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Lizardfolk are the cold-blooded hunters of the swamp, hunting humans for their delicious flesh - Lore & History

These scaly, emotionless lizards think about food and not much else beyond that. They’ve been around since the beginning of the game, starting as one of the stronger humanoid foes your fighter or magic-user would run into and promptly be eaten by. As the editions progressed the Lizardfolk became a player race.
In our mythos, Lizardfolk of one sort or another has existed since ancient times. The mythical first king of Athens, Cecrops I, was described as half-man, half-snake, Wahuang, also known as Nuwa, is the mother of Chinese mythology and is described as half-human and half-serpent, and the ancient Egyptians had the patron goddess Wadjet, depicted as a snake-headed woman, a snake, a woman with two snakeheads, or even a snake with a woman's head. In the present day, Lizardfolk abound in TV, cinema, and literature. Dracs, one of the main characters in the book Enemy Mine (1979), is a fighter pilot from the alien race of lizard people at war with Earth, it was later made into a movie starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr back in 1985… it bombed except in the Soviet Union. There’s the Cardassians from Star Trek, Dracoians from Doctor Who, The Lizard - also known as Dr. Curt Connors - an enemy of Spiderman, Cobra Commander from GI Joe…the list goes on and on. There’s even the conspiracy theory believed by millions, that Lizardfolk secretly runs the United States government.
It’s no wonder that Lizardfolk have such a prevalent existence in Dungeons & Dragons when the cultures of ancient and current civilizations are so full of them and their representations. Let’s jump in and see how these creatures have evolved through the generations and maybe you’ll find a soft spot for these man-eating Lizardfolk… or you’ll find out your pet leopard gecko is secretly running the US Commerce Department.
 

OD&D - Lizardmen

No. Appearing: 10-40
Armor Class: 5
Move: 6”/12”
Hit Dice: 2 + 1
% in Lair: 40%
No. of Attacks: 2 claws / 1 bite
Damage/Attack: 1-3/claw, 1-8/bite
Treasure: D
The Lizardfolk make their debut in the Greyhawk Supplement (1974) under the moniker of Lizardmen. While the term Lizardmen is used up until the 3rd edition, we will be referring to them as Lizardfolk from here on out. One of the most important facts about the Lizardfolk we should bring up from this edition is the fact that their artwork actually looks like time was spent drawing it out, and is pretty scary. If we were walking through a swamp and stumbled on one, we’d scream and run away. That’s high praise seeing as how the beholder art just makes you pass out from laughter.
As with all creatures in the early editions of the game, the description is brief and all the information we are provided is composed in 3 sentences. What information is provided is pretty sparse and doesn’t provide much of a basis to work off of. The few things we learn is that Lizardfolk are considered to be intelligent, but its referred to as a ‘rude intelligence’ in that they only use that intelligence to make weapons.
After that, we then learn that the favorite dish of the Lizardfolk is human flesh. We aren't sure what it is with all these monsters and their desire for human flesh, but apparently we are incredibly delicious. Not only do Lizardfolk love eating humans, they will capture a group of them from a village and bring them back to their lairs where they will hold large feasts and gorge on our flesh which… feels like a compliment.
The next tidbit of information provided shows that maybe these are really, really special lizards… or maybe the designers of the game just did not know that much about lizards. In this edition, 65% of all Lizardfolk live completely underwater, which is crazy to think about as no other lizard can spend more than 15 minutes under water at a time. It’s also horrifying to think that all those captured humanoids will probably drown before the great feasts of the Lizardfolk, which is a shame because the Lizardfolk have been cooking all day!
Looking at the mechanics of the Lizardfolk, they are humanoid creatures that are much stronger than many of the other creatures in that catergory. Their AC of 5 puts them in the same league as ogres and giants, but their Hit Dice are on the low side making them pretty susceptible to being wiped out in low numbers. Where they thrive is the number of attacks and the amount of damage they can do in a single round. Three attacks is a whole lot of ass kicking in this edition and with the potential to do a maximum of 14 points of damage in a round, the Lizardfolk would make quite a fearsome opponent. These two factors, along with the fact that you will be running into 10-40 of them at a time, make these creatures the party would not want to encounter at lower levels… especially if they were invited over for dinner.
 

Basic D&D - Lizardfolk

Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2 + 1
Move: 60' (120' swim)
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: By weapon + 1
No. Appearing: 2-8
Save As: Fighter: 2
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: D
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 25
The Lizardfolk is introduced in the Basic Set (1977) and later makes appearances in the updated Basic Sets that are released in 1981 and 1983. If the Lizardfolks could be stripped down and made even more boring, we aren’t sure how you could do it. The descriptive paragraph is filled with simple sentences that provide less flavor than the original edition and simply describes the Lizardfolk as man-shaped but with a lizard head and a lizard tail. Furthermore, they are considered semi-intelligent and enjoy eating humans in great feasts.
Now, it isn’t all bad for the Lizardfolk in this edition as they are finally shown a little love as they gain a +1 bonus to their damage. Though they no longer have their multiple attacks and instead only have a single weapon attack, so we guess it makes some sense to give them a boost to their damage even if it isn’t as awesome as having three attacks and tearing apart that troublesome magic-user.
This is the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons that players can play as a Lizardfolk thanks to Dragon Magazine #185 (September 1992). In the magazine we are introduced to the Squamous Ones; lizard men, gator men, and the cay-men, all of whom can be used as player characters. These playable reptile creatures all played a role in episode 32 of the Voyage of the Princess Ark, an old series in Dragon Magazine.
Without going down the rabbit hole of experimental player characters and rules, just remember that some races were treated more like classes than as just races. If you choose to play as a Lizardfolk, you would be leveling up in a Lizardfolk class though you could multiclass into actual classes like magic-user or fighter… it was just really difficult and there were a lot of limitations.
With that being said, out of all three of the lizardkin, the gator men are the by far the strongest and intimidating. Their physical attributes were high, they had more hit points, but their mental stats were the lowest out of any of them. After the gator men, in terms of strength, came the lizard men followed by the cay-men. The cay-men were known for being smart, and by that we mean they don’t have a negative bonus to their intelligence, while the lizard men were middle of the road at best between the two others.
In Dragon Magazine #186 (October 1992), we are introduced to another race of playable lizardfolk in the next chapter of the Voyage of the Princess Ark. The chameleon men, also known as the wallara, are pretty weak like the lizard men, but they have a special talent that makes them pretty awesome. The chameleon man can use a Vanish ability, allowing them to disappear from sight, or they could teleport as per the dimension door spell… so long as they passed an Intelligence check which seems a bit mean. Regardless of the intelligence check, that’s a pretty awesome racial ability!
 

AD&D - Lizardmen

Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 10-40
Armor Class: 5 (4)
Move: 6” // 12”
Hit Dice: 2+1
% in Lair: 30%
Treasure Tpe: D
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-2/1-2/1-8
Special Attacks: See Below
Special Defenses: Nil
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Low (average)
Alignment: Neutral
Size: M (about 7 feet tall)
Psionic Ability: Nil
The Lizardfolk first appears in the Monster Manual (1977) and things are looking up for this edition. Unlike in Basic D&D, which AD&D ran alongside, we are given a full paragraph about the Lizardfolk, about their lairs, and well… It doesn’t paint the Lizardfolk in a great light… At least they get artwork in this edition and again, it looks pretty good! We suppose you have a choice in these early editions, good art or good lore - not both.
The lizardfolk don’t get a lot of new lore, even though there is more information provided. The books now clarify that they are semi-aquatic and that, while they prefer to live underwater, they live in underwater caves that are not submerged. They love to kill and capture humans, bringing back bodies and slaves to their underwater realms and then holding rude feasts. We aren’t sure what they mean by rude, but we suppose the Lizardfolk can be considered rude if they don’t ask permission to eat you first.
If you ever encounter Lizardfolk above the water, they live in small huts and these are the ‘evolved’ Lizardfolk who are more intelligent. These Lizardfolk wield crude weapons like shields, barbed darts, and javelins that they use to attack from range, and then run into the melee with their clubs. There is no mention of a changed diet, so we must assume that they still enjoy the taste of humans and have no problems with attacking villages and eating all the inhabitants.
The first variant for the Lizardfolk, the Lizard King, is introduced in 1981 and is found in the Fiend Folio. The Lizard King is a ruler of a large tribe of Lizardfolk and are taller, stronger, more intelligent, and described as more human-like. They could be found near their watery lairs and one of the few ways of actually seeing one was being offered as part of their weekly sacrifice where the Lizard King will then devour you. Every week, the Lizard King would demand two humans to munch on, if those humans weren’t available the Lizard King would then choose four Lizardfolk and eat them… which we feel like creates a bit of an unhealthy working environment.
The next bit of information about the Lizard King is, not only do they have a large tribe of Lizardfolk who bring them humans to eat every week but also they wield a powerful trident that can skewer enemies and deals some real nasty damage. The description goes on to state that there is some sort of magical connection between a Lizard King and their trident, as no one else can use the trident as effectively as the Lizard King and that no one else gains the benefits of using the trident unless you are a Lizard King. This seems like a missed opportunity for some cool lore, but the description comes to an abrupt end, which is a real shame but we aren’t too surprised as the Lizardfolk just doesn’t get any love in these editions.
 

2e - Lizardfolk

Climate/Terrain: Tropical, sub-tropical and temperate swamp
Frequency: Rare
Organization: Tribal
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Special
Intelligence: Low (5-7)
Treasure: D
Alignment: Neutral
No. Appearing: 8-15 (1d8+7)
Armor Class: 5
Movement: 6, Sw 12
Hit Dice: 2+1
THAC0: 19
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-2/1-2/1-6
Special Attacks: Nil
Special Defenses: Nil
Magic Resistance: Nil
Size: M (7’ tall)
Morale: 14
XP Value: 65, Patrol Leader 65, Subleader 120, War leader 270, Shaman (3rd) 175, Shaman (5th) 650, Shaman (7th) 975.
The Lizardfolk made their second edition debut in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989) and then reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993). In typical 2e fashion, we are given a lot more lore about the Lizardfolk though a lot of the information is just rehashed from the previous edition but with more colorful language. Also, their artwork in the Monstrous Compendium looks… fine? They look a bit like they ran into the wall and broke their snout, but it's passable which only further proves our point. Good lore or good art, can't have both.
Much like before, the Lizardfolk are tall, strong, and have below-average intelligence. They don’t really use weapons unless they are ‘advanced’ Lizardfolk and like to live next to the water or under the water in their caves. A key difference is that now they are omnivores and that they are only ‘likely to prefer human flesh to other foods.’ This is of great relief to anyone who isn’t a human as now, maybe, just maybe, you can interact with them without them carrying you off to their cave for more rude feasts.
What other information is pretty interesting and helps to flesh out this monster. When fighting, they aren’t great at tactics and typically just rush in hoping to overpower their opponents. To make matters worse, if they are hungry, there is a chance they will stop for a quick snack of dead human on the battlefield, allowing their quarry to retreat, regroup and reinforce. They are distracted by shiny things too, and we have decided to skip past the easy blonde joke here.
Despite their lack of coordination or tactics, they do have several tiers within their society like shamans, priests, patrol leaders, and chieftains. The shamans and priests have additional hit points and have access to priest abilities like spellcasting. Patrol leaders are even beefier and are used as the bodyguards of the Lizard King who is at the top of the food chain and will lead tribes up to 150 Lizardfolk strong. Of course, if the Lizard King doesn’t get their weekly sacrifice of two people, they eat four Lizardfolk which it specifies is their bodyguard… which seems like a bad idea, why not eat the peasant Lizardfolks? You have way more commoners than bodyguards.
We also start to get a little better idea of the physiology of these creatures as they can vary in color from green to brown to gray. Tails can be up to 4 feet long and, while they cannot be used to grab any sort of object, it does seem like its a missed opportunity for a tail attack. Like all lizards, Lizardfolk are hatched from eggs but we strongly encourage you to not eat the eggs as they are described as bitter. The last thing we learn is the question burning on everyone’s mind how do you figure out if the Lizardfolk you’ve been hitting on all night is male or female? The answer is: You don’t know unless you ask. We recommend asking from a safe distance with lots of blonde, dead human bodies in the way.
If you wanted to play as a Lizardfolk, you are in luck as the Spelljammer campaign setting provides character information in The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook (1992). What is interesting is that if you wish to play as a Lizardfolk, you lose some of the natural abilities and flaws that the normal Lizardfolk has, though you do get a few bonuses. You don’t gain a bonus to your Strength, on the other hand, you don’t get a penalty to your Intelligence, which is nice. You have natural armor, you can wield a shield and you can only wear armor that would reduce your AC below 5, like plate mail. Of course, getting custom armor will cost you twice as much then for a human as we can only assume blacksmiths find it hard to add in a tailpiece for you… or they don’t like your kind because you ate their brother. One of those.
Speaking of eating people, you no longer have a bite attack. Instead, you are given a tail attack which is… well, we support having a tail attack but we guess biting people is considered uncivilized. The last bit of awesomeness for your Lizardfolk character is you now have infravision which helps you see in the dark, which is the first time this controversy will come up. Apparently, in the Forgotten Realms specific lore, Lizardfolk has darkvision but they lose it the moment any information is talked about in a setting neutral book.
The Lizardfolk and their information are further refined as a playable character race in The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993). It is here that you get the first real information on how a Lizardfolk should be played when you decide that being an elf just won’t do, why be the eaten when you could be the eater? Lizardfolk have a totally different mindset than other humanoid types, looking at things in a very black and white, food or not food type of way. Civilization as a concept is beyond them, so traveling to and spending time in a city will be a foreign and overwhelming experience for them. Fiercely independent, they might not fit into the party setting very well but can be forgiven when they wipe out a horde of kobolds by themselves. They are still extremely brutal and cruel on the battlefield, so sometimes it may just be best to get out of the way and watch the bodies fly. Another reason to back away is that when shiny stuff or dead bodies appear in battle, Lizardfolk must make a successful Wisdom save or get distracted, and even stop for a little snack of halfling. Considering most combat results in someone or something dying, be ready with those Wisdom checks.
Furthermore, we learn that for a Lizardfolk, skincare is an essential part of your adventuring day and you must moisturize every day or you start getting sick and dehydrated. If you spend too long without submerging your body in water, you dry out and die. On the flip side, you start with two weapon proficiencies, which means you are the advanced Lizardfolk and not just the hilly-billy Lizardfolk who don’t use weapons and have no intelligence.
More lizard-kin are introduced in this edition, though many of them claim to have no relationship to the Lizardfolk. We are introduced to agrutha, crocodillians, varanids, geckonids, tokay and the iguanid in the Dragon Magazine #268 (2000) though none bear many resemblances to the Lizardfolk but rather are considered subspecies or apart from them. One of the few kin to actually be related to the Lizardfolk are the Gator Men from the Monstrous Compendium Mystara Appendix (1994) and a horrifying secret is exposed. The Gator Men were once Lizardfolk that were magically experimented on by a wizard who was trying to give them alligator properties. Some of the wizard’s Gator Man prototypes escaped into a nearby swamp and quickly reproduced, wiping out all other predators in their area. Gator Men hate Lizardfolk and will do everything in their power to destroy and kill every last one of them if they learn of a Lizardfolk tribe.
 

3e/3.5e - Lizardfolk

Medium Humanoid (Reptilian)
Initiative +0 / HP 2d8+2 (11 hp)
Armor Class 15 (+5 Natural) or 17 (+5 natural, +2 heavy shield), touch 10, flat-footed 15
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+2
Attacks: Claw +2 melee (1d4+1) or club +2 melee (1d6+1) or javelin +1 ranged (1d6+1)
Full Attack: 2 claws +2 melee (1d4+1) and bite +0 melee (1d4); or club +2 melee (1d6+1) and bite +0 melee (1d4); or javelin +1 ranged (1d6+1)
Space/Reach: 5ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: None
Special Qualities: Hold breath
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +43 Will +0
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 10
Skills: Balance +4, Jump +5, Swim +2
Feats: Multiattack
Climate/Terrain: Temperate Marshes
Organization: Gangs (2-3), Band (6-10 plus 50% noncombatants plus 1 leader of 3rd-6th level), or tribe (30-60 plus 2 lieutenants of 3rd-6th level and 1 leader of 4th-10th level)
Challenge Rating: 1
Treasure: 50% coins; 50 % goods: 50% items
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: +1
The Lizardfolk makes its third edition debut in the Monster Manual (2000/2003) and is the first edition where the term Lizardfolk is used, replacing the term Lizardmen permanently. To quickly cover the normal parts of our scaly friends; they are organized into tribes, they are a cruel and vicious opponent on the battlefield, and they still live in swamps and marshes. You may notice the fact that their favorite meal of 'you' is not on that list, that's because the Lizardfolk will eat anything and it's only a malicious rumor that they prize human flesh above all else, they just happen to kill a lot of humans and eat them. They’d eat anyone, they aren’t picky. Another change is that they no longer speak Lizardfolk but rather draconic as they now can be found in the employ of dragons.
Societal structure is detailed just a little bit more, giving a tiny more depth to the creature. A tribe exists to eat and perpetuate, and they will do whatever is necessary to make sure these needs are met. Sure, Lizardfolk can hunt and fish like other humanoid races, but when there is a village of humans nearby, you can bet they will be sending out raiding parties and having grilled human for dinner whenever possible. This primitive need for survival has tribes uniting to fight a common foe, even if that foe is another, larger Lizardfolk tribe. It will occasionally drive them to serve more powerful creatures such as dragons, cause in the mind of the Lizardfolk, it is better to serve than to die.
The tribe is set up in a very simple manner - the strong rule the weak, and it’s a man’s world in the Lizardfolk kingdom. This stays with the concept of the powerful rule and the weak serve. The shaman is still alive and well in the Lizardfolk society, acting as a councilor for those in charge, providing insight and knowledge, we expect most of the insight revolves around food. The shaman, along with the rest of the Lizardfolk, now has a deity to pray to, as we are introduced to the patron deity of Lizardfolk, Semuanya. Not surprisingly, Semunya’s primary focus is on the survival and propagation of its charges, once again sticking with the common theme of the Lizardfolk; eat, propagate, and eat some more.
The Lizardfolk appears as a player character race for the Forgotten Realms setting in the Races of Faerûn (2003) and again, they gain darkvision while existing in the Forgotten Realms. Beyond gaining the ability to make three attacks with their claws and bite, there is nothing new when it comes to being a Lizardfolk as a player character.
The next month in April we are introduced to the Monster Manual 3 (2003) and with it, two new types of Lizardfolk come to ruin everyone’s day. The Blackscale Lizardfolk is a massive brute of a Lizardfolk who specializes in pummeling you into the ground and then eating the tenderized meat. Blackscales are large and their presence makes even the tallest Lizardfolk look small as they are typically around 9 feet tall as opposed to the 7 foot Lizardfolk. After the Blackscales are the Poison Dusk Lizardfolk who go in the opposite direction from their Lizardfolk ancestors and are tiny, reaching a max of 5 feet tall and 50 pounds. They specialize in being sneaky, attacking from range, and using poison to bring down larger opponents for the purpose of dinner.
As we are always excited to check out new old rulebooks we’ve never used before, it was exciting to find out that Lizardfolk have their own chapter in the Serpent Kingdoms (2004), though it is centric to the Forgotten Realms setting. There we find out more about asabis, firenewts, khaastas, troglodytes, and trens, but it is the Lizard King and Queen that we were excited about. These creatures are now half-Lizardfolk, half-fiend. A Lizard King resembles a common Lizardfolk, but gets to be even scarier by having demonic features, such as glowing red eyes, extra-long arms, long fangs, or additional scaly frills. They are despised in Faerun since, not surprisingly, they view humans, elves, dwarves, and almost all other humanoid races as food, not as allies or neighbors. Remember how we’ve always said that the Lizardfolk can be cruel and mean? Well, the Lizard King combines the worst traits of Lizardfolk and demons, making them brutal overlords of a tribe, but their tribe means everything to them and they take great care of its members. They use their vision, intelligence and sheer force of will that comes with being half-fiend, to transform a simple savage tribe into a stable civilization that can endure for many generations. We are also provided information about some of the poisons Lizardfolk use like the blue frog paste, which sounds like a powerful form of LSD, but in fact, it is a toxic oil that can be applied to weapons and causes paralysis. The second is the rather boringly named sleep poison, which renders the victim unconscious for a few hours.
Dragon Magazine #335 (September 2005) brings us the ecology of the Lizardfolk, unfortunately, the article is a combination of all the previous editions information, presented in a colorful description, and provides only a few new pieces of information. Religion plays a much more important part in the lore and creation of the Lizardfolk, as the article opens with a section on their goddess, Semunya and the origins of the Lizardfolk. Semuanya was a primitive lesser god who thought only about food and survival while her mate, Kecuala, was an intelligent creature that spent its time doing little physically, as it was trapped in its own philosophical thoughts about the world. One day, Kecuala split itself into two creatures, one male and one female, allowing it to put into action the deep thinking that it had been doing all these years. These two Kecualas were the first Lizardfolk and Semunya took the initiative with them and set them up in an environment where they could hunt and multiply, holding out hope that Kecuala would finally stop thinking so much, merge back into one being, and rejoin Semunya.
Building on the tribal/communal system of the Lizardfolk, we do find out that each tribe has a community-style hatchery where all the eggs are kept until little lizard children erupt from their shells. Lizardfolk reach maturity by 2 years of age, skipping those awkward teenage years and for the brief two years of being young, they are raised by the tribe as a whole and not by individual parents.
The last of the Lizardfolks are introduced in the Monster Manual IV (2006) where we are introduced to the Dark Talon tribe of Lizardfolk and provided an example lair for them. They are similar to the Lizardfolk but have been toughened by alchemical infusions of black dragon blood and seek to take over and control the lands of everyone else. They are brutal, mean and vicious but they don’t provide much information on the whole of the Lizardfolk race but rather how their specific tribe operates but, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything in there to learn. We learned a very important lesson, if you find a massive wasp the size of a horse, you can totally ride on it with a massive lance. Yup, the Dark Talon tribe has a small troop of Wasp Riders who wield lances and charge into battle on their battle wasps. We aren’t sure that the riders are really needed as seeing wasps large enough to be ridden by Lizardfolks already scares us more than a Lizardfolk.
 

4e - Lizardfolk

Greenscale Hunter - Level 4 Skirmisher
Medium natural humanoid (reptile) / XP 175
Initiative +6 / Senses Perception +8
HP 54; Bloodied 27
AC 17; Fortitude 15, Reflex 14, Will 13
Speed 6 (swamp walk)
Spear (standard; at-will) ✦ Weapon +9 vs. AC; 1d8+3 damage
Sidestep Attack (standard; at will) ✦ Weapon The lizardfolk shifts and make a melee basic attack.
Alignment Unaligned / Languages Draconic
Skills Athletics +10, Nature +8
Str 17(+5) | Dex 15 (+4) | Wis 12 (+3) | Con 14 (+4) | Int 8 (+1) | Cha 8 (+1)
Equipment light shield, spear
The Lizardfolk is introduced in the Monster Manual (2008) and we are provided with stat blocks for different roles that a Lizardfolk could be in a tribe like a shaman or a hunter, as well as information about the Blackscales, the massive brutes of Lizardfolk. While the lore doesn’t go very deep, we at least have some pretty great art, especially when compared to the previous Monster Manuals, so 4e has that going for it at least.
The first type of Lizardfolk presented are the smaller and more common Greenscales who are, while not of the highest intelligence, are still considered the intelligent and advanced Lizardfolks who become shamans and leaders of their tribe. The next type are the Blackscales who go around smashing and pulverizing creatures and are often intermingled into the Greenscale tribe. Occasionally the Blackscales will be part of an opposing tribe, but the text reveals that Blackscales just aren’t smart enough to be the leader and, while Lizardfolk believe the strongest should lead, that doesn’t mean that the Lizardfolk are willing to trust a dumb brute with the welfare of their tribe.
There are also a few tidbits of lore that you can pick up on in their description like halflings are too small to bother eating, since they are the preferred humanoid trading partner for the Lizardfolk. Also, that Lizardfolk would occasionally serve dragons, though more often than not they would have servitors of their own like behemoths, crocodiles, and drakes. And finally, that Lizardfolk do not worship any gods but rather they elevate their tribal leader into a living deity. This Lizardfolk becomes the King Lizard and is rumored to have been tainted by primordial or demonic forces to make them so unnaturally strong and powerful.
The next group of Lizardfolk is brought out of the swamps in the Monster Manual 2 (2009) and they are known as the Poisonscales and, as their name might suggest, they really like poisoning creatures. The Poisonscales are a type of Lizardfolk that is less strong and healthy, though far more intelligent and are quite affluent with traps, ambushes, and using their naturally produced poisons to kill creatures and then eat them. These Lizardfolk come in a variety of roles from the magus that can hurl poison magic at their enemies, to the Poisonscale Collector that has the all-important task of gathering food and the plants the Lizardfolk eat to exude their poison, to the poisonless Poisonscales Myrmidons who cannot produce poison but makes up for it with being stronger and having thicker hides.
The Poisonscales are a slightly weaker group of Lizardfolks, which is hard to believe as the Greenscales are so low powered to begin with. The only true threat coming from the Lizardfolks in this edition is that a tribe consists of over a hundred of them, and when its just you and your 3 best friends wandering the swamps and being filled with tasty human meat, well… maybe you can kill enough of the Lizardfolk so they don’t have to share their meal with others in the tribe.
 

5e - Lizardfolk

Medium humanoid (lizardfolk), neutral
Armor Class 15 (natural armor, shield)
Hit Points 22 (4d8 + 4)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
STR 15 (+2) | DEX 10 (+0) | CON 13 (+1 ) | INT 7 (-2) | WIS 12 (+1) | CHA 7 (-2)
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +4, Survival +5
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Draconic
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
Hold Breath. The lizardfolk can hold its breath for 15 minutes.
Multiattack. The lizardfolk makes two melee attacks, each one with a different weapon.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Heavy Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) bludgeoning damage.
Javelin. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Spiked Shield. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage
Lizardfolk can be found in the Monster Manual (2014) and with it comes a nice, chunky bit of lore on these Lizardfolk, though it mostly repeats the previous edition. One thing that has been missing the last few editions is finally back, and that’s that they have a hankering for human flesh, even if they are omnivores. It’s no longer considered a mean and unfounded rumor that they like the taste of you, though the lore doesn’t stop at them eating you. These Lizardfolk are willing to forge alliances with others like humans, halflings, dwarves, and more, once they have these alliances made they are fiercely loyal to the other ‘tribe’ and we hope that means they won’t eat you at that point.
Though one shouldn’t expect to have too many interactions with Lizardfolk as these creatures are fiercely xenophobic, hunting and killing anyone who trespasses on their territory. They rarely leave their territory, as they might become the hunted as opposed to the hunter, and that is something they actively dislike. Though, that isn’t to say they never leave their territory, if a dragon, most likely a black dragon, shows up in their swamp, the Lizardfolk will begin offering it gifts and immediately begin serving the dragon. The dragon may be a nice ruler, watching over its Lizardfolk with an eye to protection… or they may be horrible and send out raids of Lizardfolk to help it build up its treasure hoard.
Now, let’s say you get eaten by the Lizardfolk because you were thinking you could walk on their territory and set up a trade agreement and they thought you’d taste better than the terms you were offering. You might, in this situation, be worried that your bones and other inedible bits won’t be treated with the proper respect you think they should be treated, but don’t worry as the Lizardfolk now love to craft crude jewelry and tools from bones of their meal! Lizardfolk will often craft clubs, shields, darts, and other weapons from the bones of creatures they have killed, seeing no point in good materials going to waste just because the previous inhabitant of those body parts are no longer using them. Really, they are just being responsible hunters and using every part of the kill!
In Volo’s Guide to Monsters (2016), the Lizardfolk is presented as a playable race, along with other favorites such as the goblin and kobold. One of the best parts about the Lizardfolk being made a playable race is that we are given an in-depth look into the essence of being a Lizardfolk and how such strange creatures act and think. A Lizardfolk’s mindset is described as alien, but not in the sense that they are from some distance world from the Spelljammer setting, instead, they are described as cold and calculating with few emotions as we would know them. This doesn’t mean that you should roleplay your new Lizardfolk fighter as some hissing jerk, but as a character that genuinely doesn’t understand why other creatures are horrified when they want to fire up the campfire and celebrate the life of a fallen comrade by roasting and eating their corpse.
The existence of a Lizardfolk is centered on doing things that make them feel good and avoiding things that would cause them pain or discomfort. A Lizardfolk doesn’t have emotions that control its fight or flight reflex but instead reacts accordingly to the situation. If it is going against a powerful opponent, it doesn’t run away in fear but rather realizes that the opponent is best to leave alone due to how fearsome it is. If the Lizardfolk finds a magic item that provides a great benefit, it doesn’t gain pleasure from that item but realizes it makes life easier and must protect this magic item so others don’t take it away. The mindset of a Lizardfolk is assigning traits to creatures and objects and reacting accordingly to that trait as they don’t hold grudges or allow rage to overcome them.
The last book we will look at for 5th edition is the Ghosts of Saltmarsh (2019), though it originally came out in 1982 for AD&D, and in it is an adventure focused around these creatures. In the adventure, a party of adventurers is tasked with going to a Lizardfolk lair and investigating the Lizardfolk and seeing if they are responsible for the recent attacks on the city. This is a roleplaying heavy adventure and allows a group of adventurers to explore the lair of Lizardfolks without using violence to get a peek into every room. This adventure provides helpful tips about the mindset of a Lizardfolk and helps to explain that the way they communicate can be quite unsettling or unnerving to those not used to such an alien mind.
Even though they have been around since the beginning of Dungeons & Dragons, and that they have such an overwhelming presence in our legends, the Lizardfolk still have a lot of untapped potential. While they appear in a wide variety of adventures and core rulebooks, they rarely change and when they do so it is incremental. Other humanoids that have been around since the beginning have seen endless amounts of time and effort put into their backgrounds, while the Lizardfolk haven’t been so lucky. They are still the same highly mistrusted brutes that they were before, and maybe that’s all they will ever be as everyone needs a monster to fight. Maybe one day we will see new sub-races or more development on their story as well as their culture. We certainly hope so, as the Lizardfolk deserves more recognition than the few adventures and lore that they currently have.
Have a monster you'd like to see explored throughout the editions? Let us know in the comments!

Past deep dives can be found in the comments.

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The Cryopod to Hell 211: Harboring a Grudge

Author note: The Cryopod to Hell is a Reddit-exclusive story with over three years of editing and refining. As of this post, the total rewrite is 222 parts long and 953,000+ words. For more information, check out the link below:
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(Previous Part)
(Part 001)
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Kar and I spend the next several hours following the main 'road' that weaves across Hell Harbor's coastline. Comparing it to streets on Earth makes it seem extremely primitive, given how its surface is made of compacted dirt and not concrete or something more durable. Well-worn ruts in the ground tell a tale of the excessive number of carriages ferrying passengers along the coastline, from the north to the south.
We keep to the forested side of the road, opposite the ocean, ducking behind cover whenever we spot someone coming. Unfortunately, due to how my Wordsmithing functions, I can't keep us invisible forever. Doing so would drain my mana by three times its usual rate, and even moreso if I have to maintain Kar and Blinker's invisibility if we separate from each other.
So, instead, I activate my T-REX and set it to camouflage mode, allowing me to blend into the background scenery without wasting my mana. Kar's green skin allows him to melt into the forest with ease, while Blinker can just hide behind a leaf. When it comes to stealth, being small is an underrated attribute.
[Turtle,] Kar says, transmitting his thoughts to me from behind a tree. [I sense a single person coming around the next bend. Their mana level is unusually weak. I believe they are human.]
I nod. [One sec.]
I deactivate my T-REX and speak a word of power. "Sense."
My senses reach out half a mile ahead, where I quickly pick out a single human female riding a horse. However, unlike the other humans who've passed us, this lady wears extravagantly designed clothes. Her youthful appearance makes her look about twenty-five years old, while her haughty expression instantly reminds me of Beelzebub.
[It's a human woman,] I say. [I'm a little surprised to say this, but I think she isn't a slave. She's dressed like a noble, so she might know something about Ose's whereabouts.]
Kar grunts. [Hurgh. Shall we tie her up and interrogate her?]
[Ooh, good idea!] Blinker chimes in. [I'll disorient her with a little finger waving, while you guys get the rope!]
[What?! No!] I protest. [Jeez. I'll just ask the lady a few questions. Hang tight.]
With my physical appearance still a perfect facsimile of Mara, I stride over to lean against a tree alongside the road. Having absorbed many of Mara's memories, I've already learned more than a few of her quirks, so I pull out a deck of fake Tarot cards and pretend to glance through them, acting as if I haven't any interest in the world around me.
Within a minute or two, the sound of hoofs clopping against the ground reaches my ears. I flick my eyes to the side to spot the young, dark-skinned woman riding toward the Hell Harbor Annex at a speed I would describe as 'leisurely.'
As the woman draws near, I continue to stare at my cards while flipping through them. Eventually, she starts to pass me, only to slow to a stop.
"Hm? Mara? What are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?"
Immediately, I get a sinking feeling in my gut.
Shit. She knows me. Knows Mara, I mean. Phoebe?
Phoebe quickly appears at the top of my subconscious. She activates the terminal for Mara's memories and flips through them. "This young woman's name is... Lily! Lily Brown. Uhm, her father's name is Benjamin Brown, she lives at, uh... at the Slithering Spire... uhm..."
That's enough for now. Keep listening and try to give me answers to any of her questions.
I raise my head to stare at the young woman riding the horse. Her bright pink hair shines in the sunlight, giving her a cute and merry demeanor. However, the half-scowl on her face makes her attractiveness drop by several points.
"Lily. Don't mind me, I'm just passing the time," I say, while running a finger through my long, blonde hair.
"Oh, so now you call me by my first name," Lily mutters. "My father told you not to step foot within ten miles of the Spire, especially after what you did the last time we saw each other. You have a lot of nerve showing your face around here."
The sinking feeling in my stomach turns into a bottomless chasm. Goddammit. What were the odds we'd run into the one person who has beef with Mara? Shit. This is going to be a sticky situation.
"I, ah, came to apologize," I say, winging the conversation. "Some things happened that made me re-evaluate my outlook on life. I was abrasive and rude the last time I visited."
"Hmph. Understatement of the century," Lily hisses. "He was my brother, you filthy, bloodskinned bitch. Because of you, Tyrese can't have children anymore. You demons are all the same."
Lily exhales violently, flaring her nostrils in rage.
"If my daddy were here, he'd rip your bloody head off. I don't want your apology. I want you to drop dead."
Hoo, Christ, I think to myself. I really know how to pick 'em. Got the saltiest broad this side of the Mississippi.
"Yeah, you do," Phoebe says sarcastically. "Alright, so looking through Mara's memories, it seems this Tyrese kid made a crude joke about how humans are 'bigger' than the pathetic demonhoods most demons sport, and that pissed Mara off. She ended up castrating him. He screamed the whole time and went into shock, barely surviving thanks to this 'Ben Brown' guy's doctors on call. So, yeah, there's a lot of bad blood between Mara and Lily."
I hadn't noticed...
With a sigh, I don my most apologetic smile. "Look, Lily, I know I've done some terrible things, but I'd like to make it up to you. What would you say if I told you I had a method to, ahem, restore your brother's dignity? I can't undo the suffering I've caused him, but I do feel terrible. After all, a harmless joke is no reason to maim someone for the rest of their life."
A strange look appears on Lily's face. "Huh? What in the seven hells are you on about?! Since when have you ever been the type of person to regret hurting one of us 'filthy fleshbags'?! Admit it, you filthy skank! You're just afraid of my daddy! You know that if you piss him off again, he'll rip you limb from limb! Well, let me just tell you this, little miss pissy; you should be afraid! My daddy is the strongest human you'll ever face! So you'd better turn that ugly, fat ass of your around and haul it on out of here! Hmph!"
The more Lily talks, the more baffled I become.
Who the hell is her father, and how can he possibly be strong enough to instill such confidence in his daughter? Does Lily, perhaps, refer to political power? Are politics an integral part of Hell Harbor's society?
As several questions churn in my mind, Phoebe suddenly pipes up.
"Benjamin Brown! Ah, I remember, now. Jason, don't you recall Tucker's vision? His artifact used to belong to a man named Benjamin Brown, back during the Energy Wars."
That's impossible, I reply. Tucker's visions were from a hundred thousand years ago. Benjamin Brown would have surely died by now, if not during the war. Unless...
Phoebe nods. "Exactly. Marie survived all this time. She mentioned humans who lived on Hell Harbor, too. Benjamin Brown must be one of those 'elites' who obtained immortality and stayed alive long after the Energy Wars."
I see.
With a slight nod, I return my attention to Lily. Thanks to the speed of thought, conversing with my mind-wife only takes a split-second of real-time.
It's no wonder Lily isn't afraid of me. Benjamin Brown once possessed a legendary heroic artifact. He slaughtered Volgrim and demons alike. He's probably a total badass, and that's why even Demon Barons like Mara wouldn't dare to fuck with him.
Maybe I ought to pay him a visit.
After bowing my head, I nod apologetically. "Yes, uhm, you've got me there. Alright. I understand. If I can't make amends for my past actions, I'll leave you alone. Sorry for wasting your time."
I turn away from Lily and start to walk away, only for the girl to speak again, her voice much quieter than before.
"Wait. Something's not right, here. You've been acting awfully odd, 'Mara.' I've known you for a long time, and not once have you ever apologized or said you were sorry about anything. What's going on, here? Who are you?"
My heart skips a beat. Shit. Lily's onto me.
I spin on my heel while intending to reply, only for Lily to continue speaking. "Hah. I should have known. You're not Mara at all. You must be..."
She pauses for dramatic effect.
"...Belial! Oh, for devil's sake! Admit it! I've caught you red-handed this time!"
I groan inwardly. Shit. How am I going to deal with this turn of events?
"Don't worry," Phoebe says. She rapidly clicks and clacks on Mara's memory terminal. "This is actually fortunate for us. Belial and Lily are birds of a feather. It seems they hang out occasionally, though Mara's memory is quite spotty on the relevant details."
That's not good enough! I reply. We already stepped in a fat pile of shit by poorly impersonating Mara! I can't afford to screw up again by poorly apeing Samantha!
A split-second passes as Phoebe considers my words.
"Jason. I have an idea. I want you to allow me to take over your body for a bit. I know Sam much better than you. I think I can imitate her, but I need to have full control. If I try to tell you what to say, you're bound to come off sounding stiff and clunky. Impersonations are not your specialty."
I barely even have to think about Phoebe's request. Sure. You know how to use my Wordsmithing if the going gets tough, right?
"Naturally."
Alright. Here goes nothing. Do your best, sweetie.
With a mental command, I close my eyes, willing my consciousness to lower its defenses. Phoebe's soul quickly engulfs mine, wrapping me in its warmth and allowing her to take control of my body.
Having already done this once, back when my soul departed to investigate Marie and the Volgrim, she still surprises me by completing the mind-swap effortlessly.
My consciousness falls into a dark abyss, one which quickly brightens up, allowing me to step foot inside my very own Mind Realm. My soul, now detached from my body, lands amidst a field of buildings ripped straight out of the 2020's.
"You caught me!" Phoebe says to Lily, her voice lilting cutely. She acts embarrassed for a moment and covers her face, all while secretly whispering, "Disguise," under her breath.
Phoebe, now fully in control of my body and Wordsmithing, uses a word of power to transform from Mara into Belial, shedding her regal Baron appearance for a far less dressed, more striking one.
"Teehee! It's me!" Phoebe says, sticking her tongue out. Her voice perfectly mirrors Samantha's, reminding me further of how versatile my Wordsmithing can be. "I'm surprised it took you so long to figure me out! Aren't we besties?"
"Oh, Beli," Lily says, clicking her tongue. "I should have known it was you! How have you been? I haven't seen you in, what, two years?"
The young woman slides one of her legs around the horse and hops to the ground. Her leather boots clomp against the dirt as she lands, and my wife holds out a hand to steady her.
"Two years? Hmm... you know me! I don't pay much attention to the time! I always- mgm?!"
Before she can finish her sentence, Phoebe gets thrown off-balance when Lily suddenly turns around, grabs the back of her head, and presses their lips together.
I stand within my Mind Realm, eyes wide open at the sudden change in Lily's attitude. Where before, she was a haughty, reserved noblewoman, she suddenly blooms into an erotic-minded temptress.
Phoebe, even more startled than me, only manages to hold herself together by remembering her job of mimicking Belial. She presses back into the kiss and returns Lily's embrace with twice the intensity. Both of them go at it for several long seconds, making me feel insanely awkward as a passive observer.
My wife, who has taken over my body, is now pretending to be her best friend while making out with a woman neither of us knows! What the hell is going on?!
After more than ten seconds of furious tongue-punching, Lily pulls away, her cheeks beet-red. "Devils! It's been a while since you, ahem, retorted so passionately! Have we been apart for so long that you've forgotten to act coy and indifferent?"
Phoebe smacks her lips. Lily's taste lingers just long enough to turn her foggy-brained. "Coy? I, ah... well, what can I say! Haha... I like to do my own thing!"
"No kidding," Lily sighs. She fans herself for a moment before clearing her throat. "Ahm, so, Beli, dear! Why are you out here, all by your lonesome? Don't tell me you were waiting for me to come waltzing by! Pulling such a horrid joke on me is in terrible taste!"
Phoebe doesn't reply for a second or two. Thanks to our mind-link, I notice her use of telepathy increases substantially as she excavates Lily's surface level-thoughts.
"Well, I have my reasons. It's been a while since I returned to Hell Harbor, and you just happened to come trotting down that road. What's a girl to do, if not improvise?"
"Tsk, you've always been an enigma," Lily says, clicking her tongue. "Daddy says you've been on Tarus II, helping out a bunch of humans. Is that what happened, or is his intelligence network wrong again?"
To my surprise, Phoebe doesn't give a direct answer.
"Hmm. What do you think?"
"I think that's exactly the kind of thing you'd do!" Lily replies. She jumps toward Phoebe and wraps her arms around Phoebe's succubus form. "You're always way too kind and compassionate! If it weren't for your help, Tyrese would never have made a full recovery!"
"Oh, I didn't do all that much," Phoebe says, feigning ignorance. "You're giving me way too much credit, Lily, dear."
"Nuh-uh! We only managed to repair half the damage that filthy, sodding Baron bitch did to my brother! It was you who made Tyrese whole again! He still can't have any kids, but daddy said we owed you a great debt! And you know me... I'm not one to let debts gather interest... hehe!"
Phoebe and Lily continue bantering. What surprises me is how, despite Phoebe knowing very little about Lily and Belial's relationship, she manages to improvise time after time, all by using several advanced psychological tricks invented well after the Arthurian era.
Cold reading, a technique often used by so-called 'psychics' from my era, allowed them to speak in broad, generalized terms to gather information about their subjects. Phoebe uses it to determine just how close Belial and Lily's relationship is, while inferring more in-depth information by casually acknowledging and denying statements in a playful manner. Lily, oblivious to Phoebe's intentions, keeps letting more and more details slip, which in turn fuels my wife's knowledge.
The longer the conversation continues, the more adept Phoebe becomes at manipulating Lily. Soon, the young girl becomes putty in her hands.
"Oh, I missed you so much," Phoebe says, grinning from ear to ear. "I've been trapped on Tarus II with only a few friends to keep me company, but none of them are... like you. You know what I mean."
"Indeed, I do," Lily says, blushing. She gazes into Phoebe's eyes as she speaks, both of them sharing more than a hint of intimacy.
However, Lily pulls away and ruffles Phoebe's hair.
"Oh, Beli. Things have changed since we last spoke. I'm sorry that we haven't talked much, but... you remember Beelzebub, don't you?"
"Beelzebub? Of course. What about him?"
"Well, he's the new master of the Slithering Spire. He's become more and more heavy-handed over the years. He won't allow any of us humans to fraternize with Hell Harbor's residents, especially other pureblooded demons. It's tearing me up inside! I haven't spent any time with Bianca in several years- you remember Bianca, right?"
Phoebe nods sagely. Her eyes reveal wisdom beyond her years as she acts like a long-lost friend of whoever 'Bianca' might be. "Naturally. What happened between you two? Did Beelzebub hurt her?"
"No, no! It's just... since Bianca's a succubus, Beelzebub won't allow us to spend any time together! Remember that time when the three of us visited the hot spring? You, me, and Bianca? Well, as long as Beelzebub is the master of the Slithering Spire, it'll never happen again! The fucking rat-bastard always gets in my way! He won't let me do as I please, and I don't dare stand up to him! Daddy doesn't care, either! He's always going on about that damned Operation Stormbringer as if it's more important than his daughter's happiness!"
"Operation Stormbringer?" Phoebe asks. "Forgive me, but I don't recall hearing about that one."
Lily waves her hands nonchalantly. "Oh, some big invasion plan. I don't pay attention to the details, and neither should you. Daddy and the top demon generals are always blustering and blowing their horns about this and that! It's hardly worth our attention! Especially when it involves that damned Ose."
"Ose?" Phoebe asks. "Funny you should mention her. I came to Hell Harbor because I needed to see her."
Lily's eyes widen. "What? You?! Beli, darling! I thought you hated that skank! Any time Ose came up in conversation, you always started ranting and raving!"
Phoebe crosses her arms. She assumes a pouty stance and turns a few degrees away from Lily. "I do hate her! Ose and I have a long, sordid history of backstabbings and betrayal. I'd rather not go into it, because it's beside the point. I'm here on official business, Lily, dear. Humanity's leader sent me to discuss peace talks with Ose. If I can convince her to sign a treaty... well, you and I might get to see each other once in a while. Not only that, but even as the owner of the estate, Beelzebub won't have any legs to stand on. You, me, and Bianca could do as we pleased."
Lily's expression turns curious. "Oh? I didn't peg you as the ambassador type! You must really get along with those humans to treat them so nicely."
"As well as I get along with you," Phoebe says, flashing a radiant smile. "But, um, there's a problem, Lily. I'm a little embarrassed to say it, but it's been bugging me, and I don't know who to ask for help."
Lily practically leaps for joy. She rushes toward Phoebe and grabs her hands. "You can ask me for anything, Beli! I'll always help you!"
Phoebe blushes. She averts her eyes, and for once, I realize that her expression isn't deceitful. My wife is actually starting to develop feelings for this young woman.
"Umm, well, you see... there was this Hydra that appeared on Tarus II. I helped fight it, but due to some terrible accidents that happened during the battle, I hit my head and got knocked out. When I woke up, I had lost some of my memories. How do I put this..."
Phoebe hesitates for a moment, building anticipation in Lily's eyes. "Yes? What's the matter?"
"Well..." Phoebe continues, "...I forgot where Ose's estate was! I'm totally lost! I've been searching everywhere, but I'm too embarrassed to ask for help. Oh, devils, you probably think I'm an idiot!"
"An idiot? No, no, don't be silly!" Lily laughs. "And here I thought some jerk had broken your heart. If you don't remember where Ose's estate is, that's easy. I can show you the way, Beli."
Lily presses her head against Phoebe's chest and sighs, taking a moment to inhale her scent. "Ahh... I missed you so much. I'm glad to help you. Never act as if I'll hurt you, okay? We're closer than sisters. Closer than lovers, even."
Phoebe blushes. "Yes. Yes, we are."
...
After a few more minutes, Phoebe bashfully waves goodbye. Lily mounts her horse and waves back at us. "Bye-bye, Beli! Remember, it sits atop the third mountain plateau to the east, the one overlooking Bael and Mephisto's estates! After you visit that skank, please drop by later! I'll have daddy's doctors examine your head. I don't want you to suffer any permanent brain injuries, okay?"
"Right, right," Phoebe says, blowing Lily a kiss. "I'll see you later, lover!"
Both women give their goodbyes, then depart, traveling in opposite directions. Phoebe enters the forest to the east, only to hide behind a tree once Lily disappears from our sight.
"Hoo. That was stressful," Phoebe says. "I didn't anticipate Lily being so... excitable."
"You did great," I say, taking a seat on a bench. "Way better than I could have managed. If Lily had kissed me and done the tongue thing, I'd probably have broken character right then and there. You acted the part perfectly."
Phoebe's face turns beet-red. She slumps to the ground and hides her face in her hands. "Oh, god! Jason, don't bring that up! I'm married! I shouldn't be kissing other people! E-especially not women! It's weird!"
"I don't see anything wrong with it," I reply. "It's not like you planned the kiss, or anything. If it had bothered me, I would have stopped you. Besides, in the era I come from, women kissing other women wasn't weird, nor men kissing men. Maybe it was a little bit rare, but I saw plenty of it growing up."
Phoebe rubs her face furiously. "Argh! That might be true for you, Jason, but not for me! I grew up in... in a proper era! Where men courted women, and both sexes knew their roles! This modern era always makes me feel so weird! So... so dirty."
I keep my voice neutral. "How so?"
Phoebe hesitates. She doesn't reply for several seconds but eventually relents.
"Well. How do I put this? Um. Ever since you and I got married- no, even before then... Samantha has always acted much more touchy-feely than I liked. At first, I didn't want to be rude, but then after our marriage, I started feeling guilty about my passive rejections. Whenever she got too close, I would push her away. I never directly rejected her, and that, in turn, made me feel worse."
My mind-wife sighs. "Not only that, but since I never told you about all the moves she made on me in private, I always felt like I was lying to you, too. Sammy and I never did anything, but I always felt, and still feel, like a complete ass. I should set boundaries, but I don't know how. I don't even know if I should."
She falls silent, waiting for my reply.
I nod. "Yeah. I know all of that. I've always known. The day you and I got married, Samantha came over to me and confessed she was madly in love with you. It caught me off-guard, but I took it in stride. You and Sam have a lot in common, after all. Both of you lost the first men you ever loved. Satan, for her, and Sir Percival, for you. I don't see myself as a fairy tale hero of legend, rescuing a virgin princess. I grew up in a society where marriage was cheap, divorces were common, and love had lost most of its substance."
"I don't believe in true love," I continue. "At least... I didn't. Not until I met you. I knew a lot of people growing up. Good people, the sorts who went to Church every Sunday, and said their prayers before their three meals. I always thought the people who held onto their wives and husbands the tightest had most unhappy marriages. They always broke up and ended their love with explosions of rage and torn-apart families."
"Jason..."
Phoebe starts to interrupt me, but I continue. "There's more. I knew a lot of people who thought of their spouses as possessions. They assumed that marriage entitled them to 100% of their wives or husband's affection. To me, even if that were true in the eyes of the law and God himself, it felt immoral. You have a big heart, Phoebe. There's more than enough room for you to love Samantha and me equally, especially after all she's done for us. For you. She saved your life when I couldn't. If it weren't for Sam, Beelzebub would have killed you, Neil, and all the other people in the Core. She's a good friend. I'd never want to hurt either of you."
After I finish speaking, Phoebe falls silent. Tears well up in her eyes, and she quickly tries to wipe them away. "Jason... I never... I never knew you felt that way."
"Dammit, Phoebe. Don't cry. You're gonna make me cry, too..."
"Sniff..."
Phoebe paws at her eyes, and hiccups. "Oh, god. I feel like such an idiot. Why didn't I just tell you sooner? I always thought you'd be jealous, or that you'd pull away from me. I love you, Jason. You're the only man I have eyes for, but... sometimes, when I speak to Samantha, I just... I have this urge to close the gap between us, yet I never do. It tears me up inside."
"I feel terrible, too," I say. "I never realized you and Sam had such tension between each other. I always assumed when you ended up at the pit stop; you two were making a quick pit stop in each other's pit stops."
Phoebe sniffles. "...What?"
"You know... when you're racing. Sam's your mechanic, remember? That's why I mentioned pit stops...?"
"Jason. Why do you always have to make such terrible jokes at the silliest times?"
"Dunno. It's a curse."
Phoebe laughs. "Haha... ugh. My face hurts. I look like crap. Jeez, the worst part is, I'm not even the real Phoebe. I'm just her mind-clone. My original body doesn't even know I've told you all this."
I shake my head. "No. You are the 'real' Phoebe, equal to your original body. As far as I'm concerned, I have two loving wives. You might as well be her spiritual twin or something. Don't get so down on yourself."
Phoebe doesn't cheer up. She stares at the ground listlessly. "You can say that all you want, Jason. It doesn't change anything. I'm still just an errant soul living inside your Mind Realm. I don't have a physical body. I can use yours when you're not using it, but it's not mine. I'm only borrowing it."
The moment Phoebe finishes speaking, a strange, euphoric idea pops into my head. Like a lightbulb going off, I jump out of my seat and gaze forward with brightness in my eyes. "Ah! That's it! Phoebe, you're a genius!"
Phoebe pulls her head out of her hands. "...I am?"
"Yes. Think about it. You don't have a physical body. You can't interact with me, currently. However, that doesn't have to be the case. I'm a Wordsmith! I can create a new body for you and allow you to enter it whenever you want!"
Phoebe stares at the ground for a few moments before jumping to her feet. "N-no way! Jason, that's genius!"
"Yeah. I don't know if it will work, but it's worth a shot. Try making yourself a new body, then let me take over mine and I'll transfer-"
"STOP!"
Before I can finish my sentence, a masculine voice shouts from behind me, making me jump out of my skin. I whirl around to see Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael standing less than twenty feet away. The expansive city park somehow seems much smaller with Gabriel's giant form towering above the nearest trees.
"Thou shalt do no such thing, foolish child," Raphael hisses. "Already, thou hath cloned thy wife's soul without comprehending the consequences. Verily, I tell thee now, that if thou go through with thy foolish plans, thou shalt irreparably harm the one thou claimeth to love."
With my mind still in a daze, I merely stare at the old man. "Huh? What do you mean, Raphael? Explain."
The Archangel of Wisdom flaps his wings. He slowly hovers nearer to me, all while maintaining a contemptuous grimace.
"Imbecilic child. Thou knoweth nothing of Soul Links. Tell me, Jason, what are souls?"
I shrug. "Um. The essence of a person? Their... core?"
"That description is not far from the truth," Raphael concedes. "However! It is far from encompassing the importance of a being's soul. Souls mustn't be considered trifles and playthings. Those who manipulate souls freely will accumulate terrible injuries, ones incurable by even the greatest healer. Look no further than Valac and Mephisto, necromancers who manipulate the dead to do their bidding. In exchange for tremendous power, they lost the vitality from their bodies."
"Alright," I reply. "What about Satan? He seemed just fine, despite being a soul manipulator like Valac. Hell, he was worse, in many ways."
Michael, instead of Raphael, replies. "Indeed. The Devil was a crafty bastard. He, too, manipulated souls to a fearsome extent. However, while he may not have lost his body, he lost his link to the strands of fate. That is why he eventually perished not ten thousand years after his emergence."
"Put another way, the Devil rapidly accumulated fatal amounts of bad luck," Gabriel explains. "Fate conspired to kill him. The Devil proved incapable of resisting the Creator's divine will, and thus, he expired."
I nod. "Fine. Manipulating souls is evil. I get it. What does that mean, though? What would making a body for Phoebe cost me?"
Raphael shakes his head. "I do not know. Each soul manipulator suffers their own agony. In my case, I ended up trapped alone inside this ring. However, in thy case, I speaketh of the evils of soul manipulation not to protect thee, but to shield thy wife."
Raphael continues. "Every time a soul separates from a vessel, it suffers irreversible trauma. Thou hath cloned thy wife's soul. Her clone has, no doubt, suffered some level of memory loss. Her mood swings are not a mere byproduct of her situation, but directly linked to the circumstances of her creation!"
Raphael stabs a finger toward me.
"Thy reckless use of soul manipulation has caused thy wife's errant soul to suffer! Thou art the cause of her pain. Further, by trading places with her, not once, but multiple times, the two of thee have injured thy souls even further!"
This time, Raphael's words hit home.
"You mean... by allowing Phoebe to take over my body, I've somehow injured both our souls?"
Raphael nods. A solemn look appears on his face.
"That is correct, young Hero. Imagine, for a moment, that someone were to take a piece of paper and draw a face on it. We might call this the creation of a soul. However, if one intended to remove the face and place it upon another piece of paper, how might they do so?"
I shrug. "Um. Maybe they'd wet the paper and place another piece against it?"
"Indeed. They might succeed in copying half of the original image, but in doing so, the copy and the original would only be half as vibrant as before! This situation is a suitable allegory for when thou dids't copy Phoebe's soul from her original body. The copy and the original body were both harmed by thy actions."
"Another method," Raphael continues, "would be to take a drawn face and tear it from the page. Thou woulds't then be capable of gluing the face to another page. And thus, thou woulds't perfectly move the face from one page to another."
I frown. "But wouldn't that damage the original page? It would still ruin the paper and it wouldn't look good at all."
"That is correct," Raphael says, nodding vigorously. "After copying Phoebe's soul, thou inadvertently attached the copy to thy Mind Realm. By detaching thy soul from thy body and allowing Phoebe to take over, she ended up tearing herself away from her anchor point, and then tore her anchor yet again when she returned to thy Mind Realm. These repeated actions have injured thy soul, as well as hers."
Raphael cocks his head.
"Tell me, Hero. Have thou suffered any mental issues over the last few years? Headaches? Indecision? Paranoia? Irrational bursts of emotion?"
After closing my eyes and thinking for a moment, I shake my head.
"No. I don't think I have."
"So thou sayeth. The effects of soul manipulation can be both subtle and dramatic. Tis' difficult to spot their effects until they have become irreparable. However, this aged one has a method!"
Raphael makes a motion with his hands. Several magical symbols appear in the air, forming a diamond within a circle. After a few moments, the sensation of a whirlpool swirls within my head, yanking me out of my Mind Realm.
I awaken moments later, fully in control of my main body. I turn my gaze inward to see Phoebe standing before Raphael, her soul having returned to my Mind Realm.
Raphael forces a grim smile. "'Tis no secret to thee that I am one of the mightiest soul manipulators in existence, young Hero. Worry not. My powers are severely limited, so long as I reside within my ring. I have safely swapped thy mind with thy wife's, but doing so again without harming either of thee would be beyond even my means. Now, look closely at Phoebe's errant soul with thy Wordsmithing."
A sense of worry seizes me as I realize what Raphael just did to me. Without my permission, the old man actually managed to manipulate not only my soul but Phoebe's as well, all while possessing a sliver of his former power.
It's dangerous, allowing Raphael inside my Mind Realm. I'll need to come up with countermeasures to protect myself from not only him, but others of his ilk.
I shift my focus onto Phoebe. "Examine."
Unsure of what to look for, I turn my attention toward my mind-wife's mana pathways, as well as her internal magic structure. As a non-Hero, she possesses a complete lack of mana, similar to any other human. However, thanks to my various Wordsmithing empowerments, she appears far more fit and full of vitality than other people.
I gaze at her with clinical dispassion, but even after five minutes, I don't see anything wrong.
"Sorry, Raphael. What am I supposed to see?"
"Look toward Phoebe's brain," Raphael replies. "Or, more specifically, the area of her soul which she visualizes as a brain."
I frown. "What do you mean?"
"Souls can take any form they wish," Raphael explains. "For example, if Phoebe wished, she could transform her soul into a giant arachnid, or a fearsome dragon. However, 'tis all but impossible for someone untrained in soul manipulation to morph their soul into anything beyond their self-image. Thy wife still remembers her physical appearance, so she materializes within thy Mind Realm as a facsimile of her physical body."
This time, it's Phoebe who responds. "Wait, are you saying I can change my appearance if I just imagine myself looking different?"
Raphael scoffs. "Nay! All beings possess an indelible image of themselves. To merely change thy appearance would require a tremendous amount of willpower and self-actualization, unlike any I've seen before. For example, if I were to imagine my soul possessing four arms instead of two, I might succeed two times out of ten, due to the image of myself I've implanted in my mind over the- what?!"
Raphael stops mid-sentence. He stares, wide-eyed, as Phoebe's hair color changes from white to crimson. Freckles appear on her face, and her height increases by half a foot.
"Wow! This isn't hard at all!" Phoebe marvels. Her skin becomes noticeably more youthful, and her eyes change from green to yellow and red, mimicking a demon's irises. "Amazing! I can feel all the changes happening in my soul every time I imagine them!"
Raphael's eyes nearly bug out of his head. "W-w-what?! Preposterous! How can an untrained mortal- gah! I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it with my own eyes!"
Phoebe laughs, oblivious to Raphael's astonishment. Behind the old man, both of his brothers wear equally long faces.
"Impressive," Michael mutters. "The human wench is a damned natural at altering her self-image."
"Long has it been since I've seen Raphael in such a confused state," Gabriel adds. "The look on his face is more than a little amusing."
It doesn't take long before Phoebe changes her appearance to mimic Belial, then she changes into Daisy, Raphael, and even me. Each change makes her clap her hands and dance around excitedly. "Boo-yah! Haha, I'm the best! That's right; Queen Phoebe is here!"
I smirk, sending a smug look toward Raphael. "You were saying?"
Raphael tugs on his beard angrily. "No! Dammit, Jason! Look closely! Thy wife's situation is far from optimistic. Do as I said and gaze at her mental pathways."
I nod and follow Raphael's instruction. When I peer more closely at Phoebe's 'brain,' all of my smug satisfaction vanishes.
Inside my wife's head, along with the bright blips indicating her brain's activity, I notice several tiny, almost insignificant-looking 'smudges.' Resembling drops of ink spilled onto a piece of paper, each one appears far darker than the area surrounding it.
"Oh my god."
Raphael nods furiously. "Thy wife's actions are far from normal, young Wordsmith. Even her vocabulary has changed since I swapped thy souls. If she is capable of changing her appearance so easily, it can only mean she has lost her sense of self-image. This means her condition is quite dire. Use thy Wordsmithing and attempt to repair the blemishes staining her soul. If we are lucky, thou shalt return her to normal."
Phoebe continues changing her appearance. To my horror, I realize that each time she does, the blemishes on her soul increase in number, adding another spot or two.
"Phoebe. Please, stop," I say. "You can't keep changing your appearance. You're hurting yourself."
My mind-wife scoffs. "Psh! You're just jealous, hubby! I can do something you can't. Nyeh!"
Phoebe sticks her tongue out at me. Her pose makes me nauseous.
The Phoebe I know would never do such a thing. She's always been a stoic person, not someone who indulges in her emotions.
Without hesitation, I target Phoebe's soul.
"Repair. Repair. Repair."
One by one, I target each of the soul blemishes, erasing them bit by bit.
It takes me nearly fifteen minutes to repair the damage. Eventually, I finish, allowing Phoebe to slump to the grass inside my Mind Realm. She rests her face in her hands. "I... I feel like shit."
Raphael places a hand on her shoulder, comforting her with his touch. "Were thou to continue for much longer, I fear thy memories might have degraded permanently."
"Maybe," I counter, "but I did heal all of her soul blemishes. Doesn't that mean I erased all of her soul manipulation's negative symptoms?"
"Perhaps, but I would not bet my life on it," Raphael cautions. "I have done my part to avert thy crisis. Now, moving forward, thou knoweth enough to avoid placing thy loved ones in precarious situations."
With a dismissive wave of his hands, Raphael turns his back on Phoebe and starts hobbling away.
"Continue with thy plans, Wordsmith. However, do not assume thy Wordsmithing is omnipotent. It has many points of failure, like any power. Rely on it at thy own risk."
"Oh," Raphael continues, "be certain to check thy soul for blemishes, too. If thy wife possesses them, thou surely do as well."
Raphael and his brothers fade away, leaving Phoebe and me alone.
"Are you okay?" I ask.
"I don't know," Phoebe replies. "But now I understand why I was so good at impersonating Sam. I doubt I could do it again, the way I am now."
"Maybe. Maybe not," I counter. "Inspect."
I turn my gaze inward, examining my soul with Wordsmithing.
However, after more than ten minutes of searching, I find nothing wrong with myself whatsoever.
My soul remains uninjured.
Why would Phoebe suffer wounds to her soul, but not me?
...Have I, perhaps, overlooked something?
Next Part
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2020 Psychedelic Industry Insights Report

By: Nikita Alexandrov BChem, MBA - CTO, ThinkMyco
Jan 8th, 2020
2019 was a pivotal year in the psychedelic industry with US decriminalization actions, two companies receiving FDA breakthrough status for psilocybin, funding of the $16M Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Research Center, The US Defence Department starting their rumored $20M+ Focused Pharma psychedelic science program and the movement of top universities into research and clinical trials. With the explosion of the more than $100M dollars worth of investable psychedelic opportunities in Q3 2019, the collapse of high quality cannabis investments, one of the best Decembers on record and a potential $1B scale psychedelic IPO - 2020 will be the year of psychedelic investment.
The movement in the field recently is just a blip compared to what is to come, this industry has been brewing for the last few decades. Big Pharma has failed when it comes to new approaches to brain and central nervous system treatment. Due to poor understanding of mechanisms, complex clinical trials and systematic side effects, Neuro drugs have half the success rate of all Pharma projects, which caused most of the big players to reduce or cut their Neuro programs in the last decades. Recently, engagement is exploding with new clinical legislature supporting Neuro and the recent approval of 3 potentially blockbuster Neuro drugs in the last 2 years,
Q2 2019 saw a record of over $320M in investment into Neuro drug development. Interestingly enough an influential group of ultra-high net worth individuals including PayPal founder Peter Thiel funded the psychedelic holding company Atai Lifesciences which went on to fund Compass Pathways and continues to fund commercial efforts in this field. Atai Lifesciences recent movements are a familiar story of acquisition and consolidation in an emerging market which will be a common theme in the future of the psychedelic industry. In 2019 Atai Lifesciences acquired Perception Neuroscience and GABA Therapeutics for their next generation tranquillisers. Last week, Atai also acquired NeuroNasal, a non-psychedelic company creating a concussion nasal spray. In partnership with pharma, Atai's recent launch of EntheogeniX, an AI based psychedelic drug discovery platform, shows that Atai is serious about making investments into the fundamental research required to continue being an industry leader in the long-term. It is rumoured that Atai has made a number of cash investments recently, so new partnerships and acquisitions should be expected in the next months.
The collapse of investable cannabis opportunities are driving investors comfortable in stigmatised industries and binary risk to the table with big pharma, cutting edge science and huge unmet market needs to create a perfect storm of opportunity.
Highlight:
Investors seek 'mega blockbuster' drugs as neuroscience undergoes renaissance
How big is the Psychedelics Industry?
Historically, the psychedelics industry has been fragmented with around $60M worth of companies in the last 20 years, many of which were not sustainable. The current industry is around $220M+ worth of investments, dominated by the Peter Thiel backed Atia Lifesciences at $100M+ and Compass Pathways at $50M+, followed by Mind Medicine at $10M+, Fieldtrip Ventures at $10M+ and then a 10-25 early companies in the range of $2.5-10M each. The $220M+ worth of investable deals have only existed since the public formation of Compass Pathways in 2016, with the majority leaving stealth mode in 2019.
Highlight:
Transforming psychedelics into mainstream medicines
How big is the Psychedelics Market?
The psychedelics market is emerging while highly coupled to clinical/regulatory events and is split between recreational and medical psychedelic markets:
Recreational: $8-19.2B
Calculated from cannabis market and comparable usage prevalence as well as demand size economics.
Medical: $373B+
Calculated from the main markets addressable by psychedelic therapeutics (neurogenics market): mental health drugs, therapy spending, neurodegeneration drugs and cognitive enhancement.
Highlight:
Analysis of the Psilocybin Pharmaceutical Market
Who are the players?
Atai Lifesciences - German based, Global psychedelic pharma holding company formed by ultra-high net worth individuals and big pharma, $100M+
Compass Pathways - London based psychedelic giant, Atai's bet on psilocybin as an approved drug for depression, $50M+, IPO 2020
Usona Institute - A Wisconsin based non-profit powerhouse competing with Compass Pathways to approve psilocybin for depression.
Mind Medicine - Toronto based ibogaine derived addiction drug development company taking their lead candidate 18-MC through the clinical approval process, $15M+, RTO in 2020
Eleusis Benefit Corporation - New Orleans based discovery/clinical stage Psychedelic pharma company supported by industry scientists, raising $25M
FieldTrip Ventures - Toronto based, Aurora backed magic mushroom research and development company building clinical and production infrastructure, raising $12M+
ThinkMyco - Vancouver based holding company developing disruptive mushroom production technology and next generation therapeutics, raising $5M+
Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals - Psychedelic drug discovery company affiliated with the Atai owned Perception Neuroscience and Columbia University, raising 10M+
Universal Ibogaine - Vancouver based Ibogaine clinical development company franchising the world's most advanced ibogaine clinical model, raising $10M+, RTO in 2020
PsyGen Labs - Alberta based psychedelic mass production and clinical research company with highly experienced production chemists $8M+
Entheogen Biosciences - Vancouver based company pursuing psilocybin and DMT based drug development, raising $3M, IPO in 2020
Salvation Botanicals - A Vancouver based company touting a private controlled substances site license and supporting clinical research, raising $10M+, RTO in 2020
Numinus Wellness - Vancouver based wellness company building testing as well as clinical infrastructure, partnered with Salvation, raising $5M+, RTO in 2020
Cybin Corp - Toronto based research and development company building drug development and production infrastructure as well as nutraceutical assets in legal jurisdictions, raising $3M
Emerging Players - There are a number of emerging players, around $35M+ in emerging deals in Q3 2019 which have not passed due diligence.
Clinical:
Recent data is showing psychedelics can be real mega blockbuster Neuro drugs. Johns Hopkins recent trial on Psilocybin for smoking cessation showed an 80% success rate in terminating nicotine addiction, more than double any known therapeutic approach, including nicotine replacement therapy. This is showing addiction can be treated with new mechanisms that are much more low level than replacing the drug in the receptor. Academic data unequivocally shows that Ibogaine is 95% successful in terminating acute opioid withdrawal symptoms permanently from a single dosage. Limited data from long-term Ibogaine for opioid addiction trials show 50% success rates in terminating addiction in the 6 month period with a single dosage, more than 10X higher than the generous 5% success rate of other approaches in the 6 month period. Data from leading Ibogaine providers like Universal Ibogaine show that this 50% figure can be pushed closer to 75% with proper protocols and aftercare. Clinical trials on Psilocybin for cocaine/crack addiction are ongoing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a top 20 medical research university. 10 patients were un-blinded for bioethics review and the unpublished data shows that 30% never touched crack again while the other 70% had a relapse or two and turned their lives around, showing a 100% success rate in changing lives with minimal cost. When this data is available publicly in the next years, tidal waves of interest will move into the field.
Highlight:
Psychedelic Clinical Research Timeline
Projections:
As a recreational market, 0.1% of the population was surveyed as using psychedelics in the last month, placing the current black market at $19.1B while as a comparable percentage of the legal cannabis market adjusted for prevalence would place it at $8B.
As a medical market, the $373B neurogenics market seems to be the addressable market. Penetration into any indication in the neurogenics market would reap vast rewards. Psilocybin is on track to compete in the depression market with two FDA breakthrough designations, a 2% penetration into the depression market would being $1.4B+ in value yearly. Ibogaine's very reasonable projected 5% penetration into the opioid dependence market in the next 10 years will bring $9.6B+ in value yearly to groups like Universal Ibogaine which are deploying clinical infrastructure, supporting clinical trials and controlling the Ibogaine supply chain. Of all of the indications in current psychedelic clinical trials, not considering crossover, they address a $400B+ market, with projected penetrations across each indication and adjustments for market factors, it is projected $16B+ of value yearly will be created from commercialisation of the current late stage clinical trials which are in progress.
Highlight:
Johns Hopkins Psilocybin for Smoking Cessation Data
Challenges:
Regulatory Challenges:
While nearly 100 cities are creating legislation to decriminalize psychedelics and multiple US jurisdictions have passed decriminalization, federal changes will be required to open legal markets to the full potential. While investing in the binary risk of regulatory changes is standard in the junior markets, current regulatory controls are preventing early revenues. Many Canadian companies building production and distribution infrastructure offshore in jurisdictions such as Jamaica are operating in a legal grey area. While it is legal in Jamaica, any benefit or advantage given to a Canadian company could be considered a proceed of crime including IP development, capital repatriation and validation of technology offshore. Section 56 exemptions from Health Canada are required for Canadian companies working with psychedelics offshore and companies which are raising investment dollars without a secured Section 56 exemption may be incurring legal risk.
Cardiac Liability:
The unspoken elephant in the room of psychedelic derived pharmaceutical acceptance is not regulation, for example Ketamine is a scheduled drug which was recently approved for the general market. The problem is actually the liability of bringing a seratonergic based drug to the market like Psilocybin, DMT and LSD. The crippling withdrawal of blockbuster drug Fen-Phen and issues with other drugs like Imitrex due to seratonin agonist effects on the heart have scared the FDA into a position that any seratonergic drug will require extreme cooperation and diligence and will absolutely incur additional clinical and monitoring costs over other drugs. Psilocybin while technically hitting the 5ht2b receptor which causes cardiac side effects, does not have a high enough affinity to be a deal-breaker, meanwhile LSD having a very high affinity will cause large barriers for groups attempting to bring microdosed LSD to the market. Ibogaine suffers from cardiac liability due to an entirely different mechanism and unlike Psilocybin or LSD, adverse events have been reported. While Methadone and other standards of care also have the same long-QT cardiac liability at much higher rates and significantly higher mortality rates , Ibogaine clinical models must pre-screen patients for existing heart defects before procedures to guarantee no adverse side effects.
Banking/Insurance/Exchange Issues:
Legitimate psychedelic derived drug development companies have already had bank accounts halted at multiple banks for involvement in this industry and moving forward similar challenges faced by the cannabis industry should be expected. Exchanges and public offerings will have logistic challenges with this industry and minor friction has already been seen in the listing process. DNO insurance and other underwriting will be required to list in large markets and to date no psychedelic company has been underwritten, although underwriters and leading insurance brokers are actively exploring his industry.
Reimbursement:
The real whale will be insurance and single payer reimbursement of psychedelic derived pharmaceuticals on the market, allowing for global market uptake. Health systems have traditionally been decades behind the state of the art as seen in the point of care and home diagnostic device market, a market which could keep people healthy at minimal cost but has been crippled by lack of reimbursement.
Supply Chain Commoditization:
The production and control of psychedelic supply chains which is the familiar play of the cannabis industry will be a race to the bottom with magic mushrooms and other psychedelics. Production models are competing with a much more fluid black market and are being cannibalized by low cost home production and wildcrafting of psilocybin mushrooms. The LSD or ergoloid supply chain is highly monopolized, with the majority of the worlds ergoloids being produced in a single location. Companies competing in the production and supply chain space will face heavy price pressure and a highly coupled global regulatory system. The single outlier is Ibogaine, with a current global use estimated around 90kg, expected to reach 280kg in the next few years, this is a commodity whose price will drive through the roof. Large ibogaine producers have stopped production and natural sources are not commercially viable, with an Iboga plant producing maybe a single dose on the 10 year period, the move of Ibogaine to endangered status in 2019 and no synthetic GMP producers - the Ibogaine market is legal in the majority of the world and exploding while highly underserved and fragmented.
Delivery System Challenges:
A number of recent psychedelic deals are built around new drug delivery systems for psychedelics entering the recreational market to build expertise and infrastructure ready to move into the pharmaceutical market. Many of these technological approaches will not translate from the recreational market to the pharmaceutical market such as CBD/psychedelic compositions, natural product compositions as well as vaporizer and inhaler based delivery systems. While 20%+ of all new FDA drug entities are derived from natural products, natural product mixtures containing many products and a controlled substance have never and will never be FDA approved due to the regulatory system. Companies developing Psilocybin/CBD combinations and related therapeutics for the recreational market should understand that unlike the cannabis market, recreational approaches will not translate directly to medical approaches.
Opportunities:
Syndicated Investments:
One of the largest opportunities in any emerging market is syndicated investment, a 2002 analysis of 584 venture backed exits showed that syndicated investments produced double the rate of return of non-syndicated investments. Psychedelic research and development companies require standardized infrastructure that can be leveraged across a number of players. The big players entering the industry are more interested in empire building, requiring massive consolidations of commercial efforts which can be facilitated by syndicated investment groups. Companies like ThinkMyco, Entheogen Biosciences and Cybin Corporation which focus on technology development, IP Portfolios and early stage drug discovery will benefit the most from syndicated investment and collaboration. A Harvard Business School review of Pharma discovery programs statistically compared drug discovery programs to weapons research programs and found in these high reward/low incremental cost programs the optimal path is to run parallel programs, with an average Pharma drug discovery program having 16 parallel programs, 10 core and 6 low budget/high risk. At the current moment, around 5-10 psychedelic investment funds are forming in the range of $10-50M each, including the Cannacord Genuity backed Entheos and the $20M psychedelic quant fund Tabula Rasa Ventures.
IP Portfolio Development:
IP development is the highest value for dollar on the investment value chain and the psychedelic industry will be a totally IP driven industry. The most valuable patent portfolios will include new psychedelic compositions and therapeutic mechanisms, which require significant investments into fundamental R+D, while less competitive portfolios will include delivery system/psychedelic combinations.A recent review of patents related to psychedelics shows many hundreds of patents for psychedelic derived therapeutics with only a small cross-section being commercially competitive. DemeRX, the $40M+ Ibogaine research company holds 65+ patents in the ibogaine therapeutic area. While DemeRX filed for bankruptcy and their research and development assets were liquidated, it is rumored they have been injected with enough capital to come back to the party - this is a dark horse to keep an eye out for.
Mushroom/Protein Connection:
The real opportunity in magic mushroom production models is flying under the radar: protein production. Mushrooms are one of the highest quality sources of nutrition and protein, if you took a vitamin C supplement you can live exclusively off mushrooms. Dried mushrooms have basically the same protein percentage as beef and in terms of grams of protein per acre per year are 100 fold higher producers and much more sustainable than traditional agricultural practices. Companies in this space which invest into real R+D for lower cost mushroom production will get a lift from the $1.8+ trillion dollar protein market. A recent review of mid-sized mushroom farms shows that 50%+ of the cost of mushroom production is due to labor and technical inefficiencies. If energy, labor and materials cost drivers can be reduced, and the cost of growing a pound of mushrooms can drop from around $2 to around $0.75 through automation, mushroom protein becomes significantly more commercially competitive than many of the industry leaders in plant based protein like pea protein. If energy cost reductions can drop the cost even further, mushrooms will become a disruptive food source. Psychedelic companies building mushroom production infrastructure will be well served to remember that by investing in automation, new technology and new growing systems the price of mushroom based protein production can make it more competitive than any other food source. The largest food security report in history was released Q2 2019 and showed that without subsidies a hamburger would cost more than 30$ and the meat industry will economically collapse by 2040, the protein game is looking more and more attractive as a hedge against the regulatory risk of magic mushroom production.
China:
China is one of the most advanced markets in terms of size and pharma spending, as well as venture investment. Traditionally the Asian cultures had no interest in marginalized and politically tense areas such as drug medicalization but the movement into CBD and China's rabid interest in plant medicines may create a large influx of Asian capital moving into psychedelics. This industry shifting action will be leveraged by education and the court of public opinion. A dialog must be created showing psilocybin as a plant medicine and not a drug of abuse. Interestingly enough, Chinese firms have very recently started producing magic mushrooms industrially and importing them into the Canadian market where they are sold into the black market over-the-counter in some Canadian herbalist stores.
Ibogaine:
Ibogaine is the only psychedelic model which will not be very quickly commoditized. Ibogaine as a solution to the opioid problem is a disruptive technology, with the rise of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs like carfentanil dominating global supply chains, Buprenorphine, the preferred standard of care is no longer effective and produces a life threatening condition called Precipitated Withdrawal. This is due to the aggressive affinity of fentanyl to receptors, the lack of tolerance ceiling and the little understood metabolism of next-generation fentanyl analogues, dramatically compounding a problem already at pandemic levels. Ibogaine supply chains have collapsed at the same time that demand is growing exponentially, the firm which dominates the current global ibogaine supply chain will reap around $1.4M/mo profit serving the current global demand. One of the largest African Ibogaine brokers has seen a 30x increase in sales from 2017 to 2019. With Universal Ibogaine taking Ibogaine through the Canadian clinical process and the grassroots support from Health Canada, Ibogaine will be the first psychedelic approach available to consumers. While Ibogaine is a scheduled drug in the US and some European jurisdictions, it is not scheduled in Canada and the majority of the global market. Multiple Ibogaine documentaries are in filming, including actors such as Johnny Depp, as this is an education driven industry, we should expect exponential growth to accelerate in 2020.
Support Industries:
Industries supporting the growth of psychedelics will be a large part of the future landscape as was seen in the cannabis sector. A psychedelic business support network including education, conferences, business analysis and financing have already cropped up commercially. In Q3 2019 the renowned Cambridge House International Extraordinary Future conference created a panel for psychedelic opportunities. Two weeks before the conference there was a frantic rush and the majority of relevant psychedelic players were represented last minute in the panel discussion including: Compass Pathways, FieldTrip Ventures, Mind Medicine, Johns Hopkins, Dennis McKenna and ThinkMyco. Multiple psychedelic investment funds are forming alongside of industry press, consulting groups and other support interests. In Q3 2019, Dr. Matthew Thompson of Johns Hopkins and Dr. Charles Nichols of LSU/Eleusis Benefit Corporation helped organize the inaugural conference for the new journal called International Society for Research on Psychedelics in its home of New Orleans. Over 100 international scientists from top universities were represented, with the conference having to turn down many late registrations. Dr. Rolland Griffiths, head of the Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Research Center said "This was the best scientific conference I have been to in my entire career.".
Sub-perceptual dosing:
Microdosing was popularized by Silicon Valley, catalyzing the resurgence of the psychedelic industry but microdosing is a protocol built on unsound fundamentals. Research shows that the therapeutic effects of psychedelics are highly dose dependant, higher doses lead to better therapeutic effects. The microdosing supply chain model has excellent returns, with a pound of mushrooms costing less than 5$/lb to produce which provides around 1200X microdoses. When dosages increase past the perceptual threshold, the potential for adverse events such as bad trips exponentially increases. The ideal dosage seems to be just under perceptual threshold where you can still go about your day, but much higher than a microdose. This is industry standard with seratonergic pharmaceuticals, an example being the diet drug Belvique, which is closely related to psilocybin, dosed at the perceptual threshold for maximum effectiveness. Belvique can cause psilocybin like hallucinations if 4 tablets are taken as it is a seratonergic drug. High doses of psilocybin require a clinical infrastructure and in-patient experience, dramatically increasing costs and logistics overheads. Sub-perceptual dosed pharmaceuticals will be available for out-patient and take home treatment and in many cases may be as effective as full blown psychedelic experiences. Mind Medicine, ThinkMyco and Eleusis Benefit Corporation are leading the charge in sub-perceptual therapeutics.
Next Generation Drug Development:
Mind Medicine is taking the approach of engineering the hallucinations out of the therapeutic experience by removing parts of the molecule and are moving their drug, 18-MC through the clinical process. This is the ultimate high risk/high reward play in the psychedelic industry. 18-MC is modified which also changes a variety of important receptor binding effects. The modified receptors include the receptors responsible for neural growth factor release, cognitive effects, cardiac effects and the opioid system coupled NMDA receptor system. Since there is no data on the human use of 18-MC in opioid addicts, significant capital must be deployed before it is even known if 18-MC is as efficient as the parent molecule Ibogaine for treating opioid addiction, the ability to treat addiction in an out-patient setting with no cardiac toxicity - 18-MC will be the megablockbuster all investors in the neurogenic space are waiting for. ThinkMyco, Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals, Mind Medicine and Eleusis Benefit Corporation are leading the field in next generation drug development.
Lateral Drug Development:
While psychedelics address a $373B neurogenics market, companies such as Eleusis Benefit Corporation are showing they can address other unmet clinical needs such as chronic inflammatory disease. Eleusis is developing new psychedelic compounds for the treatment of inflammation, specifically within ophthalmology, and has recently published Phase I trial results revealing the safety and tolerability of low dose LSD in healthy older adults, with the intention of evaluating low dose LSD as a disease modifying therapy in Alzheimer's disease. Eleusis Benefit Corporation looks poised to cannibalize the $3B steroid therapeutic market. Not yet published research is showing Ibogaines potential as a therapeutic to treat sleep disorders. Johns Hopkins is currently reviewing the application of psychedelics in pulling patients from comas and vegetative states. The original pre-Mind Medicine clinical trials on the Ibogaine derivative 18-MC showed promise in treating Leishmania infection. BOL148, an inactive form of LSD, originally the placebo in human clinical LSD research, was found to in some cases to permanently terminate cluster headaches after a few doses and is being publicly demanded from the cluster headache community. These are the earliest days of understanding the application of psychedelic derived chemistry as new therapeutic approaches.
Public Health Engagement:
Looking at recently released data representing North American, working class adults, methamphetamine and fentanyl use is growing enormously and consistently. Linear regression of growth rates over the last 5 years projects a 380%+ increase in Fentanyl usage the next 15 years, with Methamphetamine projected at a 475%+ increase. This is concerning as there are more than a million high quality data points over 5 years and an R2 value of 90%+ which paints of picture of statistical certainty. This shows that the opioid crisis has moved from a lift caused by supply side drivers to an organically growing demand side driven pandemic, fueled secondarily by histories cheapest and most available synthetic drugs. With Johnson and Johnson settling with two counties in Ohio, projections have placed the total at $100B+ in fines for the opioid crisis in the next few years. State jurisdictions will shortly receive an enormous amount of cash that will be legally obligated to flow into anti-addiction spending. Due to poor outcomes and non-scalable approaches around advanced public health programs, there will be a flurry of legislature to address how to spend the $100B+ anti-addiction warchest. Players like Universal Ibogaine who have proven clinical models, can deploy infrastructure and guarantee statistically better outcomes will receive unprecedented amounts of non-dilutive government funding and will be the first to benefit from Decriminalization/Medicalization in the North American market. Players that can come to the table now at the state level and propose medicalization legislature as well as profitable clinical infrastructure with proven outcomes, could monopolize the entire US market. FieldTrip Ventures is developing Psilocybin clinical infrastructure while Universal Ibogaine is deploying proven clinical infrastructure already developed and proven by Clear Sky Recovery, the leading Ibogaine clinical experts with thousands of successful detox procedures and no critical adverse events.
Closing:
Like any emerging industry, there are challenges and growing pains but the blue-sky upside is unparalleled. "Black swan events are characterised by their extreme rarity, their severe impact, and the practice of explaining widespread failure to predict them as simple folly in hindsight." Due to changes in public opinion, a mental health and addiction pandemic as well as enormous movements of liquid cash, this sector is poised to explode in 2020.
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Decoding D&D's Playlist, Part I

This was too long so I had to put in two parts. Here is Part I. In early Spring, D.B. Weiss and Daniel Benioff helped create a new Spotify playlist: Game of Thrones: The End Is Coming. Upon doing so, they told For the Record in an email, “The answer to the ending is one hundred percent hidden in the playlist choices. No one will believe us, but it’s true.”
I spent some time going through each song and trying to figure out which character, which scenario, arc, storyline each song was about. I could be completely way-off, but it was fun. So here you. Enjoy! (Note: All songs link to full lyrics.)

Sleep Now in the Fire - Rage Against the Machine

Daenerys as the Mad Queen. I mean, this one is pretty obvious.
The world is my expense The cost of my desire Jesus blessed me with its future And I protect it with fire So raise your fists And march around Don't dare take what you need I'll jail and bury those committed And smother the rest in greed Crawl with me into tomorrow Or I'll drag you to your grave I'm deep inside your children They'll betray you in my name

Her Black Wings - Danzig

Now, this obviously fits Daenerys. I mean "Black Wings?" That gorgeous shot of Dany with Drogon's wings behind her in the final episode. Or... could it be about Arya? Especially from the first three episodes of the season.
Entwined with love Unclean she is
Everything Arya did, everything that she had ever done, every kill had been done for love, to avenge the people she loved, to protect those she loved. And yet, she was so surrounded, covered, engulfed in death that she was unclean.
See she comes On the eve of dusk In another form With a scent of rain upon her neck She brings the lust Supernatural Ceasing never On and on and on
Her stride is such Mortals freeze When she walks past And she comes down to me And she offers me sleep Under her black wings
Think about Arya flying down to kill the Night King, that fits with the “Under her black wings.” And “Mortals freeze when she falls by" and the mention of the “supernatural,” all fit the Faceless men training and her overall ability to walk silent and her skills. As for the "she brings the lust..." there was only one character that season who truly left anyone befuddled with lust and that was Arya for Gendry.
The bitch is come For those who wait Cross the breach in hell See she is Bedeviled with breasts Enchantment on legs
Continuing that final thought, we do see Arya as a sexual woman("Bedeviled with breasts /Enchantment on legs") for the first time that season. Oh, and, one can also take into account the fact that the Hound calls her a bitch all the time, the "little wolf bitch."
Or, it could be about Daenerys, because, yeah, "Black Wings." I just think that, overall, the song fits Arya better, though.

Immigrant Song (Remaster) - Led Zeppelin

The Army of the Undead want to take over Westeros.
We come from the land of the ice and snow From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow How soft your fields so green Can whisper tales of gore Of how we calmed the tides of war We are your overlords
I mean, yeah.

The End (Remaster) - The Doors

This could certainly be about Tyrion with regards to Jaime and Cersei, but something about it just says the Hound (and Arya) a bit more to me because of a line in the final stanza: “You’ll never follow me.” Plus, there is a reference to a “Stranger” in the song. The Hound’s horse was named “Stranger” and, of course, as was established (in my opinion) in the final season, the Hound=death and in the faith of the Seven, the Stranger represented death.
This is the end, beautiful friend This is the end, my only friend
The end of our elaborate plans The end of everything that stands The end No safety or surprise The end I'll never look into your eyes again
Can you picture what will be So limitless and free Desperately in need of some stranger's hand In a desperate land
Arya is the Hound’s only friend now that Gendry has become something more. And with what happened in "The Bells," it was the end of their journey together.
Now there is this stanza which is why one could think it references Tyrion thinking about his family with the references to father, brother and sister:
He went into the room where his sister lived, and...then he Paid a visit to his brother, and then he He walked on down the hall, and And he came to a door...and he looked inside "Father?" "Yes, son." "I want to kill you." "Mother, I want to fuck you"
But I took that as more allegorical, the Hound being the killer who is ready to finally kill his family, i.e., his brother. Furthermore, Ray Manzarek said about this song that Morrison "was giving voice in a rock ‘n’ roll setting to the Oedipus complex" and the lines about the father and mother derive from that mythology and essentially boil down to one principle, you can't escape your fate.
Oedipus' father banishes him because he is told that Oedipus will kill him and sleep with his mother. Years later, Oedipus meets a beautiful woman, they fall into bed, Oedipus fathers catches them and lo and behold!, it's his wife... and Oedipus' mother but neither know that, because Oedipus' father banished him to avoid the prophecy. Oedipus and his father fight, and boom! Oedipus kills his father. Ergo, you can't escape your fate. So... does that apply to the Hound killing his brother or Tyrion and his siblings? Could be both. I just think it leans more towards the Hound.
Then we come to the end of the song and it is full of profanity after profanity, the Hound’s calling card before leading to death and then the bolded line that just scream the Hound to Arya.
C'mon, yeah, c'mon, yeah Fuck me, baby, fuck yeah Fuck, fuck, fuck, yeah! Fuck, yeah! C'mon, baby Fuck me, baby, fuck, fuck, yeah Whoa, whoa, yeah, fuck, baby C'mon, yeah, huh, huh, huh, huh, yeah All right [...] It hurts to set you free But you'll never follow me The end of laughter and soft lies The end of nights we tried to die This is the end
On the other hand, if you take out the Stranger references and look at those specific references to brother, sister, father and how Tyrion had to let go of Jaime and Cersei and the Lannister of it all to move forward in many ways, it fits him best. Also, if you look at the line in the final stanza that is not italicized that fits Tyrion with his brother *and* sister.
So honestly, I could go either way even if I do lean a bit more towards the Hound.

Girl From the North Country - Bob Dylan

Yes, I know there is a line in this song that references the girl’s long hair lying past her breast, but regardless, everything else about this song just screams pre-season Gendry and Arya. It totally, totally does. It just reads as Gendry pining for Arya. Nothing else makes sense. N-O-T-H-I-N-G!
If you're travelin' in the north country fair Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline Remember me to one who lives there She once was a true love of mine
If you go when the snowflakes storm When the rivers freeze and summer ends Please see if she's wearing a coat so warm To keep her from the howlin' winds
I know that some have tried to fit it with Sansa and Tyrion, and I love them, but it just doesn’t fit them. Sansa is in no way Tyrion’s true love; she just isn’t. He hasn’t been thinking of her throughout his time away from her. We know that. We absolutely know that. It does not fit them, sorry Sanrion fans (I’m one of them). And Sansa and Arya are the only "girls" left from the North.
And since obviously Arya is not in the North at series' end (and I'm 100% convinced that Gendry is with her), I still see it as pre-season 08 Gendrya. It's just the feeling, the tenor and tone of it. Especially when you think of Gendry’s line to her in the second episode:
"The last time you saw me, you asked me to come to Winterfell. I took the long road…"
Yeah. So I feel like this one was about Gendry and his thoughts about Arya, maybe on the way to Winterfell upon finding out she was alive.

Mama Kin (Live Version) - Guns n Roses

I believe this one was about Cersei and how her life was spent living a lie, putting on a show, but it was all just that, a show.
And losin' touch with all that's real Whole lotta lover, keepin' undercover
Cersei so often just couldn’t face the reality of all the shit that was going on around her, through most of her relationship with Jaime, she kept that a secret and even kept her other lovers a secret from him.
You’ve been fadin’, always out paradin’
Cersei was always hiding who she really was, pretending to be the perfect queen, the perfect wife, perfect mother.
Spittin’ fire from your mouth just like a dragon
She did incest like the Targaryens. She was crazy like the Targaryens, but she wasn't a Targaryen.
You better check it out 'cause someday soonYou'll have to climb back on the wagon
It didn't last (duh), and she did NOT get a happy ending.
It ain’t easy livin’ like you want to
She became the queen, the ruler of the seven kingdoms, but NOTHING had come easy and it was always hard and she never had peace or happiness.
And workin' for daddy's such a drag You still stuff your mouth with his beans
She was always under Twyin’s control. She hated it, but she was always under his thumb, always playing by his rules.
So, I definitely saw this one as all about Cersei not being good enough, wanting more, but never getting it, giving up everything and never getting it. She should have cherished what mattered, but she didn’t and lost everything consequently. And that's what we saw in her final episode. She lost Jaime, she lost their baby, she lost her power. She lost it all.

Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

Daenerys as Mad Queen. Now, this could have been about Cersei, but there’s a line that screams treason, so… Dany.
I'm gonna fight 'em all A seven nation army couldn't hold me back They're gonna rip it off Taking their time right behind my back And I'm talking to myself at night Because I can't forget Back and forth through my mind

Howlin For You - The Black Keys

This is so obviously Gendry about Arya that they might as well have revealed it as such after episode 02, in the “Inside the Episode” video.
I must admit I can't explain Any of these thoughts racing through my brain It's true that baby, I'm howling for you

War - Grandson

Pretty clearly not just about the war against the Undead, but that the war for the Iron Throne still raged on despite the fate of humanity and that victory should have been something that brought everyone together, but you know... humanity.
And it's war in the east War in the west War up north War down south
Everywhere is war It's a war Oh, everywhere is war It's a war

Let Me Live/Let Me Die - Des Rocs

Arya again, specifically with Beric sacrificing himself to save her and then her going to kill the Night King. And then leading to her decision to live or to die in "The Bells."
I know pain, I know dread Look his eyes, they've turned to lead The tears don't stop the fire It's killing time
Back from the dead See your eyes, got nothing left Kiss me, I am the colder It's killing time
Oh, let me live, oh let me live, oh let me die Oh, let me live, oh let me live, oh let me die

Flugufrelsarinn - Sigur Ros

This was in Icelandic and here is the translation:
Hullabaloo, I rushed down to the lake A savior I made a ship and said a short prayer Because I was scared The sun shown and the lake flowed Sunflowers, sunflowers, the flies die But today I must save as many flies as possible In each hand I carry a string, determined I throw them into the abyss and try To draw the flies in before The smolts reach them where they fight The stream and water And so the day passes on Going on board, I had begun fighting the stream Which had already killed so many I can't breathe and I'm getting heavier with every wave I need a miracle Because I'm drowning sins I try to get onboard I pull ashore and save myself onto Onto the beach I lay on a hot rock and let myself dry again I throw myself into the abyss and try To draw in the flies before The smolts reach them where they fight The stream and water A breeze, completely soaked Bold, feels how the boat is out of the strongest current And the land slowly approaches He is both onboard, Sea and on land saving The flies that die here Though especially himself Eternal war and peace nowhere But someone has to sacrifice himself The days are long
With the references to a savior, a sacrifice, the water, the waves, the drowning and the sins, I think it's clear that this is about Theon and his sacrifice for Bran. Especially when you take into account what the title of the song translate to: "The Fly's Savior," and Bran is, after all, the Three-Eyed Raven. The last stanza absolutely screams Theon (on sea, on land) trying to save the "flies" that die here and always trying to save himself until the end "someone has to sacrifice himself." Makes me a bit teary-eyed. Very beautiful.
You can hear the song (with the Icelandic lyrics/English translation on the screen--well most of them and some vary, but they're mostly there) here.

Can’t Stop The Bleeding - Tom Morello feat. Gary Clark Jr. and Gramatik

An interesting note is that this song was added *right before* the finale. I thought after I first heard it that it would be about Tyrion realizing that Dany was not the one to break the wheel and that he would do would do something drastic about it. Yes, he made that realization, but quitting his job was not that drastic.
On the other hand... Jon's action in finding out that Daenerys was basically going to burn the world down if people didn't follow her vision, including his sisters? Well, that was pretty drastic. So I now believe this was about Jon and Jon realizing that no matter how much he loved her that he couldn't stop the bleeding of his heart, but he had to stop the bleeding of the world.
Frayed like myth, every fool caught it Sound like this, every fool bought it
Can't stop the bleeding, calling Can't stop the bleeding, oh
Fill my soul, it's hard to see Trouble found and trouble lost

Fire - Barns Courtney

Cleganebowl!
Oh gimme that fire Oh gimme that fire Oh gimme that fire Burn, burn, burn
Oh, a thousand faces staring at me Thousand times I've fallen Thousand voices dead at my feet Now I'm gone, now I'm gone, now I'm gone And my mother told me son let it be Sold my soul to the calling Sold my soul to a sweet melody Now I'm gone, now I'm gone, now I'm gone
The mother in the song is metaphorical or one could take it as the Mother of the New Gods and the Mother stands, among other things, for mercy and peace. And we all know that the Hound is not going to "Let it be" so it’s pretty clear that this is the Hound facing his deepest fear–diving headfirst into fire–at the same time finally getting his soul’s desire and finding his peace by taking out his brother.

Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea - MISSIO

The pretty gross relationship between Euron and Cersei, and after episode 05, "The Bells," more specifically, the demise of Euron Greyjoy! (The crowd cheers!)
The sweet surrender of silence forces me to live alone Locked and loaded, where the hell is peace of mind? I wait on you inside the bottom of the deep blue sea I wait on you inside the bottom of the deep blue
Welcome to my cage, little lover

Wave of Mutilation - Pixies

I thought this one was about Theon at first, but on further thought--because of the overall tone, I thin it's that lovely Euron again.
Cease to resist, giving my goodbye Drive my car into the ocean You'll think I'm dead, but I sail away On a wave of mutilation A wave of mutilation Wave of mutilation Wave Wave
I've kissed mermaids, rode the El Nino Walked the sand with the crustaceans Could find my way to Mariana On a wave of mutilation
Saying goodbye to Yara, the ocean references, "What is dead may never die" = "You'll think I'm dead, but I sail away," the mutilation theme, is what made me first think of Theon and, sure it could be about him, but.... there is a narcissistic quality to the lyrics that doesn't fit the Theon we knew by the latter half of the series. It is one that is much more fitting for Euron so I tend to think it's more about his DGAF-ness and the end to him and his destructive chaos that he left in his wake.

Wolf Like Me - TV On the Radio

I think this is about Sansa to Tyrion, using him to get to Dany.
Say, say, my playmate Won't you lay hands on me Mirror my malady Transfer my tragedy?
"Playmate" as in someone who is playing the 'game' with her, and the final two lines, the two of them sharing their fears, their miseries, knowing what the other has been through.
We could jet in a stolen car But I bet we wouldn't get too far Before the transformation takes And blood lust tanks and Crave gets slaked
My mind has changed My body's frame, but, God, I like it My heart's aflame My body's strained, but, God, I like it
They could work together, maybe even try marriage again, but both of them knew it wouldn’t last because there were too many ambitions and lusts and powerplays going on, not necessarily just within them but around them. Sansa has become stronger and smarter, she’s changed and it’s been hard and it’s still hard, but she likes it; she likes the power and the control.
Gonna teach you tricks that'll blow your mind Mongrel mind Baby doll, I recognize You're a hideous thing inside
She recognized his flaws, where she could manipulate himbecause she learned from Cersei and Littlefinger, and she knw that it wasn't just his brains that got him where he was, but he'd had luck help him too. I don't believe that Sansa saw Tyrion as a hideous thing inside, but the whole section above was how she did use their their relationship and manipulate what she knew of him him to help her family and the North--which was the right thing to do.
It's about her being able to manipulate him as Cersei and Littlefinger taught her. The only truly hideous characters inside left that final season were Euron and Cersei and none of the Starks would have interacted with them to fit this song. I feel that was just one part of the song that was definitely metaphorical.
Writhing under your riding hood
I think that the reference to "riding hood" was a key to this being about Sansa with the immediate jump to "red" from that phrase and Sansa’s red hair. Plus, you know, the whole "wolf" thing=Starks.

POWER - Kanye West

The best I can make of this is that it’s about Sansa getting through all that she has happened to her to be in control and she was now determined that one person was not going to be in power of all of them, especially not the North.
No one man should have all that power
I could be totally and absolutely wrong with this one. I'm not really a Kanye fan like at all and have no desire to try and dissect his lyrics any more than I already have spent on this.

Let’s Have a War - Fear

Cersei’s perspective re: the battle of King’s Landing.
Let's have a war So you can go and die! Let's have a war! We could all use the money! Let's have a war! We need the space! Let's have a war! Clean out this place!
Cuz, yeah.

Powa - Tune-Yards

I think (think) this is from Daenerys' perspective as she kept losing those she loved and trusted one right after the other,and that was on top of the North, Sansa, Arya, being against her. Finding out about Viserion, then Jorah, then Jon choosing the Starks over her, then Rhaegal, then Varys, then Missendei, then Tyrion. It was a bombardment of the lies, the frustrations, the humiliations, all of it.
I can never get to sleep I'm a rebel, rebel, no Hold me til I get to sleep Oh baby bring me home to bed
[...]
Your power Inside It rocks me like a lullaby Your power Inside It rocks me like a lullaby
[...]
Mirror, mirror on the wall Can you see my face at all?
[...]
Tell the truth I never mind 'Cause you bomb me with lies, humiliations everyday You bomb me so many times
But through it all, and in the end, she wants desperately to hold onto Jon's love, and he desperately wants to believe that she will be the good Queen he believes her to be.

Listen to the Lion - Van Morrison

The first half of this just screams the end of Jaime and Cersei:
And all my love come down All my love come tumblin' down All my love come tumblin' down All my love come tumblin' down Oh, listen listen To the lion Oh, listen listen listen To the lion inside of me (Oh, oh, oh)
And I shall search my soul I shall search my very soul And I shall search my very soul I shall search my very soul
For the lion, for the lion, for the lion Inside of me (Oh, oh, yeah)
And all my tears have flown
Right? That’s their end. Things literally came tumbling down on them, the lion inside Cersei, the Lannister sigil is the Lion, she was pregnant with their last child. All tears had flown because they died, couldn't anymore, right? So, obviously this song was about the end of Jaime and Cersei, except… for the next part of the song.
And we sailed, and we sailed, and we sailed Away from Denmark way up to Caledonia (x2) And we sailed, and we sailed, and we sailed All around the world And we sailed, and we sailed, and we sailed Looking for a brand new start
Or does it still fit them? Since clearly Jaime and Cersei didn't go sailing... Ah, but the whole "looking for a brand new start offers an alternative. This brand new start is maybe a dream. Van Morrison is nearly whispering towards the end, his voice husky with regret and wistful longing. One gets the feeling that the trips to Caledonia and Denmark, et al. were the hoped-for future, looking for that brand new start; it just never happened. And that fit Jaime and Cersei to a tee.
(Note: I'm aware that the song itself has an entirely different meaning from Van Morrison's point of view, but having a song called "Listen to the Lion," featuring "all my love come tumblin' down" as buildings literally came down on two of the three Lions left on the show... yeah, it had to be about them.)

Cold Cold Cold - Cage the Elephants

I’m thinking this one’s about Jon and his conflict over his identity, because first off we start early on with this line:
I’ve been breathing air but there’s no sign of life
Jon, technically, isn’t alive, being a fire wight and all, so, I’m just saying.
Tell me how hard will I fall if I live a double life
Jon Snow / Aegon Targaryen. Uh huh.
And as the darkness falls it fills up both my eyes My life before me like a flash in the night With my arms open wide
Well it's cold, cold, cold, cold inside Cold, cold, cold, cold inside Cold, cold, cold, cold inside Doctor can you help me cause something don't feel right Something don't feel right, something just ain't right
He found out all of this right before the Long Night. I mean, really could it be anything but Jon's existential crisis over this identity?

No One Knows - Queens of the Stone Age

This one may sound familiar as I did write about it in length in my Gendrya Wedded Belief post.
I do believe that is absolutely about Arya and the whole the Hound=Death and Gendry=Life theory.
And I realize you're mine Indeed a fool am I And I realize you're mine Indeed a fool am I
Gendry proposed, offered himself to her, asked her to be with him… and I personally believe that she did realize that she was a fool because he is hers (which is why she was wearing Baratheon colors in her last two scenes).
Oh, what you do to me No one knows
[...]
Heaven smiles above me What a gift here below But no one knows
A gift that you give to me No one knows
The Hound gave Arya a gift, he made her realize that it was time to LIVE her life, instead of dying everyday just waiting for death. Once upon a time, Arya was No One. Yuppers.

Wolves of Winter - Biffy Clyro

This has got to be Sansa giving some straight talk to Dany, and to Jon about Daenerys about the strength of the Starks and the North in general.
How's it gonna feel when there's no one to support ya? How's it gonna feel when you're standing there alone?
You are no exception There are no reruns Justify your reasons Now it is my turn
Your fits of paranoia Drive your every whim Well, have you seen her? This unbearable creature

Go to War - Nothing More

Daenerys to Jon episode 04, "The Last of the Starks," is what this one feels like it is referencing.
Screaming at the ones we love Like we forgot who we can trust Screaming at the top of our lungs On the grounds where we feel safe Do we feel safe? Do we feel safe?
She had lost so many people and felt like those she had she couldn’t completely trust. She didn't feel safe anymore.
Hush, my baby, make no sound Maybe we can wait each other out It's a cold war Let's go to war
With every settled score I thought that fighting with meant fighting for But you turned it around But you turned it around (War, war, war)
She doesn’t feel she has anyone completely on her side anymore.
Every feeling in my bones tells me to lash out And tell you, "fuck off" You've got my heart and I've got your soul But are we better off alone? With every battle, we lose a little more Remember everything that we died for You are everything that I die for
Daenerys still loved and wanted Jon, but Jon no longer could love her like *that.* And Dany kept losing more and more with every battle, and she hadn’t forgotten what she was fighting and what everyone that she loved had died for.

Little Monster - Royal Blood

I think this one is about Jon and Tyrion re: Daenerys.
Hey little monster, I got my eye on you Where are you going, where you running to? Hey little monster, you know it's all okay I'm gonna love ya, no matter what you say
Tyrion and Jon understood each other. They both loved Daenerys, albeit in (somewhat) different ways, and both had her love in return, albeit in (very) different ways. I'm thinking this one just had to do with Jon trying to come to terms with Tyrion telling him what he had to do--essentially kill Dany as Jon was the only who could in the end get close enough to her and be able to do it and be willing to do it for the good of the realm.
The next part of the song was more about Jon’s feelings for Dany and how Tyrion saw the Wolf in Jon Snow.
I've got love on my fingers Lust on my tongue You say you got nothing, So come out and get some Heartache to Heartache, I'm your wolf, I'm your man I say run little monster, Before you know who I am
Jon had Daenerys’ love and Tyrion didn’t. Jon took Dany out to protect the realm and Tyrion pushed him to do that, knowing that Jon would only do that for right and honorable reasons. They both loved her, differently, but both did the right thing.
I could be totes wrong, though. This is one of the ones I'm least sure about.
_________________________
This was part I, check out part II here.
Agree, disagree… thoughts? I’d really like to know what other people think.
submitted by araybian to GOT_TheUnbroken [link] [comments]

Cryopod Refresh 211: Harboring a Grudge

Kar and I spend the next several hours following the main 'road' that weaves across Hell Harbor's coastline. Comparing it to streets on Earth makes it seem extremely primitive, given how its surface is made of compacted dirt and not concrete or something more durable. Well-worn ruts in the ground tell a tale of the excessive number of carriages ferrying passengers along the coastline, from the north to the south.
We keep to the forested side of the road, opposite the ocean, ducking behind cover whenever we spot someone coming. Unfortunately, due to how my Wordsmithing functions, I can't keep us invisible forever. Doing so would drain my mana by three times its usual rate, and even moreso if I have to maintain Kar and Blinker's invisibility if we separate from each other.
So, instead, I activate my T-REX and set it to camouflage mode, allowing me to blend into the background scenery without wasting my mana. Kar's green skin allows him to melt into the forest with ease, while Blinker can just hide behind a leaf. When it comes to stealth, being small is an underrated attribute.
[Turtle,] Kar says, transmitting his thoughts to me from behind a tree. [I sense a single person coming around the next bend. Their mana level is unusually weak. I believe they are human.]
I nod. [One sec.]
I deactivate my T-REX and speak a word of power. "Sense."
My senses reach out half a mile ahead, where I quickly pick out a single human female riding a horse. However, unlike the other humans who've passed us, this lady wears extravagantly designed clothes. Her youthful appearance makes her look about twenty-five years old, while her haughty expression instantly reminds me of Beelzebub.
[It's a human woman,] I say. [I'm a little surprised to say this, but I think she isn't a slave. She's dressed like a noble, so she might know something about Ose's whereabouts.]
Kar grunts. [Hurgh. Shall we tie her up and interrogate her?]
[Ooh, good idea!] Blinker chimes in. [I'll disorient her with a little finger waving, while you guys get the rope!]
[What?! No!] I protest. [Jeez. I'll just ask the lady a few questions. Hang tight.]
With my physical appearance still a perfect facsimile of Mara, I stride over to lean against a tree alongside the road. Having absorbed many of Mara's memories, I've already learned more than a few of her quirks, so I pull out a deck of fake Tarot cards and pretend to glance through them, acting as if I haven't any interest in the world around me.
Within a minute or two, the sound of hoofs clopping against the ground reaches my ears. I flick my eyes to the side to spot the young, dark-skinned woman riding toward the Hell Harbor Annex at a speed I would describe as 'leisurely.'
As the woman draws near, I continue to stare at my cards while flipping through them. Eventually, she starts to pass me, only to slow to a stop.
"Hm? Mara? What are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?"
Immediately, I get a sinking feeling in my gut.
Shit. She knows me. Knows Mara, I mean. Phoebe?
Phoebe quickly appears at the top of my subconscious. She activates the terminal for Mara's memories and flips through them. "This young woman's name is... Lily! Lily Brown. Uhm, her father's name is Benjamin Brown, she lives at, uh... at the Slithering Spire... uhm..."
That's enough for now. Keep listening and try to give me answers to any of her questions.
I raise my head to stare at the young woman riding the horse. Her bright pink hair shines in the sunlight, giving her a cute and merry demeanor. However, the half-scowl on her face makes her attractiveness drop by several points.
"Lily. Don't mind me, I'm just passing the time," I say, while running a finger through my long, blonde hair.
"Oh, so now you call me by my first name," Lily mutters. "My father told you not to step foot within ten miles of the Spire, especially after what you did the last time we saw each other. You have a lot of nerve showing your face around here."
The sinking feeling in my stomach turns into a bottomless chasm. Goddammit. What were the odds we'd run into the one person who has beef with Mara? Shit. This is going to be a sticky situation.
"I, ah, came to apologize," I say, winging the conversation. "Some things happened that made me re-evaluate my outlook on life. I was abrasive and rude the last time I visited."
"Hmph. Understatement of the century," Lily hisses. "He was my brother, you filthy, bloodskinned bitch. Because of you, Tyrese can't have children anymore. You demons are all the same."
Lily exhales violently, flaring her nostrils in rage.
"If my daddy were here, he'd rip your bloody head off. I don't want your apology. I want you to drop dead."
Hoo, Christ, I think to myself. I really know how to pick 'em. Got the saltiest broad this side of the Mississippi.
"Yeah, you do," Phoebe says sarcastically. "Alright, so looking through Mara's memories, it seems this Tyrese kid made a crude joke about how humans are 'bigger' than the pathetic demonhoods most demons sport, and that pissed Mara off. She ended up castrating him. He screamed the whole time and went into shock, barely surviving thanks to this 'Ben Brown' guy's doctors on call. So, yeah, there's a lot of bad blood between Mara and Lily."
I hadn't noticed...
With a sigh, I don my most apologetic smile. "Look, Lily, I know I've done some terrible things, but I'd like to make it up to you. What would you say if I told you I had a method to, ahem, restore your brother's dignity? I can't undo the suffering I've caused him, but I do feel terrible. After all, a harmless joke is no reason to maim someone for the rest of their life."
A strange look appears on Lily's face. "Huh? What in the seven hells are you on about?! Since when have you ever been the type of person to regret hurting one of us 'filthy fleshbags'?! Admit it, you filthy skank! You're just afraid of my daddy! You know that if you piss him off again, he'll rip you limb from limb! Well, let me just tell you this, little miss pissy; you should be afraid! My daddy is the strongest human you'll ever face! So you'd better turn that ugly, fat ass of your around and haul it on out of here! Hmph!"
The more Lily talks, the more baffled I become.
Who the hell is her father, and how can he possibly be strong enough to instill such confidence in his daughter? Does Lily, perhaps, refer to political power? Are politics an integral part of Hell Harbor's society?
As several questions churn in my mind, Phoebe suddenly pipes up.
"Benjamin Brown! Ah, I remember, now. Jason, don't you recall Tucker's vision? His artifact used to belong to a man named Benjamin Brown, back during the Energy Wars."
That's impossible, I reply. Tucker's visions were from a hundred thousand years ago. Benjamin Brown would have surely died by now, if not during the war. Unless...
Phoebe nods. "Exactly. Marie survived all this time. She mentioned humans who lived on Hell Harbor, too. Benjamin Brown must be one of those 'elites' who obtained immortality and stayed alive long after the Energy Wars."
I see.
With a slight nod, I return my attention to Lily. Thanks to the speed of thought, conversing with my mind-wife only takes a split-second of real-time.
It's no wonder Lily isn't afraid of me. Benjamin Brown once possessed a legendary heroic artifact. He slaughtered Volgrim and demons alike. He's probably a total badass, and that's why even Demon Barons like Mara wouldn't dare to fuck with him.
Maybe I ought to pay him a visit.
After bowing my head, I nod apologetically. "Yes, uhm, you've got me there. Alright. I understand. If I can't make amends for my past actions, I'll leave you alone. Sorry for wasting your time."
I turn away from Lily and start to walk away, only for the girl to speak again, her voice much quieter than before.
"Wait. Something's not right, here. You've been acting awfully odd, 'Mara.' I've known you for a long time, and not once have you ever apologized or said you were sorry about anything. What's going on, here? Who are you?"
My heart skips a beat. Shit. Lily's onto me.
I spin on my heel while intending to reply, only for Lily to continue speaking. "Hah. I should have known. You're not Mara at all. You must be..."
She pauses for dramatic effect.
"...Belial! Oh, for devil's sake! Admit it! I've caught you red-handed this time!"
I groan inwardly. Shit. How am I going to deal with this turn of events?
"Don't worry," Phoebe says. She rapidly clicks and clacks on Mara's memory terminal. "This is actually fortunate for us. Belial and Lily are birds of a feather. It seems they hang out occasionally, though Mara's memory is quite spotty on the relevant details."
That's not good enough! I reply. We already stepped in a fat pile of shit by poorly impersonating Mara! I can't afford to screw up again by poorly apeing Samantha!
A split-second passes as Phoebe considers my words.
"Jason. I have an idea. I want you to allow me to take over your body for a bit. I know Sam much better than you. I think I can imitate her, but I need to have full control. If I try to tell you what to say, you're bound to come off sounding stiff and clunky. Impersonations are not your specialty."
I barely even have to think about Phoebe's request. Sure. You know how to use my Wordsmithing if the going gets tough, right?
"Naturally."
Alright. Here goes nothing. Do your best, sweetie.
With a mental command, I close my eyes, willing my consciousness to lower its defenses. Phoebe's soul quickly engulfs mine, wrapping me in its warmth and allowing her to take control of my body.
Having already done this once, back when my soul departed to investigate Marie and the Volgrim, she still surprises me by completing the mind-swap effortlessly.
My consciousness falls into a dark abyss, one which quickly brightens up, allowing me to step foot inside my very own Mind Realm. My soul, now detached from my body, lands amidst a field of buildings ripped straight out of the 2020's.
"You caught me!" Phoebe says to Lily, her voice lilting cutely. She acts embarrassed for a moment and covers her face, all while secretly whispering, "Disguise," under her breath.
Phoebe, now fully in control of my body and Wordsmithing, uses a word of power to transform from Mara into Belial, shedding her regal Baron appearance for a far less dressed, more striking one.
"Teehee! It's me!" Phoebe says, sticking her tongue out. Her voice perfectly mirrors Samantha's, reminding me further of how versatile my Wordsmithing can be. "I'm surprised it took you so long to figure me out! Aren't we besties?"
"Oh, Beli," Lily says, clicking her tongue. "I should have known it was you! How have you been? I haven't seen you in, what, two years?"
The young woman slides one of her legs around the horse and hops to the ground. Her leather boots clomp against the dirt as she lands, and my wife holds out a hand to steady her.
"Two years? Hmm... you know me! I don't pay much attention to the time! I always- mgm?!"
Before she can finish her sentence, Phoebe gets thrown off-balance when Lily suddenly turns around, grabs the back of her head, and presses their lips together.
I stand within my Mind Realm, eyes wide open at the sudden change in Lily's attitude. Where before, she was a haughty, reserved noblewoman, she suddenly blooms into an erotic-minded temptress.
Phoebe, even more startled than me, only manages to hold herself together by remembering her job of mimicking Belial. She presses back into the kiss and returns Lily's embrace with twice the intensity. Both of them go at it for several long seconds, making me feel insanely awkward as a passive observer.
My wife, who has taken over my body, is now pretending to be her best friend while making out with a woman neither of us knows! What the hell is going on?!
After more than ten seconds of furious tongue-punching, Lily pulls away, her cheeks beet-red. "Devils! It's been a while since you, ahem, retorted so passionately! Have we been apart for so long that you've forgotten to act coy and indifferent?"
Phoebe smacks her lips. Lily's taste lingers just long enough to turn her foggy-brained. "Coy? I, ah... well, what can I say! Haha... I like to do my own thing!"
"No kidding," Lily sighs. She fans herself for a moment before clearing her throat. "Ahm, so, Beli, dear! Why are you out here, all by your lonesome? Don't tell me you were waiting for me to come waltzing by! Pulling such a horrid joke on me is in terrible taste!"
Phoebe doesn't reply for a second or two. Thanks to our mind-link, I notice her use of telepathy increases substantially as she excavates Lily's surface level-thoughts.
"Well, I have my reasons. It's been a while since I returned to Hell Harbor, and you just happened to come trotting down that road. What's a girl to do, if not improvise?"
"Tsk, you've always been an enigma," Lily says, clicking her tongue. "Daddy says you've been on Tarus II, helping out a bunch of humans. Is that what happened, or is his intelligence network wrong again?"
To my surprise, Phoebe doesn't give a direct answer.
"Hmm. What do you think?"
"I think that's exactly the kind of thing you'd do!" Lily replies. She jumps toward Phoebe and wraps her arms around Phoebe's succubus form. "You're always way too kind and compassionate! If it weren't for your help, Tyrese would never have made a full recovery!"
"Oh, I didn't do all that much," Phoebe says, feigning ignorance. "You're giving me way too much credit, Lily, dear."
"Nuh-uh! We only managed to repair half the damage that filthy, sodding Baron bitch did to my brother! It was you who made Tyrese whole again! He still can't have any kids, but daddy said we owed you a great debt! And you know me... I'm not one to let debts gather interest... hehe!"
Phoebe and Lily continue bantering. What surprises me is how, despite Phoebe knowing very little about Lily and Belial's relationship, she manages to improvise time after time, all by using several advanced psychological tricks invented well after the Arthurian era.
Cold reading, a technique often used by so-called 'psychics' from my era, allowed them to speak in broad, generalized terms to gather information about their subjects. Phoebe uses it to determine just how close Belial and Lily's relationship is, while inferring more in-depth information by casually acknowledging and denying statements in a playful manner. Lily, oblivious to Phoebe's intentions, keeps letting more and more details slip, which in turn fuels my wife's knowledge.
The longer the conversation continues, the more adept Phoebe becomes at manipulating Lily. Soon, the young girl becomes putty in her hands.
"Oh, I missed you so much," Phoebe says, grinning from ear to ear. "I've been trapped on Tarus II with only a few friends to keep me company, but none of them are... like you. You know what I mean."
"Indeed, I do," Lily says, blushing. She gazes into Phoebe's eyes as she speaks, both of them sharing more than a hint of intimacy.
However, Lily pulls away and ruffles Phoebe's hair.
"Oh, Beli. Things have changed since we last spoke. I'm sorry that we haven't talked much, but... you remember Beelzebub, don't you?"
"Beelzebub? Of course. What about him?"
"Well, he's the new master of the Slithering Spire. He's become more and more heavy-handed over the years. He won't allow any of us humans to fraternize with Hell Harbor's residents, especially other pureblooded demons. It's tearing me up inside! I haven't spent any time with Bianca in several years- you remember Bianca, right?"
Phoebe nods sagely. Her eyes reveal wisdom beyond her years as she acts like a long-lost friend of whoever 'Bianca' might be. "Naturally. What happened between you two? Did Beelzebub hurt her?"
"No, no! It's just... since Bianca's a succubus, Beelzebub won't allow us to spend any time together! Remember that time when the three of us visited the hot spring? You, me, and Bianca? Well, as long as Beelzebub is the master of the Slithering Spire, it'll never happen again! The fucking rat-bastard always gets in my way! He won't let me do as I please, and I don't dare stand up to him! Daddy doesn't care, either! He's always going on about that damned Operation Stormbringer as if it's more important than his daughter's happiness!"
"Operation Stormbringer?" Phoebe asks. "Forgive me, but I don't recall hearing about that one."
Lily waves her hands nonchalantly. "Oh, some big invasion plan. I don't pay attention to the details, and neither should you. Daddy and the top demon generals are always blustering and blowing their horns about this and that! It's hardly worth our attention! Especially when it involves that damned Ose."
"Ose?" Phoebe asks. "Funny you should mention her. I came to Hell Harbor because I needed to see her."
Lily's eyes widen. "What? You?! Beli, darling! I thought you hated that skank! Any time Ose came up in conversation, you always started ranting and raving!"
Phoebe crosses her arms. She assumes a pouty stance and turns a few degrees away from Lily. "I do hate her! Ose and I have a long, sordid history of backstabbings and betrayal. I'd rather not go into it, because it's beside the point. I'm here on official business, Lily, dear. Humanity's leader sent me to discuss peace talks with Ose. If I can convince her to sign a treaty... well, you and I might get to see each other once in a while. Not only that, but even as the owner of the estate, Beelzebub won't have any legs to stand on. You, me, and Bianca could do as we pleased."
Lily's expression turns curious. "Oh? I didn't peg you as the ambassador type! You must really get along with those humans to treat them so nicely."
"As well as I get along with you," Phoebe says, flashing a radiant smile. "But, um, there's a problem, Lily. I'm a little embarrassed to say it, but it's been bugging me, and I don't know who to ask for help."
Lily practically leaps for joy. She rushes toward Phoebe and grabs her hands. "You can ask me for anything, Beli! I'll always help you!"
Phoebe blushes. She averts her eyes, and for once, I realize that her expression isn't deceitful. My wife is actually starting to develop feelings for this young woman.
"Umm, well, you see... there was this Hydra that appeared on Tarus II. I helped fight it, but due to some terrible accidents that happened during the battle, I hit my head and got knocked out. When I woke up, I had lost some of my memories. How do I put this..."
Phoebe hesitates for a moment, building anticipation in Lily's eyes. "Yes? What's the matter?"
"Well..." Phoebe continues, "...I forgot where Ose's estate was! I'm totally lost! I've been searching everywhere, but I'm too embarrassed to ask for help. Oh, devils, you probably think I'm an idiot!"
"An idiot? No, no, don't be silly!" Lily laughs. "And here I thought some jerk had broken your heart. If you don't remember where Ose's estate is, that's easy. I can show you the way, Beli."
Lily presses her head against Phoebe's chest and sighs, taking a moment to inhale her scent. "Ahh... I missed you so much. I'm glad to help you. Never act as if I'll hurt you, okay? We're closer than sisters. Closer than lovers, even."
Phoebe blushes. "Yes. Yes, we are."
...
After a few more minutes, Phoebe bashfully waves goodbye. Lily mounts her horse and waves back at us. "Bye-bye, Beli! Remember, it sits atop the third mountain plateau to the east, the one overlooking Bael and Mephisto's estates! After you visit that skank, please drop by later! I'll have daddy's doctors examine your head. I don't want you to suffer any permanent brain injuries, okay?"
"Right, right," Phoebe says, blowing Lily a kiss. "I'll see you later, lover!"
Both women give their goodbyes, then depart, traveling in opposite directions. Phoebe enters the forest to the east, only to hide behind a tree once Lily disappears from our sight.
"Hoo. That was stressful," Phoebe says. "I didn't anticipate Lily being so... excitable."
"You did great," I say, taking a seat on a bench. "Way better than I could have managed. If Lily had kissed me and done the tongue thing, I'd probably have broken character right then and there. You acted the part perfectly."
Phoebe's face turns beet-red. She slumps to the ground and hides her face in her hands. "Oh, god! Jason, don't bring that up! I'm married! I shouldn't be kissing other people! E-especially not women! It's weird!"
"I don't see anything wrong with it," I reply. "It's not like you planned the kiss, or anything. If it had bothered me, I would have stopped you. Besides, in the era I come from, women kissing other women wasn't weird, nor men kissing men. Maybe it was a little bit rare, but I saw plenty of it growing up."
Phoebe rubs her face furiously. "Argh! That might be true for you, Jason, but not for me! I grew up in... in a proper era! Where men courted women, and both sexes knew their roles! This modern era always makes me feel so weird! So... so dirty."
I keep my voice neutral. "How so?"
Phoebe hesitates. She doesn't reply for several seconds but eventually relents.
"Well. How do I put this? Um. Ever since you and I got married- no, even before then... Samantha has always acted much more touchy-feely than I liked. At first, I didn't want to be rude, but then after our marriage, I started feeling guilty about my passive rejections. Whenever she got too close, I would push her away. I never directly rejected her, and that, in turn, made me feel worse."
My mind-wife sighs. "Not only that, but since I never told you about all the moves she made on me in private, I always felt like I was lying to you, too. Sammy and I never did anything, but I always felt, and still feel, like a complete ass. I should set boundaries, but I don't know how. I don't even know if I should."
She falls silent, waiting for my reply.
I nod. "Yeah. I know all of that. I've always known. The day you and I got married, Samantha came over to me and confessed she was madly in love with you. It caught me off-guard, but I took it in stride. You and Sam have a lot in common, after all. Both of you lost the first men you ever loved. Satan, for her, and Sir Percival, for you. I don't see myself as a fairy tale hero of legend, rescuing a virgin princess. I grew up in a society where marriage was cheap, divorces were common, and love had lost most of its substance."
"I don't believe in true love," I continue. "At least... I didn't. Not until I met you. I knew a lot of people growing up. Good people, the sorts who went to Church every Sunday, and said their prayers before their three meals. I always thought the people who held onto their wives and husbands the tightest had most unhappy marriages. They always broke up and ended their love with explosions of rage and torn-apart families."
"Jason..."
Phoebe starts to interrupt me, but I continue. "There's more. I knew a lot of people who thought of their spouses as possessions. They assumed that marriage entitled them to 100% of their wives or husband's affection. To me, even if that were true in the eyes of the law and God himself, it felt immoral. You have a big heart, Phoebe. There's more than enough room for you to love Samantha and me equally, especially after all she's done for us. For you. She saved your life when I couldn't. If it weren't for Sam, Beelzebub would have killed you, Neil, and all the other people in the Core. She's a good friend. I'd never want to hurt either of you."
After I finish speaking, Phoebe falls silent. Tears well up in her eyes, and she quickly tries to wipe them away. "Jason... I never... I never knew you felt that way."
"Dammit, Phoebe. Don't cry. You're gonna make me cry, too..."
"Sniff..."
Phoebe paws at her eyes, and hiccups. "Oh, god. I feel like such an idiot. Why didn't I just tell you sooner? I always thought you'd be jealous, or that you'd pull away from me. I love you, Jason. You're the only man I have eyes for, but... sometimes, when I speak to Samantha, I just... I have this urge to close the gap between us, yet I never do. It tears me up inside."
"I feel terrible, too," I say. "I never realized you and Sam had such tension between each other. I always assumed when you ended up at the pit stop; you two were making a quick pit stop in each other's pit stops."
Phoebe sniffles. "...What?"
"You know... when you're racing. Sam's your mechanic, remember? That's why I mentioned pit stops...?"
"Jason. Why do you always have to make such terrible jokes at the silliest times?"
"Dunno. It's a curse."
Phoebe laughs. "Haha... ugh. My face hurts. I look like crap. Jeez, the worst part is, I'm not even the real Phoebe. I'm just her mind-clone. My original body doesn't even know I've told you all this."
I shake my head. "No. You are the 'real' Phoebe, equal to your original body. As far as I'm concerned, I have two loving wives. You might as well be her spiritual twin or something. Don't get so down on yourself."
Phoebe doesn't cheer up. She stares at the ground listlessly. "You can say that all you want, Jason. It doesn't change anything. I'm still just an errant soul living inside your Mind Realm. I don't have a physical body. I can use yours when you're not using it, but it's not mine. I'm only borrowing it."
The moment Phoebe finishes speaking, a strange, euphoric idea pops into my head. Like a lightbulb going off, I jump out of my seat and gaze forward with brightness in my eyes. "Ah! That's it! Phoebe, you're a genius!"
Phoebe pulls her head out of her hands. "...I am?"
"Yes. Think about it. You don't have a physical body. You can't interact with me, currently. However, that doesn't have to be the case. I'm a Wordsmith! I can create a new body for you and allow you to enter it whenever you want!"
Phoebe stares at the ground for a few moments before jumping to her feet. "N-no way! Jason, that's genius!"
"Yeah. I don't know if it will work, but it's worth a shot. Try making yourself a new body, then let me take over mine and I'll transfer-"
"STOP!"
Before I can finish my sentence, a masculine voice shouts from behind me, making me jump out of my skin. I whirl around to see Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael standing less than twenty feet away. The expansive city park somehow seems much smaller with Gabriel's giant form towering above the nearest trees.
"Thou shalt do no such thing, foolish child," Raphael hisses. "Already, thou hath cloned thy wife's soul without comprehending the consequences. Verily, I tell thee now, that if thou go through with thy foolish plans, thou shalt irreparably harm the one thou claimeth to love."
With my mind still in a daze, I merely stare at the old man. "Huh? What do you mean, Raphael? Explain."
The Archangel of Wisdom flaps his wings. He slowly hovers nearer to me, all while maintaining a contemptuous grimace.
"Imbecilic child. Thou knoweth nothing of Soul Links. Tell me, Jason, what are souls?"
I shrug. "Um. The essence of a person? Their... core?"
"That description is not far from the truth," Raphael concedes. "However! It is far from encompassing the importance of a being's soul. Souls mustn't be considered trifles and playthings. Those who manipulate souls freely will accumulate terrible injuries, ones incurable by even the greatest healer. Look no further than Valac and Mephisto, necromancers who manipulate the dead to do their bidding. In exchange for tremendous power, they lost the vitality from their bodies."
"Alright," I reply. "What about Satan? He seemed just fine, despite being a soul manipulator like Valac. Hell, he was worse, in many ways."
Michael, instead of Raphael, replies. "Indeed. The Devil was a crafty bastard. He, too, manipulated souls to a fearsome extent. However, while he may not have lost his body, he lost his link to the strands of fate. That is why he eventually perished not ten thousand years after his emergence."
"Put another way, the Devil rapidly accumulated fatal amounts of bad luck," Gabriel explains. "Fate conspired to kill him. The Devil proved incapable of resisting the Creator's divine will, and thus, he expired."
I nod. "Fine. Manipulating souls is evil. I get it. What does that mean, though? What would making a body for Phoebe cost me?"
Raphael shakes his head. "I do not know. Each soul manipulator suffers their own agony. In my case, I ended up trapped alone inside this ring. However, in thy case, I speaketh of the evils of soul manipulation not to protect thee, but to shield thy wife."
Raphael continues. "Every time a soul separates from a vessel, it suffers irreversible trauma. Thou hath cloned thy wife's soul. Her clone has, no doubt, suffered some level of memory loss. Her mood swings are not a mere byproduct of her situation, but directly linked to the circumstances of her creation!"
Raphael stabs a finger toward me.
"Thy reckless use of soul manipulation has caused thy wife's errant soul to suffer! Thou art the cause of her pain. Further, by trading places with her, not once, but multiple times, the two of thee have injured thy souls even further!"
This time, Raphael's words hit home.
"You mean... by allowing Phoebe to take over my body, I've somehow injured both our souls?"
Raphael nods. A solemn look appears on his face.
"That is correct, young Hero. Imagine, for a moment, that someone were to take a piece of paper and draw a face on it. We might call this the creation of a soul. However, if one intended to remove the face and place it upon another piece of paper, how might they do so?"
I shrug. "Um. Maybe they'd wet the paper and place another piece against it?"
"Indeed. They might succeed in copying half of the original image, but in doing so, the copy and the original would only be half as vibrant as before! This situation is a suitable allegory for when thou dids't copy Phoebe's soul from her original body. The copy and the original body were both harmed by thy actions."
"Another method," Raphael continues, "would be to take a drawn face and tear it from the page. Thou woulds't then be capable of gluing the face to another page. And thus, thou woulds't perfectly move the face from one page to another."
I frown. "But wouldn't that damage the original page? It would still ruin the paper and it wouldn't look good at all."
"That is correct," Raphael says, nodding vigorously. "After copying Phoebe's soul, thou inadvertently attached the copy to thy Mind Realm. By detaching thy soul from thy body and allowing Phoebe to take over, she ended up tearing herself away from her anchor point, and then tore her anchor yet again when she returned to thy Mind Realm. These repeated actions have injured thy soul, as well as hers."
Raphael cocks his head.
"Tell me, Hero. Have thou suffered any mental issues over the last few years? Headaches? Indecision? Paranoia? Irrational bursts of emotion?"
After closing my eyes and thinking for a moment, I shake my head.
"No. I don't think I have."
"So thou sayeth. The effects of soul manipulation can be both subtle and dramatic. Tis' difficult to spot their effects until they have become irreparable. However, this aged one has a method!"
Raphael makes a motion with his hands. Several magical symbols appear in the air, forming a diamond within a circle. After a few moments, the sensation of a whirlpool swirls within my head, yanking me out of my Mind Realm.
I awaken moments later, fully in control of my main body. I turn my gaze inward to see Phoebe standing before Raphael, her soul having returned to my Mind Realm.
Raphael forces a grim smile. "'Tis no secret to thee that I am one of the mightiest soul manipulators in existence, young Hero. Worry not. My powers are severely limited, so long as I reside within my ring. I have safely swapped thy mind with thy wife's, but doing so again without harming either of thee would be beyond even my means. Now, look closely at Phoebe's errant soul with thy Wordsmithing."
A sense of worry seizes me as I realize what Raphael just did to me. Without my permission, the old man actually managed to manipulate not only my soul but Phoebe's as well, all while possessing a sliver of his former power.
It's dangerous, allowing Raphael inside my Mind Realm. I'll need to come up with countermeasures to protect myself from not only him, but others of his ilk.
I shift my focus onto Phoebe. "Examine."
Unsure of what to look for, I turn my attention toward my mind-wife's mana pathways, as well as her internal magic structure. As a non-Hero, she possesses a complete lack of mana, similar to any other human. However, thanks to my various Wordsmithing empowerments, she appears far more fit and full of vitality than other people.
I gaze at her with clinical dispassion, but even after five minutes, I don't see anything wrong.
"Sorry, Raphael. What am I supposed to see?"
"Look toward Phoebe's brain," Raphael replies. "Or, more specifically, the area of her soul which she visualizes as a brain."
I frown. "What do you mean?"
"Souls can take any form they wish," Raphael explains. "For example, if Phoebe wished, she could transform her soul into a giant arachnid, or a fearsome dragon. However, 'tis all but impossible for someone untrained in soul manipulation to morph their soul into anything beyond their self-image. Thy wife still remembers her physical appearance, so she materializes within thy Mind Realm as a facsimile of her physical body."
This time, it's Phoebe who responds. "Wait, are you saying I can change my appearance if I just imagine myself looking different?"
Raphael scoffs. "Nay! All beings possess an indelible image of themselves. To merely change thy appearance would require a tremendous amount of willpower and self-actualization, unlike any I've seen before. For example, if I were to imagine my soul possessing four arms instead of two, I might succeed two times out of ten, due to the image of myself I've implanted in my mind over the- what?!"
Raphael stops mid-sentence. He stares, wide-eyed, as Phoebe's hair color changes from white to crimson. Freckles appear on her face, and her height increases by half a foot.
"Wow! This isn't hard at all!" Phoebe marvels. Her skin becomes noticeably more youthful, and her eyes change from green to yellow and red, mimicking a demon's irises. "Amazing! I can feel all the changes happening in my soul every time I imagine them!"
Raphael's eyes nearly bug out of his head. "W-w-what?! Preposterous! How can an untrained mortal- gah! I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it with my own eyes!"
Phoebe laughs, oblivious to Raphael's astonishment. Behind the old man, both of his brothers wear equally long faces.
"Impressive," Michael mutters. "The human wench is a damned natural at altering her self-image."
"Long has it been since I've seen Raphael in such a confused state," Gabriel adds. "The look on his face is more than a little amusing."
It doesn't take long before Phoebe changes her appearance to mimic Belial, then she changes into Daisy, Raphael, and even me. Each change makes her clap her hands and dance around excitedly. "Boo-yah! Haha, I'm the best! That's right; Queen Phoebe is here!"
I smirk, sending a smug look toward Raphael. "You were saying?"
Raphael tugs on his beard angrily. "No! Dammit, Jason! Look closely! Thy wife's situation is far from optimistic. Do as I said and gaze at her mental pathways."
I nod and follow Raphael's instruction. When I peer more closely at Phoebe's 'brain,' all of my smug satisfaction vanishes.
Inside my wife's head, along with the bright blips indicating her brain's activity, I notice several tiny, almost insignificant-looking 'smudges.' Resembling drops of ink spilled onto a piece of paper, each one appears far darker than the area surrounding it.
"Oh my god."
Raphael nods furiously. "Thy wife's actions are far from normal, young Wordsmith. Even her vocabulary has changed since I swapped thy souls. If she is capable of changing her appearance so easily, it can only mean she has lost her sense of self-image. This means her condition is quite dire. Use thy Wordsmithing and attempt to repair the blemishes staining her soul. If we are lucky, thou shalt return her to normal."
Phoebe continues changing her appearance. To my horror, I realize that each time she does, the blemishes on her soul increase in number, adding another spot or two.
"Phoebe. Please, stop," I say. "You can't keep changing your appearance. You're hurting yourself."
My mind-wife scoffs. "Psh! You're just jealous, hubby! I can do something you can't. Nyeh!"
Phoebe sticks her tongue out at me. Her pose makes me nauseous.
The Phoebe I know would never do such a thing. She's always been a stoic person, not someone who indulges in her emotions.
Without hesitation, I target Phoebe's soul.
"Repair. Repair. Repair."
One by one, I target each of the soul blemishes, erasing them bit by bit.
It takes me nearly fifteen minutes to repair the damage. Eventually, I finish, allowing Phoebe to slump to the grass inside my Mind Realm. She rests her face in her hands. "I... I feel like shit."
Raphael places a hand on her shoulder, comforting her with his touch. "Were thou to continue for much longer, I fear thy memories might have degraded permanently."
"Maybe," I counter, "but I did heal all of her soul blemishes. Doesn't that mean I erased all of her soul manipulation's negative symptoms?"
"Perhaps, but I would not bet my life on it," Raphael cautions. "I have done my part to avert thy crisis. Now, moving forward, thou knoweth enough to avoid placing thy loved ones in precarious situations."
With a dismissive wave of his hands, Raphael turns his back on Phoebe and starts hobbling away.
"Continue with thy plans, Wordsmith. However, do not assume thy Wordsmithing is omnipotent. It has many points of failure, like any power. Rely on it at thy own risk."
"Oh," Raphael continues, "be certain to check thy soul for blemishes, too. If thy wife possesses them, thou surely do as well."
Raphael and his brothers fade away, leaving Phoebe and me alone.
"Are you okay?" I ask.
"I don't know," Phoebe replies. "But now I understand why I was so good at impersonating Sam. I doubt I could do it again, the way I am now."
"Maybe. Maybe not," I counter. "Inspect."
I turn my gaze inward, examining my soul with Wordsmithing.
However, after more than ten minutes of searching, I find nothing wrong with myself whatsoever.
My soul remains uninjured.
Why would Phoebe suffer wounds to her soul, but not me?
...Have I, perhaps, overlooked something?
.......................................
FOR RETURNING READERS FROM CLASSIC: Please use spoiler tags when commenting on anything that might ruin the story for new readers, especially if that information is based on your knowledge of Classic!
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Horizontal wagers are essentially parlay bets.To win, you must select the winner of consecutive races before the first of the series of races begins. A Daily Double is the winner of two races in a row, a Pick 3 is three straight races, a Pick 4 means you must select the winner of four consecutive races, a Pick 5 is hitting five winners in a row, and the Pick 6 is six straight winners. There are many betting types to choose from when placing a wager. From singles to multiples, we have a list of some of the most popular types of bet. Betting Types Single. Arguably the most common betting type. A straight win bet, placed on a single event. Double. A single bet on two outcomes in different events. In this guide we will explain all you need to know about horse racing betting including a history of the sport, the different types of races, a list of racecourses, common terms and phrases, the various types of bets available, how to place a horse racing bet, how to read a horse racing form guide and further exciting things. The way that payouts are calculated is different than most standard horse racing wagers. Superfecta betting is based on the pari-mutuel wagering system, which means there are no odds involved. Instead, payouts are based on the size of the betting pool and the number of winning tickets. Here’s a simplified example to demonstrate. Beginners Guide on How to Bet on Horses – All Horse Racing Betting Types Explained. Despite the immense popularity in team sports, the best horse racing betting sites still hold a position of high importance for gambling enthusiasts. The daily diet of racing in the UK and Ireland is now backed up by live coverage from America and around the World.

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