My Superpower: Jay Swanson

9 Mar

My Superpower is a guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators usually tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. In this case, we’re hearing about the superpower best suited for the protagonist of Into the Nanten.

“Of all my accumulated powers, I think my ability to influence the perceptions of those around me is the most useful — especially with regards to how they feel. It’s subtle, really, this capacity to touch the mind and leave no trace. It’s almost like an aura, one you’ll never truly leave should you enter it.

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“It’s useful, obviously, because at this stage I naturally put people at ease when they’re near. It means people want to be close, their trust is more readily extended, their lust more raw and easy to manipulate. The best part is you can just cut straight through the bullshit.

“It also means that my enemies quickly become theirs. My problems are things they want to handle with or even for me.

“It’s almost a passive ability, one I don’t have to think about much anymore. In the past I had to put some effort into crafting what I wanted to project. I found myself in more than one bind where I wanted to appear lethal, terrifying – it’s a great way to get out of tavern brawls or dissuade muggers, but not a good way to meet men. Unless you meet them on the battlefield.

“I even had one instance where I wanted someone to find me appalling, only because it was the easiest way to get out of that conversation and I knew I’d never have to listen to their prattle again.

“What people don’t realize is just how incredibly powerful pulling on these subtle strings can be, even if it doesn’t work on everyone. Perhaps they would now, seeing my rise to power, knowing me as they do today. And everyone knows me, even if they’ve never met me.

“Everyone has heard of me.

“But if I stand where I started, I can see how people would never have guessed at what I was capable of. What I would make them do.

“There was one… but he was always the anomaly in my life.

“Who thinks of an orphan as powerful? Who sees a little Truan girl and guesses she might one day be queen? And back then, Truans were actively oppressed. Despised. I really had no chance.

“I’ve learned a lot of skills over the decades since I was that little girl. Powers that can kill. Secrets that can do far worse. And yet, even if at my very core I was sufficient for the challenges that awaited me, I would never have made it without this one simple power. If you could choose, and perhaps someone will formalize this expression of magic one day so that you might, let me tell you that it would be my choice over any other.

“No matter how deep the cost, it served me better than anyone may ever know.”

Copied from Marked by Morning: Reflections of a Peasant Queen
Permission granted by personal writ of High King Leopold IV

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If you’ve followed along with “the world’s first real-time fantasy blog,” Jay Swanson’s Into the Nanten, you might realize that this is exactly the power that the protagonist, Marceles, should be striving to hone.

Into the Nanten is the journal of Marceles na Tetrarch, a warrior exiled into the world’s most hostile jungle in search of a man that he hates who was exiled there 20 years before him: Brin Salisir.

Salisir entered the jungle to track down rumors of a dark cult growing at its center. What Marceles didn’t know was if these rumors were true. He found them to be far worse than he could have ever imagined.

As he turns homeward in the third and final season of Into the Nanten, Marceles will face dangers more potent than any monster. His enemies will hide among the faces he has known his entire life as friends. Some friends will need to be made out of those he always knew as enemies.

You can read or listen to Into the Nanten for free online, then hop over to the Kickstarter to back the next season in exchange for some outstanding rewards. Into the Nanten was created by Jay Swanson, featuring artwork by Nimit Malavia and narration by Dennis Kleinman.

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