Good evening, folks! Third time’s the charm, or so they say. I think I’ve done all the explaining I’m capable of when it comes to how I got here and what I’m doing with my time these days. I won’t blame you, should you decide to think I’m crazy for getting so invested in a fictional romance in a video game.
The truth is, I didn’t think I’d ever find myself here either. I’m a sucker for a good story and a good romance, and I see no particular difference between stories told by live actors, animated drawings, stationary pictures, or the written word. Never have. But this romance, and this game, has really hit me hard on a lot of fronts at once. They are good fronts! They are making me think in new ways, they are telling amazing stories that need desperately to be told, and they’re inspiring people like me to create their own stories as well. But… it’s been a long time since I felt this alive. And… this scared.
I’m not ready for how much this is going to hurt. Neither is Raph. Both of us are going to have giant bullseye targets painted on our heads, and kick-me signs on our backs, until such time as the game resolves these plot threads. My focus right now can and must be managing this, as I have a fictional character who’s scared out of his wits and yet absolutely smitten in the back of my mind for most hours of the day. It’s difficult to just walk away and forget it all. All we can do for now is keep enjoying the game as it is, and throw our lot into making memories that will outlast the inevitable.
The game world’s plot is frozen in place until the final major patch of the Shadowbringers expansion drops. That was scheduled to arrive in June or July. Due to COVID-19, however, the developers are desperately trying to make it happen from their homes — and home internet connections — in Japan, to say nothing of running the game servers. It might be August or later before anything arrives. And that’s fine. Good, even. I’m willing to wait as long as it takes for people to be safe.
Meanwhile, I know that this is going to be the most painful experience of my life.
I also know that they’ll find a way to make it beautiful.
They’ll find a way to make it matter.
Because that’s what they do best.
I should be furious with Raphail for insisting on all of this, since I’m the one that has to deal with witnessing the results of his choices. But truthfully? I’m proud of him. The boy I’ve written never believed he could be a hero before. He’s now an inspiration to the people around him. He’s loved beyond rational thought by a man who is his perfect match in every way, as complex and bizarre as the circumstances around their relationship may be. They fill the cracks in each other’s souls. He has friends that have gone the distance for him and carried him when he couldn’t walk himself.
For this one moment, beneath all the fears and possibilities and inevitability, he is truly happy for the first time in his life. He has everything he wants or needs. How many people get to say that?
And I will try to remember this moment, should the worst come to pass. When the worst comes to pass. What happens to him then, I can only wonder. He’s always been able to struggle to his feet before, no matter what tragedy has befallen him — and yet this will be like no other loss he’s felt before. There is at least a small possibility he won’t recover this time. He’s seen too much and lost too much to come back unscathed from such a thing. And even if he does survive, there is no telling what will be left of the boy he once was, or the man he is now. It all depends on what happens, and how, and why.
And so, in the time between now and whenever the final patch drops, I’ve made it my goal to finish as much of the writing that I’ve started as I can, because I know that my time in this hyper-creative, hyper-inspired state may well crash and burn soon. Not that I wouldn’t like the time to create something original again… but this has been good. Truly.
Raphail’s backstory doesn’t deal with G’raha, since they didn’t meet until later — but I’ve been working on it now for many months, and it’d be great to bring it to a close eventually. I’m looking at at least two or three more chapters for that before I’m done; the next one is just about complete in first draft form and should hopefully be done this week. All of the rest might not make it before the patch, but I want to keep pushing ahead and see how far I can get anyway.
I have the current piece that I’m working on with the sex scenes included to finish — it’s about three-quarters complete in first draft form right now. If you’ve heard me complaining on Twitter about writing multiple things at once, this is why. I never meant to be writing them concurrently, but I just couldn’t hold off. I’m glad I didn’t, even if it’s been a challenge.
And last but not least… I am committed to writing at least one more shorter piece for Raphail and G’raha.
See, as it happens, players that fall in love with various game characters like this can create convincing facsimiles of their paramours through the FFXIV character generator. It’s an art form and a labor of love for most, and the good ones that lean into their roles get TONS of player attention from everyone in the game. And as I mentioned, player marriage is a big deal in FFXIV. You get a big, fancy ceremony, actual vows, quested rings, and a bunch of other cool stuff. I’ve always wanted to be lucky enough to have one, but Raph has always been a confirmed bachelor until this point in his life. It wasn’t likely to happen.
I have a loving husband — who has frankly been a saint throughout this entire, unexpected thing. He’s dragged me out of some really sad, dark, and lonely places as this has progressed. We’ve had countless talks about everything and nothing, and I think it’s made us closer, even if it’s also been a challenge at times. And said husband was willing to put in the time to create a copy like this for Raph and me as a gift. Which means that for all intents and purposes, Raph does now have the ability to “make things official” with G’raha by marrying the copy, albeit outside of the official canon of the story.
And so, I’m hoping to write the proposal scene, if nothing else. The actual ceremony will stand for itself, so writing about that shouldn’t be necessary. It will, however, have to be scheduled, since wedding slots are always pretty tricky to come by and have gotten moreso since COVID-19 pushed everyone to do things digitally that they might have done in person. I’ll be absolutely sure to record it once it happens, since it’ll be kind of a once-in-a-lifetime event!
I might also write the wedding night scene. Because I’m a consenting adult and I want to. Don’t @ me.
I have until June, July, August, or later. So I’d better aim to be ready by June, just in case.
In between those things, I’ll be buying every Crystal Exarch thing that anyone has ever made on Etsy. I think I already own over half of the good ones. I’ll be following my favorite fan artists and writers that bring both him and other people’s characters to life. I’ll be playing with the purple cat ears and tail I bought because they make me smile, even when the writing gets tough. What I’d really love is to commission some character art from one of the many talented artists I’ve found online… but we’ll see if I have the luck, the money, the guts, and the reflexes to buy a slot before they sell out!
The inevitable will come, eventually. But as Raphail is brave enough to use every moment of the time remaining to him to the absolute fullest, I intend to do the same. Whatever comes of this, I have no regrets. It’s been a hell of a ride, and a hell of a story, and I just can’t say enough about this game and the people that make it what it is. I’m proud to be a part of it, even if I have struggled to find a particular subset of people to spend my time with, and I still have hope that I can change that with time.
I’m just also not looking forward to the waiting.
To the inevitable end.