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A Witcher 3 Diary, Day 5: Stream

Don't stop

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Continuing a (mostly) in-character diary of my adventures in The Witcher 3. No spoilers in this one.

It’s in the trees. It’s coming. I’m coming. A grizzled thunderbolt, sprinting fury and hunger, a destination in mind but a supreme willingness to be distracted by anything en route. Snatch flowers, hurdle fences, charge and charge, looking for trouble, hoping for trouble.

With eerie focus the world distorts, the sound of animals or men as ripples in the near-distance. Targets. Battle. Reward. Explode through trees, to face a pack of men. One is half-naked. Another has a shield. They are Bandits, therefore they are enemy. I briefly think “how do we know we hate each other?” but there’s no time. Swords up, magic fire, so much death. They nick my flesh but they can’t win; they are split asunder, bloody chunks, gleaming, exposed livers and sparkling loot. Does this make me a hero? Were they my enemy? I know they were my reward and that’s all that matters.

Back to the run, to the endless hunt. I have a destination in mind but I don’t know what I’m searching for. I want distraction, I want to fight for fighting’s sake, I want to believe that it means something. Briefly my mind pulls back and out of the screen, to me here and now, to a worry about why I’m doing this, why I keep running and fighting on that screen instead of doing anything else at all with my consciousness, but the itching adrenaline nag of it takes me back in before the thought can coalesce.

I run. I could be on horseback instead, the option is always there but it feels like an interruption, something too considered and clumsy and in the way of that rush of boots on the ground, hoping for trouble, able to respond to it instantly. The horse is faster but it slows me down: I spurn the beast, I want every step to be mine not something else’s.

What happens next? Drowners, blue mermen with evil painted on their faces, asking nothing of my conscience. I give them fire and silver as they swipe at me. They take me close to death but momentum brings me through again. To lose now would be the deepest cut; I care not for the loss, but all I want to do is move. Don’t make me stop.

What happens next? A field and then a town, people, a change of rhythm, simultaneous annoyance that no-one will speak to me and relief that this leaves me free to pinball around its scant shops, impatiently checking for better, ridding myself of worse, seeking minute improvements to maintain my murderous momentum once I’m back out there, in the trees, in the fields, on the shores, dancing grimly because it feels like purpose.

A question mark. I sprint towards it blindly, not caring what I find, not caring if it’s deadly, just needing the fix the high the momentum of whatever is there to keep my blood pumping, to keep me thinking I’m a hero, I’m something more than a vacuum clean for map markings. Sometimes there’s a conversation. I try to pay attention; they look sad or they’re almost openly lying to me, and either way I know it means a fight, and I’m impatient to get to it. I’m impatient to be running to it. What are these? Ghouls? Do I need do more than swing a sword, throw some fire, quaff some healing distillation in an instant? No? Good. Done.

But I do pause when the fight is done. Most every body leaves something behind, and I must have it, be it sword or be it brain matter. I stuff my pockets with the most gruesome tokens and the most worthless metal because all of it, somehow, will go into the great pot of disposable wealth whose only purpose is to further enable me, to keep me able to fight and to run to ever more fights.

I run and I fight and I run. Not ceaselessly, though I wish I could. I do check my map with a whip of the head, needing to know if this direction will take me somewhere or if I’m about to retread my own bloody footsteps. And to ensure I’m not running into something which will try to dictate how I spend my time. I want to stop awhile and listen only when I’m ready, and that is not often. I want the great and endless forest and the great and endless plains, to propel myself through it living a life of violent ease. Feeling like something. Feeling like I’m doing something. Feeling hero.

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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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