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rangifer’s diary: pt. civ

MathML

Although this doesn’t really apply to this diary entry in particular (for a better example, see footnote #3 of the “Cool grades” section of the previous diary entry), I do sometimes include formulæ within my diary, particularly of the mathematical variety.

How I used to do it

I’ve gotten pretty good at writing most of the formulæ that I care to use in largely plain text, with the appropriate Unicode semantics & typesetting. Unicode offers a lot of useful codepoints for this purpose, including dedicated mathematical symbols (some of which may even be invisible, but nevertheless quite useful, e.g. U+2062 “INVISIBLE TIMES”), various non-breaking spaces, an entire codepoint range dedicated to various special mathematical versions of alphanumeric characters, etc. A few aspects are not entirely plain text, but those aspects are typically just the presence of very basic HTML elements like <sup>/<sub>, <p>, <br>, etc.

This is fine, and has the clear advantage of being (relatively) quite low-tech. It does, however, leave some things to be desired:

The history

For almost the entire history of web technology (including HTML and everything that surrounds it), this has just been… all that we have. Need something that’s better visually? Try an image, hopefully an SVG… Need something that’s better non-visually? Tough shit. Our best attempts at something that leveraged web technology to get the closest approximation to the “best of all worlds” were things like MathJax and KaTeX, which do a pretty impressive job given what they have to work with, but are limited by exactly that. Furthermore, these were usually done via client-side JavaScript (although KaTeX does offer server-side rendering, which is great).

If you know a little about how MathJax works, though, then you might know that it actually has something special up its sleeve: MathML. MathJax is most commonly used by giving it LaTeX mathematical markup as input, but it can also accept MathML as input. And when possible, it exposes MathML output (regardless of the input language) to the client, especially for its non-visual benefits. MathML is what would seem to fix all of our issues here: an official W3C/ISO/IEC standard that is part of HTML, allowing for HTML to directly express all of the usual mathematical notation and its semantics. Perfect, right?

The reader may now be confused by the fact that the MathML standard was first published in 1998-04. If we’ve had MathML all this time, then what the hell am I going on about? The answer is that no one actually implemented it. Not literally “no one”, of course; in particular, Firefox has supported it for a long time. But that was pretty much it. If MathML has been an official part of HTML & a W3C recommendation for like two & a half decades now, then how did almost everyone get away with just not supporting it‽ The short answer is that proprietary browsers like Google Chrome™, Safari™, Internet Explorer™, Opera™, etc. just… decided not to.

This de facto made MathML “not really part of the web”, despite clearly being part of the web in specifications (de jure). You could use MathML if you wanted, but only Firefox users even had the potential to give a shit. Worse yet, the implementations that did exist (in Firefox, as well as short-lived implementations in other browsers) were thus destined to be shoddy and fuelled by no more than unpaid labour. After all, what’s the point of paying people to work on an implementation of a web standard that de facto doesn’t really exist?

The present

I just found out that this is no longer the case, as of roughly the beginning of this year (2023). In 2021, a new edition of the MathML specification called MathML Core (you can find said specification here) was developed, and by 2023-01, it had already been implemented in all major browsers: not just Firefox, but also the Chromium-based browsers like Google Chrome™, Microsoft Edge™, Opera™, Brave, Vivaldi™, Falkon, etc., as well as WebKit-based browsers like Safari™, GNOME Web, etc. Wowza!!

Excited, I took the time to teach myself how MathML works. MDN Web Docs has good reference material, including a neat little tutorial. As it turns out, it’s pretty simple, albeit rather verbose. The verbosity is to be expected from what is ultimately a derivative of SGML, and can make writing it by hand a bit of a pain in the arse. Nevertheless, it’s not really an issue, and it’s not quite intended to be written by hand anyways. The expected typical use-case is that MathML is generated by “authoring tools”; for example, you might have a program that converts LaTeX markup into MathML markup.

So far, I’ve just been writing it by hand… That being said, I really do quite like it, and appreciate its structure. It also seemed to work well when I tested it across various browsers.

Compatibility

As mentioned above, MathML Core is supported in all major browsers. However, browser support is not the only relevant factor here. If you’re partly or entirely a visual user, you’re going to want a mathematical typeface as well, so that the fancy typesetting stuff works. Your OS and/or browser probably already comes with at least one of these, but to be specific, we’re talking about typefaces like:

In my case, Latin Modern.

Here’s a little test, with a formula for the 𝑛th ordered Bell number (Fubini number), as a little throwback to a past diary entry 😛:

𝑘 = 0 𝑛 𝑗 = 0 𝑘 ( −1 ) 𝑘 𝑗 ( 𝑘 𝑗 ) 𝑗 𝑛

PGC

Back in pt. xcii, in the “Χάος” section, I bought CS service and ended up with an 8 WATK, 4-slot PGC.

That was kind of a long time ago, and since then, I’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of the thing. Nevertheless, staring at four whole slots, especially when capes like the PGC start with only five slots, is disconcerting. I need to do something with those four slots, right? My original goal when I started Chaos Scrolling shit and losing tons of money was to make a ≥10 WATK (i.e. double-digit WATK) tradeable cape that I could share between most or all of my physical-attacking characters. So presumably, the move is to CS it again to further that goal.

I was, however, sobered by having some considerable success (viz. making an 8⧸4[1] cape), and kinda realised that I am not in the business of affording such incredible risk as CSing it again. I’m just not made of money, contrary to what one might expect from how much time I dedicate to the game…

So, in the “Une randonnée à Monaco” section of pt. xcviii, I talked about a very smol part of the mathematics/economics behind trading this cape for a finished (read: 0-slot) WATK cape; in particular, I used a shoddy model (the best model that I could come up with!) to estimate how many pCoins I would need to add into the trade deal. For example, if someone wanted to trade their 11⧸0 for my 8⧸4 & my pCoins, how many of my pCoins is that, exactly? 300? 600? 900?

It was then that I realised that I needed to save up. So I saved up many pCoins. Many pCoins. Much saving. My li’l pCoin piggy bank started getting a bit heavy, and I decided that it was finally time to start an auction. So I did exactly that, in the #free-market channel of the MapleLegends Discord™ server. I started posting messages like this, with a screenshot of the cape attached:

T>for 12 WATK 0-slot or S> (preferably T>) this 8⧸4 PGC.  Will top up pCoins for trades: rough s/b ≈+600pc for 11⧸0, ≈+810pc for 12⧸0.

Note that the s/b values are prefixed with a plus sign because they are how much I’m adding to my 8⧸4, on my side of the deal. Beating the s/b (or c/o, as the case may be) thus means bidding lower, not higher.

Later, I got an offer from Rahulk to buy the cape straight up, for 600 pCoins. This was actually roughly how much I, analytically, expected the cape to be worth, so I was surprised to see someone offer that high without any c/o to beat. I was informed that this was in fact a very good deal, and my posts started looking more like:

T>for 12 WATK 0-slot or S>c/o 600pc (preferably T>) this 8⧸4 PGC.  Will top up pCoins for trades: rough s/b ≈+600pc for 11⧸0, ≈+810pc for 12⧸0.

I got someone vaguely interested in trading for their 12⧸0, and to be honest, I was willing to pay a lot to trade for 12⧸0, as that was my ideal outcome. 13⧸0 is not really in my price range, and I didn’t want to have to suffer losing my cape and 🤞🏽hopefully🤞🏽 being able to buy one soon to replace it. However, they thought about it and never ended up offering.

Someone else wanted to trade for their 11⧸0, but thought that even my s/b of ≈+600 pCoins was too low. It ended up being a no-deal for a few reasons:

Thus, in the end, it was Rahulk’s cape:

Selling the cape

Transcription of the above image

[trade window between Rahulk & rusa, with rusa trading the 8⧸4 cape for Rahulk’s 600 pCoins]

Rahulk: hey
sry for delya [sic]

rusa: no worries

Rahulk: thx

rusa: tysm! gl with it [:

Now my pCoin piggy bank feels quite heavy indeed! Someone please sell me a 12⧸0… Please……

Footnotes for “PGC”

  1. [↑] I use the standard convention of writing the stats of a WATK cape in the form 𝑥⧸𝑦, where 𝑥 is the WATK of the cape, and 𝑦 is how many slots the cape has remaining.

たらん

I regret to inform you that there will be no Questin’ With tara™ in this diary entry. Booooooooo… 👎🏽👎🏽👎🏽 Terrible!!!

I know, and I’m sorry. If it makes you feel any better, there is a decent amount of questing in this entry — so look forward to that, at least. Plus, this entry does have at least a little action from my shield bucc tarandus! Like this pair of Papal Lettuces that I did with fellow 4th-job odd-jobber, SwordFurbs (Yoshis, Fabiennes, Furbs) the DEXadin!!:

tarandus & SwordFurbs vs. Papal Lettuce

Pictured: one or two orangish blurs. Not pictured: me nor SwordFurbs…

As you can see, I finally realised (🙄) that Demolition hits left-pinned Papu from the further (second from the left) platform, so when I’m in ST, I don’t even need my bubble up to have the privilege of not getting dispelled, stunned, & generally bullied into oblivion by Mr. Giant Toy Clock Guy.

And we generally did splendidly on the 2nd body fight as well, with both of us being able to control its movement (with SwordFurbs of course using her OP Blast):

tara & SwordFurbs vs. Purple Ladles’s 2nd body

In other tara news, GM buff junkie that I am, I did some GM boof grinding at the seventh floor of the Sutra Depository alongside shadower Harlez (VigiI, Murhata). And hit level 133 in the process!!:

tarandus hits level 133~!

😉

1118

Naturally, that wasn’t the only GM buff grinding that I enjoyed on this fine Maple evening. I also did some TfoG grinding on my Vicloc dagger spearwoman d34r, alongside OSS-locked spearman Falco (Alaskan, SnailDEX)!:

Falco and d34r duo FoG

And indeed, an epic area-locked spear(wo)man crossover it was.

Also on Vicloc, my clericlet d33r had the pleasure of doing some duo L1A4 grinding with up-&-coming gishoplet Tetrin (inject, inhale, eject, vvvv, DexBlade)!:

Tetrin and d33r duo L1A4

It was then that d33r hit the fateful level 1118:

d33r hits level 73!!!

Ah, at long last: Holy Arrow maxed, and a clericlet complete. 😌😌😌

Mayhaps it’s time for a DPM test…? If I can find a sufficiently training-dummy-like map… 😉

rſa

I also did some bossy bozzing bawling bawsunt bossin’ on my darksterity knight rusa, including this Nameless Magic Monster run with marksman xBowtjuhNL (PriestjuhNL) and paladin Palladino (Pengebingen, fistingjoe51)!:

Palladino, xBowtjuhNL, & rusa vs. NMM

Sometimes, NMM winds up to do its Big Bad Claw Attack™ that hits for like ≈19k damage, so I start putting delicious, delicious HP pots into my face. Then, it “MISS”es me like half the time. Now what? I have too much HP for my own good. So I start yelling at my HP until it takes a hike:

did u just roar farm in nameless

Transcription of the above image

Palladino: woah
did u just roar farm
in nameless

rusa: yes.

Palladino: pro

I tried a little quick-&-dirty @dpm 2 test during this run as well, with Echo, SI, SE, MW20, & good ol’ Cider:

rusa, level 182, @dpm 2 test @ NMM w/ Echo + SI + SE + MW20 + Cider

Transcription of the above image

[damage range: 2 308〜3 098]


[system message]: rusa — Lv.182 Dark Knight — Total Damage: 4,161,331
Damage Per Hour: 124,839,900 — Damage Per Minute: 2,080,665

Aww yeah… Cresting that 2M mark. 😎

That wasn’t the only NMMing that I did, however. Also with xBowtjuhNL, but this time accompanied by bowmaster zLiOz, I was once again on “pinning” duty:

zLiOz, rusa, & xBowtjuhNL vs. NMM

In considering the positively rotten luck that he & I always had with NMM’s drops, xBowtjuhNL felt the need to do something a little different. Something to… appease the Maple gods, if you will. As ever, the Maple gods demand the fresh blood of Maplers, so xBowtjuhNL obliged:

xBowtjuhNL sacrifices himself for the NMM drops

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

zLiOz: okay…

rusa: hahah

xBowtjuhNL: gl

Afterwards, we talked about archer stuff, like not Hurricaning when that would allow Pink Bean to, at any time, instantly slay you by activating DR. We wondered just how much worse ranger Strafe was in comparison to Hurricane — and to sniper Strafe, for that matter. So we headed to the Training Zone, in China, to make use of the training dummies there:

zLiOz & xBowtjuhNL testing Strafe

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

zLiOz: 6.1 [million DPM]

xBowtjuhNL: i think si is like 10% on strafe

zLiOz: 8.5

xBowtjuhNL: so prob around 6.7–7 with si
ah yeah thats a little more

These rough tests were sans SI, and yielded an approximately 1.4× difference between Hurricane and Strafe for zLiOz. So, yeah… That is “a little” more…

Of course, I did do at least a little bit of Horntailing. Not much, but I did sign up for another of Abella’s runs, as sed target once again. Abella seemed to think that I was, like, super pro, or something, and was surprised to hear that no, I do not in fact have… an Echo “mule”. No level 200 characters here…! 😅

Unfortunately, during the first run, I made it no further than the first ≈30 seconds or so of the main body fight before the power went out in my building for a few seconds! Hah!! Not long, but certainly long enough to take me out of the fight… 🥲 I was likely the only one in the entire expedition who could actually competently sed, and although I don’t recall the order in which we entered, it didn’t matter: the reg bish idoybh2 had been disconnected as well, and the run was abortive.

K00K: GG

On the bright side, with myself & idoybh2 reconnected to the game, we could start round two right away. Thankfully, this one went just fine, with no serious issues whatsoever:

Sed target rusa attacking the last head on the Abella run

And, back in Neo Tokyo once again, shadower Harlez (VigiI, Murhata) had a… daring idea: to duo(!) the Core Blaze Party Quest with me. Although skeptical at first, I assented. One or two Onyx Apples in hand, we were dropped into the entrance to the Roppongi [(ろっ)(ぽん)()] Mall in the year 2102:

rusa & Harlez duoing CBPQ, stage 1

Getting to stage 2 meant that I’d have to solo the pesky JQ full of lasers that hit for way more damage than they’ve any right to. Thankfully, back in the 「アキラ」 section of pt. ci of this diary, I got to learn, and do some practising of, a JQ-soloing technique during CBPQ runs with Danger & Qubert. My memory now being a bit foggy (it’s really not often that I get the chance to CBPQ at all…), I was quite nervous at first, but I ended up doing the JQ reasonably quickly.

All that was left, then, was to dismantle the Core Blaze itself:

rusa & Harlez duoing CBPQ, stage 3

The fight went okay, and I mostly just had the usual issues with HP management in the face of a certain purple-glowing robot eyeball threatening to touch me for the vast majority of my MAXHP every time that I need to Rush towards it — which is often, thanks to the Imperial Guards. We also had some transient issues with potions taking a very concerningly large number of seconds to actually register & restore our HP, although thankfully that didn’t quite manage to kill either one of us.

In the end, we did not succeed; we ran out of time before Core Blaze actually capitulated. But we were pretty close, and Harlez was very confident that the plan was perfectly workable. For example, next time, she might actually bring her equipment into the PQ… F3

alx

In the “Lady Palmation” section of the previous diary entry, I talked about continuing my daggerlord alces’s card-hunting journey in earnest, now that my darksterity knight rusa got her tier 10 ring at long last. That section ended at the bottom of the Eos Tower, where I had only just started the Eos hunt, by hunting the Ratzes (q.v. footnote #5) on the 1st floor. When I get back to solo card-hunting, I’ll be starting once again near the bottom of the Eos Tower, but for now, I actually didn’t do any solo card-hunting at all!

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t do any card-hunting, however. I once again (see, for example, the “all says” section of pt. xcvii) joined forces with dagger sader inject (Tetrin, inhale, eject, vvvv, DexBlade) to do some card-hunting. This time, inject needed to tidy up a few Singaporean card sets that he was still missing, so we headed to MP1 for the Tippo Blue & Tippo Red card sets, both of which spawn exclusively in MP1:

alces & inject card-hunting @ MP1

The blues are not a terrible set to complete:

Tippo Blue card get!

The reds, however, are somewhat notorious; besides not having a great card-drop rate per se, they don’t spawn all that often in MP1, which is quite disappointing given that, as I mentioned, this is the only map that they spawn in:

Tippo Red card get!

inject was unaware of this before we started, so it was his turn to be one of that day’s lucky 10k. Maybe “lucky” is the wrong word here… Nevertheless, we eventually both finished the sets, and so we moved eastward to GS1 so that we could both finish up our Pac Pinky sets:

Pac Pinky card get!

Easily done!

Later, I did even more card-hunting in Singapore, but this time, duoing with priest PriestjuhNL (xBowtjuhNL). PriestjuhNL had been HealRoaring with a dragon knight at Fantasy Theme Park 3 (Vikerolas), which is in Malaysia. So, naturally, in the downtime, it made the most sense to card-hunt in the surrounding Malaysia–Singapore region. We went back to the beginning — the furthest away from Malaysia, in this case — to card-hunt at Central Way 1 for the Stopnow…:

Stopnow card get!

…And Biner…:

Biner card get!

…Sets. Before I was finished with the Biners, PriestjuhNL had already 5⧸5 on both, so we thought it best to move over one map to Central Way 2. Central Way 2 is a very cosmopolitan map that I’ve therefore never really card-hunted in. Normally, I’d do Stopnow & Biner in Central Way 1, followed by Nospeed & Batoo in Central Way 3. This map has all four species! It was here that I got most of the Batoo set:

Batoo card get!

And eventually, we moved again one map east to Central Way 3. It was here that I hit level 124!!!:

alces hits level 124!!

Yup! I had been harbouring quite a bit of EXP for a while, hoping to eventually get that last little fraction of my level from card-hunting alone. And this level is quite significant for alces, for one reason: Taunt. You see, nightlord skills can have some relatively steep requirements. This might come as a mild surprise even to nightlord players themselves, as the two skills with significant requirements are generally somewhere between “low priority” and “completely useless” for the typical NL: Taunt & Ninja Ambush, which require level ≥10 Shadow Shifter & level ≥5 Shifter, respectively. I put a single point in NA as soon as I got to level 5 Shifter, but as discussed previously, it’s really not useful even for me as a daggerlord.

Taunt, however, is something else. Here I am, trying out Taunt for the first time in my Maple career:

alces tries Taunt for the first time

Oh. Wow. So there’s a lot to unpack here. In particular: Taunt is a full-blown, ordinary ranged attack, & is multi-target. Yes, you heard that right.

Skills like SW & NA are also multi-target; are attacks insofar as they are capable of dealing damage; and aren’t “ranged”, but we can at least say that they aren’t melee attacks. However, SW & NA are limited by not being actual ranged attacks, and by not being long-reach melee attacks either, for that matter. And, more importantly, they are limited by not being genuine attacking skills that are capable of last-hitting monsters (read: lowering a monster’s HP from a positive value to 0). See the footnotes of the “Oh alces, ¡cómo quisiera que te alces al nivel 120!” section of pt. xcv for a discussion of SW specifically. Moreover, the damage formulæ for SW & NA leave something to be desired. SW’s damage is based on the MAXHP of its victim, which does make “SW training” possible — albeit extremely inefficient — but otherwise, is not so great. NA’s damage is at least based on the user’s stats (viz. STR & LUK, but also not WATK nor DEX), but the damage formula is so pitiful as to make it irrelevant. NA also has the additional downside of being seemingly nigh impossible to correctly target a monster or group of monsters with.

Contrast this with Taunt:

This makes Taunt most comparable to a skill like Avenger (or, to use an archery analogy, Iron Arrow), if we ignore its sui generis (de)buff.

I said that “Taunt has a fairly ordinary damage formula”, and indeed, its damage formula is literally just the same as a basic-attack. Based on my experience testing level 1 Taunt in-game, looking through the Skill.wz data (viz. Skill.wz/412.img/skill/4121003) for any damage-related values, and asking other experienced Taunt-users about the skill, I can say with some confidence that the damage formula should just be the same as a basic-attack (including having a damage multi[1] of exactly 100%), regardless of the level of the skill. That would also explain this comment (dated 2018-11-04; archived) by Fishy (Eiji), which states: “Taunt does more damage for shads > Nightlords”. Non-odd shads have a distinct advantage over non-odd NLs w.r.t. basic-attacking (and generally, skills that deal damage proportional to basic-attack damage) due to naturally higher WATK; the main way that the NL makes up for this is by using attacks that have a damage formula distinct from that of basic-attacks: L7 & TT.

Of course, being the same as a basic-attack isn’t all that impressive. Still, this is enough to make Taunt overall more useful than NA, and even SW, in very many situations. Obviously, for single-target attacking or similar, it clearly cannot compete with Double Stab; Double Stab deals roughly thrice as much per-target damage, and has a considerably smaller attack period. But the range, the multi-target nature (hitting up to six targets with a single attack), and the (de)buff make it generally very useful indeed.

As you’d expect, Taunt observes weapon speed category normally. This is opposed to Double Stab, which has attack periods based on those of a basic-attack, but as if the user’s weapon speed category were two lower than it actually is (still to a minimum of 2, of course). So I actually Taunt significantly more quickly when SI’d! 😁

Also… it kinda looks cool? The animation is super unique — albeit slightly long-winded — and the visual effect upon impact (which can be seen in the above image) is neato too.

Anywho, it was also here at Central Way 3 that I finished the Nospeed set:

Nospeed card get!

And later, I once again duoed some card sets in this region with inject, going to Muddy Banks 1 in Malaysia for the Dark Fission…:

Dark Fission card get!

…And Oly Oly…:

Oly Oly card get!

…Sets. Like with MP1, these two species both spawn exclusively in this map. The population of the two species is a bit more even here, but we found that their card drop rates were most definitely not:

WHERE are the Oly Oly cards…

Where are the Oly Oly cards?? We must have found three Dark Fission cards for each Oly Oly card…

Eventually, we both got to that 5⧸5 Oly Oly, so we moved on to Muddy Banks 2 to finish up our Rodeo sets:

Rodeo card get!

And finally, to finish up the pre-Fantasy-Theme-Park Kampung Village region, we went to Muddy Banks 3 for the Charmer set:

Charmer card get!

☺️

Footnotes for “alx”

  1. [↑] Damage multi (also dmg multi, damage multiplier) is a term with a highly specific technical meaning. See the “Zerk + SE = ???” section of pt. ci of this diary.

axs

In the “Simply inexplicable” section of pt. c of this diary, I wondered what makes a MapleStory character, & why — how — something so enigmatically peculiar as a LUK warrior might come to exist. It was then in the “A. axis” section of pt. cii that my curiosity was answered — not by giving concrete answers to my questions, but rather by directing my attention to the birth of exactly one such warrior: axisaxis. I’ve thus been following axisaxis’s career with great interest, and in the “A most auspicious star, whose influence if now I court not, but omit, my fortunes will ever after droop” section of the previous diary entry, we saw — amongst other things — axisaxis take on EPQ for the first time, stopping only to tackle the many trials & tribulations of obtaining a Zaqqūm [⁧زَقُّوم⁩] Helmet.

Of course, EPQ also had its own unique equipment in store: the ✨Glittering✨ Altaire Earrings. axisaxis had seen other dread-nought — and sometimes even quite powerful — heroes of the Ellin Forest sporting these stylish earlobe accessories, and was thus aware that they were capable of conferring unmatched strength & fortune upon their wearer. Moreover, she liked the way that they shimmered, seemingly giving off their own twinkles & glows even under shadow, and thought that they’d fit her outfit quite felicitously.

So she continued on, EPQing until which time as Ellin would finally bestow the wonderful earrings upon her:

axisaxis: die die big bad rock guy

Indeed, axis knew Big Bad Rock Guy very well now. She had lost track of all the people that she’d fought the BBRG alongside, bearing in mind only the singular goal of accumulating 40 Altaire Fragments. Like some kind of supernatural carnival worker, each time that axis bested the BBRG, it stood back up only long enough to give her an Altaire Fragment and offer her a chance to try yet again.

Finally, after forty full EPQs, Ellin took pity upon the girl, accepting her 40 fragments in exchange for the desired earrings. axis carefully rolled the earrings around in her hands, admiring how the faint light so sheenly struck their spiral engravings, and feeling the power radiating from them.

Perfidious parchments

There was just one thing left to do: to enchant the earrings so that they might make her yet stronger & more adroit. After all, axis already had her own earring this whole time — not as beautiful, perhaps, but still humming with its own subtle potency. With just a little extra magick, her shiny new Glittering Altaire Earrings could be convinced to take on even greater power. axis’s eyes shone as she contemplated the possibility, knowing that even average luck would be sufficient to make these earrings very powerful indeed. And of course, average luck was nothing to axis, the luckiest warrior of them all.

So she took the magical papers, each with a nominally 60% probability of enhancing the earring, and said her prayers…

axis was vexed by the fact that they seemed to not work at all. Worse yet, they were ruining her precious earrings, and she could feel the earrings’ power fade as she incinerated two (2) of the orangish papers in this cursèd ritual. Not accepting this doom, axis resorted to the dark magicks of a grey scroll instead, hoping that its 70% success rate could salvage her earrings. Still yet, the grey parchment smouldered uselessly.

axis barely contained her tears as she held the earrings away from her face, not wanting to see them anymore. Throwing the rest of her treacherous grey papers at it, she was at least relieved to see that the last two had the desired effect; perhaps she’d not been swindled by the scroll seller after all… But it wasn’t enough — the earrings had already met ruination. No number of perfidious parchments could change that.

Or could they? axis had heard of ungodly parchments that possessed the unnatural power to reverse such failures, but only in whispers and hushed tones. She’d never seen such a thing, & frankly doubted that they really existed at all. But it was her only hope now. In desperation, axis courted the aid of the shadiest & most disreputable of merchants & scroll specialists, seeking anything that could perhaps restore her broken earrings. It was in this way that she found so-called “Clean Slate Scrolls 3%”. The parchments were peddled to her under this alluring name, with the claim that they really did work 3% of the time. axis supposed that 3% was the kind of figure that was high enough to sound vaguely hopeful, but low enough for the seller to, when it failed, plausibly deny that the scrolls actually didn’t work at all… Nevertheless, axis had already run out of options, so she accepted the scrolls at face value.

Three of these “Clean Slate Scrolls” set ablaze, and still no sign of hope. Another one, and her earrings were instantly destroyed. The dishonest magick of these fraudulent parchments was so powerful as to annihilate the earrings outright, no longer even suffering axis the pleasure of gazing upon them.

axis could no longer contain her tears, ashamedly covering her face as she began to sob, still standing at the merchant’s shopfront. She hurried away from the establishment as the merchant awkwardly pretended not to notice, desperately looking for another customer.

Regression

Soon enough, axis accepted her fate. The earrings might be gone forever, but Ellin never said that she couldn’t get another pair. Of course, that would mean 40 more EPQs. But axis was quite the EPQ adept at this point, so maybe 40 more wasn’t… utterly terrible. So she went back for more, a little less “all there” than before…

axis?

Transcription of the above image

xEthan: axis?

axisaxis: im rubbing my two braincells together and noyhing is gomcing [sic] out

Ellin was starting to catch on to axis’s little scheme, and wasn’t willing to let axis — nor anyone else — come back for more Altaire Fragments unless they were sufficiently inexperienced. axis, however, was one step ahead; she had already accepted that another pair of earrings would require blood sacrifice. In particular, her own blood.

Unable to seriously harm herself with her colourful pinwheel, axis flung herself at the wildlife of the Ellin Forest, desperately hoping that they would let her blood, or worse:

axis craves death

It was the first time that axis really regretted being so durable. Eventually, however, axis relaxed as she succumbed to death itself, becoming one with the forest; food for the mushrooms.

axis becomes one with the forest

Painful as it may’ve been, slaying herself over, & over, & over, & over again made it possible for axis to achieve the 80th EPQ completion. axis had been EPQing for so long now that it haunted her every waking moment, and insidiously made its way into every resting moment as well. Every time that axis closed her eyes, she saw the Forest of Poison Haze. She saw the BBRG too, and every creak — however slight — that met her eardrums was heard as the creaking of BBRG’s rocky limbs as they ground together stone to stone.

Maybe Ellin was getting in between axis and EPQ for axis’s own protection. axis knew all too well that the “Forest of Poison Haze” was called that for a reason, having battled so many of its diverse & poisoned critters herself. But perhaps the critters’ poisonousness was not something to be battled against; maybe the poison was more deleterious than axis gave it credit for. Between the noxious fabric of the forest, and axis’s continually repeated suiciding, the stability of axis’s mind teetered dangerously on the edge of coherence & incoherence; composure & delirium.

EPQ, addled

But she could not stop now. axis was going to get that second pair of earrings, so long as she had the composure to put one foot in front of the other.

And eventually, that’s exactly what she did. Thinking better of it, she did not kill herself this time, ensuring that she could not possibly go for a third pair of earrings, even if she wanted to. And then, of course, she would have to scroll this pair too.

axis was relieved to see that the same two orange 60% scrolls that she used last time had the opposite effect now: both successfully enchanted the pair of earrings. Her relief, however, was short-lived: the next two both failed. Disappointed, and knowing that the fifth & final scroll absolutely had to succeed unless she wanted to suffer more “Clean Slate” scrolls, she once again resorted to the grey 70% scroll, which obliterated the earrings altogether.

axis did not cry. The poison haze had displaced the emotion in her psyche, and her tear ducts were barren anyways. She knew only one thing, and that thing was that she had to get the hell out of the Ellin Forest. Now.

The betrayer & the Goddess

axis took up the opportunity to flee the forest when she was approached by a dashing young man offering to accompany her in the Orbis Party Quest — yet another challenging expedition in yet another far-flung land. When axis asked the man for his name, he spake: “Lanius” (Level1Crook, Lvl1Crook, xXCrookXx, SuperLuck). axis thought that the name rang a bell, but she had not quite yet recovered from the addling of her brain by the pernicious effects of the forest. Then it struck her: this was the infamous Lanius the Betrayer, of whom she had hitherto only heard rumours.

Still, Lanius was charming enough, and as long as the Orbis Party Quest didn’t take place in the Ellin Forest, axis was okay with it. So axis returned to Orbis, the town above the clouds; a place that she’d previously only briefly passed through on the way to El Nath [⁧النَّطْح⁩] (see the “A most auspicious star, whose influence if now I court not, but omit, my fortunes will ever after droop” section of the previous diary entry).

axis came to learn that Orbis is the old home of the wise Goddess Minerva, and that OPQ would consist in the restoration of her derelict material form: the giant stone statue that sits at the centre of the Tower of Goddess. In its state of dereliction, the statue had been vandalised by the unruly Pixies that terrorise Orbis. And so, it was then up to axis & Lanius to recover the statue’s pieces and restore them to their rightful place, thus rehabilitating the statue of the goddess. Here are the both of them, slaying the Luster Pixies on the OPQ Walkway for their statue pebbles:

Lanius & axis on the OPQ Walkway

axis was intrigued by the little statue fragments. Each one was like a tiny part of the goddess herself. So, naturally, axis wondered what they tasted like. Thus, as any reasonable person would do, axis put some of the pebbles into her mouth, probing them for culinary value.

And indeed, they were quite tasty:

axis craves pebbles

Transcription of the above image

[system message]: The leader of the party has entered ⟨Walkway⟩.

axisaxis: i crave pebbles

Lanius: nom

axisaxis: tysm
yum yumn
yummy yummers
om nom

[system message]: You have lost items (30 1st Small Piece)
You have gained an item (Statue of Goddess : 1st Piece)
You have gained experience (+16200)
The leader of the party has left ⟨Walkway⟩.

Yet another piece of the statue could only be recovered via the use of secret numbers & strange levers at the tower’s spire. The numbers made axis’s head hurt. Although, falling all the way down to the bottom to talk to Chamberlain Eak probably wasn’t helping with the head-hurting problem…:

axis On the Way Down

With many pieces recovered from the Pixies & cat-unicorns around the tower, axis was pleased to see the statue restored to its former glory:

Restoring the Statue of Goddess

axis was envious of the goddess’s beautiful wings, but she also wondered why they appeared so asymmetrical: the left wing all feathered, and the right apteric & exposing the contour of bone.

In any case, there was still more to do. Merely restoring the statue was insufficient; if the statue were restored and simply left to dereliction again, the Pixies would just vandalise it again! To get to the bottom of the issue, axis & her team of rugged adventurers would need to root out the head honcho: Papa Pixie, father of all Pixies.

BRSLOVER, Arbitrageur, Planchi, KuroCatXIII, Lanius, & axisaxis vs. Father Pixel

And with that, Minerva could finally be at peace. For now, at least…

Above & below the tower

It seemed that, in spite of axis’s efforts in subduing Papa Pixie, the Pixies were still at large in the town of Orbis. In particular, the Cloud Park was absolutely overrun with the contemptible creatures, and it seemed that they had a bounty on their heads. Spiruna, Elma the Housekeeper, and even a mysterious woman known only as “????” wanted these Pixies, dead or alive.

axis vs. Pixies at the Cloud Park

Actually, Elma just wanted some of their shiny doodads to make a present for Ericsson’s cat, Nero. Ericsson blew off axis to hang out with his cat instead, but axis could empathise with that:

Ericsson blows axis off to hang out with his cat instead

Transcription of the above image

Elma the Housekeeper: Ericsson blew you off to hang out with his cat? Hmm … then how about this? Make a small present for his cat Nero. Ericsson will then be happy enough to make you one.

In any event, ????, Ericsson, & Lisa also had it in for the tiny one-horned felines, so axis headed to The Road to the Garden of 3 Colors to take care of those as well:

axis vs. cat-unicorns

To make a Sap of Nependeath in the hopes of Nependeath Juice for Alfonse Green, axis needed a lot of seeds from some strange plants ominously named “Nependeaths”. axis went to the Disposed Flower Garden to witness the plants for herself, and was horrified to see that, plants though they may appear, these Nependeaths were animal in movement & instinct.

axis @ the Disposed Flower Garden

axis needed some of these same seeds to give to Maya as well, so she took the time to whack countless toothy plants to death and rack up a whole pile of their noxious seeds. And, since she was here anyways, she decided to complete both the Nependeath and Dark Nependeath card sets, too.

Having now thinned the population of the Cloud Park region substantially, axis moved on to the Orbis Tower. An untrustworthy-looking old man, holed away in the centre of the tower, offered to reward axis if she could bring him ingredients that he needed for his hermitty “magicks”. axis thought twice of it, but ultimately decided that she was kind of in the habit of trusting the untrustworthy anyway. So, she dismantled the Sentinels of the tower so that she might extract their magic ingredients:

axis vs. Fire Sentinels

Dipping below the clouds, axis was now getting to the snowy El Nath locale. A famous old beardy wizard by the name of Alcaster wanted some of the Furballs of the (Dark) Leatties here, and so too did Maya. Thus, axis set about stripping these binocular floating fluffballs of their fluff:

axis vs. (Dark) Leatties

In the process, one of the Dark Leatties dropped an enchantment scroll that axis had never actually seen before: a Scroll for Cape for Cold Protection 10%.

axis finds a scroll for cape for cold protection…!

Although axis’s arms, regrettably protected by no more than a strapless dress, were certainly getting chilly here in El Nath, she had better ideas for now. Alcaster promised that he could make a cape with the same warming effect, so axis was determined to gather the requisite materials for that.

With some of the Solid Horns that axis previously collected from the horned cats, Lisa had made a Horn Flute that allowed axis to communicate quite clearly (albeit with the occasional “bark” here & there) with Moppie the dog. Moppie was wounded and lost, missing their human, who went by the name of Huckle, and who lived in the Orbis Tower. Upon reflexion, it now dawned upon axis that the “untrustworthy-looking old man” to whom she had supplied magic ingredients was… probably Huckle. She climbed back up the tower, and her suspicions were confirmed; now that he knew that Moppie was simply lost in Orbis proper, Huckle needed axis to help hunt for some food for Moppie. As it happened, Jr. Pepe’s Fish were Moppie’s favourite meal, so they would do the trick nicely:

axis vs. Jr. Pepes

Moppie was, evidently, very hungry indeed; axis collected no fewer than six hundred fish for the canine. axis supposed that it made sense, considering that Moppie was still recovering from their wounds, and must have been quite distressed & impoverished by the loss of their human. axis also supposed that Huckle was indeed untrustworthy after all, if perhaps for a different reason than she’d imagined: Moppie’s existence hadn’t even occurred to Huckle for, apparently, a long enough time for Moppie to grow from a wee pup into a full-grown adult dog…

My Moppie? The cute, little Moppie that followed my every move? I have totally forgotten about him … he may have been tiny, but he was a very loyal dog …

[…]

What, Moppie’s all grown up now? Has the time gone by that fast? I remember he used to fit in my bag when I got here … and now Moppie’s waiting for me…

After delivering the 600 fish as promised, axis was off to get the last material that Alcaster needed for the cape: the tail of a Hector.

axis vs. Hector

And with that, Alcaster fabricated a Cape of Warmness, as promised:

axis rocking the Cape of Warmness

Warm and stylish! Unfortunately, most of the stylishness is obscured by axis’s hair…

Descending even further down the Orbis Tower, axis was now below the water line. There, axis stumbled upon the laboratory of yet another sketchy old man with a penchant for insane magic science experiments. This time, the magic ingredients were instead to come from Jr. Seals and from Scuba Pepes:

axis vs. Scuba Pepes

From there, axis headed along the Aqua Road itself, stumbling across a wild Seruf along the way. Naturally, the cranky Seruf was no match for axis’s mighty pinwheel:

axis bests Seruf

Kenta’s advice

In the Aquarium, axis took a look at the interior Zoo, where she met Kenta the zookeeper. On Kenta’s advice, axis took her Panda friend along the Aqua Road, collecting the Pieces of Paper stashed away in the treasure chests scattered along the bottom of the sea. Once they’d found the papers, they brought the papers to Kenta for examination. axis and the Panda bonded emotionally over the experience.

Like Huckle and Hughes the Fuse before, Kenta had their own scientific research to do. Rather than ask for specialised ingredients, Kenta wanted axis to collect genetic material from the native fauna of the Aqua Road, to assist in an ecological study of the effects of a recent disturbance. And so, axis went collecting. From the Seacles:

Seacle’s DNA Sample

From the Cicos:

Cico’s DNA Sample

From the Pinbooms:

Pinboom’s DNA Sample

From the Mask Fish:

Mask Fish’s DNA Sample

From the Bubble Fish:

Bubble Fish’s DNA Sample

From the Flower Fish:

Flower Fish’s DNA Sample

From the Sparkers:

Sparker’s DNA Sample

From the Freezers:

Freezer’s DNA Sample

And axis kept collecting. She enjoyed seeing the DNA samples as they popped out, each one a unique colour. Just one or two more, and Kenta would be able to conduct that study.

As axis collected the samples, Kenta’s advice rang in her head:

Try walking around now. You’ll notice that your pet is closely following your every footstep. The more your pet shows undivided loyalty to you, the more you need to take care of it. All animals deserve to be loved.