Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Stifling Complacency

Baah-baah, they say. Cluck-cluck. They bide their time.
Oh, what do I do with myself now... I have a system in place, that serves me well. It's called "playing it safe": there still are random factors beyond my control, this is well, but on the main I'm able to mitigate the worst disasters due to having managed my property with discipline. On the surface of Ellery Island, my sheep and chicken mingle well, produce eggs and wool, and when they are numerous I render them to meat-stuffs. Between them and my well-tended plots of carrots, potatoes and wheat, I will never go hungry. As Heraclitus saith...

...nope, that's still gone. I've lost all my Classics. This saddens me deeply.

Far beneath the soil, my personal dungeons step safely down into an enormous fissure, on either side of which I have wrought walkways with protective stone fences. These are all well-lit, and I may easily work my way down to wherever mineral resources show themselves without threat. My equipment is sound and I dispatch the random beasts whenever they appear. I keep a cache of roasted potatoes whenever my strength wanes, and I may return speedily to my underground base whenever I'm overburdened with ore and treasure. Such is the scope of my work, it is now quite difficult to become lost in these tortuous caverns and railed gangways: if I should forget my turns or misstep into distant recesses, it is not long before I find the well-groomed corridors of my own design, as they are frequent and widespread, and then all roads lead back to Rome.

The author aligns an arrow at yet another witch.
All of my techniques are advanced now: even in mining, I have developed a method I call "fanning", as it spreads out and maximizes explored potential while reducing labor. Into every third meter of wall, I dig as far, as high and as deeply as I can reach, gouging out an enormous semicircle of excavation. In this manner I have increased my odds of finding resources—not perfectly, but greatly to my benefit. My hauls are impressive and the cost is ever-lower. I should say I have more iron and gold than I know what to do with.

So you see, there is little challenge any more. This laces a dormancy upon my soul, and everywhere I look my soul sighs, This again? I lure the sheep to one side of their corral with a fist of wheat, then rush to the gate and enter before they see their chance to escape. I shear white and brown wool, large bags of it, and I feed them and breed them, and I hew them for dinner. I needn't search for them, and they grow hale and robust under my care. Then I trot back down to my dungeons, explore a new area, fend off the archer-skeletons, pepper the nameless creeping horrors with a few choice arrows, then illuminate the grounds and it is mine.

Now, O my reader, because I need not face you and there is no one to glance at me askew on Ellery Island and its subterranean jurisdiction, I will confess something which troubles my Conscience. Because I have reduced the risks to my person and messuage, it is difficult to grow and excel as a warrior. As I mentioned prior to this, the defeat of these unwholesome monsters is the means by which one develops potence and character, necessary not just to survive but improve one's equipment. As I have recently repaired and enchanted my favorite sword, Biter, the process has taken quite a lot out of me, and I needed to "recharge" myself with combat. However, it would not do to plunge into unknown ranges, finding myself abruptly vulnerable to overwhelming and unforeseen odds. This never bodes well.

The monster-generator, unfair and perfect.
I have created a workaround to compensate for my momentary weakness, by fabricating the conflict with zero risk to myself. As these monsters spawn only in darkness, thus have I carved out a long and narrow corridor, stout doors at either end, which leads into an enormous cavern of my own design. It is poorly lit, and I have introduced a few winding passages to promote its darkling. There is no random factor, only that I should enter well-armed and girded for battle, allowing the unintelligent beasts to line up and trudge at me, hapless and desperate. They cannot flank me, and the archer-skeleton will stand back and fire shots into the backs of the A.C.M.s, unable to reach me. With very little strain I may execute them all, reap my experience, then safely seal it all back up and go about my gardening until the next round propagates.

This makes me ill to my stomach. We are all living entities... well, they are not alive, yet not quite dead, but we all have the primary motivation to pursue our interests. I seek nourishment just as they do; I shrink from pain just as they do. Yet only I am able to pen them like so many sheep, and exploit their hunger for my gain. Over and over they come at me, mainly insensible and wholly nescient, and my greatest concern is to avoid scraping the fine tip of Biter against the wall of the corridor, nothing more than this, as I remain standing and dozens of them fall to my blows.

It doesn't seem fair. It's unfair when several of them surround me at once, but this does not seem to "balance" anything. This is not a reckoning, I don't feel as though I'm avenging past wrongs at the hands of their brethren or ilk. I am simply bettering myself at the exploit of their entirety. There is no risk to me (barring Biter shattering in my hands, which it shall not do since its upgrade), and these unholy wretches stand to lose everything.

Thoreau is dismayed to find the boat disappeared.
As necessary as my personal advancement is to me, I feel wretched and low. I cannot stay here any longer, on Ellery Island, and I cannot return to the mundanity of Bartram Island, neither. Everything is well-established there, orderly and free of confrontation. I have a broader range of livestock there, though on Ellery Island I've begun to cultivate melons and pumpkins, found in rail-carts, which are not available anywhere else. I suppose I could bring new seeds to Bartram Island but this is hardly a worthy adventure.

No sooner have I touched my restlessness, however, than a twist in my plot has developed. Out of curiosity I sauntered around the island to the little cove I've dug to house my boat, only to discover it missing. The tide has unlikely pulled it away, as there are no currents here, but the occasional desperate A.C.M., archer-skeleton or unnamed creeping horror has fallen into the artificial basin, and one of these may have pushed it out of the way until it floated across the sea, never to be found again.

Yet do I contort this as a sign to leave the island for new horizons, new challenges, and a more authentic existence than I've had just recently.

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