Jinx’s Vacation

Wine, Women & Blood
Jim Vassilakos
Her blood drops fall, one…two… three, Jinx squeezing her finger as the circular ripples dance along the wine’s surface, her blood magically imbuing the ruby liquid with a subversive charm. Then she brings her punctured finger to her lips, licking it, and her self-inflicted cut vanishes as quickly as though it were never there. “Bring me Nybotha,” she says, pushing the goblet across the table, and then pouring another for herself. Soon, the half-elf warrioress is before her, her red hair gleaming in the first rays of dawn. It is not their first drink together, but Jinx hopes that this will be the last that is required. “Today is the day.” Jinx tells her. “A toast,” she picks up her glass, “to victory.” “To victory,” Nybotha echoes, taking the goblet closest to her, as is now customary, and drinks. The blood, entering her as it has before, entwines about her spirit, releasing its spores into her soul and feeding the weed that Jinx has therein planted. Long has Nybotha felt uneasy with this sense of reality growing within her, but incognizant of the trickery, she has had no ideal place to attribute her misgivings and so has simply accepted the changes within her as a requirement of the new knowledge she has only recently obtained. This knowledge is that the universe is much larger than she once imagined, and that beings of which she had only dreamt are, in fact, both real and very dangerous. Hence, the acquisition of power is not merely a right but a duty, for power, like riches, will flow somewhere, and someone will obtain it and use it to their own ends. ‘Why not me?’ Nybotha now reasons, as is the reasoning of all who seek it. Then she remembers Uncle Cedric. What would he think of all this? What would he think of his beloved niece having pledged her soul to a devil? Jinx sees the sudden misgivings in Nybotha’s eyes and thereby reads her mind as simply as were it an unfurled scroll. “He wants you back,” Jinx says, answering the thoughts in her student’s mind, “and I don’t want any quandary before the mission.” “Quandary?” Nybotha asks. “Doubts. If I tell you one thing, and your uncle tells you another, I don’t want there to be a split second of hesitation.” “I’m a soldier. I know how to take orders.” “Are you sure you know where your loyalties lie?” “…Minx and Kyna told me that you are of their race, the devilkind, and I have heard many stories of them. However, what you’ve done for me and my people does not fit well with the tales.” “Are you not half-elf?” “You know that I am.” “And the other half…?” “I told you my father was human.” “So was mine.” “That explains much…, but what of your mother?” “She is... I don’t know if you would understand the difference, but she is half-demon and half-devil, and she is immortal. She is the daughter of a goddess.” “What goddess is this?” “A name that shall not be mentioned here.” “Why haven’t you told me any of this before?” “Would you have understood? You’d never left your world. How could you imagine another?” Nybotha ponders this momentarily, thinking of all she’s witnessed in the undead kingdom that is the Necrology of Dis. “I don’t need to imagine anymore,” she finally answers. “Cruel, yes,” Jinx nods. “Stable, yes.” “Do you prefer it?” “I need both. There are times that I do get the urge to kill, gain power, be protected.”1 “Is that what this is all about? Gaining power?”

“No, this is about gaining a home where I can relax and have friends. I can understand the extreme of Kakaljak or your uncle, and I can understand the extreme of the drow, but I can’t accept one or the other extremes by themselves. If I can ally the two to where I don’t have to be deceptive as to who my friends are, then that can be my home. The Hells are one extreme that I sometimes crave, and the work that I will do there…I don’t have to worry about my conscience since I’m dealing with beings who are guilty.” “Guilty of what? What did they do to go there?” “Some are born there; some have always been there, but it’s definitely a culture that I want to belong to. Remember, we can be born guilty.”2 “And what about me? Am I guilty too?” “Of believing the half-drow were guilty.”3

GM: “Oh, experience points.” Jinx’s Player: “You have different levels of blackbelt in our world. D&D is that type of world. We know we have to kick ass to improve.”

This, I feel, is fundamentally false, and it was commonly employed as a source of reasoning by those in favor of the notion that people could be justifiably born slaves. Hence, after all the speechifying at the war council (see last issue), I am surprised that Jinx should succumb to this notion. Nonetheless, I did not have Nybotha question it except insofar as applying Jinx’s reasoning to her own state of grace. 3 When Jinx first met Nybotha, Nybotha was leading a war party on a hunting expedition. They had ambushed Jinx’s party as well as the half-drow who was leading them through the forest, but the battle had not gone quite as Nybotha planned. I still have the rudiments of a write-up in the form of PBeM correspondence which took place after the actual scene was played out. This is now slightly over ten years old, and it might make for an interesting A&E submission, so I might try to put it together for next month, just so that those who are interested can see how Jinx and Nybotha first met, although I’ll admit that I’m somewhat hesitant, because it continues these sorts of installments where Jinx is really much more powerful than any other characters in the scene, and so it doesn’t have the sort of suspense that might be invoked by a more traditional sort of scene where the hero must survive by use of his wits. I suppose we may get to those sorts of scenes

“Those were different times, though not so long ago. Is everything fixed now? Has the truce held?” “From what I hear,” Jinx slowly shakes her head, “the alliance may be fraying…some might even say burning because of a few who want it to burn. Night raids by unknown parties have been occurring. I’ve sent Malina, Sheetah and Ilix to douse this flame.” “Any clue as to who is behind it?” “They look like elves in the night. That’s all we know.” “Have there been reprisals?” “Nybotha, you think acres; I think of a continent. I have already delegated this assignment. It is no longer of my concern. They’ll report back to me when then need to. You need to look beyond mere acres.” Nybotha thinks on this for a moment, reflecting upon how puny her power seems compared to Jinx and her many minions. In sparing, Malina was as quick and skilled as she, and yet she has witnessed her, Kyna, and Minx all obeying Jinx’s orders without hesitation. Even the library of the Necrology, which, of course, she was never able to see in full, stretched on and on, seemingly endless. She thinks of her uncle Cedric’s little study, which he took a lifetime to build, and it is not difficult to contemplate the disparity in power and knowledge between Hell and the little castle she’s called home. “I am trying,” she finally responds. “Your city pays taxes to the same prince that the other leaders do, a prince who used to do quite a bit of business with Lord Vargar. Dasartros keeps your numbers low so you can’t revolt while you pay your worst enemy to be your champion. After we return from your training, and I have my next opportunity to spend time here, we will convince Cedric and the other leaders to stop paying these taxes, force a confrontation, and then destroy Rallu and its prince. That last bit I haven’t shared completely with the others, but I hinted at it.” “What did they say?” “They wish to see if I can back my words.” “What is it you need me to do?”
somewhat later, when we return to Hell and, more particularly, when we return to Malsheem.

“Regarding Cedric, be honest yet vague. Let him know that the work you will do, once you are trained to do it, will benefit Foundation and its surrounding communities in a variety of ways.” “You didn’t tell him where we went?” “Oh, no…where you train is information that can’t be shared.” Nybotha can’t help but smile, imagining her uncle’s shock were he to learn of her recent whereabouts. “I’ve told him not to engage you in conversation,” Jinx continues. “It doesn’t mean he will respect that.” “If he asks me questions, I shall tell him my mind is preoccupied…that all my thoughts are with my prince.” “That is suitable.” “I feel as though a change has come over me. I am ready to learn more.”4 “Well, finding out who killed one’s father can spark a curiosity, but know this... I knew none of this before I decided that you’d be the one given the offer for this position.” “When did you decide?” “When I knew the drow needed a female to respect as a negotiator. Likewise, the elves would have someone to represent them as well as the humans. And your family has history here and is trusted.” “So more for what I am than who.” “No…you also made the choice to give it a try. That is not easy for people to do.” “Give it a try?” “Peace,”5 Jinx clarifies. “And instead of Cedric finding a way to talk to you, you should talk to him, and when he asks about me, don’t be ambiguous about our relationship… me being your master. He needs to accept that so that he can accept himself as the ruler of Foundation.” “And if he should ask if I will ever return?” “Oh, you will return, but it could be as long as a couple years, and when you do, you will be the overseer.”

In retrospect, I find this line highly suspect. Implicit to Jinx’s blood magic is that the enchanted victim isn’t supposed to consciously recognize that they are changing. Nonetheless, I probably just wanted to keep the conversation moving and couldn’t think of anything else for Nybotha to say. 5 Nybotha helped Jinx to forge the treaty between the humans & half-drow.

“Meaning?” “You will make the decisions for the area unless they unanimously say otherwise.” “And this you have said to Cedric?” “In roundabout ways, yes.” “What of this would you have me say to him?” “I prefer the suggestions I give those I work with to be broad, yet I want the parameters to be clear enough but not so clear that those I work with ever question their freedom.” “Freedom? You think I can forget of what was said at Vargar’s lair before I shorn off his head?” “Make no mistake, I’m your master until I feel you’ve come far enough, and one of my responsibilities as your master is to train you.” “Train me for what?” “Negotiating…being able to speak on your feet. If you feel the need to always be specific with those you oversee, you may have to share things with them that needn’t be shared.” Nybotha regards Jinx for a moment, unsure how to respond. “Look at it this way,” Jinx continues. “If the drow invited you to dinner, and you saw some of them eating a human leg, and you see a marking on the leg, perhaps a tatoo that was a symbol of the thieves’ guild that was threatening your town…in actuality, they would be doing your town a favor. Yet is it really necessary to share with Cedric what you had for dinner with the drow?” “He would not understand.” “Take it further. If some of the powers you gain are needed to take down someone that is making problems for the alliance, you might want them not to know you have the power to magically melt your victim with acid even while you are swinging your blade.” Nybotha blinks momentarily, wondering if Jinx is joking but also knowing better than to ask. Then, very quickly, she remembers her first encounter with Jinx and the powers that she witnessed, the black lightning and the horse that could fly. “What is to become of me?” Nybotha finally asks, emotionless. “Responsibility.” Later, when they meet with the others and Cedric approaches her, asking about Jinx and from whence she comes, Nybotha answers thus:

“Like all of us, from a mother and a father.”

Comments on A&E #402:
To those who responded to my essay of #401, I see that my words have not met with complete and resounding approval. Paul Cardwell asks, “Which Paul pontificates about roleplaying?” I apologize for where I was overly vague. I suppose that all the Pauls pontificate about roleplaying to some degree, but I was referring specifically to Paul Mason who can pontificate like a pontiff…and then some. Paul Cardwell adds, “I thought the exchange of pontification was the purpose of A&E.” It would seem that we had thought similarly. As you may recall, some years ago, I began exploring modern geopolitics as a way of furthering my education in preparation for developing a near-future RPG. This entailed some rather long-winded pontifications on my part as well as many questions, but instead of being allowed to discuss ad infinitum, the outcome of these efforts was the current two-page limit on politics. How this squares with your notion that the purpose of A&E is “the exchange of pontification,” I’ll leave for you to determine. Suffice it say that for myself, the exchange of pontification has been curtailed, but I understand and even agree with the rule that has been put in place. I just wish everyone would live by it, allowing each to write as they wish, so long as this twopage rule is studiously observed. Eugene Reynolds writes, “…it is… my duty to make my points persuasively enough that people will freely respond, without malice.” Poppycock & balderdash! (I always wanted to say that, and you just gave me the perfect excuse…hence, I thank you). Let me attempt to tell you your duty, as I understand it. Your duty, quite simply, is to say the truth of what you believe…period…full stop…end of sentence. Putting this another way, it is your duty to testify to all of us the truth as you understand it in whatever words come to mind, and then to edit to the point you are saying what you want to say in the

way you want to say it. Ty is doing this. He’s writing as he desires, because the effect he wants is partially to offend. After all…what is the written word without a little surprise here and there? Some of us try to do it with humor. He does it with outrage, and his choice of words brings color and drama to what would otherwise be somebody else’s words, but not his own. You may, if you wish, look upon it as a performance by a professional, for that is perhaps what it is. Now, you might say that he is foolish for writing in this way, and if you did say that, you might even be right, but there are pros and cons. After all, Ann Coulter gets a lot more attention that Charles Murray, and I don’t think it’s just because she has better legs, although she certainly does. There’s a tradeoff, and Ty, being as intelligent and capable as he is, has no doubt weighed the pros and cons and made his choice accordingly. Regardless, if this is truly the voice that resides within, then he is called upon to share it with us—it is his duty to do so—and then it becomes our duty to try to understand him as best we can…and correct him, if we think he is in error. Humility, of course, is helpful on all sides, but of paramount importance, I think, is honesty and the preservation of the freedom for people to be honest with each other. Patrick Riley writes, “There is a point where you have to tell your argumentative cousin or in-law that he’s full of shit (or just dull) and to shut up.” If this were a party and we were all speaking to one another vocally, I would accept your point, but we are a written body, and Ty has made it a standard practice to segment his politics to the last two pages of his zine, which, I might add, is more than anyone else has done in order to facilitate those who would prefer to skip it to just skip it. This, I think, has given him the right to say what he will of public figures, which is a longstanding American tradition that I would not hear of changing. To more precisely address your example, think of this as a house of many rooms, each person able to go into this room or that room to hear what so-and-so is saying. Your cousin or in-law who is “full or shit (or just

dull)” is there in one of those rooms, and he’s chattering away about stuff that just makes you absolutely livid. Now, are you going to go tell him to shut-up, or will you simply make it a point of not entering the room that he is occupying, chattering away for any and all to pay attention…or none at all, depending on who wishes to enter? That is the sort of family that we are, and the only incentive that you have to shut him up is because you don’t want his ideas anywhere near you. You want him out of the house, even though you don’t personally have to listen to him if you don’t want to. Let us just be clear on that, unless, of course, I’m not clearly seeing things from your point of view, in which case, by all means, feel free to correct me. Marco Subias writes, “It is good that you enjoy much of what others write, even if their worldview is substantially different than yours.” The truth, I’m afraid, is that my “worldview,” such as it is, is something of a joke. It’s like a tattered flag, being blown this way and then that, always mutating in response to new ideas or information…always contradicting itself…a mixture of perceptions that can never see eye-toeye. I think this is probably true of everyone, to some degree, but after a certain point, I think, most people come to the conclusion that they know enough to decide what’s what and that they’ll probably believe forever what they believe today. I am also guilty of this to some extent, I suppose, because I have clearly fixed my mind upon the first amendment as being something sacred, something that we need to practice in our beloved A&E, even though there are many who would prefer to continue business as usual, as has been the case over the past fourhundred and some odd issues. Granted, I’m not going to win; I know that. How do you get monkeys to stop being monkeys? It’s like asking them to stop liking bananas. Just ain’t gonna happen. But I can attempt to raise their attention to my way of thinking, and if they start throwing feces, well…I guess I’ll just have to duck. And, of course, it’s not really fair of me to draw this analogy to monkeys hurling feces. It’s not fair at all,

because there are times, I agree, when speech has the power to really poison people’s minds, and I haven’t yet figured out the answer. I don’t want to go into specific examples, but suffice it to say that the teaching of intolerance, I think, has the potential to be very dangerous. Hence, I’m not an absolute purist when it comes to freedom of speech, but I’m about as far on the curve as you can get without reaching that final point where anything goes. Nonetheless, Ty wrote only against a political figure…not an entire class of people. He observed the line as it is tacitly drawn, the line we all know and observe, and so as to the character and content of his remarks, I can find no fault with him other than that I, some of the time, disagree. And so what? I’ve been known to disagree with myself more often than not, and so disagreeing with another is certainly no cause for alarm. Steven Warble writes, “His continual use of derogatory nicknames, character slurs and absolutist language raised the volume of those opinions to a level where it seemed that rational, intellectual rebuttal was useless.” First of all, let me just say up front that of all the arguments that I have read thus far on this topic, yours, I think, are far and away the best. You get right to the heart of what bothers people about Ty, you cite examples to back up your reasoning, and you make your case in what appears to me to be a reasonable and logical way. In short, I commend you on all counts. Nonetheless, I find that I must respectfully disagree with your conclusion. The point isn’t about what Ty has written. The point is that we must let him. We can disagree; we can debate; we can point out his errors if we so desire, but when people resort to arguments about his length, this is a cop-out; when they publicly wish he would depart our company, it is cruel as well as closed-minded; and when they complain about his tone, they would do well to watch their own. Fundamentally, freedom of speech isn’t for the people who you like or agree with; freedom of speech is for everyone, no matter what they’re saying and no matter how they choose

to say it, because in the contest of ideas, a truth will ultimately emerge. People will not all agree upon it, but enough will do so that society will be able to evolve, but this can only occur when people are able to say what they think, no matter how odious and confounding this might be for people who would rather they just shut-up. Human societies have this awkward tendency toward group-think, and it’s constantly getting us into trouble. Subcultures are no different. A novel or a movie comes out, and suddenly girls are putting on white make-up and black lipstick, thinking they’re ultrafashionable, when what they really need is for someone like Ty to come along, slap them upside the skull and tell them there’s no such thing as vampires. re Joshua’s comment to Louis, you translate it as “please more gaming, less politics,” which I would have tolerated if he were to have said it as you just did, and I would have even concurred if he were to have said it generally, to everyone, as opposed to cherry-picking his targets. Why do I say cherry-picking? Joshua himself was talking politics the last time he contributed (in #401). For someone who actively criticizes others for talking politics, one would think he would make it a point not to do so himself. Ah…but he was doing so in reply to Spike, so I guess it must be okay when Spike is talking politics. You see the problem with this whole discussion? In my opinion, Lee’s twopage rule made sense, and that should be the end of it, unless someone wants to petition her to lower the limit to a page or even half a page, which would be perfectly fine with me. But wherever it is set, that should be the end of it. No more of this trying to shut people up just because somebody happens to disagree with them. You know…they say that one man’s garbage is another man’s gold. So it is with political discourse. You read Ty, and you think, “how rude,” and I read him, and I think, “how beautiful.” It’s really pointless for me to try to explain it, because we just don’t see it the same way, but when I read his politics, I see a savage beauty, a place where his ideas meet his emotions, and they shoot out, violently incinerating all in their beam. I enjoy it, and I really think he’s found his calling.

In my way of thinking, every one of us has this light inside us. Emerson talks about it in Self-Reliance6. Ty’s light happens to be a blow torch. I can accept that. But just as I wouldn’t want Louis Farrakhan ruling the world, I still get a certain enjoyment from listening to his speeches. His ideas are extreme and his mode bombastic; so what of it? He doesn’t constitute a credible threat to our society, and his ideas are not totally baseless. His words can have the effect of making us think, just as all strong language has the tendency to bounce within us, touching who we are. That is why we read. That is why we contribute to A&E…because it gives us the opportunity to ponder ideas with people like ourselves… only, much of the time, a good deal smarter (and Spike has commented to me about this illusion, although I’ll admit that I’m still suspicious that it’s not an illusion but a genuine fact). Your point is that Ty comes across as arrogant. Trust me, he’s not the first person to think himself certain of his views. Most here are this way, even those who are less obvious about it. The only difference with Ty is that he is so certain that he is willing to throw it all out there, guts and all. And that, to me, is what makes him all the more interesting. There is certain to be a great deal about which he and I will never agree. So what? If we all agreed, what a boring world it would be. Nonetheless, I agree with you insofar that it is important that even among people who fervently disagree, some sort of intellectual dialogue should be possible. It, of course, may be too much to expect that one might actually change the mind of another, but the possibility for change should always be there. About a year ago, Ty brought up something about global warming in A&E, and in private email, I expressed my concern to him that it might well be real and very serious. I had seen “Crude: The Incredible Journey of Oil” on TV.7 I’d thought it worth watching regardless of one’s opinion, since it appeared to me to be so scientific, at least from a layman’s perspective. So we talked about it via email, and Ty was forceful and absolutely certain of


www.youmeworks.com/selfreliance.html http://www.abc.net.au/science/crude/

his own opinion, but he was also kind and polite, and although we had different views at both the beginning and the end of the conversation, he was respectful. In fact, we should have had this discussion in A&E, because then we could have at least served as an example of how to have such conversations. But, of course, I’d already sworn off politics, since I knew that to even have such a discussion would likely summon the anger of those who feel that the twopage limit is insufficient. Thinking differently, even believing the opposite about a very important subject, is not grounds for war, nor is it grounds to tell others to be quiet in various ways, some polite and others not. On the contrary, it is grounds for discussion, because only when we explore our differences do we come to accept that own perspective is a product of our personality and the information that has influenced us, and…at least what I think I have realized, is that we are each living with a form of myopia, as though we were each in these little specimen jars. Each of our perspectives are unique. How can I explain this without appearing too bizarre? Forgive me if this is to end up being one of my ridiculous tangents, but I’ve long had this picture of us that I can’t get out of my head. I imagine us each as little dots on the surface of a sphere, a huge sphere out in the middle of nowhere. And the location of each of these dots on the sphere represents the sort personality that we have or perhaps the sort of views that we hold. In the beginning we think this matters, but later, I hope, we will realize that it doesn’t, because put them all together, and that’s how the sphere is formed. We are dots and we are also the sphere, and just as history flows to where we can only imagine, teaching us lessons as we inevitably make mistakes, almost like a child taking its first steps, so too are we only capable of making this journey so long that each one of us is adequately respected by the whole. Why is Ty’s opinion important? Because it is. He’s a dot on the sphere, just like each of us. His opinion is as valuable as our own. And even should he turn out to be wrong and to change his views, having written as he has will no doubt be useful to him, as my

own writing was to me, because only when we remember ourselves as we were can we realize that we are always growing and changing, and that this is inevitable as well as desirable, and this should also give us humility, because we must always accept that none of us can see the whole picture. None of us is so wise. As a family, which is what we are, we have a duty to one another to be welcoming and patient and kind and truthful. That some may find Ty’s political speech offensive is allowable, but the right way to criticize it is to do so constructively. I’ll conclude with an example: “Ty, I think we get the gist. You’re not crazy about Obama. Great. Most democrats weren’t crazy about GWB, and some things that were said may have been a little bit over-the-top, so if you feel you must reply against the new President in kind, that is certainly your right, but know that by doing so, you are reducing yourself to the level of those democrats who attacked Bush at every opportunity and with the most forceful language available to them. Just as there was then a right way and a wrong way to criticize the Bush administration, so too there is now a right way and a wrong way to criticize the Obama administration. You know this, just as the Bush-haters knew it, but if you choose the right way, you will have upstaged them, and that would be a fine thing for them to have to eat…that they were out-classed by a Republican.”

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