“Who is this indigo priestess?” Irwin demanded, looking up from print on the computer screen. “You created female characters, with back stories, based on the standard cerulean priest class?”
“Yeah, she’s… uh…” Chess felt his face reddening. The question forced him to think back for a moment: back before he had met Sariel, and before he had even come outside.
He struggled to go back in time: to remember when the game had been the most important thing in his life, and Lodestar had been a legend, some magical place beyond the walls of civ. Back then, the greatest thing he could have imagined was actually being at Lodestar, and simply having the opportunity to discuss the game with its creators. He had always longed to explain to them how much the game had changed his life, and his way of looking at the world, and how it had added purpose to his life when he was back in civ. But now, after all that he had been through -- and actually getting to know these guys and having to deal with their quirky and often annoying personalities -- well, now, he felt…
Chess smiled to himself. Yeah, he realized that he still felt the same way. Because everything that he had been able to achieve so far, the stories he had created, the strategies he had devised, and the ability to keep his own spirits up through the difficult times: it had all started with playing the game.
But he did not, he also realized with a quiet, inward laugh, have the self-confidence to try and explain all of that to Irwin. Not just yet, anyway. And Irwin, who was now restlessly clicking through the pages that Chess had typed up for him, was waiting for an answer to his question.
Chess took a deep breath and tried to focus. He began to explain the story that he had created for the indigo priestess: how her home temple had been destroyed and they, Chess’s group of adventurers, had journeyed with her to the closest sister temple. How Chess, the master thief, had sometimes lost her and gone searching on winding expeditions of his own. And how, as they traveled across the countryside, the legend of the priestess and her magic, and the goddess that she served, had grown in the imaginations and the stories of the people, until it became a mythology of its own.
Irwin looked mildly interested. “How about fleshing that out some more: give me more details from that storyline. I think we can include it as part of the next module that we put out.”
Chess blinked at him, stunned. “Uh… okay,” he finally answered. And, taking Noah up on the offer of assistance that he had made, he got to work.
The next draft that he presented, with a nervous smile and sweating palms that he rubbed on his jeans while Irwin read, included maze-like hallways filled with intrigue and danger, marauding gangs of half-man creatures who relentlessly track adventurers, and a massively powerful dragon that guarded a unique treasure. Lodestar approved.
Sometimes Chess shook his head at the sheer wonder of it all: he was at Lodestar; he was doing things he had only dreamed of doing; he had managed to lead his friends to a place where they could be reasonably safe and comfortable. And he had found out the secret of the water wizards, of all things – something that Home Defense, with all of their resources, could not even manage.
But sometimes… sometimes he just left it all behind and went fishing with Gryff.
Gryff’s private wanderings had not changed his personality much. He was still uniquely reticent. And they never discussed the subject that had caused him to leave. Chess was terrified to get anywhere near that topic, because Gryff might get upset and decide to leave again, and Chess did not want that to happen. So they just spent time in each other’s company, mostly in silence.
And, sometimes, on overcast afternoons or in early morning hours when the sky was gray, Chess wandered off on his own. It surprised him that even here, at Lodestar, where he wanted to be, he was restless. He finally concluded that he was just way too accustomed to being constantly in motion. Eventually, he figured, he would calm down and be capable of sitting still, like a normal human being.
Eventually, he thought, maybe he would even be capable of the kind of single-minded focus that Sariel was now demonstrating.
Continued next page...
“Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping the outcomes [of the various societies' histories] towards success or failure: long-term planning and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.”
- Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
Speaking of changing our ecosystems, Time Magazine recently had a cover article about foreign species invading the ecosystem of the U.S.. The more we “globalize,” the more risk we run of importing diseases, pests, and new species of animals which might cause problems for our native species and for us. Like the historical events which now oblige gardeners in Australia to have to deal with the huge population of imported rabbits, many of these “aliens” multiply easily in new lands. Some even some start killing off other species which have no natural defenses against them. The huge population of Burmese pythons in the Florida everglades is a classic example.
But these sorts of importations have happened throughout history, and the ecosystems change. Environments are changing ever more quickly now because of global warming. Plants and animals die off in areas that were once hospitable to them, and begin to thrive in new areas. The question for us is: will we continue to cling to our old ways of doing things, like creating energy, food, housing, and consumables, until we exhaust the supply of traditional raw materials? Jared Diamond writes about the Viking colony that settled on the coast of Greenland between the tenth and fifteenth centuries and proceeded to do just that. They kept going for a long time, maybe about five hundred years. For some, it probably seemed as if they would be successful forever, because they were employing the methods that had always worked well before. But eventually, it all collapsed. In their case, it seems that supply ships from Norway had helped them to keep going, and when those stopped coming it might have been the beginning of the end. We don’t have supply ships to help us cling to a past era, though. Perhaps the only way to greet our changing world is not to expend increasingly more energy to fight it, but to adapt to it. In Columbia, South America, there is a colony that has been taking on the challenge of doing exactly that.
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