#NBI2015Safari: And So It Ends

My final entry in Murf’s #NBI2015Safari will bring us back to where it all began, the high fantasy world of Tyria. My first entry was a self-portrait featuring a Sylvari ranger from Guild Wars 2. It is the image I use for most social media services as my personal avatar. Today’s submission is a companion to that self-portrait; it is the image that I use as a header here at Waiting For Rez, on Twitter, and a few other places as well. Whereas the self-portrait reflects a point of decision— whether to continue a life of adventure or retire to relative safety— this image illustrates the beauty one might find if one chooses to press on.

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Our Sylvari adventurer has continued his journey through the Brisban Wildlands, leaving the path of safety for darker roads. During his wanderings, he discovers a hidden grove within the jungle, forgotten by the outside world. Carefully traversing a narrow passage of damp, moss covered stone, Weakness emerges into a place of oversized, luminous fungi and still waters. He stops to rest for a while. There is no danger here, only the violence of beauty; a sanctuary undisturbed by the industrial machinations and savage wars of the “civilized” races. It reminds Weakness of the Pale Tree, or rather as he imagines the Dream would have been, were it unaffected by the Nightmare.

Weakness was born into conflict. His transition from the Dream to the Waking was a tumultuous birth, warring against tooth and claw for a chance at life— what should have been his by natural right.

“No one should have to battle for the right to be born,” he thinks, “an opportunity at life should not have to be earned.” The wind ripples the waters at his feet, silently affirming the ranger’s indignation and loss.

It is this thought that steels his resolve, the injustice of never knowing the Dream-that-was or a peaceful Waking. He will fight the Nightmare Court. His world may be tainted by the narcissistic cruelty of Sylvari twisted by the Nightmare, but that does not mean it must remain that way. Weakness rests cross-legged in that place for several hours, allowing the saturated hues and laughing curves to take root in his heart. This sanctuary will be the image that burns in his mind when he is hopeless, wearied, and afraid. The hidden grove of Auroria’s Remains will be the tattered banner he will carry, the hill he will die on. Should he live to see the dragons destroyed and the Sylvari people saved from themselves, Auroria’s Remains will be the place to which he retires, but not until he secures the right for all Sylvari— for all Tyria— to dwell in a haven of their own choosing as well.

Looking one last time upon the grove, Weakness bids the maiden farewell; he will likely never see her again. Broadsword in hand, he disappears once more into the shadowy crest that hides this sanctuary from the horrors to which he returns.

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#NBI2015Safari: Hunting Werewolves

There are rumors of werewolves hidden among the people of Aldcroft. Fahd’ali approaches the town with caution, the full moon hidden by fog rolling in from the west. Bow drawn, arrow notched, and daedric companion at the ready he takes a deep, steadying breath before pressing forward. The town is quiet; although it’s several hours until midnight, even the local tavern is lifeless. The only sound is that of the sorcerer’s leather boots padding across the vacant, cobbled street.

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Nearby a door shuts swiftly, startling Fahd’ali. He hears the turning of a lock then all is quiet once more. Before pressing deeper into the town square Fahd’ali closes his eyes, listening for predatory sounds but hearing nothing; only stillness. The air is stale, warm. He slips further into an awareness of his environment, allowing his senses to wander through the palpable tension in the atmosphere.

Suddenly, the howl of a werewolf cuts through the rigid void. The moon, no longer hidden by the fog bathes Fahd’ali in a morose light, plainly marking him as the only living soul foolish enough to be out in the open. Off in the distance the creature howls once more, this time with an eagerness for the hunt. Fahd’ali raises his bow and whispers incantations of wind and lightning.

He is ready; he is afraid.

#NBI2015Safari: A Sylvari Self Portrait

Look, this is probably going to be cheesy, alright? I’d like to tell you that’s not normally to my taste, but truth is I’m still a bit of a romantic. And not just in the rose petals and candlelit dinner sort of way; I love John Cusack blaring Peter Gabriel from a 1980s boom box as much as the next guy, but that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the idealist, the visionary, the person who wishes the adventurous nature of fantasy was reality. We’re talking Don Quixote fighting windmills style romanticism.

That’s what I see in this screen shot from Guild Wars 2. I hardly ever play the game anymore and yet this picture has become the one I use on Twitter, forums, and here at WordPress as my self-portrait. This picture of my ranger invokes hopefulness, an adventurer peering out at the next leg of his journey. He is eager, anticipating adventure and either blind to or undeterred by the prospect of danger.

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Or perhaps his gaze is one of hesitation and uncertainty. He’s older now and has lost much of the recklessness of youth. Wiser, sure, but also cautious to a fault. He’s experienced enough failure to be a realist despite his propensity toward being a romantic. Nevertheless, the horizon calls, the promise of another adventure on the other side of that massive, stony divide.

That is why I love this screen shot, it evokes so many possible dispositions for the gazing Sylvari, all of which I can sympathize with. Whether his mindset is one of fear or expectation, he looks outward regardless. Signs of growth sprout from his head, green shoots that promise maturation with time. Eventually he will leave this vista and step back on the path of exploration. The only question that remains, how long will he linger and what will his hesitation cost him?