Sp_ace and TimesnewRoman continued their journey as Fredward Brante in the Arknian Empire. There might be more to this world than we first thought.

Fredward has risen from the family crypt and gets another shot at life as the twin gods grant the 6-year-old his second life (you want to know how he died? Read that merry story here!). Dear Grandpapa, the executioner of our untimely demise, does not seem the least bit disturbed about whacking his grandson to death with a cane. He does sweep away our annoying brother Stephan on his journey back to the capital, so there is always a silver lining: good riddance. 

Not too long after this little incident, our parents inform us that it is time for us, and our little brother Nathan, to take our first sacrament. We go to the big temple next to the glowing stick in the sky. Here we shall receive our lot. To keep things simple, there are only two lots (for now): the first is the one for the nobles who have to protect society with the sword, but get luxuries and privileges in return, and the second is the lot of commoners, who get a whooping with a whip and have to do all the work, grovel for the nobles and suffer all the time. Oh, and by the way, the side of the temple for the nobles is smooth marble and the side for the commoners is ragged stone tearing into flesh as they have to kneel on it. Such a nuanced system. Miraculously, our this-world-sucks metre only hit eight during the whole stream, or, once every 15 minutes. 

We decide – once again -that Fredward is ready for some rebelling against the system and instead of kneeling and accepting a flogging by an acolyte, we shock everyone as we break away and manage to kiss the sword at the small cost of getting our hands sliced open by the blade. That’s right, we will take our lot into our own hands! Our euphoria is short-lived, however, as the acolyte made sure we still got the commoners’ fate together with an intense whipping. A humble Fredward can dream, right?

Grandpapa decided he is now living in our house, in the meantime. Nobody dares to speak up to him and he gets to spit his bile to everyone in the family day after day. Family breakfast got a whole new level of uncomfortable. Somehow, we actually manage to gather some respect in the eyes of this man, although we’re not sure we really want that. Right as we cautiously state that things could be looking up, our skull gets trampled in by some nobleman’s horses. It’s for a worthy cause, however: we managed to save a young girl from a lesser death.

Poor Fredward was no match for the dozen of hooves.

Experiencing a second death at 9 years old… It’s fine, right? Kids are resilient? Fresh from the second trip to and from the family crypt, we celebrate: We made it! We leave behind the yoke of childhood and grow into an adolescent. The world opens up a little more for us and we make a friend who turns out to be a great hypeman, Tommas. The game shows us new personality traits and stats, such as ‘nobility’ and ‘spirituality’. 

Then disaster hits: an explosion caused by gunpowder covers the city in thick black smoke for two whole days. We are not allowed to cough in public, because we’re a commoner, of course. In the evening, something unexpected happens. Our father comes back after working multiple days at the place of the disaster. He tells us shocking things. He feels bad for commoners dying and suffering, some of the commoners did not even come back to life during the disaster, but most tantalising: witches may exist! Our own father is sympathising with the commoners and people are resisting this miserable society! There is a chance! There is a shimmer of hope for change!

Fredward will stand up to authority, we will burn the government to the ground, crush the dogmatic religious institution perpetuating this way of life and we will make grandpapa pay. 

Sophie Paauw is currently studying Archaeology (BA) at Leiden University, working as an intern at VALUE, and recently wrote a thesis on how we shape material, material(-ity) shapes the past and the past shapes us… and how D&D plays into that, chiefly. Amongst other things, Sophie is interested in the narrative aspect of archaeology, and fascinated by the way the past, present and future find each other in stories and legend (and games, be that classic TTRPGs like D&D or one of the many video games they stream over on the VALUE twitch channel).

Corine Gerritsen is doing a PhD in the Playful Timemachines project at Leiden University. She is occupied with distinguishing those elements that make up the past in video games. With a background in ancient history, it is unsurprising she plays too many games with ‘Rome’ in the title. She is terrible at platformer-games, but great at being (morally) terrible in Crusader Kings, she enjoys adventuring in Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed or The Whitcher, and loves building cute houses in games as Valheim or Enshrouded. When not playing with pixels, she enjoys going to book cafes, buy gothic novels and fantasy books, and test the absolute weight limit of her bookshelf.
Twitter: @CorineGerritse3