ForumsArt, Music, and WritingThe Way of Moderation has ended (page 566)

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2,532 posts

Trollestia admins show up after city is reduced to rubble...

1,080 posts

That girl doesn't have a nose...

lol in a lot of drawings of that sort don't have noses ^_^ boy or girl...
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As I promised myself, I would post another scene today. After all, some things should be repaired before others...

The following was mostly written by Cen, and the pics were done by yours truly.

I Say What I Mean & I Mean What I Say

"Cen, are you alright?"

Strop had found it a rather good idea earlier. Not in the same way that other things seemed to be a good idea, and turned out to be stupid, dangerous or both. No, he had taken the time to think it through, wonder if it really was a good idea, which, with the lack of sleep and rest he had managed to pull through the past few days with, had given him a headache after a few moments. Perhaps he should have taken this as a sign that it was not a good idea at all anyway. His intern liked his peace, after all.

The day before had, as this one, been used simply to tend to the wounded citizens, and ignore the grim damage to city outside the windows. It didn't matter much, for the initial excitement of the arrival of the admins was quickly drowned out by the unpredictable rains heralding the arrival of Spring. And if he was to judge by the rumours and conversations around the hospital started by those who had radios or families outside the city, the rain had spread Eastward and to the South, laying as a heavy blanket over the majority of that part of the country. So everybody was paralyzed under the varied drumming of the weather, as if nothing really mattered.

If Strop had been more of a poet, songs and music are not poetry even if they are twin entities, or perhaps more of a believer, he would have thought the rain was washing away the dirt and grime of his own crimes, the evidence of the fighting and leaving everything clean and pure as it should be. When he looked outside, he could see that this was in no way true. Physical rain does not remove wounds to the trust of others. It did however make a good job at making everything slippery, wet and muddy.

At least, this afternoon it was merely a light, wet dust, very fresh compared to the closed in feel of the hospital.

At first he had feared the reaction of the patients, when he started tending to them. He was, at least indirectly, the cause of their wounds and he was the reason it had all happened. He had gone out of line and removed himself from reality; when he should have listened, observed and corrected himself, he had closed his ears, his eyes and gone further to show he was right.
Most of the patients did not share this idea of guilt. To them, he had simply been entertainment for the last... What had it been? Half a year, Two thirds? Three quarters of a year? He had been entertainment and a showcase that the mods were still there, something many of the citizens had doubted.
Of course, a few of them still hold blame against him, but saw no reason for this to change the fact that at this time and place, he was the doctor healing their wounds. He could take his punishment at another time.

All this work had taken his mind off something that would otherwise have worried him. He had not seen Cen since he had woken up in the middle of the night, after the nightmare... Of course, this could just be Cen, being his usual antisocial self, but no one should be alone after such an event.
This had lead Strop to make his way through the rubble and the rain to the residential parts of the city, where the invasion had barely made a scratch. Possibly because there was nothing to steal, and even less to destroy. He had made his way up the stairs to the second floor, just like he had some winter a year ago, the year he had seen his first snow. Much had changed since then. Up the stairs and knock on the door. No need for nasty surprises, or what was basically breaking and entering. Not that moderators knew the meaning of those words anyway.

Cen glared up at him, having a certain worn feel to him, even if he didn't look much different from any other day. Worn, a bit like someone had tried to straighten a piece of crumbled paper. Not to mention the bruises and the poorly bandaged cuts. Actually, it had probably been a stupid question to start off with, like asking someone with a huge gash over their torso if they were hurt. Stupid.

"Uh... I think so... What do you want." Cen didn't look angry, he didn't sound angry either, but his voice still had a sharp note to it inside the hoarse rasping his voice had been reduced to.

"I was... I was just wondering if you were alright. I..." Why did this have to be so awkward and hard. Oh right, breaking trust, neglecting friendship, being a total *** to friend. Right. "I hadn't seen you for a while, so... Besides, you might need medical help?" Strop tried, inching forward towards the door.

Cen stared him down for a moment, an amazing feat by someone already squinting from a lack of glasses and with a massive shiner closing up one eye.

"You know... Because there was a battle, and you might have gotten hurt and..." Strop paused, feeling distinctively like a young colt trying to excuse his lack of homework to an especially strict teacher. "I just wanted to be sure." He ended the sentence, ears flopping sadly to the sides.

"I am fine." Cen continued the merciless stare, making Strop's ears flop even more sadly.

"You don't... look fine." The ninja started poking his fingers together, avoiding the cruel gaze of the other.

There was no immediate reply, which made Strop chance his eyes up from the floor to look at Cen again.

His expression had changed. Not much, just enough to look slightly lost instead of slightly furious. All it had taken was a movement of his eyebrows, and the entire expression had changed.

Strop decided right then to change tactics. "Can I come in? I need to speak with you." He inched closer.

"I don't want to talk to you." Cen closed the poor, but got stopped half way there by a hoof in the way. At the same time, Strop was oddly happy he had been born a horse.

"But can I speak to you, then?"

Cen sighed, an almost defeated expression on his face, and opened the door to let Strop into his dim den of an apartment. Strop looked around, his eyes adjusting to the unusual darkness provided by blankets hanging from the windows, but just as unusually, the floor was cleared for paper and books, most of which had been relocated under the table in the corner.

Strop trotted the few steps through the kitchen and into the living-slash-bedroom, wondering for a moment if he should take a seat that the table like he had one time many months ago, or he should stay standing, waiting for Cen to take the initiative, but before he could manage to decide, the other had closed and locked the door, moved past him and sat himself down in the bed in the other end of the room, his eyes giving off an almost dangerous gleam in the little light that made it past the blankets. Strop managed to sit himself in one of the uncomfortable dinning chairs at the table, looking back at Cen over the distance.

They sat like that for what felt like a long while. It probably wasn't, since Cen didn't blink in that entire time, but Strop couldn't quite be sure anyway. Cen did have a habit of being just a little unnerving at times. "So. Uh..." There was still time to run!! Out the door, down the stairs and out into the street. Cen would never know what had happened! "You did really great... You know, defending the castle..."

"For about three seconds."

"It was surely more than that! After all, you couldn't get that... beat.. up... uh..." Strop face palmed at himself.

"Technically I got about half of this somewhere else." Cen rested his head in his hands.

Strop didn't quite know how to respond. Actually, he didn't know how to react either, or whether he should be reacting at all. His head was starting to buzz again with everything he needed to say and do and... He took a deep breath and looked up.

"I am sorry for what happened, Cen. I wasn't listening when I should have been, and everything ended up in chaos and horror. It was nothing like I imagined it would be and, when it comes down to it, it was nothing like it should have been in the first place. I am sorry. I did things I shouldn't have, and I said things I didn't mean."

"I am sure you meant it." His voice did not have a trace of anger or sarcasm in it. Rather it simply sounded tired. "I know I did."

The ninja horse snorted. "Even that I was a show pony?"


"... Well, I didn't mean what I said."

"If you didn't mean it, you wouldn't have said it. But just because you meant it, doesn't mean you would have told me in any other situation."


"You think I am a weakling that can't act for myself, can't take charge and have no idea what it is like to be you. I think you were just doing it for attention, are a blockhead and should get down from your, mm, high horse. I think we both disproved those assumptions already, and I have no reason to dwell in them any longer." Cen hesitated for a moment, before continuing with a slightly changed tone of voice. "Which probably makes that entire argument seem a little ironic. Oh well. Either way, you are sorry, I am tired, you may leave." And with that, he swung his legs into the bed and laid down.

Strop frowned as much as a horse might be able to frown, and stared at the lying shape. Then a huffing noise came from him. "I won't." He rose, though without moving from where he stood. "I really am sorry, Cen. For what I said. For that I said it, I guess. It was wrong. Everything was wrong, and I am sorry for what I have done, and I am telling you so. You might not forgive me or anything, but I don't want the ball in my court any more. I am going to tell the other I'm sorry too and see if I can make up for it and how the tournament went, but I wanted you to hear it first, because it probably would have been worse, if you hadn't been around. Who knows what might have happened then. So... That is it. I've said it, I am done." he sucked in a bit of air, before turning on a hoof and heading towards the door. "And you should see a doctor. You look like crap."

Strop marched the few steps to the door and unlocked it, before he heard the cough behind him. He turned around to see Cen squinting at him. "You are the only doctor in this town."

"So what. Find another. I am sure you can use Sai's." Strop turned again.

"I don't think I can use any of Sai's stuff..."

Strop paused in the door.

"I think she broke up with me."

"You think?" Strop looked over his shoulder at Cen, who was leaning against the door frame.

"It's Sai. She isn't exactly made out of the clearest intentions."

Strop took another look, before shrugging and continuing out the door.

"I even got beat up by her ex, because I wanted to save her."

"You are an unlucky man." Strop simply stated.

"This is the wrong time for doing what I tell you to, you *******." The sentence was clear, but without much emotion. It could have been mumbled and somehow made more sense.

The ninja horse stopped again. His tail was moving from side to side, a bit odd for a horse, but not unlike a cat before it closes its bear trap like claws on someone's hand. "Screw you." He walked down the hall, out the door and down the stairs, stiff, snorting.

At least he had said what he had wanted to say. Even if Cen obviously hadn't deserved such civility.


Well, that obviously went well.

I see a little stilleto of a man.

Isn't that silhouetto?

this couldn't possibly be conceived in one shot!

You're right, it wasn't. Some of the essential plot parts were conceived from the start, but the entire last chapter was a huge blank space with the description: "total chaos and probably most of city getting destroyed", and I figured that the events that would happen in that chapter would become clearer as material accumulated ^_^; And I was originally planning to finish this project within 12 months, not the 34 that it has taken so far...
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wow one of Strops fine works I guess?

I think this is a good point to acknowledge everybody who has made a contribution to this project, however big or small. Because apart from myself and the god-knows-how-many-readers this thing has, there have been many many people who have played a role, and it's still possible (though highly unlikely) that yet more may contribute in this denouement. So apart from myself as host, we have had:

Cenere- co-host, the one who is actually organised. Plays Cenere, the one who is always right. Also, Sai, that flighty girl who toys with and breaks everything.

The players who made it to the finals:
Xzeno- Leon McAcid the mad (?) gnoll
Crimsonblade55- Crimson the mystery blade

PoisonArrow- Frank the Air Pirate
Thoadthetoad- Thoad the Zombie Slayer

TheManta- Manta the Fishman
Gantic- The Bullman
thisisnotanalt- Chill, Grandmaster of George
Pixie214- Pixel the Pixie

The resident Archivist- King "Since Beta" Ryan
The revolutionary and villain- Klaushouse

Contestants who put up a good fight but went their own way for various reasons:
Goumas- Goumas the Alchemist, who gained the attention of the mods and received a headstart on his aspirations to become a science teacher and soccer coach
Parsat- Parsat the Chinaman, who simply forgot to turn up to the next round, and snorted chilli powder in a panic
Dudeguy- Dudeguy the Dudeguy, who committed an act of random terror
Skater_kid_who_pwns- Flipper the Penguin & Nelly the Butterfly, who got distracted by the fish in the castle moat
Gametesta- Gametesta the Game Tester, who tried to use the tournament to solve the mystery of his enslavement
Zlith- Vise the Heart of Darkness, who couldn't deal with the stupidity any longer
Zega- The Banana King, who didn't really understand the tournament, being a despot, and ended up just making trouble

Those who submitted a character but left pretty early:
Cholokid- El Cholo the Talking Mouse & George the Talking Duck
Jdoggparty- Richard and Garrett the Street Kids
Bluydee- Bluydee the Bounty Hunter
Pazx- Mary the Not-Bogan
Nichodemus- Nichodemus the Princely Lycanthrope
Jess- Jess the Pommie Phoenix
Random_player_of_AG- Randy the Shapeshifting Stickman
Hojoko- Hojoko the Ghostly Lurker

The NPCs:
Efan- Efan the Fox
Flippin3500- Flippo the Hippo
FireflyIV- Firefly the Spectral Wizard
Gabriel Soulhack the 'investigative reporter'
HecticHermit- HectitHermit the herbalist
Jaza_M- Jaza Spamlawrd
Kirby998- Kirby from Dreamland
Knockoutsloth- Knockout Sloth
Maverick4- Maverick the Nobody
TSL- TSL the bionic metal man
Ulimitedpower- Ulimitedpower the panda
Whimsyboy- Whimsyboy the Raccoon

The moderators who helped me write their characters and shape the plot:
NoNameC68- Nemo the wolfskin vagrant
Zophia (as herself)
Devoidless the Burninator
Asherlee, DM, Dank, Moe, Ubertuna written with the kind permissions of their owners.
Cameos from Carlie, John, Daniel McNeely and the developers with their kind permission.

This list is by no means complete, but there are still a few things left to happen in the plot, so I won't ruin the surprises!
6,807 posts

Isn't that silhouetto?

Meh, tomato, tomato, its all the same.

... Thats surprisingly less effective over the internet.

Maverick4- Maverick the Nobody

3,778 posts

Wow. There were lots of people that I didn't even know were part of WoM. But I think that it was nice of you to mention most of the people that helped make WoM great. And I was going to ask you if you got the admins permission to put them in but now I don't have to. One less comment you have to respond to now.

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And I was going to ask you if you got the admins permission to put them in but now I don't have to.

Not only that, but Cormyn was actually nice enough to put up some stats for an AGcentric character, even if it looks oddly like himself. And he had quite wicked banweaponry.

I... Really want to comment on your tomato - tomato comment, but it would be mainly rude. So I won't... Yet.
3,778 posts

Cormyn was actually nice enough to put up some stats for an AGcentric character

And where can I find these stats? Or is it some deeply guarded secret?
13,720 posts

It is a deeply guarded secret, but you can see his character both up there and on the last April's fool thread with the group picture.

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You know that when a chapter title is Strop's trite phrase, it has to be important. So with that, read on!


It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

"To begin with, what is the Way of Moderation?"

"I beg your pardon?"

Seated in the witness chair, Strop scratched his neck, tugging at the fabric of his ninja suit. Where the court used to sit, the administrators had magicked in a new courthouse, along with a new courtyard that they had "borrowed" from somewhere... else. It didn't exactly fit the old aesthetic standards, and one could even have said that it didn't exactly fit, period. It wasn't as if the original one could have been built in the three days since the end of the great battle anyway. But none of that mattered when from the inside, nobody could tell the difference. It was a somewhat more low-key affair, the walls and desks plainer, the stands less haughty. Strop almost missed the gravitas and atmosphere of the old one, but sitting where he was now, he didn't have the luxury of nostalgia. From the gallery, he recognised all the contestants of the tournament, from the wannabes that signed up and didn't even show up, to the ones that put up a good fight, to the who's who of the aspirants, including those who had returned to defend AG in its most desperate hour, the likes of Frank and Pixel, and Manta (and his merry men), Chill, The Bullman, and of course the grand finalists Crimson and Leon (surprisingly even he had turned up to see what all the fuss was about). King "Since Beta" Ryan was, of course, transcribing. And with him being the sole exception as his nose was buried in parchment, everybody else was staring directly at Strop. Including his interrogators, the administration of Armor Games, headed by Dan himself.

"In this instance, we mean the Way of Moderation, the Tournament."

"Ah, right." Strop tugged at his suit again. This time there were no fancy ties, no Strop-on doppelgangers, and almost certainly no crazy disruptions to proceedings. It was just him, uncomfortable questions and awkward answers. Nonetheless this one was open-ended enough, and a good place to start, so, having taken a breath, he began. "The Way of Moderation Tournament was a tournament designed to identify citizens of Armor Land who were willing and possessing of the qualities to become a moderator."

"Who was consulted in the making of the decision to hold such a tournament?"

"At the point the plan for the tournament was conceived, it was Her Highness the Queen, Carlie, presiding over a meeting with the present moderators, including myself, Moderator Ubertuna, Moderator Moe, Moderator Flipski, Moderator Nemo, Moderator Zophia, and Moderator Devoidless."

"Why was the tournament founded in this instance?"

"Ordinarily the Moderators are selected by the Wheel of Moderation. However in this instance the Wheel of Moderation was not operational, and there was nobody capable of repairing it. Most importantly, it was a time in which we had become aware as a team that the land of Armor Games required an additional member to the Moderation team."

"And why did the Moderation team decide that they required an additional member?" Dan's face remained absolutely neutral as he asked the question, though Strop wasn't sure there wasn't at least a little tension that played underneath its surface. Or maybe he was just reading into things.

"We were finding it difficult to adequately cover all the duties of a Moderator. In particular the incidence of citizens disrupting the peace had risen to the point where we could no longer deal with all of them in a timely fashion. Complaints were stacking up, spam was also building up and particularly in the wilderness it was running rampant."

"Okay then." The developers sitting at the magistrate's bench beside Dan were all writing notes and passing them to each other. Strop tilted his head, not sure what to make of it all. But so far, things didn't seem to be going too badly at all. Very suspicious.

"We've now established the premise upon with the Way of Moderation Tournament was founded. Could you now proceed to tell us about the structure of the tournament?"

Strop pondered this for a moment, as the events of the past year came flooding back. The grand plans, the infectious enthusiasm, the wanton destruction and, admittedly, the schadenfreude... all of it seeming as folly, and probably going to sound incredibly stupid, but burning ears and cheeks and all, he had his duty to fulfill to the bitter end. So here he went:

"The tournament was designed to identify one most suitable candidate to nominate for moderation, so it was structured in elimination stages. Each stage was designed to test the mettle and aptitudes of each candidate, and failure to participate in any stage was registered as a withdrawal from the tournament. Once the tournament reached a sufficiently small pool of remaining candidates, they were interviewed, and a final eight were selected, and the structure from that point were rounds of peer-versus-peer action."

"So I see." At this point one of the developers handed Dan a stack of paper, which he perused. "This is a list of the activities for each round... and I'm told underneath this is an inventory of the, uh, collateral damage from each round, as compiled from a series of reports as kept by a certain citizen by the name of Cenere. Would you mind looking over it and commenting?"

The anticipated hand-gripping-the-gullet sensation hit Strop in force. This was the beginning of everything this session was supposed to do, and once he started, like falling down a mountain, there was no stopping until he had reached the very bottom. Shakily, he grasped the paper and looked over it. Yes, it was all dutifully recorded in slightly chaotic cursive, but the words were still all so clear.

"Yes, this is indeed an accurate record of the events of the Way of Moderation Tournament."

"The activities include such things as 'Dodgeball', 'Steeplechase', and a... rap battle. And I also see that Cenere has included a written account of his concerns about the damages to both property and person alike. This does raise concerns with the administration that the activities undertaken as part of the tournament had a significant amount of risk built into them. Would you care to comment?"

Strop took a deep breath, reining in the temptation to utter a few choice curses. He wondered why, in the clear light of day, he couldn't remember any of Cen's protests or warnings. It might have been something to do with the fact that as soon as he so much as sniffed paperwork, he promptly foisted it on Cen. He had after all done his time as the mule of the moderators... this thought made him frown to himself a little, in thought.

"Moderator Strop? Any comment?"

Strop jerked back to the present. "Oh! Well yes, yes I would. I acknowledge that there was risk involved in the activities. In the planning of each event I was hoping to give every candidate a broad exposure to the city at large, as well as a broad range of tasks... um... to demonstrate the, uh, versatility required of a moderator, as well as to test their familiarity with the whole of the city. After all, a moderator's duties extend throughout the entire lands, and many users are known to frequent just a small section of the community. And I will add that Armor City is a vibrant community with many different people and views and many things happening so... often plans had to be altered to adapt to suit circumstances... versatility. You know."

"Fair enough, but, a rap battle?"

Strop rubbed his head. "Well that was going to be a night of general song and dance, but there was a double-booking and the decorater had already... done up the place, so I had to, uh, go with the flow."

"Very well." Dan made a little note on his pad, making Strop cringe. Was Dan not a fan of rap battles? If he recalled correctly Queen Carlie thought the idea was fun...

"I guess the question I'm asking, and I'm sure many of the citizens are also asking, is for some kind of explanation as to how exactly the activities you subj- I mean you set for the candidates relates to assessing one's ability to be a moderator."

Strop ticked another item off on his mental bingo card of "Awkward Questions That Needed To Be Asked in the Inquiry". Then he chewed his lip. Then he decided he might as well attempt to answer the question. "I know it's not appropriate to answer a question with a question, but bear with me: would you find it permissible to give a user who was not a moderator a banhammer of their own and see how they did clearing spam?"

"No, I wouldn't," Dan replied.

"For that reason I had to think of, uh, very indirect modes of testing the various abilities I thought were related to the tasks typical of a moderator."

"This may be true, but it seems that many of the initial tasks are highly agility oriented, which may reflect how you perform your moderator duties but, shall I say, appears to be a trait unique to you as a moderator."

"Indeed. That's due to the fact the task of planning the events fell to me. And since I was the assessor, I had to pick tasks that I was familiar with. But the tasks themselves weren't assessed by the outcome, so much as the attitude, the manner in which they were performed."

He was met with a round of blank stares. "I was looking for character and commitment." He offered. More blank stares. With a hint of desperation, he added, "You have to consider that this was an event that was the subject of most of the conversation of the city for several months! The events had to have spectacle, flair... in every circumstance the way to keep the public order is to keep the public happy, and to keep the public happy we must keep them entertained. I will admit that this did lead to some risk taking, and it did lead to a degree of, uh, spontanaeity, but I had everything planned according to the balance of all factors."

"Fair enough," Dan said, flicking through some more notes, "Though it seems that not every... in fact most of the other moderators didn't agree with your approach."

"Not to make this sound like a blame game, but we did have our differences. In fact three of the moderators actively opposed the idea of a tournament and after they were outvoted they acted to obstruct the proceedings. I would not say that they were there to disrupt the peace of AG itself, so much as act on what they thought was in best interests... but the outcome was that far more damage was done than would have otherwise occured."

"I shall be calling the moderators in question to give an account later on, so that we may have a complete picture, so that will be enough on that topic. Although I note," and Dan fixed Strop with a slight glare, "That Armor Castle seems to prominently feature among the damages inventory several times throughout the report, including one instance early in the tournament when it was completely demolished by a wayward banhammer swing."

"But your Highness," Strop spluttered, "that instance wasn't really a result of the activities of the Tournament! There were extenuating circumstances, and I hasten to add, that wayward swing should only have affected my own room, if not for the, um, ageing foundations of the castle, but I digress..." His splutterings died down as he realised he was only digging a deeper hole for himself.

Fortunately, Dan saw fit to ignore the irrelevant parts of his rambling. "I acknowledge that incident was one of several involving the eventual instigator of the attempted revolt and sacking of Armor Games, the former citizen known as Klaus. Now is as good a time as any, so could you describe your relationship with Klaus?"

Strop had to stop himself from automatically disclaiming that it was entirely platonic, and 'no homo'. "I won't deny that Klaus was, and in some ways still is a friend. I'm sure this view is in fact shared by many members of the moderation team and public alike. He was likeable and funny, if always controversial."

A surreptitious glance informed Strop that he hadn't been imagining it all this time, for there were several subtle nods from the gallery. He turned back to the administration and sighed a little. "We were closest in the early days, when everything seemed fresh and possibilities endless. Klaus spent most of his time spinning business in the Freemarket. I guess where we differed was that he wanted to make it big. He wanted to get rich, he wanted power, and when neither was forthcoming, the whole concept of AG's economy soured on him. That's why he ordered the nuking of the Freemarket, and stormed the bank."

"He wanted to destroy the economy?" Dan asked.

"Yes. Klaus explicitly said so, denouncing it as the source of much of the problems of this land."

At this the gallery positively bristled, but nobody spoke, nobody would dare speak out of turn in the presence of AG's most powerful.

"Do you agree with Klaus' views?"

Strop blinked, not expecting this digression. "It's true that the status having a lot of AP confers has been identified as a specific motive for organised criminal activity. And less organised criminal activity."

"Well, we shall have to review that," Dan said, making a note, and leaving the question of what he meant by that on everybody's lips, yet unspoken. "But back to the topic... where did it all go wrong? Would you know?"

"Despite the differences in motive, like many, Klaus' primary concern was thinking of ways to improve Armor City. And like many, he shared frustrations at the limited means by which to do so, for there's only so much we can do with the..." and at this Strop almost trailed off at the realisation of what he was implying, " and infrastructure available to us."

"Interesting," Dan said, one hand stroking his soul patch. "Do you have any specific details?"

"The moderators have submitted a written report on those, which you may have. But with regards to the users, their main issues were to do with backward technology. We, how do I put this, we're stuck in the medieval period and I'm not sure how sustainable it is at this point given the rate of population growth..."

"It is true that this town was started as a much, much smaller project. And as a result of that there are many inefficiencies and the system basically needs a complete overhaul." Dan gestured to the developers flanking him. "Infrastructure is precisely the reason why we're building an entirely new city, though we'll of course endeavour to fix the problems we have in this current city. But we can talk about that more later. We've established at least a motive for the conflict that disrupted the community, as well as identifying an underlying issue with the community at large, so let's move onto the most pressing questions for today's inquiry. Namely, what is the Way of Moderation?"

The question slugged Strop like a blow to the solar plexus. It had been on his bingo list but it was one he really hoped he wasn't asked. At least not in this context. But he might as well not sugar-coat the truth. "Where do I start?"

"You start from the beginning, of course." Dan was spectacularly unhelpful as he was deadpan.

"Well, I uh... to be honest with you the Way of Moderation is a gag line."

"Go on."

"It's the line I use when citizens ask me 'how do I become a moderator', and I would ask them 'Do you follow the Way of Moderation?'. Because asking how to become a moderator is the clearest indication that one doesn't have what it takes to be a mod. I know it sounds like a cruel joke, but to me there's a truth, one that loses its value when it's explained."

"Humour us, Moderator Strop. We're interested in what you have to say."

"Very well," Strop wiped his brow and adjusted his ninja hood. "It's very much like the Wheel of Moderation, I don't know how it works but its function is infallible. In a similar way a moderator knows they can be one, and it is in their nature. They do not have to mold themselves or strive to change their natures, for they've reached the point where they can take on that task. And that's what marks them out from those who speak of moderation and being a moderator, that they don't talk about how they could or should be one. They just know that they are at a point where they could be one at that very moment and nothing would change except the possession of a banhammer."

"You make a true observation," Dan mused, "But nonetheless the correlation between characteristics of a moderator and this behaviour still seems very nebulous. I'm interested in knowing what characteristics you were looking for."

"What I was looking for? Obviously one who has sound judgement, and is willing to exercise it as a commitment to the community. One who can juggle lawfulness and notions of the greater good and act accordingly. Conflict management. Staying calm in the worst of situations, having resilience and persistence. Being able to quickly identify issues and address them to minimise risk and damages." Strop felt strangely nauseous, like the anticipation of having to vomit, the dread lingered somewhere between his stomach and his throat.

Dan finished shuffling his papers, so he stacked them neatly on the desk and pushed them aside. Then he looked directly at Strop. "Now that you've laid those standards, I want you to answer these next questions honestly, Moderator Strop. Do you believe your actions over the past year upheld those standards? Do you believe your actions over the past year reflected your Way of Moderation?"

Strop hung his head. Silence followed for several seconds.

"No." He finally answered.

"In what way?"

"My decisions did not reflect sound judgement. I got caught up in a task and in the panic I lost sight of the greater good. When conflicts arose I only made them worse by ignoring them. It was only in the worst of times when it was too late, that we were able to work as a team to restore things, but up until then I made unilateral decisions with no regard to safety. For all these things I take full responsibility."

Thus Strop's fall from the Way of Moderation was complete. Or rather, it perhaps had been completed a long time ago, but he had only gotten around to admitting it, in full and formal capacity, now.

"Very well. We shall take that into consideration in our deliberations. The other question we have is... the result of the tournament. Did you identify any candidate whom you would consider to become a moderator, based on everything that has been said and done?"

Strop cast his eyes over the gallery, full of said candidates, who were intently staring at him. Many of them had rekindled in them that hungry look moderators avoided like the plague. Others still looked weary, as if they couldn't care less. And many of the finalists themselves were absent, which, for some reason, didn't surprise Strop.

He shook his head. "Honestly your Highness, I don't know. I really don't. I'll have to review everything, hold another round of interviews before relasing official feedback."

"Hmm." Dan McNeely furrowed his brow, as if trying to process absolutely everything that had been said and read in the inquest, and not quite being able to add it up. "I just have one final question for you." Here, he spread his hands, palms up. "Given what you said about the Way of Moderation, it just seemed to me that a tournament would have been the least effective way of actually finding a candidate for moderation. So all I ask is... why?"

Strop was dumbfounded. He racked his brains for an explanation, tried to remember the content of the conversation many months ago in that dark underground room. He swore he could remember somebody else asking him that but by that time it was already well underway so he swept the question aside. Rationalisations about public spectacles and generating interest formed and fizzled before they gained any substance. Counter-accusations directed at the administration were banished before they even made it from his brain to his mouth. In the end, he had but one thing left to say, and so he said it.

" seemed like a good idea at the time."


This scene is actually in two parts! I guess it's time for the admins to adjourn and deliberate for several hours, before they present their findings.

13,720 posts

It was very well done, Strop. I know I just told you, but it has got to be said publicly as well. I think, personally, that this was one of, if not the best of the chapters. Or segments or text pieces, whatever you might want to call them.. In the entire three years of the WoM.
Well done.

And thank goodness it is soon over.

6,807 posts

and to keep the public happy we must keep them entertained.

So said Octavius, First Citizen of the Roman Empire.

Well done.

I concur.
4,198 posts

This scene is actually in two parts! I guess it's time for the admins to adjourn and deliberate for several hours, before they present their findings.

In which case they announce the Way of Moderation Tournament 2! Run by Strop and Cenere!

3,778 posts

that this was one of, if not the best of the chapters.

Yep. I think it was the best chapter. No pics though...I like the pics.
And thank goodness it is soon over.

As someone that has not done anything in WoM, well I have read all of it but that doesn't really count, I will be sad to see that it is over. But I bet it is a lot of work and that everyone that as written for it has better things to do.
In which case they announce the Way of Moderation Tournament 2!

Well, kingryan might not have anything better to do. Since now he will have nothing to not update in the archive.
4,198 posts

This scene is actually in two parts! I guess it's time for the admins to adjourn and deliberate for several weeks, before they present their findings.
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