The Knight of Blood and the Bard of Rage.
- The Aspect of Blood encompasses loyalty, allegiance, friendship, and the bonds that tie us together, whatever they are; it is trust vindicated, pacts unbroken, promises kept, mistakes forgiven, and crimes absolved.
We all know friendship isn’t an emotion. What friendship is, is a pact.
Friendship is an agreement: it is a promise to help when help is needed, and to accept help in turn. You can’t have a friend without being a friend, any more than you can be a leader without providing leadership.
During the session itself, Karkat was a decent leader.
A decent leader, but not a perfect one. Failing to check up on Eridan during his weeks-long angel-slaughtering binge was a failure of leadership; deciding not to acquire the final frog was another.
And once they were trapped in the Veil, Karkat seems to have forgotten that leadership itself is a pact. His teammates accepted him as a leader, but in return, he was supposed to provide leadership. Sitting in the lab as his team disintegrated wasn’t exactly sterling leadership.
And when he does try to lead, the results can be worse than no leadership at all. Karkat tells Equius to kill Gamzee, and then listens while Equius tells him he isn’t capable of doing so.
A leader could have tried to convince Equius that following the order was more important than honoring the hemospectrum. He could have told Equius, who was out of the loop - he’d been holed up with Nepeta since the Aradiabot exploded - that the humans had helped them come up with a plan to escape their null session, that they were going to have more future than just the hours or days it would take Jack Noir to discover which meteor they’d taken refuge in. He could appeal to Equius’s desire to protect his moirail: hiding in his lab might protect Nepeta for a while, but if she had more than a day or two of potential life to look forward to, only stopping Gamzee’s murderous rampage would give her a chance to live it. But Karkat does none of that.
Karkat is failing as a leader, but the bonds of loyalty are strong enough that Equius will follow his orders, even knowing it will mean his death.
The Knight of Blood’s reliance on pacts, bonds, and contracts is almost total. He tries to exploit his aspect to solve problems, even in situations where it probably isn’t the best approach.
And if they fail him, he doesn’t have a backup plan. He and Eridan had a pact, the terms of which we can guess at:
We can assume that the pact included a promise from Karkat that he would take Eridan seriously and pay attention to his complaints, in exchange for a promise from Eridan to not be a complete asshole. What’s telling is that when Eridan committed his unconscionable crimes, Karkat just stood there, paralyzed with shock:
When past Eridan stuck his nose into a memo, Karkat felt it necessary to tell him the pact had been broken. Even though the Eridan he was talking to couldn’t possibly know the terms of the pact or what he might have done to violate them, even though Karkat knew that several of the trolls ostensibly under his leadership had turned to murder and that those who hadn’t could use some leadership, he felt the need to formally end their agreement.
He claims he’d be consumed with vengeful rage if only he weren’t so terrified, but he is terrified.
Karkat is aware that his angry posturing is just that - posturing.
After a year has passed, Kanaya still hasn’t forgiven Gamzee for his crimes; she wants to wound him with a chainsaw. But Karkat forgives all too easily.
He simply doesn’t know how to handle disloyalty, the betrayal of friendship, or the breaking of promises.
[If Jack Noir had an aspect, it would of course be Rage.
You cannot hope to best Jack Noir in a betray-off. He is simply the most traitorous there is.]
Karkat is of the Signless’s bloodline, and has inherited his burden. Should the Knight of Blood take on the responsibility of shouldering that burden, it would be his duty to realize his potential as a Hero of Blood, and, through his leadership, to help all of his people realize their own hidden potential.
I believe that a fully realized Hero of any aspect needs insight into the aspect opposing their own. We’ve seen a few ways this insight can be gained. One way involves role inversion: Rose inverted her aspect, and for a while she approximated a Mage of Void. Now that she has embraced her role as a Seer of Light, she still retains the favor of the Horrorterrors and the understanding she gained as a makeshift Hero of Void. Another way is almost the reverse: Sollux clearly embraced Doom wholeheartedly from the very beginning. Not only did he not resist his aspect, but he actually embraced it a little too thoroughly and closed his mind to the unlikely as well as the impossible. Dirk had some advice for Jane (who may have inverted) that is equally valid for Heroes of Doom or of Life:
A Hero of Life needs to learn not to waste time on the truly impossible, and a Hero of Doom needs to learn that ‘improbable’ doesn’t always mean ‘can’t be done.’ When Sollux pulled off an improbable - but not impossible - feat that allowed his surviving teammates to escape their failed session, he wore Feferi’s goggles. His eyesight and his vision twofold were the price he paid to become a true prophet of Doom, but if he’d been able to look at what he was doing, he would have seen it through the lenses of a Life player.
The burden of leadership and realized potential passed from one Hero of Blood to the other is no exception. The truth of the Sufferer’s message was encoded in his rage. It waits to reveal itself to the one who will inherit his burden, reignite his rage, and lead his people to glory beyond this realm.
To unite his people, Karkat will have to be able to understand all the reasons they are disunited; how could he hope to address them without understanding them? How can he hope to teach his people forgiveness and reconciliation if he doesn’t understand burning resentment and irrational rage, or know when something is unforgivable? How can he tie his people together unless he understands the forces that would tear them apart? He can’t hope to realize his full potential as a Hero of Blood without grasping the nature of his aspect’s inverse.
That’s where moirallegiance comes in.
- The Aspect of Rage encompasses disloyalty, treachery, and dishonesty; it is trust betrayed, pacts unheeded, promises broken, mistakes resented, and crimes unforgiven. To feel rage is to feel intense and uncontrollable wrath.
Rage can cloud the mind.
It can drive out any thoughts of loyalty or friendship, any regard for consequences, until rage is all that remains.
Destroyer Heroes have arcs defined by a critical moment of decision caused by a revelation. Princes and Bards may start off muddling along, but sooner or later, they have an epiphany whose devastating effect on the Destroyer Hero’s understanding of himself, of his beliefs, or of the path he’s on, force him to change. His decision when forced to face something that conflicts with or opposes his most deeply held beliefs or most valued goals is the most crucial one he will ever make. Very often the Hero cannot cope with the realization, or cannot even understand what was revealed to him, and he makes a choice that can only lead to destruction.
=> The Prince of Hope misunderstood the prophecies revealed to him by the angels of LOWAA. He thought Jack Noir was the Lord of All Angels, and that against him it was impossible to prevail. Told that as a Hero of Hope it was his fate to stand against the Lord of Angels, Eridan reasoned that fate was bullshit, that it could be rejected and a destiny forged.
And this is the critical moment when Eridan’s decision became irreversible:
Eridan’s cape was modeled after Dualscar’s, and when he turned his wand against an ally, he threw his cape away. Kanaya used the discarded cape to cover her gaping wound, and it became stained with the blood of a friend Eridan had unconscionably murdered.
Here, Eridan’s gory death is represented bloodlessly, but the cape still bears the jade green stain that is proof of his guilt. The length of the cape as it trails behind Kanaya is exaggerated dramatically; in fact, the cape seems to be following the path of her chainsaw. The discarded cape is symbolic of Eridan’s discarded fate, and visually, the cape cuts him in half; when Eridan threw away his destiny, he destroyed himself.
=> The Prince of Rage's revelation was his nightmare.
His decision in light of it took the form of a dramatic intensification in his devotion to the clown cult and to Lord English, its angel of double death. He also developed a passion for keeping secrets from his own friends - including such secrets as his loyalty to the villain and that he is actively working to help that villain murder those very friends.
And the Beforan players’ conversations are filled with secrets and rumors and mysteries.
I wonder how much of it can be traced to the Prince of Disloyalty and Betrayal in their midst?
=> The Bard of Hope's revelation was one he understood as meaning magic isn't real.
His decision was to abandon his destiny to defeat the evil magician his Land’s angels prophesied, apparently in order to forge a new destiny as a professional asshole.
=>The Bard of Rage
After Gamzee watched an ICP video and had the revelation that his faith was a lie, that there was no mythical paradise planet where a band of rowdy minstrels was to one day rise, he had to decide how to deal with the knowledge. However, he didn’t intend to make his decision on his own; there was one troll on the meteor who didn’t share his faith, but didn’t treat that faith with scorn, either. This troll was sure to be willing to hear Gamzee’s story and listen to his dilemma, and he was not likely to give the problem due consideration and then say “Well, my advice is to Kill Them All.” Gamzee made a beeline straight for him.
Unfortunately, instead of finding his friend and allowing the bonds of friendship and loyalty to guide his decision, he found a corpse. The effect this had on Gamzee’s mind was less than salutary.
And Gamzee actually says outright that he listened to the puppet because, with Tavros dead, it was his only friend. He tried to appeal to the ties that are at the heart of Blood, but he found only fuel for his Rage. Looking at the body of one friend murdered by another, the choice must have seemed obvious.
But Bards are a wildcard class, and the Bard of Rage is a special case. Gamzee hasn’t had just one of these crises where a revelation forced a decision. He’s had two.
The first revelation led him to the juju Lil Cal and to Doc Scratch, and he faithfully followed their directions; it is more than likely that Gamzee caused Kurloz’s revelatory nightmare on Doc Scratch’s orders. But when he was finished carrying out their instructions, he found that his faith had again been misplaced; he must have felt rage and a sense of betrayal when Doc Scratch revealed his manipulative deception.
Again, he looked to the bonds of friendship and loyalty to guide him in deciding what to make of this jarring new information and what his reaction to it should be. Pale solicitations don’t get more brazen than this:
And this time, he got the help he needed.
- Everyone has an important job to do
Beforan culture was far more peaceful than Alternian, and the Beforan conception of moirallegiance must’ve been a little different. When Cronus is attacking Mituna by insulting his relationships, his sarcastic comment on his moirallegiance with Kurloz is “You seem to bring good qualities out of each other, no? Is it true, the rumor that you are actually lucid when you talk to him, instead of behaving like a babbling, vertigo-stricken imbecile” - as if to say that moirails bring out the best in each other, but the best anyone could hope to bring out in Mituna is comprehensible speech, and not some virtue or admirable trait. The insult makes sense if moirails are understood as partners in a relationship who work to bring out the best in each other - and that describes Alternian moirallegiance as well, provided that you think ‘the best’ should include ‘not rampaging murderously.’
When Karkat held out the offer of a pale relationship to Gamzee, and Gamzee took it, they formed a pact. Moirallegiance is a contract: moirails strive to bring out the best in each other, and they promise to curb or suppress or control the worst in each other. The Knight is helping the Bard gain understanding of the Blood aspect; the Bard can return the favor by helping his moirail understand Rage. Gamzee is a hard character to read, and the last time we actually saw things from his point of view was shortly after his introduction - but that might be a clue in itself; denying an audience a particular character’s point of view can mean that it’s being concealed for a reason - that if the character’s perspective were shown, the audience’s understanding of the character would change. If Gamzee’s appearances lately have seemed to be ominous or malicious, would we understand them differently if we’d seen them from his point of view?
Rage isn’t an evil aspect - no aspect is - and disloyalty isn’t always a bad thing. Some pacts should be broken.
How much loyalty do the imps really owe their Dersite creators? They are grown in vats and sent to die, and I can’t see what they get for their side of the bargain.
Unless Mituna is a clown cultist, and somehow his matesprit the Knight of Synaptic Causality either doesn’t know or doesn’t care, then Kurloz is happily anticipating his own moirail’s death by betrayal. It makes him smile to think of souls - including the souls of his friends - being destroyed utterly. I think it’s telling that Gamzee is silent while Kurloz rants piously, but the suggestion that they toast the imminent double deaths of friends earns Kurloz a “shut your mother fucking mouth.”
The Prince of Rage expects to cause destruction through his betrayal. What if the destruction he causes is his own? The Bard of Rage, after all, can allow his own aspect to be destroyed - he can allow the destruction of disloyalty and rage and betrayal.
And, through his aspect, he can invite destruction. If the Bard of Rage so chooses, he can invite destruction upon the disloyal through their own disloyalty.
Or he can invite destruction through a betrayal of his own.
Gamzee is going to provide Caliborn with “tutelage;” Gamzee has a hand in making him what he will become. The evidence would seem to be damning - and yet…
What was Gamzee doing in the void session? What did he hope to accomplish with Jane? Their meeting was more than a little fucked up, and yet what were its actual consequences? After the Tavrisprite abomination mercifully exploded, Vriska and Tavros had a conversation colored by their new understanding of each other’s minds.
Tavros agreed to join with Vriska in fucking shit up, and now they are searching for a treasure that can supposedly defeat Lord English forever, aided by their discovery of a way to accurately map the void itself.
As for Jane, the experience seems to have nudged her that little bit deeper into her aspect inversion.
Why might he want to encourage Jane’s inversion?
What does the Condesce want that she can’t get on her own?
The Condesce is a Hero of Life, and she isn’t likely to give up easily. She cannot revive the dead, but that might not be the case for the Maid of Life.
Jane isn’t likely to manifest the kind of healing powers the Condesce wants from her, and that are probably the reason Jane has been so well supplied with Crockercorp brainwashing gear, while she is resisting her aspect.
When the Condesce entered Lord English’s service, she must have been offered, as her reward, the restoration of her species. But she hates and fears her master
and, knowing Lord English, her ‘reward’ will have a cruel twist; given his pattern of ‘rewarding’ service with death, my guess would be that the Condesce’s reward for her service is to be the repopulation of the troll race - along with her own death, so she can never lead them. But her servitude hasn’t prevented her from trying to get what she wants another way. She keeps trying to resurrect her race on her own, but her monstrous lusus kills them off every time. It must be listening to someone besides her, and given how Gl’bgolyb ended up on Alternia, we might be able to guess who that could be.
Some bonds deserve to be broken. Lord English gained the loyal service of Her Imperious Condescension through manipulation and traps, and definitely not by earning her respect or trust as a leader or a friend.
Jane should be safe as long as she can’t be used by Her Condescension to revive the troll subjects she desperately wants. But, if she were to be offered a way to restore her species without Lord English’s help, and without her lusus standing in the way, the Condesce’s allegiance to the Lord of All Angels would vanish in a heartbeat.
Homestuck is a remarkable tale. Our team’s Bard will be single-handedly responsible for both spectacular downfall
and improbable victory.