Where’s Colin?

I’ve been away for a while. I had a vacation, then a bunch of work, then a conference, so that ate up three weeks. And then I had a concussion.

I fell off a stage and hit my chin on Thursday July 27th. Luckily there’s no lasting physical damage, and my mental recovery is finally looking up this week. I want to give you an idea of what it was like.

The night of the injury I had a headache. I didn’t realize all of the different places I had been injured – I knew I nailed my chin, my elbow, and my toe, but didn’t notice my hip and collarbone until the next day. I iced my jaw, took some Advil PM (which might have contributed to the problem), and went to bed.

The next day I had symptoms that I recognized as being a concussion. I didn’t know how bad it would become. I took notes at the last day of the conference, which probably exacerbated things. I flew home and tried to get some rest, deciding to see a doctor if things weren’t better on Monday. They weren’t. I saw a doctor.

For those who don’t know, the symptoms of a concussion vary, but typically you have trouble with:

  • Looking at screens
  • Coming up with words
  • Remembering things
  • Thinking hard
  • Thinking quickly
  • Mental fatigue

Imagine that every time you think about something too hard, it feels like you just filled out tax forms for eight hours. Every time you have to make an effort to remember something, you get a headache.

Severe concussions (which often result in loss of consciousness) lead to cranial nerve damage and all sorts of motor-neurological things, which is why they do that test when they move a finger in front of your eyes. Mine wasn’t severe, but it was bad enough.

I tried to go into work half-time that week. I was useless after half an hour. I had to rest for at least another hour before I was useful again. It quickly got to the point where that rest time needed to be overnight.

At home, I tried to take “brain rest”, which is all they can prescribe for you when you’re recovering from a concussion. Here’s what brain rest looks like:

  • Limited screen use, including computing or watching TV or movies.
  • Limited reading.
  • Limited hard thinking.
  • Limited exercise. Don’t even walk too much or too far, as it can jar the brain.
  • No drinking – it kills brain cells and you just lost a bunch of those. Also, if you drink enough that you fall down and get another concussion, just go ahead and mark all of your symptoms as “permanent.”
  • No driving. You cannot make decisions quickly. You also can’t multitask or filter out distractions, like someone talking or music playing in the background. Do not kill someone by driving with a concussion.

I could write sometimes, but not for long, and I couldn’t read what I had written afterward. I could cook, if I didn’t need to look at a recipe. I could clean. My stove has never been cleaner. I could do martial arts forms slowly, but only the ones I remembered well. No trying to re-learn old forms.

This was the weirdest sick time I’ve ever taken in my life. Everything I would normally do while sick is on that list above. For much of the time I sat there in bed listening to podcasts until I realized that they, too, were giving me a headache. Then I just sat there in bed. Doing nothing. For hours.

The next week I took off from work entirely. (Hooray for unions and for sick time!) I went to my partner’s parents’ house in the Massachusetts countryside. I didn’t even bring my computer. Things continued to get worse for a day or two. On the worst day, I could no longer listen to music. All I could do was to sit there in a chair in the shade, with sunglasses on, watching the clouds from when they entered my field of view until they it.

They say that depression can set in about a month after a concussion. I am not surprised.

After two weeks, things finally started looking up. I was able to read a few entries in Marvel’s Guide to the Avengers without getting a headache. The next day I was able to read a few recipes. Reading from a screen was not an option, and screens are still difficult now.

I found that my symptoms varied widely while I was recovering. The feeling of pressure in my head and the fuzzy brain were common throughout. I also have trouble with fluorescent and LED lights, which are basically the only types we have in my house.

Early on I felt incredibly mentally fatigued. I slept so much that my body was probably the best-rested it has ever been. However, this was also when the sleep apnia started kicking in. If you’re not familiar with sleep apnia, it’s where your body stops breathing until your brain wakes up to kick it back into action. It can be terrifying. I found that doing 10 minutes of exercise before bed cleared this right up for me.

Once that started wearing off, I became hyper-aware of my brain chemical levels. If I was hungry, I was unable to put off eating for more than 5 minutes without getting a headache. The same was true if my blood sugar was low, if I hadn’t had enough salt recently, if I needed water, if I needed caffeine, or if I needed protein. Each of these had its own distinct type of headache that I came to recognize over the course of about a week. This is subsiding right now, but still present.

At this point, after 3 weeks of recovery, I’m back at work part-time, hoping to go up to full sometime next week. I have some special glasses that my partner got me to cut out some blue light, which helps with screens. I can think pretty well again, though my memory isn’t perfect. I can read, though I need to hold back, because I can easily read enough to give myself a headache. It’ll probably be another week or two before I’m at 100%, assuming that I get there.

90% of people recover from a concussion within a month. Of the remainder, most recover within three months. Some people never recover. I am very grateful to be on the track to recovery.

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More Art from the New Project

 

So many Lunars 400 LUNARS

While I’m working on Beneath the White City, please enjoy a random generator I made that has 400 Lunar names, totems, and roles, which I call:

400 Lunars

And which you can find at https://colin-fredericks.github.io/ex3-400-lunars/

Perfect for when your damnfool Solars stumble across a moot of 30 irritable predator-god moon-beasts and suddenly you need to come up with 30 animals off the top of your head.

Many thanks to Sarah Lancaster for helping me come up with a substantial portion of the list.

End of Echoes

That’s it for Echoes of the Godkiller! As usual, there will be a hiatus while I work on the next setting and other things.

Next up is Beneath the White City. It’ll be a less action-filled setting in the North, focused on tight scenes filled with choices, virtues, and investigation.

Cyn Walker, Daughter of Ether

Background

When her name was Sofie Wandelaar, Cyn lived in Amsterdam. She worked in hardware, building sensors and antennas for wearable electronics. She gave the drug scene a pass, didn’t care much about the city’s beautiful architecture – her mind was in her work. It wasn’t so much the devices themselves that fascinated her, it was their implications. One piece of metal sang to another over long distances, all because of the way they was shaped and the geometries that connected them. Cyn dove in deeper. She synthesized occult symbolism and modern antenna design, made a receiver that could pick up signals sent through the nonexistent ether of the world, and Awoke.

She found a similar group of mystics, the Children of Ether, by following their guerilla broadcasts. She joined them to fight against a world that would have swallowed her up and made her a cog in its engine of conformity. She took the name Cyn – she always preferred Cynthia to Sofie, and Walker was an Anglicized version of her family name. Her natural talents for materials science and long-distance correlations were much appreciated, and while she was young, she quickly gained the respect of her peers.

Then there was The Incident.

Cyn’s inspired antenna designs were receiving low-frequency transmissions that she couldn’t localize. They came from everywhere. At first she thought they might be part of the Earth itself, but one of the other Children suggested another possibility: they could be from another dimension. Cyn spent over a month building the perfect receiver for these transmissions. She built an amplifier and a frequency-shifter. She covered herself in receivers and waited to hear the sound of another world.

She vanished. For five days her mind vibrated in sync with the Splinter itself, and she felt the presence of the Maker. Then she fell to the ground, looked up, and saw a sky full of gears.

Appearance

Cyn Walker 500

Cyn has pale peach skin, blue eyes, and pale blonde hair. Her build is thin and athletic. When she is first encountered she is likely to have her hair a bit askew and dirt on her face.

The clothing Cyn had with her when she arrived is black, with fishnets and a tiny lace-covered hat. With her ability to adjust the properties of matter, she can wear just about anything and still be comfortable, so she’s likely to adjust whatever she’s given to suit her fashion sense. She has a set of goggles with a dozen different multi-colored lenses.

Demeanor

Amazed, honest, and unconcerned. Cyn is pretty sure that everything around her is a result of an overly powerful magical approach or a flaw in her design, and that it’ll all go away eventually. Some of her imbalance is probably due to the five days she spent exposed to the mind of a Primordial. She was a little self-absorbed and hyperkinetic before The Incident, and still tends this way now. (It’s hard to be magically awakened and not end up a little self-absorbed.)

The essence that flows through the Splinter is a gushing torrent compared to the weak quintessence that flows and pools on Earth. Cyn is going to cackle madly when she realizes how much power could be at her fingertips here. Then she’s going to be very, very careful, because no one wants to blow themselves into a third alternate universe.

Intimacies: We all need freedom (defining), Keep power secret from those who would steal and abuse it (major), Be grateful when assisted, All learning is connected
Catchphrase: Who knew I was so inventive?

Capabilities

Cyn is a brilliant electrical engineer and physicist, specializing in antenna design. She’s great at mathematics and computer programming. Cyn will eventually be able to adapt her skills and learn how to manipulate essence. In addition, her programming skills could make her the best automaton designer in the Splinter. Both of these adaptations will take time. The design of existing automata is not user-friendly, and essence, as it turns out, works almost nothing like electromagnetism. Before she makes progress on either of these, she’ll need to accept that she’s in an alternate universe rather than a hallucination.

Back in Amsterdam, Cyn little hiking and rock climbing. She’s fairly fit. She’s good at fine motor control. She’s friendly, but not what you’d call a force of personality. Cyn speaks multiple languages, including Enochian, a language that will be known here as the Tongue of the World Before. Those from Creation would call it Old Realm.

As a Daughter of Ether, Cyn was adept at two types of magick. One is the manipulation of physical matter. Cyn can alter the density and composition of materials, make them stronger or weaker, see what they’re made of, and shape them. She can’t work with the magical materials, nor with living beings. Her other magic deals with the connections between places. She can find and hide things and people, connect locations so that people can speak and see each other, and teleport vast distances. She can combine these arts to duplicate objects, make short-lived communication devices, and move objects with great precision and skill. Her handbag holds a truly unbelievable number of gadgets. She also has enough training in the ways of raw magic and physical forces that she can see forces and absorb essence, but not more than that.

In raw power Cyn is outclassed by even the youngest of Exalted. In terms of flexibility, though, she’s impossible to match. Back on Earth Cyn would have been wise to use her power covertly. It’s channeled through tricks and devices that don’t really seem like they could be impossible. She’ll stick to that approach here as well, at least at first. She thinks she’s in a Paradox Realm, a world that will punish her for blatant displays of magick. If she figures out that nothing here is waiting to punish her, the gloves will be off.

Cyn is outside of fate, being a part of neither Creation nor the Splinter.

Connections

  • Cyn’s compatriots, the Children of Ether, may well be looking for her. They may even have some people who are able to find her.

Questions

  • Can Cyn reverse her accident and return home? What would she need in order to try?
  • How will the gods of fate react to Cyn’s presence here (or in Creation)?

Fate: Do the Impossible