This is the sort of fiction that will be lost utterly if the orders are shuffled. I have a detailed and elaborate notion of the aristocracy and power structures of this world in my head.
Gower smiled. It was not the smile of fresh-faced young Marauder who had been conscripted into that band many months ago. It was a practiced smile, a smile that betrayed nothing. He did not know why he, a bard and scholar, had been passed over by the Sages and the Architects, more natural fits for his talents.
But Endmaster (Immortal and Exemplar) has his reasons. And so, for months, he smiled and served.
The Marauders' inner circle, the Twenty, seemed to hold a good deal of power. Perhaps that the route. The route to seize the mantle for himself. No one would expect it. But the Inner Circle was strong and secretive and--wait a second. Serpent? Shouja? Zikara? Who is Zikara? Huh.
After a bit of thought, Gower realized that the Twenty seemed--penetrable. In a matter of months, with commendable behavior, Gower had assassinated his way up the ranks. Had he been a Warden, he would nearly have been Sovereign. He wiped his eyes as he considered this amusing and pointless prospect. "Sovereign of what?" he wondered, not for the first time.
Before long, Gower had achieved something of a reputation, while still keeping as low a profile as possible, taking his place among Endmaster's Notorious Four. The exiled gladiator Avery; the ravishing Wibn. Sabley, marital artist, known for her death blows. And now Gower, mild-mannered, but no less notorious.
Soon, sooner than he could have expected, he became Endmaster's second. No words were spoken. No words needed to be spoken. Closest to the throne. One heartbeat away from power, if Endmaster's withered heart ever beat, which it did not.
Gower considered. At his current rate of power gain, in only four--five--perhaps six months, he might--no, he *would* have enough strength to topple the dark god from his throne and become Immortal himself. And then--well, immortality was its own reward, wasn't it? Already he had helped the Marauders overtake the Architects. Gower fondly thought of the day those smarmy Sages would be overtaken as well.
Yes, soon. So soon, he...
Oh. What? Oh, now Endmaster had just doubled in power. Just--instantly. Just like that. He didn't appear to lift a finger. It just--happened. As if all of Endmaster's past creations had suddenly empowered him more, surrounding him with a further miasma of black lightning and ashen veil. Ten times more powerful than the Notorious Gower, and with every chance of being further empowered, Gower gnashed his teeth and wailed into the storm.
And then, as if to rub in the blow, like a crab apple falling off a tree and hitting a dying soldier on the head, Endmaster plucked forth for himself the noble title "Of Avon" and appended it to his own long list of titles. It was meaningless to him.
"That should...have been mine," Gower said. "I earned it...I earned...that pointless title."
Endmaster looked around. He thought he heard something, shrugged, and went about his day. The world had changed for many that day, but not for him.
The simplest thing code-wise would be to do the reshuffle in late December and then have it take effect for the calendar year. That's the plan going forward, but I'm also considering a special-case short-season for the last few months of this year. Not the worst idea to let this marinate, though.
I'd like to see admins go through old games and commend all of the ones that deserve it. I feel like there are still probably a few more. I just want to make sure that that happens before we do the reshuffle.
In the well-designed, very orderly Realm of the Architects, I am happy to report that the top three remain the same. I can't say the same for everyone else, though. For those whose commendations were based mostly on reviews, their value plummeted overnight by 33%.
I love the shift in tone.
Next time, I'm going to send you one of these stories *first* so that we can present art and prose together for maximum effect.
I like the cricket on the shelf with the other trophies.
Cricket on the shelf is a really nice detail.
Lmao this is great
This fits the scheming Gower profile pic very well
My Dear Wormwood,
By now, even you must be familiar with Mr. Gower's recent frustrations, but I know from past experience that, without my guidance, you may be trusted to draw precisely the wrong lessons from his misfortune. I can hear your protestations even now. No doubt you are saying to yourself "If my cloven feet had been in his shoes, things would have been different!" You believe you could have been cleverer, stronger, more dishonest and diabolical, and you imagine that some lack of these traits doomed Gower to his fate. In short, you blame his unpleasant situation on a lack of means.
This is frightfully wrong. In the first place, it betrays a crucial ignorance of Mr. Gower himself, who could hardly be a more devious plotter. But if even his enviable powers (and how I do envy them!) were insufficient to topple Endmaster from his dark throne, then what chance do any of us have at attaining such glories, such riches and power? This leads me to the second and more fundamental flaw in your way of thinking, Wormwood, which is to prize these outward trappings of authority, these meaningless indicators of status, as though you were some puffed-up human princeling scheming to become his father's heir. You believe, as Gower too believed, that there was some intrinsic value in rising to the top of one's Order, of overthrowing its commander and taking your 'rightful' place as head of it all.
I admit this is an appealing notion, particularly to the young, who might be unaware of the terrible price of failure, but after Mr. Gower's example I trust you will change your aims. Pride and avarice are all well and good, but we must be intelligent about pursuing them. Consider what I have done. Instead of seeking power within the powerful Orders, I joined the Wardens. Yes, Wormwood, the Wardens, that bumbling assembly of the insignificant, the despised and mocked. I challenged no one, offended no one, threatened no one- who could be threatened by a Warden, and who in the world would admit it if he was? But, even as I made no waves, my ship sailed on, slowly at first, until I had reached the inner circle of my Order. Yes, I am now called Infrangible (and, though such titles are ultimately meaningless, I cannot help savoring the word). Now I stand at the very cusp of the highest power a Warden can attain, having never even sought it. You see how sweet the irony is! I stand where Mr. Gower stood, but because he is a feared Marauders and I a weak Warden, I may yet succeed where he failed.
Ah, I can hear the objection rising from your scaly throat already. "To lead the Wardens is no honor at all; to lead the Marauders and overthrow Endmaster would be the greatest glory imaginable." To that, Wormwood, I have a very simple answer: I am no fool. These are fantasies, and we must always strive for cold realism in all our doings, lest we end up in exquisite misery like the daydreaming Mr. Gower. Better to be a great fish in a little pond, as it were, than to be devoured by a dark god. I would not give my place in the Wardens for anything in the world. Keep your ambitions and your expectations low, and your talents may let you rise above what you had dreamed was possible, but if you try to climb too high too fast, I will shed no tears at the fall.
Your affectionate uncle,
Certainly not I, the well learned and definitely elegant and refined Mr. Corgi
Please enlighten us Mr. Mizal
what mean, sempai Cricket