Mysterious Package – part two

I had a rather sleepless night, in part because of the heat but partly because every noise was absolutely, definitely something unpleasant slithering out of the mirror in the bathroom and crawling up the stairs towards the bedroom.
I think most of the documents that arrived yesterday are intended to set the scene and introduce the people involved, but the lines of code written on various documents started driving me round the bend, so I got stuck into deciphering them.
Mysterious package 05
Ciphers everywhere!
Here’s the timeline I’ve written up from all the letters and notes:
Document 2

Document 2

 

I was convinced that the coded messages would give me a better idea of exactly what was going on or instructions for what I should do next, so I spent ages cataloging each symbol (with some margin for error in handwriting discrepancies) and analysing the usage frequency.  Then I got to play many frustrating hours of mystery-letter hangman by making best guesses based on the most frequent usage of words and doubled letters.
It was actually pure luck that finally got me the answers, because I forgot to clear an “a” that I’d assigned earlier to a particular symbol and noticed that, along with the new letter I was testing, it was cropping up in the same places as it did in part of the English written on the same document.   So while I now have most of the alphabet, I still can’t decipher the code on the blueprint.  At the moment, it’s just random letters and one thus-far unused symbol, which could be one of three letters, so I guess it’s part of a larger message that will be revealed in time.
If you want to see what the codes I’ve cracked said, click below:
I think all that’s left now is to wait for the next package to turn up, whenever that may be.
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Just a regular Monday…

Since I was not aware that I was likely to be terrorised by my mail today, I didn’t think to record my reaction for posterity. Therefore, I shall attempt to describe what was going through my mind in the moment I opened my post, in the manner of a text-based RPG.

<You have just woken from an unfulfilling nap and put a pot of coffee on. You’re still half asleep but it’s later than you expected, so you go to see if there has been any mail. A large manila envelope is waiting on the mat>

Your brain: Oh, crap, that looks important, which probably means I’ve defaulted on a loan I didn’t know I had, am in trouble for something I don’t remember doing or am having my house repossessed… by Canada?

<You mentally tot up all the possible reasons why people in Canada with access to official-looking stationery might be writing to you. Sensible reasons are in short supply, so you shift gear towards entirely nonsensical ones. Now you are suddenly entirely awake, moving up the scales of anxiety and kind of hoping you (and by extension, the postman) just misread the address>

<Nope, it’s definitely intended for you>

Your brain: Oh, shit.

<The rational part of your brain taps on your shoulder and suggests that perhaps you don’t know why you have official-looking stationery from Canada, marked with a sticker from either a financial institution or a solicitor in your hand, because you actually haven’t done anything wrong>

<You put the letter down on the bureau>

<You pick it up again>

Your brain (resolutely): Better to find out.

<Your hands are shaking slightly while you try to open the envelope. The tape holding the flap down refuses to peel off>

<You go to the kitchen for a knife>

Your brain (hopefully): Maybe the tape doesn’t want me to see what’s in the envelope, either?

<You take a knife and manage to slit the end of the envelope open without cutting off any of your own fingers>

<The first sheet of paper you see has been written on in a child’s scrawl. Beneath the words is a scribbled sketch that dumps adrenaline in your system and makes your skin crawl>

You, out loud: What the actual fuck?

Your brain (wails): OMG, I read the writing! I read the writing! Why did I have to read the goddamned writing?

<Your hand moves, unbidden, to take the paper. You realise it’s one of many documents filling the envelope. You absolutely DO NOT want to touch it but you’re going to do it anyway>

<Something small and soft flies out of the envelope and bounces off your arm. Somewhere between it hitting you and falling to the floor, you realise it’s a lock of hair>

<You shriek like you’re about to be murdered and drop everything. You were asleep ten minutes ago and now you’re starring in a horror film that should be taking place in a gothic mansion on a misty island, inhabited by a weird, hermit-like couple and their creepy, dead-eyed kids, not in your perfectly normal and perfectly sane kitchen>

<Hearing the scream, your dogs come running, barking and start bouncing around you. They don’t know if it’s a game or if they are supposed to rescue you from something but whatever it is, it’s exciting!>

<Your heart is beating so hard, you can actually feel your pulse in your fingertips>

<Rational-brain taps on your shoulder again>

R-B: If you’re done with the theatrics, entertaining as they are, can I tell you that you’re a complete moron?

Your brain: Huh?

<You try to calm yourself and two licking, bouncing, barking lurchers down, and rescue everything off the floor>

<The dogs realise the floorshow is over and start to settle, and the penny finally drops>

Your brain (starts checking for unusual electronic devices in the corners): I’m on a hidden camera show!

R-B: (Sigh) No, try again.

<You look down at the envelope and lock of hair in your hands, confused. You think you can feel the black eyes of the goblin watching you, even though you can only see the top corner of the page poking out>

Your brain: Ummm…

R-B: You saw it on Facebook about six months ago? Does that help?

<It does. You’re an idiot. And, likely, a drama queen. You actually screamed, you fool. Someone obviously thought you had too much time on your hands and they’re clearly right if insane flights of fancy are the first place your mind goes to on getting a strange letter>

You, out loud: Oh, crap. It’s a mysterious package, isn’t it?

R-B: Yes. Yes, it is.

<Overwhelmed with relief that you’re not about to start being stalked by some demon from the Dungeon Dimensions and mildly embarrassed by your extreme over-the-top-ness, you quite suddenly sit down on the floor and start laughing like a lunatic>

<The dogs are equally excited by this and the bouncing starts up again but you can barely gather enough breath to calm them>

R-B: You’re aware that this is still an extreme reaction, right? Go get some coffee before you embarrass yourself any further.

<You get up, carefully return the hair to the envelope and pour yourself some coffee. You’re only sorry that no one was home to document the entire incident on camera>

Mysterious package 02
Click if you want a closer look.  That drawing, though…  

 

The letter that accompanied my nightmare-in-an-envelope informed me that the contents are from the first of several safe-deposit boxes, and that anonymous instructions were given to forward their contents to me if they had not been collected by July 2017.  The writer expressed their own personal curiosity, as they grew up in the area of London noted on the letters and blueprint, and noted that while no one seems sure what had happened,  the house in question had a dark history.

Now that I’m over my initial insanity, I’m having so much fun digging through all the documents.  They’re beautifully made and there’s nothing obvious about either the items or the envelope they arrived in to indicate that it’s anything but what it claims.

From the top left and moving clockwise:

  • Records of an orphanage’s intake, with a cipher written along the bottom;
  • A Forfeiture Notice stating that the property is being seized due to insolvency, clearly torn down.  The same cipher symbols appear at the bottom;
  • A lock of hair (presumably Laura’s);
  • A mourning card from the funeral of Laura Griggs, wife and mother.  She was only twenty-three or twenty-four when she died;
  • Several undated journal entries, apparently written by Henry Griggs;
  • Three letters from Sebastian Colefield, financier, to Henry Griggs.  The first, dated 12th May 1874, is a congratulatory card on the birth of a daughter; a letter, dated 3rd March 1879, which had already been opened; and a letter, dated 12th April 1881, which remained sealed;
  • Child’s drawing and a poem that reads: “G is for Goblin who lives in the mirror/ When I am quiet it sneaks ever nearer” (Yes, I totally check over my shoulder every time I write that).  More cipher symbols in the lower right corner;
  • A photograph of a man and girl, with the words “Last day together” hand-written on the back.  More cipher symbols appear in the same ink;
  • And finally a bloodstained blueprint for a property described as “Griggs Estate.”  The architect is listed as Henry Griggs but most of the date is obscured by a bloody thumbprint.  There are several of the symbols on this, too, but instead of in lines like the rest, they’re either individually placed or in groups of two and three.

The Kidquisition!

With ten days until The Calling, I’ve been buried under piles of fabric and foam to get my cosplays ready.  During some downtime, I joined in with a FaceApp thread on a Dragon Age Facebook group and the next thing I knew, I’d lost half the afternoon to it.

I present…

Kidquisition logo

The Kidquisition, part one – Alistair, Varric, Anders & Cullen

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The Kidquisition, part 2 – Fenris, Isabela, Solas & Vivienne

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The Kidquisition, part 3 – Josephine, Lace, Cassandra & Sera

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The Kidquisition, part 4 – Nym Mahariel, Lyanna Hawke, Nya Lavellan & Isseya Damir

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The Kidquisition, part 5 – Zevran Arainai, Aveline Vallen, Merrill, Morrigan

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The Kidquisition, part 6 – Leliana, Dorian Pavus, Thom Rainier, Donnic Hendyr

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The Kidquisition, part 7 – Cremisius Aclassi, Cole, Tamlen, Tallis

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(Credit to Ehamloptiran on Nexus Mods for the mods to remove Dorian and Blackwall’s facial hair)

2017 Update

Four months in, 2017 has thrown me some real curve balls so far, which has badly depleted a lot of my energy and motivation – but my cosplay builds are still miraculously crawling along.  I am going to get around to full posts for each project but for now, here’s a quick update on how things are going.

Empress Celene

Celene has fallen onto the back burner a bit recently, as I had to postpone my plans to go and make the ballgown.  That said, she now has a mask and a wig is on its way, so I’m going to have to get myself sorted out for dress making and fittings in May, otherwise my brother isn’t going to have an outfit to wear to the ball when The Calling comes around in June!

Celene mask

The other big task is going to be the lion’s head for the back of the dress, so I’ve been doing a few experiments with resin casting and need to find the time to actually sit down and make a clay master.

Lindiranae

My Emerald Knight is slowly but surely coming together.  I’ve finalised the embroidery design and started drafting patterns for the sewn garments.  Her foam armor pieces are pretty much ready for priming and painting – just the sabatons to build and a few tweaks to the breastplate, then I need to settle on which shades of paint I want to use.  I decided that I wasn’t happy with the foam scalemaille that I made for Mahariel, so I’ve been busy weaving chainmaille for Lindiranae’s sleeves, which is almost finished, and to remake Mahariel’s Regalia of Weisshaupt.

Other DA-related Stuff

A while back I booked an appointment to get another geeky tattoo and decided to get the Inquisition sigil just above my ankle, to balance out the Stark direwolf on my other leg.   I have a couple of other designs pretty much ready to go – I just need the funds and to decide exactly where I want to put them!

inkquisition

Last month we went to MCM Birmingham and (after a few trips back and forth waiting for a quieter moment to queue) I got Gareth David-Lloyd to sign my Inquisition art book.  I’ve since started stalking the other voice actors’ Twitter and Facebook pages to see if we’re likely to get any of the others at relatively local conventions so that I can get the other character pages signed.

Solas sig

Our next scheduled event is The Calling in June (UK Dragon Age fans, go check it out!) so I badly need to crack on!

My “I Think It’s Right” Chronological List of DA Media

I’ve noticed that one of the most frequent questions, at least in the circles of DA fans that I visit regularly, is either about which order to read the novels in or asking what exactly is out there in terms of Dragon Age media.  I put this list together recently, and since no one has corrected me yet, I think it’s current and correct.  I go hunting for this at least once a day, and since Facebook groups don’t as yet seem to search the comments, I figured it was easiest to drop a copy here, where I can find the damn thing!

So here’s my “I Think it’s Right” chronological list of Dragon Age media.  I consider the tabletop RPG, The Art of Dragon Age: Inquisition and The World of Thedas vols. I & II to be standalone, so haven’t included them here.  Same goes for the Prima game guides (DA:O; DAII; DA:I).

Edit: 28th July 2017
I’ve had a few messages to say that the list format was difficult to read, so I’ve amended it into a table, added the dates from my research and rearranged a couple of items to fit better.  I’ve also included my notes to indicate how I’ve dated some of them.
As always, if there are any errors or if anything is missing, please feel free to leave a message below and I’ll credit your addition.

Circa the Towers Age – Blessed Age Dragon Age II: Hindsight (Penny Arcade) Motion Comic “Hindsight” was created by Thaulid Hammerspur, who
may have also created the Thorn of the Dead Gods
daggers in the years following the Third Blight.
8:96 Blessed –
9:17 Dragon Age
The Stolen Throne Novel David Gaider has confirmed that Cailan was five years old when “The Calling” took place and twelve at the epilogue of “The Stolen Throne.”
9:10 – 9:11 Dragon The Calling Novel
Circa 9:12 Dragon IDW comics #1 Comic No set date is given but the first issue is set 17 years
before #2-6
9:13 Dragon Dragon Age: Journeys Flash Game No longer seems to load but info can be found here
9:22 Dragon Dawn of the Seeker (Cassandra’s movie) Anime
9:22 Dragon Dragon Age II: Sebastian  Short Story Sebastian tells Hawke that it has been fifteen years since
he left Starkhaven to join the Chantry
9:28 Dragon Dragon Age: Origins: Leliana’s Song DLC
9:28 Dragon Dragon Age II: Aveline  Short Story
9:28 – 9:30 Dragon Dragon Age II: Fenris  (Animated adaptation) Short Story
Circa 9:30 Dragon IDW comics #2-6 Comic Assumed to take place either just prior to or during the
Fifth Blight
9:30 Dragon Dragon Age: Origins (Penny Arcade) Web comic
9:30 Dragon Dragon Age: Origins: A Tale of Orzammar Prologue to the Dwarf Noble origin
9:30 – 9:31 Dragon Dragon Age: Origins: Warden’s Keep, The Stone Prisoner & Return to Ostagar DLCs. 
9:30 Dragon Dragon Age II: Merrill  Short Story Occurs when the Sabre clan arrives at Sundermount
9:31 Dragon Dragon Age: Origins: The Revelation Web comic
9:31 Dragon Warden’s Fall machinima (Kristoff’s backstory) Video
9:31 Dragon Dragon Age: Awakening (Penny Arcade) Web comic
9:31- 9:32 Dragon Dragon Age: Awakening expansion;  Golems of Amgarrak & Witch Hunt DLCs
9:31 Dragon Dragon Age II: Anders  Short Story Occurs between Awakening and the end of Hawke’s first
year in Kirkwall
9:31 Dragon Dragon Age II: Varric Short Story Occurs during Hawke’s first year in Kirkwall
9:31 Dragon Dragon Age II: Isabela Short Story Occurs during Hawke’s first year in Kirkwall
End of 9:30 – 9:40 Dragon Dragon Age II Begins with the destruction of Lothering; Act 3 ends with
the Kirkwall Rebellion in 9:37 Dragon;
Varric’s interrogation occurs in 9:40 Dragon
Circa 9:31 – 9:37 Dragon The Exiled Prince; Legacy DLC
Circa 9:31 – 9:37 Dragon Dragon Age: Legends (Flash game) Flash Game No set date is given but seems to occur during DA II
9:31 Dragon Dragon Age: Redemption (Tallis’s mini-series) Video
Circa 9:32 – 9:37 Dragon Mark of the Assassin DLC
9:38 Dragon The Silent Grove Dark Horse Comic
9:38 Dragon Those Who Speak Dark Horse Comic
9:38 Dragon Until We Sleep Dark Horse Comic
9:40 Dragon Asunder Novel
9:40 Dragon The Masked Empire Novel
9:40 Dragon Dragon Age: The Last Court Digital card game
9:41 Dragon Last Flight Novel
9:41 – 9:42 Dragon Dragon Age: Inquisition;Jaws of Hakkon & 
The Descent DLCs
9:41 – 9:42 Dragon Dragon Age: Magekiller Dark Horse Comic
9:44 Dragon Trespasser DLC
9:44 Dragon Dragon Age: Knight Errant  Dark Horse Comic Occurs following the events of Trespasser

Please note: I’ve noticed a few pages cropping up that have virtually copy-pasted my entire post, including slight rewordings of my introductory paragraph.  I don’t mind people sharing the list – the whole reason for writing it was so that people could have access to anything they haven’t yet seen – but I’ve put a lot of effort into tracking some of these things down, figuring out where some of the more obscure things fit into the timeline (to the best of my knowledge) and maintaining the list.  I would really appreciate if re-posters would either give me credit for my effort or link back to this page.  Thank you!

Stomp Out Cosplay Bullying

Cosplay Bullying
Photography by Darren Allen

I’m adding my support to Cosplay Shout-Outs’ campaign to stomp out cosplay bullying.

I spent years telling myself that cosplay wasn’t for me. Long before I joined my first cosplay group or forum, I was aware of the bullying that comes from offering images of your work and yourself up to the web. So every time I envied the amazing cosplayers that I came across, I would remind myself that I was too old, completely the wrong body type and that my wheelchair would “ruin” everything. Wheeling around a convention at eye-level with most people’s belt buckles could never look as impressive as striding across the floor, sword in hand. I was quite sure that I would be opening myself up to nothing but ridicule and negativity – after all, if a person can receive the sort of hate that I’d seen online, just because they are considered too thin, too fat, too tall or too short for the character they’re cosplaying, what hope was there for me?

By chance I came across a supportive and encouraging group in autumn 2015, and I took my first real cosplay out last November. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some incredibly creative and talented people, who have made me feel very welcome, and as a result I’ve had so much fun cosplaying these last ten months.

But although I’ve been fortunate to have experienced the best that the cosplay community has to offer, despite my fears, it saddens me that cosplay bullying is still such a problem. For every well-circulated incident that we see on social media, there are so many more that we never even hear about.

We’re all geeks in costume, celebrating our fandoms. We should be building each other up, offering encouragement and constructive feedback, sharing our skills and experiences, not ripping our comrades in arms to pieces.

#StompOutCosplayBullying