Characters of Cimmeria: King Jevaninada the First

Today we take a short departure for the heroes of the Dragon War and focus on Jevaninada the First, the villain of a previous campaign I ran in Cimmeria. King Jev was a bit of wish fulfillment on my part for where I wanted my first D&D character, Anxe, to end up if I played him all the way to level 20. I gave Jev a whole kingdom, sweet loot, and an angel for a wife. Might not have been the most mature thing, but I was in high school when I created this character…

Jevaninada I

King Jevaninada the First set Xoria on a path of rapid expansion that has continued to this day. His personal magnetism and cunning manipulation of the Xorian nobles allowed him to discredit his sister’s claim to the throne. With her out of way Jevaninada built an unshakable power base for his invasions into the surrounding lands of Xoria. A well-timed marriage to Anajakaze, Queen of the Amazons and daughter of Zeus, ended the war between Xoria and Amazonia. As if the combined might of the two militaristic cultures wasn’t enough, Jev also commanded a mysterious group of powerful warriors known as the Seven Rages. Jev planned to conquer Cimmeria in its entirety, but his plans were cut short by the mercenaries his sister hired to oppose him. Jevaninada the First was slain at the Battle of Danar’s River. Queen Anajakaze carried on his dream of conquering Cimmeria and after her, his son, Jevaninada the Second.

Jevaninada was born the first prince of Xoria in 478 BCE to his father, King Demotinira, and his mother, Queen Biiratofara. The Queen died in child birth, leaving Demotinira with Jev and his older sister, Tarigananata, as the only surviving members of the royal family. Jev was raised by his Greek wetnurse, Andreiya, while his father attended matters of state such as warring with the Amazons and supplying the new Xorian colony of Petar. Andreiya was an Ionian Greek priestess of Artemis at Ephesus before she was enslaved and sold to the Xorian royal family. She tended the library at Ephesus and had read and copied many books prior to her captivity. She passed this knowledge onto the young prince as he was brought up. There was nary a topic that Jevaninada did not know something about.

When Jevaninada was not studying with Andreiya he learned martial arts with his instructor, General Antapike. The general used a spear when teaching, augmenting his already superior reach. Jev learned to close the gap with speed and trickery. Additionally he learned warcraft from Antapike and his father while observing their war councils before their numerous battles with the Amazons.

Jev’s final teacher was brought about by his father’s neglect. Demotinira believed a Spartan lifestyle bereft of comforts would develop sympathetic feeling in his children for their subjects. this worked for Tarigananata. She developed a natural love for the people of Xoria. Jevaninada reacted… differently. Lacking the luxuries he felt he deserved, Jev turned to theft. He stole jewelery, fine weapons, and elaborate toys from visitors to the castle. When Jev was taken on trips outside the castle he always managed to sneak something back in with him, be it a gold necklace or only a sweet bun. His father ordered Jev’s bodyguards to put a stop to it. The prince only learned which guards could be bribed and which he could hide from.

As Demotinira grew old he made it clear that Princess Tarigananata was his heir. She was the first born and she was a kinder, more generous person. Demotinira wanted a virtuous kingdom to follow his death. Jev’s father died when the prince was 20 years old. At that point Jev had already set his plans in motion to disinherit his sister.

Jevaninada had many friends at court. He convinced the nobles to forestall Princess Tari’s coronation until after consulting the Oracle at Delphi, the Oracle which he had already bribed to reveal a prophecy to his liking. The Oracle returned a prediction that Tarigananata would loose a terrible demon into Xoria twenty years after her father’s death. Jevaninada had her arrested and supposedly executed. In fact, she was saved by General Antapike who had realized Jevaninada’s trickery even if he could not prove it. The General and the Princess fled Xoria while Jevaninada was crowned King Jevaninada the First.

After stealing the throne, Jev was quick to restart war with the nearby Amazons of Dradelden. Half a decade of war proved indecisive until Jev disguised his army as slaves and snuck into Dradelden along with them. A chaotic melee broke out between the Xorian and Amazon troops while Jev sought out the Amazon Queen. After a day and a night of fighting King Jevaninada and Queen Anajakaze emerged together and declared an end to hostilities. From that moment on Xorian and Amazon would work together. Combat stopped and a magical spell initiated an orgy between the previously adversarial parties. King and Queen were soon married with seven strange warriors in attendance. These warriors would come to be known as the Seven Rages.

King Jevaninada used the combined strength of the Xorian army, the Amazon warriors, and the Seven Rages to conquer Makotako, Semanarie, and Colchis. King Aeetes of Colchis was cast into magical servitude, forced to serve Jevaninada as a lord against his will. Meanwhile, Princess Tarigananata had gathered allies of her own.

Nineteen years after King Demotinira’s death, his daughter struck against Jevaninada in a three pronged assault. She led an attack from the east along with Leopold Anigama, Atreides, Salzar, King Archidamus II of Sparta, King Willard of Aractrash, and Amalgami of Phoenix. In the south, Duke Prusu’s city of Jeutontic revolted and the Persian Satrap Orontes invaded. In the west, Tari had freed Aeetes from his the King’s binding magicks. Aeetes led a revolt as well.

King Jevaninada met the eastern attack himself at Danar’s River. Tari’s forces used magic to halt the river’s flow while they crossed and collided with the King’s waiting army. Jevaninada may have prevailed, but the war mage, Salzar, used forbidden destructive magic to kill the king and decimate his army. The Xorian loyalists lost the battle and Jevaninada’s body was taken by the rebels.

Queen Anajakaze ruled on in King Jevaninada’s stead, only recently pregnant with their first child after over a decade of marriage. Jevaninada’s spirit slept fitfully, but when resurrection was attempted upon his ransomed body he chose to remain in the afterlife rather than return to lead his country through the war. Queen Anajakaze’s regency for her unborn son would continue until her death twenty years later.

-GoCorral

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Road Chip Movie Review

The_Road_Chip_Poster_2

Star Wars is the big movie of the season and we did want to see it, but not until January when the crowds have died down a little bit.

So my wife and I went to see the latest Chipmunks movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, instead.

The movie is a typical Alvin and the Chipmunks affair. Alvin does crazy stuff and everything escalates into a huge farce until Dave comes in and shouts, “ALVIN!”

This children’s movie taps into a primal fear that many kids have, that their parents won’t love them as much when their family gets bigger.

Dave is getting serious with his girlfriend and is planning a romantic weekend alone with her.

The Chipmunks find a diamond ring by his luggage and make the logical conclusion that he is going to ask her to marry him.

The Chipmunks hate this idea because Dave’s girlfriend’s son, Miles, bullies them.

Miles also dislikes their families joining together so he joins the Chipmunks in their cross country journey to Miami from LA to steal the ring and stop the proposal.

Through their journey the Chipmunks and Miles receive some valuable moral lessons and realize that they don’t mind being step-brothers after all.

The movie didn’t really stand out as an exceptional Chipmunks movie to me. There’s childish comedy and good dance/singing sequences like usual, but nothing truly spectacular.

The Chipettes have minor roles in the movie which was a little disappointing. It would’ve made sense for them to be there, but that would’ve made the script too complicated. Instead they spend most of the movie judging the last season of American Idol.

I’d definitely recommend the movie to people who are fans of the Chipmunks like myself. For those who haven’t been exposed to the Chipmunks yet, the movie is as good an entry into the franchise as you can get. Cheesy comedy and cute forest creatures singing high-pitched covers of popular music. Not much more to say than that.

-GoCorral

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

People should post books they read on Instagram instead of food they eat.
People should post books they read on Instagram instead of food they eat.

I finished reading a book called The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro that my step-mom had gotten me. I’m going to be delivering some spoilers about the book in this post, so be forewarned. If you’re interested in Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing or King Arthur stuff I’d recommend you finish the book on your own before reading this post.

The book is set a generation or so after King Arthur, when all his knights are getting old or dead.

The book follows the journey of a married couple, Axl and Beatrice, who are traveling to their son’s village.

A mist covers England clouding people’s memories. People forget things after the simplest of distractions. Old memories are difficult or impossible to recall. And the problem affects everyone.

The memory mist springs from a dragon and it becomes the quest of Axl, Beatrice, and a few people they meet on their journey to slay the dragon.

The dragon slaying is all fine and good and I loved reading those parts. It may not be a traditional King Arthur tale, but I love reading new takes on old things and it hit a home run in being a King Arthur story.

What bothered me about the book is what has bothered me about a lot of books, the ending is sad.

I remember a conversation I had with my dad when I was in high school. I asked him, “Why do modern stories have bad endings? Ancient stories always have the good guys killing the bad guys and everyone living happily ever after. Like King Arthur.”

My dad said something along the lines of, “Modern stories have bad endings because they’re more real. Fairy tales like King Arthur are fine for kids, but grownups like stories that are real, that they can relate to. It’s cathartic.”

That answer was good enough for me back then, but I’ve done some more thinking on it since.

First, bad endings are not solely the province of modern stories. Oedipus Rex is a perfect example of an ancient story with a horrible ending. Romeo and Juliet is based off the Greek myth of Pyramus and Thisbe. The Iliad has a powerful ending, but no one really gets what they want. Hector is still dead and Achilles still feels empty.

The second thing I realized is that it isn’t so much the sadness that makes stories feel real. You can’t just have something bad happen to someone and expect people to start feeling empathy for that character.

No. What makes stories real is having characters on both sides of a conflict who could both be described as good.

The Greek myths are perfect examples once again. Achilles is the hero of the Iliad, but so is Hector. They’re both great admirable people (at least to the Greeks. I don’t think someone with the epithet, “the Mankiller,” would be very popular today),

They’re both heroes in the story, but they have antithetical goals. One must die for the story to reach resolution. And that’s what makes it sad.

The conflict doesn’t always need to end in death and the characters don’t always need to be diametrically opposed, but ultimately the “villain” of an adult story must have real motivations for what they are doing. And most real motivations are fundamentally good. People do things to help themselves or the people they care about, not because they want to hurt other people (sadists are exempt).

An easier separation between what I’ve called good and bad endings in the past would be children’s stories and adult stories.

Stories need to be simplified for children which can mean having a villain who is just villainous for no good reason (Jafar, The Star Wars Emperor, Mordred from King Arthur, etc.).

But back to The Buried Giant!

Early on in the book Axl and Beatrice encounter a woman who tells them about a mysterious island that is clearly some sort of allegory for Heaven.

It’s said that you can live on the island and never see the other people living there.

Only a couple that is truly in love will be able to interact with each other on the island.

A couple’s truly in love status is tested by the boatman who brings people to the island. He asks couples a series of individual questions before permitting them to travel together.

The woman that Axl and Beatrice meet describes that happening to her and her husband. They answered the questions and then the boatman said the water was too rough to bring them to the island at the same time.

Thinking she would get to see her husband on the next boat, she said, “Fine,” and her husband went first.

When the boatman came back he informed the wife that she had failed the questions and that she would not be seeing her husband on the island. She left in a rage and wandered England before eventually telling her story to Axl and Beatrice.

Our protagonist couple talk about the island constantly. They are concerned that they won’t be able to answer questions about their love for each other if the dragon’s memory mist prevents them from remembering why they originally fell in love.

In the final chapter of the book they talk to the boatman. The boatman talks to Beatrice first and then to Axl. We only hear Axl’s conversation.

The boatman is very casual and brings up a fight that Axl had with Beatrice once. Axl explains the fight, but is suspicious that he and Beatrice will be denied joint entrance to “Island Heaven” if he tells the whle truth (the reader never learns the whole truth).

The boatman agrees to take them both to the island. Axl hops in the boat with Beatrice.

And then the boatman says, “I can’t take you both at the same time. The weather is too bad.”

Axl’s face darkens. He knows he failed the questions, but he doesn’t want to say goodbye to his wife. He stays in the boat.

Beatrice tells Axl she’ll be fine. They can just meet when the boatman brings the next boat.

Not wanting to upset his wife, Axl gets out of the boat and trudges towards shore.

And the book freaking ends there.

I understand that sad endings are sometimes more realistic, but this felt more like the author screwing with me.

Couldn’t they have been allowed to go together? Couldn’t we have learned a few more specifics about what Axl and Beatrice fought about long ago?

Nope! Ishiguro does the smart thing. If you have questions that don’t need answering in a story, then don’t answer them. People will come up with their own answers and those will always satisfy the readers more than anything you can come up with.

So does the boatman come back and take Axl to be with Beatrice? It’s possible, but my own answer to that question was, “No.”

And that’s a sad ending.

-GoCorral

The Wedding Ringer Movie Review

I watched The Wedding Ringer with my wife (she’s my consistent movie watching partner) and it is the first movie I will be giving a negative review of on my blog!

The premise of the movie is pretty simple. Doug Harris played by Josh Gad is getting married to Gretchen Palmer played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting from The Big Bang Theory. Unfortunately, Doug has no friends to be in his wedding party.

Doug calls on Jimmy Callahan played by Kevin Hart to provide “Best Man services.” Jimmy pretends to be Doug’s best friend, Bic Mitchum, and hires seven people to act as Doug’s other groomsmen.

Typical comedy farce ensues as the groomsmen struggle to memorize their fake identities and lie their way through the events surrounding the wedding.

There are some occasional good scenes like there are in any comedy. When Jimmy learns his new pseudonym, Bic Mitchum, he plays around with it a bit, “I’m Bic Mitchum! What’s it to you?”

Sadly, most of the movie is crude humor instead of farce or slapstick. Most of the “jokes” are simply people swearing in stressful situations.

There are also two scenes that effectively ruined the movie for my wife and me.

The first was a football game between the groomsmen and the fiancee’s father and his friends. The game devolves into violence and name-calling. I guess it’s supposed to be funny because the father and his friends are old? It just seemed like an argument between two groups of jerks.

The second scene involved penis humor. I didn’t like it in The Hangover. No one liked it in The Hangover. Why are you bringing it back Hollywood? There was also a dog and some peanut butter involved but I don’t want to get into the specifics in case I ruin the joke for people going to the movie.

The rest of the movie was fine for a comedy, but not amazing. Kevin Hart and Josh Gad do a good job, but I know Kevin Hart can do better.

My favorite part was probably Affion Crocket playing a wisecracking airport customs officer just like he did in Baggage Claim. It’s about as specific a typecast as you could get!

-Mister Ed

My Cousins’s Wedding

Still got a little bit of snow in October.
Still got a little bit of snow in October.

Last weekend I flew to Portland, Oregon with my wife to attend my cousin’s wedding.

The flight there was a little unusual. I liked it, but my wife did not.

We flew on Alaska Airlines which apparently uses smaller planes.

Particularly they use propeller planes that you have to board from the tarmac instead of from the Jetway.

I thought this was pretty cool. I’ve always liked boarding from the tarmac and I’ve never been on a propeller airplane before.

My wife did not enjoy the novelty so much and instead focused on fear of the unknown.

There were some negatives. The plane didn’t have enough room for our carry-ons so we had to check them at the gate which I am always suspicious of. The plane smelled when we got on. The propeller engines were really loud compared to jet engines. The ceiling was lower than other planes I’ve been. You get the idea.

Good news though! The plane was smaller, so it flew lower. That’s how we got that pretty cool picture of Mount Shasta up there.

As for the wedding and seeing all of my cousins? Loads of fun!

I haven’t seen my youngest cousins in awhile so it was nice to see all of them and dance with them at the reception.

I liked catching up with all my older relatives as well. And now my wife has met nearly everyone in my family. There’s still a few holdouts, but we’ll get there!

Plus my cousin got married! Her husband is super cool and I’m glad he’s going to be part of our large family. Beautiful, short ceremony followed by a good dinner and an awesome live band for dancing!

My uncle lives in Portland and operates a pottery studio there. I liked going in to see where and how he makes all his stuff. If you’d like some amazing custom pottery you can check him out at Piatt Pottery.

We also did a little bit of Portland sight seeing. Specifically the Lloyd Center mall (The mall is cool! Don’t knock it!), a Mexican sports bar called Aztec Willie’s, and one of the Salt and Straw ice cream places.

I recommend all three places. The mall was well designed with a lot of natural lighting from a large central skylight. The sports bar had good service, good food, and what looked like a dance floor they were setting up when we had to leave to go meet relatives.

Salt and Straw was probably the most interesting of the places we went to. It has all sorts of weird custom-made ice cream flavors. Their recent batch of ice cream is all Halloween themed. My wife and I both got the Chocolate Graveyard flavor which is chocolate with Oreo “dirt” mixed in along with candy skeleton “bones.”

And there was a gift shop next door to Salt and Straw where I got this guy!

Time for Video Games!
Time for Video Games!

BMO is a character from one of my favorite cartoon shows, Adventure Time. BMO will be joining me for a video game stream in the future because that’s what BMO does. Play video games!

I’m sure there’s a lot more to do in Portland that I missed out on. It’s an amazing beautiful city. And a big thank you to my grandparents for funding all of us in getting to and staying in Portland!

-Mister Ed

Will and Testament

My wife and I met with a lawyer this morning to draft a last will and testament.

Most people our age don’t have wills. Nobody plans on dying, but that’s even truer for people in their early 20’s.

Most people my age don’t have a lot of assets to dispense upon their deaths either.

I do because I inherited some money from my mother when she died a few years ago. From a certain point of view its a second will for her.

Our idea for the will is pretty simple. If one of us dies, that person’s property goes to the other marriage partner.

If we both die, our estate is split between our parents.

If our parents are dead it’s split between our siblings.

I’d be shocked if the followup to that happened, but if both of us, all of our parents, and all of our siblings were dead then our estate would be split between our aunts and uncles.

We hadn’t planned that last one out, but the attorney we spoke with said it was the default law. We figured we’d go with that.

We’d previously talked about donating to charity if our siblings couldn’t receive the money. We still might go back to that as well.

For now, the attorney gave us a questionnaire to draft a health care directive.

A health care directive is a piece of paper with instructions for your medical care if you’re unconscious or otherwise unable to describe your own wishes for your medical care.

So stuff like, “Would you want to be on life support if you are in a coma?”

Or, “Would you want if you were in a permanent vegetative state?”

“Would you like to be cremated, buried, or something else?” (Taxidermied is not one of the listed options)

“Would you like to donate your organs?” (You should)

“If you are donating organs, which ones are okay to donate? All of them or just a few of them?”

So we’ve got to go over all of that stuff and then get back to the attorney at a different time.

It feels like a nice adult thing to do with my wife, but its also depressing.

Part of it is exciting to be planning something so important with her.

I’m not bummed out so much about my own death or her death when we talk about the will. Those both still feel far enough away that I can act like I’m immortal.

It just gets me thinking about my mother’s and my sister’s deaths a lot. My wife feels the same way about it too.

-Mister Ed

Wedding Vows

Wedding Kiss!

I got married one year ago to my favorite person, my wife!

Here are the vows we said one year ago and repeated today. ❤

Me: I promise to dance with you all the time

Her: I promise to always try to make you smile

Me: I promise to let you have a cat

Her: I promise to love you when you sneeze and I promise to let you have a dog

Me: I promise to walk the dog

Her: I promise to love walking with you

Me: I promise to help with the dishes

Her: I promise to cook you delicious meals and when I’m lucky, cook with you

Me: I will do the laundry and the vacuuming

Her: I will do the chores you are too sleepy to finish

Me: I will hold you when you have nightmares

Her: I will try not to keep you up every night with my excessive talking

Me: I promise to go to Ujam with you sometimes

Her: I promise to let you play video games, in moderation

Me: I promise to kiss you before I go to work and when I get home

Her: I promise to show you that I love you each and every day

Me: I promise to put away my toys when I am done playing

Her: I promise to be a kid at heart when I am with you

Me: I will take the kids to school and change diapers

Her: I will enjoy being a parent with you when the time comes

Me: I will wear the clothes you pick

Her: I will try not to be too opinionated

Me: I will drive us to fun places

Her: No matter where we go, it will be fun if it’s with you

Me: And there’s only one thing you need to know

Together: I love you!

-Mister and Missus Ed