Something's off

Among the various things - triggers perhaps - that I respond to, some are what one might conceive as borderline superstitious. That is, I might perceive a physical stimulus - like a sting or an itch perhaps - that doesn't seem to be related to anything but my cognitive processes. And once the sting eventually fades into a spot of light or the itch fares well in satisfaction - this habit is being reenforced.
Another stimulus is smell. Or taste. So I might smell or taste things that ... aren't there. Perhaps a scent of eucalyptus, perhaps a putrid taste of something charred and rotten, or some uncomfortable texture on my tongue. But with these - I'm usually ... left confused. I don't know what they mean - other than, perhaps, being a reflection of what people think of me. To an extent that should concern me - I assume.

So, these days I've noticed a smell - one that I haven't smelled in a long time. But ... this time I can somehow pinpoint an origin. So, I know when it started to emerge - I somehow went away - but, not quite. And now it's just ... lingering on me.
It's a particularly nasty thing - like ... fat, that therefore isn't easily washed off. Back in the day - I noticed it basically all the time. Anything I did ... to my inner eye ... was covered in this ... filth. Maybe I had obsessed over something and subsequently forgot about what was around me. That ... could actually be it - and I - should look into that. So yea. This time around it's mostly just there when I do recreational things - though back in the day it was there when I was obsessively writing my heart out.

This time around, it started with Elden Ring ... when I was entering the room of the three fingers. Maybe that, because I was taking the game way too seriously. Initially, I just wanted ... a simple playthrough. Just beat all the main bosses - and think of optional bosses thereafter. Well, outside of what I'd just stumble upon by exploring. I wanted that mostly because I didn't want to read any guides. In a sense, it felt cringe - to perhaps base my accomplishments in the game on ... effectively: Work that other people had done.

Yet, after a while - I've been ... in esoteric terms ... falling in Love with the game. To say ... I understood more of its lore and effectively ... sortof ... arrived in the journey I was on. And yea. I mean, there for instance is this dude who missed the lockdown of Reya Lucaria - and either way I wanna put it, a part of me wants to help and so I cared to give him a spare key I had; Though I didn't care of what else might be attached to that. So I also cared to accompany Hyetta along her journey, though at some point I had trouble figuring out where she went. Maybe it wasn't meant to be; As I should be on my own one.
But then there was this dude telling me what Melena was up to. Telling me that she intended to sacrifice herself so the wall of thorns that blocked the entrance to the Elden Tree would go away. And at the same time he also spoke of an alternative. And that threw me into a bit of a spiral. Because ... the idea of having her sacrifice herself so I might become Elden Lord ... didn't sit well with me. After all had I also started to compile videos - to ... commemorate my journey ... and the projected ignorance didn't really sit well with me. So, I for a while just moved around more or less aimlessly - avoiding to go where I should be going - eventually ended up in Castle Sol - and after having completed it ... did a bit of digging.

So I started to inform myself on the various endings there are - primarily concerned of the Frenzied Flame ending. That's where I'd be heading should I try to not rely on Melena's sacrifice, but I also didn't like the ending. Eventually I however learned of Miquella's needle - and so at the very least I'd have to do Millicent's quest and ... beat Melania. And while I was trying to not farm up levels - and be on a more organic level progression (well, losing 800k runes still hurt though) - I figured it reasonable to take a detour and fetch the Darkmoon Greatsword. Because, if I'm gonna do the difficult detour - I might as well ... have the best weapon in game. At least for my stats and playstyle.

Since I also stumbled down a small Elden Ring trivia Rabbit Hole ... I finally learned how to enter Volcano Manner and where to find Mough. So ... I figured I might also cross those off my list prior to facing Malenia. Although ... I rather did so 'while' also facing Malenia. And so I also have a bit of my own headcanon going on - which I think ... there is room for ... because those three, Rykard, Mough and Malenia, they ... are simply boss fights without there being much of an explanation as to why you'd fight them in the first place. With the non-optional bosses it's different - as they, mostly, put themselves in your way with purpose.
OK, the Giant ... well ... I mean ... yea, he's asking for it too.

But it's not important anyway.
I mean ... stumbling down the Elden Ring Lore rabbit hole ... it's convoluted and hard to tell if there is a 'right' way. I suppose there are ways more right than others - while the greater implications of what either ending means are pretty much ... left to our imagination. And I figured ... that this smell ... I'm writing about here ... relates to that.

So - I wanted to write about this some time ago, even so before I ultimately beat the game already. But I then stumbled upon a motivation of mine that I couldn't justify based on what I knew about the Lore of the game. But ... some weeks down the line I saw a video ... and ... that then confirmed what I had thought initially. Sortof.
So - Melena ... is a pawn. In the sense: She only exists to pave the way for someone else to get into the Tree ... to say, someone wanted - sure, maybe for someone else - there to be an easy road - a.k.a.: The cowards path. That, because there is a way to circumvent that. But not - and perhaps that's valid for both sides - for those stuck in the schism between the two and the three fingers. So, as the three fingers retained the power to burn the tree without the death of "the fuel" - those adhering to the two fingers ... had to get ... uhm ... creative. And those adhering to the three fingers ... well ... as the name suggests ... might be too consumed by insanity to adhere to reason.
And thus it was important to me to have Miquella's needle before ... accepting the frenzied flame.

I mean, I could ... bend the Frenzied Flame ending to make sense with my ... ethical alignments. Sure - but - it seemed a bit radical, to say, I ... thought I could do better.
Which, some might say, is hubris or the problem ... but ... burning it ALL down ... as to think that things would get better that way ... is also ... hubristic, I'd say.

So, the original story - as I had written back then - at that point revolved around judgment. So, by not accepting Melena's sacrifice - trying to be the better person - I indirectly judge all those who take the easy route ... as ... immoral. Like so I read on a reddit thread, that many players take her sacrifice as for granted - as to say: That's what she wanted. And yes - that's right - and hence it's easy to ... accept that. Whether or not Melena was misguided in her beliefs - doesn't come to matter. For, that'd ... be difficult.

Either way I chose the "Golden Order" ending. That because for all anyone would care, that' the 'good' good ending - as it basically states, implicitly, that there was something wrong about the Golden Order - and as for how to fix it, we might take it from the guy who spent his entire life contemplating on it.
It states that the Gods are just as flawed as humans - which comes with the silently implied mandate - to not take their stances for ... immutable standards. So I also made a bit of an effort to collect all the mending runes - except the one of the fell curse - as they all had a point, except ... the one of the fell curse. And yea ... uhm ... Ranni's ending ... is like the emo-cop-out ending ... which ... I've moved beyond some time ago. If you think, that that's the way, maybe ... you should seek therapy!

But so - one thing I might highlight - is that there seems to be an understanding that each ending corresponds to ... one's personal journey. Which sure is true if you want to go for an ending as efficiently as possible. But reality ... I'd say ... doesn't work that way. So, I can get the Darkmoon Greatsword and not chose Ranni's ending. I can do a Strength/Int build - and yet do the Golden Order ending. Which ... actually ... seems like the right way anyway - because ... the spell required to complete it has a high int requirement. So, that's a bit of a side-note on the matters of conditioning.

What I didn't notice is, how the boots I wore as part of my "ending cinematic" outfit - also have Lore implications; Relating to the bloody injustices committed by "the Elite's" of the time ... the game's journey seeks to put an end to. Which I appreciate as it fits with my philosophy - as, in a sense, to break the dogmatic schisms. In respects to which it would also be paramount to mend the schism between the fingers - hence: The golden Order ending ... with the burn-marks of the three fingers.

Shoutouts to The Tarnished Archaeologist. Though, I stumbled upon this channel after I was done with the game. What it goes to show is that the real story is far more complicated than a mere focus on the different endings might reveal - yet, in as far as the endings correspond to things the player may want - in terms of what the journey actually means - if anything at all - that's like the tools one has. To say, that ... well: "One cannot save the Galaxy in a single day".
And ... that's that.