Feathers Fall: A Critical Role Story

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Critical Role and extreme emotions. Reader discretion advised.

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Critical Role and extreme emotions. Reader discretion advised.

After

Darkness….an endless sea of stars and bright threads spinning in infinity. Vax came to himself with the last echoes of his final goodbyes fresh on his lips. It was over. Vecna sealed away beyond the divine gate, banished and broken. Exandria, his home, his family. Safe. He was so tired. It was pleasant to float here, among the stars, weightless and unbound.

“You have done well, my champion.” As always, her voice came from everywhere and nowhere. The porcelain face came forward through the darkness, parting the bright threads that flowed through the Matron’s impossibly large fingers.

“I made a vow”, he replied. “Keeping it was always my intention. And I will stay by your side as I promised, but I need something from you, a favor. If it can’t be done, then I will go on, and take my chances on the Astral Sea.”

The porcelain face remained unmoving, but a chuckle echoed out in the starry darkness. Which, if Vax was being honest, was a little unnerving, even now.

“A favor? What is it that you wish, Vax’ildan?”

“My family, they will not understand, they will not believe. They need to know that this is what I chose, that I have kept my promise, and cannot be called back. Or they will stay stuck, stuck in that moment of wishing they could save me, forever, trying to think their way out of it. I would ask that you show them, tell them, make them see that this was my fate, that this was the right price to pay. Help them, and I will stay in your company gladly.”

“It is done, my champion.” As she spoke Vax could see several threads brighten and then dim, as they spun in the hands of the Matron of Ravens. “Come,” she said, “you have earned your rest.”

………..

Vasselheim

The celebrations seemed endless, a continuous, cacophonous outpouring of relief. It was impossible to find so much as an alleyway that was quiet and empty. Scanlan was exhausted. Not even the Hat of Disguise could shield him from the endless wave of cheering commoners, so excited to see another day. He walked and walked through the streets of Vasselheim, desperate. Vox Machina had succeeded, but he had failed. Vax was gone. The others had given themselves over to sleep, aided by wine and ale, but Scanlan could not. He had failed. He was not ready to face that truth, the look on Vex’s face. And so he walked, deeper into the hidden alleys and corners of the ancient city, looking for an absolution he knew he would never find.

He didn’t know how long he’d been walking, but suddenly everything was silent and still. Scanlan was in some blackened, forgotten corner of Vasselheim, or maybe he wasn’t. When was the last time he’d slept? A voice. From everywhere, surrounding him. Low and powerful, with just a hint of laughter behind it. A voice he knew so well.

“Go home to your family and sleep you lucky motherfucker.” The words burned in his skull. “Everything is exactly as it should be, and Kaylie is waiting for you.”

Tears fell to the deserted alley floor, and Scanlan looked down sighing. “I’m sorry friend, I’m so sorry. I wanted….I wan-I-I tried.”

And there, on the ground where his tears had fallen were 7 raven feathers.

 

In the newly destroyed Temple of the Everlight, Pike was praying. Praying for the living, and the dead, and for all those who mourned. For her family and for the strength to help them carry on in hope. Praying for bravery because the aftermath was always harder than the war. For forgiveness for not having done enough. To save him. But most of all, she prayed for Keyleth, who more than any of them, felt so terribly alone. Pike felt more than heard the young acolytes and worshipers coming in and out of the heavily damaged sanctuary. They were clearing and cleaning, focused anew on rebuilding. Pike made sure not to let them see her tears. This had been a victory, and it was not for them to know the cost she bore for that victory.

“Oh, Vax”, she whispered. “I’m sorry, it wasn’t enough.”

The sanctuary was suddenly warm, and filled with the golden beauty of the Everlight. Pike looked up and she was there, reaching out her hand to Pike’s tear-stained face.

“Pike, my daughter, my staunchest warrior. Do not worry. He is at peace, let him rest. I will watch over him.” And she was gone, the light fading, taking the heaviest weight of Pike’s grief with it.

 

Grog’s ale kept disappearing. He didn’t understand it. The other people at the inn weren’t stealing it, who would steal from Grog Strongjaw? But he kept picking up his mug and there was nothing in it. Seemed like magic stuff. He didn’t really understand magic stuff, that was the kind of thing his buddy Pike was so good at. But not always. She said she couldn’t fix Vax, even though she always fixed everyone else before. Grog didn’t understand. Why couldn’t they fix him? Percy had said a whole bunch of long words at him that didn’t make any sense at all, and Grog had stopped listening. If Pike couldn’t fix it, that was that he supposed. So, he went to the inn for ale. But now it kept disappearing. Grog was frustrated! This inn was no good at all if they served vanishing ale. What was the point of that? He had an idea! He knew where he could get non-vanishing ale! Upstairs in his room, he found his fancy jug they’d gotten from the black dragon and he picked it up.

“ALE!” he said into the jug. And waited. This always worked. He looked in the jug for his ale and it wasn’t there! Instead, the jug was full to the top with raven feathers and Grog was sure he heard Vax’s laughter coming from the jug too, which must be more magic stuff because Vax was dead, not in a jug. Grog was pretty sure about that. He shook the jug again and feathers went everywhere on the floor.

“ALE!!” he said again. And it worked! The jug filled with ale, and Grog drank it and for some reason, it was better than it usually was.

…………

Night

Keyleth was falling, tumbling, her wings torn asunder. Wait, did she have wings? She was sure there had been wings, once. But she couldn’t fly. Her fist clenched around the ash and bone that had once been Vax. Falling, falling, falling. Why couldn’t she fly? She commanded herself to think, to focus, to find her way back to the sky. But she was falling. The wind was screaming and she was so lost. This wasn’t right, they had won. She had read that damned book and sent Vecna away beyond the divine gate. Hadn’t everyone cheered and shouted their names? She was sure they had. Why was she falling? Her free hand clawed at the empty sky, desperate for purchase, but catching nothing. She closed her eyes and called on nature to guide her, to help her right herself and find the path. Nothing. She shouted into the wind, calling for Pike, for Vex to help her. But she could not hear them. All she could hear was the wind, and all she could feel was the weight. The weight sending her off-center, pulling her down.

Falling.

Falling.

Falling.

“Kiki.” His voice came from the shrieking winds, low and full of love. “Kiki, you have to fly. Let go and fly.” And then she remembered what she had to do. Her fist opened, ash and bone fell away, and she flew up through a sky filled with raven feathers, bursting through the storm into the sun above. Keyleth’s eyes opened in her borrowed room in Vasselheim, just in time to spy the raven in her window take flight, wheeling high up into the sky, weightless and free.

 

Vex was dreaming.

An endless dream, memories strung together along a never-ending arc towards something she couldn’t see.

The first time she shot a bow. Dragon scales piled around her feet. A tree sprouting from the chest of Vorugal, dead in the snow.

Vax sneaking tarts from the bakery in Byroden. Her father touching her cheek the last time she visited Syngorn, the beginnings of affection. Velora with her stuffed owlbear, blue feathers in her hair. Vax holding those same blue feathers out to her, a little piece of beauty in a moment of utter darkness.

Her mother’s smile, her mother folding linens, her mother braiding her hair. Trinket covered in chocolate and bows. Trinket asleep, Grog using him as a pillow. Vax teaching her to pick a lock, Vax wrapping his cloak around her shoulders in Whitestone, Vax holding her hand as Emon burned.

Keyleth delighting the children of Vesrah, giving them rides on dragon back. Keyleth’s eyes flaming in rage as she battled Raishan. Percy’s face, calm and unflustered at his work table, making beautiful and deadly things. Percy screaming in a lava filled cavern. Pike’s hands, glowing. Pike flying on golden wings, showering everything in light. Over it all, Scanlan singing. Sad songs and silly songs, witty and brilliant. All of them beautiful.

Vex moved through these memories like water, they swirled and layered on each other, comforting, but she was lost in them all the same. Where was she going? What on earth was she doing here? After a long time she found herself climbing a mountain, impossibly tall, yet she eventually reached the summit, high in the clouds. There, laid out on a flat stone, a set of black leather armor chased with silver scrollwork and covered in feathers waited for her.

“My dear sister, I told you before…take these wings and fly.” His voice came from all around her, quiet and calm. “It’s time.” She woke up, tears she didn’t even know were falling already drying on her cheeks.

………….

Whitestone, Years Later

The Lord of Whitestone was dying. Though, truth be told, he’d never been comfortable with that title. He much preferred just being Percy. Percy the builder. Inventor. Cleverest man alive. It was much better than being a killer, consumed by vengeance. On balance, life had been good to him, in spite of the world being so utterly terrible at times. The chance to say goodbye to his friends, his family, was his last wish, and he had gotten it. He felt Vex’s hand on his cheek as he closed his eyes closed one last time.

Darkness….an endless sea of stars and bright threads spinning in infinity. Percy had been here once before, at least this time it hadn’t required bathing in blood. Death was cleaner, if nothing else. As he came to himself, he prepared for another frustratingly vague conversation with a goddess he’d never quite found the time to forgive. He had thoughts for her, though.

“Percival,” came a voice out of the starry blackness. “Brother, I have been waiting for you.”

Vax stepped out of nothingness, his face unchanged by the decades, a cloak of blue-black raven feathers trailing out behind him. Immortality had made him impossibly beautiful, and Percy felt a distant pang in his chest for Vex, left behind. She was his heart and he was going to miss her terribly.

“Well Vax, if I’d known it was you who would be waiting I’d have prepared something indignant and irritated to say. All these clever words for your Lady, wasted. Ah well…” and he trailed off, momentarily overwhelmed as he had always been by unexpected things.

“She’ll be alright Percival,” Vax said. “She has the others, and the children. Your name will never fade from Exandria and the good work you have done will echo down the ages. I promise you, they’ll be alright. Now come, Elysium awaits.” And with that, Vax held out his hand to Percival’s cheek, and touched his face. Percy felt a blazing warmth, and a golden light blinded him as he passed through the realm of the champion of the goddess of death and on to his rest.

Vex let her hand linger on Percy’s cool cheek as his eyes closed one last time. “Darling,” she whispered, “I will miss you so.” In silence she prayed to the Dawnfather to protect him and to the Matron of Ravens to shepherd him from life to death, knowing that a piece of her heart went with him on his last adventure. She could not bear to have him go alone.

“I will see you later darling”, she said feeling his chest still. But for one brief moment, she felt a searing heat blaze through her hand, still held on Percy’s lined face, and then it faded and he was gone. There in her hand, perfect and unburned, was a single raven feather.

“Oh, Vax” came a whisper. “Thank you.”

 

Critical Role airs every Thursday on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel. You can also find it over on Project Alpha. It’s a beautiful show and if you love intricate characters, great acting and tabletop RPGs you should really be watching it. Seriously. I haven’t come anywhere close to doing it justice in this little love letter.

Game of Thrones Season Finale Predictions Extravaganza!

The man who watches the show should write the post.

The man who watches the show should write the post.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I wrote about how much had changed in the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones. And now, it’s already time for the finale! Time is flying faster than ravens in Westeros, and so Shannis and I are here with our Season 7 Finale predictions. A lot happened in these 7 short weeks, but there’s miles to go before this story ends next year in a blaze of dragonfire, and one hopes, glory. Thrones finales are typically full of death, death, more death, an exposition scene, possibly a battle, and did we mention all the death? We fully expect to have all of those on Sunday.

(FYI: I’m writing in blue, and Shannis is replying in purple.)

(We both have thoughts. So many thoughts. And feelings. And stuff.)

Predictions:

Things That Will Happen:

Littlefinger is going down. I can’t take one more minute of his stupid smug face and I need him to die. My hope is that Arya and Sansa hatch a plot together to end him and then Arya stabs him with his own dagger while wearing Catelyn’s face and yelling at him for betraying her children. It would satisfy my deep-seated need for revenge against this ALL BEING HIS FAULT, as well as give the impeccable Michele Fairley a final Thrones sendoff. It would also probably spell the end of any sort of grip that Arya has on her sanity, but what can you do. Likelihood: Death: 98%. Arya wearing Catelyn’s face: 2.5%

Littlefinger has to go down! I can’t take one more minute of his stupid smug face either. I predict Littlefinger will go down, and Arya does the honors. Since I love you, I will cross my fingers for Arya wearing Catelyn’s face when she does said honors.

Honestly, Littlefinger dying will bring America together even better than the eclipse. In fact, you might say his death would eclipse the… okay. I’ll stop. I’m so sorry.

You’re not sorry, and you shouldn’t be sorry. In this time of darkness and lunacy, what do we have left but our puns? Our puns and our memories of Tormund waxing poetic about giant babies?

Dammit I want giant Tormund and Brienne babies so badly. Like, there could be an epilogue where they show where all the living characters are after the whole thing is over and they could be living someplace lovely and green with a bunch of gorgeous giant babies running around with swords and Tormund is getting them all riled up and Brienne is making that face she makes when Podrick disappoints her with an obvious parry? 

What, you mean this one?

What, you mean this one?

These scenes just write themselves. HBO should put us on the payroll.

Someone is not leaving the big King’s Landing showdown alive. My money is on Cersei, but I’m willing to admit that’s mostly wishful thinking. The more likely candidate is Brienne. Because let’s be honest, Sansa sent her because Brienne is the one person who truly will never betray her, and honor is worth less than horse shit in Cersei Lannister’s throne room. Also, there’s this little movie franchise called Star Wars  (you may have heard of it) and I hear Gwendoline Christie has kind of a big role in it these days.

Likelihood: Cersei Death: 22% Brienne Death: 64% Someone Else: 12%

Tormund Sobs Upon Hearing Of Brienne Death: 12,000%. 

The World Weeps With Tormund: All the percents.

Look at his beautiful face! Don't make him sad HBO. It's not nice.

Look at his beautiful face! Don’t make him sad HBO. It’s not nice.

The Night King and his new friend will definitely cross The Wall. I mean, he can fly now, so let’s be serious. An undead Viserion is coming over the top of that wall onto someone’s head. Probably some poor peasants or unsuspecting Night’s Watch folk, but seriously. Viserion undoubtedly has new skills to show off, and what better way to do it than finally defeating The Wall? Likelihood: 100%

I think The Wall is coming down. I think Viserion the Wight Dragon is going to breathe whatever horrific zombie fire he has now right onto the Wall, and stuff is going to MELT and CRUMBLE. And then the Army of the Undead will come in with more of those fancy chains and start pulling it to pieces.

The Night's King can't wait to show the southroners his big chains. They don't have chains this big.

The Night’s King can’t wait to show the southroners his big chains. They don’t have chains this big.

I just feel like the chains would be wasted if they don’t put in a further appearance. Since they were such a big character this past week and all.

Well, now I need that to happen. And really, why would the Night King be subtle about this entrance? The fall of The Wall has been foreshadowed since about Chapter 3 of Book One, so….

For real. I feel like almost since I first learned of the existence of The Wall, I also knew that someday The Wall would be coming down.

Daenerys will apologize to Tyrion for being an ass and an idiot. Tyrion will accept, with gratitude and snark. And then tell her that seriously, she needs to name an heir. Likelihood: 95%

Like, of all the things, this is the one that feels least likely to me: Daenerys apologizing. Ever. For anything. She might name an heir though. But whom will it be, Carolyn???  

I should have said apolgize-ish. More like an apology adjacent sort of thing. With significant looks and meaningful nods. Honestly, the sucker for a sappy happy story in me wants her to name Tyrion. So, I guess it will be anyone but Tyrion then.

I can’t even think of a likely candidate, just a vague “It won’t be Tyrion”. 

Oooh. I wonder if she got pissy during that convo because she thinks Tyrion wants it to be him. Poor Tyrion. 

Game of Thrones alternate title: Alas, Poor Tyrion.

The man who deserves to be King.

The man who deserves to be King.

Jorah will gaze moodily as the good ship Jonerys sails off into the Blackwater Rush. Not that I want that ship going anywhere, but alas, no one is listening to me. The creators and fans will have their song of ice and fire. And by song, I mean romance. And by romance, I mean tragically cut short winter fling, because there is an army of frozen undead coming and Jon and Dany have Hero Things(tm) to do. Likelihood: 4000%

Also I think Jonerys might have sexy times on that ship. Metaphorical ship or otherwise. God, it seems like forever since anyone had sex on this show. THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SAY, EVER.  

Oh sex is happening. These people are too pretty and much of the fandom has waited way too long. Sex is on. I’m hoping for positive, affirming sex with bonus slo-mo shots of Kit’s hair wafting. Did that get weird? I feel like that got weird.

The day needs his saving expertise.

The day needs his saving expertise.

OMG can we PLEASE get his hair out of that wretched pulled back thing it’s been doing all season and get Daenerys’ locks unbraided??? I don’t pay HBO good money to see Jon Snow’s hair go to waste like this, and I bet what’s making Daenerys so cranky is how tight those damn braids are pulled.  

Sam will arrive at Winterfell and Bran will finally spit out a series of sentences that make sense and are moderately less creepy. Sam will realize what Gilly uncovered in the Big Book of Important Information(tm) and then, well then he’ll probably do that thing where Sam gets really giddy and excited and John Bradley lets out that perfectly adorable grin he saves for when Sam has done something terribly clever and he’ll go running off to tell Jon he’s about to bone his aunt. He will not be in time. Likelihood: 80%

He will not be in time at all. Sigh.

Luckily, since Jon and Daenerys are likely not long for this world, they won’t have to live with the (slight) shame for terribly long.  Just one short season worth of episodes!

Also, they will be focused on the Night King and trying to save the world and making bad plans and then also worse plans, and then brooding. No one has time to feel guilty during all that! 

Let’s talk about the scene in the trailer where Grey Worm and the Unsullied are standing in formation outside King’s Landing (I’m assuming) and there’s an army coming at them. Maybe THAT’S Cersei’s betrayal: sending an army to attack them while they’re all supposed to be at a cease-fire during the meeting. MAYBE GREY WORM DIES.

OMG I hate that thought. Poor Missandei.

If Grey Worm dies, we riot. It is known.

He is basically the Daryl Dixon of this show. When Tyrion isn’t the Daryl Dixon of this show. (That’s a Walking Dead reference for those who don’t know.) 

That’s the other show with the zombies, right?

Also: Is Cersei really having a baby? Will the baby be a demon? I assume it will be a demon. But like a real demon, not a Melisandre-style shadow demon of murderiness.

She is either not pregnant or pregnant with a horrible demon. Nothing in between. I hope not pregnant and Jaime busts her for her cruel lies and ends this damn thing already. Because I am over Cersei and her Pixie Cut of Evil.

I’m convinced that Lena Headey is legit the best actress ever. Because remember what a goddamn delight she was at Denver Comic Con last year, and you and I fangirled and did the squeeing and had no chill and sometimes I still giggle in secret over some of the stuff she said, like “I love to be baaaad,” and she is so delightfully British and told us how she grabbed Cary Elwes’ ass and…

No. We are not remotely chill.

Evidence of our lack of chill.

I’m fine. It’s fine. Carry on. 

Good times. Remember how she had on really practical shoes just like you did and how validating that was? She’s awesome.

Things That Won’t Happen That Should:

Jon and Arya will be in the same room. Or hemisphere even. At this point, I’m grateful that they are more or less on the same continent.

I do want Jon and Arya to meet again. But I’m kind of afraid of how it will go. What if he likes Sansa better now???

Jon is the one person who will immediately treat Arya as if she is still, you know, Arya. His scamp of a little sister with dirt on her dress. That could make all the difference for her, you know? I just want someone to see her underneath her super cool stabbing skills and bag of faces and know that somewhere inside there is still the young girl who taught her direwolf to fetch and wanted a sword and ran over and hugged him SO HARD when we gave her Needle because she was really going to miss him and he totally understood her.

*sounds of ugly crying*

*sounds of ugly crying*

BIG BREATH. Look, I have a lot of feelings about Arya.

The Stark sisters will speak to each other directly and clearly about their emotional trauma and stop talking in circles around each other. Preferably over cake.

Will any Stark ever speak directly to any other Stark about anything that makes them uncomfortable? They’re like Connecticut WASPs, the Starks.

As a native-born Connecticut WASP I do not wish to discuss this any further Shannis. Did you see the sunflowers today? They’re lovely this time of year.

See, isn't this nicer than talking about your profound trauma?

See, isn’t this nicer than talking about your profound trauma?

As a native-born Canadian WASP, I love me some sunflowers. And! I will add to this list: Jon Snow will come up with a good strategy for something. Anything.

Well, there was that one time he figured out how to get more dragonglass…

Dragonass? 

DRAGONGLASS!

I will master spelling Daenerys correctly on the first try after 19 years.

No offense, because you know I adore you, but I don’t think you’re ever going to spell Daenerys correctly on the first try. It’s like my mental block against being able to correctly spell Professor McGonagall correctly on the first try (that just took me two attempts and a Google search, in the spirit of full disclosure). But you know — at least you can spell JAIME.

I can also spell Tyrion, Arya and Jon! 

Also you said cake, so now I want cake.

I just searched our entire media catalogue and we have no images of cake. We are failures.

That seems suspect. But I guess mostly I post photos of bread. And Daryl Dixon. 

Things That Won’t Happen That I Wish Everyone Would Stop Going On About:

Arya dying.

Tyrion dying.

Sansa dying.

Jon dying.

More dragons appearing out of nowhere randomly and without warning.

OMG YES to all of these things. What would be the point of any of those characters if they die now? Unless some kind of huge plot twist happens in the season finale, I don’t think we’ve been led down a path this season to any of these characters dying THIS SEASON. Some of them might die in the final season. Hell, all of them might die in the final season. But they are not dying in this finale. And I don’t think we’ve yet reached the reason for Jon Snow coming back to life after being ruthlessly murdered by a band of betrayers. (I still have feelings. A lot of feelings.) 

Girl, we both have those feelings. I can’t even. Those bastards. I hope they’re burning in all Seven Hells.

And look. I like a dragon just as much as the next super nerdy 40-something woman with a boring career and a kid to feed. But as crazy as the world of Game of Thrones is, I just don’t think there are random dormant dragons hiding beneath every large edifice in the realm. That doesn’t seem to be how dragons work in Westeros and beyond. There were eggs and fire and nakedness and things hatched and… it seems pretty simple. Right?  

Buried Dragons and Secret Targaryens are my least favorite tinfoil hat ASoIaF fan theories. Not everything is A Thing people. Just no. For the record, my favorite fan theory is the Grand Unified Tyrell Conspiracy, because it was pithy, well researched and it ended up be startlingly accurate. Those were the days — what we lacked in memes, we made up for in withering takedowns of trolls and malcontents.

My all-time favorite fan theory is the Ron is Dumbledore Time Travel theory. See how I can still turn any conversation ever into one about Harry Potter? 

ANYWAY. 

What do you think will happen on Sunday, readers? Tell us what we missed in the comments, and be sure to join us on Twitter during the show for the best snark in the realm. And bring some cake, we’re hungry!

 

DCC Spotlight: Natural 20 Panel (Full)

Natural 20This year at Denver Comic Con we had the honor of presenting a panel for the first time. Together with our friends Christian and Shayla, Dungeon Masters for ATK, Inc and all around amazing humans, we led a discussion on the role that tabletop RPGs play in making the world a more awesome and accepting place, as well as how to get involved in your own tabletop RPG and find the perfect adventuring party! We had a blast, met some incredible gamers of all ages and we already can’t wait to come next year! Check it out, and make sure to give us your feedback. Thank you Denver Comic Con and Pop Culture Classroom for the opportunity to be a part of this year’s programming. See you in 2018!

Denver Comic Con is an education program of Pop Culture Classroom with more than 600 hours of educational programming and 9,000 sq. ft. of convention floor dedicated to the Pop Culture Laboratory, an area designed to engage kids in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) educational activities, and spotlight the PCC program and its students and graduates. Further, it provides educational, youth-based programming and fun activities for our younger attendees and their families, and allows young creators to work directly with professionals from the comic book and animation industries as well as other creative professions.

PCC Mission: Pop Culture Classroom ignites a love of learning, increases literacy, celebrates diversity and builds community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.

PCC Vision: Pop Culture Classroom envisions individuals transformed by the educational power of popular culture who create diverse, inclusive and engaged communities.

PCC Values:

  • Quality service to kids and communities
  • Respect, inclusiveness and diversity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Alternative approaches to education
  • Recognizing each person’s intrinsic dignity and importance
  • Open communication, responsibility and honesty

For more information about Pop Culture Classroom’s role in the community, please visit http://popcultureclassroom.org/ 

Carolyn Reacts: Game of Thrones Grows Up (Season 7, episode 1)

The man who watches the show should write the post.

The man who watches the show should write the post.

In case you didn’t get it from the title and the picture, there are SO MANY SPOILERS in this post. You have been warned.

Oh good, you’re still here. Let’s do this thing! Just the “Previously On….” was enough to get me cheering and bouncing in my chair. Things are moving so fast now, and as much as I don’t want it to end, I am desperate to know how it ends. I’ve wanted to see the culmination of this story since 1999, and we are so close!

Oldtown has a model in the credits! Library hype! Even after 7 years, this opening sequence still makes my little nerd heart so happy.

Oldtown-credits

Libraries are so hot.

Right from the opening moments of the first scene, I had chills. Arya, so cold, so ruthless, so comfortable in Walder Frey’s skin. I’m terrified for her, the path she has chosen is dark and pitiless. As much I cheered to see our lost wolf avenge her mother and brother, I’m worried that she may become lost to the darkness forever. But that speech? That was perfection, and the first hint that Game of Thrones has stepped it up several notches already this season. Full of calm fury and naked contempt, the writing was truly next level. Not to mention the fact that David Bradley just absolutely knocked the delivery out of the park, and onto the street, and maybe right on over into the next town.

Y'all motherf*&%ckers need the Many Faced God.

Y’all motherf*&%ckers need the Many Faced God.

Cool kings of the undead don’t look at explosions. Or whatever it is that is behind them. I love how epic their slow march to the Wall feels. There’s no rush, just calm persistence and absolute belief in their inevitable victory. The Night’s King has been alive forever, he’s got all the time in the world to get where he is going.

And Hell followed with him.

And Hell followed with him.

Lyanna Mormont doesn’t knit. Because knitting is stupid. Knitting doesn’t win wars you idiotic, bleating fools. Any hand that can hold a sword needs to swing one now. I mean, did you see the zombie giants? There are zombie giants coming, your rules about who can and cannot fight are no longer even remotely relevant.

Yeah, I don't knit. Or crochet. Or not stab zombies in the face.

Yeah, I don’t knit. Or crochet. Or not stab zombies in the face.

Sansa is not interested in your nonsense [insert name of person speaking at her here]. Also? She looks FABULOUS.

Do you see this? This is my unimpressed face.

Do you see this? This is my unimpressed face. #TeamSansa

I’m loving this new, mature dynamic between her and Jon. Our little bird is a wolf after all. I think she and Jon are the perfect foils for each other now. Sansa ruthless, driven, focused. Jon forgiving, desperate, still idealistic after all these years. They need each other, and I can only hope they continue to listen to each other. They make one hell of a team, tempering each other’s more destructive tendencies and buffering each other’s formidable strengths.

Fire and Ice. Or is it Ice and Fire? Whatever.

Fire and Ice. Or is it Ice and Fire? Whatever.

Cersei looks fabulous. Crazy, but fabulous. I can’t decide if she’s moved beyond her grief into straight up ruthless queen mode, or if she’s just hiding her despair behind that amazing dress and impassive face. Either way, she’s gone round the bend and I don’t think she’s ever coming back. Whatever loose grip she once had on sanity is long gone, and all she has left is her belief that she either wins, or she dies.

Poor Jaime tries logic on his twin. Surprising precisely no one, logic fails. Gods bless him, he tried, but she’s Mad King Aerys come again and I already feel bad for him. One day soon, he’s going to have to do what he has to do and end this before she burns more than the sept to the ground.

I think she's been taking sartorial lessons from Claire Underwood.

I think she’s been taking sartorial lessons from Claire Underwood.

I could write a whole thing on Euron Greyjoy, but here’s the tl;dr: Game of Thrones: Now with 1000% more snark, guyliner and smirking. There’s no gift in the world that he could bring her to win her heart, except for maybe Tyrion’s head on a platter, but we all know that’s not happening. So good luck to you Euron.

Sam Goes to Monastery was hands down one of my favorite sequences the show has ever done. It justified the large time skip, it was hilarious and it showed Sam’s growing frustration and impatience with being unable to access the information he knows they need to win this war. Combine that with Professor Slughorn dropping some serious philosophy on him, and the delightful Harry Potter homage was complete. Also, as mentioned on Twitter, I need a video of that sequence cut with Pink Floyd’s Money playing underneath it, so if the internet could get on that for me, that would be great. EDIT: Oh look, someone did! Thanks @mpirnat, you win One Internet.

Sam is such a total Hermione.

Sam is such a total Hermione.

Petyr: If you’re lucky, Sansa will murder you in your sleep, with great mercy and no pain. You made a fatal mistake choosing her as your piece in the game. Because she learns, she adapts, and she will soon surpass even your skills. If she hasn’t already. Sansa wants to do more than play the game of thrones, she wants to change it. While I don’t think a crown is what she really wants, if Sansa keeps on like this, she could be the last one standing in the end. With the love she learned from her family, the skills Petyr gave her and just enough of Cersei’s laser focus, Sansa would be an excellent Queen. Assuming, of course, that the zombie giants don’t eat her.

Petyr: She'll love me one day. Sansa: I wonder what the inside of his skull looks like.

Petyr: She’ll love me one day. Sansa: I wonder what the inside of his skull looks like.

I haven’t done an exhaustive study, but I feel like Daenerys gets to button the episodes a lot. It doesn’t always work for me, but this time it really did. I loved seeing her so small, and so alone against the massive fortress of Dragonstone, putting her feet on the sand of her homeland for the very first time in her living memory. It was a powerfully understated scene, especially in comparison to some her other more overwrought moments.

And I didn’t even get into The Hound and how much I love his new arc, and, well, just everything about him. That’ll be a post for another day I suppose. But I’m looking forward to more of him in Season 7, and I especially hope he meets up with Arya again someday. Imagine what words they would have for each other. Over chicken.

And so it begins, the final chapters of this epic tale. If the tone, the text and the delivery shown in this episode continues, we are in for an amazing treat. Welcome to the new Game of Thrones, now with more nuance, depth and zombie giants.

I'm including this photo only because I adore it. Because look at them. They are delightful.

I’m including this photo only because I adore it. Because look at them. They are delightful.

Want to be part of our Game of Thrones experience? Follow us on Twitter, where we live tweet the episodes, share hilarious memes and are otherwise giant dorks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Gargoyles Eat Eclairs? An Interview With Amalie Howard

Amalie Howard HeaderAnother Denver Comic Con is in the books, and once again we had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our favorite Colorado authors, the award-winning Amalie Howard. We chatted about all sorts of things, including her new romance series, diversity in YA literature and, well, pastry. Trust me, it all makes sense if you just stay with me! The following interview has been edited lightly for clarity, grammar and continuity. As always, we are grateful to Amalie for taking the time on such a busy convention weekend. We spoke between signings at her booth.

Carolyn: So, how is the new romance series coming along? When does the third book come out?

Amalie: It’s going great! The third book is out on July 25th, in a few weeks. It’s been really fun to write, and of course getting to write steamy sex scenes is great. The third one is called My Hellion, My Heart, which is just great.

My Hellion, My Heart Cover

I’ll be in my bunk.

Carolyn: OMG, it really is! I drool over the new cover art. I don’t read a lot of traditional romance, but when I do, I like to read it in the bathtub with bubbles and a nice glass of wine.

Amalie: Obviously. That’s the best place to read romance.

We go on a full on tangent about custom bathtub caddies that sadly my recorder did not capture. But rest assured, it was epic. The point is, we like to drink fancy wine. While reading. If you don’t do this, you should.

bathtub caddy with wine

Amalie and Carolyn approve this bath setup.

Carolyn: Besides making for great bathtub reading, what’s different about writing romance versus YA, which is your usual wheelhouse?

Amalie: Well, there’s a lot more…freedom in the romance market. YA has a very specific set of expectations, of what they are looking for. Romance is more varied. And of course, again, writing steamy sex scenes is really fun. But YA will always be my home. I love writing for that audience.

At this point, a young woman and her mom stop at Amalie’s booth. Watching Amalie talk with her is just lovely. She’s engaged and funny, talks directly to the girl, asking questions, and giving honest answers. She doesn’t talk down to her, or over her head and encourages this fan to expand her reading horizons without pressuring her. It’s great to see. She signs a copy of The Almost Girl for her and poses for a picture. I am suffering from full on Con Exhaustion at this point and try very hard not to get all weepy about seeing young girls who love reading. Fortunately for me, Amalie makes a hilarious comment about the potentially awkward photo angle and my emotional moment passes.

Carolyn: So, your process for writing the Lords of Essex series is a bit different because you’re working with a writing partner. How does that work, and what were the challenges?

Amalie: When you are collaborating with someone the key is planning and communication. We had a very thorough outlining process. I’m talking long, dense outlines. 15-20 pages single spaced. You have to map out all the story beats because if one of you changes something on your own, everything can break down. It actually changed my process for writing my own stuff, I didn’t use to outline at all, and now I do. Much less complicated, just a couple of pages of bullet points, but yeah, writing with a partner has helped me evolve my own process too.

Carolyn: Your writing partner, Angie, also writes historical work, right? I don’t know anything about her.

Amalie: Oh she’s awesome. She writes about Paris and gargoyles. In the Gothic style. It’s awesome, and also YA. You should check it out.

Carolyn: I wonder if gargoyles eat eclairs.

Amalie: What?

Carolyn: Gargoyles. Do you think they eat eclairs? I mean, Paris has the best eclairs. If I was in Paris, I’d be eating eclairs.

I wonder if there are any eclairs down there?

I wonder if there are any eclairs down there?

Amalie: You ask the best questions.

Carolyn: Important questions. Deep, philosophical questions. Not but seriously, those sound really fun and I’ll definitely have to check them out.

I think about eclairs and the gargoyles who love them for several minutes while Amalie engages with fans and talks to some other Con guests who stop by her table. While not pondering Parisian pastries, I think again about how much I adore this event. I love the accessibility both every day fans and small media outlets like Sisters in Geek have here. the camaraderie of the guests, how they help each other and support each other. I try to remember the name of the author who helped me find Amalie’s table when I was hopelessly turned around and running late. I fail because I’m thinking about eclairs.

Eclairs

These eclairs have fruit on them. They are totally health food!

Carolyn: What’s it like writing both YA and this new historical fiction series at the same time? How do you switch between the two styles? It sounds like such a different mindset.

Amalie: My secret weapon is playlists.

Carolyn: Really? Tell me more! I am obsessed with playlists.

Amalie: Yeah, so I have different playlists for each thing that I might be working on. For the Lords of Essex books it’s all classical, it just gets me in the right head space for the time period and the vibe. When I’m working on the Alpha Goddess series, it’s a lot of trance and then Nine Inch Nails. And then for Almost Girl it’s dubstep.

Carolyn: Wait, Nine Inch Nails? That’s unexpected. I wouldn’t immediately associate NIN with Alpha Goddess.

Amalie: Really? It’s so perfect for me. The energy of it, and of course…

Carolyn: Identity, NIN is all about identity and the discovery of the self, yeah. Absolutely, can’t believe I didn’t think of that! I would love to listen to those playlists, I love playlists. I use them all the time in my D&D campaigns for my characters.

To her everlasting credit, Amalie does not give me a hard time for making this conversation about me and lets me ramble about D&D, the panel we presented this weekend and other nonsense for at least 3 minutes. She also keeps feeding me chocolate.

Carolyn: I’m going to have to message you for those playlists, I’d really like to listen to them.

Amalie: Oh! They’re on my site, you can listen to them anytime you want.

Carolyn: Excellent! That’s awesome. Well, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. Any last thoughts, upcoming releases or ideas you’d like to end on?

Amalie: Well, My Hellion My Heart is out on July 25th, the next sequel in Alpha Goddess is out next year. Read more books, and remember that healthy sex is important and women need to be able to ask for it! That’s what I learned from writing Regency Romance.

I collapse into helpless giggling.

Carolyn: Well, that’s the perfect way to button up this interview. Thank you as always Amalie!

Carolyn and Amalie

No, but seriously, what do gargoyles eat?

AMALIE HOWARD is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national IPPY silver medalist and Children’s Moonbeam Award winner. She is also the co-author of My Rogue, My Ruin in the historical romance series, the Lords of Essex. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. She is very active on social media and we highly recommend following her for shenanigans and adventure.

Denver Comic Con is an education program of Pop Culture Classroom with more than 600 hours of educational programming and 9,000 sq. ft. of convention floor dedicated to the Pop Culture Laboratory, an area designed to engage kids in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) educational activities, and spotlight the PCC program and its students and graduates. Further, it provides educational, youth-based programming and fun activities for our younger attendees and their families, and allows young creators to work directly with professionals from the comic book and animation industries as well as other creative professions.

Pop Culture Classroom Logo

PCC Mission: Pop Culture Classroom ignites a love of learning, increases literacy, celebrates diversity and builds community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.

PCC Vision: Pop Culture Classroom envisions individuals transformed by the educational power of popular culture who create diverse, inclusive and engaged communities.

PCC Values:

  • Quality service to kids and communities
  • Respect, inclusiveness and diversity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Alternative approaches to education
  • Recognizing each person’s intrinsic dignity and importance
  • Open communication, responsibility and honesty

For more information about Pop Culture Classroom’s role in the community, please visit http://popcultureclassroom.org/ 

Ermergerd It’s Almost Time for Denver Comic Con

DCC is only a few days away, and we can barely contain our excitement here at SiG headquarters. I want to see everyone and everything and talk to everyone and buy all the art, but I am an adult gods damn it, and I know there are limits in life. Of time, of energy and of money. I’ve got to prioritize. So, I made a list. 

Top Ten Things I am the Super Most Ever Ever Excited About for Denver Comic Con. 

1. Clare Kramer moderating on the main stage again. Clare is a genius host and really elevates the main panels at DCC to the highest levels. She’s witty, open, gracious and generous. She gets great stories and epic laughs. I hope she is having as much fun as she is giving the audience. This year, I am specifically excited for the Buffy Villains Reunion and the Art of the Voice panel.

2. Felicia Day. Felicia is one of my heroes, and the absolute hands down number one reason I am brave enough to have started this site with my friends, among many other things. Her honesty is refreshing, her comedic timing is absurd and her talent blows me away. I can’t wait to hear her speak. It’s gonna be amazing.

3. Art. Artists. So much creative goodness. I’ve already covered the many returning guests we can’t wait to see, but the best part is discovering new artists!

4. The cosplay. DCC is stepping up their game this year with a ton of focus on cosplay. Panels, special photo ops and more await this year’s talented cosplayers!

5. Meeting the #critters. Despite the lack of Critical Role cast members attending, I believe that the critters will be out in force! Look for me in my MegMcMuffins original Life Needs Things to Live shirt and let’s hang out and spread some Team Hooman love. #lessthanthree

6. Nathan Fillion’s solo panel. He is hilarious, he is generous and it seems to me he always brings his A game to Con panels. I hope to hear about what’s next for our favorite captain! 

7. I AM BREWT! Theme beers are fun, Groot is adorable and after a long day of talking, walking and squeeing, a girl needs an ice cold beverage. 

8. Meeting…well….everyone. We have made some great connections at DCC over the years. Being amongst your fellow nerds, while exhausting, is also incredibly fulfilling. The geek community is amazing, and this weekend I am super excited to make more new friends.

9. Hovering somewhere between excited and terrified about #9. This year, we are hosting our first panel at DCC! I will be talking about tabletop RPGs and how they are making the world a better place! We hope to see you there! Even if you’re not a D&D player, just stand in the back and give a thumbs up, would you? I need the moral support. 

10. Just being with my fellow Sisters in Geek and seeing their face splitting grins. The memories are worth every aching joint.

What are you most excited for at Denver Comic Con? See you there! Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram all weekend for live panel coverage, photos and more!

DCC 2017 Preview: Artists

Because it's all about the art.

Because it’s all about the art.

It’s almost time for Denver Comic Con fellow geeks! You know what that means, it’s almost time to spend all your money on amazing art to adorn your walls. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Many of our favorite artists are returning to DCC this year, and we can’t wait to see what they’re bringing. And of course, we know that new artists await us on the Con floor, and we’ll tell you all about them too, don’t worry.

But for now, here’s our list of artists whose tables you absolutely MUST visit during DCC.

Credit: Atomic Pixies

Credit: Atomic Pixies

Atomic Pixies – Booth C07

We are so happy that Atomic Pixies will be back at Con this year. If you think I’m not picking up some awesome Stars Wars pieces this year, you’re insane.

 

Credit: Ben Byrd

Credit: Ben Byrd

Ben Byrd – Booth M17

We buy all the Ben Byrd every year. Because every year he has more adorable, wonderful and whimsical art. I, personally, don’t have all of the dragon pieces yet, so I’m excited to finish out my collection.

 

Credit: Elisa Wikey

Credit: Elisa Wikey

Elisa Wikey – Booth M04

I love Elisa’s stuff so much that I want to hug it! Witty, adorable and perfect, this year I’m hoping to stock up on stickers and pins.

 

Credit: Jeannine Schafer

Credit: Jeannine Schafer

Jeannine Schafer – Booth 659

Hands down the best creator of ridiculous cat art on the planet. She does other animals too, but her cats are the best. Plus, she also has t-shirts that are so soft you will weep.

 

Credit: Jenny Parks

Credit: Jenny Parks

Jenny Parks – Booth Q07

OK, OK, maybe Jenny Parks has the best ridiculous cat art on the planet. Don’t make us choose! It’s impossible. I for one am definitely picking up her Wonder Woman cat this year.

 

Credit: Karen Hallion

Credit: Karen Hallion

Karen Hallion – Booth G19

If loving Karen Hallion is wrong, we don’t wanna be right. Her art is beautiful, powerful and awesome. Be sure to take one of her pieces home, won’t you?

 

Credit: Katy L Wood

Credit: Katy L Wood

Katy L Wood – Booth E17

Katy’s work is sometimes dark and gorgeous, and sometimes whimsical and bright. It’s always lovely. For bonus points, Katy hails from Colorado, so show some support for our homegrown talent!

 

Credit: Meg Kirkpatrick

Credit: Meg Kirkpatrick

Megmcmuffins – Booth F05

Meg is the absolute best, and I’m not just saying that because she brought my halfling Bard Portia to life. Her art honors a lot of fandoms, from Critical Role to Supernatural to Hamilton. She’s also hysterically funny and has Blucifer pins available! ALL HAIL BLUCIFER, Lord of the Airport.

 

Credit: Monkey Minion Press

Credit: Monkey Minion Press

Monkey Minion Press – Booth E13

Books! Prints! Magnets and posters! Amazing, beautiful work from the ridiculously talented hands of Dane and Ashlie, Monkey Minion is a can’t miss stop at any Con. Plus, they like space! Space is awesome.

 

Credit: Ryan Cain

Credit: Ryan Cain

Ryan Cain – Booth O23

We love Ryan’s clean style and top notch attention to detail. Also, he’s for sure a gamer nerd, which grants bonus points!

 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all our DCC coverage! We’ll be posting live from the Con floor, sharing favorite moments, panel highlights and chance encounters. And of course the best cosplay. Don’t miss a moment! Find us for free stickers and other Con fun!

10 Things We Loved About the New Beauty & the Beast

Header for B&BWe here at Sisters in Geek are unabashed in our fandoms and we lean in to our joy of all things nerdy. This weekend that included seeing the new live-action Beauty and the Beast, and we are here to say: we fracking adored it. For your reading enjoyment, here are our top 10 reasons why.

1. Dan Stevens is the sexiest, most fully realized Beast ever. I mean. Damn. We just had to get that out of the way off the top. OK, we can get to the serious commentary now.

What...um....what were we talking about again?

What…um….what were we talking about again?

2. The revelation that was Luke Evans’ performance. He can sing! He’s got killer comedic timing! He insisted on Gaston being an unrepentant, raging asshole! All at the same time, which is really no easy feat. He had, quite literally, no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and yet we loved every moment of his time on-screen.

Did I mention the part where I am the Literal Worst? I'm sure I mentioned it. I'm all I ever talk about!

Did I mention the part where I am the Literal Worst? I’m sure I mentioned it. I’m all I ever talk about!

3. Giving the servants more to do besides sing, dance and cajole was necessary, and so well executed. The profoundly sad scene where Lumiere and Plumette dance in that dark and funereal ballroom, terrified of dying before they can be together again? Pure poetry.

The layers. The detail. The apron pockets!

The layers. The detail. The apron pockets!

Gods, the embroidery. I need it.

Gods, the embroidery. I need it.

4. Costume porn and cosplay inspiration for days everyone. Days. And not just The Dress either, gorgeous though it was. The little touches on Belle’s workaday dress with its pantaloons and pockets had me making Denver Comic Con costuming plans, and her beautiful flowered number at the end made us all swoon.

5. The dancing! The dancing, the dancing, the dancing. The choreography was flawless, the period choices perfection, and the fact that Emma Watson and Dan Stevens clearly have good skills (or at least excellent teachers) didn’t hurt either. I could dedicate a whole post to this, honestly, because that’s what happens when you are a history nerd who majored in Dance.

6. Beast gets a lonely romantic solo (Evermore) and it is so right. It flipped the standard romantic narrative on its head by laying his isolation and loss of agency over top of Belle’s frantic flight into the snow to take action to save her father. It also showed off Stevens’ outstanding vocal chops and furthered the story without overshadowing anyone or anything. Oh, and it probably guaranteed Disney an Oscar next year. (You heard it here first, folks!)

7. Belle is still the hero of her own story. She owns her difference, is fierce in her love and loyalty to her father, fearless even when she’s actually afraid and above all, she refuses to hide her intelligence. She also falls in love with a man because of his library, which is a sentiment we can get behind. Beast and Belle fell in love because they are both bookworms with a burning passion for medieval romances, not because of Fate, or Destiny. And that’s awesome.

Look at the sexy brain on Beast!

Look at the sexy brain on Beast!

8. The music is still epic and gorgeous and ripe for sing-a-longs. The additions of both the new stuff and the Broadway stuff (hello Kevin Kline’s singing voice! Where have you been all my life?) fit in seamlessly, and the cast all met the challenges with grace. It’s not easy taking on such iconic roles and making them your own.

9. The more complex and, dare we say, grown up darkness of the enchantress’ curse. The way the village forgot the castle and their lord, the helplessness of Mrs. Potts as she soldiers on in raising a son all alone, her husband unaware that either exist. We like a little dark underpinning in our happily ever afters, and we got it.

10. Last, but most certainly not least, it made us cry freely and often. Because it’s awesome, and because it’s sad and because it takes us back to great moments and places in time. Because Belle is a badass bookworm, and so are we. And because when the last petal fell the footstool puppy fell onto his back and if that doesn’t break your heart, I really can’t help you. The experience pulled on our heart strings, and for that we are grateful.

#Goals

#Goals

What about you, dear readers? What were your favorite moments, what made you laugh, or cheer, or cry? Tell us in the comments, and if you need us we’ll be off somewhere pretending we have giant libraries with ladders and rare first editions.

All images credit by Disney.

A Geek’s Place Is In The Revolution: Stories To Help You Fight

Come and Claim ThemIt’s dark times, fellow geeks. You know it, I know it, let’s face it, we all know it. There are lots of different, and valid, ways to manage this darkness. Maybe you volunteer, or donate to causes that you care about. You can play a game, ride your bike, pet kittens. Drink heavily, and eat all the cake. The point is, you have options. Me? I like to lean in to the darkness. It helps me find the light. The following is my list of books and movies that I turn to, the stories that inspire and guide me. They are stories of perseverance, stories of war and revolution. You know, your classic tales of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. And don’t worry, if fluffy escapism, or riotous laughter is more your thing, we have plenty of suggestions for that route too.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Handmaid's Tale CoverAnyone who has known me for any amount of time knows that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is my hands down favorite book of all time. To explain why would likely be a huge post all on its own, so here’s the short version. While a lot of people find this book to be unendingly bleak, Offred’s story of stubborn survival never fails to uplift me. I often say “The Handmaid’s Tale is not an instruction manual.”, but as we move forward into uncertain, scary times, I think it can be. For us. Offred may look like a woman keeping her head down and just trying to get through, but she does more than that. She remembers who she is, and survives to tell her story. Sometimes, that’s enough.

The Hunger Games Trilogy

Hunger Games CoverSuzanne Collins’ absolutely brilliant dystopian nightmare is something I reread (and rewatch) all the time for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, I just need a good, full on, ugly cry. Sometimes, I want to watch Katniss Everdeen kick some fascist ass. Sometimes, I just want to experience all over again Collins’ absolutely scathing commentary on the intersection of entertainment and war. It depends on the day. The Hunger Games doesn’t pull any punches and once you’re done reading it (maybe for the millionth time), you’ll be ready to volunteer as tribute.

World War Z

World War ZI love this book so much. The documentary journalism style. The super creepy zombies. The cross-section of survivors with stories to tell. The humor. Hell, I even geek out over the footnotes. Humanity, for all its horrific flaws and poor decisions, will find a way to survive even a never-ending horde of mindless, hungry undead. Did I mention the super nerdy footnotes?

 

 

Lord of the Rings

LOTR CoverThe original, epic fantasy saving the world with magic swords and the power of friendship story. Profound and inspiring, with glorious speeches, epic battles, plus hobbits! Hobbits are great. Hobbits with pints and a ridiculous commitment to hope, even in the face of horrific enemies and truly terrible odds. I have a particular fondness for the movies myself, but you can’t go wrong either way.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter CoversThe whole series is obviously always worth reading or watching again, at any time. Let’s just be clear about that. But, in particular, books 5-7 make up one of the best primers for geeky revolutionaries of all ages. Harry, Hermione, Ron and their friends are just kids, but they don’t let that get in the way of waging a war against the Death Eaters.

 

 

Les Miserables

Les MiserablesDo I even really need to explain this? If Do You Hear the People Sing doesn’t make you feel all the emotions, I really just don’t know what to say. Vive La Resistance!

V for Vendetta

V for VendettaV is for when you really want to embrace the darkness. Beautifully paranoid and bleak, V is also an incredible elegy to humanity’s unwillingness to wither and die in the face of fascism and nuclear holocaust. Incidentally, the film adaptation also allowed me to forgive Natalie Portman for the travesty that is Attack of the Clones. But, let’s not get into that. This is a time for geeks to band together!

 

What’s your fuel for fighting the good fight, fellow geeks? Share in the comments, and we’ll see you in the trenches.

 

 

 

 

 

Memory and Mercy: A Critical Role Story

Critical Role is one my very favorite things on the internet. I wear the badge of being a #critter with pride, but I usually keep my fandom contained within compliments, retweets and buying beautiful art made by other people. But something unusual happened this week. I felt inspired to write a story. To give you some context, I haven’t written fiction since I was in high school, and I have never even put my toes in the waters of fanfic. But I had to get this story out. This piece is made with more love than talent.

To give some brief context, this is set a few centuries in the future of the world of Vox Machina, the intrepid adventurers of Critical Role. I hope this story is the beginning of turning the adventures of Vox Machina into a series of folk tales, as they would have become in the decades after their real story ended. We’ll see how much inspiration I can come by.

Please be advised that the rest of this post contains spoilers up through Episode 68 of Critical Role.

Enjoy!

Memory and Mercy

New Emon, circa 250 years Post Conclave

The children filed into the teaching hall in as orderly a procession the young and excited are capable of, finding their seats and chittering to each other. The hall was beautiful, lush green grass for a carpet, high windows streaming in the light. The students’ benches glowing warm wood, made that much more beautiful and inviting with Druidcraft carvings and living flowers climbing the legs. At the front of the space, their teacher waited with the patience only a long life can bestow. She had promised to start their day with a story, truly a history lesson hidden within a tale, another chapter in the famous adventures of Vox Machina, heroes of Tal’Dorei.

“Good morning, good morning students, let’s take our seats. It’s time to begin our lessons.”

“Mistress, Mistress, you promised us a story!” the students cried as they found their benches and chairs.

“Tell us ‘Grog and the Pony’!” she heard Callisto Brightheart shout out. “I want to hear about how the pony saved Grog and Scanlan from the evil dwarves! Please Mistress, it’s my favorite.”

It hadn’t really been that way, but these tales grow with the telling and the years gone by. Better to let the children believe a magic pony had rescued Grog and the Gnomish bard from certain death than the rather messy truth. Certainly Callisto was not ready for the real tale, she rode her pony every day and was becoming very attached to him.

“No, no, I want to hear ‘Vax’s Wings’!” piped the voice of Fen. “Tell us how he traded his favorite blade so he could fly and how he became best friends with the Queen of the Ravens, who saved Vox Machina again and again.”

Well, that last part was mostly right. Vox Machina’s bacon had been pulled from the fire by the grace of the Raven Queen more than once, but it was never a blade Vax had traded for her favor. Someday, the children would learn that the blessing of a god does not come in exchange for steel and leather.

She opened her mouth to speak, to tell the students what today’s tale would be and found herself cut short by another request.

“Mistress,” said the small voice of Quince, “please, I would like to hear ‘Trinket, Trinket, Little Bear’. Everyone knows that talking bears are the best! Tell us about all the times he saved Vex, oh please Mistress.”

She smiled. Trinket didn’t talk, not really. But it was true that he saved Vex many, many times. Saved her life, saved her soul and her sanity. She thought for a moment about perhaps giving in to Quince, and telling the children all about how when Trinket was just a cub, Vex found him and made him her family. But no, she had made a promise.

“Those are all most wonderful tales, my children. But you have heard them all already. I have a new story for you today.”

“Is it ‘Keyleth and the Sparkstone’?” called Hylas. “Or ‘Attack of the Dragons’? My sister says that one’s scary! I want to hear a scary story.” Sweet Hylas, for whom the dragons were never real.

“No Hylas. This is the story of Percival, who rose and fell, then rose again through the blessing of Sarenrae and the love of his family, Vox Machina. Listen well, children and heed my words. The pull of vengeance may be strong in this life, but the power of love is greater by far.”

The children finally quieted, as if by a spell. This story was definitely new. She looked over her students bright and beautiful, settled her shoulders and began.

“His name was Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III, which is a mouthful, isn’t it children?” She paused, steadying her breathing. “But we called him Percy.”

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