Monday, January 30, 2012

Conventions, Validity, and a story of Eldritch Power (a fan-fiction if you will)

Why in Space? So no one can
hear you scream, "what did I pay for!?".
This past weekend myself, my girlfriend Amanda, and my friend Kristina Elyse Butke (I always feel like I'm name dropping when I mention her, maybe it's because I use her full name) attended Ohayocon!  Considering it is a massive collection of fans and artist all in attendance for their love of Anime, Manga, and all things fantasy/sci-fi/asain culture, I found myself wondering why in 28 years I'd never attended.  I have to say after 28 years, I haven't missed much...

Some Cosplay is really hot...
I'd wanted to see a true show of "American adoption/appreciation of Asain Media/Culture", and what I got was a whole slew of people in cosplay (some good, some bad, some...sigh, I won't even get into my issues with cosplay), and a merchandise room full of "fan service".  I know I went in wanting to see what sort of knowledge people picked up from another culture (I think in my age I've started to look deeper at the lessons that can be derived even from animation that was "made for children").  I got the impression that Kristina was looking for some small amount of education on Anime and the culture as a whole.  And I think Amanda had a firmer grasp on anime then either of us, and was looking for specific/hard to find merchandise and to avoid awkward reunion with people she went to school with.  In the end we were all disappointed.  Panels were chalk full of people who were fans with little to no public speaking skills, showing off their obscure knowledge, or severe lack of preperation (this includes some of the voice actors).  The panels that actually did offer some sort of information ended up doing little more then whetting your appetite (albeit were at least a bit informative and interesting to sit through).  And last but not least, not only did the merch room not have a copy of the original anime "Boys over Flowers", but more then a couple times was Amanda stopped for a conversation, smiled and nodded, then turned and walked away face-palming.

...some cosplay is really cute...
All in all it was a good weekend.  The Con wasn't all bad, I did hear about some really great anime I'd never seen, I got to spend the weekend with a good friend, and of course my awesome girlfriend.  There were some low points, like the amount I paid to get into the Con, and on thursday night "After Hours" Shady McTowing company taking my car (I won't go into that any further, that'll be setteled in court), but I feel these were offset by me actually getting out of the house on the weekend, spending some cash frivolously, and getting lost in a crowd did me some good, as well as Amanda and I purchasing some amazing art from artists like Coey and Shy (I'd have linked their gallery sites, but I'm blogging from work).

...most cosplay looked
a little something like this.
SO, I know this is supposed to be a story telling blog and my triumphant return from the Holidays so far has been "so this was my weekend", so let's return to the source.  Not long ago I told you about the work of Kristina's I was privilaged to be able to read and wrote a little story on it myself.  So without further ado (and with Kristina Elyse Butke's permission to post a work containing the semblance of one of her characters) I give you the Tale of Andresh and Kamadeva.

"Many know the story of Andresh the Immortal. Some say he was born of traveling mystics, who cast him out because they feared his power. Some say he was the reincarnation of Aravind the Sorcerer-Prince. Others say that he sprang into being from a bonfire lit in the deepest, darkest forest, in the exact moment that night became day. These matter little, this is not those stories, what I’m about to tell you is the story of Andresh and Kamadeva.

Kamadeva was an eastern god they say, a heathen being of lust and vice.  And Andresh it is said walked all worlds, and so one day arrived in Kamadhatu, the realm of Kamadeva.  Andresh saw many wondrous things, Men and Women, lost souls, great beasts, and things that were none of these but all three at once.  The women and men and beasts and dead of Kamadhatu called to Andresh, begged him to join them in reverie and fornication.  Andresh refused them, saying their acts were perverse and unnatural,  that mankind should keep with mankind, beasts with beasts, and the dead should not linger, but pass on.  In the moment he condemned them, Andresh was set upon by the largest and most terrible of the world’s amalgamations and carried him to the Palace of Kamadeva.

The Citadel was cast in gold and bronze, it’s fountains flowed with wine and honey and blood.  Andresh was taken before Kamadeva himself, an enormous being who looked as a man but had six arms, his countenance handsome and striking, and skin the color of emeralds.  One hand stroked the mane of a great Lion, the second he held flat and upon it stood his human wives, modest in size next to his massive form.  In his third hand he held a white flame, pulsing and burning bright as if alive.  In his forth and fifth hands rested a great bow, made of sugar cane and strung with honey bees.  His sixth hand stroked his chin thoughtfully as he peered down at Andresh.

“You,” Kamadeva’s voice was smooth and soft, like a young boy, but the harshness of his anger apparent, “seek to discourage my people in their reverie? To kill the joy that threads my world is to unweave the world itself. Your condemnation brings destruction to my realm AND I WILL NOT HAVE IT!”

Kamadeva’s voice rang through the palace and all that followed was the growl of the great lion, and silence.  He waited for reply, but Andresh was no fool.  To openly speak against a heathen god in his own realm would mean a quick death.  Andresh would not bend his will to accommodate what he saw as aberrant though, and remained silent in defiance.  Kamadeva read this easily in Andresh’s face and his agitated expression split into a terrible smile.  He lowered a hand and sent forth his wives, they so equipped with instruments (and little else) began to sing and play and dance.  Each of Kamadeva’s wives bid to Andresh, each more beautiful then the last, with skin like honey and earth, lips like wine, hair like curtains of night, and eyes that shone green as the flesh of the lust-god himself.  They called to Andresh to lay with them as they sang and played and danced.

“Yes,” bid Kamadeva sweetly, “Take them Andresh, make them yours and you will have a place here in my kingdom for all time and as will your descendants. Satiate them with your seed and bring sons and daughters of Man to my world!”

The wives of Kamadeva danced provocativly, pressing their bodies close to Andresh, their dark hair surrounding him like campfire smoke.  Any man would’ve broken, given himself over willingly to Kamadeva’s wives and stood at Kamadeva’s side for all time.  Andresh though, as you know, is The Immortal, The Magician, The Alchemist.  His will was strong as Damascus steel.  He raised his hands above his head and his feet began to move.  Kamadeva and his wives watched with delight as Andresh began to dance.  Enthralled with the speed of his feet and the movement of his hands, Kamadeva and his wives failed to notice the palace’s fire, leaving their braziers and sliding like serpents along the shining floor.  Before the Lust-God or his harem could react the fire had consumed the demon guards and combined creating a spiralling funnel around Andresh.  

The women scattered at the sorcery as Andresh began to dance faster and faster and the fire built and built until the palace walls began to glow with heat.  Kamadeva was unphased and pressed forward with his third hand, which held the white flame, the fire of creation to which all gods are entitled.  The flame leapt from Kamadeva’s hand like a hungry beast and began to over come the fire now under Andresh’s control.  Kamadeva laughed as the palace flames and Andresh himself became consumed in the eternal fire.  Kamadeva’s laughter sputtered out as the white fire ceased to consume, but began to twin and embrace the palace flame, and soon the white and orange began their own dance, spiralling away to reveal Andresh poised with his hands held high above his head, unscathed, before flourishing back into his dance.

Kamadeva’s smile became a bewildered grimace.  Never had, never could, a mortal stand against the fire of creation.  None had weathered the temptation of his mistresses.  But Kamadeva wasn’t finished yet, he nocked his bow of cane and bee, and loosed an arrow, an arrow not meant to kill but to subdue.  An arrow made of spring wind and sweet scent, an arrow to calm the heart to direct it to love, not unlike the bolts of Eros .  Once pierced, Andresh would be under Kamadeva’s power.  But the arrow met shining floor and shattered as Andresh, still dancing, stepped away.  Andresh was now a dervish of fire and spirit, and arrow after arrow splintered as he danced across the throne room, determination and focus creasing his brow.  

Kamadeva threw back his head and roared in frustration, a cruel snarl marring his handsome face.  Kamadeva balled his remaining hand into a fist, bringing it high above his head.  Andresh knowing what was to come, reached inside himself to his secret knowledge, opened the gate that allowed him to traverse worlds, and stepped through just as Kamadeva’s hand came crashing down.  

Kamadeva opened his palm to see his work, to see the mortal sorcerer undone, but found no blood or bits of bone, only a black mark in his emerald palm.  His lips curled back with rage and he shouted “Agni! Brother! I invoke you! Spare my palace and I will repay your favor with the blood of those who defy me!” Closing his hand on the black mark, Kamadeva raised his fist to the air, “I OFFER SACRIFICE!”.

The twin fire syphoned from the walls of the palace and wrapped themselves into a sphere before Kamadeva.  The fires split to reveal a man who matched Kamadeva in size, in one of his many hands he held the palace fire, in the other the fire of creation. The former he dropped into a brazier as he approched Kamadeva, offering the latter. “There is unrest in your house, my Brother.” His voice like the roar of a furnace, but bared no inflection.  Crimson skin sunk into coal eyes, staring darkly at Kamadeva,  “Why have you called upon me with such a tone?”.

Kamadeva subdued his rage in the presence of the heathen god of fire and acceptor of sacrifice. Meekly he accepted the white fire, then replied, “A Mortal challenged me in my own realm, as good as spat in my face, and narrowly evaded my grasp.”, Kamadeva raised his fist between them, “How do I make him pay!?”

Agni grabbed Kamadeva’s wrist, and as Kamadeva released the fist in suprise, Agni plucked the black mark from his hand.  Raising his pinched fingers to his eyes, Agni smiled in recognition, “Not so narrow, my brother. You have caught his shadow”.

“What of it!?” Kamadeva replied haughtily, “What is the worth of a man’s shadow?”.  Agni grasped the dark form tightly “A man’s shadow walks through life with him, lives as he lives, and is as much a part of him as any limb, any thought...” Kamadeva’s gaze turned from anger to confusion, confusion tinged with fear in the face of his brother’s terrible knowledge.  “And so?”

“And so there will be sacrifice, debt will be paid”, Kamadeva turning his gaze from the dark thing to Kamadeva, meeting his eyes only for a moment.  Kamadeva nodded, “see that it is done”.

“And when it is?” Agni enquired. Kamadeva turned to leave his brother to his savage work, waving his hand dismissively he replied “Feed the Lion.”

Agni enacted ancient rites of sacrifice on Andresh’s shadow, rites so brutal that the shadow cried out as if it were a man itself.  Pain you see is meant to be shared, even for a shadow, and when you put pain one would bestow upon a whole thing on to one small piece, it’s pain multiplied for that one small piece.  In this case, it was enough to break Andresh’s shadow, and as instructed, Agni left the remains of the shadow to the Lion.  

The Lion savored the meal but in the night something strange happened.  The Lion cried out as though ill, and began to change.  Andresh’s Shadow was as stubborn as the man himself you see, though the torture had driven to the brink of madness.  The Lion began to manifest strange forms.  A head broke from the lion’s right shoulder, a ram’s head baying and angry, and from it’s left shoulder a serpent,  a wyrm that spit flame.  A Chimera was born, each head signifying some part of the Sorcerer gone wrong, the Ram a testament to his tenacity, the Dragon a sign of his arcane might, the Lion’s head remained, embodying his determination.  This thing though was not an elegant mix of the traits that made Andresh who he was, it was a dark and twisted reflection, a nightmare given shape.  This is what his shadow had become and the creature roared.  Tearing a hole in reality, calling upon it’s dark inner gate, just as Andresh had, The Beast set out to find it’s master, to reunite, and to share with it’s whole the unspeakable horrors that had been inflicted upon it.

This is his curse, some say even now he runs to escape the bloody retribution for his crimes against a god, to deny the agony that builds the longer he is in pieces.  They say this is the reason Andresh is immortal, not because of his power, but because his natural form is broken, and death can not catch a man who has the power to step ahead of his Fate."