Author Archives: Dennis

Suicide, Mental Health and Gatekeeping

Someone in my family committed suicide a few days ago. It was quite unexpected, not just for me, but for a lot of people. Apparently, he had been quite unhappy for a long while with things stemming from childhood, things that he was addressing in therapy. I keep wondering what it is about one person that they can lead a life of misery, setbacks and struggle, without ever earnestly considering the thought of suicide, while another lives a relatively affluent life whose happiness was derailed during a formative period, who then decides to take their own life?

It makes me reevaluate existential pain and suffering. The human psyche is too complex to compare two situations. It makes me reevaluate a lot of the mental health gatekeeping which happens. Someone claims to have ptsd, and others jump on that person for suggesting that their pain and suffering is en par with the suffering of others who have a more “legitimate” form of ptsd, like soldiers. You simply can’t compare the two cases on such a superficial level.

Battling the Procyon

Previously, the adventurers managed to broker a deal between the different parties in Allenham which seemed to satisfy everyone’s needs. The remaining threat to newly brokered peace in the village was still threatened by the presence of the Procyon somewhere in the wilds around town. Magistrate Strickland struck a deal with the adventurers that they could resolve the Procyon presence in return for two sturdy mules or donkeys for them to use on their way to Pinefall. The adventurers returned to the elven ruins in the forest, convinced that they would be able to find tracks which would lead them to the Procyon hideout. After searching they found an entrance to a underground system underneath the ruins, from which a group of Procyon spilled forth to do battle with them.

Fifth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

(Silvermoon in low sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waning.)

Right after Luca had managed to penetrate the illusion which was cast over the statue of the elven lovers, a Procyon scout rose up from an entrance in the base of the statue which lead to the ruins below the garden. He had is bow drawn and loosed an arrow at Luca, who managed to duck out of the way. In the confusion, eight fleet-footed Procyon scouts emerged from the entrance, each of them carrying swords and bows. Quick to follow was a large, black feline, that came bounding out of the entrance, going straight for Luca. And last came another elf, this time clothed not in the supple leathers of the Procyon scouts, but in the loose flowing robes of an arcanist, carrying a wand made from twisted wood.

The feline pounced on Luca, taking him down, while everyone else was immediately under fire. James moved quickly from bush to bush, the thorns of the roses tearing at his clothing and skin, but always keeping hidden from sight. He was all over the garden striking suddenly when the opportunities presented themselves. Astrid raged as she tore into the nearest Procyon scouts with her grotesque sword and Emma unleashed a tidal wave of water like a hammer. Emrys used his illusions to duplicate himself causing confusion among his attackers while flinging broken shards of marble at them. At one point, Emma managed to lure one of the Procyon scouts close enough to the waterfall to shove them triumphantly over the edge.

The adventurers all found themselves out of position to support each other. Soon, Luca was down, James had drawn the attention from the arcanist, Emrys was drawing fire, Astrid was battling several scouts at once, and Emma was dealing with assailants of her own. Luckily, they had managed to strike enough of the scouts down and wounded many others so that they started a tactical retreat back towards the entrance at the base of statue. They grabbed as many of their fallen as they could and descended down into the ruins.

Emma took a moment to call upon Sedna’s divine grace to bring both Emrys and Luca back from the brink. Questions were raised about what to do next. Perhaps the adventurers thought they had the Procyon on the run, perhaps they felt threatened by leaving them down in the ruins, perhaps they felt that now was the best time to strike, and so they climbed down into the ruins. They used all caution as they found themselves descending down into part of an elven bath house, the interior matching the exterior with marble columns and rose bushes decorating them.

They found a doorway leading to a corridor which ultimately took a right turn leading down a flight of stairs. At the bottom of the stairs another short corridor which lead to another room, much like the one they had just departed, complete with a bath and all the trappings of a decadent bath house. They found signs of a camp, with hastily discarded bedrolls, trinkets, clothing, and the signs of an extinguished campfire.

Another corridor lead to another staircase, once again going down and taking a right turn. Another corridor at the bottom of the staircase lead to an almost identical room with a bath in it. Again there were signs of a camp. The same in the next room. The last room they found did not have the same signs of a camp, but was otherwise identical to the previous three. The only room that was unique was the top room, as it was more elaborately decorated with rose bushes, which was something the other rooms lacked.

The final corridor eventually lead to entrance to the base of the hill on the north-western side. Allenham lay about an hour to the south-east. The entrance to the tunnel was obscured by roots and vines coming off the side of the hill. When the adventurers emerged into the daylight, they were once again confronted by the Procyon, lay in wait in the treeline, ready for an ambush.

As the adventurers emerged they were beset upon by a sudden, magical blizzard, pelting them on all sides with cold, hard hailstones. Then came a hail of arrows from the scouts. Last came the devastating arrow from Cendelius’ own recurve bow, exploding in the middle of them, knocking out Emrys and Luca once again. They had been lured into overextending themselves in their pursuit of this group of guerrilla fighters and had paid the price for it. Astrid and Emma grabbed their fallen companions and the group retreated back into the safety of the ruins.

The group decided to rest in one of the bath chambers, setting up simply spells which would aid them in detecting if or when the Procyon would return to finish them off. But after hours of rest, the Procyon never came, and the group decided it was safe enough to return to the top of the hill, emerging from the entrance in the base of the statue to find that the remaining dead scout the Procyon had initially left behind had also been retrieved. What they did find, however, were some of the items of the scout which Emma had pushed over the edge of the waterfall. They decided to take their shortsword as proof of their battle.

Returning to Allenham they found the village eerily quiet. Syndarael’s cottage was abandoned, with the door left open. Other huts and cabins had closed and bolted their doors. Something was clearly amiss. When they came closer to the centre of the village they saw small plumes of smoke coming from the Allenhouse. Upon arrival they found the large building damaged by fire, the two guards slain, and the door open wide.

Inside they found magistrate Strickland slain at the hands of the Procyon, with Sylvael cradling his head in her lap while her mother was futilely trying to patch up the magistrate’s wounds. The only thing that Syldarael could say was that everything would become so much worse now.

The adventurers decided to try and take charge the situation. Some did it for their own benefit, some did it out of a sense of duty, but conversations were held with Falibor and Herman to rally together and lead the village until such a time that another magistrate would be sent from Kingsport. The latter also agreed to provide the adventurers with one of his donkeys in repayment for their efforts in dealing with the Procyon presence.

Emma took care of cleansing the body and preparing it for burial, together with Syldarael who explained that the farmers of Allenham paid homage to the Earthmother. They believed that they came from the earth, and would return to the earth in death. The bodies of the two guardsmen were retrieved by their families, who were going to put them to rest the following day in a small, private ceremony.

Luca tried to find out where the magistrate kept his rookery and was annoyed to find that such a small village like Allenham didn’t have a rookery of their own. No wonder Kedelon had to make the trip up and down river to Blackbridge so often. They only had a bird whenever Kingsport sent them a bird, which they would then promptly send back with a reply.

Emma provided a solution to this problem by using the divine grace of Sedna in order to send a message along the streams and rivers of the Lyrian countryside, all the way to the handsome folk hero and lieutenant of the palace crownsguard, Sir William of Eastwarren.

Surprised by the usual message, William promised to relay the message to the steward of Kingsport. Or at least, that’s what Emma imagined he was trying to say in reply since the message got cut off prematurely.

That evening, Emrys and James patrolled the streets, making sure that the Procyon did not return to cause more trouble. The irony of two half-elves on patrol to keep the villagers of Allenham safe was not lost on anyone.

Anxiety

I’ve always considered myself to be a person with a generally low level of anxiety. Especially when compared to some of the people around me, I felt that I wasn’t afflicted by the same levels of anxiety as those I saw in my peers. Over time, I’ve learned more about anxiety and the ways in which you can express it, and I’ve realised that from time to time I’ve experienced it, but never in a way that was either unpleasant or debilitating. I’ve known fear, especially when I was young, but anxiety was never a significant part of my life.

The last few months have been a bit of a struggle. Work challenges have preoccupied me, my motivation has gone down, less exercise, less endorphins, less happy overall, etc. And what I’ve noticed is that my general level of anxiety has risen to a point where it’s having some interesting effects on my mind and the things that occupy me in those random moments, when I’m cycling to work or take a shower.

I start thinking about accidents more often. About getting injured. About what would happen to the people I’d leave behind if I should come to die. What would happen to me if one of my loved one died. That sort of thing. It doesn’t happen very often, and I always consider the thoughts kind of silly, not lending them much gravitas, but I wonder; if this trend continues, will I still be able to enjoy jiu jitsu as much given the possibility of injury?

For now I’m taking care of myself a little better. I make sure to get to training two times a week. Go running two times a week. Not indulge in junk food too much. And make sure to do those things that bring me joy and calm me down. My friends and family have been quite helpful, too. They’ve all given me the space I need and have put up with my terrible mood, for which I am very thankful.