The Letters Page: Episode 29
Buckle in, folks! We're going to meet a bunch of Virtuosos of the Void today, as well as delving into the Void itself!
Run Time: 117:59
In the first portion of the podcast, we go through the history of the Argent Adept's appearances in the pages of Sentinel Comics, from his origin in the Toll of Destiny limited series, through the Virtuoso of the Void ongoing series. We cover a ton of stories at a pretty breakneck pace, as we had SO MANY fantastic questions that we wanted to make sure to let your wonderful input shine, you lovely listeners!
We finish that entire overview in about half an hour! The majority of the rest of the episode is questions!
Shortly after the 40 minute mark, Christopher gets real passionate about music. This speaks to why/how Argent Adept was created. Heck, we both go into even more music stuff in the next 5-10 minutes after that.
Spoilers! Many spoilers! Pretty much the entire future section is a spoiler, and it's tagged as such within the episode. If you're wanting to skip the spoilers, don't listen to anything between 107:52 and 114:33. That's where we spill the beans!
Thanks for listening! Get your questions in for all flavors of Akash'Entities now!
- The Freedom Five
- Captain Cosmic
- Prime Wardens
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Baron Blade
- The Ennead
- La Capitan
- Kaargra Warfang
- The Southwest Sentinels
- Mr. Fixer
- Absolute Zero
- He was introduced in the early '70s in the 5-issue limited series Toll of Destiny. In issue #1 he's fighting the Cult of Gloom. #2 finds him fighting monsters in the Realm of Discord where he also runs into a toothy, one-eyed, tentacle monster known as Balarian (the grin is supposed to look "almost friendly, except instead it's horrifying"). The hive mind aspect wasn't in place at this stage, however, he's just a big monster that AA confronts. That issue ends on a cliffhanger with AA on the ropes.
- Issue #3 is a flashback telling the story of Anthony Drake, working at bars in California and just living life. He goes to a museum exhibit showcasing a lot of old artifacts and he's drawn to this old, bronze bell from the Han dynasty of China. It's not the same kind of compulsion to touch it like the Staff of Ra had on Blake Washington Jr. - but it's still intriguing and so he reaches out to touches it (drawing a reprimand from none other than Blake Washington Jr. who's in charge of the exhibition).
- As soon as he touches it, it rings out as if struck and his mind is filled with knowledge and portents of his destiny. It's as if everybody else present is held in place as he lifts the (large and heavy) bell and runs off with it. He has learned that he (should be) the Virtuoso of the Void - a tradition that's been dormant for hundreds of years, but is necessary to protect the world from some vague, chaotic threat of the natural world. Cue flashback-within-a-flashback to tell the story of the Virtuosos of the Void, back into history and beyond into prehistory as the Virtuosos passed on training and wisdom to their successors through the ages. The remainder of the issue is a montage of him traveling around, collecting additional instruments, each one adding to his knowledge as the Virtuoso. He winds up with 5 instruments of past Virtuosos in total, although he himself is more of a singer and didn't have an instrument of his own, so he summons a set of silvery pipes from the Void itself (bringing his total complement to 6 instruments).
- The final issue of Toll of Destiny returns to the Balarian fight where he summons all of his instruments at once and plays them magically in concert to defeat it (up to that point he'd generally been using one at a time). Then the Virtuoso of the Void ongoing title picks things up from there - quickly pointing out that him playing everything at once is very draining and he can't do it often - it's his last-ditch move.
- He becomes a regular feature in Sentinel Comics - showing up for guest appearances in lots of books. He becomes a pretty major character across the brand, but he's somewhat problematic for the writers in that he always wins, which runs the risk of him being less interesting than other more vulnerable characters. The better part of the '70s passes with him mostly having one-off stories rather than ongoing arcs - lots of cool and/or crazy stuff is happening in these things, but the overall shape of any story is pretty much the same as any other.
- They remedy this in the late '70s by finally deciding to do something with the vague threat mentioned in his origin story by introducing Akash'Bhuta. Up until this point the vague threat was just assumed to be the ongoing nature of his fight with these weird monsters and whatnot rather than one specific entity. Akash'Bhuta shows up in VotV as his primordial nature spirit who already knows all of his tricks, is immune to a lot of his magic, and is just generally a tough fight. She becomes a recurring threat and they fight a bunch of times, neither one of them decisively defeating the other.
- This all builds to another major fight, but it's seemingly fitting the same trend as his past stories (it's a struggle, he buckles down, gathers his power, unleashes his power, he wins, the end) except this time once he unleashes his power, she just absorbs it and lays him out - a definitive loss for the Argent Adept. He escapes, but utterly drained. It turns out that while the Virtuosos are necessary for defeating Akash when she turns up, she also is able to absorb the Void energy they use and so, over the course of several encounters, actually gets stronger faster due to their conflicts. More about her next week, of course.
- That brings us to FFA #10 from the early '80s (and so quite a bit earlier than I'd pegged it in my attempts to build a timeline - that means there's a big gap between 10 and Unity's first appearance in #11). This is a big crossover with AA, the Freedom Five, and others he'd worked with over the years (name-checks to Haka and Fanatic) as well as relatively new characters like Tempest and Captain Cosmic (so giving us ballpark date ranges for their introductions). The plot involves an attack on Megalopolis by Akash'Bhuta - the setting gives the Freedom Five element, but it's still really AA's book since he's so central to the conflict - that even if he's not as strong as previous Virtuosos, he has other heroes to back him up (Teamwork!). They still almost lose - see Chrono-Ranger's episode for why they win.
- The aftermath of this fight is when the non-FF heroes involved decide to formally team up - the advent of the Prime Wardens. As a programming note, we'll get an episode on the Prime Wardens as a team after the members' individual episodes have come out. They still don't have their own title, but they do show up in each others' solo books and do a lot of cross-over work (including many FFA books that tend to be big crossover events themselves - also they mention that these tend to come in batches, that there will be several years in a row that have issues, then a gap before the next chunk of them).
- This makes him start operating as more of a Super Hero than previous general monster-stopping or being on watch for Akash'Bhuta (now that she's been defeated she's gone for quite a while). He's around for the Voss invasion, he teams up with Visionary a lot, helps out against Baron Blade, is present for the Cosmitron fight, etc. When something big is happening, he shows up.
- During the Voss fight, a notable event is that he destroys one of his instruments in order to take out one of the spaceships (he destroys the bell, see the art on "Cedistic Dissonant") - this was done by binding the bell to the ship and then when he destroyed the bell the ship suffered the same fate. This has unforeseen consequences that had lasting effects on him, but that they'll discuss later.
- AA isn't a big part of Vengeance since the magical/extra-planar stuff doesn't really factor into the Vengeance plot, but there is Ruin to discuss. As has been mentioned in earlier episodes, he was a denizen of the Realm of Discord who wanted was sent by Gloomweaver to go after Nightmist, but once he's in the physical plane he runs into AA and can recognize the large amount of Void energy he contains. If he were to siphon off that Void energy, he'd be strong enough to dethrone Gloomweaver. So Ruin winds up fighting Argent Adept instead, and being able to feed on Void energy, AA's normal tricks are just making him stronger. This requires him to change tactics - instead of using his Void powers directly against Ruin, he has to instead use them to utilize the elements of the physical world around him that then, in turn, works out as an attack against Ruin (this is an instance where AA's powers wind up looking more like recognizable "magic" than his powers generally do - I'm assuming this is what's going on in the art for "Scherzo of Frost and Flame"). He freezes Ruin and then shatters him. Baron Blade has been watching this while AA was distracted with Ruin - and he knows that AA is very powerful and needs to be dealt with somehow if his plot is to succeed. He sees an opportunity when AA is fatigued after taking on Ruin and just sucker punches him to knock him out (this is likely just prior to the art on "Vengeful Assault"). He's largely absent from the rest of the story. This (along with, say, Nightmist having been Regression Darted) is a big reason why Baron Blade winds up trapped in the RoD for so long at the end of the story - most of the people who could have gotten him out were rendered incapable of doing so earlier.
- Next up, the Ennead fight (see the Ra and Ennead episodes) where his major contribution was to try to counter the magical protective bubble created by Isis and to allow the heroes into Egypt. This is within his abilities and it would have worked had not Shu, y'know, stabbed him through the torso (see "The Grave Beckons").
- He was involved in the La Capitan story. He was part of the Silver Gulch 1883 time portal event (they mention that they should probably do an Interlude on this since it's not really part of any single hero's or villain's story). He's part of the Kaargra Warfang and Chokepoint events along with many other heroes.
- Then there's Progeny. He arrives to try to protect the cities Progeny's attacking - he's able to hold him off single-handedly long enough for the other heroes to regroup (see "The Inevitable"), which is pretty impressive. Progeny does eventually overwhelm his shield and knocks him out (and so AA wasn't helping during that last, finally successful stand against Progeny), but he was instrumental in making the final confrontation possible in the first place.
- AA is one of the most important heroes in both the lead-up to OblivAeon and in the actual fight. First up, he goes to the Nexus of the Void (which among other things is kind of a bridge between the Void and reality) and uses his connection to the Void to awaken some potent Void creatures to come to the heroes' aid (he's there along with Naturalist and Akash'Thriya). He also reaches into the Void and summons his instruments to call forth past Virtuosos - who even after death they are still more connected to the Void (Adam does an Obi-wan voice and they have a brief discussion about the Void and the Force - they're not the same, but there are interesting similarities).
- In the OblivAeon event he helps the Idealist with a side-project, but since it's her story we'll get to hear about it in the Sentinels/Void Guard episode.
- What exactly is the Void (we're told that there's just the one Void in the multiverse, but after OblivAeon and the timelines are closed off from one another, how does the Void factor into that)? If it's a "void" how do things live there? Why does it need a Virtuoso? Is it related to the nowhen/nowhere that Chrono-Ranger was stuck until La Comodora picked him up? Chrono-Ranger was not stuck in the Void - he was stuck outside of reality and while the Void is a weird part of reality, it's still part of reality. Every reality has its own The Void, but all The Voids are the same (as in, they always operate the same) - the Void is intrinsically linked to physical reality (each to its own physical reality). It's a place, but also an energy/force - the Virtuoso isn't required by the Void, but they're humans who have learned to use the Void; it's not like the Void calls them to a purpose. Even the border between the Void and reality is vague "like jelly in a cheesecloth" it just kind of seeps in. It's a place of magical and psychic energies, but it's not the source of psychic or magical power (except for the Virtuosos who learned to harness it) - although people like Nightmist might use it as a power source to fuel their other magical abilities. In short - it's weird.
- In the Nightmist and Gloomweaver episodes it was mentioned that the Void is separate from, but connected to all realities - post-OblivAeon, does the Argent Adept suffer from some power loss due to the separation of all realities? Does his connection to the Void mean that he could still work out some means of traveling to another reality? This goes back to the previous question, but brings up something that may have been less than clear in previous episodes - while every reality has a Void, and each of those Voids works the same way, they are still separate instances of "Void"-ness and so the end of the Multiverse doesn't really have an effect in these ways. Also, Virtuosos have an intrinsic link to the Void that is inalienable to them - it's not like he has access to a "little" of it or a "lot" of it, he just has access to it.
- Between AA, Nightmist, and Harpy who has the most connection to it? Have they talked about it? AA is connected to the Void. Full stop. The other two have had contact with the void and have used it somewhat, but they're just magicians who use spells and happen to have done some Void stuff - they're not "connected" to it. Void effects are different than quote-unquote "magic".
- How does the Void pick its Virtuoso? It is not sentient and doesn't pick the Virtuoso. Being attuned to it is more of a natural aptitude than anything, and somebody has to be both naturally attuned to the Void and have a natural aptitude for music to be a Virtuoso - a rare combination even in terms of the one-in-a-million level of rare that is Void attunement itself.
- Does the Virtuoso even have to be human? No - you'd need to be sapient. There's an argument to be had that even an AI could be a Virtuoso, but an alien with the right attributes are certainly capable.
- Nightmist entered the Void and gained power thereby; could anybody do this or would you have to already be somebody who could use magic? You'd have to have some magical ability to survive there considering the inherent danger of being there (you'd also need magic to get there in the first place, but it's possible that somebody else could send you there if you lacked the ability yourself).
- Can it just pick a person to give power to become a Virtuoso? No, as mentioned it's not sentient.
- Could it be a power source for RPG characters? Yes.
- Why is the Virtuoso of the Void a music-themed position? Does it have to do with the creative/logical dynamic involved in music? Yes, there is something about Void energy that music just tunes in to - it's an expression of both art and math and an innate talent for that is necessary to even hope to be a Virtuoso.
- It's stated that when picking up an Instrument a new Virtuoso would learn what goes with that title, but do they get knowledge of how to play that instrument or did Anthony have to fumble around with the Bell for a while first? Do the powers come from the instruments themselves or are they more of a focus? They don't give you an automatic knowledge of how to play them, but he has an innate talent for music and connection to the Void. That's part of the deal with how long it had been between Virtuosos and the fact that, normally, the previous one is around to teach the next. It was chance that Anthony even went to the exhibition and was exactly the right person who had the attunement and aptitude to even have this work out in the first place. The bell is fairly straightforward - the Lyra took him somewhat longer to learn as it's more complicated, but he was still able to pick it up relatively quickly given his natural aptitudes/attunements. Their power doesn't come from their instruments, they create their instruments with their power (see backstory above for the creation of "Drake's Pipes").
- In the Tachyon episode it's mentioned that magic doesn't have reproducible results, but his seems pretty consistent; what's going on? It's because his abilities are Void effects rather than "magic". Analogy to Jazz - there's a lot of precision to be found in something that's entirely improvised. Behind the scenes: Christopher and Adam learned about music together when young and their knowledge and love of music goes back a long way - it was important to them as they built out the setting details/talked about the Void, and created this character.
- What does AA think of Nightmist and Harpy (citing the chaotic/orderly differences)? Does he ever notice that Unity's powers are actually magical? AA is not a student of "magic" and is not a teacher of anything - he's trying to learn what he can from the instruments about the Void. He might run into a magician and try to get info from them, but then quickly realizes that it operates entirely differently from what he does and so they can't teach him much. He might recognize that Unity's stuff is magic, but he's not able to tease out why and he's also not the type to even bring it up to explain it.
- AA seems like the hero most focused on supporting others (having limited abilities to deal damage himself) - is he a solo adventurer or is he reliant on a team to be properly effective? Was this the case for previous Virtuosos? He's not really a damage-dealing sort of person, but he still is focused on neutralizing threats. What he does in the card game isn't necessarily a good representation of his non-team efforts. In solo books he rarely is dealing with "fightable" issues and so deals with it in other ways.
- On several cards we see him shooting beams of some sort, what's going on? First a single 40-card game deck is incapable of showing off everything that a character as complicated as a Virtuoso of the Void is capable of. He can to pretty much anything with Void energy and so it's hard to encapsulate this mechanically. When we see these energy beams, they're not doing "energy damage" - they're not doing damage at all, most likely, but they're the outward manifestation of his music/Void power doing something in the aforementioned "threat neutralization".
- Who/what is the "Silver Shadow"? It's a Void form that he can summon to aid him in the playing of music (kind of a "clone" of himself that he conjures to play an instrument). This is separate from the "play all instruments at once" trick and doesn't drain him.
- How do his powers "Vocalize" and "Conduct" work? Vocalize represents the fact that Anthony Drake is a singer and can summon some Void energy even without using an instrument. Conduct might be using Void energy to play an instrument rather than doing so himself.
- It's been mentioned that Anthony Drake is asexual, is that true? Has he had a romantic relationship? Yes, he is an asexual, aromantic character. This wasn't written into his character from the beginning in the '70s, though. It was the case that, unlike virtually every other contemporary hero, he didn't have a character written in as a love interest - his stories just didn't really allow for it. It was a later writer that decided that this meant that he was asexual/aromantic. He has had no relationships in the comics.
- Virtuosos used to hand down instruments, if things hadn't gotten screwed up by Akash, who would have been Anthony's mentor? Virtuosos wouldn't be passing down instruments. There isn't any person who "would have been" his mentor - the "screwing up" of things that Akash did didn't disrupt some kind of destiny/lineage thing. The mentor would have taught him and helped him form his own instrument (and may have given him an instrument to use to get things kicked off).
- Since "argent" means "silver" is/was there a Aurum (Golden) Adept? No. Each Virtuoso had a color associated with them for comic book reasons. More on past Virtuosos later.
- What's the significance of the "hero" being associated with the Void opposed to the "villain" associated with Nature? Have any Virtuosos been more evil? The first bit more of a topic for next week. There has been one malicious Virtuoso - but even he stood against Akash'Bhuta to protect the world - he was just also more selfish and power-hungry; The Crimson Conductor. More on him in the discussion of other Virtuosos below.
- How is the title/role of Virtuoso passed down? Going back farther than recorded human history there has been a Virtuoso of the Void. Occasionally there's more than one around at the same time. There's frequently one training up one or two (or very rarely three) new ones. The requirement is an innate musical aptitude and innate attunement to the Void combo is exceedingly rare which limits the chance that a Virtuoso would meet more than a few candidates in their life. Prior to the gap leading up to Anthony Drake becoming one, there hadn't been a time without a Virtuoso of the Void, but more on that next week.
- His bio said that previous Virtuosos passed on their instruments, does that mean that each one creates their own instruments? Does he share that ability and/or if all instruments are destroyed is that the end of the Virtuosos? With the merging of the timelines, has the "main" Argent Adept learned of any other Virtuosos? It was mentioned that he met the Void-forms of past Virtuosos, but he doesn't meet any as people. Some more in the Future section, but in the card game timeline he's self-taught.
- In the Ra episode it was mentioned that the first powered person on Earth was a Virtuoso - is there something about angry nature spirits opposed to musicians tied to Earth specifically or could there be Virtuosos on, say, Dok'Thorath? Akash'Bhuta is unique to Earth and so the dynamic happening with Virtuosos is unique to Earth too. Different planets have different things wrong with them.
- Can we hear more about his connection to previous Virtuosos? His relationship is more with the connection to the Void that they left to him via their instruments rather than to their individual personalities/experiences.
- How did he choose the pipes as his instruments? It's funny since he's a vocalist and he chose pipes - he realized that these instruments were a means to power and so thought back to the instrument he'd played most recently: a recorder back in middle school. He's much better at these pipes than he ever was with the recorder, though.
- Did he have any musical experience or interest prior to the encounter with the Bell? He was in a series of bands prior to becoming a hero, but hadn't found the right group. He always wanted to do something with music, and eventually figured it out.
- Are there any surviving instruments from prior Virtuosos that he hasn't found? Yes.
- The Dark Conductor variant shows him with a thorny baton also wielded by the Carbon Adept, is this an actual Instrument? How did Biomancer get it? This is a good place to talk about the various Virtuosos (many of whom we see in the Toll of Destiny flashback montage and then not again until OblivAeon). The first instrument was Akpunku's Drum, owned by a woman in Africa - the Amber Accompanist. Telamon was an ancient Greek Lyra player - the Cerulean Sorcerer. Next was Xu Li-hua in Han Dynasty China - the Jade Jinx. Eydisar Ragnarsson was a Norseman - the Sallow Skald. The Italian nun Tomasina Musaragni during the Renaissance was Sister Saffron. Last we have the German Franz Vogel - the Crimson Conductor who had a baton covered in thorns, representing the darkness within him and his lust for more power. He did a dangerous thing - mixing Void power with Blood Magic. Biomancer has been around a long time and has known about the Virtuosos for a long time (ask more about him for his own episode). After fighting Biomancer and the Carbon Adept, AA gets the baton and finds it's a real "instrument", but it changes him. This isn't a comprehensive list of Virtuosos or their instruments, it's just the ones whose instruments Anthony Drake has and whom he deals with.
- Does he ever contact previous Argent Adepts for training? First off, he's the only "Argent Adept", but no he doesn't contact previous Virtuosos beyond the events already discussed.
- How does he feel about Akash'Thriya being "good"? He's initially wary, but overall pretty pleased with how things turned out. He's not interested in fighting opponents, but in removing threats and having his greatest foe being on his side is a pretty killer way to have them not be a threat.
- Do Virtuosos generally get curb-stomped immediately or is he unique in this regard? He actually does worse than general given that he's self-trained.
- Did previous Virtuosos work with a team like the Prime Wardens? There have been teams consisting of multiple Virtuosos but not typically team-ups with other heroes.
- [Sign-off referring to The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss] This is a series (currently standing at 2 novels with a third forthcoming, a novella about a side character, and a short story about another) about a character named Kvothe who is a magic-using person who also is a magician. While there's some intentional similarities, they are by no means the "same" person and the Virtuosos of the Void as a concept has nothing to do with the books. However, because of the similarities, they did a cross-promotion with Rothfuss' charity Worldbuilders to make a promo character card with Kvothe in place of Anthony Drake. You don't need to know anything about the books to understand the Argent Adept.
- Given that the Legacy line has been around for a long time (as has Haka, Bunker, or others) has a Virtuoso of the Void interacted with any other heroes? The Legacy line has been around for a shorter time than there was a gap between Virtuosos, so no previous Virtuoso interacted with a powered Parsons person. No previous Virtuoso was a character in the past of Sentinel Comics. None have met Haka (although the timelines could have allowed it since he's been around so long). Of the villains, probably only Akash'Bhuta and Biomancer interacted with them in the past.
- Anthony Drake, the "Dark Dynamics" variant, and Kvothe are all gingers, but it's hard to believe that all Virtuosos were - is that a common trend with them? They're from all over the world. The Dark Dynamics variant is still Anthony Drake, none of the other Virtuosos have any reason to look like him.
- Could there be a Virtuoso who's tone deaf? What if AA lost his musical abilities? "Tone deaf" is tough, it's theoretically possible for somebody to be naturally talented in music but still be tone deaf, but it's probably fair to say that every Virtuoso so far has had perfect pitch. It's unclear how AA could lose his musical abilities (if somebody magically did something to his mind it's likely that the Void would somehow fix it). During that period, however, he'd retain the knowledge even if he'd be temporarily unable to use it. Even if he was deafened, he'd still be able to use his abilities (look at Beethoven as an example) and probably even use the Void somehow to get around that problem (like Mr. Fixer getting around being blind).
- How long was the Multiverse without a Virtuoso? How many instruments have been destroyed? It's been a few hundred years (and it's not just a destruction of an instrument that caused the gap in Virtuosos). Many have been destroyed. Probably more than are still extant given that up until the gap there was at least one created per generation going back into prehistory.
- "Dark Dynamics" Adept has a dal segno symbol on his chest - is there significance to this (re: its use in music notation to mark where to repeat a portion of the music)? He's also clutching a rose so hard his hand bleeds - is this tied to blood magic? It's not a rose, it's the Crimson Conductor's baton and, yes, it's tied to blood magic. The symbol is the insignia that the Crimson Conductor used, although it's interesting that he's also kind of repeating the sorts of things that the Crimson Conductor did.
- The Instruments are obviously important, old, and powerful, but why aren't they "Relics"? Why was Xu's bell specifically that was used to destroy one of Voss's ships? They aren't "Relics" in the game-keyword sense because they aren't imbued with power in such a way as to pass that power on to somebody - they work that way for Virtuosos specifically, and wouldn't mean anything to anybody else. Relics also have a degree of "invulnerability" that the instruments don't really have. The bell just happened to be the one he picked, no larger significance. It's a very good thing that he didn't destroy his pipes that way - destroying the bell disrupted the connection between the bell and the Void-form of Xu, leaving it as a husk of what it once was. If he'd destroyed the pipes it would have killed him.
- How is AA able to keep all of the instruments with him and ready to use? He keeps them in the Void and summons them when he needs them.
- Are there Virtuoso instruments that the comics writers created that we just don't see in the game? Are there some that remain hidden even after the end of the Multiverse and does that affect his abilities? There are some that haven't been recovered, some have been destroyed, the end of the Multiverse has no effect on his abilities. There are some the writers made that we haven't seen yet - they'll mention some in the Future section.
- Compared to the Scholar, he doesn't seem like a mentor person (big agreement there) - but he's worked with Nightmist, helped exorcise Dark Visionary, and helped the Naturalist get a hang of his powers; are there other heroes he's helped? What did he do with Tachyon and Mr. Fixer in "Alacritous Subdominant" and "Inspiring Supertonic"? The two major things he's done to help other heroes are the Naturalist and Dark Visionary events. He's speeding Tachyon up and making Fixer's punch do more damage - pretty straightforward augmentation stuff. He makes people better at the stuff they do.
- Who's the kid on "Rhapsody of Vigor"? The first (very early, not very refined) version of Idealist.
- Why does AA transform Naturalist into other animals instead of back to a human? From a functional standpoint, the story is supposed to sound like a fable. Story-wise, he realizes that he needs to do things this way to not kill Naturalist - he speeds the process along, but he can't just undo it.
- Does AA wind up working alongside Akash'Thriya (and Naturalist)? Not really - the other two work together more, but the three of them do all go to the Nexus of the Void together. They're wary of each other, but when they do work together it works well.
- How does AA feel about Naturalist awakening/helping to evolve Akash? Apprehension at first with a chance to grow into something more.
- What's the giant egg on "Instrumental Conjuration"? It's the Nether Egg in the Realm of Discord. Laid by the Nether Fiend. We see Portal Fiends in the deck and they can open portals to move around within the RoD. The Nether Fiend is the most ancient of them (and much bigger/more powerful, so much so that it's ignored humans running around). The egg is going to hatch a being capable of opening portals between the RoD and physical world (which is bad). He can't destroy it (and even if he did it would bring down the wrath of all of the Portal Fiends on humans), but he can make it so it never hatches. He has to summon all of his instruments to do this.
- What happened to him in MMFFCC? How did the Prime Wardens find him again? He fell through the bizarre swirling thing there that was known to swallow people. This let the other Prime Wardens trace him to this pocket dimension to rescue not only him, but other people who had been lost there. All things considered this was a good things because 1. finding/helping more people and 2. if somebody's going to fall into a weird pocket dimension thing, AA is a good candidate for being able to handle it.
- Has Anthony Drake ever put out an album? A mix tape? A YouTube channel? Not really - he likely put down some backup vocals that got used at some point prior to becoming a Virtuoso, but that's all likely in his past since he's rather more busy with other stuff now. He'd probably like to be able to do more stuff now that he's a better musician, but he's just too busy.
- [Stuff about how, as somebody who likes playing D&D Bards, it's nice to see a Bard superhero and, even more, one that people actually like it when you play him in-game] What kind of music does he like? Do he and Absolute Zero or Writhe ever talk about music? Does he even have fun anymore? He likes Jazz a lot. He likes a lot of things, but by no means everything (not really a "modern pop" guy). He likes hearing stuff that he hasn't heard before - even if he ultimately decides that something isn't for him, he's still always open to hearing new music. He might not even be aware of AZ and Writhe's interest in music - their interest is likely very different from his. They like to do stuff like relax while listening to a record - processing and enjoying it - while he lives music. They're also not likely to seek out a conversation with him about it - it'd be intimidating to talk to him about it. It'd be like trying to talk to a world-class conductor about what they do or something - it's not really easy to talk about things at their level.
- Does Anthony's first name have anything to do with a certain creator's brother who sings about people reading letters to us? Yes. Christopher's brother Anthony is a professional artist and so that was an obvious go-to option.
- What is the significance to his more practical/simple costume in tactics? Yet another segue...
- All the Spoilers from here on out
- Tactics - AA is seeking more instruments and power. He's already gathered Vogel's Baton and learns to manage it, then he gets Ruairí O'Ceallaigh's instrument, a fiddle - he was the Chartreuse Chanteuse. He's gained enough power that he can no longer contain all of it within himself. He goes to Pinion to see if a magician can do anything to help him maybe contain this some other way so he can keep accruing more. She finds a ritual in a book that she hadn't had a use for but might work, and Nightmist isn't around to tell her otherwise, and so they use it. This creates a book, the Libretta Obscura (approximately "Dark Booklet" - a "libretto" is the text of an opera or other long vocal work so it could also be "Dark Songbook") that wasn't conjured from the Void like the instruments were, but is still a songbook of his power, from within him. This also attunes all of the instruments to the book, rather than to himself. He uses the book, to then use the instruments. He's also got to deal with Akash'Dharsha in this timeline, but more on that next week.
- RPG - At the end of OblivAeon, Akash'Thriya was injured to the point that she needed to absorb Void energy from the Nexus of the Void (becoming somewhat Void-like and giving her an even stronger connection to Argent Adept). She releases a part of herself, which begins growing into a giant tree in Megalopolis - known as Akash'Flora - just enormous, at least 20 stories tall with roots going throughout the city. The rest of her form is destroyed by OblivAeon and so this is all that remains of her. Where we pick things up (in the RPG starter kit), AA is communing with the tree as a kind of magical, musical groundskeeper - helping her integrate with the city and protecting her. He also manages to learn more stuff from what's left of her consciousness regarding the actual history of the Virtuosos and how in the past they train each other up rather than his self-taught methods. It's not a job for one person, but something to pass on. He learns about instruments that she's destroyed and others that she's just buried (if the associated Virtuoso is already dead she'd rather slowly absorb the Void energy that they can provide). He goes about gathering more instruments, not to necessarily gain power like in tactics, but so he can learn what he can from them and use them to find additional people with the requisite combination of attributes necessary to be a Virtuoso of the Void (you know, like a potential PC out there in RPG land).