Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s Week 9: Halfway to happiness

YUUUUR it’s another update on one mans journey to read 52 fantasy books in 52 weeks, creating 52 . . . wait that’s the wrong tagline. This series is the running one. Right. Well it’s proverbial Monday and I forgot to do this last weekend so lets get straight into it.

Some weird ass workouts both last week and this week, really messing around with my pace and stuff. I did a fartlek workout last week that I honestly just made up, based on a few different workouts I saw. I don’t know why I found it necessary to convert meters into miles, but this is America or something.

That’s a fartlek. Do with it what you will. Last week ended with a time trial, which actually went really well. Ran it in 1:41:47 which is just 40ish seconds slower then my PR. Either that means my watch is off, or I really am improving. I took it as a positive, considering I knew it was a time trial but I really wasn’t killing myself for it.

This week we have some odd ones as well, today I ran an odd fartlek, which involved running a hard 1:15 every 6 minutes. I found that to be one of the weirdest, most fun ones. The rest of the week is an 8-miler with a pace increase in the second half, a standard interval workout, than a 20-miler. Tough second half of this week. Lets get it!

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Marathon Mondays Week 7: Consistency in running, not writing

Welcome to another edition of Marathon Monday’s which pretty much never happen on Monday’s and more just happen whenever I feel like writing these. When I was just blogging, and if we are being honest, killing time at work, these were much easier to crank out on amore consistent basis. Now that the world has ended, there are much better distractions.

But as the subtitle says, I’m always consistent on the running front. Here are the last week and a half of stats to prove it. Also people made way to big a deal about Garmin getting Tom Hank’sed in that captain movie, my runs synched just fine despite the app telling me they couldn’t. Keep pushing on thats what I always say sometimes because that is a problematic philosophy.

Last week and a half has almost gotten into the meat of the workout plan. There has been some shit, last Wednesday I had to run the ol’ weekday niner, that autocorrected to diner which is where I want to be right now. The workouts haven’t been miserable, today I had that odd 6-minute interval workout I had done in Week 3 or whatever. That run sucks man, its like a tempo except you know it isn’t one. Never know how much effort to give on it. The long run last week was a 17-miler with 5 miles at marathon pace. I reallllllly find those to be absolutely brutal, like running 7 more miles after I just ran 5 at a fast pace is torture. But since this is skewing crazy negative I admit that those are probably doing a lot of good for my running abilities.

Coming up, I guess this really depends on when I next write one of these but let’s assume I write one sometime next week, I have my first 20-miler of the year. WEEEEEE. And really that is about it. I guess this blog will be picture heavy. O yea it’s been fucking hot out. This blog took 8 minutes to write, which as an interval would make way more sense. But also putting in the pictures to the blog, I am realizing that I was supposed to run 7 miles, not 6 so I guess I am going back out there at some point. I don’t think that has ever happened to me. What a mess.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 5: First quarter finito

A little language lesson for you, finito translates to finished. First and foremost this is an educational blog, never forget that. With 4 weeks behind me, it’s time to do a little look into where I’m at and hope to achieve in the next 12 weeks.

Last week was one of those weeks that had some tough fucking runs in it. Lots of pushing the pace, which just kind of leaves me feeling stiff and tired. I guess that could be said of any period of intense working out, so not a novel observation. It started with a 6-miler with a 3 mile brisk pace. Still not sure what a brisk pace means, so I treated it like a tempo run. Prob not the best idea because I really pushed it which had to have effected the rest of the week. The other workout was a 6-miler with 3 rounds of 6-min intense, 2 min rest intervals. This was one of the weirdest interval runs I’ve done. I guess the hope of this, is that if you run a 3:30 marathon then each of these intervals should be close to a mile, but for me I think I hit like the .85 mark. I mean I personally am happy with that, but it is an odd distance to run.

For the long run, I elected to do it on Saturday, and prob will be doing most of my long runs that day as I want to not panic every Saturday night thinking about having to get up at 5:30 and spend all Sunday recovering. The 5 miles in the middle at marathon pace was absolute hell on earth. Not super encouraging for the real event, but I do have some excuses lined up. First off, those 5 miles were the only part of this run I was in the sun. Second, I am not good at this. See? Settled that. Brutal run. Yes as you can see I also later went on a bike ride, it was also horrible.

Next week should be one of those weeks where I hopefully get my legs back under me. The workouts are another weird hill workout, this plan has some odd ones, as well as a standard interval workout. Wednesday run gets shot up another mile, so the workouts will be separated by an 8-miler. Sad that I look forward to that. The long run has the option for a 10k race (where the fuck am I supposed to do that?) or a 13-miler. I will be doing the latter. Enough complaining, blog over.

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Marathon Monday’s Week 4: Oops I forgot a week

The subtitle says it all, I forgot to blog about Week 3. That is all I have to say about it at this time. Let’s get right into it: the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is cancellllllled. They did offer a generous package of options, including a refund or guaranteed entry into 2021, 2022, 2023, so Chicago I will have my day in 2021. For the record, this is the same thing that the TCS New York City Marathon offered. So for now I’m registered for the Rockaway Half & Whole Marathon, which is put on by Rockapulco Runs, the same company that put on the half-marathon I ran in March when a different NYRR race got axed.

When I post these screenshots sometimes I almost post sales data from random philosophy books. That has nothing to do with running but if I don’t add something random than am I really even having fun? A question that has no answer.

Last week had plenty of challenges. The main one being those 3 minute intervals. Jesus those are no fucking joke. I’m not used to running intervals that are longer then like a minute and a half or a quarter mile, so that odd amount of time was brutal. For all 5 rounds of it, I checked my watch at like exactly the 2:15 mark, praying I had 20 seconds left. Either way it got done. The long run was a lovely 13 miles, this is the last long run that I consider to be in the manageable territory. Anything over a half-marathon I have to seriously mentally and physically gear up for. And since it is the summer, I also need to do a fair amount of schedule shifting. In terms of extra curriculars, I did the lightest, easiest upper body lift on Friday, and rode my bike on Thursday and Sunday.

This week has it’s own beasts to conquer. In all fairness I already did one of the workouts, which was a 6-miler with a 3 mile tempo in the middle. That shit sucked but the weather wasn’t bad. The other workout is a ridiculous 6 minute interval workout, with 2 minute cool downs. I mean broooo 6 minutes?!? It’s only 3 times so I guess I will live. The long run though has it’s own workout. Its a 15-miler, with 5 miles at marathon pace. Since I am shooting for a 3:45, I think that means marathon pace is an 8:30. I really think that is going to be fucking tough man, but how else does someone get used to running at their marathon pace besides you know, running at that pace. I am not looking forward to this. The grind continues. Stay safe.

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Marathon Monday’s Week 2: Things are heating up

Week 2 is here meaning that things have really gotten going. Terrible start to this blog but maybe I can pull it together. Welcome to another edition of one man just documenting his journey running races in a most average manner.

Last week was the start of this thing and I think it would be dishonest if I said anything beside the fact that it was relatively easy. The workout was an odd hill workout where I ran up for 30 seconds then down for 30 eight times. It kind of resulted in me steadily climbing up the hill and by the end of it I was awkwardly like in a crosswalk. I didn’t think it was particularly difficult and the whole workout was less then a mile so I still had to run 3 more after that. Kind of weird. The long run was a 9-miler, and honestly it was fucking hot as hell. One of those runs where I was sweating straight foam down my leg. Such a bizarre thing to have happen.

Looking ahead, well today is Tuesday, so looking at today and the rest of the week the plan quickly starts to pick up steam. The week consists of two running workouts, two 5-milers and a long run of 11 miles. Already I have to do a bunch of shifting around, since I am taking a lovely trip to the Adirondacks for some good ol’ hiking. I’m moving the Saturday run up a day and the long run to Monday.

The workouts themselves aren’t exactly challenging, I mean 3 miles at “steady” pace I really don’t know what that means so I am treating it like a tempo run. The other run is an interval run which I normally enjoy, though a 1:30 is a long interval to run hard. O well we will see how it goes. I feel as if I did not pull this together. I tried.

Book Reviews

Never Die! Wrap-up: Never boring!

Here we go, after falling behind on book reviews it’s time to get back on the grind. Balancing this with creating the greatest fantasy podcast of all time has proven to be quite the challenge. Because of this, the blog has suffered. But I will tell you what has not suffered, the podcast. Find out for yourself by clicking the link below.

LINK TO PODCAST. LINK TO HAPPINESS.

On this episode we dissect #SPFBO finalist Rob J. Hayes’ Never Die! We also talk about our favorite sobriquet’s in the book, learn what a sobriquet is, break down his social media, give some thoughts on MayDaycon, talk The Last Dance episode’s 7 and 8, and gambling woe’s with the latest UFC fight! Approved by the author himself.

Rob J. Hayes is a writing machine, I think since he published the book last year he has published like 3 other books. He’s a self-publishing machine, and let me tell you he know’s how to write a compelling story. Never Die! (The Mortal Techniques) reads like that game Diablo 3. It is essentially a tale of revenge featuring people who utilize spirit like fucking Dragon Ball Z to do cool ass shit and kill lots of bad guys. It starts with one of my prologues ever, someone dead once said brevity is the soul of wit or some shit and Rob J. Hayes proves it with this 14 word masterpiece:

“Itami Cho woke to the screams of her own death. She remembered it all.”

I was in from that point on. His samurai, spirit, demon thriller follows a group of heroes brought back from the dead to kill the emperor of 10 kingdoms, as that dude is a bad guy. They follow this little annoying kid Ein, and are bound to him until they kill the emperor.

There are many reasons to love this thing, but one of the highlights for me were all the cool ass moves. Here is a list, since I am lazy and had already made the list for the podcast outline.

He taught the people of Unyun his second greatest technique, the Shimmering Sword.” Aka the whispering blade. THIS IS ALSO In SWORD OF KAIGEN. It is a blade that can cut through anything.
“He had a technique, one he refused to share with anyone. He could rain a hundred swords from the sky. Maybe he used that.”
“How do you disappear, leaving a mirage of yourself to blow away like petals on the wind?” Zhihao shook his head. “I’m not telling you that. It’s a trade secret.”
Flaming fist lights his fists on fire using chains dripped in oil. His special ability is it does not burn
Iron guts ability is he uses QI to make his skin harder then steel
Magic is called “Qi is spirit,” he squeaked. “We all have it, but some have more than others.” He slapped his belly again. “My qi is strong, and I know how to channel it. Now then…”
The art of war brings chess pieces to life

The chapter titles all describe a specific fight, which the chapter sets up and has play out. As someone obsessed with the idea of the duel, this appealed to me immensely. My favorite is right at the end, The Master of Sun Valley vs Sin and Saint. Such a fun fucking read.

Besides all these 1v1’s bringing on the classic bro adage, 1v1 me bro, they also fight a dragon consisting of a million snakes, some reanimated crab things, and a giant. Look, this book is ultimate chad. That really should be more then enough, but since I already have it written out here are a list of sobriquets, a word I only learned to use in the podcast.

Flaming fist

Red Bull of Fades,

Qing, often called Hundred Cuts

Murai, the Century Blade, the greatest living swordsman in all Hosa.

Fenwong, the drunkard.

Wandering Spear, one of Flaming Fist’s greatest captains

Cho is whispering blade

Zhihao Chang the Emerald Wind

General Sitting tiger
Seifon, the Broken Chain.
“Chen Lu, Iron Gut.”
Yanmei, the Last Bloom of Summer. Flaming fists daughter, the emrald winds lover
Roi Astara, deaths echo

The Steel Prince,

“The Art of War Daiyu Lingsen.” Is a girl wearing a mask

Broken Spear

Sin and Saint, both Wu’s bodyguards

Man I am getting lazier and lazier, but people do like lists

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s: An exercise in futility

GUESS WHATS BACK? Well if you read the title then you already know. If you are still reading it at this point, then all power to you. The plan is to run the BOA Chicago Marathon but I might as well say it, I highly doubt that the race is happening. The TCS New York City Marathon already got cancelled, and that is later in the year. So I don’t think this is happening. Regardless, the backup plan is to run some marathon in Scranton, PA, which is the same day. So lets break down the training plan.

I’m trying a new marathon training plan for this one, if you want to go back to my last marathon training blog series you can read all about my experience using the “Advanced” training plan from NYRR. I didn’t really test the effectiveness of the plan, as I didn’t push it 100% on the actual running of the marathon, but I will say I think it was an excellent plan for people looking to advance their own running abilities, specifically running higher-milage weeks. My biggest complaint about the plan is actually personal only to me. I documented completely how I was so exhausted, and all the running certainly was the major factor, I mean I was training for a fucking marathon, but it was all my extra-curricular’s that really did me in. I played soccer once a week for maybe the first half of the plan, and never really slowed down my physical activities.

So when choosing another plan I needed to consider that it was super unlikely I was going to completely shut down other activities. This was a big reason why I choose the Intermediate 2 Half Marathon Training Plan by Hal-Higdon for my half marathon in March, which I documented in a different blog series. It gave me enough speedwork days to get faster, but had enough flexibility and rest days for me to continue strength training and playing soccer. This led to me setting a PR with a time of 1:41:06.

What I decided on was Runner’s World Basic Marathon Schedule: A 16-week training plan for runners looking to finish between 3:30-4:30. Kind of a terrible name for a plan, but it had what I was looking for. One absolute rest day on Friday and one optional rest day on Monday. This gives me the option of shifting my weekend runs to either Friday or Monday if I’m going on vacation or have some type of plans that absolutely will impact my running schedule. Or move the weekday runs around if I have a game or something. I also can continue to do some strength training, either on my rest days or doubling up. With 2 speedwork days during the week, the runs I am doing will be much more efficient, instead of piling on miles and days run. I am not saying that is a bad strategy, my first marathon I needed to increase my ability to pack on miles as I had no capacity for consistently running long distances, but I now know a little bit more about myself and recognize that I am not likely to cut out anything else, so I need a plan that doesn’t burn me out but I can still improve.

So looking at the plan, I am excited to take it on, and will of course be providing weekly updates on everything. It really helps me to post the workouts for the week, and how all my runs went the week prior. While I rarely actually get to writing these things on Monday’s, I honestly have found it such a fun experience to track my progress and feelings over the length of a training plan. So without further ado, here is the actual plan, I also am posting underneath it the plan I did last year, for comparisons sake. This will be the first time I actually look at them both critically, which seems kind of stupid to have not compared them earlier. But then again that level of preperation would be out of character.

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Blood of Heirs Wrap-up: Ranoth ran

Instead of slowly leading into it, here is the link to the podcast. Click it, I hate working in an office. If you want two paragraphs of shameless self promotion before the review actually starts, continue reading. If not skip ahead.

YUUURRR it’s time for another of the greatest fantasy book reviews this side of the the storm wall. Thats a deeeeep Malazan reference that I am not even sure is being used correctly. As an aside before I get into this review, I have been working on a fantasy tattoo sleeve and my tattoo artist (@georgethewoody on instagram) had posted him giving someone a Bridgeburners tattoo on his story and that shit was cool. Gotta appreciate the dedication to the Malazan game to get that, because that is nottttttt a cool looking sigil. It took me 4 times to spell sigil correctly. Moving on.

Let’s call it like it is, Blood of Heirs (The Coraidic Sagas book 1) is popping. It was a finalist in #SPFBO 5, the self-published fantasy blog-off created by legend of the game Mark Lawrence. Alicia Wanstall-Burke is an awesome author and is a friend of the program. What program? Well the Swords and Sports podcast family of course. In fact I get the unique opportunity to interview her about the sequel to Blood of Heirs, Legacy of Ghosts. Not sold on the podcast yet? Well here is a resounding endorsement from the author herself.

Lets talk about the book before I lose you all in the shameless self promotion. Blood of Heirs follows two people, Ranoth and Lidan. Ranoth is the son of a Duke and the book starts off with him taking control of a force fighting on the border of the Disputed Territories. Well he fucks that up and so begins a journey of discovering he has magic and running away from his dad’s army because magic is outlawed. He meets his future (I hope) booooo thang and they both run away from the Ngaru, these dope zombie beast things. Also his bro is named Brit Doon, all time fantasy name.

Lidan has her own set of problems. First off her village and country have noooooo technology, like they don’t even have steel. Not a real problem but that sucks. Also she wants to be a hunter but since her dad is the chieftain and despite having 4 wives can’t get himself a dude heir, she is the heir and her bitch ass mom Selan won’t let her do anything. But when she kills a ngaru, all of a sudden she gets mad respect. So she starts training and winds up 1v1ing some goofball in the middle of a chieftain pow-wow. That about sums up her coming of age tale.

And in conclusion, due to the 59 instances of the magnificent word “fuck,” the copious amounts of violence, and the Ngaru getting a boner while hunting, this book gets a chad rating. Listen to the podcast, and buy this book because Alicia is awesome.

As an added bonus, here is some of the prep material for the podcast for the the segment “Three things I like”

Three things I like

  1. Ngaru: The creature, now exposed to the day, was something that might once have been a man, but had since lost the essence that distinguishes humanity from beasts. There was recognition in its glare, but only that of a predator sizing up its prey. The man who might have lived behind those eyes and dreamed within that head was long dead. By the look of the body, it wasn’t long for this world either. Great sheets of puckered skin peeled back to reveal bone and black, festering bands of muscle, with no sign of fresh red blood. The creature was hunched and malformed in the back, the disfigurement affecting the way it moved. It prowled, more than walked, low to the ground, with its large arms hanging and fingers welded around the hilts of two long knives—filthy, but sharp. It eased its weight from side to side, couched over thickly muscled legs and bare feet. If a man, a wolf and a bear ever birthed some unnatural offspring, this thing was it. Lol the Ngaru got hard from lidans fear
  2. The crone. This bitch is a survivor. She came with lidans mom Sellan an just kind of lives in her old filth
  3. Sellans punishment is the same punishment from Matilda, she locks fucking Lidan in a cave/cage with spikes.
Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Kalanon’s Rising Wrap-up: Kaluki laka luie the candy sprout is chewy

That is an all-time Rocket Power reference right there. Coming back from a long book reviewing hiatus it seems like I haven’t gained an ounce of skill. Where have I been? Well enjoying my podcasting endeavors, interviewing #SPFBO finalists, slowly losing my mind, and defiantly losing money gambling on sports I never watch. I also have been hammering books, so maybe it is time to catch up. Kalanon’s Rising (Agents of Kalanon #1) by Darian Smith is a fantasy, murder mystery. And while that may sound like a bad theme for a party that your friend no-one really likes is hosting, it is actually a plot for a book that Darian executes to good effect. In the meantime, listen to the greatest fantasy, leastest sports podcast in the history of the young, slowly burning world. I am talking of course by the zero award nominated Swords and Sports podcast.

The link to the podcast is riggggght here. Give it a listen so I can quit my 9-5.

Kalanon’s Rising starts with a dude getting worked over by a lady of the night. This dude happens to be the nephew of the king, so the king is a little worked up over it. He decides to assemble a detective squad to figure out whats up, as this murder also had weird ass ritual looking symbols all over the place. On the team is ya boyyyy Brannon, Draeson, Jessamine, Brother Taran, and Ula. They all got some interesting backstories, and to me that is the real highlight of the whole thing.

Brannon is this awesome war hero, turned King’s Justice where justice is him dueling criminals and fucking them up. He has started to transition to physician. Draeson is a mage with a dragon tattoo that moves all over his body. He also fucks everything in sight. Jessamine is Brannon’s boring apprentice. OR IS SHE?!?! Brother Taran is an assassianish, chemist dude. Ula is a shaman that raises Kaluki’s. Kaluki is the most fun word to try and say, and according to the author himself, I said it correctly on the podcast. Please see below. This was purely to flex that the author responded to me. Cue the humility.

Shoutout to Darian. The adventure is a blast, we got dead bodies rising to kill people, we got people turning into super monsters, some inter dimensional portals letting in the beasts of hell, and some good ol’ fashion twists. Give it a read. I give it a middle of the ground, not a true chad book, though that is certainly not the goal.

Book Reviews

The Sword of Kaigen Wrap-up: Samurais and SPFBO’s

Damn I have to say that my own continued negligence of this blog has caused me to miss some golden opportunities to flex my own knowledge. As a notoriously successful gambler (yeaaaaaaa right) I would have bet the house on M.L. Wang’s The Sword of Kaigen taking home the illustrious SPFBO award. In fact I am pretty sure I said exactly that on the greatest fantasy and sports podcast of all time, the Swords and Sports podcast. What’s crazy is that it was the only book at the time I had read on the finalists list. Some things just check off so many boxes you know they are going to be successful. Want to find out my deep thoughts on it? Or more embarrassingly listen to me mispronounce M.L. Wang’s name for an hour (once again Miracle I am sorry). I also butcher about 20 different names as well. It’s a god damn riot so listen up.

Click here for the cure to mesothelioma. Whatever that is. Unless you are dumb that is a link to the podcast. I feel like for some reason I need to make that clear.

The Sword of Kaigen is essentially a two part story. The first half of the book is a kind of coming-of-age tale of Mamorou. Mamorou is the son of Takeru Matsuda, the head of the island of Kaigen in some dictatorship. He is trying to learn how to use his magical abilities, create a whispering blade, and live up to his families reputation. Throughout this he slowly learns things about the government and the world as a whole that shatters his previously held beliefs. He struggles with this obviously, and his struggle actually awakens something in his mom, Misaki. She was formally a university student and accomplished fighter/vigilante with a very well-rounded education. She does not buy what the government is selling. Through marrying Takeru though, she has lost a significant portion of her identity as she has assumed the traditional backwards gender role of the village and her husband has done his best to stifle her personality. The the Rangenese come and there is this fucking awesome battle that kills everyone, including Mamorou.

The second half of the book is kinda Kafka Metamorphisis like. Meaning that without Mamorou every seems to be doing much better. Misaki and dickhead Takeru learn how to actually fucking communicate which leads to them growing as a couple. Through rebuilding the village they both grow as people and start to rebel against the government, who are trying to cover up the battle. Then a robot blows up.

This book is chad to the max. Read it, it’s fucking excellent. Listen to the podcast, it’s fucking mediocre. Bonus I will include some of the podcast outline. Thats how you lure emmmm in. I think.

Three things I like

  1. The sword names. I am a sucker for the names of swords some of the best names in this book are Takenagi, the Bamboo Cutter, 

Yukinos sword: Takenagi, the Bamboo cutter

Takeru:  Kyougetsu; The Moon SPire 

Uncle Takashi’s Nagimaru, Namimaru

Misaki: “This is Shadow’s Daughter.” Siradenyaa

Mamorou: Mamoriken,” he nodded to the sword, “the Protector.”

  1. The bloodline techniques. This is a thing I am learning plays a big role in asain martial arts, I am sure there is a long history of bloodline techniques throughout real history. But bloodline techniques were also featured in Kuangs “The Poppy War” and since these are the only two asain fantasy books I read, I assume this is a real thing. Here are some:

Lazou Linghun a fonyaka bloodline technique, wherein the fighter vacuums the air from their victim’s body through the mouth, collapsing their lungs, meaning ‘Soul Pull’ in Rangagua.

Sasayaiba: Whispering blade which is obviously the the Matsuda bloodline technique. The master Matsuda formed his weapon by compressing several billion water molecules to a thin blade through sheer force of nyama, creating ice as hard as metal and an edge the width of a single molecule. Mamoru always managed to catch other things up in his water—some iron particles, some dirt, some salt, some air bubbles—that weakened his ice and caused it to shatter under pressure.

Blood Needle a jijaka bloodline technique unique to the Tsusano family, wherein the practicioner takes control of a small amount of the blood inside their victim’s body and freezes it in the shape of needle, which is used to strike pressure points or pierce vital organs, called ‘Chihari’ in Shirojima Dialect. This can be used to create blood puppettry which leads to complete control

  1. The magic users. They are described as theonites and it seems like there are three types
  1. Jijakalu: theonites with the ability they manipulate water/ice, some abilities include creating ice spears to launch of fight with, freezing and unfreezing your feet to stabilize you which can be used to climb building, and doing the fucking laundrey which is the best use of power ever
  2. Fonyakalu: theonites with the ability to control air, can be used to create some fucking crazy ass tornado
  3. Tajaka: a theonite with the ability to control fire. Mad fucking useful to boil water. Make ramen in two seconds.
    1. littigi.” “A what?” “A type of sub-theonite,” Misaki explained as she came to stand over the man. “They look like powerless adyns but they have the ability to manipulate light to create illusions. I knew a few in Carytha.” But what the Hell was one of them doing here?