5. Playworlds

  1. ‘Playworlds’

Quoted from ‘Plato’s Laughter,’ by Sonja Madeleine Tanner

“Although I have treated comedy and laughter as though they are separable from elements of tragedy for the sake of giving comedy its own hearing, they are more fundamentally intertwined than I suggest here. At the same time, I have also been very hesitant to designate any of the dialogues as “comedies” or “satyr plays,” even on compelling evidence that Plato is making quite heavy use of such risible forms. 

A label such as “comedy,” if this book is right in its assessment, itself needs revision before it can more accurately describe the “serious,” philosophically meaningful laughter of Plato’s dialogues. 

It is not the aim of this book to undertake an explicit revision, so much as to suggest its need and, perhaps, to sketch some of the contours of what is needed. Plato, thus, may well be the elusive writer of both tragedy and comedy referred to at the end of the Symposium, as Clay claims, but, oddly, this makes him neither tragedian nor comedian nor ironist per se. He is all of these, but not exclusively of one another. It is in this spirit, then, that this book acknowledges but a few of its own many limitations. The book is but the shaggy hide of a satyr covering over what it clumsily hopes to reveal: a few golden treasures, due not to me, but to the alternatingly luminous, exuberant, perplexing, and philosophical dimensions of Plato’s laughter.”


Inside his laboratory-bedroom, he had access to tools which would allow him to dive into his hobby of robotics. This was a hobby not like your typical roboticist’s, it was more like a blending of hobbies–Aleon has access to rubbers, synthetic furs, and to quickly morphing molds and efficient 3d printers, therefore he was able to create gigantic, life-like toys within an afternoon. They could be punched, pummeled, pulverized, or they could be reasoned with, negotiated, and appeased, depending on whatever the plot calls for. If he needed some exercise–he pummeled and pulverized.

In whatever fantasy he and his friends have spontaneously embarked upon. His personally-produced stage-hands are up to the task, of foils, thugs, henchman or big-bads, ‘heavies,’ as they used to call ’em in the ol’ Westerns. AL had even embarked upon the meticulous journey of programming his own artificial intelligences, not truly AI but complex algorithms paired to databases, creating very unique and novel inflections of cartoonish and indeed whimsical perspectives for a vast array of storylines. There were three that were never altered much in appearance or affect, three stable characters who would be considered his masterpieces: Woland, Behemoth, and his Teddy. They did not change noticeably anymore and have only complexified from their original framework in a kind of ongoing refinement of realism to the programming. Their outer form, their look and appearance in the laboratory-bedroom didn’t alter anymore. He would often debate with the characters themselves for ideas on how to improve upon them, sometimes taking their suggestions, thus picking apart their ability through conversation experiments of the limits of these robots in equivocation and novel thought. If you can truly call it that. He would also debate, later on in life, where these intelligences had arrived, how developed and in so particular a form be brought forth, within his own subconscious dream-world, alone? Are they mere reflections of the progammer? It was hard to tell now. One of the three androids, for example, was a gigantic teddybear. Origianlly, that is. It’s hard to rule out that the “inner child” was not manifesting into reality with that one, but that’s beside the point. The other characters had evolved into more mature beings, or lifeforms, but the Teddy had remained. The Teddybear had remained teddybear, somehow, and didnt really have any other identity moving forward. It was a bit weird, and a bit like a hoarders mentality, he just absolutely could not change Teddy, he wouldn’t hear another thought about it, Teddy was many things in which he needed Teddy to be, but Teddybear was Teddybear. This android was the most primitive, and seemed to have steadily maintained one specific function: the ability to learn and apply new information, when given. He somehow actually made sometimes for a good investigator. Therefore, it was helpful and it was also like a still photograph of childhood. A little accompaniment of the nostalgic. That was all. It was undoubtedly the least interesting of the three robotic masterpieces, on at least it’s face. Maybe you could analyze a little more into it and to some interesting places, but that was all. It was a static symbol, yes, in the obvious sense, but the real reason Teddy had manage to stick around all these years, amongst the myriad of other animatronic characters which may have instead been privileged, that one had been assembled and then scrapped for parts many times over, or altered, but always in personality returning, and was kept around for the strange things that would come from its mouth from time to time… the cryptic utterances of Teddy.
It would say playful things, like a child, but also not like a child. The chaos of the mindless mouth. It would speak uninteded wisdoms, or were they unintended? It was certainly an artifact of early experiments with the young wunderkind and his software design, and personaity-engineering, yes, which he was admittedly new, at around six, and rather than take apart and analyze the boy from Emerald about it, just sort of kept it around, as a detail, in the back of your head. The other two masterpieces are far more interesting, but we will get to know more about them later. Firstly, they make up more of the intelligence bit of the monicker. The first of the Androids is the Professor. The Profess of what, I hear you asking: of ancient archaeolgy, how’s that? and he’s known as Woland. Around Woland, there is the ever-present tom-cat Behemoth, the second of the Androids.
Proffesor Woland used to cartwheel around Aleon as a young boy, but he was much more dignified now, dressed in a suit and three-piece with the tie, suitable for any lecture hall, from Russia to America, and at any of the industrialized times, but sometimes as a jester, he will return, as a surprise, for a laugh, and dropping to one knee in the thinking man’s pose would periodically stop to admire the boy when he would stop walking, and the attention seeking always got a pitful little laugh out of Aleon. 

It was almost as if in mockery of the over-attention the boy had maybe been receiving in childhood, like heaping on top of it so only the boy would understand the sarcasm. It was like a symbolic gesture for mocking the fattening indulgences, the black humor of it all, the dangers of feeding the ego and fattening the king, unchecked for the young mind, the throne coveted by the king. And it was in many respects true, the boy is raised in a dreamworld castle. A crafty little fellow, striding importantly down large majestic corridors. Who was he? Just the latest in above-average intelligent mankind. There’s always a large lot of those clever types. He can be found in his laboratory-bedroom with his sophisticated little goggles on, typically soldering some electrical components, fusing rubber onto a werewolf mask’s face, or sewing more scars onto a Frankenstein’s monster, or sometimes he’s found welding together an entire jungle-gym, or a static little playground or tree-fort, for the kids to play. He has a little work-belt on, his ‘utility belt,’ with craftsman equipment, with engineering tools and transistors, and cables, etc.
Proffesor Woland had been something the boy was tinkering on and developing from his earliest childhood… as soon as he had developed some real chops for robotics, cybernetics, and complex programming, he was now focusing on robotics, movement scripting, and collision avoidance.
Circuitry and wiring pops and fizzes in Aleon’s workshop, and the wiring for his creations fall out like the intestines of the monster exposed for the world to see. The next robotic masterpiece was the black tom-cat who walked by earlier on hind legs. His name was self-given: Behemoth. It’s what he said he wanted when AL thought he was sufficiently intelligent to give a response, and so since then it’s stuck. He had an innate flair for the comedic, that old cat, but it was crass, would too often cuss, AL had never really ‘said’ no, and a vulgar sort of comedy which could only have been from a rea life stand up comedian and the hardships and lows which go with that sort of life. Something far more adult than what a child would be expected to produce. Behemoth was violently angry at times, a raging alcoholic (and a smoker to boot), and he could be sarcastic and lethargic, and that’s about it. 

He was lazy, gluttonous, and burped, cussed and hissed a lot. He had wit, though, and a certain comic charm.
Aleon was then staring off into nothingness, again, caught again by a recurring daydream. It was a recurring fantasy, for the future. He wanted to daydream so inherently that it was as though the need were written into his very blood cells… he would never speak his daydreams out loud. When he was caught up in this sort of trance, his three robotic friends would seem to know, and go quiet by instinct, so as not to disrupt him, the master, while in thought. It was the master craftsman, like Hephaestus the craftsman god of the Greeks, Vulcan to the Romans, crafting his plans again inside his imagination-workshop, and they wouldn’t dare disrupt him then.

He was a huge Star Trek fan, in case he didn’t say.

‘[Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein] 
‘Prologue: ‘Monsters from the Id,’ by E Michael Jones
‘Horror as the Counter-Enlightenment,’
But even in getting right the connection between art and life, the culture just can’t seem to get it right when it comes to horror or ‘Frankenstein,’ the book that created the genre. ‘Frankenstein’ gets lumped in with the sexual revolutionary theories that created it without any understanding that it was written precisely as a protest against those theories by someone who had got badly burned by close exposure to them…
The statement is, unfortunately, only half true. Mary Wollstonecraft was certainly a revolutionary. She went to France in the aftermath of the Revolution to write a book about it, arriving just in time to witness the execution of “Citizen Capet” and the outbreak of the terror. The Revolutionary atmosphere was still exerting its intoxicating influence…
Horror is a sign that the culture is having doubts about the Enlightenment but not quite ready to relinquish it completely. Horror is a sign of ambivalence. It’s so bad, people like Mary Shelley seem to tell us through her fictions, I can’t talk about it, but then she turns around and says the exact opposite too. It’s so bad, I can’t not talk about it either.
Hence, the monster, who in many ways does the talking about the unspeakable for her.
If we think for a moment of ‘Dracula’ as the historic midpoint in the trajectory which started from ‘Frankenstein’ and ends in the present day, we detect a note of ambivalence when it comes to science. We never know whether Professor Van Hellsing is going to reach for garlic or the crucifix or a revolver when it comes to combat with the vampire… Out of the bowels of Hollywood, the soul of the secular-humanist regime, in other words, from the quarter where we would least expect it, we have not just generic religion, but the prime totem of folk-Catholicism, the rosary, employed as the only possible hope of destroying the monsters created by Enlightenment science. Did someone say, ‘Écrasez l’infâme”? Shelly, [the husband of Mary Shelly, the writer of ‘Frankenstein’], used to end his letters with this slogan of Voltaire as a way of stirring up anti-Catholic animus among the devotees of scientifically enlightened sexual liberation. Now, it turns out that the infamy, in its most flagrant and funky folk manifestation—namely, the rosary [in movies such as …]—crushed the Enlightenment that was supposed to crush it. At least that is what Hollywood is telling us now. Is there some subversive director out there in the pay of the Vatican? Or is this simply the return of the repressed? I suspect the latter rather than the former…
After 200 years of Enlightenment inspired horror resulting from Utopian experiments gone bad, even the most obtuse moviegoer realizes that the Enlightenment has failed, which is, of course, what horror has been telling us cryptically ever since Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’… This book is an attempt to make what is cryptic in this tradition explicit. The Enlightenment tried to drive religious and moral nature out with a pitchfork, but found that nature only returned through the back door, in the form of a monster.

Aleon’s robot walked mechanically on-stage… Comrade Woland… a smiling Professor (of Archeology), a wood-faced robot… reaching his white-gloved hand to his chest, and opening up the vacant chamber to the upper-left portion of his torso he gestures to his heart.
“I had to hand my heart over… to the State, in order to fulfill my duties as a good citizen.”
The programmed audience laughed, and Woland smiled. A toothish grin, and arched eyebrow: one green eye and one dark: black, it must be either dark gray or dark brown it was hard to tell.
Closing the compartment that contained no heart, Woland went on: “Please, relax and set in. The performance is to begin…” he backed away from the stage, and the lights darkened. The ticket counter, a third robot, of no significance, rolled down the isles which were all empty by this time, and pretended to search for the audiences proof of admission, even though this was just a rehersal. “And please turn off your cell phones,” The black cat croaked with the voice of a burly old man. While riding some kind of hanging ornament, a chandalier, that hung down from the ceiling and firing off a weapon: a big gray magnum, if I’m not mistaken. A spotlight had activated, highlighting him, and he belched like an old drunk, croaking with laughter and taunting, mocking other for his situation. He hissed at his predicament, and fired off another round. It was assumed that the firing magnum was just another harmless prop in the performance, but by the look of the ragged old black Tom cat no one could be too sure. It looked pretty evil.

The automation revolution was on its way, and robotics had become basically ubiquitous.
Humans were flirting with a life of ease. 

-3 Androids and Robotics
-knight of defense (AL)
-The Black Knight (Raeff )
-Siege of the Manticores

The walls of the enormous imaginary castle are besieged–only you! will determine when the kingdom falls–
<“Some lizards live there now, and the starving sparrows keep warm on winter nights in the ivy, and a barn owl drives it methodically…”>
…as you near nightfall, and death, the sun will descend, it’s final rays cast out to dying avail… darkness holds in its breath, waiting to expel its moist, cool air upon the battlefield… no one will last during the moonlight’s watch…
<“… [the barn owl] hovering outside the frightened congregations and beating the ivy with its wings, to make them fly out.”>
…whether you will die at your post, in glorious combat, or will you meet your end lost in the maze of forests, as a defector… hopefully then you will not have chosen an armor-set too heavy… though during the day it may have seemed like a good selection, the idea becomes spoiled by the evening… in dereliction of duties it only burdens you…
<“Most of the curtain wall is down, though you can trace the foundations of the twelve round towers which guarded it. They were round, and stuck out from the wall into the moat, so that the archers could shoot in all directions and command every part of the wall. Inside the towers there are circular stairs. These go round and round a central column, and this column is pierced with holes for shooting arrows.”>
…bleeding out, …may your guilt be as heavy as your armor selection was…
… you traitor.
<“Even if the enemy had got inside the curtain wall and fought their way into the bottom of the towers, the defenders could retreat up the bends of the stairs and shoot at those who followed them up, inside, through these slits.”>

Or maybe you will meet your end during the day, valiantly… running across the drawbridge… charging toward the enemy… in dutiful service to your king… Ha! None expect it of you!
<“The stone part of the drawbridge with its barbican and the bartizans of the gatehouse are in good repair. These have many ingenious arrangements. Even if enemies got over the wooden bridge, which was pulled up so that they could not… 

… there was a portcullis weighed with an enormous log which would squash them flat and pin them down as well.”>
If you are…. unsuccessfully fighting back the storming of the castle… though you fail you may be dying with honor. Let that be a consolation to you.
<“There was a large hidden trapdoor in the floor of the barbican, which would let them into the moat after all. At the other end of the barbican there was another portcullis, so that they could be trapped between the two and annihilated from above, while the bartizans, or hanging turrets, had holes in their floors through which the defenders could drop things on their heads. Finally, inside the gatehouse, there was a neat little hole in the middle of the vaulted ceiling… This hole led to the room above, where there was a big cauldron, for boiling lead or oil… So much for the outer defenses. Once you were inside the curtain wall, you found yourself in a kind of wide alley-way, probably full of frightened sheep, with another complete castle in front of you… This was the inner shell-keep, with its eight enormous round towers which still stand… Think for how many centuries that unconquerable tower has withstood. It has changed hands by secession often, by siege once, by treachery twice, but never by assault. On this tower the look-out hoved. From here he kept the guard over the blue woods towards Wales. His clean old bones lie beneath the floor of the chapel now, so you must keep it for him.”>
… maybe you’ll be dumped overboard into the moat, quite unceremoniously, haha! …or a cauldron of hot oil be poured upon your head, …
…not that it hurts you, this game is for kids!—not ‘really’—but the scalding oil merely eliminates your character from play, however… and should be also a stain upon your reputation!
Good sir! HA! … yet perhaps you fight your way through it all, only to be unceremoniously cut down by the skills of a ‘better’ swordsman… maybe one might have outclassed you? That would be unthinkable… HA!
Will grovel, roll over and die… Or will you instead… survive!!!
Fight and survive?! Good lad!—Play ‘Knight of Defense,’ pick up your copy today!


The castle is besieged!
Haven’t you heard: ‘Knight of Defense,’ is in stores now…
Brace yourselves for a virtual reality experience like you’ve never have had before…
In the knight of defense game, maybe Raeff or one of the others has to play as basically AL’s squire because he’s such a powerhouse that only backing him up would serve any benefit, it’s distasteful to feed his ego like this, but to the defensive situation it is essential. So, one of the characters can see this as demeaning, maybe the animatronic kid, and this goes with the King Arthur and Merlin quote segment about the Wart having to squire for Sir Kay, and being a little resentful for it when Kay offers him a schilling to go and fetch his sword, and the Wart says to himself that he’d like to throw that filthy shilling in his face! When they really start doing good AL is really at the limits of his fighting capability, and the capacity afforded by whatever exploit he had found, and was reveling in the glory thereof, real glory, as no one else had reported online that they’ve uncovered this exploit, … but quickly into this action-hero, and the support-guy, of the action hero, a little less celebrated, and the whole routine got stale very quickly for Raeff, understandably: “why is this enjoyable? I mean, how is this supposed to be enjoyable for me? Defending this wall was fun before, but… I’m just casting you potions, delivering upgrades to you, healing you, and spouting words of encouragement, while you silently receive all the buffs, consume all of the potions, and experience all of the level ups?!”
“Clearly, you are supposed to relish in the glory of my godlike abilities, vicariously enjoying them… but I see that’s too much to ask for, and your own glory is of concern to you.” He was unendurable when he was like this. “Very well, but please: leave off to your own game… and leave me here, but let me stay here awhile longer, as I’ve really revved up my engines, here, and in this one I am currently well-pleased, and shouldn’t go from this scenario if it could by any means be avoided.”
“Okay.” Raeff was actually okay with that. “Good hunting.”
Raeff didn’t hop onto another game, right away, however, and instead left the simulator paladium altogether. He was sick of the simulators. 

He wanted to swim, with his body, in a swimming pool. He hadn’t got his laps in for awhile.

Quoted from ‘The Once and Future King,’ by T.H. White

<“How does one get hold of a sword?” he continued. “Where can I steal one?”>
<“Good heavens!” cried Kay. “I have left my sword at home.”>
<“Can’t joust without a sword,” said Sir Grummore. “Quite irregular.”>
<“Could I waylay some knight, even if am mounted on an ambling pad, and take his weapons by force?”>
<“Everybody had thronged to see the famous tournament, and the entire household had followed after the mob. Those were lawless days and it was not safe to leave your house–or even to go to sleep in it–unless you were certain that it was impregnable. “There must be some sword-smith or armourer in a great town like this, whose shop would still be open. The wooden shutters bolted over the downstairs windows were two inches thick, and the doors were double-barred. “Well,” said the Wart, “I suppose it is some sort of war memorial, but it will have to do. I am sure nobody would grudge Kay a war memorial, if they knew his desperate straights.”>
< “Now what do I do,” asked the Wart, “to earn my shilling?” He looked ruefully at the blind little inn, and began to laugh. “Poor Kay,” he said. “All that shilling stuff was only because he was scared and miserable, …”>

<“… and now he has good cause to be.” ? “Well, he shall have a sword of some sort…” >
<“Oh, Merlyn… give me patience with the brute… and stop me from throwing his filthy shilling in his face.“>

<“Well, if I have to break into the Tower [of London], … he shall have a sword of some sort “>
<“Better go and fetch it,” said Sir Ector. “You have time.”>
<“My squire will do,” said Sir Kay.>
<“What a damned mistake to make! Here, squire, ride hard back to the inn and fetch my sword.”>
<“You shall have a shilling if you fetch it in time.”>
<“The Wart went as pale as Sir Kay was, and looked as if he were going to strike him. Then he said, “It shall be done, master,” and turned his ambling palfrey against the stream of newcomers. He began to push his way toward their hostelry as best he might.”>
<“”To offer me money!” cried the Wart to himself.”>


The Castle Siege / Knight of Defense

Upon the field of battle he would typically employ a basic strategy of survival.
In this particular game, ‘Knight of Defense,’ He was famous for his method of subduing and disarming his opponents… but never killing them. He had played this game as much as anyone had, and at some point in time he decided, to himself, adding a personal challenge upon himself: that he wasn’t going to “kill” any other fighter. Not actually.
He would incapacitate, but not kill. 

His “KILL” score, indeed, read “0,” indicating that he was, in reality, doing the most-poorly in the confines of the rules and objectives of the game… but to the audience, the online spectators, he was the favored combatant. 

The look of his armor and the outstanding talent by which he fights have dubbed him, naturally, ‘the black knight.’
He was the boy from Emerald, and he was becoming the most highly viewed gamer online. His online avatar was named “Isaac.”
He had several NPC sword fighters that would accompany him as his personal entourage. They were programmed to stay closeby while he defends the surrounding perimeter of the fortress complex. Listening for the pre-designated set of commands he would give the holographic soldiers, he would employ the same basic set of tactics in almost every game. These swordsman are now fully prepared for an afternoon fending off invaders. The bugs had all been worked out.
The ‘black knight’ so outclassed his usual opponents, the peripheral skirmishers, that he couldn’t help but to keep an eye on his maneuvers, especially after something really flashy or masterful.
…his toss usually incapacitates an enemy combatant instantly.
Either way, the spectacle itself would surely distract the surrounding fighters, on either side of the battle close enough to witness the ‘black knight,’ the exploit, the anomaly, who could not help stopping in their tracks and gazing, dumbfounded, by the artistic significance. Gamers recognized other gamers…but they tuned into his channel because word had gotten around, that somebody who was really good at ‘Knight of Defense’ had also found some ultimate exploit. 

They were tuning in in such numbers that it was hard to doubt his brilliance in staying there, in that very spot. It seemed the only reason the ‘black knight’ would do this was to keep around, or preserve, some… It seemed to them a strange and gratuitous mercy.
The castle or fortress siege was perceived differently for every player.
The time of day is determined by your health.
The siege of the castle walls is perpetual, but comes in waves.
Some battles are so organized that literally hundreds of players face off against hundreds more in mind-produced multiplayer play-warfare. It doesn’t really feel like play pretend, however, as your mind makes the scenery come alive, but the conditions are far more ideal as the game is still for children, …

For some reason, the…cut
“…children had the same thought at the sight of this… Just then, the boy from Emerald had a queasy feeling that he had never experienced before. He felt a sort of shame.” (?)
It was an odd, moral shame—and it came in chilly—like a winter’s draft.
He felt like a child. Unable to shake the super-ego’s override, flicking Jimminy cricket off the shoulder, like all of the others seem so able to do—such is their strength, they override with an effortless grace, he concluded: it was an exhibition in raw power he had not had—the boy knew then that he had less control of himself, in fact, than the other children.
…his vast mechanical knowledge, attained through education paired with ideal resource, and his scripting prowess at such a young age…hand in hand with the emergent robotics age itself: his childhood was seemingly destined, previously determined, in some immortal storyline, to play out the way it has… so many avenues of the imagination he hadn’t even begun to explore, and that’s what he was realizing here. Was this a legitimate perspective? Or was this mere delusion. The as usual out of place boy from Sapphire chimmed in, trying, he supposed, to help by offering something of the ‘stock wisdom’ he had gleaned by the ‘Teachings of the Arrow’ the fundamental lessons imparted to he newbies in Sapphire, which is his native culture and native source of wisdom, of course, but it felt he came up utterly short in the Sapphire sea’s absence … ?

Emerald are just raised differently. Sapphire people don’t know about these things usually, and I admit in their world I would be entirely helpless. I have equal faults, in my physicality, and in my psychology, I admit to being a work-a-holic. But Sapphire, they have peace, psychologically. And I grant them that, but in industrialized society there are, excuse the pun, a lot of moving parts. Im an engineer, and a industrialist’s son. My friend is a well-educated tribesman. Even Molly, she is of Ruby variety, and a variety that most certainly is. It’s not a prejudice. They have different values in Ruby.

They have different values in Sapphire.

Quoted from ‘Roman Warfare,’ by Adrian Goldsworthy:

Introduction: ‘To Overcome the Proud in War’
WARFARE PLAYED A major part throughout Rome’s history, creating and maintaining an empire which eventually included much of Europe, the Near East and North Africa. War and politics were inseparably linked at Rome, and the right to exercise power in peacetime was purchased by the obligation to provide successful leadership in war. The Latin word imperator, from which we derive ‘emperor’, means general, and even the least military of emperors paraded the martial successes achieved by their armies. The willingness of Roman soldiers to fight each other made possible the cycles of civil wars that caused the collapse of the Republican system of government in the first century BC and prompted the fragmentation of imperial power in the third century AD. In spite of the importance of warfare, Roman society gradually became largely demilitarized. The citizen militia, recruited from the property owners serving out of duty to the state and not for pay or booty, was replaced by a professional army drawn mainly from the poorest elements in society. By the second century AD only a tiny minority of soldiers, even in the citizen legions, had been born in Italy. For a while the senatorial and equestrian officers, who filled the senior ranks as part of a career including both civil and military posts, provided a link between the army and the rest of society, but this was largely severed in the third century. After this both officers and men were career soldiers with aspirations clearly distinct from the lives of civilians in the provinces.

The Siege of Manticores

Aleon, was carefully crafting a sort of jungle-gym, which was suspended over blue rubber-wood chunks, presumably to brace any possible falls from the high standing structure. The rock-climbing style walls were mounted on thin red bars, shiny silver joints held the framework together. The framework was metallic, but with firm red rubber casings around to serve for better handling. The scenario would soon begin, and the meticulous architecture of Aleon’s jungle-gym would be painted over by light and sound, projected textures of Castle walls, intricate wooden networks, bridges and tunnels, as well as secret entrances enclosing defensive siege equipment: Ballistae and Catapults, cauldrons of burning oil and imprisoned friendly soldiers for taunting display…
The boys entered the room looking like gymnasts, patting down their hands with white powder, harboring all concentration required for the task ahead.

Is the art of arsenals. 

Manticore is the martial arts domain.
They move swiftly and are as blurs to any spectator, the black haired boy grabs the overhead bars, swinging upwards…
Manticore… It is also very focused on conditioning and strength straining.
… there was just enough light to see that next step of the puzzle, the trampoline staircase they take before them.

You train for what you’re doing, but you also train, and by doing so remain athletic, vigorous and strong, even if your training regiment is on light movements, focused on form, and technique, breathful movemnts and airy energy.
The gigantic cube of a room and the sterilizing flatness inside would explode with lights, and for the boys, from ear to eye, an artifice of landscape would appear layered over the bare bones gymnasium.
The siege of the manticores.
The setting in its entirety would develop in front of them, not just mere lights and sounds, but texture, context, and story.
The blur of blonde hair darts by, the boy Raeff… jumping down to one of the lower rock walls and begins to get his footing. Their scenario was starting up, and a cinematic battle scene was about to begin—just for them and their sophisticated play. Suddenly, it begins. Then, there was light: an array of holographic coating upon the panels of the gymnasium equipment, compressing in moments, rendering quickly enough order to come alive before the children like the scales of a snake from vision-trance… before their eyes, magical, the digitized world shifts to something medieval. A barricaded fortress. The bars disappear from the jungle gym and turn into stone architectures and iron girding, morphing back into history. An intricate structure of stone and wood appears all around: bridges, canals, towers, boats, drawbridges, zip lines, ropes, pulley systems, barricaded walls, overturned tables, hastily-fashioned crossbows, and crudely placed black powder explosive. It is something altogether out of time, but real. There is potential for pain, but… it is accounted for by AL in padding, in a network of foams and strategically placed buttresses. “I can make you tremble under ‘your own’ bodyweight.” Steam began to blow clouds of hot air onto the room and the two hanging Manticores, coating the area around the door to the exit from the room. “The doors have all been locked, I’m afraid…” the boy has a villainous, playful, yet maniacal indeed expression to his face.
“Fine.” He began smiling, choosing, as usual, to quickly accept his circumstances, “challenge accepted.” Retorted Raeff.
The room was heating quickly now, and he had made evident his strides of progress in his training… as well as his worksmanship. Raeff had always been the best in real-world activities. It was the balance their friendship needed. It hit Aleon with his humanity, and it was good for him. Raeff commented to himself that he knew it was good for him too. The simulators and the prowess displayed before him by this curly black haired little kid was something astonishing, equally magical to the simulator technologies themselves… “upon entrapment in an empty, padded-floor room: his clever, control-obsessed friend wanted to do some “testing.” AL had been rantin about his designs, but Raeff, lost to himself momentarily in his hanging concentration, sweat beading on his brow, and thinking about higher things for awhile, momentarily addressing the bigger picture, before heading back in to the pressing needs of the moment, thoughtless and responding…
Raeff, can appreciate such ‘Heroic roles,’ when forced upon them and with little notice beforehand, plunges into character… but now was not the time for appreciating them.
At the lower end of the enclosure the mesh network of walls and various other climbing obstacles seem to aim 45 degrees upward, with a diagonal plane vertically jetting forward ahead of them. They would have to go all the way around underneath, heading back to the area in which they started. They would then be positioned on the exact other side of the point in which they started the jungle gym climb. They would then continue diagonally upward to the second level, and finally zip-line down toward the bottom.

(Got it?)
The bottom is the lowest end of the enclosure and is the starting point for the scenario. The zip-line cable runs on the inside of the enclosure, starting at the opposite end of the enclosure from the starting area, and ending again at the starting area. The entire design seen from the side would look like a tall, tilted escalator, rounded and looped at the top and bottom. The Blonde Boy jumps to one of the lower rock walls and begins to get his footing. Perhaps this scenario was just one single step amongst a broader storyline.
Perhaps there were dozens of jungle-gyms to spell out an entire epic.
Hours could be steeped into physically-demanding simulation time.
Raeff comes from a place where the people are almost never in simulations, … but they would love this. All around the boys were ramparts and battlements; pulleys leading onto zip-lines, trampolines bouncing up to thin scaffoldings, fire to light explosive barrels in order to take out whole groups of men, and new and novel swords to be found generated based off the history of weaponry and details can be provided if requested after the ending of the scenario. There were pirates swinging swords above them, turbaned schimitar warriors, and there were imprisoned soldiers being released below. Ships burn in the distance, and cannon balls whirl nearby. The tower battlements are dark, and there is just enough light for them to see. It appears the two boys will escape the castle under stealth, climbing along the outside away from view, wherever they are able.
They begin their climb.
Under the first wrap under the tower, the boys must go under a bridge that has a convex curve in which they would have to swing below, wrapping their hands on the other side of the curve. In reality, this was just a plastic red-slide, but the boys saw a trough for pig slop they could work themselves around, and the boys were traveling below the slide, rather than down it. They are perceptually in a world where this Castle woodworking was real, as told to them by their senses, and it had such extravagantly designed woodwork, such well-crafted pieces of art, now cracking, smoldering with molten lead and littered with arrows, amongst the simulated chaos all around them. It was not Total Immersion, however. The tower was under a perpetual siege, of some sort, in this simulated scenario, and the only chance of escape they would use would be by one of the shadows cast by the Tower or one of it’s spires. At least that’s what the developer said you should do, so there’s a high ethos for doing it. With the shadows below the tower, they had intersected a hope of success amongst the chaos, at night, a way for survival, creating a portal to safely remove oneself from the situation. “These intersecting bars, what are we supposed to do on them?” 
“I don’t get it either—and after all, I’m the guy who designed it…” His smile communicated a sense of self-satisfaction at his puzzle. “I guess you can just hold yourself up with your forearms and shimmy across. Yeah, just dangle your feet below, but up ahead you’ll have to swing your legs at your hips to get a foothold on the vertical beam-pole.” A cannon ball whirls by overhead. Loud enough for the boys to sink their heads in defense, knowing with their better senses it wasn’t real, or if not better, senses, than different, knowing well that they were within a simulation, but ducking from instinct all the same. “Okay, Now what?” “ I remember this part. So… that drawbridge up ahead has a meniscus hang, short enough in diameter to swing half of your body around underneath. You can shoot your leg up underneath, with the weight of one entire side of your body being whipped around, and get your footing on the large beam-pole underneath on the other side. It would have to be a well-thought out movement, but it is do-able.” “Okay, I don’t think I understand. You go first.” “All right, I’ll show you.” The Black Haired Boy lifted himself up on to the rock wall on the level above the one they were on. Raeff stopped him. “No, what’s a puzzle if you show me all the solutions before I even try for myself.” He went up and to the left, around where Aleon was positioned. Raeff was very atheletic, and in most situations he could out manuevre Aleon’s most sophisticated motor challenges. Raeff bent his knees and came to a low athletic stance, positioned and concentrating on doing the challenge. He grabbed the inner-loop of the slide with his right arm, leaping off his paltry footing, lifting himself up with his right leg taking the majority of his weight. He let the left half of his body dangle below awhile and then lifted himself back up. He had all of his weight up on the right lip of the slide to rest a minute. He then dangled his left half down again and his right leg immediately grabbed a footing off a small vertical bar underneath the slide. He had his arms gripping the lip of the slide, or drawbridge, as far as they were concerned, his right foot pressing against a small vertical bar underneath, and starting to swing with the same momentum of the first move. He was underneath the slide with the left-half of his body, and catching the left lip of the slide with his left and right hands and gaining footing after the swing he was wrapped underneath the slide. His back facing the ground below him, he had attained a sufficient hold to rest a moment. He basically did the same movement in reverse to get his body weight to the other side of the enclosure. “That’s a challenging thing to do.” “Yes, it is.” “Is there any chance of a cannon ball strike?” “Nah, I don’t think so… but sometimes these simulators glitch.” “What does that mean?!” The Blonde haired Boy went about to try the obstacle. “You really get one shot on that swing don’t you?” “The force of missing that and coming back down with all of that momentum would be too much for your… compromised right position… it’s too much for the grip strength.” 
“If I don’t get it the first time, I’ll most likely fall down… and die… figuratively.” 
”Well, it is down into the depths of the moat, or stone ground swarming with soldiers down below us, not a playground! If you keep thinking this is a simulation, you’re not really experiencing it, now are you?!” Aleon stated with childlike confidence: “Let me show you how to remove an obstacle.” The black-haired Boy swung his left leg in close to his body, along with the beginning of this movement a second step was immediatly underway. Kicking his left leg to the bottom-side of the obstacle, nearly perpendicular to the bottom meniscus curve of the slide, the movement required an exact footing on the small target of a beam in front of them. The force was strong, but it lacked the swing required, and his grip was cut short. He, however, swung underneath to catch himself, and required a footing onto the small vertical bar underneath. Pulling himself upwards and back up onto the right lip of the slide, he salvaged the failure and took a minute to rest. Thinking about his next movement… the two boys straining while hanging, laughing, from rock climb walls, shimmying across vertical bar bridges they were being true comrades, encountering obstacles and movements, and shouting to each other … in the struggle… the clashing of battles, the burning bridges and the boarding of ships in the distance, exploding gun powder, here–there–everywhere, and men yelling commands or taunting.
It was a moment of silence in the room.
“Don’t think we’re out of this yet. Let’s head up the tower.” AL took the lead as the two climbers continued. The boys had to wrap their way back now on the other side, they had to head back to where they started before they could head toward the third and fourth level. They made their way and were standing on a platform at the lowest layer. 

In front of them, there was one large bar for which they could jump and swing onto. They crawled on the underbelly of the tarp on the highest level, and about twenty feet backward they would be forced to drop on small discs underneath. The discs looked like the tips of spires, to them, and rounded on the top are utilized as such for torturous punishments. They leapt down from the tips of the spires onto a rope hanging below, down, one at a time, swinging aloft after gaining some momentum, crossing onto the next major platform down below. The rock wall brought them up to the start of the second level. The second level gave them little trouble and by only an hour or so into the scenario clock they were zip-lining down to the end of the scenario and wrapping everything up.
As soon as the second boy hit the landing, the texture of the scenario evaporated away, draining away like paint thrown in water. The polished-red and silver play-structure remained, with mounted rock walls and ropes, chutes, and ladders, and the two boys there were standing amongst a blue rubber-wood oval enclosure filled with the rubbery blue chips. The room was dark, chilly, but they were red and sweating from the exertion, and another vacuum-sealed laboratory character to it that was so the signature of Emerald manufacturing.

The two boys proceeded out of the room into a hallway of doors. Some say “In-Use” overhead, and some were vacant. Proceeding down the corridor, a metallic hallway lined with thin blue lights at top and bottom, the boys found their way to an empty room. There were no structures built into this room, and therefore …
“Here, I’d like to take you to a clear room.” It’s a saved file on his Bio-Drive Archive. “I’d like to show it off… but I can’t project the images in here because of the jungle gym. I need to update the specs. Let’s go a few stations over to that one is empty.”
“Alright, then! Sounds good to me. My arms are worn out after that one—it’ll be nice to follow up our workout with something not so strenuous, though, if possible. I need to recover!”


Roman warfare was characterized by great ferocity and the Roman pursuit of victory was relentless. Tacitus makes a Caledonian war leader claim that the Romans ‘create a desolation, and call it peace’. The Romans had a pragmatic attitude towards atrocity and massacre that viewed almost any act as justifiable if it eased the path to victory. The Roman sack of a city which had failed to surrender before the first battering-ram touched the wall was deliberately made appalling to deter resistance elsewhere. Rebellions in particular were suppressed with great brutality and frequently involved the mass crucifixion of prisoners or their violent deaths on the sand of the arena. But against the destructiveness and ferocity of Roman wars must be set their often constructive results. The Romans profited from many of their wars, especially in the period of conquest, but their war making was never purely predatory. Defeated enemies were turned into subordinate allies who soon provided many loyal soldiers to fight the next generation of Rome’s wars. Gradually some of their former enemies gained Roman citizenship and might even in time gain admission to the élite of the Empire. Roman rule was imposed and maintained by force, but it inaugurated in most areas periods of peace and prosperity far greater than was enjoyed in the centuries before or after the Empire. Despite the claims of some authors writing at the height of the Empire’s power, the Romans had not acquired their Empire out of a sense of duty to organize and administer the provincials for their own good, but out of a self-interested desire for profit and glory. Once a people had fought against Rome then they would always be viewed as a potential enemy until they had ceased to possess the capacity to wage war against her. The simplest and most effective way of achieving this was to absorb them as a clearly subordinate ally or dependent province. The Romans displayed a talent for absorbing former enemies that was unique in the ancient world.
The professional Roman army was the most advanced fighting force that the world had ever seen. A comparable force was not to emerge in Europe for well over a thousand years after Rome’s fall. In many respects it was surprisingly modern, with its emphasis on uniform, drill and clearly defined unit organization and command structure. Aspects of the life and daily routine of the Roman army would be instantly familiar to modern soldiers. However, it is important to remember that in other respects its behaviour was distinctively Roman and reflected the society which produced it. The origins of the army in a citizens’ militia, in which the whole community served in differing capacities according to their age and status, left a sense of shared endeavour, and allowed Roman soldiers a freedom to express their opinion to their commanders which sometimes seems at odds with the army’s harsh discipline. Promotion in the army was based primarily on patronage, with merit and seniority playing a subsidiary role. While patronage may in practice be common in many modern institutions, including armies, it is normally seen as a corruption of the proper, fair system of promotion. For the Romans patronage was not a corruption of a fairer system; it was the system and was openly accepted as a part of normal life.
The Romans are often seen as a methodical and highly practical people whose feats of engineering allowed their army to operate more efficiently. Roman roads, perhaps the most famous of all their legacies, provided direct, well-maintained routes along which the army could supply its garrisons or shift reserves in all but the worst of weather conditions. They were also deliberately built on a monumental scale in obsessively straight lines to be a spectacular statement of power. The bridges which, at the start of a campaign, the army was willing to build with great labour across wide rivers like the Rhine and Danube, served the practical purpose of allowing the army to cross, but were also indicative of the Romans’ ability to overcome nature itself as well as any enemy. The marching camp, built at the end of each day’s march to a standard pattern, offered security for the night to the soldiers and their baggage. Its highly regimented appearance and the construction of a fresh camp after each day’s advance were highly intimidating, emphasizing the steady, relentless advance of the army. The Roman genius was to combine the practical with the visually spectacular, so that the army’s actions were often designed to overawe the enemy with a display of massive power before they actually reached him.

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