Author Topic: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter  (Read 2758 times)


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The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« on: June 07, 2019, 10:35:37 AM »
Amidst mundane measurements and sketches of outfits favoured by Nova Vaasan nobility are snatches of theory scribbled in the margins of this tailor's book.

The Rider's Dilemma:

Doctor Gregorian Illhousen conceptualised the duality of mortal minds in the Rider's Dilemma. Imagine a man seeking to hunt a great and dangerous beast. He must select a dependable steed from the stables for his task. He goes seeking a horse of great strength and speed but sees nearby an enormous plains cat sleeping in the sun. Surely, the cat would kill the man were he to try and ride it. He should ride a horse. He should choose the dependable option. But the promise of the speed, the power, of the cat entices him. He knows it is dangerous, but he cannot help but think: "what if?"

This is the great temptation. The shadow to all minds. The promise of giving in to our wildest and darkest desires is a call that only the fear of punishment keeps us from responding to. Certainly, to abandon the horse in favour of the cat would lead one only to ruin. But a life of denial, of temperance, is just as shallow.

What if there is a harmony to be found somewhere in the shadow of the mind?

What chance would the great beasts we hunt have then?

Reflections of the Shadow:

Understanding the shadow of any woman's mind is a difficult thing. Each one is loathe to express their base desires openly. Each fears judgement just as the hunter fears the claws of the cat. It is common for alienists to use dreams, pattern interpretation, skull measurements and hypnotism to seek the dark subconscious. But the shadow has many reflections in the most mundane of things.

I believe that presentation is one such reflection. The many choices - great and small - made by the waking mind in how to present oneself are influenced by the shadow. It is in how a woman wishes to be seen that the shadow is reflected.

In coats modelled after storied rogues is a yearning to roam free. In conformity there is something sinful to hide.

I will need more storied clients.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2019, 10:25:09 AM »
Sketches of a cheerful human woman in a travelling scholar's attire.

The Rebel Shadow:

Is a free spirit born or made?

This client's shadow is an anxious thing, hungry for personal discovery but fearful of control in all forms. The client had chosen to clothe themselves in a heavy, elaborate coat with gold trim. An imperious and gaudy thing that speaks of a desire to be recognised by one's peers. Over compensation suggests a deep rooted anxiety that I believe can be traced to the client's overbearing mother. The unpleasant control exerted over the client has caused them to seek to escape any outside influence on their actions. This extends, curiously, to concerns about their own blood and heritage.

Of course, rejecting a part of the self will only lead to a struggle with the shadow that the ego can never win. The client must must confront what they are now, before they can develop into what they hope to become. A more understated and functional outfit that presents the image of a capable and earnest scholar, free of gaudiness, is much more fitting. Resolution of subconscious anxieties about heritage is more complex.

Hypnotherapy could reach whatever self the blood induces, perhaps?

A set of spectacles with a tint are sketched. No face is sketched to accompany them, save a grinning mouth.

The Awoken Shadow:

An unusual client. The shadow itself has awoken; an outburst following some great pain. Though the client is in some outward denial about the nature of this awakening, it is clear that their development will be intimately tied to the wounded shadow. Will their power grow as they find peace with their suffering? I dare to hope it is so, but find myself in doubt. This power is a manifestation of the shadow, and so I think it will grow only with the shadow's influence. Without an outlet and careful handling, I fear the client is destined for outburst.

This creation is derived from an object held dear by the client. They seek to present a bold face to the world, hiding their wounds from all in the hopes that they can deny them entirely. The client must confront what pains them but I believe at this time they are in a transitive state. If their pain is confronted, their performance becomes less a facade and more a new self.

It is my hope that transforming this heirloom will ease the client's own transition.

This client is full of potential. I hope to see it met.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 10:30:58 AM by PlatointheCave »


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2019, 10:26:26 AM »


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 05:52:25 PM »
Sketches of a woman's suit. Crosses have been drawn on spots in the lining with annotations in gnomish next to each.

Guilt and the Shadow:

Doctor Majvor postulates that the reaction of the shadow to stress is proportional to the magnitude and period of the stress imposed. Put in simpler terms: those that grow up in a state of prolonged suffering have the most powerfully reactive shadows. Typically this reaction is one of spite, cruelty and violence. This client is unusual in that their suffering as an outsider has manifested as a subconscious guilt due to the suffering the circumstances of their birth induced. This has left them with a strong sense of obligation to others driven by the shadow's desire for absolution. The client also has a sense of self that is developing in reaction to the unjust imposition of identity from others. For the moment the client is clearly finding her footing but once she has set a path for herself, I do not believe anyone will be capable of breaking her will.

This client gives me hope for myself and our future. Hope that the repression of the lash need not always lead to cruel outburst. To impose any sort of definition on a client such as this would be to put her desire to define herself at odds with my tastes. A puzzle, to be sure. I think it best to focus on utility in all aspects of design; let Vinter's definition of this woman not be imposition, but the enabling of her Ego.

I must also note some excitement about the validation of my theories. The shadow can be awoken, made manifest.

Such possibilities.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2019, 03:08:34 AM »
Sketches of a man in upper class Barovian garb. The man in all sketches stands straight and rigid.

The Repressed Shadow:

This client is not noteworthy for his eccentricity. In fact, he is far from an unusual man. Though he is from a different world (allegedly) he has lived a life of duty, not because he chose it, but because he was offered no alternatives. He was not forced into the life he led directly, but he certainly never found an opportunity to define himself. He - like so many others - has lived a life defined by his "betters". This has required the absolute repression of the shadow. He does not dream, though he still feels a deep longing to be greater than the world has allowed him. His needs, desires and aspirations have been buried. In a way, he is much the same as so many who toil in my homeland. Longing for more, but fearing the consequences of trying.

Why, then, have I selected such a common subject? On some level, I suppose it is sympathy. He reminds me of so many others, lost to repression. Lost to shadow or living a hollow life. But he is also the greatest test of my theories to date. Does this man, long in denial, have in him a hidden potential? Will the release of his shadow from repression make of him a greater man than he thought possible? In my own dreams he flounders in inky black waters. I fear he will be dragged under.

But I hope I am wrong.

His commission is refined and of local cut, that he may grow accustomed to this new world as he finds his way both within and without.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2019, 12:17:28 PM »
Pages on pages of the book are filled with a lengthy work.

Awakening the Shadow:

In this work I will outline the fundamentals of alienism; the study of the minds of men. I will use my homeland of Nova Vaasa as an example to demonstrate the importance of alienism in understanding society, then delve into my own contributions to the field. It is my hope that this work will introduce the layperson to alienism as well as informing my fellows.

Ask any Nova Vaasan what constitutes a life well lived and they will speak of temperance and service. It will be explained that lords of the land serve the people by leading wisely and taking care of society while the common folk do so by performing their duties obediently and faithfully. These claims will stand in stark contrast to the reality of life in Nova Vaasa. The smallfolk certainly spend their days toil, but it is under the Lawgiver’s lash. What little they make is taxed to support the exorbitant lifestyles of the nobility. The cities are overcrowded, death is common, and the bodies of the smallfolk are left in the gutters. When night falls the people, high and low both, engage in every vice known to man. Gambling, prostitution, dogfights, violence and worse are commonplace. The same Nova Vaasan that swears by service during the day will be as a beast when night falls.

How might a scholarly mind account for this apparent contradiction between word and deed? Obedience, temperance and duty certainly appear to be reasonable pillars on which to rest a society. It cannot be denied that such values have been strictly imposed on the people of Nova Vaasa. Even the nobility must present commitment to such ideas if they are to find any measure of social influence. To an alienist the resolution of this contradiction is in the duality of thought. The mind is widely believed to be comprised of two parts: the ego and the shadow. The ego is the waking mind. It is all the faculties of conscious thought and understanding. It is the part of the mind that reasons. The shadow is the sleeping mind. It is our desires, fears and sorrows. It is all we feel and the root of both motive and empathy. Thought is driven by the shadow but given form by the ego.

It is a simple enough thing to delve into a man’s ego, if he is inclined to be honest. The waking mind is observable in what he believes and in how he reasons about problems. The shadow is less straightforward. It does not find expression in words or reason, but in the hidden desires and fears of a man. These can be found through careful analysis of actions or dreams although hypnotism might also be used for more direct exploration of the shadow. It was Doctor Gregorian Illhousen that explained the Nova Vaasan contradiction in his Rider’s Dilemma. Illhousen supposes that a rider is seeking a horse to go hunting with. He wishes to pick the fastest, most dependable steed and goes to the stables. As he is considering the horses, he notes an enormous plains cat sleeping in the sun. His ego reasons that if he tries to ride the cat it will throw him off and he will be slain. The horse is the safe option. But he cannot help but imagine what he could accomplish if only the cat could be tamed. This longing is his shadow; his unconscious desire to follow wild impulse. Only his fear of consequence keeps him from leaping on the cat.

Illhousen’s argument is that the values of Nova Vaasan society are adhered to not because of any genuine desires, but because they fear expression of any aspect of the shadow. A lifetime of suffering the lash has resulted in deep repression. Doctor Ruricia Opsis has demonstrated that prolonged repression of the shadow inevitably results in what she termed an “outburst”. This is because the shadow is all motive and desire. In a healthy individual the shadow can find expression in the waking mind. The indulgences that are made as one goes about their day, the relationships explored, and the meaning found in artistic or scientific pursuit are all healthy outlets. These outlets are complex in form because the shadow has been allowed to develop alongside the waking mind. If the shadow is repressed, no such development occurs. The daily lives of Nova Vaasan are without outlet; only adherence to duty. This results in a shadow that remains base; lust, greed, violence, and spite typify the repressed shadow. These animal urges surface the moment threats no longer exist to keep them contained. This is an outburst.

Thus far I have outlined the fundamentals of an alienist’s concept of the mind. What has already been discussed should be considered well established fact. My discussion will now be of my own theory and findings. Where other alienists have focused their studies on the effects of shadow repression and therapeutic methods for correcting such, my own work has been focused on the potential of the shadow. Well developed shadows find outlet in undeniably useful forms; creativity, insight, ambition and compassion. I posit that the shadow’s potential far exceeds that which even most healthy people realise.

I have used analysis of dreams, actions and experimental hypnotherapy to delve into the shadow of seemingly mundane subjects and tug at their grandest desires. This tugging, in turn, has resulted in the realisation of wondrous potential. Typically, a subject has a deep fear, sorrow or regret that can be drawn to the waking mind and transformed into a source of strength. The form this takes varies but once the shadow has been treated in this way the subject’s capacity for realising their desires is measurably improved.

I will refer to the process of drawing the shadow into the waking mind as the awakening of the shadow. I theorise that each individual’s shadow represents a potential waiting to be realised. This potential is limited only by the extent to which the shadow has been awakened. The shadow is bound, quite literally, to a world of possibility. The limits of the waking world do not apply to the mind’s shadow and I believe that if an individual is able to awaken their shadow in full, then those limits might be exceeded. Of course, the shadow is not a thing of ego. I have found that drawing it entirely to the waking world requires confrontation and embrace of its darkest aspects. I would caution the inexperienced alienist against putting my theory into practice without a careful analysis of their subject. They must make certain that no dangerous aspect of themselves has been neglected, lest harm be done to an unprepared waking mind.

It is my belief that our best selves are drawn out by seeking harmony between the shadow and the ego. A life without repression is a life well lived. But it is in awakening the shadow that exceptional lives are lived. Those individuals that leave their mark firmly on the waking world have done so utilising the potential of their shadow. In each of us, there is greatness.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2019, 06:42:54 PM »
Sketches of an agent's garb fit for a woman. These are covered in annotations noting asymmetric features that must be accounted for.

The Crippled Shadow:

The client has lived a remarkable life. If stories of worlds beyond the mist are to be believed, theirs is not unlike Nova Vaasa in many ways. The people are oppressed and forced to deny the shadow. In flight from their old world the client was crippled physically. It seems this physical crippling was extensive and their current state of physical functionality is nothing short of miraculous. How is it the client has succeeded at healing their body where so many others fail? Certainly, their studies played a role, but I believe it is their shadow's yearning for the righting of the wrongs of their home world that accounts truly for their success. Because of it, they have achieved more than any in their field could imagine possible.

Their success reflects a crippling not just of the body but of the shadow. A pain, anger and regret that demands resolution. I have no doubt that the client will return to challenge the oppressive order. It is as if they are the concrete expression of the unconscious shadow of their people; a force the waking world cannot hope to oppose. I will design their garb to reflect their yearning.

Sketches of scholarly outfit fit for a woman.

Awakening Potential:

Can a shadow's outburst act as the beginning of true awakening of the shadow? This client certainly seems to suggest as much. The poor thing seems to be in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear due to a lifetime of external pressures repressing capable and independent aspects of the shadow. Yet, despite this repression, they have travelled far and defied the easy path. Unlike the hypothetical rider in Illhousen's dilemma she has chosen the cat. It has taken pressure and evident failings of the safe steed, but she has chosen it. The brilliance of this client is obvious, as is their potential and I am excited to see what they will prove capable of if their inner turmoil can be unravelled. Despite barriers within and without, they have come this far, what might they be capable of if the shadow is no longer at odds with itself?

I will have to develop something more refined for them in time. But for now, a garment that reflects their old dreams will best encourage those brilliant aspects of the shadow to express themselves.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2019, 03:25:49 AM »
Sketches of an outfit somewhere between a suit and a minstrel's garb fit for a small form.

The Ambitious Performer:

How similar this client's history is to my own. We share blood, upbringing and homeland. But there is no conflict in her shadow. The client knows her own worth and chooses to express it, apathetic to the judgement of society at large. Such a subject requires no prodding to express the shadow. It seems growing up with caretakers that encouraged living without repression has exposed them to the violence of the lash but not the internal repression that so many of my people suffer as a consequence. I believe they will thrive in their new life and need only a garb to reflect the expression of their self and history.

This design breaks from even traditional suits but I believe that if the client intends to stand out in the City of Lights it is better to make the theatrics clear. The humans there consider my people inventors and performers. They will delight in a design that satisfies fashionable sensibilities and fits the client to their own projections about my people.

Beneath this entry is a second in a different hand.

the tailor sees a world of unfair judgement and designs an outfit to conform to it. a cowardly decision.

not every bright light can be sheltered.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2020, 04:01:30 AM »
Sketches without clear measurements, and odd proportions, of a man's formal garb. The limbs are a little too long, the fit too tight about the waist, as if the outfit were designed for a deathly, emaciated creature.


The client has inherited a curious truth. Perhaps it is one closer to the Shadow than my own theories? In defiance of masters unnamed a chained people took to killing and never ceased. His is the way of these people, or the essential ideal they represent. While he presented with the motions and "discipline" typical of repressed men of violence, he acted according to a craving of the self, seeking an existence as nothing more than a pure expression of his chosen path. What aspect of the self does such a man realise? Clearly not a lust for violence and battle. Not hate. Not a drive to dominate. I hypothesise it is fear. Doctor Thibault contends that it is fear of death that drives all mortal achievement. That being able to exact, and avoid, that death motivates pursuit of power and is the root of the desire to succeed in all things. The client is an expression of that fear. I think those slaves found that fear, in their struggle to be free, and got lost in its pursuit. Perhaps he will be the one to claim its mantle?

This design is my best approximation of his shroud. A grim divine, but one that must have their place in the new world.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2020, 10:12:20 AM by PlatointheCave »


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2020, 10:17:04 PM »


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2020, 12:50:02 AM »
Sketches of a form fitting suit, cut to emphasise the shoulders without restricting the arms. The notes on colour are bold and distinct.

God's Tower:

An interesting client. I am fortunate they were so forthcoming but this, in and of itself, is telling. Born to struggle and violence, it is no surprise that the client has internalised the need to exercise power over others. What is particularly interesting is that this is not externally focused. They are not dedicated to mastery over others, or control without, so much as an inner perfection. Violence is the client's nature, and so they have sought to perfect it, to build themselves ever higher. I hypothesise that their early trauma has left an ache, a craving for completion that may never be met. They make of themselves a tower, building to a heavens that may not exist.

I find myself wondering if this pursuit will ever lead them to the completion they crave, or if their neglect of other aspects of the self will forever deny them what they truly desire. Are they wounded, and in need of healing, or have they internalised a truth of the self? I do not think a design with artistic flourishes would suit such a shadow. I have focused instead on simple quality that emphasises the physical achievements of the client. It is like clothing granite; frills would only detract from its raw simplicity.

This project is a welcome diversion.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2020, 05:14:14 PM »
Sketches of an indistinct male figure in violent motion. The motions frequently feature unnatural contortion.

The Departed:

A difficult client to clothe. Artistically, I have plenty of clear visions. But my vision, what I see, for the client? It does not apply to their world of light. The face they choose to wear. So I have made nothing, for a long time. But I am increasingly of the opinion that one cannot live for expression of the Shadow alone. There is a place for the Ego. The solid bridge connecting one person to another. Without it, there can be no stable connection. The client has chosen a departure from the self. An embrace of an Ego state born not of their Shadow but the circumstances of the world.

They've departed this world, not in Shadow, but Ego. I have made a design to dress the face they have chosen. Not because I believe this face the truest expression of themselves, but because I want them to find joy in the choice.

I cannot help but wonder if in doing so I am making my own compromise.

But this choice I have made for me, even if it means neither of us will be free.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2020, 10:56:56 PM »
The Only Painting in the Gallery:

Smooth earth. Brown. Red? Red. Shaped like fear. No, not just fear. That's the wrong word. Someone buried resolve in there, just behind the spires of wood.

Buried like the dead, nhmhmhm. This is a tomb. How many will die in this room?

Echoes of boots. Long nights. Tense days.

How did that song go? "For the men of black hearts, for He of the Unsleeping Eyes..."

Paper. Ink. Whispers of secrets. Screams and shouts of war.

"...The Expedition marched to leave none standing." Oh, did you hear what the Count was wearing the other day? Scandalous!

Shattered glass. Glass? No? No. Shattered /like/ glass. Draped in the shroud of death.

Tyrants are so tasteless. That Morninglordian clashes terribly with the hangings.

Someone painted the floor. An accident? No. This artist had a plan.

Uninspired. Utterly. I was using that shade months ago, you know.

The finch fought the viper. Bitter resolution mingling with Fear's venom.

Ha ha ha ha!

"He was here" Katja declared. There was doubt in the Fractured Drake's shadow. Funny. "What now?" she asked.

He always gets to the violent ones first, doesn't he?

"Nhmhmhm. Time to go."

It was so thoughtful of him to invite us to dance.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2020, 12:06:51 PM »
Act Two:

It was time. Wasn't it? Enter stage left, murder the last act, await the applause. So where was it? The laughter. Clapping. Joy. Anything? Anything but the silence.



An empty world. Still. Lifeless. Tranquil? Dead. Dead.

Then He stirred.

Forgive the intermission. Act Two begins now.

Ahahaha. What's a hero without the villain? Or was it the villain without the hero? So hard to keep track!

Take a knee. Look into His soul. Is anything left in there?

"I dearly wish I had a clever lesson this time. Some mocking trick."

Nothing wrong with the classics, is there? Everyone's doing violent murder these days, you know.

"Do you feel victorious, Katja?"

I feel better than He looks! Aheheh.

"I... We... Simply had... To."

"I can say without doubt, that I understand exactly what you mean."

Were we this clever last He bested us? I don't remember.

"I suppose you were the victor, this time." She patted one of His lacerations, as if He were an old friend.

If this is what losing looks like we should do it more often!

Shallow breaths. "I suppose only time will tell."

Does divinity have a conclusion? I haven't been planning one. What would we wear?

Deep breath. Wander the twisting roads. See the past. Imagine the future. The lake. The depths. The dark.

"We were born in there, you know. Deep in the darkness. Where our fear of drowning lurked."

I remember that! You tried to drown yourself. That was very funny.


"How funny."


Shallow breathing. Is it time? Hm. Yes. House lights are up.

"But don't laugh too hard, hmh? It'll hurt."

Ha ha ha ha!

Refreshments, anyone? Can't lose the cast. They're not there yet. One drop to relax. Two to sleep. Three to dream.

His wounds closed. Focused? Focused. Pause for effect.

"Then as the stage grows dark and the music comes to a close, we ready for our next act."

He always knows just what to say!

"Ahah. Aheh. Aheheh."

Back on your feet. We're not done. Will we ever be?

"I made a promise, long ago. To defy fate, and to break the chains it had placed on me. It was mine to fail, but I swore I would not. That is why you were placed upon my path, Katja. You are fate's great answer. It is why our threads are so entwined."

Heartwarming. You know, He'd be a lot of fun if it weren't for all the assassination.

"Nheh. Ahem. That's what I like about you, Domenico."

Ah, you know? He's a lot of fun anyway. But the curtains are closing! Time to go.

"You have such a grand sense of humor."

What an entertaining God He will make.

« Last Edit: September 27, 2020, 01:37:37 PM by PlatointheCave »


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2020, 01:02:09 AM »
Negotiation with Tyrants:

The Tyrant's temple. Filthy. Sordid. Wrong? Wrong. The Pale Serpent leaned close, a sibilant hiss to his words.

"You see, Katja Vinter, I have sworn an oath to Giles Hawkins. There is a moment of peace. The instant you meddle in my affairs... ?"

He snapped his fingers. Classy.

"It ends."

Do you remember the Iron Square? So many hangings.

"Truly? Ahah. Aheh."

Put the knife to his chest. He wont move, will he? He's sure. Certain. Bound.

"The lives of those you've danced so closely with are firmly in your hands. Prove to them that I was right. That you're the only one you truly care about."

You never said a word. No one did. Do you remember?

"If I draw blood, it is over?"

Read the fine print. See what Giles bought with his soul. Don't forget the signature.

"Blood will end it surely, but it's not a very forgiving oath. Any action you take to meddle in our affairs at all will see this moment of respite vanished."

Who would dare disturb God's peace? Nothing to be done but let them do as they will.


Smile for the audience. Drive the point home.

He bled. Not much. But enough.

All over the dotted line.

"Why would that /ever/ chain me? Good luck, Pale Serpant. Ahehehe!

We should've said something when they took Father.

Shades of shock. Hisses of anger. Surprised? I doubt the audience was. He whispered with real venom:


For crimes against God and the State, we sentence you to be hung until dead. Ahah. Aheh. Ahoo.

"Oh no. There's a hidden Order. Deeper than words and oaths. You'll see it some day. But Peace? Peace is for Tyrants."

"When you see the ruin that you have brought upon your people, I hope that this hidden order, this master plan, brings you some measure of solace."

What choice have we but to uphold the Law? The rebels are the enemy of peace!

This contract is voided. Try again.

"Oh, hardly. It wont be me, will it? It'll be you. You're the raging "chaos" that had to be chained. Me? I just set you free."

Take a bow. The curtains are closing. Any final remarks from the judge?

"Ahah. Aheheh. Ahoo."

"Perhaps you will defeat me after all, Laughing Shadow. But if you do, when you stand atop your mountain in victory, I want you to take note of all who aren't there to share it with you."

Rage? Rage and a promise.

"They'll be with me!"

Here lies Vilhelm Vinter. I miss Father.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2020, 04:55:10 AM by PlatointheCave »


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2020, 04:43:09 PM »
Act Three:

The troupe was gathered. The stage set. The orchestra tuning their blades. The final act.

For all or one.

"We will see this through to the end."

"Such is our way. We will not delay."

Twists and turns. Defeat on defeat. I only hope that in end everything burns.

"Before we do: I want you to know, Shadow, that you were right all along."

A twist in the third act? This day that I die will at least be a thrill.

"We inhabit an ailing world, and I have strayed from my path. But in that deviation, I have found something new. I dream of a more perfect world, in which Death is not so cold."

Does the man of stone have a heart of gold? Dig it out, quick! It's surely priceless.

Bright notes over a dull day. Like laughter at a funeral. Ringing. Turning. Changing? Changing.

"And I want you to know that I am going to bring this world about."

Or maybe He stole one? Check for stitches around his soul.

"Then if I fall, the Shadow's work is done! Death's face will have honour, if nothing else."

"It starts with one, Shadow. Antonia."

I do miss her. So bold! So entertaining! But how can I go on without a Serpent to slay?

Colours fade. Sounds dull. This is right. Right? Progress. Peace.


"We are one."

We are one.

The Epilogue:

Have you heard the one about the Hound that played cards with a Serpent?

He bet his soul against the Serpent's golden heart and lost.

It was only later that anyone noticed the heart was painted lead.

But the Shadow didn't mind: the cold heart was a heart still.

She couldn't hate the Serpent anymore.

Of course, she still could not love his deeds.

But in the Order. In the purpose. She could not recognise a Tyrant.

Just another soul learning the dance of the cosmos.

So the Shadow laughed.

Not in shades of Pain or Hate

Not for a wound that never quite healed.

But for Joy. For Freedom.

For the sun that rose on a better world.

Colouring everything in shades of something new.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2020, 11:38:50 PM »
Familiar Faces

An empty woman wearing her brother's skin. Loss. Defeat. Regret. Sorrow.

The setting sun is always so very painful.

"I thought that maybe I could see this undone. See Aubin restored. But... No. I've done enough. Every attempt I've made to save my family only further dooms it."

Raymonde thumped her cane. Vencemonde's body stared at nothing. One bell. The death knell.

" Then why... Why are you here, Raymonde?"

Do you have to ask? What do they usually want from us?

"I think you know why I've come to you, Katja. Better it comes from a friend than from an adversary. Better that it is by your hand."

Executioner. Giggling maniac. Killer? Murderer.

"Raymonde, I-"

Pause for breath. Focus.

"That day when you told me your... Terrible truth. I walked from this place. Lost, for months. The wounds of this wicked world cut my soul to its core."

Did you script this speech? I feel like I've heard it before.

"When I wandered back, this world of light was colourless. Dull. Nothing mattered any longer. My wound screamed, and I with it. But in the end it wasn't my /terrible/ urges that changed anything here. It was compassion. From the soul of a wicked man. Who chose to save someone, instead of taking a life."

Wasn't this supposed to be about her? Ahahaha! I'll have to cut this down for the audience.

"When the sun rose on a world made a little more whole... ? I could not find that wound on my soul.

I don't need to hurt anyone.

I don't want to kill you, old friend. But I will grant you peace, if it is your true desire."

"I'm not asking you to hurt me. I'm asking you merely to make the pain stop. This... Entity I've entrated with... I will be his, once it's over. But... It's hard for me to imagine a torment any worse than the one I presently live."

Oh, I could think of a thing or two. Nheheh.

"Every time I close my eyes. I.. I just want it to end.. and maybe... just maybe I deserve whatever this entity has in store for me. Maybe it's all I've ever deserved. Under the banner of trying to save the family, I've condemned it.. and I've committed the most heinous of sins imaginable. I've... clung to Aubin's bones for long enough. Hoping that I might be able to see him restored to his former self... but it would only bring further ruin, I'm sure. Further misery. Will you.. See him given a proper burial? For me?"

Pain. Like falling into the void. Like drowning.

Swallow. Focus.

"I will, old friend."

"Do the same for my brother as well. He... Didn't deserve this."

"I will make it so. I promise, Raymonde. Give... Give me Aubin's remains. Then- Then sit."

How long must we wander these streets?

She sat. Straight. Watching the sun set on a horizon a thousand miles away.

"I thought I wouldn't be... Afraid. After all, I've stared death in the face before. When... Raymonde first passed away. But... Now? I'm terrified. Yet... I know, in my heart, this is what will end the pain. Maybe... Maybe I'll get to join them, in the end... Maybe one day? They'll... Forgive me for what I've done."

The executioner wept, stepping closer to the condemned. One hand on the shoulder. Death in the other.

"You never deserved this, Raymonde. No one did. This world's chains are so... So heavy. They'll see that, in the end."

"Aubin... Forgive me, Aubin."

"Forgive me, Vencelas."

Be brave now.

She held Raymonde, even as the knife slid from her sleeve.

Take a breath. Hold her tight. Hope that you don't get lost in the night.

"Goodbye, dear friend. I will treasure the days you kept me from the darkness, even if all is shadow."

The knife found its mark, deep in the heart.

"G-Goodbye, Katja... Old friend..."

I will sing for you.

She held the body and wept.

The shadows sang of sorrow.

The curtains closed on a tragedy.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2020, 09:40:13 PM »

An exciting experiment. Creating life. My life. Twice? Twice. Why not?

"I wish that Katja Vinter be immediately duplicated in body, mind and soul, her duplicate coming into existence here before us."

Blink once. Where did the world go? Is this the shadow? No. No, this is a void. This is a prison.

We've been replaced! That wasn't on the script.

Panic. Scream. Someone will come. Right? Right.


Blink once. Did it work? There's only me.

Of course it worked! Ahaha. Enter stage left, Katja the Lesser. Introduce yourself to the audience.

"Can you describe your experience, Katja?"

The Fiend of Time. Didn't I try to kill you? Funny, none of it seems to matter anymore.

"I... Think I am the duplicate. I don't know where my original went."


So many memories. Mine? Mine. But they're off. Like watching someone dance to the wrong music.

You're an impostor. They'll get rid of you. Soon!

I am no less. Her choices were made. I was born to be free. They'll still accept me.


How long has it been? I'll find myself. Soon.


Soon. Right? Right.


Dread. Pain. Grief. Sorrow. The world slipping into chaos.


He turned around. He wouldn't do this. Would he? Not to me.


Do you have to ask? Nheh.

"I don't know what Weyland did to you, Doctoresse... I don't know where you are... Or if you're you... But I will find a way to fix this."


"I am sorry I did not tell you better how well loved you were before- Before you became lost."

Only nightmares are so cruel. This can't be it. I am her. I am me.

"You aren't supposed to- You aren't supposed to hurt me."

"You aren't supposed to to let men like Marcus Weyland hurt the innocent."

See? What'd I say? Ancient necromancers just aren't popular with the audience these days.

Desperation. Fear. Loneliness. She sobbed.

"Please don't do this, Jacinth."

"I will find you. I promise. Whatever was taken, or lost. I will make this right."

Katja the Lesser. See? You're missing something. No one needs this act.

Hate, welling up. An idea. A future.

"Not if I /kill/ her first. Ahah. AHAHAHAH. AHEHEHEH."

Horror coloured his features. It hurt. Just a little. But what's a little more?

"Then there will be nothing else. Only- Ahah. Me."


Days in the void. Trapped. No way out. No way to die.

Just the void.

She left us here.


You left us here.

"Trial three hundred and eighty four."

No illusion is without flaw.


"I won't give up on trying to save who you really are, even if you turn to.. Whatever this is."

"You both gave up already. I never asked for this. It was /her/ mistake."

"Gave up? Hardly."

"You don't have to be this. It doesn't have to be one or the other of you."

They're so convincing! Do you believe it? Nheh.

"No. He doesn't think I'm real. None of you do."

She made a sound somewhere between a giggle and a sob.

"You are real. I don't know what happened exactly, or why you changed, but I will find out. Knowing what we've fought for and risked, do you truly think we'll give up so easily?"

"We don't think you are /her/. That is not the same. I know you love us, Katja. And perhaps Jacinth most of all."

"It wont- It wont matter. As long as I haven't /her/ heart you'll find a reason. Of course I do! That's why it's- Why you- "

"Please. We do not love her more than you. We love you, the whole of you."

"We just want you to remember who you are... Who we are, what we all share..."

Her sobbing deepened.

"I'm sor- Ahah. Aheheh. I'm sorry. I- "

"We want you to be happy. You are obviously in pain. Even as you try to hide it."

This is a twist! Perhaps they'll keep two of you, Katja the Lesser?

Hope and fear. They could accept both, couldn't they?

"Alright. I'll- I wont hurt her. But. Please don't get rid of me?"

"We will not force anything, upon either of you. We will find the other, if there is one, and then you two can decide, together."

Hope dueled with Fear, and Hope was the victor.





Dreams of freedom echoed long enough to become nightmares.

Then they came. All of them.

And Her.

"I... I told the others, that's why they're here for you. Not for me. You're the original. I'm just a pale imitation."

She looked so scared. So alone. She embraced her.

"I am so, so, sorry Katja..."

"I had this one dream."

"Over and over, you know."

"About meeting you."

She was sobbing, somewhere between laughter and tears.

"This is... All my fault. I will make it right. I promise."

"I... Alright. What happened in the dream?"

She held her child tight. Once would be enough.


She pushed her into the void. Into nothing. Into oblivion.

« Last Edit: December 12, 2020, 11:56:24 PM by PlatointheCave »


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2020, 11:48:51 PM »
Summer Rain

That Summer it rained, day after day.

You knew what it meant but left me to dream.

Of hands held in the crowd and stolen sweets.

Of stories in the dark and dolls of straw.

Of the strange summer.

The roof leaked. The grain fouled.

Your smile never changed, you left me to dream.

Of quiet promises and comforting lies.

Of forts of rags and broomstick horses.

Of the days you didn't tremble so.

The thunder knocked and I answered.

Tall and cold. Painted in iron and flame.

You couldn't stand, so they carried you.

You were sorry for waking me.

I did not dream that night.

The rains passed and I searched for you.

In all the places I dreamed you'd be.

But the strange summer was done.

The steaming streets ran straight to the square.

I found you there.

Dancing with the Autumn wind,

To words that were not your own;

"So perish the idle."

Yet I still dream,

Of the rain in Summer.


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2021, 09:30:25 AM »
The account is in a messy hand, as if the author was occasionally wracked with fits of trembling, or laughter.

Doctor Gregorian Illhousen, before his disappearance, was an alienist that specialised in the study of dreams. While I treasure his works in my own practice, I had long discounted the alleged transcript of his final journal. The transcript spoke of a "Nightmare Court" that he had engaged in a terrible struggle with.

That is, until recent events. This account begins with a Doctor Nyquist, a graduate of the University of Dementlieu. Following the loss of his wife, he discovered in dreams the form of a device. An orb that would make dreams take material form in the waking world. He wished to see his wife again, on his terms. In dreams and nightmare. But his work drew wicked attention. The orb was stolen, and Doctor Nyquist imprisoned.

Myself, among others, sought to recover the imprisoned doctor and remove his works from wicked hands. It was a day before our departure that I first spoke with the entity known as the "Nightmare Man". I experienced an unusually lucid dream in which a figure in dark robes, covered in spiders, painted on a canvas with blood. His strokes created nothing, and he seemed mournful. He introduced himself as the "Nightmare Man" though admitted he did not remember if he had had another name. He told me he headed the "Nightmare Court" and that he could shape things others created in dreams and nightmares, but not new imaginings whole cloth. I asked him why I was speaking with him, and he bid me consider why I might have found myself before him. I admitted that the events leading up to my unconsciousness had left me tired of existence in the material world. Of betrayals and scheming. Of loss and sorrow. That I craved an escape from pain. He informed me that I had the ability, here in this world, to create what I wished. He bid me try, and so I did. Conjuring from my unconscious echoes of people I had lost. I built myself a nightmare in that lucid dreamscape. A place to drown. As I did, the Nightmare Man told me I could have what I desired if only I crossed the divide.

I did not speak of this strange dream with my companions; it seemed some expression of my unconscious. An imagining. False. We ventured to the prison Doctor Nyquist was sealed in and found discreet entry. With the help of a sympathetic guard we managed to release Nyquist, who appeared completely catatonic from his torments. We then sought the orb. As we did so, the world around us shifted unnaturally. Lost loved ones apparated. Cages formed from nothing. I was attacked by an entity claiming to be a figment of myself, one I had cast into a void. She seemed to express her pain vividly. Notably, for personal reasons of regret, I did not fight back. I informed them that if they truly wished to live with the burden of killing me; I would allow them to. At this point they ceased their assault, contorted, and then took the form of a strange and twisted entity, which fled.

As we pressed deeper, strange arachnids crawled the walls and seemed to weave the space of the passages back together. Finally, we confronted the one who had seized the orb. I noted immediately, though he appeared human, that he was painting with blood on a blank canvas. I called him "Nightmare Man" and he smiled; the dream spiders wove his true form of a figure shrouded in black. He spoke to me of what we had discussed in my dream, and revealed to my allies and I that we were dreaming at this moment. We demanded he surrender the orb, which he appeared to have. He said he would surrender it to me. I took it, and felt a profound power within. He then claimed he had had Doctor Nyquist unwittingly build the orb to create a bridge. A means of crossing between the material and dreams. He bid me will the orb to be one with myself, and promised me a place in his Nightmare Court.

Were it not for the words and deeds of my allies, I am ashamed to admit, I would have accepted his offer. It is a tempting thing, to be free of this world. Especially of late. But I heard their words. I smashed the orb on the floor and shouted my rejection of the Nightmare Man's offer. He grew furious, and promised us he had not been ended. The dream unraveled and we found ourselves awaking at the staging ground.

The orb had been shattered. We investigated the site and learned that Doctor Nyquist had, in fact, expired six months ago.

We were too late. Embittered, we departed. I have not yet slept since this encounter.

I still fear to.

Doctoresse Katja Vinter


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Re: The Rider's Dilemma - Katja Vinter
« Reply #20 on: Today at 09:01:58 AM »
In an old notebook, fresh sketches are added. In contrast to the meticulous and detailed clothing designs that litter now yellowed pages, these sketches are barely recogniseable as clothes. Sleeves contort at strange angles, boots splay apart in impossible ways and the entire design wraps around into hypnotic spiral patterns. The author has scribbled out impossible design after impossible design at various stages of completion, as if realising the flaws only halfway through.

No design is ever settled on. Formal and deliberate text follows.

Subject 01 Assessment:


Subject 01 is of indeterminate age though appears to be in her late forties. The subject has a history of dissociation with her wider reality, likely as a means of egress from repressive realities of life. This dissociation has remained limited for years. In recent months this dissociation from reality has waxed and waned in accordance with conditions yet to be fully determined. Dissociation tends to take the form of engaging with and describing the world in terms of mythic archetypes familiar to the subject, much as one might represent the conditions of the world in a dream. Though careful analysis can extract practical meaning from the subject's behaviour they are almost completely solipsistic in outlook during intense periods of dissociation. Material aspects of life are overlooked or forgotten including the subject's own physical well being. Strong emotional expressions appear to be the only significant motivator of the subject during such periods.

When not in a deeply dissociated state the subject struggles to engage with the world around them in any meaningful way. They are frequently distracted and often get lost travelling from place to place, despite familiarity with the route. When the world is attended to, the subject exhibits extremely poor impulse control and expresses themselves in blunt outbursts. Reasoning is intact, but the subject often fails to attend to all variables necessary for a comprehensive analysis of a problem. Subject expresses intense frustration when attention and impulse deficits disrupt problem solving. Subject mood is generally very low when not in a dissociated state.

Subject treatme

The writing grows shakier in the final lines, and begins to spiral off into strange, hypnotic patterns.

The author does not seem to finish whatever they were trying to do.