Transformation Log-Entry 1

A couple weeks ago, I got around to playing a new text game by Porpentine, a trans woman game designer, titled “With Those We Love Alive.” It deals with themes of being transgender, self harm, depression, religion, and eldritch abominations which rule over humans.

So, you know, pretty much right up my alley. I mean, self harm isn’t one of my interests, but the rest is all stuff I’m either into or dealing with.

As the music throbbed in my headphones, I found myself falling into a routine-

-Look around the Palace

-Check out the dry canal

-Check out the city

–See if the dream distillery is open

–Look into the temple see what’s going on

-Return to the Palace

-Check for supplies in my workshop, find I’m too tired to work

-Sleep

-Check workshop

-Repeat

As I went through, I found the deal about your character’s history of being abused, and what the dream distillery is doing.

I stop going there.

I find that sometimes the temple has divinities.

I go more to catch a glimpse of them.

I meditate at the river.

I find myself anticipating the hormone treatments after I catch on and it becomes a ritual as my psyche creates a coping mechanism for this artificial world.

I dutifully craft beautiful things as the empress needs of me.

I scribe the sigils on my flesh and realize quickly that it symbolizes self-harm, and find that it very much embodies that act, becoming another anticipated part of the cycling ritual.

And then your character’s friend comes in.

Anyway. It’s an awesome game that struck a big cord with me.

I’m a genetic male genderqueer individual, meaning I identify somewhere in-between the Male and Female ends of the spectrum of gender. I am overweight, and so I simply present as male, because it’s hard to find feminine clothing that fits a person of my size, expensive too, and hard to find clothes which will look good if the first two things are taken care of. I want to transition eventually, but being genderqueer, as well as other issues, make that a very open issue.

But With Those We Love Alive gave me the push I needed. It pushed me to get serious about crafting the body I want. In the game you play an artificer. In reality, I find the result of chaotic nature and lack of maintenance to be unsatisfactory, as regards my body, and so it falls to me to shape what nature has given me into what I require.

I’d recently started going to the gym, but WTWLA prompted me to get a bit more serious about that as it’s a stepping stone to my being ready to start some form of transition process, in my mind, anyway.

It also prompted me to go and check out a community clinic a few friends had told me about which works with the LGBTQ+ community and offers counseling. I have this thing where if the way to something isn’t clear, I kind of never do anything about it, so some counseling would be helpful with figuring out the mess of gender and transition issues before me, I figured. Last week I went out to check it out, got my name in the system, and yesterday I had my first counseling session.

I’m not sure to what degree it helped, but they charge on a sliding scale, so I can afford to give it a few more goes before I really decide whether it’s helping me or not. I’m hoping it will help me with my depressive tendencies too.

Losing weight will be a struggle too. I have to relearn eating habits and consistently make better choices. On the other hand, I realized earlier today that a pound of carrots is only about 160 calories or so.

In other words, I’ve eaten a pound of carrots while sitting at Starbucks over the last few hours.

 

I intended to do something more mystical inspired by this. I probably will still get some mysticism/occult sort of writing mileage out of this, since there is a powerful metaphor there for taking hold of things and changing them to your whim through struggle and discipline. WTWLA also gave me a few other idea seeds, so I’ll be writing some other stuff inspired by it. But I wanted to start a chronicle of the transformation I’m trying to enact. Every person who knows about my intent makes it harder for me to cut myself slack and give up.

Advertisements

Kalan’s Story

“Kalan, child of Frelnir, Getr, and Enoin, do you understand why you have been brought before the assembly today?” Elder Richin, a tall, bald-headed man asked as he look down at me from where he perched, like a scrawny vulture, in the stands.

…why are they called stands when they are seats?

I brushed a stray lock of hair back behind my ear, grazing the raised scars of my Scarifice of Vasha, now nearly a decade past, as I looked up to him, surrounded by the adults of the town, “I believe it’s because I burnt the town’s Vashan Records when an experiment got away from me.”

More than a few of my elders stifled a chuckle, struggling to keep the solemn looks on their faces such an occasion demanded.

“Yes.” Elder Richin said, “Would you care to elabourate on what occurred that night? Perhaps you can explain why you felt the need to destroy the magical history of our people?” he cocked an eyebrow at me.

“Well, it wasn’t so much that I felt the need, so much as it kind of happened. You see, I was just trying to perform a basic conjuring, and it was the flames of the half-fiend fire elemental that set the fire.”

“Are you saying, in all honesty, that it did not occur to you that would happen?”

“Well…” I shuffled my feet, one hand clasping the elbow of my other arm behind my back, “I mean, I could have sworn magical fire didn’t set things on fire unless it was an aspect of the magic, and fire elementals and demons are inherently magical, so their flames should be magical, so… magical fire.”

Richin pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, “Some. SOME magical fires will not ignite materials. In general they do.”

“Well, I know that now…” Richin would be tempted, and within rights, to slap my head from my shoulders for playing the petulant child if I hadn’t been rather… good to him in the last few months. He’s probably still tempted.

“Why did you feel the library was the appropriate place to perform this conjuring?” he pressed on.

“Because that’s where the books are. I had to use one for the conjuring in the first place, and I knew there could be unforeseen complications, so I figured better to use the facilities of the library and be right there to find the appropriate book to deal with whatever complications arose than to be somewhere else and add theft of a book to the whole breaking in thing.”

“Your ability to well plan poorly thought out courses of action is admirable,” Richin said, fingers having moved from the bridge of his nose to his temples. “Is there a reason you decided to summon a fire elemental, rather than earth or water or air or some other Vasha-damned thing that wouldn’t burn the building down?”

“…I didn’t want to get the books wet, blow their pages around, or put a giant hole in the floor from where the earth elemental came out?”

Several members of the assembly were only succeeding in hiding their amusement by turning it into fits of coughing or managing to laugh silently as they clutched their stomachs and fell off the stone benches.

Richin looked downwards and muttered–I could only catch the invoking of Vasha’s name. For misotheists, we share a lot of traits with the second men.

“Look, if the magic courses were at my level, rather than remedial, theory-only bullshit, this wouldn’t have happened, and it’s not like you can’t reverse the damage,” I levied.

“We’ve been over your complaints about Elder Erther’s magic tutelage. Until you can attract a master to apprentice to, that is your place. And you’re right, the damage can be reversed, and you’re damned lucky for that. If it couldn’t be, this would be a much more serious offense and the other elders would not be TAKING THIS SO LIGHTLY,” his voice rose to address the assembled incapacitated with laughter. He calmed again, breathing deeply as other elders slowed their hysterics and regained their seats. “As it stands, instead of recommending your destruction, I will be recommending your exile until such time as you can show you are not a danger to–” he caught himself as he remembered our peoples’ propensity for being raucous dangers to everyone around them “until such time as you can show you are a self-controlled danger to those around you.”

I was mortified and pissed off. Exile was nearly a death sentence. Vasharan Warriors were regularly sent into the wilds to survive on their own without support from their towns as a test of their abilities before they formally accepted into the military structure, or as a lesson when they were still young. But the town was always still there, and would usually go looking for them when the set time was over! Also–I’m not a warrior! I wasn’t trained to kill wolves bare-handed and harvest grubs! I mean, I could find some, just, you know, turn over some logs, but I doubt I’d get anywhere near enough to sustain me! A sentence of exile for a young vasharan woman with only the barest instruction in magic was essentially a round-about and stupid way of selling them into sex-slavery. Round-about because they could just put me in the damned market and be done with it, and stupid because they wouldn’t get the money!

Richin stared at me. “You are excused from the chamber, Child Kalan.”

Bile raised in the back of my throat in time with the anger rising up my spine. I faltered a moment, biting back words that I would definitely regret and searching for words that were less reactionary, “You forget yourself Richin,” I hissed with eyes narrower than an orc-helm’s eye-slits, “I may be a quarter your age, but do not forget that I won my passage from childhood with pain greater than an old man like you could ever hope to withstand,” the assembly murmured around him with a sound like the forest turning bad on a traveler at night, “you may exile me, and you may spell my doom, but you will do so with respect, you feeble old fool, or the next spell that passes from page, to these eyes, through my lips will send your soul to the gods,” I shook as adrenaline coursed up from the small of my back uttering the gravest threat our race recognized, “and, might I add, nothing of yours will ever pass these lips again.” The murmurs of the assembly turned bemused.

Richin considered impassively, “You are excused, Kalan.”

I turned and swept out of the chamber into the hot sun without like a fell wind.

I was still shaking, but tremors were beginning to still, when a throat cleared behind me. I turned, tamping down my fury, and regarded the second-men scholar who’d been visiting us to study our culture for the last month. “Yes, god-child?”

He smirked, “Not everyone outside your culture has much love for the gods,” he advised, “I was of course not allowed in the assembly, but the elders did allow me to scry over your hearing,” he pulled out a bag of tobacco and began rolling a cigarette, “It’s a shame they’re so strict about a minor, easily repaired indiscretion.” He offered the cigarette to me.

I waved it off and produced my own, “Welcome to Vasharan culture. I’ve seen starving wolves more forgiving than Richin.”

“You show promise,” he said, raising the roll-up to his lips and igniting it with a small flame from his finger. “To cast a spell from a tome, with no practical training in spellcasting? Impressive. You know, I’m an instructor at a mage’s university–do you know this word, university?”

“Larger Vasharan cities tend to have academies and universities of various types, or similar institutes.”

“We instruct our students in both the theoretical and practical aspects of magic. Even specialist students receive at least theoretical instruction in their forsaken school of magic.”

“Cost?” I said with clenched teeth as I lit my rollup from a tinder twig.

“Well, for students from wealthier families, we do charge a tuition, but for promising students who may not have much money to put forth, there are opportunities to conduct adventures and crafting for the benefit of the college. A talented pupil such as yourself might make would likely do quite well in these ventures.”

I cocked and eyebrow and leaned against the warm outer wall of the assembly chamber, “Well, let’s see what the shake out of this is. If I’m exiled, I’ll take you up on that. If I’m not, I may get apprenticeship offers here.”

The creak of the Assembly Chamber door announced a new participant in the conversation. A tall and weedy Vashar man, just a year my senior, poked his head out the door. Males of Vashar society didn’t receive the same Scarifice ritual that women did, instead burn scar tissue crept artfully up his jawline, and canvassed his neck and, I knew, most of the rest of his body. The result of Dipping, a practice whereby Vasharans were immersed in aligned water after receiving a spell which gave them the vulnerabilities of undead or fiends, causing sever burns and tremendous pain. The head belonged to a friend of mine, Miete–we had grown up together, and spent a lot of time together before he was taken as an apprentice by an older Vashar.

“You should probably get out of here, or at least prepare to, Kalan,” the young man said, “Richen’s agitating to have you exiled–at best.”

I swore and muttered a lengthy slander of Richen’s lineage and parentage–an impressive feat in the libertine society of the Vashar. “He wants me destroyed?”

“Looks like he wouldn’t object if you were slain shortly after your exile. Probably in a way that would not be the good kind of unpleasant.”

“Fuck.” I ground out my cigarette under her bare heel. “Alright, Wizard. You’ve got a deal. Let me pack my stuff.”

“I can have you out in an instant if you fear for your life,” the man offered.

“No. I need to stay to be sentenced, if I don’t it just gets worse. However, if you could get my stuff outside the outskirts of town and be ready with that teleport spell I’m thinking you had in mind, that would be appreciated.”

Miete’s head snapped around, then back outside, “they’re winding up. Looks like final points are being raised. Get your stuff. I’ll come find you when they say you can come back.”

I ran off and packed–a proffered haversack from the wizard was useful in hastily gathering old keepsakes–and was nearly done by the time Miete rushed into my chambers.

“They’re ready,” he said.

“Are they in the mood to be understanding if two young hormonal Vasharans were a bit slow getting back?” I asked, wheedling for more packing time.

“No.”

“Fuck.” I cast an eye back over my room, still needing to gather things, including some more personal artifacts.

“I can get the rest,” the gods-child wizard said.

I hesitated a moment, “Decorum be fucked,” I relented, “Congrats, Gods-child, you’re an honorary Vashar in my eyes, take particular care with the nightstand contents, I’ll be cross if you leave me at a loss for relief in a college full of people that think sex is shameful and drugs are bad.”

He laughed. “You have so much to learn about colleges… Don’t worry, whatever you have, I’m sure I’ve seen it before-” he opened the cabinet as Miete grabbed my arm to pull me out. The gods-child retched just a bit, to my amusement before my stronger friend pulled me bodily behind him.

Back in the Assembly Chamber, I stood before Richen.

“Kalan, child  of Frelnir, Getr, and Enoin, the Assembley has reached a decision.”

“No shit.”

Richen fumed at my insolence, but I knew the result anyway, so I had little to lose.

“You are to be exiled for a term of no less than five years. At the end of that time, you may approach the village as a petitioner for re-admittance to Vashar society.”

I laughed. Genuinely. “You mean re-admittance to this society. If I made it to another Vashar settlement, especially one of the larger ones, like Hetrot, you know damned well they wouldn’t care about my exile from this backwater.”

“This is not the way to make an impression on the counsel that may decide your fate in five years,” Richen lectured with cocked brow.

“Please. Richen, if you don’t die within five years from backed up testes exploding, it’ll be some other fate. You can’t expect to live much longer,” I paused, “especially when you go exiling young women with arcane potential that paid you certain favours for so long.”

He sneered, “All the potential in the world means nothing without a master to shape it.”

“I’ll remind you that you said that when you see me next.”

“I doubt very much that ‘arcane’ potential is what your future owner will see in you on the auction block, ilntr,” the bastard gloated, using a particularly rude word that would have moved me to burn his heart from his chest… …if I knew that spell.

“Well, I guess it’s time for my, what, five minute head start?”

“In light of the graveness of your crime,” Richen began to my gritting teeth, “we have decided your head start will be 45 seconds. At the end of that time, if you are within the village limits, you will be dealt with at the discretion of he who finds you.”

I smirked, outwardly, but inside I was just a bit panicked. 45 seconds would be close, so it’s a good thing I already packed. “You wish,” I said, pumping my fist along an imaginary shaft as I slowly turned and padded out of the Chamber.

Outside I broke into a dead run. Locking eyes on the wizard, I put every ounce of strength I had into my legs–it wouldn’t be much longer before I had some of the more violent members of the village looking for me–“NOT FAR ENOUGH!” I shouted to him.

“Shit. Where are the bounds?” the wizard wondered as I ran up to him, grabbing his shoulder in one hand and my bag in the other.

Teleportteleportteleportteleport” I raced through clenched teeth.

As the wizard started the gestures I could see thick-bodied Vashar men fondling their groins as they lazily walked my way.

We faded from that spit of land just as they neared grabbing distance.

Another Tumblr Inspiration–“Are gods really gods if no one believes in them anymore?”

Marissa Dakin posed an interesting question– “Are gods really gods if no one believes in them anymore?” –followed by small vignettes imagining the Greek gods in modern times, immortal, but no longer gods, trying to make their way in this world where no one believed them, they had no more power, but were still their domain at their core.

Her Hades sounds more like Ares, as he usually does because people still fear death, and the personification of it is seen as vicious. The cause rather than the result.

So I wrote this, inspired and moved by the world she painted.


Hades steps into the small washup area in the basement of the coroner’s office and sighs.

It’s winter, his wife is away, visiting her mother down south. No one understands arranged marriages anymore, but he always tried to treat her well, and there was love that blossomed there. But her mother feared her lost to his realm forever. So in the winter, she flew south to her mother, and he stayed north, where his job was.

An involuntary laugh, dry like a crypt, escaped his throat in a rasp. If only Demeter had known what it would come to.

Hades washed his hands, toweled them off, wiped the remaining moisture on his scrubs, and sat down, flicking on the small radio in what passed for an office.

A song came on and he instantly recognized the voice. A tear came to his gold-flecked eye as he retrieved a pomegranate from his lunch bag. Orpheus was the only who’d done truly well. Even after a car crash that nearly crushed him, he’d moved onto a modest success as a singer. Even Apollo had to envy as Orpheus’ tracks sold in small numbers but wide distribution. Hermes had helped build the website.

“It’s all information,” the messenger had said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” Hades mouthed as Hermes’ voice echoed in his head.

He slipped a pomegranate seed between his lips, the taste bringing vivid memories of Persephone. It was always hard to truly remember her in the winter. Things were different now, though. There’s nothing quite preventing him from visiting Demeter with her, they’re just immortal, not bound by divine law anymore. He could go.

If he was wanted. If his mother in law didn’t do as much as she could to keep him from her daughter’s mind in the winter.

He was needed there, in his office, anyway.

He may no longer rule the underworld, but he still has his duty to the dead. He no longer oversaw an eternal lake of souls, or the Elysium Fields—now he watched a dimly lit chamber of little doors, each holding or waiting to hold a body to be examined. He performed no small number of the examinations himself, but mostly he was there to watch over them, and receive any bodies brought in during the night.

Kharon had long ago traded his boat for a van. Instead of ferrying the dead to the underworld, he now couriered corpses to the morgue. He had another job as a hearse driver too—thank someone for the immortal lack of sleep-need.

Hades hated the night shift. He never took glee in his role, it was a duty, and one his brother was too vain to step up to. But now he had to watch as Kharon brought in women beaten to death by their pimps or husbands or rapists, children caught in crossfires, boys not quite past childhood killed on one side or another in those crossfires… no one seemed to die peacefully in the night, or those who did seemed to always wait till morning. Family discover them in their beds, in chairs in front of TVs, or even witnessed them just- fall, and not move again, and they called the coroner and arranged for the body to be picked up in the morning. Only victims were brought in at night, after the police had come and canvassed and said it could be moved.

Sometimes, when it was a slow night, Kharon would sit with Hades on his break, or when he had no work to do. They would talk, play old games long forgotten by mortals and undiscovered by archaeologists, reminisce. Kharon had no wife in the before time, and it wasn’t easy for him to date mortals now—the gods may not be gods anymore, but he still carries the unnerving presence of death.

Sometimes he would see Hecate or Melinoe as he picked up a body. Kharon would smile, and then immediately wonder if he should be smiling. Melinoe always quickly turned away and left, Hecate would acknowledge him, but give no indication of whether the smile was appreciated or not.

Hades would try to advise his friend as best he could, but then- he married Persephone when courtship was asking the father for the woman’s hand and nothing else, so there was only so much help Hades could be.

In the winter, Hades would vacillate wildly between warmly welcoming Kharon in on these nights, and quietly saying he needed to be alone.

On those nights he would sit, and listen to the radio play Orpheus, and eat pomegranate seeds—and be glad that only the dead knew the silver tone of his tears.