The Best of the Breath

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has some, forgive me, breathtaking moments. (Can we just pause to acknowledge that Nintendo absolutely nailed the nomenclature there?)

I never, ever would have guessed that the Zelda chain (on account of all those Links) would ever transpose well into an open world. However in hindsight, most of the Zelda games have been open world exploratory adventures, right from the first. I guess what blows my mind is the scope of the game, how very, very big it is, and how many small details and secrets are built into it. For as long as I could remember, I have loved the idea of secrets hidden in plain sight, and BotW is a dream come true for me. I would like to share some of my favourite moments of the game to date.

 


Early in the game I was exploring the headland of South-eastern Hyrule. As I ran towards the cliff’s edge, perhaps a hundred metres above the sea, I noticed a great hole in the landscape and I became immediately suspicious. I approached the hole cautiously and heard a peculiar rumbling. I decided to whip out my Sheikah Slate to see if I could get a better look down the hole when I lost my footing and found myself plummeting down it. I whipped out my paraglider to slow my fall and had a good look around as I descended. A shaft of light beamed from the hole cut into the high ceiling of the enormous cavern I was in, illuminating a sleeping giant whose snores seemed to cause the very ground to tremble. All around us glittered deposits of ore and precious gems, and it occurred to me that if I wanted to mine them I would need to first neutralise their guardian. I donned my Sheikah clothes for soundless movement and crept around him, wondering about the best way to defeat him. In the end, I tucked a bomb between his legs, crept around to his head, and detonated it as I began stabbing him vigorously. Suddenly a health bar appeared on the HUD, identifying my first overworld boss to be a Hinox. I broke several of my weapons upon its robust flank, peppering its eye with arrows until it exploded in a cloud of smoke. My heart raced as I gathered the rare ingredients it had left in its wake, and the whole experience left me feeling exhilarated. It would take me some time to realise that the thrill of battle and conquering a powerful foe was my favourite part of the game.


 

Rumour had it that a Spring of Power existed at the summit of Mount Lanayru. I decided to investigate and made my way into the mountain range that surrounded it. To my surprise, my warm jacket was not sufficient to keep out the cold, and I had to rely on food to keep up my body heat. In addition to the cold, I had underestimated the breadth of the mountain, and it took me several trips to reach the top (because I had to re-supply to survive the climb). As I crested the summit, I found a sickened dragon curled around the fountain, infected with Ganon’s blight. It fled, and without hesitation I launched myself off the mountain after it, shooting the blight off of it with precisely placed arrows. After chasing it from peak to peak and freeing it from the Malice, it landed before me and asked me to remove a scale from its own hide. I offered this to the Goddess of the Spring and was granted entrance into the heart of the mountain. It humbled me that, lowly as I was, I had been of service to the Goddess and its guardian spirit.


 

While visiting my brother, I played his copy of Breath of the Wild while he was eating dinner. I came across a lake and, as always, I used my magnesis rune to search for hidden treasure. As well as a number of treasure chests, I found metal boulders attached to chains which signified the hiding places of mischievous Korok’s. Just as I was about to leave, I noticed two wells that seemed to have been boarded up. After a little bit of experimentation, I used Cyronis and Bombs to blow apart the barriers. Underneath one of them was further treasure, but underneath the other… To my absolute amazement, a golden dragon flew out of the lake, crackling with lightning. It electrocuted me as it passed, and I paused the game to deal with my shock (forgive me). My brother resumed playing, and then promptly started running in the opposite direction, his natural inclination to avoid such a powerful creature. I was flabbergasted he did not want to pursue it. It was a powerful experience to come from out of the blue.


 

Still high off my victory over the Hinox, I found myself at a cliffside shrine. As I descended, I was informed it would be a “Major Test of Strength”. I was excited: I had seven weapons, six hearts and a large supply of food. I’d recently acquired Knight’s Armour, and had not yet found any of the fights to be a challenge yet. Enter the Guardian Scout, equipped with Ancient Battle Axe++, Ancient Spear++ and Ancient Shield+. Every time it swung its weapon, it would take me from full health to a quarter of a heart. Even with my armour and iron shroom skewers, it kicked my ass all around the room and killed me pretty effortlessly. I refused to leave, each battle improving my timing with dodges and shield bashes, opening room for counter attacks. My piddly weapons barely scratched its armour, and I broke sword and axe, spear and shield upon it without much effect. It took me many, many tries to survive the encounter, and eventually I succeeded by the skin of my teeth, breaking the automaton apart and harvesting its mechanisms. I promptly wasted those powerful weapons, not knowing how rare they were. I’ve participated in many Tests of Strength since, but with my Guardian Armour and Ancient Weapons, the thrill just isn’t the same. Like in the days of Morrowind, I am starting to crave an enemy who can best me.


 

I spent many, many hours in the mountains of the Gerudo Highlands, searching for the rumoured statue of the Eighth Heroine of lore. I became extremely proficient at riding my shield down the slopes ala Legolas, picking off Lizalfos with fire arrows as I went. I combed almost every inch of those peaks looking for that damned statue, and it was during those lonely nights in the frigid mountains that I saw him: Soaring through the air in a streak of plasma was the Lightning Dragon, Farosh. I was, forgive me, electrified. Somehow I had gotten it into my head that the dragons would take me to a Great Fairy Fountain, or a place of great power, so I immediately set out in pursuit of him to do what my brother would not. Farosh quickly outpaced me, and I realised that my chase would be a long one. I built campfires (no mean feat during the blizzards) and waited until dusk, marking on my map each point of his journey and running alongside him for as long as I could manage each night. As I sprinted along the peaks, I would sometimes get caught in his updraft and rise to fly alongside him. Once, I flew too close and actually collided with him in a shower of sparks and pain. After many nights of tracking his path, I eventually saw his departure: he flew into the distant skies and disappeared in a maelstrom of clouds. We flew together through those lonely peaks, and I never did find that fairy fountain.


 

Speaking of lightning, I was once again at my brother’s house playing his copy of Breath of the Wild when I was telling him about how much better I was at fighting Lynel (mighty centaur creatures) now, and how ashamed I was that he saw me struggle so much with the one I helped him kill. Literally moments later, the camera panned and we saw another Lynel on a nearby plateau, this one with a blue mane, far stronger than the one I had initially killed. He handed me the controller and said, “Well there’s your chance,” and I vowed to beat it without needing to eat once. And, as it happened, my brother had almost no food, only one good sword (50 damage, compared to his other weapons of about 20 strength) and only a handful of arrows. As I approached, it began to rain, and soon after my weapons started crackling with the static of a thunderstorm. I engaged the Lynel as lightning flashed, setting fire to the trees all around us as we did battle upon the mountaintop. I admit, with his squishy clothing and limited supplies, I died many times. But eventually, right when it seemed all hope was lost, I got into the zone. I dodged every attack perfectly, creating opportunities for flurries. I switched between my wooden and electrified weapons with just enough time to do decent amounts of damage. I shot him in the face and rode him like a pony, stabbing him over and over again until I was victorious without having taken a single blow. It was a glorious battle.


 

High above the hidden village of Kakariko, at the summit of the tallest peak, I found a half-buried metal chest. Using magnesis to wrest it from the earth (and then again to catch it as it promptly started sliding off the mountainside), I found an exquisite sword. It was an Eight-fold blade, a traditional Sheikah weapon that someone had gone to great lengths to store. To give you some context, I barely made it to the summit in my full climbing gear with the help of a stamina potion approaching the peak. I often wonder about the person who dragged that chest all the way to the top, and what secret they were burying there.


 

Searching still the peaks of the Gerudo Highlands, I came across a single Bokoblin holding something that was glowing red and tentatively looking at some blocks of ice. I crept closer, curious, and realised that he was surrounded by several Moblins and Bokoblins who had been frozen solid. I started to wonder about what had happened: a villainous Ice Wizzrobe had trapped all of his friends and family and he, the lone survivor, had made the perilous journey into the lowlands to find a way of freeing them. Conquering trial and tribulation, he had eventually discovered a source of heat and warmth that could not be extinguished: the fire rod of a Fire Wizzrobe! Through cunning strategy and courageous battle, he bested the Wizzrobe in combat and took from him the source of his power. Making the long, cold journey back to the mountains, he had just reunited with his comrades and was in the process of discovering how to free them. I killed him immediately, took his fire rod, thawed the ice and killed his companions too. The rod was pretty handy to have until it ran out of fire.


 

There will be more stories to come!

A Genogram of the Elder Blood

The Witcher books by Andrzej Sapkowski make references to “The Elder Blood”. The Elder Blood was, in essence, a powerful combination of genes allowing the carriers to have profound magical potential. Starting with the Elven Sage Lara Dorren, her descendants carried diluted and mutated genes finally ending in Cirilla, Lion Cub of Cintra, Child of Destiny.

For my own pleasure (yes, pleasure), I drew some genograms by hand to make sense of the complex family tree. Realising my mad scribblings might be useful to others, I googled free programs for genograms and came across Smart Draw. After two hours of fiddling around with the trial (and there was much fiddling – the basic program wasn’t equipped to show second marriages let alone incest), I finally produced a straightforward lineage of the Elder Blood.

To my great astonishment, and then rage, I discovered there was an indelible watermark stamped across the whole thing, and it would not be removed unless I bought the full version of the software. Still, I didn’t want the fruits of my labour to go to waste so I’ve decided to preserve it here. I hope you find it useful.

Umbilical Tethers

The bonds of the Past
Cannot be cast.
Invisible, immaterial,
Indestructable, ethereal.

We are born from it.
We cannot be without it.
Even when it restricts us.

No scissors or blade
Can sever the tether
Of what once was.

All we can do
Is strive to be
Who we choose
In spite of history.

My Values

In my work, the word values is thrown around a lot. Everyone has them, and they define what things are important to us. Through my education and reflections, personal and professional, I’ve spent a long time thinking about my values but not really being able to figure out what they were. I had a rough idea about what was important to me but I could never really define or understand in beyond a vague sense.

And then one of my mentors gave me a list of values and the challenge of picking just a handful of ones that were important to me. I found it much easier to go down a list and tick ones which resonated with me rather than trying to figure them out for myself, I ended up ticking 97 out of the 400 listed (with a few that I’d added). Of those I picked twelve which were very important to me, and from those 12 I selected my top three. My key values are:

  • Courage
  • Fitness
  • Frugality
  • Gentleness
  • Honesty
  • Intelligence
  • Introspection
  • Order
  • Sexuality

My top three are:

  • Discipline
  • Helpfulness
  • Solitude

 

What do you think? Sounds like me, or not at all?

It’s an exercise I really valued (doubtless the introspective side of myself), and I learned a lot about Beth who did it too. If you’d like to give it a go, we used this list, but there are plenty of others on the interwebs.

http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2004/11/list-of-values/

Reflections on 2016

2016 has been a bad big year for me. (That was a genuine typo, or perhaps a Freudian slip. I’m very tired.) Lots of people (myself included) have complained about 2016 as the year of Trump and Celebrity Deaths. And lots of people have urged these not to become the theme of the year: to choose to see love instead of fear, hope instead of despair. Lots of things have happened in 2016, and for me personally, and in many significant ways it’s been the most eventful year of my life.

Peppermint (The Muffinthief) Silvermane had just come into our lives, and I learned what it meant to be a responsible pet owner for the first time ever. I mean, I knew all the theory, I’d just never had enough responsibility to care for the welfare of another sentient being (apart from poor Lyota). It was a great challenge for me not to despair when she toileted all over Beth’s favourite rug and our bags, causing my black belt to reek of cat pee. I had never been so hurt and so angry in all my life, (except perhaps for that time the Sorting Hat believed I might be in Slytherin), and I really did consider giving her away again. My relationship with Peppermint is a work in progress, and I’m coming to terms with her infrequent levels of affection and her dislike for being picked up. We’re living pretty harmoniously at the moment.

I got married, too! A very big event indeed. So much organising, and so much money! Still, apart from the blur of congratulations and the extensive photo shoot, I still remember how beautiful my bride looked and how wonderful it was to spend the day in the company of friends and family.

Our second trip to Japan was incredible, and brought many new and treasured memories. Among my happiest moments were putting on samurai armour and walking the streets of Miyajima, grilled dango at Mt Inari, Anita and all her antics, and most of all HogwartsVisiting South Korea for the first time was quite an adventure in itself, and I’m very grateful to have formed the memory of Hot 6 on a Starcrafty night.

While I hate to talk about work, I must admit it was a huge year for my career as well. I started working on a new mental health project in my organisation, one that had some very rocky moments. It was, and is, a stressful and rewarding part of my life. I’ve learned so much professionally and personally, the growth I’ve undergone in my practice this year is quite immeasurable. (We also won the Outstanding Team and Team of the Year awards!)

I’ve done three chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) performances this year, mainly o-temae, and acquired enough implements to perform ryakubon (a portable tea ceremony using a platter) and chabako (a tea ceremony set to take on picnics). To my great sadness, my teacher has returned to Japan (though she will visit in the following months) and we shared a beautiful chaji (formal, themed tea ceremony including a kaiseki – a special meal and sake).

In my study of martial arts, I’ve undertaken some extra duties for the school as well. I clean and do extra training after every class, and it’s been wonderfully gratifying transforming the building week by week, item by item. As I said to another student recently, if there’s a piece of paper in the building I know what it says. It’s been especially rewarding for me to take the initiative and buy, clean and organise things for the benefit of the dojo, talk to the neighbouring shops to reestablish good relations, decorate for the holidays and create beautiful, open spaces so the building can breathe. I’ve been teaching more, too. I’ve probably taken about a dozen classes in the school, as well as teaching taiji to a group of Mum’s on a carer’s retreat.

Beth and I moved out of our small townhouse and into a unit with three bedrooms. Moving house is always a massive project, and it’s been fantastic having enough room to just spread out. I’ve got my study, a room of swords and computers, Beth’s got her den, full of herbs, books and crystals, we’ve both got a loungeroom that isn’t tucked under the stairs… It’s been a wonderful year for decluttering and refocussing.

 

Speaking of refocussing, I’ve actually got a few resolutions I’d like to make for the New Year. I’m going to try making them SMART (or at the very least, Specific and Measurable). They are:

  1. Watch The Appendices (Making of) The Lord of the Rings for half an hour every morning for a month, or until I’ve finished them all.
  2. Go for a run once a week for at least three months.
  3. Do weights once a week, preferably after every class at the Academy.
  4. Study Japanese for an hour at least once a fortnight. I’d love to say that I could do it every other day, but I don’t have a lot of desire to spend my extra energy on study outside of work and training!
  5. Be more mindful of food. This is a hard one to measure, but maybe

Welp, it’s looking like this year will be a good’un. Can’t believe the end of year holidays have passed by so quickly. Here’s hope, for a bright 2017.

10 000 views

10 000 views already! Seems like a milestone to come upon quite quickly. It feels like only a few months ago I posted my 1000th blog post (when in reality it’s been two and a half years). As I said in that post, at the height of my blog’s popularity I was averaging 200 views a month (between 5-14 a day), which frankly astounded me because I had never intended for anyone to read it except incidentally. Changing the name and url of my blog drastically cut down views because google still linked to my old url’s which no longer work, but since that change they’ve slowly built up to about 150 views a month.

And you know what my most popular post is? Outstandingly, by a huge margin, it’s my Katawa Shoujo: Shizune and Misha’s path. Why this one, and not any of the other excellent (better?) ones? No idea. Must be one of those situations where its popularity builds upon itself. I guess my blog is going to be known for my love of that game that made me a better person. (To be fair, I did put a lot of effort into those posts.)

To celebrate my 10 000th view, here’s the long-awaited sequel to my favourite search terms that people have typed into google to find their way here. (For the original lists, see here and here!)

  • “weald and orgasm videos”
  • “arrogant taekwondo instructors” and “arrogant oh do kwan”
  • “neaning of scalebtino” (This redirected someone to my blog on the Kinsey Scale. Probably not what they were looking for! XD)
  • “what does it mean when you dream calling xin?”
  • “how to weald the kung fu long staff” (I’m so touched someone thought that I would have any idea.)
  • “the tao, violence, logos 1”
  • “morrowind taoist monk build” (YES! Someone getting into Role Playing as much as I did!)
  • “skyrim astrid hot” (twice!)
  • “master moy lin shin drinking whiskey” (Oh dear XD)
  • katawa shoujo changed my life (me too buddy. Me too.)
  • wu-wei dao karate belts
  • female ninja iga ninja village
  • old tatami apartment tokyo
  • “what could you prefer in a life patnar looks , intelligence &weald”
  • “aunty dreem weald bathing photo”
  • weald class big vagiena
  • “weald.sex.big.ass” (How my blog turned into some kind of porn database is beyond me)

My 2003 Diary

2003 was one of the hardest years of my life, and I didn’t much relish the thought of going back through my diary to see what sort of person I was back then. I’m glad I did though – I learned a lot of important things about the way I used to think, and about the sorts of things that were important to me. It was also the year I grew up – for the most part, I put less faith in fantasy and accepted my grim reality. They were dark times.

***

Like the two years previous, I pretended my diary was a human girl I could share my secrets with as I searched desperately for safety, companionship and affection in the world. I was quite obsessed with romance and intimacy, until half a year of high school led me to abandon this childish fantasy and bleakly accept my diary as an unfeeling book to record my thoughts and feelings in.

***

My relationship with my brother was at its worst. There were constant violations of privacy, trust and safety. For instance, he set up bugs in my room so he could listen to what I was doing -they didn’t work very well, but I felt like I was under surveillance and had to be very careful not to bring his wrath down upon me. I felt the exuberant happiness of freedom whenever he was away, and discovered the safety of isolation. I lived in fear of him, and thought he was trying to ruin my life to the point where I committed suicide. However, at the end of the year I recognised that he wasn’t always terrible, I just tended to write in my diary when I was feeling awful about him. Things with my parents weren’t great either – there was much fighting and fear in the house.

***

I turned even more religious, if such a thing were possible. As well as striving to be an officer and a gentleman, I was obsessed with sin and salvation, and was convinced that God was punishing me for thinking about sex. Eventually I came to believe that challenge wasn’t punishment but God’s way of making me grow stronger.

***

I felt outcast and alone, and suicide was often on my mind. To get through these dark times, I believed if I could just will myself to do something then I could do it. Sheer willpower pulled me through the huge amount of pressure I put on myself, to literally “be perfect”.

***

I learned how to read and write ancient runes, largely to hide information from my brother. (Fun fact: runes pop up from time to time, like the Moon Runes in The Hobbit, and I greatly delight in being able to read them.)

***

OCPD was getting its hooks in. I got up regularly at 5am so that I had enough time to “get ready” for school. I was always playing catch-up, and desperately wished to avoid being held accountable for not meeting my ridiculously high standards.

***

In this turbulent sea of hurt and pain, the internet was my life raft that connected me to friends across the world. One of those friends was Ivy, a girl a year younger than me who I recognised as someone who would soon outgrow me in wisdom. I spent a lot of time in the early morning reading Zelda fanfics (including a certain Forest whose url I can recite to this day), playing games on newgrounds and eventually finding RuneScape. Truly, if not for the internet, I might have died that year.

***

After many months of this pain, Beki, a girl I met on MSN, helped me realise that I had to face my problems in real life, not fantasy. It was the start of everything changing.