Derak in the Scarlet City

Fear and Self-Loathing in the Scarlet City

Here we are again, Derak, you fool. Fumbling this way will only get those women killed. What do you do with our conscience then. You think this is dark and gloomy now. It is nothing compared to what the underbelly of Scarlet has to give to you if you keep on going with this route.

Papak seems as paasionate as ever. He is not going to leave if it is up to him.

I take another large gulp of the water and try to focus. The rivalling poisons are coursing in my veins.

— Don’t worry, dear Miss, I took really good precautions. They couldn’t have followed me here.

Yeah sure, cross-eyed and drunk like that. Pray the Whitehairs are not downstairs ravaging the girl.

— Oh shut up! Not you, dear Miss. I was talking to Papak, my former mentor. He is really annoying…

She is so lovely standing over you like that. Irritated out of her wits, but sweet as an olive. My finger touches her ankle lightly.

Papak doesn’t like being ignored so he slaps me hard across the face. Funny thing how an imaginary strike can hurt.

Focus! Don’t you understand. You play with the lives of these women like it was nothing. It has got to stop as she said. Build a backbone, will you. Why are you evading the issue. Why don’t you just go to Daag and resolve this. This is the only way you can go forward.

— I have nothing to say to Daag.

Liar! You know as well as I why you have been avoiding it. You are a coward. You always were a coward. Oh yeah, you are mighty endsman yes, a half-mechanic puppet. You need all your gimmicks and devices to bend the odds, because you can’t face true adversity. Fear has driven your life from the get go: abandoning your tribe because you were ridiculed as a youth, running away from Yasul even though you could have built your future on the legacy of his ingeniousness. Abandoning me before taking in any responsibility. And now you are like a fire potion, ready to explode and take those around you with you.

He might be dead but it doesn’t mean he is wrong. Or are the drugs making me docile and receptive all of a sudden. My past runs in front of my eyes like a madman’s delirium. My early childhood, constantly being mocked and scorned for my small and frail stature. The time of my slavery under Yasul and his endless, ingenious torture. Papak and his drive to enlighten me and finally the underbelly of Scarlet. Through all of this I ran without committing myself to anything, without a clear path. And even now, when I think I am a changed man it turns out I haven’t. My morality is just a barrier barring me from some actions but I am just as causeless and aimless as I have always been. As a young nomad, I drowned it in self-pity. As a slave in hate. As Papak’s student into scheming and finally as an endsman into intoxicating debauchery. But my conscience prevents me from drowning things, they are always there, rubbing the foul essence that is me endlessly into my face.

I cry openly. This is a thing unheard of for a hard man. Unforgivable show of weakness. But I don’t care.

— Dear miss, do not worry. I wish you happy life. Perhaps, if we had met in different circumstances…

I don’t want to see her pity or response. I jump out of the window, recklessly. But even in my stupor I manage to grab the windowsill and turn a deadly fall into a descent of some kind.

Take more of that stuff and I will show you what you must do next. We will get through this.

Papak surely sounds reassuring.


The thousands of lights of Lantern City are again reflecting from the still waters as I approach the lavish mansion that is all too familiar to me. It is Daag’s place, and in my hands I have a chest that contains a bargaining chip for my future: the dark crystal. Or to be exact, a replica that looks good enough. Luckily I still have some contacts in the city that I could use.

I only wonder what happens when I run out of Bending Spirit. Or if the cursed northern poison stops working and my heart bursts out of my chest from an ample overdose of the former. It seems my mind has been cleared from the stupor that was caused by the mixed drugs, but the hallucinations are as real as always.

Papak walks there with me, smug as ever. No wonder, as he was the mastermind behind this scheme after all.

Plenty of ways for me to die here, it seems.

A lover die 6 (I leave alone, gracefully)
A goal die 2

Hero dice: 4, 4, 2, 6, 2
Monster dice: 4, 4, 3


5 thoughts on “Fear and Self-Loathing in the Scarlet City

  1. A relatively easy turn to write for me after a long, long time of arduous writing.

    Even though a little heavy-handed, the ending of my turn kind of returns Derak into a path of protagonism, even though with drug-induced hallucination. I feel we need actions and counter-actions now and forward-moving plot elements. Perhaps even some revelations of the past of Derak with Daag.

    I am interested in your opinions of whether this turn is a “double-entry” in this regard, as it clearly includes Derak leaving the Lover and then establishing a forward-moving plot with a duplicate of the dark crystal. But without this, I feel that Derak will remain forever in rambling in his own juices of self-pity and endless wanderings.


  2. Also as an endless supporter of Derak’s healthy love-life I am counting on him crossing paths with Chrysal before the end. Lover score was 2 anyway, so there is a possibility for re-establishing this.


  3. Derak decided to leave Chrysal! Oh no! They were my favourite couple, I was totally shipping them. Hopefully Derak will come to reconsider later on.

    (The lack of Lover dice doesn’t prevent the hero from changing his mind about the Lover multiple times over the story, by the way. You just stop gaining more dice for it.)

    And yeah, I think that counts for both the Lover die and the Goal die.


  4. By the way, it seems that the endsman culture is just like traditional Finnish culture. Any showing of emotional or weakness in behavior was considered shameful. This has been my vibe for a long time already, but here it got established.


  5. Wow! Quite the dramatic entry.

    For me, the best part was, finally, some insight into Derak’s psychology and history, and a better idea of who Yasul and Papak were to him. Really fills in the character, at a much-needed time.

    The prose here is a little awkward in places, but that suits his drug-addled state in some ways.

    As a reader or audience member, I also am very disappointed at Derak leaving Chrysal behind. But, as a critical reader, I think it is a good move. After all, Eero can always tempt Derak with her again later, and it is a good character moment.

    Having your expectations violently foiled as an audience member is not necessarily a bad thing, as much a we might not like it in the moment!

    My favourite detail was the slap in the face – lovely, clever, poignant, and funny all at once!


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