's role is truly diminished in the context of his own story, but honestly, I didn't really feel this until several chapters in. Yes, some of the earlier chapters forced in some stupid conversations, but Altea's story was still at the forefront, more or less. The addition of side story chapters made this as much about the Katarina thing as about Marth, though - the cumulative effect added more significance than those events deserved, in spite of the way they're scattered between chapters. It had very little to do with MU ultimately, who was just a sounding board for all of Katarina's angst. She gives the MU story significance, when otherwise MU would be tacked on for the most part, and not really horning in on the story.

Others may have come to these conclusions before me; clearly a lot of you felt strongly about this when you started. I'm sorry to say I didn't really; I stopped reading about the changes a long time ago, and whatever opinions I developed in old conversations have since been forgotten. I wanted to experience the game myself instead of frothing at descriptions from other people, and having done so, I recognize what makes these things an issue, but I'm not in a rage about it. The original game still exists. The original characterization and contexts are still there. People will still write about them the way they were.

Rody is adorable, Cecille is a badass (though her defensiveness went a bit overboard), Luke is kind of a moron, but Kieran is still worse in every way. The MU-Horace supports were a complete waste of space - as are many MU supports, but not all - and could've been dedicated to something more worthwhile. I personally liked the conversations with Merric and Palla because they highlighted aspects of the characters (new or old, I've no idea!) that I found sweet or otherwise enlightening, and so I ended up liking them even more.

What this playthrough highlights more than anything is the necessity of the playing experience. I read FE3's script several times in an attempt to write about Minerva, but none of it stuck - and yet now I feel I have a firmer grasp of the world and the plot elements that matter, and I feel more love for the canon characters than I ever did before. The new stuff pales in comparison. Maybe that's why I don't really care about it? If I sat down to write fic tomorrow, I would have no trouble just taking the parts I like; I'd forget MU, Katarina, and everything else objectionable, I'd forget Michalis's survival despite my fangirl interest in such, and I'd write about FE3 + some neat new details.

So, I still call this a winning experience for me. Others, maybe not so much.

There IS still time for the game to ruin that, so I'll hold onto my final assessment for a few more chapters.
myaru: (Dragon Age - Alistair)
I'll probably jump back to The Silmarillion next post. Fingolfin's challenge is actually a decent place to leave off, so I started doing other things, and now I want to finish those.

This game is going by surprisingly fast, though... possibly because I'm not doing anything else. Bad, self. Bad.

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Uhhhh, okay, Jagen and MU interrupting Marth for no good reason to talk over him and plan strategy is kind of messed up.

I think a numbered list will cover things just fine:

1. The Marth-MU bath conversation was just wrong. And weird. And... why was it there.

2. Since the prologue is all about training to be a knight, it's appropriate for MU to be thinking of training. Chapters 1-3? Maybe a few of the early supports? Well, that's still early, so I can forgive the mindset. When I'm at chapter ten and that's still her only schtick, we're in cardboard territory. I still don't find MU to be awful in herself, but whatever potential there was for actual character is gone now. I wasn't expecting anything spectacular, but better things can happen with this kind of character, so I mean.

3. Marth was more decisive in the FE3 script, as I recall it. He isn't always indecisive now, exactly, but he does a lot more asking around and looking for validation. (That wouldn't even be a bad thing, necessarily, if it was handled correctly, but...) Elice's comment about his poor innocence has become a self-fulfilling prophecy: he's being treated like a child. (Can I blame this on her? :D) A player character doesn't have to operate this way; MU didn't have to be the one to start shouting orders etc. at the bridge, for example, and shouldn't have been. But it seems that really is how the character is being used.

4. I had to bench Rody. :/ I have this thing where I need to use all my flying units, always, and as many of my mages as possible, and so uh... Cecille is just more awesome. Sorry Rody. :/ You're still the most adorable member of my team and I love you. It's just, you weren't gaining levels fast enough.

5. Mages! Finally. I like Linde, but she's about as durable as tissue paper. Merric's defense isn't much better but he kills things faster. Etzel is fricking amazing. Elrean (:| name change) isn't bad either, but I'm not sure if he makes the cut just yet.

6. MINERVA. I <3 YOU.

7. Not using Sirius, because the guy has problems - and he'd be an experience hog.

8. I still don't like what goes on with Hardin in this story. :/ I guess I wanted to think better of him. Also, the whole 'possession' thing reads a bit like fanfic.

9. I'm starting to wonder if there's such a thing as a decent fic about Gharnef and Miloah during their apprentice days.

10. In fact, I'm starting to wish that I had settled down to write Khadein fic. It'd all be wonderful, beautiful gen with ambiguous rivalries. Only... I wonder if it wouldn't start looking like a twisted reflection of Hikaru no Go.
myaru: (VP - Silmeria kicks your ass)
I really have to configure my controller. It's neat that you can mouse-click everything, but wow, did that destroy my hand! Not surprising when I clicked my way through all the prologue chapters and up to the beginning of chapter three.

Eight prologue chapters. o_O They did give Rody, Cecille (name change?!), and Luke some characterization, so I can't complain, but... it's about as excessive as Robert Jordan's eighty-to-ninety-page prologues. I got tired of those back in my high school days, when I thought WoT was the epitome of awesome fantasy writing.

I like FE12 so far. SHOCK. GASP.

It's not that bad-- and I'm not just talking about the gameplay. I don't have a previous experience of FE3 to compare this to, nor do I have years of studying these characters and writing fic for Archanea behind me. I played FE11 cold, and I'm playing this cold (mostly), and to be perfectly frank, I don't see anything egregious going on. In fact, all the conversations and supports give the characters personality. Whether said personalities are likable or not is personal preference, but it's already a huge improvement over FE11, which I initially disliked intensely because it felt like I was playing with cardboard set pieces. A few characters got what I considered adequate representation, but coming to Shadow Dragon after the Tellius games, FE6, even FE8, made it look kind of awful from a storyline perspective. FE12 is an improvement on that. Big time.

MyUnit is actually very interesting to me from a meta standpoint. S/he is a self-insert, but also enough of a character that interactions with the cast don't feel as stilted as they did with the tactician in FE7. Mark may as well not have been there; if they had taken out the few lines in which characters spoke to her/him directly, the game wouldn't have changed at all. That insertion was so completely unnecessary it's almost offensive. MyUnit is... not quite the sum of your decisions alone. Whether she becomes more or less remains to be seen.

Now, that doesn't make this self-insertion character necessary at all, and the game would probably be better off without this device, but I'm saying this because she (he, it, whatever) wasn't in the original, and is basically just a gimmick to grab new players. But to me? I don't really know an FE3/12 without MyUnit, so I kind of... don't care too much. Why complain about it? I don't have the FE geek cred for that. Instead, I decided to just enjoy the device for what it's meant to add to my experience: a bit of fun.

My choices:

Name: Crystal (would've been Crystallynne without the character limit).
Hair: purple, baby! I only wish I could customize my armor.
Class: pegasus knight~
Attribute: wisdom, naturally.
Background: noblewoman, because Marth's babies-- which I don't actually want, but it's the principle of the thing. She can be their second mom.

I'm just trolling the game. But surprisingly, self-insert girl isn't too bad. A childhood wish to be a knight, dedicated to the prince, isn't terribly different from the backgrounds of some canon characters. :/ Elice confiding her secret insecurities about Marth was kind of weird, a huge breach of conduct like whoa, but that's Elice's problem. It helps that I've never been her biggest fan.

As for everyone fapping over MyUnit... I mean, that's par for the course with main characters in this series, right? MU is not a lord, no, but since s/he is functioning as a viewpoint character, the experience isn't so different from watching Elincia bat her eyelashes over Ike. That annoyed me way more, to be honest. MU is no worse a self-insert / Mary Sue / whatever than the protagonist of Dragon Age I, or any character you create for D&D or other tabletop games, and at least s/he has more personality than Persona 3's protagonist, who also pimped everyone and everything with very little in the way of virtues to show for it. And since I'm neutral about Alteans in general, my love being all tied up with Macedon, watching Marth bat his eyelashes at MU is not remarkable in the slightest.

So whatever. I have an opinion that runs counter to everyone else in the fandom, like usual.

The important thing is, I love Rody to bits.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Minerva)
A little while ago, [personal profile] mark_asphodel wrote up her fanfic tier list for the Kaga-era FE games (1-5), and said something about Minerva that made me think. Bolding is mine:

"Minerva. A very clear character with some bizarre inconsistencies under the surface. Deceptively easy, in light of FE11. Rather difficult in light of FE3. Maybe fans, including me, want her to be “stronger” than she is and just flat-out don’t appreciate what the character actually is."

I think that might be true, in a way, but not because I fangirl Minerva; more, it's that the script sets me up with a pivotal moment for her - such as there are in spare stories like FE1/11 - that implies she IS a strong, compassionate, honorable, and maybe driven character, and with that moment in mind, the complete 180 she does later is jarring and seemingly OOC. But when I looked again at her conversations in FE11, I realized the seeds of that final decision are there, and I just didn't realize it because FE11's rewriting of FE1's characterization really does obscure the original intent-- in a good way, I think, but not in a way that's consistent with the apparent end goal for the characters.

More. So much more. Ramble ramble ramble. )

All said, even though FE12 is generally accepted as a cracktastic and awful interpretation of the original story, Minerva seems to be represented straightforwardly. If anything, this makes her choice at the end explainable, where before it came out of nowhere and seemed completely out of place. Minerva as she stands in FE11 seems like a strong character capable of grabbing Macedon by the scruff and shaking it until it obeys, and she didn't have enough dialogue in FE3 (in my opinion) to support the sudden change. By itself, her ending looked like an excuse by the designers to allow Marth to rule everything. But now, with her insecurities laid out clearly in her supports, her decision makes a lot more sense. If Michalis lives, leaving does save Macedon from more conflict, and she did just tell Palla that she'd do anything to save her country. 'Anything' apparently includes letting her brother pick up where he left off, regardless of her opinion on his ambitions. Her idolization of him explains the rest.

This might be a bit disappointing when she sounded like such a badass in FE11, but Michalis staying alive, however unwise and silly that seems when you think of storyline integrity, actually saves Minerva's character for me. I can at least imagine practical reasons she might choose to give up the throne, when in the other scenario there's nobody around to take up the reigns after her.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Horace)
So let's just say I had a chance to see Neverwinter about half a year ago. It was okay, not amazing. But now? It looks pretty effing amazing.

I can hardly believe it's the same game. I might actually play it. It'll be free, so why not?

.

Believe it or not, I'm still keeping an eye on Fire Emblem 13. Word that it includes a generation system is exciting! I still haven't finished FE4 (and will probably be better off starting over when I decide to go for it), but the marriage/generation element was a big draw for me. So was the plot, but eh, plot, who needs it.

Ugh, I hate starting over. I kind of screwed myself over at the end of chapter two, though. I personally think that Beowolf should've been strong enough to take on the entire army guarding that last fortress with his attitude, but alas, he could not! To his credit, he came close. Then he went and died.

Technically I earned that F-minus in strategy, but whatever.

Speaking of FE, I need to finish that Kill-Everyone-Playthrough of Shadow Dragon. Horace is Mr. Awesome and I've neglected him too long.


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LOTRO is probably the reson I never reply to anyone on AIM anymore. I tend to play in the evening, which is when most people want to message me - but it's not like I'm here during the day either, as I make it a policy to try and do something with my life every day, even if that 'something' is walking down to the store to buy more grapes.

Lothlorien is ten times more elitist than Rivendell. Elrond has a members-only forge, but Lothlorien is full of elves who tell you, "Sorry, but I prefer not to use the Westron tongue," or "What are YOU doing here? The Lady is too generous." Hahahahaha, is she generous enough to save your balls from my boot? Let's see! And let's not forget that, without the right quest, trying to enter the forest gets you pincushioned with arrows.

That second example is totally made up, but I swear some elf somewhere says something like it. And anyway, I can't tell you how many times I've fallen off of those damned telans-- not at all because I wasn't paying attention, of course. Never.

I <3 Lorien. It's a beautiful environment - one of the few in the game I don't mind running back and forth in on endlessly repeatable quests!

The Foundations of Stone in Moria, though? That place is on my shit list. The fungus was bad enough; the orcs that summon mushroom allies and explode into disgusting, diseased goop really pushed it over the edge for me, though!

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Two more Kalafina CDs = get. Yay, new music!

It seems Persona 4 and Last Exile are done. I'll be watching those soon... if I can tear myself away from Mirkwood.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Micaiah)
If you happen to like Crimea and Gallia, please do continue on - that's okay by me and I'm not trying to change any minds. It's been forever since I played these games, anyway; maybe I forgot something.

I'm sure I've mentioned somewhere around here that Elincia's chapters bored me to death when I first played Radiant Dawn. Friends told me I would've liked them better if I had played Path of Radiance first, and playing PoR did add a bit to her situation; in general, the characters were likable enough in the prequel that I thought having memories of PoR in my head would make all the difference when approaching Crimea in RD, or even in fanfic.

Not so, as it turns out! And if you think about it, I liked the Greil Mercenaries just fine while playing RD, having never seen the first game - they stand on their own as a group and as characters even without the prequel. Elincia and her group were the only problem characters. The entire storyline was a problem, actually, because it's so generic, but it goes much deeper than that. When asked why I don't write or read fic about Crimea or the Greil Mercenaries very often, my response is usually: "Because they're boring," which makes it sound like I hate the characters, but that isn't it at all. They're boring unpacks into something much more complex.

Look at Crimea's story: they break off from Begnion (peacefully), have a few wars with Daein, and then-- nothing for a while, until Ashnard suddenly invades and murders the king and queen. Elincia is suddenly the quintessential Lost Heir or Dethroned Princess, whatever you want to call it, who has to gather allies and take back her throne while sighing over her hero. Yay. Exciting. About the only unexpected thing that happens (besides Ashnard's surprisingly interesting personality) is that Ike isn't interested in his princess.

Fast forward a few years, and now there are some nobles who are unhappy with how she's ruling, and they stage a rebellion. Predictably, she wins. Yay. You know what was less predictable? What was going to happen in Daein, which I really wanted to see, but instead got stuck watching Crimea for however many chapters.

In the interim, the Greil mercenaries save kittens from trees and fight the occasional bandit, sometimes for free! (What kind of mercenaries are these, again?) Ooooh, life on the edge.

There's nothing to do in Crimea. The only characters among the mercenaries with any depth are Soren and Greil, with the possible exception of Shinon - but only because you can come up with so many theories about why he sticks around when he's clearly not happy - and Oscar. Mist, Titania, even Rhys, don't yield much after a bit of gentle poking. And Greil is most interesting before he starts this group - Greil-fleeing-from-Daein, Greil-grieving-over-the-medallion-incident, Gawain-serving-Daein, those are the interesting aspects of his character.

I'm not trying to say that the mercenaries don't have stories or backgrounds. The three brothers have a surprisingly developed background, and we can piece Titania's past together pretty well also. They have substance. The problem is... well.

Oscar is three things: formerly a knight of Crimea, a cook, and a big brother. I suppose he might've had a hard time trying to raise the other two, and he probably regretted leaving the knighthood, but felt it was the only thing he could do. Right? That's cool. I like that. Sounds depressing! There's room to write about regret, and life decisions, and stuff - until he joins the damned knighthood again. Then what? I suppose there's still room to write something, but I don't know what, since nothing ever happens in Crimea unless you're Kieran.

Titania? Uhhhh.

Rhys? I like him, but... what would I write about? His parents, I guess? I don't know, not much emotional depth going on here.

(That last sentence up there goes 200% for Gallia.)

As for the Crimean court... well, Elincia has conniving nobles, but Begnion does that much better and provides a bigger cast of characters with which to do it. (See: almost all of Radiant Dawn, which is driven by the shit Begnion's senate is pulling, and has been pulling, for a very long time. Sanaki's relationship to her council is a strong parallel to Elincia's, right down to succession concerns.) Crimea has rebuilding and rebellion, but Daein does that better by virtue of being under hostile occupation and starting a real civil war, instead of just trying to. Crimea is divided on the matter of laguz, but so is everyone else - and the issue is much more dangerous in Daein, and more complex in Begnion.

Despite PoR being about retaking Crimea, and despite the fact Crimeans (or people who align themselves with the mercenaries) make up a huge chunk of the cast, we hardly spend any time there. It practically doesn't exist. It's a cardboard backdrop for the real play, which takes place in other countries.

That's why I don't like Crimea.

As for Gallia, well. I feel like it's there so we can have cat girls. Skrimir was pretty fun, I'll admit, but to be honest, all I envision when I think of Gallia is forests, forests, and more forests. And cats marking trees.

Look at this, even when I put Gallia in the subject line, I hardly talk about it at all. But what is there to talk about?
myaru: (Xenosaga - zomgbackflip!)
Whoa guys, breaking news: the herons aren't ripped off from Tolkien - rather, clearly, Tolkien traveled forward in time and ripped off Fire Emblem! See here:

[Sauron] chanted a song of wizardry,
Of piercing, opening, of treachery,
Revealing, uncovering, betraying.
Then sudden Felagund there swaying
Sang in answer a song of staying,
Resisting, battling against power,
Of secrets kept, strength like a tower,
And trust unbroken, freedom, escape;
Of changing and of shifting shape, of snares eluded, broken traps,
The prison opening, the chain that snaps.

Backwards and forwards swayed their song.
Reeling and foundering, as ever more strong
The chanting swelled, Felagund fought,
And all the magic and might he brought
Of Elvenesse into his words.
Softly in the gloom they heard the birds
Singing afar in Nargothrond,
The sighing of the Sea beyond,
Beyond the western world, on sand,
On sand of pearls in Elvenland.


From The Silmarillion, Chapter 19: Of Beren and Luthien.

Alas, Sauron kicked his ass. I was sad. These elf dudes are fsking insane, let me tell you; Reyson takes after them quite strongly! However, if we're going to compare Reyson to anyone, I think Fingolfin is a better parallel. Finrod Felegund isn't quite as crazy.

So anyway, there you go: elves turning into herons.

This book? It's heaven in a binding. Why did I not read it through before now? Reading in fragments does not do it justice at all.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Altina)
After looking over my own fan fiction to catalog the ones that were actually inspired by speculation (contrasted with the stories that started out simply as "what if?" or other types of fic ideas), I realized the only really heavy speculation I did in Fire Emblem fic was about Lehran, and by extension the world before the flood - with a few exceptions for Hatari. So, for example, I have several takes on how he could have met Altina (Forever Spring, An Offering, and meme fills), several tries at his early years in Begnion and with Sanaki (especially A New Leaf, but also The Child-Like Empress), and a lot of speculation in The Summer Chronicle on how and why he can cast magic.

The one I picked at most often was Lehran's seeming immortality, and which I'm sure was one of those haha, there's Myaru fangirling again things, and which I never really resolved, because canon says nothing. Call of the Heron (speculating it's about primordial origins), the Elysium arc I did for Thirty Kisses, in which I speculated (via Sanaki, this time, chapters 3-5) that Ashera's blessing rendered the body undying and indestructible just as it did weapons and armor (and, further, that Ashera can control growth and decay); I had planned on using the same idea for Summer Chronicle, also. On my hard drive I have a fic that speculates Lehran's line just lives longer, sings prettier, and dies prettier. (I mean... there was more to it, but that's what it boils down to.)

Everything else I write is aimed at Lehran. The bird tribe fic post-game, everything about Serenes, all of my speculation about heron culture, etc. I need to find a new obsession.

Actually. What I should do is take this character type, which I love so much, and so consistently, and build my own. I kinda sorta started a project like that, but maybe I should drop Lehran fic and take the original one more seriously. That's the point of exercises like this one, after all - to find the things you love and try to write about them. But I think I tried with Lehran so many times because I couldn't capture the essence of his character in any one story, even though other parts of writing about him got easy - too easy, even. I created my own set of triggers (the long hair fetish thing, for example) and used them too much. I recall having the same issues with Krelian, the only other character I've fixated on so narrowly.

This isn't to say I didn't do ANY other speculation. I built a version of Hatari for myself, and I'd really like to finish that one outstanding fic project about Rafiel and Nailah. The Summer Chronicle also did a lot of speculation on spirit charming, which is a Tellius-related topic I'm very interested in apart from my favorite characters. So it's not all Lehran. Just... 95% of it. :/

Lesson: I need to move on to other interests. Very soon.

.

A long time ago I also speculated via fic that Soren might display some kind of weird expression of his dragon heritage - like this bit of art right here, actually. Almedha's unusual strength led me to believe dragons were stronger in general, even in their humanoid forms, which made me wonder if Soren might not inherit some of that later. But his build in the games doesn't support that, I realize now.

Too bad, because the idea of Soren accidentally cracking a table in half with a sneeze is funny.
myaru: (FE - Sephiran - the bitterness)
I've written about this before: Branded + laguz = no loss of birthright and the speculation on why laguz lose their birthright in the first place, so this is partly me building on the first one and changing my mind about the second one.

My ideas in the first one are self-explanatory, but the second link, in short, speculates that laguz lose their power when they breed with beorc to create a better balance in the union, which would lead to more stability, which would lead to stronger families, etc., with the idea that it would promote evolution. Please note I'm using the term "evolution" generously, as I kinda sorta don't really care to research it properly or make a scientific argument. Ditto for genetics. I'll leave that to the science nerds on my Flist.

I was looking back at a half-serious post about what combining beast/bird laguz genetics would look like illustrated by Punnett Square (answer: hilarious), and ended up thinking that there might be something to see there after all. I'm not going to pull out genotype examples or anything; it made me wonder, though, if the laguz/beorc problem could be as simple as assuming that each parent has an equal contribution to make, and an uneven distribution of power screws that up. So, for example:

laguz A + laguz B = let's say each parent contributes half of what the child inherits, so A gives half of his birthright, and B gives half of hers;

beorc A + beorc B = ditto;

laguz + beorc = there's only one birthright to pass down; it's most beneficial to give it to the child, who will carry on the line;

laguz + branded = they both have equal birthrights, so there is no loss

laguz + carrier = only one birthright, see laguz/beorc ("carrier" meaning someone who was born with laguz blood, but isn't branded, eg. Sanaki).

Also, re: the carriers, I think in this version of the equation they'd be wild cards, because they're still carrying a birthright - their children might end up having brands, which would mean the carrier in question would be contributing an equal portion, so there's potential for the laguz to come out of it okay. The opposite might be true of the Branded individual, come to think of it. If brands are passed down only once the previous bearer dies, as [personal profile] amielleon speculated, that could complicate things further.

Unfortunately, this undercuts the essential equality we're supposed to believe the two races have, because the beorc always come out on the bottom, so to speak, not having any power or birthright to speak of unless you count magic. (Which I think is a flaw in the game's argument. I have a hard time accepting "reason" as a birthright, but that's another topic.) It's also pretty silly and one-dimensional. I'm personally still in favor of laguz/beorc pairings leading to a single people - the Branded - who bear the best characteristics of both, in balance with each other.

In theory.

I've seen authors speculate on this a little bit, but the only pairing that comes to mind is (of course) Naesala/Sanaki, where this birthright thing would be a huge problem for both of them - unless you assume that Sanaki has something to offer (genetically speaking, ha ha?) that will neutralize Naesala's loss. Then again, it's more ~romantic~ for him to take the risk and not care if he keeps his birthright or not. I don't think that's quite in character, but that's one way to look at it, I guess.

So, I've kind of come full circle here; the above was how I first looked at the laguz/beorc problem, before I decided it should have something to do with the cosmic balance, and now I'm back again. To be honest, I think the most logical way to handle this in a story would be much different - Lehran's past is the backbone of the racial divide on Tellius, but I think the designers could've come up with better reasons for that and left his birthright alone. Why can't we use real genetics and pretend that laguz parents can pass on some of their attributes without neutralizing their own?

I'm thinking that's just not angsty enough. It's too logical! We need our weepy herons to be weepy, and some tragic inter-racial romance thrown in for good measure.

.

Not really satisfied with this post, but whatever. It looked so much better in my head.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Rafiel and Nailah)
Today's post was going to be about the various forms of birthright in Tellius, but conversations happening around here keep coming back to the way IS handled their depiction of herons. It's kind of on-topic! We don't know what the designers were thinking, but we can guess based on the illustrations. The conversation generally splits into two issues.


1. Herons are predators, not vegetarians.
An egret's diet consists of fish, frogs, and bugs. I see pairs of them hunting in the water near our bus stop, and they're definitely trying to grab something with their sharp beaks. Those things aren't for show. (Proof!) I've never seen one scavenge for berries-- just saying. Their calls, while not actually ugly or abrasive, aren't any more sing-songy than the ones my cat used to make when she got all excited over the birds outside the window.

To be honest, when this conversation happens in PoR--

Ike: As long as you take care of yourself, I have no complaints. But isn't there anything I can do to help? Maybe we could have a special supper. Certain foods tend to restore energy.

Reyson: That's very kind, but my diet... Heh. It's fairly limited. You know, I used to be disgusted by my thin, frail body. So one time I performed a little experiment. I got all the foods that Tibarn likes-- raw meat, cold fish, insects--and ate them. I ate them all.

Ike: That doesn't sound good. What happened?

Reyson: I stared death in the face for ten days. You've never seen a laguz so green! I guess we herons are just meant to eat fruits and nuts for our entire lives.


--my first thought is, "Well yeah, if you eat RAW MEAT when you usually don't consume any kind of meat at all, of course it's going to make you sick." Besides that, all sorts of bacteria come with raw meat-- come on. What would've happened if Reyson ate cooked meat, or cooked fish, or specially prepared raw fish? Some fish and meats are more easily digested than others. For that matter, some vegetables and plant matter are ridiculously hard on one's system.

I figure we all already know this. The question is, why?

Which brings me to point two, which I've mentioned before, but which has special bearing on this topic:


2. The herons are clearly "inspired" by Tolkien's elves.
Visually, that is. You might say this explains why FE's herons can't eat meat - on the surface the elves look pretty vegetarian. When I was looking up notes on elven eating habits - and you bet information like that exists! Ah, Tolkien - quite a few people had the same idea, because they're so attuned to nature. Supposedly. But when the question gets asked on forums, the conclusion is usually that yes, even Tolkien's elves eat meat. They enjoy hunting. Killing animals for sport and not using the meat or the rest of the carcass (say, deerskin), is even less in line with their apparent nature than chowing down on venison. Also, this quote came up:

From the Hobbit - Flies and Spiders

There was a fire in their midst and there were torches fastened to some of the trees round about; but the most splendid sight of all: they were eating and drinking and laughing merrily. The smell of the roast meats was so enchanting that, without waiting to consult one another, every one of them got up and scrambled forwards into the ring with the one idea of begging some food.


While I came across other quotes, this one was the most direct. Another good one is from the Lay of the Children of Hurin:

On a time was Turin at the table of Thingol
there was laughter long and the loud clamour
of a countless company that quaffed the mead,
amid the wine of Dor-Winion that went ungrudged
in their golden goblets; and goodly meats
there burdened the boards, neath the blazing torches


Hunting game was a respectable pastime back in the day, so speculation says the elves probably ate venison, rabbit, boar, wild birds, etc. I could swear I saw a mention of elves serving excellent salt pork, but I can't find it now. So in any case, some of Tolkien's elves eat meat. Really good meat. Enchanting meat. It could be that he changed his mind about that later, but I can't recall anything that would make me think so. More informed readers might have a better idea of what the author wanted. I think it's arguable, though.

And let's not forget that elves are stronger and hardier than men, which FE's herons are most definitely not.

So: if it's not Tolkien's influence that inspired the designers to make herons vegetarian, what did? I have an idea, inspired by a base conversation before/during 4-F-4 in Radiant Dawn:

Nasir
Lehran ... attempted suicide several times, which is an unthinkable taboo for anyone who has sworn to serve the goddess.


If taking one's own life is unthinkable, it isn't much of a stretch to speculate that those dedicated to Ashera's service simply don't take any lives at all if they can help it. I've had this in my headcanon for a while: characters like Sanaki almost never eat meat in my stories because they're dedicated to the goddess and her tenets, and one of those is the sanctity of all life-- maybe. We don't really know, but that's how I read it.

Nasir has already commented on the piety of the Serenes herons. My theory is that they abstain from meat voluntarily, but that they are not physically incapable of eating it. Now, if you just don't eat meat, ever, then trying to have a steak for dinner will probably wreak havoc on your digestive system-- but that doesn't mean you're incapable of consuming it by nature.

Let's also keep in mind that hawks generally don't eat pastries, and yet Phoenicis apparently makes some awesome desserts. Just throwing that out there.
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Sephiran)
Earlier this year I wrote a speculative post about the Serenes family tree and what we know about herons. This is kinda sorta part two of that series. The herons are unique among the laguz clans, it seems, because they're the only ones who use magic - and the game implies that it's part of their laguz heritage, which I am personally dissatisfied with. So basically, I have a lot of questions that need answering, and which will never, ever be answered by canon. Probably. Old age seems to be affecting my memory.

My big questions are:

1. Why are galdrar unique to herons and heron-descendants (eg. Apostles)?

2. What makes seid magic different from conventional magic, and why?

3. Do the mechanics of seid magic bear any resemblance to real music / musical theory?

4. What are the mechanics of the discipline?

5. How powerful can one singer or one galdr get?

6. What does "reading hearts" have to do with the rest of their talents?


Like always, I will use Lehran as my primary example, because he's the character who achieved the most significant feats with seid magic, and also the only heron who has lost his birthright, but the others will show up too - don't worry. It's not a total fangirl fest.

Since Lehran lost his ability to sing galdrar along with his ability to transform, the game tells us flat out that seid magic is a laguz trait of the same general caliber. He can use seid magic because he's a heron. No one outside the bloodline can do this. But why? It seems to use the same language conventional magic does, so there aren't any special linguistic differences; it has to be sung, but that isn't drastically different from any other type of chant. In Archanea I believe magic is bound to tomes, which is why mages have to use books to cast it, and the same might be true of Tellius - magic seems to come from spirits (hence spirit charmers being able to do fantastic things, supposedly), so perhaps the seid magic chants draw directly on the spirits, while beorc mages need that focus to channel it.

(I don't like that mechanic either, but I'll let it go for now.)

Problem is, even if the herons speak to the spirits directly - and there's no saying that's how the magic works - why is it so closely linked with their heritage? A human mage should theoretically be able to crack the code and learn how to sing the correct chants. Unless there's something literally different about their singing voices, versus their normal speaking voices - since nobody comments on those, at least - I don't see why there should be a difference. There is one moment in PoR that might give that some basis:

[Path of Radiance, Chapter 17: Day Breaks]

Mist: Did you...hear a sound just now?

Ike: Huh? No, I didn't.

Mist: Really? I guess it was just me then.

Lethe: That sound you heard, was it high-pitched, like the chiming of a bell?

[...]

Nasir: It is said that those of the heron clan all practice the art of seid magic. Perhaps this sound is related to that?


However, Tibarn and Ulki comment on the same sound, and claim they've never heard its like. This moment is probably Leanne's awakening, and the sound might have been the spell that kept her asleep breaking. You could speculate that Reyson just hasn't been singing galdrar since his rescue, perhaps out of mourning, but I find that unlikely.

So: I still find the linking of seid magic with the heron bloodline unreasonable. But a lot of things about them are unreasonable:

[From Chapter 16:]

Nasir: The heron clan possess no fighting skills. Their tribe survived by living a life of peace and piety within their forest. Unlike other laguz, they never focused on developing their strength for the purposes of combat. [...]

[From Chapter 17:]

Nasir It involves arcane songs known as galdrar. The effects of galdrar on the listener depend on the lyrics and melody. For example, a galdr can restore lost strength and vitality to those who hear it. And if the singer is of royal blood, the galdr may be powerful enough to move its listener to extraordinary feats. I've even heard tales of a galdr that could give one the speed to do the work of two men. The galdrar grant many powers.


Fire Emblem as a series likes to attribute special power to music and dance; from FE4 onward, we get units who either dance or play instruments that can refresh their comrades during battles and give them extra turns. Tellius is just giving us a new spin on that gameplay mechanic with herons. Unlike previous games, however, the world is claiming that ability is special, while the others make no attempt to tell us that Tethys or Ninian are especially mystical in character - though Ninian may be a bad example for other reasons. Neither Elphin nor Lalum display special power. I always assumed the explanation I was supposed to think of was along the lines of music bringing respite, and therefore reinvigorating your troops on a long march.

Galdrar are also music. Are you trying to tell me that music, as it exists in Tellius, is restricted to pretty, tweeting bird laguz? I don't think we see any instance in-game of musical performance. I think that would be ridiculous, but it's one possible explanation, I guess.

I speculated galdrar might've been a gift from the goddess, but in that case, Lehran's Mantle, which was discussed here (locked entry) and prevents him from taking any kind of physical damage, should have also passed on down the generations, and we know the younger herons can be hurt. It's most likely an ability they evolved with. Don't even get me started trying to speculate on what kind of environment would make singing a trait to select for, because I have no idea - unless you want to go with my stuck-up-heron-culture headcanon, in which they purposely select for beauty and musical pitch.

What Nasir says, coupled with Lehran's apparent ability to summon spirits (unless that was Ashera's doing, or unless he became a spirit charmer to achieve his goals), makes the "seid magic calls on spirits" seem most likely, but again: why would that be unique to them?

There's no answer to that, pretty much, except, "because the designers wanted it that way," or maybe, "to make them special." It's great as far as making Lehran's Medallion a pain in the ass. I considered heron abilities as a parallel to the beorc ability to use magic, as the laguz characters say at one point that in general, laguz just can't use magic; however, Lehran knee-caps that theory by being able to use both light and dark magic, as well as staves. He can kill stuff!

I remember giving Rafiel some item that's supposed to do damage according to one's magic stat, and it did, like, one HP damage. He also got 90+ experience for killing the soldier in question, who I primed especially for this purpose, so... I don't know why I'm including this anecdote, except to say that Rafiel, the oldest and presumably most powerful of the siblings, can't cast magic worth crap. Clearly it's not a matter of age or experience. (He gained four levels that way. It was awesome.) Normally I don't use game mechanics to determine things like this, but that's a big, fat, glaring difference between Lehran and everyone else, so. Light and dark have some things in common, though, so I don't know - maybe his ability has something to do with his proximity to the goddess.

My god this is getting long. One more thing: mechanics.

Galdrar can apparently make miracles, more or less. In light of that, the appalling weakness of the herons seems more like a balance; great power with a great flaw to balance it. But herons can only do these amazing things under special circumstances. In the original post, I talked about layering galdrar, i.e. getting more than one person to sing, makes a spell stronger. If galdrar work like music, that makes some sense; adding harmony to the melody creates a stronger, more melodic piece of music, etc. But like regular mages, they also need amplifiers:

[Path of Radiance: Reyson-Tormod supports C-A]

Tormod: That song of yours...does it work on everything?
Reyson: You mean the chant?
Tormod: Yes, whatever it was that made that drab forest bloom with color.

[...]

Reyson: Why don't you tell me more about what you have in mind?
Tormod: Well, I was hoping you would...you know... use your magic chant to transform all that sand into soil.
Reyson: Sand into soil?
Tormod: Exactly! Rich, fertile soil that will yield a bountiful harvest. We'll build our village there.
Reyson: That is...utterly absurd!

[...]

Tormod: No...I mean... It was just incredible how you forgave the apostle like that and breathed new life back into the forest.
Reyson: That was only possible under very special circumstances.
Tormod: Why? I don't get it.
Reyson: It was Serenes Forest. For my people, there is no more sacred a place. And the galdr I chanted was a part of an ancient clan ritual performed on a very holy altar. Most importantly, my seid magic succeeded because Leanne was by my side. That galdr holds little force when I chant it alone.
Tormod: Then all we need is Leanne!
Reyson: You're not very quick, are you? Even if both of us chanted the galdr until we collapsed from exhaustion, there's no way we could turn sand into soil. Even if the desert was a fertile valley eons ago, I don't have the power to restore it. Have I made myself clear?


In addition, during chapter seventeen, Reyson seems to think he can sing the Dirge of Ruin by himself as long as he has the altar. Herons have philosophical problems with this song, but apparently it exists - and as usual, destruction is easier than creation. I wonder of Lehran is responsible for that galdr; he would've had some use for it during the war.

What I'm thinking here, is... the only reason for seid magic, and herons specifically, to be so different from both laguz and beorc, is their favored standing with the goddess. Lehran is apparently immortal because Ashera loves him. I've always speculated the goddess could give his power back if she really wanted to, but I don't like that theory for a lot of reasons, so I don't push it in fic.

However, his galdrar had the power to affect the goddesses. Yune gave him permission to lock her in the medallion, but the fact remains that he confined a divine essence into a little bronze ornament with the power of his songs, and his songs also had the power to calm the chaos enough to prevent her awakening - hence affecting her, in a sense controlling her. Reyson can destroy an entire army (er, well, large fighting force) as long as he's in his own forest. That link is the only detail I can think of that might lead to an explanation. In an earlier quote, Nasir describes the herons as pious, so goddess worship might have played a large part in their daily lives. For all we know, galdrar are prayers. Maybe they're not singing to spirits, but to the goddess, who controls them.

And now the question I have to ask is: which goddess? Ashera, Yune, or Ashunera? My money is on the last.

I guess the "reading hearts" thing will have to wait for another time, but that's also pretty unusual - and it bears a resemblance to the goddess's abilities, so that's interesting, if I'm going to follow the speculation that seid magic is linked to the goddess.

I'll do that later.

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