Well wasn't quite expecting that
It never even crossed my mind that Akanthus could reveal that he had been lying to Jaania as to why he served under her before she got near the actual Mana Core. Though it does make sense that Jaania would not have simply ignored the fact that the doom device was leaking a very suspicious and familiar substance that would have at least compelled her into investigating if it will interfere with her plans. Furthermore, it makes sense that he wouldn't have even bothered to try and blatantly lie to her either as the moment she bothered to confront him on the device he would have readily accepted that jig was up but also be aware that being so close to objective that it would have been nigh impossible for Jaania to have the means necessary to thwart his own schemes save targeting the device. And so, he tells her the brutal and honest truth that he was indeed using her this entire time as well as the fact how he loathes the order of the world that refuses to accept his "abomination" as he calls it. However, in doing this, he tells her to do something extremely conniving to make her stay on their projected course. He tells her to trust him, knowing that she has no reason to anymore, and finally he tells her to trust herself and that's the true trick. This entire saga Jaania has primarily only trusted herself to know the best path forward for all to live on Lore with the timeline mirror being her only measurement, her only real confidant, as to how things must be done in order to achieve peace. It is this belief that has been guiding her this entire time and I doubt she'll break away from that belief even as we approach the Core.
I suppose there is some pity to be had with Jaania in this moment. She's effectively isolated at this point. She has pushed those that would want to see her helped to the sidelines and is effectively invested so much into this plan that she can't possibly find reason to turn back now. She may have at least thought prior to this that she still had a loyal companion in the form of Akanthus prior to his reveal but now even that's gone. All that's left are the foot soldiers and while they are fighting for the Rose's cause they can't exactly be confided in the same role that Akanthus previously filled. As mentioned, that mirror is truly the only thing she has left that can be trusted and that's been no true help. So, she doubles down on her plan to control the Core itself and wrestle control of its will for her own. By the by that plan sounds an awful lot like what Remthool wanted to do to Aequilibria, a comparison made even worse when the Core is described as slumbering, so um there is that...
I'm glad other "outsiders" were touched on; Doom, the Atealans and the Void. As strange as they are to Lore, they all have a place in it's magic system and work within it's constraints.
Guess this means no hoping that Void Madness might take Akanthus if we successfully chuck him into the Void with the pearl. Though I am curious as to what this means for the cosmic magic of the Atealans. Doom make sense now more that we know that is among the two opposing forces that make up the mana core, the other being Destiny of course. The Void is the space that exist between spaces and so even with its own Core it can still interact with the planes it slides between. But what of the prowess of the Atealans? Why are their abilities allowed to interact with the mana of Lore itself and influence it?
With that said, they way he says "You could save me" makes me wonder... Is Akanthus dying too? Ostromir said an atrophied connection to the Mana Core erodes one's soul. Maybe something similar is happening to Akanthus? At first I dismissed the thought that his condition does make him suffer, as he seems far too physically capable to be a so ill, but still. It makes some sense that absolute invulnerability would come with a hefty downside, right?
I suspect this might be the case if his plans, should they succeed in giving him what he wants, is to live as a simple carpenter for the rest of his days, a position mind you that is not heavy on the utilization of magic. If all the other experimented children all eventually died, in large part due to their alterations early on, then perhaps whatever was done to Akanthus also has him on a timer for expiration and he was just lucky enough to have a longer one than the rest of his group. Though it still begs the question as to where his soul has been deriving power from as to not immediately have his soul eroded away by now as Ostromir seemed to imply it had to have been sustained by something in order for him to even function. Additionally, this might explain why Akanthus is so destructive and uncaring if his actions do irreprable harm to all of Lore. Not only does he have to endure the unfairness that he will not live a long fulfilling life, in a world defined by magic, but he must also contend with the fact that even after he dies, he will not pass on to any afterlife that we know of as if his soul is gone completely, he will simply be subjected to nonexistence. Thus, he lashes out at a world that will condemn him to oblivion.
On the matter of the new dungeon, I like it. Nice to have an alternative to the Wings of Thousand Flames with additional stats to boot.
< Message edited by Vaalirus -- 11/13/2023 2:40:01 >