Selected writings from Syr'Nj, of the 'Nj sapline: You don't understand. I hope that someday, you will. I hope feebly, but I hope. Royal sap does not give us permission to ignore the world. No, it gives us the responsibility, the need, to embrace it. Just know, if nothing else, that I love you. Ferri-carbic compounds... rust, to the layperson... seem much less effective in defense against electromysticism than cold iron. "Effective" is, of course, relative. "Relative" (again for the benefit of the layperson) signifies that if you face electromysticism, whether your armor is well-attended or not, run like hell. Rust prevention seems chemically inducible. Some of my medicinal herbs have retarded or prevented the formation of ferri-carbic spores. I presented this information to Frigg, our heavily armored warrior, whose ensuing speech about "the usefulness of shut-ins" was one of her more complimentary.
Human laughter has a different range of sounds than the laughter of my people. I feel this is one of the obstacles to better relations between the races. It makes us strangers to each other. Elvish laughter, I am told, reminds humans of rapid fluting. This observation is often a lead-in to a crude sexual remark, though this may be particular to my experience. Even I find the chittering of gnomish laughter a bit off-putting, while human and dwarf laughter first sounded, to my ears, like the playful, but alarming, growls of rhinosaurs. However, time and study have revealed a much wider spectrum of expression in humans than the rhinos could ever approach. (I have heard only one dwarf's laughter, so far.) Expressions of human amusement include "ha ha" as the baseline, but "hee hee," "ho ho," "har har" and "haw haw" see frequent use. "ROFLMAO" seems more particular to Frigg. Everyone loves to share a jest. Gravedust claims he hated every second of his brief "career" as a comedian. I have my doubts. He seems to have become... 20% droller. Adventurers, as a rule, have an "us vs. them" mentality. While this can frustrate an intellectual such as myself, it has some practical benefits. Xenophobia within the ranks is surprisingly muted. A Savasi exile can stand with a music hero of prophecy and no one finds it strange. Mind you, adventurers' place in larger society is best described as "working class." And even Byron, the cheerful axman who's been in this field longer than any of us, isn't given that much respect by his clients. Noble families of Gastonia still look upon peace and understanding as something only for the laborers. In that regard, they're more like elf nobles than they could imagine.
Evreythnig is so hrad. Wyh's it gotta be so hrad? Huh? Huh huh huh? Wyh? Wyyyyyyyh. I'ma ask Bryon. He's know thnigs. Alohcol's spupoesd to be a preresvatvie. And it so is! My stump cloudn't eevn fele the seat I sat on. And my brian stlil feles vrey, vrey presevred. Sovling all the prolbems, my brain is. Wrold paece? Easies! Just add mroe maed to erevydoby's dnirks. Makem fele graeeeeet. I sang toinght. Am I sppuoesd to snig? Wlel, the hmuans think it's okay, so it's oaky. "Oaky!" Hee hee. Ennybuddy culd sleep in teh alley atfer dirkning lkie tihs. But I'ma sleep inna treetops like a would elf wood. Or shloud. I'm here to respernet my people, rihgt? REPRESENT. Sinrecely, Sy'rNj. Pee.S.: Tehy say yuo shloud'nt drink and mial, Ddady, so I'ma wiat till tmrorow to sned this. Jsut in csae. Lists: Interests to pursue after peace:
1) Chemical agriculture
2) Sociology
3) Medicine
4) Physics…
Spatial characteristics of our new accommodations
1) 7 rms.
2) 0 servants
3) 8x50x50 root-lngths.
Considerable expense... not for us, but as a show of Gastonian strength?
Terms used to control behavior:
1) "Rat, snitch:" Informer. Used to encourage loyalty.
2) "Whistle-blower:" Informer. Used to encourage disloyalty.
Substances known to current science:
106) Sleep-serum
107) Hair
108) Gastonium (explosive)
Speech fragments to be used in case of dire circumstances: Stand tall. Stand together. Together we are as strings made rope, unbreakable. Together we are as droplets made rain, unstoppable. Stand together. Act together. Act together and nothing can oppose us. Nothing. This may seem unscientific, but truly, science must concede that sometimes belief can make a thing so. Deeds define us. Define yourselves, today. The end of civilization is at hand. We can reach out and touch it. We can let its chill wash over us. And we can bat it away with sword and mace. Cleave it in twain with ax and arrow. Lords and ladies pay us, and at first pay was all we sought. But we don't do this for them now. We do it for the barmaids, the performers, the merchants. Those more like us than they know. (…Long! This is far too long. Keep to the short, clipped phrases.)
"No service." "No trespassing." "No elves." One of these signs is at least honest. The other two only seem to appear when I appear in public without a disguise. So many "nos" in this town. So few "knows." When I speak out against prejudice, some think I mean that everyone should be included, in all things. Everyone should have a chance to prove themselves worthy, yes. Eventually, people can change, so they should even be given second chances, and third… Depending on the circumstances. But beyond that, the burden is on you. Earn your place in the world. Do not dwell on what has been denied you. That will only lead you to deny others in return. Doing so makes you something worse than any race could ever make you. It makes you a parasite. And if you feed on society, then for the good of all, you must be weeded out.
Odds favor the brave. Do not ignore probability. Do not let it stop you, either. Someone who does has no chance at all of changing the world. Can an elf comfort a human? Among my allies, this isn't a question. We are not "elf" and "human," we are simply fellow-adventurers. Not so in my days as field medic. No. When I told human soldiers of their fallen comrades, for once I willingly accepted their hate. Better they hate outwardly than be consumed by grief, and fear. Interests to pursue after peace:
39) Full-scale dioramas of the Arkerran nations.
Graiya's grapes, how would I go about that? The very concept reeks of ego and hubris. We know the borders of the territories, but so little about what's within them. Of course, this project would have to wait until those borders stop redrawing themselves. A dot that represents a city on today's maps might represent an actual dot on next year's.
"RUN! RUN!" It's funny how my beloved brain can completely desert me when death is imminent. Am I fooling myself about my true nature? Am I really just instinct, underneath it all? Understanding this question, let alone how to answer it, was beyond me and Gravedust. When I tried Bandit, she just made a little "dur" sound, which seemed to amuse Frigg. "No," said Byron. He paused, then added, "Yes, and no." This seemed to satisfy him. I suppressed an instinct to smack him. (...This was before I knew.) Byron reminds me, in many ways, of a boy. The ways are not bad ways. He's responsible. But his heart seems to belong to a simpler life than I've ever known, but not an unhappy one. One that I could see myself being happy within... once our important work is done. As a coda to our lives, after we save civilization and remake it so that we can be married within it. Youth is supposed to be the carefree time. What idiot decided that? Marrying Byron is a charming thought, but it's moot if we can't bring his darkness fully under control, forever. I am in love with him, but I will not be a victim. Oh, but he's so afraid of his darkness. I can't show a moment's doubt when I'm with him. He relies on me to believe in him. Onward with the research, then. Could his problem be related to my "problem of panic?" An instinct that tricks the mind into an unfair fight with it, like a tripwire over a mud slick? "Tripping the mind," that's a useful concept. But just as chemicals like alcohol can trip the mind, chemicals can trip the darkness, too.
Eras gone by are treasured by the 'Nj household like gnomes treasure ore. And Father indulges in fantasies that such eras may come again. Reality is my preference. Those ages are gone, eroded beyond all replenishing. I have only read of them. But I can find it in myself to miss them, when Father is not here. Once, Arkerra was smaller, more an island than a continent, and elves were the only known race. All elves had magic, and all lived among the trees. Do I think such a time was free from strife? Of course not. Strife is a consequence of any group of living beings, living and working together. Even so, it must have been easier to resolve one's arguments when there was only one sentient species. There are so many samenesses to bind a species together. Differences of coloring and size seem trivial by comparison. He hones his axes. She oils her armor. Bandit runs laps, Gravedust practices archery. And I? I think. Each of them better themselves, make themselves more finely tuned warriors. I hope I'm doing the same. Politics and science have me very distracted these days. Really, though, developing my mind is helping me in the field, too. I think.
Enemy action has an intensity, a focus, that I recognize all too well. Like my father's people, they rely on fanaticism, fueled by grievances, to give them strength. Any fool could do the same. What makes these fools dangerous is their commander, Harki. Battle-ready, but with slight bags under his eyes and a sawed-off tooth, I think he's approaching what humans would call middle age. On the other hand, his physical reflexes might still be speeding up. Not all races age in the same way. But despite our experience at his hands, it's not his body that's worth fearing. Rather, it's his elaborate perspective. Like me, he seems to have a vision for a post-racial society, and I have to admit the merits of some of his arguments. A debate between us, using words and not weapons, is something he'd never allow, but if he did, I'm not certain I could even diminish him in the eyes of his people. The genius of his approach is that it unites anyone who feels disenfranchised. He's won all the Savage Races to his side, and now, many dwarves too. Could a gnome come to serve him? Or… Even an elf?
"BFF." "Infinite pwnies." "I can has skullburgers?" Frigg speaks a dialect that confounds all my attempts to identify its origin. "Owned" and "pwned" seem to mean roughly the same thing. "Fuck" is inserted and added to form a seemingly endless variety of expressions. "Chickenfucker," "Fuck you very much," "Fucktarded." "Fucktastic." "Fo" seems to be a shortening of "fuck" and "fucker," and one that's a lot more acceptable to my diplomatic tongue. "Mofo" = "motherfucker." Once, when Frigg and I were at our friendliest, I attempted "boffo" to stand for "bodyfucker," one who has sex without emotional involvement. Frigg informed me I was "doin(g) it wrong." As creatures go, kobolds seem to share many of the traits of insects like honeybees, wasps and flyfangs. Not even as intelligent as cattle individually, their herd mentality works like a sort of hive-mind. (I base this observation largely on Byron Hackenslasher's accounts, but as a professional kobold-skinner, he's a reliable witness.) Might there be something in the shape of their brains to explain this? Some "social configuration?" If a mind can naturally be more inclined toward teamwork, and if chemical treatment can mellow the minds of the thinking races, as the sun tans their skin… Let's leave this line of inquiry alone for now. It brings up too many ethical dilemmas.
For future generations:
I'm sorry we haven't come far on the things that matter. Not as far as we should.
All in all, we weren't sure that you would come to be. We lived in an era where the extermination of not just one race, but several, seemed like our immediate future. Remember us not for our battles. In your time as in mine, the battles of fifty years ago should be no more than names and dates and maps to you. Only remember what we fought for. It's tough to see those ideals sometimes, in the mists of war, but whenever I take a moment to defog my mental goggles... there they are. Never stop defogging. "Get a life, Stickface." Every time she says this, I want to say, "This is my life." To be sure, my thoughts can be disjointed. I sometimes feel pulled between different purposes. And yet... I feel as if I hear something in the hissing of the crickets in the trees... a musical backbeat to my life. A pattern that I cannot see. "Nerd!" she goes on. "What, are you afraid you'll get an F?" "F," I assume, also stands for "Fucking." With her, it's a reasonable assumption.
"For fuck's sake."

"It's a simple question, Frigg. Where do you see yourself in five years?"
"Ruinin' some troll's shit with an oar." "In ten years, then?"

"Usin' two oars."

"You're avoiding the meaning of my question, Fri--"
"Go diagram a sentence, would you? I'm not interested in assignin' any great 'pattern' to my life. Mama Scarlett had a pattern for me, and look what happened to her. "Gods fuck with us. That's 'destiny.' But if we're real awesome, we get to fuck back. That's for shits and giggles."