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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Hello everybody and thank you for your support! You're all awesome.

So, below, I'll have my long rambling thoughts on Arcane in the post-chapter authors' note. (I also posted it on patreon for each tier, lol)

Alrighty, let's go!

“Are you serious?” Alex asked quietly, “What’re people doing in here? Don’t they know there’s a wasp-death-monster around, and didn’t the steward say it was forbidden to come in here? Who in their right mind would come in here on their own…”

He frowned, looking down at the indentation in the soil she was pointing at. It was clearer and more defined than the other tracks they’d seen earlier.

“It’s so distinct…you think it was made after last night’s rain?” Alex asked.

“It looks like it.” She drew her heavy bow and nocked an arrow on the string. “We’re not the only ones in here.” Her voice dropped further.

Alex looked around at the trees, searching for any sign of anyone—or anything—stalking through the underbrush. His mind conjured hidden enemies watching them as he tried to focus on figuring out what the footprint could mean.

“It looks like a heavy, well-made boot,” Theresa said. “Whoever’s wearing it is a bigger person, judging by how deep it sank.” She looked toward the wasps’ territory. “The tracks are heading toward the vespara’s territory.”

“Oh by The Traveller,” Alex swore, his mind moving quickly.

‘Think,’ he told himself.

“You see any more prints?” he asked.

“No… Let’s keep circling and see what we find.”

“Yeah, we need more data before we come to any conclusions,” he said, realizing he was sounding more and more like Jules. “Let’s keep scouting.”

They looped around, with Theresa listening carefully as the golem crashed through the brush. Surprisingly, there was no sign of anyone coming for them, and the wasp-clusters didn’t move.

Eventually, they’d looped all the way around what seemed to be the vespara’s ‘territory’. Theresa and Brutus had found two more fresh trails leading into it by the time they’d finished circling.

“None of the tracks lead out,” she said, when they stopped again. “Either whoever went in there’s dead, or captured…or they’ve already killed the monster. No, that last one doesn’t make any sense. Why would the wasps be still on the trees if the monster was dead?”

“Yeah, they’d probably be swarming or scattering,” Alex muttered, thinking it through out loud. “…the nobildonna’s honey was taken. Pigs killed. Her hunt master was run off when he went into the vespara’s territory. What if someone’s controlling the monster?”

“Can vesparas be tamed?”

“If you get them when they’re young, yeah,” he said.

“So, I’d say that confirms there’re people in there too…which makes sense. The trails come from three different directions and go right into the territory. If it was only one group, why wouldn’t they be travelling together?...unless they were trying not to attract attention.”

“…yeah.”

A chill crept down Alex’s spine.

People.

He’d fought and killed sentient monsters since he’d been marked, but never another person. His mouth went dry. People would mean different abilities, and also…they were people.

He’d thought about what he’d do if…or when, the path of wizardry led him into conflict with other people. Even other wizards. From the way Baelin had spoken, it seemed to be inevitable.

The idea of killing someone…someone that walked and talked and could’ve been in one of his classes…made him feel a bit ill. Though he did recognize a level of hypocrisy in his thinking. After all, he’d put the mana vampire through its own hell before it finally died, and he still didn’t feel a thing about it. One side of that was that it was sapient, yet, it was a monster who’d been trying to kill him and people he cared about.

And there were lots of philosophy books in the library that debated where the line between ‘person’ and ‘monster’ should be drawn.

In the end, he’d come to the conclusion that when the time came for him to fight another person, what he’d like to do was try not to kill them: especially if—as Baelin had suggested—capturing them alive could let him get valuable information from them. But that would only be the case if they were either not trying to kill him,or—if they were—he was powerful enough to capture them with little risk.

His jaw tightened.

If they were trying to kill him and were so dangerous he wouldn’t be able to easily stop them, or were looking to harm anyone cared about: then they’d be just another monster, and he’d act accordingly.

At least, that’s how he’d thought about it. He’d only know for sure how he’d react when he was neck-deep in a fight against other people.

Which he just might be real soon.

Theresa cursed.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I want to follow one of these trails into the vespara’s territory, but getting past a bunch of stinging bugs is going to be tricky.”

She looked up at the canopy. “Since there’ll be a full moon tonight and it’ll be a bright night…and wasps are a lot less active at night, maybe we should wait.”

Alex scratched his head. “True, and the book did say that vesparas sleep at night too. I guess we could camp here and have something to eat, then try and slip into its territory at nightfall.”

“Sounds like a plan to me.” She glanced ahead toward the clusters of wasps he couldn’t see. “It’ll let us watch for anyone coming out. …but maybe let’s move back, I don’t want to pull out food near a swarm of killer wasps. Regular ones are bad enough at a picnic, these would be a nightmare.”

“Yeah, good point.”

They moved away from the vespara’s territory, and set up a mini-camp several hundred yards back. Alex had packed more than just lunch in case the hunt took longer than they guessed it would, so they weren’t hungry while they waited, and watched, and listened. He’d also thought to bring food for Brutus.

The last thing anyone needed was a cranky, hungry cerberus.

The day passed slowly, with morning turning to noon, then afternoon, and finally evening while Alex and Theresa watched, and talked quietly. It wasn’t romantic, but it was exciting.

“You know, this is the first time we’re actually putting what Baelin taught us to use, on purpose, I mean,” he whispered as they sat in their little clearing among the trees listening for sounds. “I can’t imagine even thinking about doing something like this without his training.”

“Mhm,” she said, watching the forest carefully. “And we probably would’ve walked right into those wasps without my life enforcement. …so what do you think? You find it exciting?”

“Yeah, I’m kinda starting to see why you like it so much.”

“Well, this is a little different from what I used to do: killer wasp-monsters that command swarms of stinging things—and whoever’s controlling them—are a little more dangerous than your average bear.”

“Yeah, true.”

“But in a way, that makes it better.”

He chuckled. “You’re scary.”

“So are you.”

“…” he thought back to the mana vampire. “Yeah, okay, you win.”

Their quiet laughter died when a crack came from the woods ahead. They went silent, straining their ears, but heard nothing else. Conversation was sparse after that.

Eventually, evening light faded to dusk and the forest fell into a growing gloom. The darkness deepened as Alex found himself becoming more nervous as the shadows lengthened around them. He used his breathing exercises to keep focused, and fight away images of giant wasps and other creatures creeping through the dark.

He looked up at the tree branches above, remembering when the silence-spider dropped from the trees outside Coille forest. A shiver went through him.

“Remember,” Theresa said quietly. “Brutus’ll see and smell most things in the dark, and you and I’ll be able to see a bit in the moonlight. Hold onto my hand and I’ll hold Brutus: he’ll take us to where we need to go.”

“Alright,” Alex agreed. “I guess we’d better avoid going anywhere near those wasps, and find one of the trails that whoever is in there made, then follow it.” He looked up at Claygon. “You’d better stay back here for now buddy, ‘cos we gotta be real quite. Just be ready to come sprinting as soon as I call you.”

At full speed, Alex doubted most of the trees could stop the golem’s charge through the woods. If he, Theresa, and Brutus fought smart, they should be able to handle the vespara for a while when they found it. That left the people to deal with who might still be in there, and he had no idea what they were capable of.

But being in Generasi, he had a bad feeling that they wouldn’t exactly be harmless babes.

Reconnaissance was key.

Once the moon was high and it had been dark for a while, Theresa spread home-made insect repellent on them, made from stinkweed like in Coille, and citronella and a few other ingredients she’d gotten fairly cheaply on campus.

Alex recast Lesser Force Armour on both of them, and cast Orb of Air around their heads. That way, even if they dropped booby-trapped potions at their own feet, they’d be safe from the fumes. He didn’t cast the spell over Brutus’ heads since he needed his noses free to sniff out the trail, but Alex would be ready with it as soon as it was needed.

He and Theresa each drank a Potion of Sensory Enhancement, then she put some in a small bowl of beef broth for Brutus to lap up.

Finally, they set off through the woods in silence. With nearly a full year of using The Mark to train his skills at being stealthy, he was almost as quiet as the huntress and cerberus as they moved through the dark forest.

He kept a tight grip on his booby-trapped sensory enhancement potion while he listened to the forest around them. There was barely a breeze, and the silence was eerie. No crickets. No night birds. Not a single sound except for the odd rustle from the foliage in the distance.

Oh, and the buzzing.

There was a low buzz coming from some of the trees.

Alex held his breath, listening carefully to the persistent sound of wasp wings. He would’ve missed it without the potion sharpening his hearing since only a few were making sounds.

“We’re past their first sentries,” Theresa whispered and the potion made her words seem unnaturally loud in the stillness. “Let’s work our way around and find one of those trails again.”

Brutus soon found what they were searching for, and they slipped deeper into the brush. The foliage was thinner in the spot where the unknown person had gone into the vespara’s territory: either the path had been partially cleared, or they’d known which paths were easier to navigate.

Either way, it meant whoever it was, they were used to being in these woods. Suddenly, Brutus stopped and pointed straight ahead into the gloom.

Theresa touched Alex’s shoulder then followed Brutus’ gaze. “Wait, there’s someone in that tree up ahead.”

He froze, looking up.

It was harder for him to see than it was for his companions, but he did notice something that looked like a lump—or a crouched figure—on one of the branches.

“Do you think they know we’re here?” Alex asked.

Theresa watched the figure for a bit. “…no. They’re looking around a lot…but I think they’re focusing on those trails that lead in here. Hmmm…they look human though, so they’re probably using the moonlight to see: if we go around and keep to the dark, we should be able to get past without being seen.”

Their progress slowed way down since they couldn’t go straight because of the sentry, so they had to arc around the tree. It slowed even more each time Theresa caught the sound of buzzing.

After what seemed like hours, they found a path that took them past the watcher.

“Voices,” Theresa whispered. “They’re talking real quietly.”

Alex steeled himself.

Up ahead, he could see more moonlight leaking through the trees…moonlight and something else: a yellow light that didn’t bob and crackle like a campfire. He could also hear voices as they edged closer. They couldn’t circle the light up ahead, because at one point, there were too many clusters of wasps for them to sneak by. So, they had to double back and sneak toward it another way.

“Oh no,” he whispered.

“What is it?” Theresa asked.

“I might be wrong,” he said. “We’ll know in a few seconds.”

Pausing to cast Orb of Air over Brutus’ heads—which felt extra slow considering their situation—they crept forward until they reached a break in the trees.

Below them yawned a massive hole in the earth, one with very little plant-life covering it. It looked like an old mining pit. In one of the sides of the crater lay the open mouth of a cave with two men sitting in front of it. One was a large, boar-like beastman with tusks capped with silver. The other was a pale pudgy man wearing fine looking clothing and holding a piece of cooked fowl in his hand.

Floating beside the man was a bright yellow forceball.

“Shit,” Alex swore under his breath. “That one’s a wizard.”

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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Muahaha this'll be a fun fight. For whom, remains to be seen.

Now as promised, my long rambling thoughts on Arcane:


​​I really, really enjoyed Arcane on a level beyond many shows I’ve watched. It has my full recommendation, and now that I’ve had time, I’ve processed what made the show special to me.

I think first of all there’s a personal aspect to the setting for me: Piltover looks a lot like what I imagine Generasi to look like, except Piltover’s a bit technologically more advanced. If you took the Magitech Art-Deco of Piltover from Arcane and fused it with Toussaint from The Witcher 3 and a more Mediterranean climate you basically have Generai. So that personal aspect meant a lot to me.

Second were the characters. I sympathized—even empathized—with nearly every single named character on that show. It struck a balance between having good guys being good and villains being cartoonishly evil, and having characters be so sympathetic that you’re left with only subjective morality. Arcane was one of those shows to me, where it was clear which characters were more destructive but in which every character had an aspect to their perspective that—by and large—made it so that they ‘had a point’, even to their violence.

The story is one of gravity. It is fun, to be sure—in many ways—but Arcane is not a story about fun. It is a story about relations: relations between people as they change over time, relations to oneself as one’s identity is questioned or forced to adapt, the relation between scientist and science, and relations between those who have power and those who do not. It brings up that often a lot of those relationships involve a lot of pain. They can be beautiful, but many can be very ugly.

And this ugliness has consequences.

I really like the voice acting, and I think it combined the animation and music to take the writing of the show to another level. If you watch Arcane, you should really watch the characters’ faces. They have tiny ticks to their expressions that you MOSTLY don’t see in animated shows. It made them feel far more life-like to me.

In the end, Arcane is a show where the effort put into it is clear. Even into the background details of the setting that go by in a flash. Listen, they didn’t have to do this: this was the first show from the League of Legends canon. It was going to sell no matter what they did. Instead, they put the time in and rather than making just a tie-in show, they like…made an event. I get the feeling this show—that could just have been a fun romp in a video game’s setting—will have cultural impact, at least in the zeitgeist of animation and fantasy television.

I know a lot of that is vague, and that’s on purpose: I do not want to spoil this for people. I loved this show to bits, and—while I think it’s rewatchable and completely enjoyable with spoilers—going into it blind, as I did, will generate a unique experience.

You may not like it—and that’s okay, art is constructed in the eye of the beholder—but I loved it. And I hope you do too, if you decide to watch it (and haven’t yet).


Big thanks to all my readers—I appreciate each and every one of you—and a very special thanks to my patrons on my Patreon

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