Dark Bakura Deck Redux

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VERSION 1: WITH ANIME CARDS, 43 CARDS
* Cards still not released in print.

Monsters: 19
1x Dark Necrofear
1x Dark Ruler Ha Des
1x Diabound Colonel
1x Puppet Master
2x Deathcalibur Knight
1x Discraced Mage*
1x Headless Knight
1x Gross Ghost of Fled Dreams
1x The Portrait’s Secret
1x Earthbound Spirit
1x Sangan
3x Morphing Jar
3x Necro Soldier*
1x Jowgen the Spiritualist

Spells: 14
1x Change of Heart
1x Dark Sanctuary
1x Monster Reborn
1x Premature Burial
1x Chain Energy
1x Spiritualistic Medium*
1x Pot of Greed
1x Graceful Charity
1x Spirit Illusion*
1x Grief Tablet*
1x Death Counterbalance*
1x The Dark Door
1x The Shallow Grave
1x Spirit Sword of Sealing*

Traps: 10
1x Fearful Earthbound*
1x Multiple Destruction
1x Spirit Shield*
1x Death Spirit Zoma
1x Call of the Earthbound
1x Dark Spirit of the Silent
1x Cursed Necro Twin Dolls*
1x Just Desserts
1x Rebirth Tablet
1x Mirror Tablet

VERSION 2: ALL CARDS HAVE BEEN RELEASED, 42 CARDS

Monsters: 18
1x Dark Necrofear
1x Dark Ruler Ha Des
1x Diabound Colonel
1x Puppet Master
2x Deathcalibur Knight
1x Archfiend Soldier
1x Headless Knight
1x Gross Ghost of Fled Dreams
1x The Portrait’s Secret
1x Earthbound Spirit
1x Sangan
3x Morphing Jar
2x Morphing Jar #2
1x Jowgen the Spiritualist

Spells: 15
1x Change of Heart
2x Dark Sanctuary
1x Monster Reborn
1x Premature Burial
1x Chain Energy
1x Pot of Greed
1x Graceful Charity
1x The Dark Door
1x The Shallow Grave
1x Gravekeeper’s Servant
1x Spirit Message “E”
1x Spirit Message “A”
1x Spirit Message “T”
1x Spirit Message “H”

Traps: 9
2x Destiny Board
1x Multiple Destruction
1x Call of the Haunted
1x Death Spirit Zoma
1x Call of the Earthbound
1x Dark Spirit of the Silent
1x Just Desserts
1x Malevolent Catastrophe

Zodiac Signs: Modern vs. Traditional

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The descriptions of zodiac signs we hear today were not always so. Astrologers of the past described zodiac signs differently, and while traditional zodiac signs are similar to modern ones there are significant differences too. Why, you may ask? It partly has to do with New Age values, the precession of the equinoxes, and a long game of telephone where hack astrologers bowdlerized the zodiac signs into inaccurate caricatures without bothering to study the source materials.

My reference to the modern zodiac signs is Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, which is one of the cornerstones of modern astrology. My reference to traditional zodiac signs is Constellation of Words, which includes writings from Roman astrologers and descriptions of the fixed stars, which have often been excluded in astrology.

Zodiac Elements
Zodiac signs in the past didn’t have “elements” like they do today, but trigon diurnal and nocturnal rulers that supposedly impart a general character on the zodiac signs.

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius Diurnal: Sun, Nocturnal: Jupiter

Modern descriptions often seem to give the “fire” signs a naive, happy-go-lucky idiot vibe, and generally describe them as being large-hearted and without guile. Traditional descriptions did not do this, but described the “fire” signs as martial and authoritarian, heavily valuing their pride, wealth, and social status.

Aries (Mars ruler, Sun exalted): Much mention is made of dictatorship and violence; a bilious character overall, as well as the collecting of money and gaining of wealth. Manilius gives the sign a riches to rags story, rising to become a prince only to befall a calamity reducing him to a pauper.

Leo (Sun ruler): Obviously associated with the Sun, therefore given a very kingly description. Leo is described as loving to be in the spotlight and putting on a show of wealth, much like in modern descriptions. But no mention is made of a generous, humanitarian spirit; but of a character who will rapaciously conquer his rivals and add to his own power.

Sagittarius (Jupiter ruler): Described as dreadful warrior who will go to great lengths to claim supremacy, to be the very best, and suffer greatly to realize his ambitions. Sagittarius is associated with the mastery and taming of wild beasts, and also of civilizing and cultural institutions, which modern astrologers do acknowledge. Of the “fire” signs, Sagittarius gets the worst “silly clown” treatment by modern astrologers, while ironically ancient astrologers described the sign with deathly seriousness; “dreadful Sagittary” as Shakespeare put it, or untamed destructive wildness, was a common trope associated with the sign.

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn Diurnal: Venus, Nocturnal: Moon
Modern descriptions give the signs a very practical bent of being cautious, conservative, wanting money and status, and wanting safety. This kind of fits the ancient description, but kind of doesn’t. The ancients do describe Taurus and Capricorn as doing thankless hard work, but wealth gain is not mentioned, just the suffering inherent in life. Emphasis is also placed on civic service and the joys inherent with giving to and exchanging with people, especially on Virgo.

Taurus (Venus ruler, Moon exalted): Again, Taurus is solid, steady, and hard-working, but no mention is made of wealth gain, or Taurus being interesting in gaining wealth and status. Ancients associate the sign with Venus, and thus with love, sex, and fertility, but the free love of Venus here is described as Dionysian and subversive of marriage and familial ties. Not exactly docile and conservative.

 

Virgo (Mercury ruler): Ancients describe the usual attention to detail, the hard work, the perfectionist nature, and so forth. But the ancient description places a large emphasis on Virgo serving others and occupying a civic role, bascically being a gopher, but one with courage and tactical brilliance. Modern astrology, however, makes Virgo to be very stuck-up and anal. Ancient Virgo was not a shrewish old maid, but a lively girl.

Capricorn (Saturn ruler, Mars exalted): The traditional description by Manilius is restless and hard-working, but also of a cheerful demeanor, made “a slave to Venus” in youth. This personality description is partly based on nature, since (at least in the years of Rome) the Sun enters Capricorn and begins its resurrection, in contrast to the falling darkness and death cycle that happens when the Sun is in Sagittarius. 

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius Diurnal: Saturn, Nocturnal: Mercury

Modern descriptions put traits such as “communication and mobility” in the forefront when describing the “air” signs, and a modern astrologer is quick to join the heavy intellectual nature of the “air” signs with superficiality. But traditional descriptions give the “air” signs a far more serious character, since Saturn is the diurnal ruler. The functions of the mind, such as intellect, are also prominent in traditional descriptions, as Mercury is the nocturnal ruler.

Gemini (Mercury ruler): The traditional description is close to the modern description when it comes down to basic character traits such as quick-wittedness, many talents, and versatility. But Gemini is closely associated with mortality (due to the myth of Castor and Pullox, one immortal twin and one mortal twin) as well as Gemini’s reaction against that. Gemini is a gay sign that dispels the heavier aspects of life, has great talent with music and astronomy, and is great with kids.

 

Libra (Venus ruler, Saturn exalted): Ancient descriptions emphasize Libra’s role as a clear-headed and stern judge, and role in civic life, little description of indecisiveness. But Libra would far rather settle disputes in a dignified and bloodless way than use the sword. Libra is associated with Venus as Taurus is, but Libra Venus is about romantic love, marital ties, and the responsibilities that come with such relationships. Taurus is all about the wild kinky sex.

Aquarius (Saturn ruler): Modern descriptions tend to idealize Aquarius as being very humanitarian and forward-thinking. But traditional astrology allots Aquarius with hard work and the suffering in life as Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, like Capricorn. Manilius mentions “thousand crafts regulated by water”, alluding to the inventive nature of the sign. Aquarius is kindly in character, though other ancient astrologers like Valens ascribe misanthropy to the sign.

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces Diurnal & Nocturnal: Mars
Modern astrologers go out of their way to imbue the “water” signs with idealized New Age traits such as being “sensitive”, “psychic”, and “profound”. But no traditional descriptions allude to such traits. Since the “water” signs are ruled by Mars, they are thought to be dramatic and passionate but volatile and rash. Even astrologers as late as Alan Leo described them as being turbulent and restless, like water, and ancient astrologers made similar allusions. This clearly differs from the hypersensitive and introverted nature given in modern descriptions.

Cancer (Moon ruler, Jupiter exaltation): Modern descriptions emphasize Cancer with domestic life, child-rearing, and sensitivity, but will sometimes flip the coin to describe Cancer as being a strong public figure. Traditional descriptions of Cancer are firmly in the latter, especially since Jupiter is exalted in Cancer; thus the extroverted life in politics and putting on a show with many different masks. Cancer is associated with the vast ocean and overseas trade. Ancient peoples saw the ocean, the Great Mother, as a boundless and terrible titan, not as a meek and nurturing creature. 

 

Scorpio (Mars ruler): Modern descriptions will almost always describe Scorpio as secretive, very profound, and transforming through three stages; with martial qualities such as being a tenacious, powerful, and vengeful fighter. Traditional descriptions are about the latter, the former mostly being New Age psychobabble. As such, Scorpio is driven and outgoing, fearlessly rocking the boat, tackling difficult challenges, and rising as the victor. Yet ancients regarded Scorpio as an “accursed sign” and “baleful source of war”. He is impulsive and self-destructive; strikes first, asks questions later, causing crime and bloodshed throughout his rampage. There is little profundity in this fiery sign.

Pisces (Jupiter ruler, Venus exalted): Your typical modern astrologer will describe Pisces as a sensitive doormat, feeling psychic vibrations, and being very caring to all people and animals. The traditional description is very different; Pisces, like Cancer, is associated with the vast ocean, in this case with naval warfare. Manilius goes out of his way to describe the sea as foaming with blood. The constellation of Pisces itself is made of two fishes violently tugging away at each other. Pisces is very friendly, but also a restless wanderer, always sailing the seven seas looking for new places, ready to change course at the drop of a hat.  

Yugioh Created Cards (Duels 8 & 9)

NOTE: I try to keep the number of created cards down to 3 at most, unless the created cards are part of a unique archetype of my making. The Nordic archetype has always been the most awkward for me. If it wasn’t for the plot I would favor Naturia over Nordics in an instant.

Mathias’ Cards

Effect Shutdown
Quickplay Spell

  • Negate the activation of your opponent’s monster’s effect, and destroy it.
  • Skip your next Draw Phase.

Law of the Aesir
Continuous Trap

  • Once per turn, during either player’s turn: target one “Aesir” monster you control; it is unaffected by all card effects, except this one, until the end of the turn.
  • During your Standby Phase: banish 1 “Nordic” monster from your Graveyard (not optional). If you cannot, destroy this card.
  • If this card was destroyed and sent to the Graveyard by your opponent’s card effect: add 1 “Nordic” card from your Deck to your hand.

Draugalf of the Nordic Alfar
DARK/Spellcaster/LV 4/ATK 1300/DEF 800
Tuner

  • You can Special Summon this card from your Graveyard in Attack Position by Tributing one Nordic monster you control.
  • If you Special Summoned this card from your Graveyard: you can Special Summon 1 Level 3 or lower “Nordic” monster from your Graveyard in Attack Position.

Weevil’s Cards

Insect Empress
EARTH/Insect/LV 8/ATK 2200/DEF 2400

  • Increase the ATK of this card x200 for every Insect in your field and Graveyard.
  • You must Tribute 1 monster you control to attack with this card. During the End Phase, if this card destroyed an opponent’s monster by battle this turn: Special Summon 1 “Insect Egg Token” (Insect-Type/EARTH/Level 1/ATK 100/DEF 100).
  • If this card would be destroyed (battle or card effect): you can Tribute 1 “Insect Egg Token”, and it is not destroyed.

Golemgoroth’s Roar
Trap

  • Target 1 EARTH monster you control: Tribute all other monsters you control and increase the selected monster’s ATK x1500 for each monster Tributed, until the end of this turn.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 9

Duel 9 – Valiant Effort

Mathias: 3400 | Weevil: 6200

WEEVIL’S TURN: “I draw!” Perfect, exactly the card he hoped for to make a perfect victory! “I activate my two Fruitflies to steal Odin and Thor.” Watching his great monsters controlled by someone as weak as Weevil gives Mathias something close to heartbreak, something he had not felt in nearly a century. Even the old masters Pegasus and Kaiba see the move in shock; Pegasus is pleasantly bemused while Kaiba seethes at the blasphemy of Weevil controlling god cards.

“I activate Odin and Thor’s effects to protect them.” Weevil watches his gods bathe the field in their magic with a contentment alien to him for many years. “Naturia Exterio, destroy Mathis’ facedown monster!” The turquoise king of beasts rips apart a tiny rodent hiding underneath the facedown card like a burrow.

“You triggered Super-Nimble Mega Hamster, letting me summon Tanngrisnir of the Nordic Beasts from my Deck.” Mathias explains as he plays another monster facedown. Weevil commands Thor to smash the card with its fist, squashing the poor goat flat, which lets Mathias Summon two Nordic Beast Tokens. Annoyed, Weevil has Odin throw one of the Nordic Beasts out of the arena, and decides to add insult to injury.

“You will never get your Nordic Gods back; I tribute Odin and Thor to Summon Insect Empress!” The giant Nordic Gods dissipate into a winter storm of hail and snow as a queen ant of titanic size takes all the space in Weevil’s field. Weevil adjusts his glasses as he is wont to do whenever he thinks himself to be clever. “See, I was very careful to keep all Insects in my Graveyard, because my Empress gains 200 ATK for each Insect in my field and my Graveyard; thus the Empress claims 3800 ATK to her name.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: Pegasus and Kaiba are in further shock; Pegasus more bemused than ever as if tricked in a silly prank, Kaiba more outraged than ever; to think a cockroach like Weevil could throw away two gods like they were nothing. What was Yugioh coming to!

Mathias declares to his opponent, “I should praise you for taking control of the Nordic Gods but letting go of them was a huge mistake. I activate Monster Reborn to revive Thor!”

“Oh no you don’t; I counter with Exterio to negate it!” Weevil banishes a card in his Graveyard and mills a card for its cost.

“I counter it with Divine Wrath, one of my favorite cards! I discard a card to negate and destroy Exterio!” A single bolt of lightning strikes the mighty beast down, leaving only ashes behind, as if the Nordic Gods themselves punished Weevil. “Thor, arise!” Mathias completes his ritual, and once more the hammer-wielding giant stands tall as Weevil, and Rex, melt into a puddle of tears.

Maya wafts the air to her nose with her hands as if she cooked a master chef’s dish and circles the fingers of her left hand. Classic antimeta in action. She can almost taste poor Bug Boy’s tears. They must be delicious. As for the look on Kaiba’s face; he looks like he took a laxative for once.

Weevil did not give up yet. “I’ll banish your precious Thor with Bottomless Trap Hole!” But he sells himself short as his trap simply vanishes in thin air. When Weevil cannot figure out why, Mathias clues him in, “Your Fruitflies lowered Thor’s ATK so low your trap couldn’t banish him.

“If I may continue, before I was so rudely interrupted.” I Tribute my Nordic Beast Token to Summon Draugalf of the Nordic Alfar from my Graveyard, as I discarded it through Divine Wrath, and use its effect to revive my Tanngrisnir.” A dark, undead elf devours and dissolves the Nordic Beast as it resurrects itself, bringing back a white goat with it. “I activate Phantom Knight Gloves, the first monster you destroyed, banishing it from the Graveyard to mill The Phantom Knight of Ancient Cloak, and then I activate it to banish it to add The Phantom Knight of Silent Boots to my hand, and I Summon it.” A ghostly and silent ninja slips out of the darkness into the light.

“I tune Draugalf, Tanngrisnir, and Silent Boots to Synchro Summon Loki, Lord of the Aesir!” Mathias’ monsters rise to the heavens and the trickster god condescends to grace his field in exchange for the sacrifices. “I activate Thor’s effect!” To which the hammer-wielding god smashes the field, crippling all of Weevil’s insects, allowing the Nordic Gods to regain their full strength. “Thor, destroy the Queen!”

Weevil has one more card up his sleeve. “I play Golemgoroth’s Roar and sacrifice all my Fruitflies!” His empress of Insects ruthlessly, gruesomely devoured her servants to gain unfrequented strength.

“You’re Empress will gain 4500 ATK in the process; so Loki, negate that trap!” The Nordic God zaps her with an aerosol can he conjured from thin air, the empress shriveling away from the poison. “Raid, kills them dead.” Loki seems to have a sense of humor too; he even gestures to Thor, as if letting him finally attack, to which the gruff, no-nonsense Thor gladly did, dramatically using his hammer as a fly swatter to finish the job. (Weevil LP 6200 à 4900) “Loki, strike Weevil directly!”

“OH NOOOO!!!” Weevil raves in complete horror and disbelief, his hands and mouth locked into a pose from The Scream painting, before Loki shocks him into a dizzy mess with a jolt of black magic from its finger, making Weevil twitch as an insect sprayed with a can of Raid. (Weevil LP 4900 à 1500)

WEEVIL’S TURN: But Weevil still persists. “I set a card facedown and end my turn.”

MATHIAS’ TURN: “I activate Thor’s effect, now Thor, attack his facedown!” The burly god eagerly smashed a Naturia Cherry flat, turning it to jam. This let Weevil Summon two more Naturia Cherry facedown, and Mathias forces Loki to make quick work of one of them. “I set a card facedown. Make your last turn count, Bug Boy.”

WEEVIL’S TURN: “I am the strongest, the most resilient creature there is, like the cockroach. I will survive, and no matter what happens I will always come back to annoy you like the pest I am!”

“You got it, Weevil!” Rex jumped and shouted from the sidelines. “Show him whose boss!”

“Um, nobody has compared themselves to a cockroach like it was a good thing, but if it works for you, dude, sure. Whatever.” Mathias must concede this odd self-praise as beyond his understanding.

“I activate Monster Reborn to Summon Naturia Mosquito from my Graveyard!” The typical ankh appears on the field and resurrects a cute mosquito with wide cartoon eyes. Mathias wondered for a second when he last saw the Mosquito but soon realized Weevil milled it when he played Naturia Marron on his very first turn. He concedes to Weevil again; that was pretty clever.

Weevil explains his plan, “Mosquito is weak but any battle damage from a Naturia monster goes back to you, meaning you’ll lose the duel. Naturia Mosquito, attack Thor!” His petty bug rushes over to annoy the stern warrior Nordic God. The audience is truly tense as this is the third time today it seemed like Weevil would actually win. The world truly becomes upside down. Cats chase dogs. Weevil is a champion. Trump isn’t president. Israel and Palestine coexist in peace.

Time to end the party, setting things right; Mathias reveals his trap, “I play Skill Drain; I pay 1000 Life to negate all monster effects.” (Mathias LP 3400 à 2400) Thor swats the mosquito with his hammer in comical fury, putting Weevil’s ambitions to rest. (Weevil LP 1500 à 0)

Mathias: 2400 | Weevil: 0

Isono thrust his hand in the air; the referee announced, “Mathias Blackheart wins the second quarterfinal duel! Duelists, let the sun decide the next two contestants!” The remaining four finalists did as they were told; the sun decreed that Stella Nova duel against Tamas Vargas.

Tamas showed little interest, flicking away dirt from his nails. He seemed to speak more to himself than the outside world. “I’m lucky to face women in my next two duels. Beating them won’t be hard; I’d rather duel a retard like Weevil if I wanted a challenge.”

Yugioh the Dark Side of Dimensions – Duel 7

Duel 7 – Courage from the Cowardly Lion

Mokuba swiftly ordered the best medical team Kaibacorp had to offer to tend to Hannibal’s unmoving body. Mathias truly wished his companion Ivy was here so she could heal the body through her Ka and revive the person within, but, and Mathias hated the idea, Ivy could only work her magic if Hannibal was alive. A dead man was impossible to reach; Mathias knew only One, a perfect being, who brought back the dead. The helpless Mathias took much coaxing from Stella and Mokuba to let go of his friend’s body so the doctors might save him, so he let them with great reluctance carry Hannibal to an emergency room.

Maya watched the procession of doctors, nurses, and body in silence, unmoved, while Matthew gloated at his victory; the vanquishing of his prey with his dark magic gave him an exalted rush he always wanted in his life and strength as his shadow powers grew. Did Yugi face such a runaway train in his Battle City? It was terrifying to watch. Maya always felt a rage inside her, a fire held back like a corked volcano; perhaps Matthew is what she would look like once that volcano destroyed itself in an eruption.

Kaiba barked his orders, “Don’t go anywhere next, shrimps! Raise your Millennium Item cards in the air and let the sun decide the next duelists!”

Mathias could not believe Kaiba’s callousness, for he knew Kaiba to be a cold man but never did he imagine such cruelty. Ready to tear that man apart and his smug foppish friend, he would have jumped but felt the barrel of a gun on his back. “I’m sorry, Mathias.” Isono said, his apology genuine. “But if Kaiba wishes the duels to go on, they will go on.”

The finalists reluctantly put their cards in the air, waiting for the sun to give its verdict. It soon did; gold light from Mathias’ and Weevil’s cards hit the floor. Isono announced, “It is settled! Mathias Blackheart versus Weevil Underwood! The duel will commence within fifteen minutes sharp!” Weevil ran away with Rex in an instant, knowing just how strong Mathias was and how weak they were in comparison, but Mathias did not care. He hurried to the medical room, Stella and Maya trailing behind him.

The doctors had tended to Hannibal’s body as best he could, their leader explaining Hannibal’s state to Mathias. He was not dead but in a coma. Mathias was deeply relieved to hear the news but he knew it meant his friend’s life now completely depended on Matthew’s defeat. If Matthew did not fall his dark spell would not be undone, and Hannibal would never waken. Mathias placed a gentle hand on the body’s brow. “I promise to save you.”

Stella decided to confront Maya at this point. She knew her well enough, or so she thought. “I don’t understand you. Don’t you feel any pain in your heart, any pain at all for Hannibal’s suffering?”

Maya had a hard time telling her, “I don’t, but I don’t know why.”

“Bullshit!” Stella rebuked her. “You hated his philosophy of living in penance, so you thought he was better dead. Why would that matter to you anyway? What did you do, kill someone?”

Maya turned her back to her former lover, pressing her forearm against the wall and her head on it, breathing deeply. She had to accept what she did, and do so by telling the truth. She faced Stella gain, saying. “I will, but take off your pink contacts first.”

Stella did not bother to ask why because she already knew, so she did so, revealing her true eyes; they were as clear and blue as the sky itself. Maya said, every word heavy but somehow managing to speak, “I killed Heishin, the dictator of Egypt, when we sacked Cairo, freeing the nation. He kidnapped me and threw down a dark pit, which I stayed in for three days, believing I would die. – My ribs are still broken. – I hated Heishin, so I killed him. I saw him tell his son he loved him before I sent a bullet in his brain without blinking. You would think the lights in his eyes would vanish as the soul does after death, assuming there is a soul, but his eyes stayed bright with the same emotion they had a moment before. It was terrifying; like he was a zombie.”

Stella stepped a pace backward on hearing such gruesome details. A lesser woman would have demonized Maya as a monster for killing a man but Stella understood the circumstances that pressured Maya to become a killer. She felt relieved, to be honest. “You were more open to me, honest to who you are, now than at any point when we were together. You were always guarded. Even when we had sex, you never connected your heart to mine; you only pleasured my body.”

“I don’t do dating or relationships. I thought I made that clear the moment we met.” Maya explained to her like she was a teenaged girl. “As far as I’m concerned, friendship is one thing while sex is another, and the former does not imply the latter in any way; it does not even imply love. I fucked enough people over the years to put Lizzie Lape to shame, but fucking them did not mean I cared for any of them in any way unless I valued them more deeply, valued them as friends, outside of that.”

“Seeing how you pump and dump every man or woman that arouses you, I am shocked, in retrospect, you managed to be faithful to me for a year. Have you ever loved another person in your life, or at least cared for them beyond their use to you? Or do only feel the low emotions of hatred, pride, lust, jealousy, and excitement? Are you a human being, or only a reptile that can speak?”

Maya lowered her voice into a soft growl. “Nothing is more pitiful than a woman in love, if such a thing exists. The one thing I hate most about my sex is their pathetic romantic fantasies; they choose idiot partners based on it rather than anything remotely involving reason, then wonder why men resent them and women are unhappy.”

Stella was aghast. “Talk about internalized misogyny! But that makes sense. You appear to be a radical progressive, what with being a black Jewish woman who defeated score after score of entitled American white dudes, but act like a female CEO. You’re a Queen Bee, Maya. You hate other women because you see them as a threat to you. I expected Audre Lorde. I got Hillary Clinton.”

Maya thought in a flash that perhaps she should “open her heart” and grab the bitch by the mouth, but she did not. Either way, she lost it. “Take your third wave feminist garbage somewhere else! First, I can’t be Jewish as my mother wasn’t a Jew. Second, if you actually went to your local tournament you would realize how many white kids truly play this came. And third, have you done any real work to help a woman, a Jew, or a black person?

“I have lectured in colleges, debated in meetings, gone to marches, lost three fourths of my livings – my livelihood – in a lawsuit, got punched in the face by a neo-Nazi, punched another neo-Nazi in kind when he tried hit my face and missed, got pepper-sprayed in the eyes and literally dogpiled by cops in armor, had my addresses doxxed by a punk and got swatted in the same week. I did everything in the last four years to change this game, to break the corporate hierarchy so prep school kids like Matthew did not control every piece of the metagame and rule unchallenged. Nothing worked, and do you why? It was because everyone was like you; you complained at Starbucks, you blogged at Jezebel, you whined about the pay gap and women at STEM, and so forth. But did you suffer to make any change happen beyond needing to block someone on Twitter or go to the occasional protest? You did not. Your feminism and professional dueling career are a balancing act of fame, following, and publicity. Mine never was.

“And don’t you dare lecture me on love either. Do you believe the funny little feeling you felt in your little heart and the fantasies you daydreamed about was love? There is no such thing as love in this world and even it did exist no one would be worthy of it, and I am the least worthy person of all. My mother quickly learned the limits of her ‘love’ for me when my father poured boiling water on her hands.”

Mathias shook his head, groaning. “This is like watching Malik and Bakura argue with each other. Get a room, ladies, and critique your feminist praxis somewhere else, not next to a dying man. And Maya, do your self a favor and get help. You even disturb me right now.”

Stella put her pink contacts back on, and looked at Maya’s dark eyes that lit with Hell’s fury. “I am sorry you are such a unhappy and lonely person. You are not an evil person, but you like to pretend you are so you don’t have to change.” Before Stella left, she informed her once lover. “And tell me what doing a balancing act is like. Every single thing you did for the last four years was a calculated political move. Goodbye.”

Mathias placed his hand on Hannibal’s forehead before getting up. “I really need to pee before I find Weevil and make him duel me. I can’t believe I have to babysit that dork. My friend nearly died.”

Maya laughed a bit. “Talk about a mood whiplash. We will abruptly enter a comic relief scene any minute now.”

Mathias was utterly confused. “What?”

“The audience will get confused if I don’t tell them. And don’t forget how the entire gaming world is watching the tournament in earnest despite – no, because – people are dying. The author will have to explain that sooner or later.”

“Who cares what the audience thinks! Just because you can break the fourth wall now doesn’t make you special!”

“Well I guess it makes sense for Yugioh to be a dangerous spectator sport.” Maya thought out loud. “Loan sharks cut a sports gambler’s finger off if he doesn’t pay his debt and athletes get paralyzed trying to become world famous. What makes Yugioh any different?”

“I don’t care about the logic or philosophy here. My friend is almost dead and I have to babysit a millennial.” Mathias ended the conversation. He met Rex Raptor at the bathroom door only to learn Weevil had trapped himself inside rather than face Mathias in a duel. Mathias could not believe this. His friend was in a coma and he would not be Weevil’s self-esteem counselor! He wrapped the bathroom three times with his large fist, nearly breaking it down each time. “Open up, Bug Boy! I gotta’ go!”

“No!” Weevil shouted across the door. “I have a restraining order against you. There’s no way I’m leaving.”

“I’m too cool to get ever get a lawsuit. You can’t avoid dueling me and getting your ass handed to you by my Nordic Gods. It is God’s Will for you to be his butt monkey and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now open up or I swear in the name of Jesus Christ you will get the biggest swirly in your entire life.”

This threat sent Weevil trembling, and Mathias could even see it from over here, and worse, he knew Weevil would wet himself any time now. It was beyond pathetic. Weevil spoke, “I- I’m really scared! Ever since me and Rex lost at Duelist Kingdom we’ve been nothing but picked on and beaten up. We even forget Yugi and Joey landed us in this mess by defeating us; it’s like our mockery is some existential fact of life. I want to fight in the finals, maybe even win. I’m so excited I made it to finals of the World Championship, the first time in my life! But I’m scared I’ll lose horribly and everyone will make fun of me again.”

Rex tried to encourage his friend, “You can win, Weevil! Even if you lose the finals you can still do a really cool duel. People will at least have to respect that.”

Mathias took his turn; he was sure to make it count. “Weevil, I’m not here to be your mommy or your cheerleader or read you The Little Engine That Could, but I am here to tell you this. This is your very first, and may be your very last, time as a finalist. You can face me like a man and try to win fame and respect or you can walk away and never get another chance. This will probably be the best day in your entire life, so you might as well seize it.

A minute passed. Another minute. Another. And another. Weevil opened the bathroom door, standing as tall as he could. “I challenge you to a duel, Mathias.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“But,” Weevil just noticed his pants felt a little wet and cold for his liking. “I had a little accident.”

Mathias slapped his palm on his face and dragged it down so tightly he nearly pulled his face off.

Studying Beethoven – Piano Sonata in E (Op. 14)

Beethoven’s next sonata, the Sonata in E (Op. 14), is a breath of fresh air following the dark and weighty Pathetique Sonata (In Cm, Op. 13), and it comes with a sibling; the Sonata in G (Op. 14). Both sonatas are lyrical and mild, but sophisticated as ever – Beethoven always has tricks up his sleeve – and are structured as the Pathetique, where a weighty first movement in sonata form is balanced by two other movements. The Sonata in E resembles a string quartet with its frequent four-part writing, counterpoint, and imitations, most easily found in the first movement but also present in the later movements.

Allegro
Following the idea of a string quartet, Beethoven opens with a main subject in E, with violin parts sustaining long melodic notes high on the treble while the viola and cello parts play a knocking rhythmic motif. The melody rises in gentle open intervals of 4ths, 5ths, 6ths; in essence rising from dominant to tonic to dominant to tonic again. The little flurry at the end with the high tonic note is a frequent trope in violin solos. Yes, the phrase ends on E, the tonic, but it’s unresolved; a question waiting an answer. And Beethoven chooses to answer with a motif played in violin I, violin II, viola, and cello parts; this way he brings the melody back down to earth. In essence, the dominant note, B, leaps down an octave four times.

Now Beethoven is ready to bring all string quartet parts at once, and he once more makes the dominant note the crux of the music, repeating the same small phrases but in different registers, using them to travel from one B note to another to another. The harmony is basic V-I, not too special, but he does use a chromatic rising and falling line for the viola and cello parts in the latter parts of the first subject. It transforms the usual harmonies leading back to E; D#d7 becomes augmented to D#m and B7a becomes diminished to B7.

So how does Beethoven get us to the subordinate subject in B? His solution is to use a variation of the first four bars to carry us from E to Bm. The melody rises up the B scale (or E scale in Lydian mode, take your pick) to the new tonic note while the harmony plays F# but delays resolving it to Bm; instead progressing chromatically F#-E-Am-A#d-Bm. But Beethoven avoids the usual V7-I cadences, opting for F#-Bd instead, while his melody trades between B and Dh notes until finally touching F#, dominant of B. Again, Beethoven highlights the dominant note.

The subordinate subject in B acts as a subject for imitation and counterpoint, especially the descending pickup notes used to get your attention (as pickup notes starting a subject are common to most contrapuntal subjects). Beethoven uses the four voices in chords to spell out three harmonic progressions: D#s4-F#7, F#7-B, B#hd7-C#m-A#d7-B, which avoid a typical V7-I with a secondary dominant (D#s4) and a deceptive cadence (B#hd7-C#m). Beethoven uses an extra sentence as a bridge to take us to the closing theme so as to not make the transition awkward; the harmony is now pretty typical V7-I but the melody itself builds from an F#7 chord.

The closing subject mutates Em (subdominant) from minor to major many times; a technique also used by composers such as Schubert, and as such the melodic line changes from a rising half step (F#-Gh) to a rising whole step (F#-G#). Beethoven then builds a bridge to smoothly return to his main subject, which makes sense in this gentle sonata. Beethoven uses a B scale melody to rise to a climax; a deceptive cadence in C#m, before resolving us back to F#7-B with a leading tone melody. Beethoven then leads us back to the main subject with a bridge using IV-I where the cello part now takes the opening motif.

The development is smooth and straightforward, built on two cores, the second core also acting as a retransition. The precore, yet another version of the opening four bars, takes the melodic line up the E scale, from E as tonic to E as mediant, but the harmonies, the context the melody is in, drastically changes; Beethoven wanders into F7a (Neapolitan), then into diminished chords finally resolving G#d7-Am. Beethoven brings in new material of octaves (based in part from the opening motif and the movement’s obsession with dominant note octaves), and where Beethoven makes a poignant modulation from Am to C. He moves from Am to Dm7, which seems odd until it mutates to D7, becoming a secondary dominant; we now see a D7-G7-C progression as Beethoven modulates to C (relative major of Am). The subject develops; the melody rises to a high F note and cadences to C to mark this transition. The subject develops again; the melody starts in Em but shifts gears to A#d7 to leap up an E note octave in a lamenting call before resolving to B.

The second core, also the retransition, exchanges the opening motif in the base and treble, the new home key now Em. Beethoven slowly winds down with a V-i progression, with some A#d7-B and A-Em (a major subdominant), knocking with B notes the whole time, using this constant dominant to return us to E. The main subject returns in a loud and excited variation, then returns to normal. Now Beethoven uses a different transition to show growth and change in the music, now in C, which surprises us as the melody seems to lead to at Em. This new transition develops the knocking eight notes into a fast rising scale while the opening motif is exchanged between treble and base. Then Beethoven modulates to the subtonic through Chd7-B, using an A# leading note in the cello part to guide us to B. The remaining bars are similar to their exposition counterparts, albeit with a A#d7-B progression.

The subordinate subject remains the same, just in keys a 4th lower. The closing subject has a similar exchange as in the exposition with the melodic line rising a half step one moment (B-C) a rising whole step (B-C#) another, but the harmonies are slightly different; D# mutating between D#d7 and D#hd7. We enter the coda, where the opening motif returns low in the base, the knocking eight notes now in the middle, creating the warm, rich feeling of strings in the lower registers. Beethoven develops the motif with a downward phrase to resolve it, the harmonies and base shift between dissonant progressions, F7-E and F#d7-E (exchanging between Neapolitan and supertonic). The motif moves to the treble, now developing by rising to a high E; the movement makes a quiet return to the tonic.

Allegretto
The second movement is a minuet in Em and is based on a dotted swinging rhythm, leaps up a 3rd, and half steps, giving many accidentals. We see four-part writing throughout the movement, once more suggesting a string quartet. The subject builds around a broken Em chord, the melodic line rising to B (dominant) before resolving. Beethoven uses atypical harmonies, moving to C (submediant) very early, then using leading tones to progress A#hd7-Am and D#d-Em. The first sentence ends in B, hanging, the second, now an octave higher, resolves to Em. We enter a major section in C, the melodic line built on the 3rd (E to G) and repeating G (dominant). Andras Schiff mistakes the progressions here as Plagal cadences (IV-I) but Beethoven always uses D as the base note, making his harmonies Dm7-G (ii7-V). Beethoven then moves the melody through E to F#, the harmonies, A#d-B, hanging on the dominant.

Beethoven returns to his Em subject but develops it, highlighting Dm with drawn out block chords and frequenting on the eight note turn, progressing G#d-Am. He then uses a codetta to draw us to quiet, wistful finish in the high register, constantly using D#d7-E. The music now becomes very contrapuntal; the cello stubbornly on E (tonic), the violin I in leading notes D#-E, the violin II and viola in eight note turns in opposite directions.

The minore part of the minuet finished, we enter the maggiore part in C. Beethoven once again builds his material on the 3rd (E and G), but his melody is looser, moving around broken chords, and connects to the higher octave with a rising broken chord and chromatic notes. Now the melody is in sustained three quarter notes and drops by small intervals of a 4th and 3rd, whatever puts him in the tonic and dominant. The cello part is interesting as it makes a long chromatic descent. The violin II does a similar thing but in smaller phrases. The maggiore subjects resolves to the dominant through Dm7-G, once more the “Plagal” cadence.

Now Beethoven develops his subject in A, with extra counterpoint in opposite motion in the viola part; now the melodic line builds on the G and Fh notes, using what the downward whole step “naturally” suggests to move down a C scale. As surely as Beethoven developed the falling whole step, he develops the chromatic rising cell, taking it up high two octaves, then preparing us for the return to the minuet in Em; the melody falling from E (tonic of Em) to B (dominant of Em), the base subtly shifting like quicksand C-Em-B. The coda of the entire movement proceeds as the second half of the development, but softer, sweeter, sadder.

Allegro commodo
The third movement is a Rondo in E, exuberant and simpler, lacking most of the four-part string quartet writing from the first two movements. We enter the main subject, melody in octaves leaping up a dominant upbeat to E (tonic), climbing up the scale and settling on A (subdominant). The base comes in triplets, in essence broken 6ths, descending the E scale to a dominant pedal, the harmony moving from E to B7. So now the main subject is suspended in the dominant, how do we resolve it? Beethoven introduces a rapid descending scale and four-part counterpoint so the melody falls from A (subdominant) to G# (median), then resolves to E (tonic). Beethoven repeats his opening line again but this time develops his material to transition to B (dominant). He does so by exchanging the descending scale cell in different registers in imitation and expanding it so it so it drops low to D# (leading tone) and high to G (mediant). This lets melody build up to a climax trill A# (leading tone to B) and having it fall to B.

The subordinate subject is very brief, based on the same large open leaps at the climax of the transition, but this time the music is calm even though almost the exact same notes are being played. In a way the subordinate subject is a bit disappointing. The subject sounds like it will begin a counterpoint but the violin II, viola, and cello just fill in the harmony; but at least that harmony progresses as C#m-F#9-B, focusing on C#m (relative minor of E). A small variation follows, and the melody sits on B (dominant of E) as the harmonies modulate back to E through B-F#7s4-B#7, the sustained 4th at F# and 7th note in B signaling a descent back to E.

The main subject returns but repeats differently, leading us to a second subordinate subject that acts as a development section by leaving E to go to G (mediant). The melodic line now reaches higher to touch on Ch (submediant of E), and the harmony follows suite from Am-Gs4. Beethoven expands on his rapidly falling cell, repeating it, letting it drop to lower and lower registers, going G-D-G so we hit the development. Beethoven composes this paragraph to be pretty straightforward. The triplets take the front in the treble, the melodic arc rising and falling through broken chords, the base in octaves; no subject is borrowed from previous material except maybe a fragmented baseline early on, which makes sense as Beethoven quickly moves through many different chords. Regarding harmonic progressions, the development slowly leads us from G back to E, moving from D-G to E7-Am to C#hd7-F#m7-Bm to Dm7-G to B7-Em to B7-C to G#d7-Am to F#hd7-A#hd7-B7. The retransition is really simple; a E-B progression, the triplets rising up a chromatic scale to a high B, hanging on the dominant.

The main subject and transition return, almost the same as before, but modulating to A (subdominant) rather than E as usual. Beethoven takes the harmonies to an interesting route by modulating to F (submediant) through Bb (Neapolitan) with A-Bb-F-Ehd9-F. Now Beethoven takes the melody to D# (leading tone of E) so as to return the harmony to B (dominant), which he does through F7a-D#d7-B7; he moves the harmonies down by 3rds. Beethoven synchopates the main theme into a variation but he brings imitation back as the rising melody that distinguished the main subject now assumes a base role with a descending countersubject on top. Then the main subject (still in the base) becomes a variation moving from C to F# (dominant of B); the harmony starts in D#d7 but moves to B7 instead of E, delaying the leading tone. We resolve into a coda in E with a cell of chromatic notes. The rapid falling scales return, finishing the piece in a sentence similar to the transition. The last harmonies are A#d-B-E.

Created Cards (Duels 4-6)

golden_dragon_by_pluto_my_way-d8m7ctw

Matthew’s cards:

Celeste Dragon
LIGHT/Dragon/Level 6/2400 ATK/2200 DEF
1)   If you control no monsters: you can Normal Summon this card without any Tribute.
2)   If this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard: you can send 1 Dragon monster from your Deck to the Graveyard. Special Summon this card, but half its original ATK and DEF. If this card would be removed from the field, banish it instead.

Dragonic Desperation
Continuous Trap
1)   Activate when you Special Summon a Dragon from your Graveyard: Special Summon as many monsters as possible with the same name from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard.
2)   If this card is removed from the field: banish all monsters Summoned by this card’s effect. At the end of your opponent’s next turn: send this card to the Graveyard. 

Dragon Mirage
Spell
1)   During your End Phase: Special Summon Dragons from your Deck equal to the number of Dragons you control that were destroyed this turn. They cannot attack, and their ATK and DEF are halved.

Golden God Dragon
LIGHT/Dragon/Fusion-Synchro-Xyz-Pendulum/Level-Rank 10/ATK 4000/DEF 4000/Pendulum Scale 13
4 Dragons
PENDULUM EFFECT:
1)  If your opponent activates a Spell, Trap, or monster effect: you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard to negate and destroy your opponent’s card.

MAIN EFFECTS:
2)   Must first be Special Summoned from your Extra Deck by banishing 4 Dragon monsters you control of different Extra Deck types.
3)   If this card would be targeted or destroyed: you can banish 1 Dragon from your hand, field, or Graveyard, and this card is not destroyed.
4)   If this card is destroyed: you can send this card to a Pendulum Zone instead of the Extra Deck.
5)   If this card is destroyed: you can Special Summon 1 banished Dragon (ignoring all Summoning conditions).
6)   If this card destroys your opponent’s monster by battle: it can attack once more.

Hannibal’s cards:

Artifact Uraniawar
LIGHT/Fairy/Link 3/2800 ATK/Arrows: top, bottom-left, bottom
3 “Artifact” monsters
1)   Once during your turn: you can set 1 “Artifact” monster from your Graveyard facedown in one of your Spell & Trap Zones.
2)   Once during your opponent’s turn: if this card or a card its Link Arrows point to would be destroyed: destroy 1 Spell or Trap you control; this card is not destroyed.

Forbidden Sealing
Trap
1)   Send 1 Normal monster from your hand to the Graveyard. Send up to 2 Normal monsters with the same Type and Attribute from your Deck to the Graveyard

Radio Half Life
Continuous Trap
1)   Once per turn: when one of your monsters battles; banish 1 “Artifact” monster from your Graveyard. Half the ATK of 1 monster on the field.
2)   When this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard: you can banish it to Special Summon as many of your banished “Artifact” monsters as possible. Return all monsters you control to your hand at the end of the turn.

Enchanted Exchange
Spell
Activate 1 of these effects:
1)   Send 1 Spellcaster from your Deck to the Graveyard; add 1 Fairy from your Deck to your hand.
2)   Send 1 Fairy from your Deck to the Graveyard; add 1 Spellcaster from your Deck to your hand.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 6

Duel 6 – A New God Awakens

Matthew: 2900 | Hannibal: 900

 Mathias, watching the epic duel from the sidelines, is so shocked and puzzled by Hannibal’s hesitation he clasps his jaw with his hand, glancing around the arena to make sure he is not hallucinating the event, seeing everyone is as shocked as he is. “Why did not Hannibal pummel him! He is one turn away from killing Matthew in his own Shadow Game!” He rages to himself, the voice in his head so loud he believes for a brief moment everyone can hear him. Then he realizes Hannibal is only human and no normal person can easily take a life.

Mathias clasps the Philosopher’s Stone on his chest; a glowing crystal in small gold cage, made from the very leftover gold used to create the Millennium Items. His stone gave him and Maximus a life far longer than human, the Headmaster of their great monastery in Ireland prolonged their lives to prepare all Christendom for the End Times. Mathias chastises himself for his lack of mercy and remorse, and with that he doubts his goodness again. Was he the Red Dragon the Headmaster prophesized?

Hannibal withdraws his fist, refraining from striking Matthew with a crippling blow, and reaches out to him one last time. “Matthew, ask yourself; would your grandfather kill for revenge? He would be so ashamed and sad, to see his great grandson, so intelligent, talented, and tasteful, throw away all his potential. And all your terror and murder for what; to get back at people not worth the trouble for losing a card game? You know you’re better than this.

“I do not speak to you as a teacher but as another flawed man. I remember the day I realized the error of my ways and changed. I was married to Indira, a beautiful noble woman, an Indian princess, no an Indian goddess of all virtues you used to have, but one day One day I failed to worship her, this Eternal Feminine.” Every female finalist groans at the hearing of such praise, but Hannibal fails to hear them. “I met a girl online, more comely than my dear Indira but nowhere near as beautiful or intelligent, but I pursued her, and Indira divorced me when she found out. Ever since then I embraced a different life, a life of stoicism and reflection, but never has a day gone by without me doing good deeds in penance. Matthew, it is never too late to repent and return to a nobleman’s life of virtue.”

“Elitism and classism much.” Stella remarks from the sidelines with a snark.

Maya is about to respond but Kaiba chortles in her place. “He’s a stoic. Of course he acts like Caesar while pretending to be humble, as if anyone cares about the moral drama in his life.” Maya might as well have said it.

Matthew listened to everything his former mentor said – truly he did, he paid attention sincerely – shaking his head and laughing sadly, unable to take anything Hannibal said seriously anymore. He has to tell the truth. “Old man, you never knew my grandfather. He had connections to the Ghouls for over a decade, and he profited from their rackets, not only their usual extortions but also from the antiques black market. He was not a good person. No ‘nobleman’ is. I told you, as an insider, the owners of the world use morals as a one-way street. Sorry.” And he means it.

Hannibal drops the card in his hand, devastated.

“God is a cruel satirist; He truly works in mysterious ways.” Maya comments, noticing Mathias listening to her as if he just realized something. “Listen, Hannibal. Stop pretending to be selfless. Your philosophical garbage is all about you; you’re self-blame and life of penance is the sick pleasure you get from self-pity and your preening self-aggrandizement. You cheated on your wife, big deal. Every other man and woman was once a cuckold, me too.

“If you want Matthew or me for that matter to live in penance and self-denial, you can forget it; an utterly useless and stupid way to live. You won’t revive the dead, nor mend you’re wife’s broken heart, nor stop you from hitting on naïve college girls in the future. Your massive guilt, especially the kind of guilt you have, will just corrode you and bore everyone else. Your God will not tell me how to live my life. I have no sympathy or pity for you. You can lose this Shadow Game and die for all care. I never thought I would cheer for Matthew in my entire life but I do now. I would laugh at this sad joke but it is too pathetic.”

HANNIBAL’S TURN: The old man thrusts his fist at Matthew again. “No! Your grandfather was not an evil man! You will pay for his crimes and yours! Exodia, smash Decode Talker!” The Forbidden One grinds Matthew’s monster with its massive fist. (Matthew LP 2900 à 200) The strike sends shocks into Matthew’s body, nearly making him fall over. “My turn ends, so I return an Exodia piece to my hand.” Hannibal concludes.

“This duel is done.” Kaiba snorts, turning around to leave, his white trench coat billowing behind him as always. Matthew’s Ultimaya Tzolkin tactic was well established long before the finals began, and even that didn’t same him. He added nothing new to the game.

Pegasus playfully wags his finger at his old friend. “You shouldn’t leave the duel until the last card is played, Kaiba-boy. Who knows what may happen next!” His advice received the usual ungrateful barb.

MATTHEW’S TURN: Sometimes a duelist knows when he draws a powerful card, and this is such a moment; Matthew knows he will end the duel in total victory! He just knows! “I draw, and I activate Dragon’s Mirror! I banish 5 Dragons in my Graveyard to Summon Five God Dragon!” A huge mirror appears behind him, and as five ghosts go inside it a dragon of godlike powers; of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Dark, smashes through the other side of the looking glass. “Now, Return From the Different Dimension!” Matthew pays half his Life and every dragon he banished comes back. (Matthew LP 200 à 100)

“Now, old man, you will see God! I banish 4 of my Dragons; Five God Dragon, Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon, Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon, Proxy Dragon, to summon from my Extra Deck GOLDEN GOD DRAGON!!!” Matthew’s dragons fly to the heavens, vanishing into the gathering thunderstorm. Lightning strikes the field, the god thunders down from a higher plain to manifest in earth below; a huge dragon of six wings, covered in a near infinite amount of golden scales.

Kaiba turns around in surprise, with everyone else gasping stupidly at the splendorous beast in play. Weevil and Rex huddle together as lambs, trembling in terror. Maya saw something in each of the dragon’s scales and, squinting hard enough, found that each scale was inscribed with three words: Thou shalt not! A godly monster indeed.

Hannibal drops his duel disk on the ground. “Seize you’re win, Matthew. You earned it. I was wrong about your grandfather but I’m not wrong about you. I know that deep down you are a good person.”

Matthew is unmoved. “Golden God Dragon, destroy the old man! Make this duel my game!” His dragon rises a hundreds of meters into the air and crashes down on Hannibal in a vortex of fire. The mighty Exodia resists but is soon consumed by the flames. Hannibal feels nothing but the most terrible pain in his entire life, with every nerve burning as if in Hell, but he makes not one sound. Matthew’s dragon rises to the sky, returning to the higher dimension where it came, and Hannibal, burned and broken, drops.

Matthew: 100 | Hannibal: 0

All the darkness from Matthew’s evil magic floated away, leaving the bright afternoon sun to shine clearly, as if nothing happened.

Mathias, Stella, and Mokuba rushed to help the fallen duelist. Rex and Weevil still tremble in fright. Maya, Maria, and everyone else remained still, as if not knowing what to do. Mathias desperately pleaded to Hannibal to wake up, shook him, slapped him, pushed his chest and breathed into his mouth, but all in vain. Hannibal was gone. Stella hugged Mathias as he wept.

Kaiba left, this time for good, but grumbled, “First we had the Sacred Beasts to match the God Cards, then the Wicked Gods, then the Dragon Gods, then Golden God Dragon.” His one-time God Card, Obelisk the Tormentor, was no longer special. “Come with me, Mokuba.” He ordered, and Mokuba obeyed.

Pegasus shrugged. “An excellent duel, certainly legendary, it satisfies my connoisseur taste, but I must be going, for half an hour at least. Until next time. And Isono,” he addressed Kaiba’s referee. “Remove the corpse.” The finalists were fighting dogs or race horses for all he cared. The plebs weren’t people.

Only Mathias, Stella, and Maya remained; Mathias weeping, Stella consoling him, Maya remaining unmoved, but Stella rebuked her, “Maya, you’re so cruel.”

Maya seemed dazed for she replied as if talking to herself, “Hannibal was right about Matthew. He is a good person deep down but went the wrong way. He seemed so friendly when we just dueled, before I saw he condescended me, but I think I briefly saw the true man, even if just a second. But I’m not a good person. I could have grown up in a whole family, with my mom alive, my dad kind, and our money intact. But no good upbringing will change who I am. The tournament revealed to me my birthright.”

Studying Beethoven – Piano Sonata in Cm (Op. 13)

The Pathetique sonata (in Cm, Op. 13) is arguably Beethoven’s first great sonata; at least it was the first one to earn itself a nickname, one that Beethoven liked for a change. The sonata is a milestone for Beethoven, where the composer achieves a high sense of drama never done before in his career, taking his skills to the next level. He was only 27 years old at the time.

The sonata itself comes in a structure prominent in Beethoven’s later great sonatas; it is composed in three movements, with a great first movement in the full scope of sonata form balanced by the second and third movement combined; in the same structural approach in the Waldstein (in C, Op. 53) and the Appassionata (in Fm, Op. 57). The Pathetique is in a minor key, so it follows a structure where a serene and deeply felt middle movement stands between two emotional abysses. Later sonatas that follow this pattern are the Moonlight (in C#m, Op. 27), the Tempest (in Dm, Op. 31), and the Appassionata (in Fm, Op. 57).

Grave – Allegro di molto e con brio 

The first movement is of truly epic proportions, boasting a grand and tragic slow introduction followed by a dark and agitated sonata form, with the grand, tragic motif recurring at the development and coda sections. The introduction motif exists to add extra weight to the sonata form and to vastly increase the first movement’s emotional breadth and depth. While the main subject in the sonata form proper is truly pathetic, the sonata would be hardly better than the early Fm sonata (Op. 2) without the extra motif. Beethoven always looked forward, to climb higher and higher, and so he considered it a failure if he merely repeated himself.

The Grave motif has a melodic arc based on forcefully rising up two steps, then sighing down one step; it holds a dotted rhythm that characterized French Baroque music by giving it powerful feeling and royal grandness, most effectively used by Jean-Baptiste Lully; it harmonically moves to a diminished seventh chord and hangs on it before resolving to a new key. Regarding melodic line, Beethoven peaks twice, with the melody at a high subdominant note relative to the key he resolves to; the first note being Ab with Beethoven resolving to Eb and the second note being F with Beethoven resolving to Cm.

Beethoven spends the first few bars slowly rising up the Cm scale, his harmonies Cm and Bd7, later adding some F#d7 to lead to G, the dominant. – The melodic note is first the tonic, then subdominant, then tonic of Cm, pointing that Beethoven makes much use of the subdominant key in this movement, which is Fm, significant since Fm was considered to be the darkest key in Beethoven’s time – Beethoven slowly climbs his way up to the Ab note (with a small leap from F to Ab), meanwhile his harmonies lead F#d7-G before using keys close to Cm to reach Bb7, preparing us for Eb. (Notice that Beethoven briefly plays C instead of Cm, adding a more colorful touch to the passage.)

Now in Eb, Beethoven develops his Grave motif further by contrasting a piano, tender, pleading phrase with a fortissimo, forceful denial. – Beethoven uses this idea of pleading and denial in other words, such as the second movement of his piano concerto in G (Op. 58) – Beethoven slowly works his way up the Eb scale (but never “perfectly” as he almost always includes small leaps to make the melodic arc more jagged) all the way to the high F note, frequently using leading tones such as C# and Eh. However, he does take the melody in interesting turns by using interesting harmonies; he moves to D of all chords, mutates it to Dd, and moves to Fd.

Once Beethoven reaches that high F note, he modulates Gm7-Ab, meaning he briefly denies us the Cm we expect to hold us hanging a little while longer and to play the softest and most tender phrase of the introduction. The last bar comes in the standard harmonies of Cm, Bd7, and G7, and shrinks the note values further to play a long descending chromatic scale. And Beethoven hangs us on a diminished chord (Bd7) while holding us on a sudden high note, which is a typical technique for Beethoven at this point.

The sonata form is monothematic; it makes use of the main subject and its variations throughout the entire movement; as a main subject, subordinate subject, closing subject, development, and coda. Haydn, the great composer and Beethoven’s teacher, also created monothematic sonatas where the same material appeared as main and subordinate subjects. The main subject itself is a rising Cm scale but uses Eh frequently, which makes the harmonies to often be Ed leading to Fm. Beethoven emphasizes Fm, the darkest key, and the leading tone gives a sharp edge that highlights the wrathful and tragic subject, which you wouldn’t get if the rising Cm scale had no accidentals. All this established the main subject, now Beethoven must add to it in order to resolve it; he does this by using half notes that move down the Cm scale, an inversion of the main subject before. Beethoven resolves through F#d7-G-Cm.

For the transition, Beethoven uses as material the syncopated sustained notes held in G, the dominant of Cm, then follows it with downward eight note arpeggios where Beethoven again uses F#d to lead to G. But all this is a small episode in Cm the whole time, now Beethoven modulates for real. He brings back the main subject so he can break it up into smaller leader notes, and he pairs it with a huge contrast; low, thundering whole notes resolving down a step. This way he modulates from F#d-G to Gd-Ab to Ad-Bb, then he breaks down the whole notes so he can use a cell to descend by the octave; he uses Ad-Bb over and over, so by highlighting Bb he prepares us for Ebm.

The subordinate subject uses material from the main subject but part of it is broken off and placed in the base. Beethoven uses repeated notes in the middle register to give harmonic context with his left hand while he jumps between low and high registers with his right, and trails this striking motif with a falling melody in the treble, again an inversion. Beethoven’s new key is Ebm, which subverts our expectations of Eb or Ab, and he points it out more by using Gb notes. He modulates us to Db during this time, from Bbd7-Ebm to Ab7-Db and Ab7a-Db. Time to raise the pressure; Beethoven uses large leaps and trails off with the descending melody more to build our anticipation as he leads us to the closing section; the harmonies change from Db to Ebm7 to Bb7, making us expect Eb major.

And for the closing section in Eb, Beethoven makes use of a long rising Eb scale but with chromatic notes thrown in; Eh-Ah-Dh, thus linking the harmony Eb to the harmony C7, the major submediant. Beethoven builds us up slowly, with sixteenth note Alberti base in opposite motion, taking the melody higher while the base goes downward, taking us to a high Eb note before falling quickly downward, resolving through Eb-Eba-Ab-Bb7-Eb. Beethoven brings us a new phrase, using a half note to underline that high Eb and descending downward in sixteenth notes. It also holds examples of where Beethoven has the implied harmonies of the two hands not agree with each other. The left hand fleshes uses repeated notes to flesh out the harmonies Cm-Fm7-Bb while the right hand fleshes out diminished sevenths of the left hand harmonies;

And finally, Beethoven plays the main subject once more, untampered with except in the key of Eb, and brings back whole notes that keep leaping by octave from the Eb6 to the Eb5 notes. He cycles through keys close to Eb, then he falls to a D note and makes the leap by two octaves, and shifts the harmonies to D7-G7 to prepare us for Cm.

Now here is where performance gets tricky. Most print editions of the Pathetique direct us to repeat the Allegro sonata form, but Andras Schiff makes a compelling argument of why we should go all the way back to the Grave introduction; it further cements in our mind the bold and tragic material that gives so much weight to the first movement.

Beethoven reprises the Grave introduction before going to the development proper. He begins in Cm again but his high note is G, the dominant, not the tonic note of C like last time. Beethoven climbs his way slowly to a high Eh note, the median, before slowly moving down to a middle Eh, making much use of the F#d7-Gm harmonies, before shifting to D#d-Em.

Beethoven lands on Em for his development, the mediant of Cm, and for his first core he uses the subordinate subject in treble and base lines, meanwhile accompanying it with tremolos or repeated quarter notes. The material itself is, the subordinate subject, a more jagged version of the main subject made entirely of leading notes, the rising scale replaced by leaps from leading cell to the next. Thus Beethoven plays the material in the treble, taking us from Em to D to Bbm, then shifts the material to the base, taking us from Bbm to Gb to Bd, then leads us from F#d7-G.

Thus begins the second core, where Beethoven drums away tremolo notes at the base in G, the dominant of Cm, there is high tension here as the 18 th century audience would expect that G base to leap to C to resolve the tension through a V-i progression. But Beethoven has no interest in letting us off the hook easily; he uses arpeggios in the tenor range to cycle through C#m-Dd-Ab-G, keeping an Ab (the submediant of Cm) as the top note. He does suddenly shift to the soprano range to play a variation of the main subject, using C#d-Dm, then makes use of something new; whole notes and trills, to bring us to Cm-G. Once Beethoven has brought us to G7, the dominant, he uses eight note arpeggios to throw us all the way down from a high F, the subdominant he makes so much use of in this movement, to a baseline C.

Now in the recapitulation, Beethoven still develops his main subject even after just reintroducing it; he develops the descending half notes to function as a new transition to trail us to the subordinate subject, modulating from Db to Bb7-Ebm to C-Fm. Beethoven puts the subordinate subject in Fm, which deviates from the usual as most listeners expect the harmony of C. But Beethoven does modulate to Cm, but even still he uses harmonies such as F9, Bb, and Ab, as if he was in Eb the whole time. The closing section is the same as before, only transposed to Cm, but at the end, when Beethoven thunders with his whole notes and two octave leap, he crashes us to F#d7, which appears like he is leading us to the G, the dominant.

He returns to the Grave introduction but without the large thick chords; the point is to create a poignant and sad feeling and keep us in suspense, which works very well as Beethoven built so much expectation beforehand. Beethoven, perhaps more than any other composer, knew the value of silence. Silence is as important to music as zero is important in math. He leads us from F#d7-Gm to Bd7-Cm to Ed7-Fm, before softly floating down the Cm scale, using Cm-G7. Beethoven uses the main subject a final time to bring the movement with a fortissimo close, using F#d7-Cm-G7-Cm, delaying the F#d7-G7 progression a bit with an in-between harmony of Cm.

Adagio cantabile 

The second movement is romantic and deeply felt, and its pensive nature contrasts the agitated and violent first movement. It is rondo form where the main subject appears three times and is contrasted by two subordinate subjects and a coda. So what about the main subject itself? The melody is based more or less on the Ab triad while also making use of rising chords, leaps downward, and resolving by a downwards step. The harmony usually sticks to Ab and other nearby harmonies, but does have a Ghd7-Ab and a Ahd7-Bbm progression. The etxture is sophisticated, with a songlike soprano melody above and a similar base below, both using quarter notes and first species counterpoint, while the alto and tenor roles come in sixteenth notes to flesh out the harmonies.

Now Beethoven arrives to a brief subordinate subject in Cm, the texture simplified to only two voices, the melody built around the cell of a held quarter note and descending sixteenth notes taken from the main subject. The peak note is always Ab, the submediant of Cm, until it becomes G when Beethoven suddenly moves to Eb. The retransition shifts the melody, now a chromatic descent and later a chromatic turn, to the tenor part, the repeated eight notes give the very thick harmony of Bb9s4 before resolving to Eb9 so Beethoven may return to Ab.

Beethoven replays the main subject but only once but avoid repeating himself too much. Now he mutates to Abm to play a second subordinate subject, and breaks it into two parts; an eight-note descent by scale followed by a leap or a step in the treble, and a chromatic descent in triplets in the base, while the alto is made of repeated notes to flesh out a harmony. Beethoven lingers around in Abm and Eb for the first sentence, then makes a sudden leap to the F# note, the dominant of the relevant key, to a passionate outburst in B7, the median of Abm. The triplet descent swaps to the soprano role as the harmonies modulate to E through the progression B7-E-F#7-E (in between harmony)-B7-E.

Beethoven begins his second sentence in E and B7 but rather than taking his material to any special places he slowly modulates back to Ab; he uses rising broken chord triplets way down in the base to do so, going through Dd7 (leading tone of E) to Bbhd7 (submediant of D) then to Eb7 (subdominant of Bhd7 and dominant of Ab). Beethoven returns to the main subject, playing it in full, and slightly develops it further by using triplets in the alto and tenor parts.

The coda makes use of descending triplets in the melody, with the melody starting high on an F note (submediant of Ab), then falling to an Eb note and later an Ab note. The whole movement can be said to be a gradual development where sixteenth notes gradually become triplets as the movement progresses. Either way, Beethoven gently lets us down with a turning and descending phrase. He uses Ab and Eb7 as harmonies the whole time to let us know the piece is over.

Allegro 

The third movement is a rondo in Cm and, together with the second movement, balances out the massive sonata form first movement. While this last movement is not as grand and tragic as the first movement it is still a heavyweight piece of music in its own right, and should be respected as such. Most listeners would agree that this rondo satisfies us as an ending to the entire sonata. Beethoven himself may have disagreed, as he would go on to try different ways of putting the most weight on the end of a sonata, not the beginning. His later third movements, such as those of the Waldstein and Appassionata sonatas, do have a higher drama and urgency than the first movements and create the climax of the entire sonata, not just one movement. Beethoven would later blow even that out of the water with the fugue finale of the Hammerklavier sonata (in Bb, Op. 106), and repeated that success with the choral finale of the 9 th symphony (in Dm, Op. 125) and the Große Fugue finale of his massive string quartet in Bb (Op. 130).

But we have not arrived to such heights yet.

But we have not arrived to such heights yet. The main subject begins with a dotted swinging motion in Cm, peaks with G and Ab (dominant and submediant) half and three quarter notes, and swings back down to Cm. Beethoven draws a tail to our subject, where the melody peaks to the Bb and C notes (subtonic and tonic) before decisively ending with G-Cm chords. The harmonies never leave the usual Cm nexus except for a brief moment in C, between Ab and Fm.

The transition uses loud whole note chords to suspend us before resolving to the “proper” harmony, whereby rising and falling arpeggios in piano take over. In this matter Beethoven easily takes us to the subordinate subject through C7-Fm and Bb7-Eb. Again, Beethoven is fond of playing the dominant or leading chord of the new home key first, then resolving to it, and even modulates to the dominant or leading chord through keys relevant to them, not the new home key.

Beethoven uses the subordinate subject to raise the blood pressure; he uses eight notes in both hands; arpeggios in the left hand, a brisk melody in the right, all in Eb. Beethoven sprints around in Eb before climbing up with half notes to Bb (dominant) and Eb (tonic) so he can slip into new material; two phrases built on triplets imitating one another in the soprano and alto parts. Beethoven builds his first phrase, and its triplets, on the high Bb note, dominant of Eb, and peaks his dramatic descent with the highest note in F, the supertonic. In the next phrase, Beethoven centers on a high Ab note, subdominant of Eb, and Db, the subtonic. Never one to leave well enough alone, Beethoven squeezes in one more dramatic descent, the peak note being C, the submediant of Eb. The harmonies throughout the entire subordinate subject are rather plain, mostly Eb and Bb7, with only a Cb7a, an Ad-Bb, and a Cm7 chord throughout.

Beethoven begins the closing subject with a theme made of repeated notes and slow turns, the key notes are Bb (dominant) and F (dominant of dominant), and includes a chromatic descending base with a Cb note, which adds dissonance to an F harmony. This small episode acts as a brief respite and a bridge to the real closing subject, one built on the imitation of eight note triplets among soprano and alto, based on Eb and Ab notes. Using this standard I-IV-I progression, Beethoven uses it to build to a climax, at first using the triplets in a melody in a full bar to peak at a G note (mediant), then jumps up a broken Dd chord (leading tone of Eb) to reach high up to F (subdominant of C), playing the harmony of G7 in the process. This way Beethoven modulates through Eb-Abs4-Dd-G7-Cm.

Beethoven briefly returns to the main subject, then immediately jumps to a second subordinate subject in Ab; it functions like a canon with a subject of half notes that leap up by 4ths and down by 5ths. The harmonies have a marked contrast to previous subjects because Ab is by no means emphasized, drifting through almost every key closely related to Ab while Ab itself only appears once in the beginning. Beethoven repeats the subject many times, trading it among alto, base, tenor, and soprano, each new version a variation, and he tails it off by using whole notes to lead the base through F-F#-G, while the treble climbs down from a high C (median of Ab) to a low G (dominant of Cm). Now in the retransition, where the triplets are crushed into sixteenth notes, Beethoven hammers G in the melody (dominant) over and over, slowly jumping into higher Gs by octaves, then to Bh, then to D, then peaking at F (subdominant of Cm); in other words, up the G7 chord. The harmonies are just are straightforward; G-Cm-Bd, and so forth, and like the melody they function to prepare you for a return to Cm.

We now return to main subject a third time, which Beethoven cuts up after the first sentence to lead us to the subordinate subject in a different way. His transition his built on rising arpeggios figures that climb up the Gm7 chord to peak at F (subdominant as usual), and drop to G (dominant), while the harmonies are built on leading tones Bd-Cm, Ed-Fm, and F#d-G. The third subordinate subject is similar to the first one, transposed to G rather than Eb, where Beethoven peaks with a high F note (subdominant of Cm) and later when he uses triplets in imitation he holds on C notes (subdominant of G7) and G notes (dominant of C).

The closing subject begins in C, the mutation of Cm, which you would expect to be in the subordinate subject, but Beethoven develops it by leading his melodic line, through three fourth notes, up a Gm chord to an Ab note, the essential harmonies progressing through Cm-Gm-Dd-Eb-Dd7. The retransition is brief; Beethoven uses whole notes to make a chromatic fall from Ab (subediant of Cm) to Eb (median of Cm) while the harmonies progress G-Da-Bd-Cm.

Beethoven repeats his main subject a fourth time, and jumps to the coda, which is once more a long dramatic climb up a C chord of all things, before leaping to a G note (dominant) and repeating it to raise the pressure, then another leap to a high F note (subdominant of C), then rapidly falling to a Bb note (dominant of Eb). The harmony at this point is build around C7-Fm, where the subdominant Fm is key in a recapitulation and this coda functions as such, with some progressions to relative keys mixed in; F#d7-Bd-Cm, Dd-G, Db-Eb7. The base notes remain the roo

Beethoven holds us on Eb for a while to signal he is still not done yet, which you wouldn’t get if he went to Cm. So he delays Cm a little more with calm Ab versions of the swinging phrase from the main subject. A small leading melody from F#d7-Cm (in between note), then Beethoven plays a fortissimo finish from G7-Cm, the melody flying down from F (the usual subdominant) to C.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 5

Duel 5 – The Darkness Returns

Hannibal halts his direct attack, ready to strike the final blow, but cannot bring himself to defeat Matthew even though it is the best thing to do. He drops his fighting arm, pleading to Matthew once more, “Stop your rampage, revenge is never the answer. Remember what your grandfather taught you – what he taught you through me; you cannot truly change this world, maybe some physical things or situations on the surface level but not the natural order guiding the universe. You must become aware of that order and work with it, not just passively react to it. You are consumed by vengeance; your anguish dominates you and you become like a dog in car, going wherever the engine takes you.

“Even rich men, like your grandfather, like you, who have good fortune, health, education, freedom, entertainment, luxuries, know better than to let themselves be torn by their passions and the highs and lows of life. You know it is the poor who are easily led and wasteful, hence their poverty, but even vicious men of wealth and power destroy themselves. Every good man of importance, such as your grandfather, knew to restain his power, to rule ethically; this virtue is how society is run without which is chaos. What kind of man are you who will destroy everything in his path for vengeance?”

Hannibal sternly points at Maya watching the duel from the sidelines. “This woman is not worth your suicide. She is aggressive, selfish, vicious, rapacious, and irresponsible: an insult to her sex. You may not have been aware of her conduct between the four years since she defeated you but I have seen her flaunt every virtue. Do you want to ruin your life over such a woman?”

Maria glares at Maya from far away, so intensely Maya can hear her hissing if she listens hard enough, while Stella asks her, somewhat sternly, if she hid any dark secrets from her.

Maya shrugs the accusers away with exasperation, “I refused to do what my corporate sponsors wanted and made the first move on anyone I wanted to fuck. Apparently that makes me a fallen woman unworthy of being Hannibal’s Stoic muse. I’m glad he never watched me take a shit because if he did he might have called me human, and that’s terrible.”

“See, she is worth it.” Matthew demonstrates to Hannibal. “You don’t get it; she is as pure and honest as a child while you probably lie even to yourself. The ‘natural order’, my teacher, of the world is centered on vice and death. Want to act ‘in accordance with Nature’ as you would put it? Rape, kill, and steal! Every creature does so to life but only humans are dishonest enough to pretend otherwise. This is how ‘men of importance’ have ruled the world and kept society running; by raping, killing, and stealing from everyone else not as lucky.”

Matthew reaches a high point in his despair. “Leave your academic fantasy world, you old fool! Rich people like me have always known in our hearts the secret to living well is by cold, brutal oppression! The virtues we tell society to live by is a cover to trick ever niggardly inferior, everyone who is not one of us, to living in peace under our power! Hypocrisy, not virtue, is the name of the game, you idiot!” And he breaks in manic laughter. “Welcome to this world, this world of death, of destruction, of utter darkness! Ha ha ha ha!”

The cultured, dignified, reserved Matthew had completely broken down, though Maya knows his decline would reach a low point watching it happen before her eyes sends chills down her spine. “Matthew, you’re so edgy right now you’re slitting my wrists for me.” Let her lame jokes hide her fear, which Matthew, nor any opponent, can ever see.

“Oh I will slit your wrists, Maya, until I watch you bleed dry.” Matthew snarls at her.

“That’s it! Channel that pent up Black Sabbath rage! Mommy didn’t give you an X-box for Christmas and you’re pissed! You’re ready to shoot up a school any minute now!”

Mathias, who watched the duel quietly up until this point, runs into Maya, ready to shut her up. “Don’t! Provoke! Him!” He shouts at her, shaking her to her senses.

Matthew: 3400 || Hannibal: 5200

HANNIBAL’S TURN: “Enough of this foolishness! I’ll end this duel right now! Artifact Uraniawar, attack Matthew directly!” His spectral soldier throws its weapon, a deadly radioactive missile, straight at its target.

But Matthew will have none of it. “I activate Scapegoat!” Four tiny, harmless sheep, shield their master from any damage, now only three sheep was one of them was sacrificed to Hannibal’s attack.

“Practice time is over. Old man, look at this!” Matthew tears his shirt open, revealing the ghastly wound on his chest; a blackened mark in the shape of a small hand with a reddened Eye of Horus symbol carved at the center. He raises his fist into the sky, his Eye of Horus burns with bright light, and black smoke and energies shoot from his fist, morphing into the shapes of skulls and horrid beasts before engulfing the whole arena in a deadly fog.

“Let the Shadow Game begin! We manifest our monsters as symbols of our will with our life-force, or in other words we use our Ba to give energy to our Ka, since you are such a history buff. But if you can’t take the heat playing a real duel or lose, you die! Let’s go!”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I link up one Sheep Token and link up the other two Sheep Tokens to Link Summon Link Spider and Proxy Dragon.” Two grid-like squares manifest in the arena, and the Sheep Tokens dissolve into spirits, flying into and igniting corners of the squares known as Link Arrows. The portals open, letting two advanced robots – at least that is what they look like – emerge. “And I link them up to Link Summon Decode Talker!” And his new monsters die to open the gateway for another monster. Matthew screams, drawing in his life-force to birth a monster, a cyber warrior, in a duel for the first time.

“So this is what a Link Summon is like.” Kaiba comments, frosty as ever. If he is not mistaken, Matthew will then bring out a dragon named Tzolkin, which will let Matthew easily Summon Sycnrho Monsters with powerful locking effects. If so, Matthew’s strategy would be nothing new, as Hieratic players have long perfected this powerful combo, just adapted to a new format.

Matthew explains, “Decode Talker links two Monster Zones with its Link Arrows, letting me Summon monsters from my Extra Deck there, which I will do. I banish Carboneddon from my Graveyard to Summon Hieratic Dragon of Eset from my Deck.” A small silver dragon but with large golden wings appears, but only briefly. “I Tribute it to Summon Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit, which activates it and lets me Summon Labradorite Dragon from my Deck.” And surely enough one dragon is replaced by two; one light and one dark.

“I tune the two together to Synchro Summon Ultimaya Tzolkin!” The dark dragon turns into green rings, the light dragon into stars, align, flash into light. A larger than life, snakelike dragon made of red flames entwines itself around the whole arena. “I Set a card facedown, activating Tzolkin, letting me Summon an Extra Deck monster: Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon!” The dragon of flames draws a fiery ring with its wing, and Matthew’s next redoubtable dragon, a white and silver beast flies through. “Now, my Synchro Dragon, destroy the old man’s baleful Artifact!”

Matthew’s dragon smashes its target with a hailstorm of crystals, but Hannibal bears it. (Hannibal LP 5200 à 5000) The scholar shouts through the wind and hail, “I’m not dead yet! I use Uraniawar’s effect; I destroy my facedown card to save it!” His facedown Moralltach shatters.

“No luck, old man!” Matthew counters, “I activate Crystal Wing’s effect: negate and destroy your Artifact!” And his dragon rains unto Hannibal’s monster with its breath.

Hannibal, though he faces huge danger, merely smiles and winks. “I discard Ghost Ogre and Snow Rabbit from my hand!” A small, spirit girl flies from Hannibal’s hand, dives inside the dragon, breaking its crystal body into shards from the inside. Yet Matthew’s dragon’s effect persisted beyond its death, and Matthew let Hannibal know it; it smashed Artifact Uraniawar into bits. Hannibal cried out in pain as the pain inflicted on his spirit, embodied in his monster afflicted him, and the tie between his Ba and Ka was cut.

But Hannibal stands strong, a small loss like this cannot bring him down. “I Summon Artifact Moralltach since I destroyed it, which means I destroy your Tzolkin!” The spectral warrior throws its huge sword, brimming with electricity, at the fiery dragon god, cutting into its heart, the dragon dissolving into flames. Matthew snarls at Hannibal for impudence, killing his Tzolkin Combo so easily, but Hannibal waved his finger at his former student, “You always overlooked one important step in your games as well as your studies.”

“Your tricks won’t save you. This is a real battle, not a debate.” Matthew orders Decode Talker to destroy Moralltach, which it does, again severing Hannibal’s connection to his monster and inflicting him with intense pain. (Hannibal LP 5000 à 4800)

HANNIBAL’S TURN: This duel is really taking a toll on poor Hannibal. Now is the time for Plan B. “I set a card facedown and Summon Cardcar D.” A floating wheel-less racecar appears. “And I offer it to draw two.” His car vanishes. “Turn end.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “My onslaught will continue. I Normal Summon Hieratic Dragon of Gebeb and banish to Special Summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon, and use its effect to revive Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon from the Graveyard.” His smaller Hieratic dragon appears, evaporates to another dimension, and before Hannibal knows it he once more stands in the way of two mighty and dangerous dragons, one black and red, the other white and silver.

“Decode Talker gets 1000 ATK from co-linking two monsters. Decode Talker, cut down Shark Fortress!” The blue warrior slices deep into the shark-shaped submarine, leaving an electric blue mark behind it; the fortress blows. (Hannibal LP 4800 à 3900) “Crystal Wing, smack my insolent opponent a good one!”

Hannibal sees the attack, and serves his dish to Matthew. “I activate Obliterate!!! I mill an Exodia piece to bypass your dragon’s effect with a Trap card, and bounce it back to your Extra Deck!” A spectral image of Exodia, the forbidden giant, forms behind its owner, and hits its target with a fireball.

Matthew is not amused. “You targeted my dragon this time, so you will not bypass Decode Talker’s effect; I Tribute Red-Eyes!” His decoder atomizes the red and black dragon, crams it in its blade, jumps in the way of Exodia’s fire, splitting into harmless pieces with his blade. Then it dives for Hannibal’s card, slashing it to ribbons. Hannibal returns his discarded Exodia piece to his hand, since his card was destroyed.

But it doesn’t save him from Matthew, who cries, “Crystal Wing, hit him directly!” The dragon showers Hannibal with the fury of Matthew’s ice and fire, slamming him to the ground. (Hannibal LP 3900 à 900) Mathias watches the onslaught with pain in his heart, for each hit on Hannibal is a hit on him, but he keeps himself detached. Nothing is worse than breaking a duel, let alone a Shadow Game, which brings terrible magic upon any cheaters or cowards.

HANNIBAL’S TURN: Hannibal rises to his feet quickly, his spirit unbroken. He still has Plan B. “I Summon Exodia the Forbidden One, equip it with Wonder Wand, then use its effect to Tribute it and draw 2.” Exodia, only a harmless head, appears, only vanish from the spell of a wand. “I play Monster Reborn to revive Exodia’s head and Tribute it to Summon The Legendary Exodia Incarnate!” The head revives and dies once more, an offering to a god, which finds the sacrifice to its liking. A raging fire erupts from the darkness, circling the field, a golden giant forms from the amber flames, primed for battle. Yet Hannibal holds off his attack. “I set two cards facedown end my turn, which means Exodia Incarnate lets me get back an Exodia piece.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “How you manage to keep Artifacts and Exodia consistent in your Deck is a mystery to me. No matter, Exodia Incarnate is weak, with only 1000 ATK. You’ll need more Exodia pieces in your Graveyard to fight me.”

“We’ll see.” Hannibal said with confidence. “Don’t overlook a factor this time.”

“I don’t plan to. Crystal Wing, destroy Exodia!” This time the dragon absorbs Exodia’s power with its wings with its effect, adding its ATK to its own, then rains a hailstorm of crystals on a new target.

“I activate my Traps, Forbidden Sealing and Radio Half Life! I discard my Exodia piece to mill two more from my Deck and I banish Artifact Moralltach from my Graveyard! Trap combo, go!” Matthew watches in horror as Exodia’s power rises to 4000 ATK while his Crystal Wing dragon’s ATK drops to 3500. The Egyptian giant sends Matthew’s dragon flying to its death with one punch. (Matthew’s LP 3400 à 2900)

Matthew examines his field with dismay. His Decode Talker, being a Link Monster, cannot change into Defense Position. “I end my turn.”

HANNIBAL’S TURN: “Good! I activate Enchanted Exchange; I mill a Spellcaster and add a Fairy from my Deck to my hand, and I set a card facedown.” Exodia grows in strength to 5000 ATK. “Exodia, obliterate Decode Talker!” The giant burns Matthew’s only monster to ash. (Matthew LP 2900 à 200) Matthew howls in torment as the flames scorching his monster scorch him as well, the bond between him and his will manifest violently severed. Hannibal ends his turn, retrieving an Exodia piece to his hand.

Studying Beethoven – Piano Sonata in D (Op. 10)

The sonata in D (Op. 10) is overshadowed by the “Pathetique” sonata (in Cm, Op. 13), but unjustly so. I could even describe this sonata in D as superior to the “Pathetique”, if not on the whole than at least in a number of ways. For instance, it tells a larger and more nuanced story than the “Pathetique” does; its movements explore more different nuanced moods and are less linear in form; while “Pathetique” is intense and dramatic but in stark colors of black and white, and its Sonata Form structure goes from point A to point B. While this sonata in D (Op. 10) does have a four movement structure typical of Beethoven’s earliest sonatas the movements come together in a more organic way. While Beethoven lumped contrasting moods together in his earlier sonatas he still, in essence, followed an outlined script of how he should structure his ideas, but here it is different. Now Beethoven is using the different movements of the piano sonata genre to tell a larger story, a pattern he develops for many different kinds of works later on: the “Pathetique” sonata, the “Eroica” symphony, his last string quartets, and his last piano sonatas.

So what story does this sonata in D tell? It is hard to say because the moods are so varied; the first movement has a light touch but is neither too lyrical or comic, the second movement takes us through a sudden mood whiplash to very grim and profound emotions, the third movement is lyrical and gentle, and the last movement is a little strange but lively. Beethoven usually thinks of death when he writes such dark and grim slow movements; either he thinks of the death of a person, where he evokes a funeral march, or death as a general part of the life cycle, such as in this sonata. Beethoven centers the whole sonata on his deathly slow movement, and he devotes following movements on how to respond to death, which he does in a way that evokes triumph, beauty, gratefulness, optimism, and other such emotions. Once Beethoven, we listeners, and the sonata itself go under such a death-rebirth cycle we are never the same again.

Presto 

A Presto first movement is uncommon but not unheard of, but here we have it; either way it makes extreme use of the main subject as a motif throughout the entire movement, and goes through a winding path of different subjects and moods. It could have as many as three subordinate subjects depending on how you look at it, as if the sonata itself does not know what emotion to have so it simply tours different lands. It lacks an emotional center.

Either way, Beethoven builds his main subject with a turn and a rising D scale, suspending us at the melodic tip in A, the dominant. He establishes everything this movement will be made of in at most five seconds. The rest of the main subject is turning that opening turn into variations, one soft and lyrical, the next loud and bouncy, then Beethoven repeats the opening phrase (in variation) and suspends us in F#, the median and dominant of Bm…

…which is where Beethoven begins his transition. He inverts the opening turn and breaks it into its three opening notes, uses it again in eight notes, and further builds on it to make the entire transition in one very long melodic phrase. Perhaps this is where the humor is. He uses the turn and scale to create a long tine of arpeggios, and uses it to create two slow melodic climbs, building in intensity until he finally falls to A. The first climb peaks at D, our current home key, the second peaks at E, the dominant of A. Beethoven pairs his arpeggios with pieces of the rising scale and even spends some time swapping registers in them to make cells imitate each other. His method of changing Bm into A is by mutating F# (dominant of B) into F#m (subemdiant of A), then going F#m-E-A. The rest is basically A and E.

We reached the subordinate subject but Beethoven meanders around different variations of the falling scale and turn, as if he doesn’t know what mood to cast his music. He converts the falling scale bit into something more lively and witty by putting grace and eight notes in it, and rising scale material from the transition is further collapsed. Beethoven suddenly stops this idea and tries something different; a placid second subordinate subject, where he uses the opening turn in the base, then uses imitation with a rising scale motif, all the while changing harmonies many times: A-D-G7-C (moving down the circle of 5ths), then Dm-Bb (submediant of D), then returning to A with G#d-E-A.

Now, a third subordinate subject, where Beethoven tries something a little more spunky. He uses the turn to create a descending melodic line, then swaps the Alberti base to the treble, using it as a variation of a long climbing scale, meanwhile the tenor imitates the descending turns from before. A tranquil episode later, we arrive at a closing subject at last; created from a piece of the descending scale, and suspends us in A.

The development is one very long unbroken phrase, like the transition except even longer. He leads us from A right into Bb! He bases his precore on connecting many turns to make a descending scale (again), which moves right away into the core; he builds a phrase with a rising scale of quarter notes in the base, then answers it with a descending scale of eighth notes in the treble, and so he uses Bb and Gm. He then takes the base part longer, and answers that larger expectation with quarter notes that oscillate between the cello and flute parts, taking advantage of how his filler eighth notes are in the middle register. This way Beethoven takes us to Eb (with F# notes implying Gm, so you could interpret it as Gm in Aeolian Mode), to leap to A, which comes with Dm (minor subdominant) and Bb (neopolitan), an inventive alternate to the usual V and IV, then suspends the melody on G, the subdominant of D, while the overall harmony is A7.

Now in the recapitulation, Beethoven repeats the sonata’s opening phrase but then develops a little afterward with a rising chromatic base to take us from A to B, which is the dominant of Em, where our new transition begins. The transition and subordinate subjects are more or less the same but all in D, but Beethoven adds on to the closing subject to build a Coda: he develops it by cycling through D-Gm-Dd-Bb, then falls down a minor second to A-G-Em-A-D. He builds the Coda with a long falling scale and a long rising scale, guns blazing with a eight notes in both hands. His final cadences are novel, based on the G# note leading to the A note, which means he creates the unique harmonic progression Dd-D-G-D.

Largo 

Now we arrive to the deathly slow movement, the lynchpin that anchors the entire sonata, gives context to the story. I could say that among composers before Beethoven only Mozart himself used slow movements to such effect, but Beethoven goes further in this sonata. I could say that this movement is the deepest and most melancholy piece of piano music ever created, only surpassed by the slow movement of the “Hammerklavier” sonata (in Bb, Op. 106). Beethoven often likes using dotted notes in serious slow movements to amp up the drama and grandeur, borrowing from French Baroque music, used to great effect by composers Lully, Rameau, and Gluck. Not so much in this movement; like the “Hammerklavier” slow movement ironically enough. Perhaps he did not want to remind people of a funeral march.

The second movement is in Dm, and is in Sonata Form, but the transitions are so long you can see the movement as large blocks of ABACoda; the form like a lengthy elegy, one eloquent statement to the next without too much connection between them. The main subject is based on the minor 2 nd interval and a leap; the melody goes from F# to stop a bit at B (mediant of the Gm harmony), then B to climax at F# (mediant of the Dm harmony), before falling to D. The harmony is designed to take us to Gm (subdominant) in the first phrase, then use less typical harmonies to keep tension; like going to C#d7 but changing to E7 rather than going to Dm so soon, then finally going G#d7-A-Dm.

We can say the large A block as two transitions; the first one modulates to C, the second to F. In the first transition, Beethoven hangs around A7 and Dms4, so he can take us to G7 and Cs4. Even in C, Beethoven surprises us with some D harmonies (major subdominant of Am, supertonic of C). This small hopeful major episode gives nuance to this dark movement, which Beethoven drives home with a C and D note played together, a soft dissonance. The second transition gets very angsty; Beethoven builds up tension with counterpoint with similar lines in the tenor and soprano parts and leaps to a high F# where the opening motif is transformed into heavy chords, and the harmony transitions from G#d7-Am. The repeated phrase amps the tension with octaves, thirty-second note imitation, and leading notes D#-E-F# to lead to three heavy chord motifs; the harmony moves from G#d7-C#d7-D#d7-G#d7-Am. Beethoven does not lead you from G#d7 to Am right away. Instead, he develops his material by treating G#d7 (yes, a diminished seventh), as a kind of home key and moves around it with diminished seventh dominants and subdominants.

Beethoven lingers in Am a bit before silently ending there. Then, he begins the subordinate subject by leaping to F. He convinced us this entire time that he was moving to A or Am but now he takes to a different place entirely. Granted, the relative major is what is usually expected, but Beethoven seemed to be preparing us for something different. Anyway, Beethoven takes the 6/8 rhythm of the main subject and turns it into a baseline and harmonic color, giving the melody an anchor while it floats freely above. Beethoven makes a point to peak his melody at the E note (leading tone of F), not quite making it up the octave, so the dejected melody can fall down an octave, moving chromatically downward to the D note. Beethoven also plays his F harmony alongside Dm, Am, and Gm instead of E and D, to once more make the point that this hope does not last.

A mournful phrase take over, treble triplets above, a basso continuous and alto coloring below, from Gm-A-A7-C#d7, where the retransition happens. The triplets fall far down the scale to slowly diminish tension, then suddenly leap out of nowhere to a sharp pang in Bb. You will see Beethoven use a similar tactic in his “Tempest” sonata (in Dm, Op. 31) where he interrupts a downward scale with a sudden leap to a sforzando, then hang us there for a short while before falling down again. Here, he says that grief comes in long numbing pains and sharp pangs.

We return to the main subject in Dm in a recapitulation of sorts. Beethoven uses extra thick voices in the alto and baritone registers, later swaps voices in the treble cleff, the whole point is to make the main subject stronger and more dramatic in its return. Beethoven skips a phrase and goes right to his first transition, where he modulates from Gm to Bb, and he does use C7 sometimes, major subdominant of Gm. This subverts our expectations since we usually expect the subdominant of a minor key to also be minor.

Passing the second transition, same as before but in Dm, we enter the Coda, where Beethoven ramps up the pressure by using ever smaller note values but, being resourceful as always, reprises the main subject in the base. With his baseline he slowly climbs up a chromatic scale from D (tonic) to A (dominant) but he uses harmonies that do not match the leading tones in the base. While an A note leads into a Bb note, Beethoven does not play Ad and Bb harmonies but instead mutates Ebd into Eb, and so forth.

Beethoven returns with the same descending triplets to slowly guide us to base clef to make his final grievous statements, where he sharply contrasts his ferocious arpeggios from before with stillness. Andras Schiff compared the Coda to winter, where everything is frozen, dead, still. Beethoven leads C# into D in the melody many times but his harmonies are Ed7-Dm. Using the C# as a dissonance grinds the pain in more.

Allegro 

The third movement in D in Minuet Form can be compared to new shoots growing in spring; overall the movement is easygoing. Beethoven builds his melody loosely from the turn motif from way back in the first movement and uses it to go in a placid downward motion; first A (dominant) to F# (while playing D), then B (while playing Em) to D, pretty standard. The three voices underscore the melody with simple first species counterpoint, again to convey an easy, relaxed feeling. You can breath.

Beethoven brings up a new little motif to imitate among different registers, cycling around the relative keys F#m-B-E-A (down the circle of 5ths), then reprises his subject but develops it: he extends the two phrases by having the motif climb upward to build tension before letting fall in a longer arc, he gives greater counterpoint to the other voices, especially the alto voice, and extends the harmonies as far as B.

For the Trio in G, Beethoven uses leaps in the base and treble, not unlike in the first movement, and uses the turning motif in the minuet. The harmonies are very straightforward here; close keys to G, climaxing in A7 to modulate us to D7. (He chooses D7 over D so he can easily move us back to G.) Both subject (in the base) and triplets (in the tenor) rise higher, with the triplets hitting the soprano line at the peak. Both subject and triplets go in a similar pattern when the phrase resolves but the triplets don’t go as high up when the Trio ends, with Beethoven hanging us in A7, dominant of D.

Allegro 

The fourth movement in D in Rondo Form functions as a book end to the sonata; like the first movement it meanders through different keys and moods but the moods it does reach convey a more confidant and assured feeling. The piece makes its Rondo Form clear by ending each Part in an unresolved fermata; similar to the Rondo of Beethoven’s very first piano sonata, the “Kurfursten” sonata in Eb. Beethoven has come a long way since then, as have we.

We begin Part A: the subject at the heart of the movement is a melody where a leading tone is followed by a rising 3 rd , the base descending the broken G chord in opposite direction. The harmony is D-G, with the leading F# note making G the core harmony, not D. Beethoven does use the rising third cell to build an ascending broken G (subdominant) chord melody to complete his first phrase in A7. – Notice how Beethoven turns G7s4 into G#7, but mixes a base B# note with a treble G note; all before resolving to A7. – The second phrase, that resolves the A7 tension, develops the motif, having it ascend a broken Bm chord (submediant).

Beethoven builds his transition on a rising scale and downward leap, countering with Alberti base, then has both parts swap hands in imitation, while Beethoven constructs his Alberti base in a way to imply keys such as Em, Bm, and C#d7 to not have a stale I-V-I progression, and overshoots to E7, pretty typical stuff. The subordinate subject is made of the second and third beat of the subject, transformed into chords with a knocking rhythm; melody turns into rhythm, while Beethoven builds tension with a rising chromatic scale, first peaking at the E note (E7 harmony, dominant of A), then peaking at the E note again (but with the A harmony, the tonic). He moves downward to the G note (with the A7 harmony) where he suspends us, readying us to return to D.

Now Part B: Beethoven repeats the main subject, but he suddenly leads from A7 to a bridge in Bb to take us to a new subordinate subject; where the treble and base parts of the motif swap hands and call and answer the other. He also used this A7-B tactic in the first movement. The Bb subordinate subject builds on the rising 3rd part of the motif: to invert it and dip down a broken Bb chord before rising a broken Ad chord, before doing it again in Eb and Dd. Beethoven ramps up with sixteenth notes in Eb, climbing up, going somewhere, but suspends us in Ed (Neapolitan of Eb).

And this way he leads to a false reprise of the subject in F. Beethoven takes us through a broken Gb chord (Neopolitan of F), then peaks his melody in G (Neopolitan of Gb), then descends down a chromatic scale, to further emphasize a chromatic feel to this episode, and suspends us in A7. It’s an interesting way to move to distant keys and return to D.

To Part C: He repeats the subject as before but the transition leads to a very different place than A; instead it features a more chromatic melody and progresses D-F#d7(diminished mediant)-F# (mutated into a major dominant)-Bm. Our third subordinate subject is quiet and mysterious; repeating woodwinds on top, the base strings taking up the motif, not sticking to Bm but floating around distant harmonies as the woodwinds slowly rise up a chromatic scale: F#-Gd7-Ebm-Ed7-G#d7. Beethoven raises tension: the volume goes into crescendo, the treble shortens into sixteenth notes, the baseline motif becomes more frequent, the harmonies G#d7-A, and once more crashes down to an A harmony suspension. This intense phrase acts as a retransition taking us back to a recapitulation of sorts.

To Part D: Beethoven develops the subject by putting sixteenth note counterpoint in the base, then drops to a Coda in the lower register. The Coda in D is complicated, with a phrase leading to a false ending, a remote key episode, and a final phrase. Beethoven builds the melodic line on the motif, both upright and inverted forms, and in this way he culminates at a high D note, the harmony being A7s4, to point out that the highest note being on a tonic note does not make it the end of a movement. Beethoven moves to Gm into an episode of synchopated chords, the melody descends a chromatic scale, into a soft finish; the base picks up the motif with a I-IV harmony, the treble gently goes up and down and up and down the chromatic scale and later arpeggios of D and A7, finally falling to D. It’s a silent and unassuming end to a great sonata but Beethoven knew silence to be as worthy as any note.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 4

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I really like the creative games in Yugioh YouTube channels like TheRarely’s and the strong games in Yugioh: Dark Side of Dimensions. I intend to make my games somewhere in between where characters use creative decks not limited to one archetype or combo but play efficient moves to not make the duels too tedious. A player should interact more with their opponents when they play. Way too many games you see players making a giant setup to make an OTK. That’s boring and I don’t want that in my duels unless in the middle or endgame.

Duel 4 – Ignition!!!

Mathias could not sleep this morning, his mind under the hardest pressure, the need to stop the Headmaster’s doomsday prophecy from coming true was first in his mind. Matthew was the Satanic Red Dragon, he knew it – or did he? – if he lost to Matthew the world would be doomed but if he defeated the young man… would that make him the true Red Dragon? His powerful Ka, Horus the Black Flame Dragon, did not help matters. He was not under this much pressure in his entire immortal life since World War II.

So Mathias decided to play a little game to calm his mind, and so he peeked into every lodging to see exactly what everyone else was up to: Maximus, Maria, Stella, Tamas, Rex, and Weevil were fast asleep in their bed, Maya and Matthew were missing. And he found Hannibal in the dining room. Mathias said hello to his comrade and Hannibal returned the gesture, then asked what was bothering him.

Mathias told him everything about the Headmaster’s prophecy, slightly relieved to talk to someone, and then let Hannibal speak out of courtesy. Hannibal told him the awful truths burdening him, speaking, “I know all about the prophecy; Maximus told me long ago, but my concern is more personal. I knew Matthew’s grandfather very well; he was a kind, wise, profound man, and I even privately taught Matthew about everything; archaeology, anthropology, history, art, culture, and so forth. Now that I see his moral decline, his dark powers, the threat he poses to everyone, I may need to kill him. No, I must kill him! It is my moral duty to prevent suffering in this world! But, what if it’s wrong? What if I overstepped into excess; from courage into rashness, from justice to dogma?”

“Whether the prophecy is true or not Matthew used dark magic for malice and he must be dealt with in a shadow game.” Mathias assured his friend. “I also worry about his rival.” And when Hannibal asked why, Mathias answered, “She too has a powerful and dangerous dragon Ka, she utterly defeated Matthew a long time ago, and in doing so caused his mental collapse and moral decline. She is the source of his rage and his ambition, which is how he grew into such a powerful thread as a duelist and a wielder of shadow magic.”

Hannibal prayed, “May God help us find the right path in the middle of the thorny woods.”

Meanwhile Maya enjoyed the breezy midnight beach outside, listening to the soothing waves, moving towards and away, towards and away… every star was in view on this remote island, opening the full cosmos to her. She climbed up the steep pyramid, keeping the Book of Isis in a bag close by her to keep it safe, and found Matthew on top of the pyramid. Her arrival prompted him to gaze away from the waves below and stars above, staring at her coldly, hate in his eyes; her blood froze.

He said, “What are you doing here? Wait until we duel, then tell me you’re sorry and beg for mercy.”

Maya retorted instantly, “I will never say sorry or beg you for mercy. I will fight you to the death, show you as much mercy as you showed to other people, but I do sometimes wonder if our fates could have been different. You and I had many chances to choose a different path; when I lost to you in the academy tryouts, when JC betrayed our team for prophet, even when we dueled again, but we persisted, not knowing what we were doing. And here we are, ready to kill each other. This is how our rivalry will end; we decided so.”

Matthew: “You don’t believe in Fate do you or other such magical nonsense women love?”

And Maya: “No, but I believe in the power we have in our choices in life, and how we must always be strong and accept the consequences. I didn’t care when I was teenager, I just wanted to shake things up and piss people like you off, but now I understand better. Killing Heishin taught me that. I am prepared to kill you as well and accept the results.”

And Matthew: “Oh, how responsible. Our little afro punk grew up to be a serious thinker. Congratulations.”

And Maya: “I can’t say the same about you. You just want to kill me no matter what. Tell me, what future do you have even if you defeat me?”

“None of that matters. You will one day realize that too.” Matthew said with finality.

Hours passed in silence, day broke, Kaiba and Pegasus made their way up the pyramid to its top, followed by every other finalist. Pegasus notice his two remaining finalists, “What, no breakfast? One shouldn’t duel on an empty stomach! If I may do the honors.” He handed each finalist one Millennium Item Card, just like the ones they had been collecting for the entire tournament; Mathias got the Millennium Puzzle, Tamas got the Millennium Eye, Stella got the Millennium Rod, Maria got the Millennium Scales, Hannibal got the Millennium Scales, Weevil got the Millennium Key, Hannibal got the Millennium Necklace, Matthew got the Millennium Cube, a secret eight Item, and Maya got the Millennium Ring.

“Now hold your cards to the sun!” Kaiba barked at them. “Each card casts a golden shadow only during a certain time of day; this is how we determine who duels!” The finalists did as they were told, the sun revealed who was to duel; Matthew’s and Hannibal’s cards cast golden shadows. Suddenly a golden platform rose beneath them, the capstone of the pyramid where the finalists would duel, and four cameras rose from the sides of the pyramid’s top to record each duel in 3D. “Now take your positions!” Kaiba ordered.

Hannibal confronted his former student, “Matthew, I beg you, please cease your revenge, it only causes destruction and misery. Think of your honor, of your grandfather; what would he say to you if he knew of all you had done?”

Matthew growled, “Shut up you naïve fool. You know nothing of my grandfather.” He sprung his new duel disk to life; lighting blue from his wrist to his shoulder, a device on his head began reading his brainwaves. A holographic deck appeared in his duel disk, Matthew drawing five cards. Hannibal did the same.

Matthew: 8000 || Hannibal: 8000

MATTHEW’S TURN: “I Summon Celeste Dragon!” Matthew’s holographic card vanishes, reforms on the field in a larger form, and vanishes again but in light as a transparent dragon made of tiny stars emerges from it. “I set 3 cards facedown. This will do.

HANNIBAL’S TURN: “Perhaps I should knock some sense into you. I Summon Traptrix Mymeleo!” Hannibal’s card vanishes and a young female magician and her pet plant take to the field together. He sets 4 cards facedown, ending his turn. “Every duelist who attacks me makes a fatal mistake. I have the high ground. Turn end.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Too bad this isn’t Star Wars, you punk, only coward play Traptrix. Celeste Dragon, tear apart his annoying little girl!” And his dragon breathes forth a supernova blast.

Hannibal sees everything coming at him. “I play Artifact Sanctum, summoning Artifact Beagalltach from my Deck, then using his power to destroy two of my facedown cards.” A huge broadsword appears, then manifests a spirit of itself so it can be used, to slice apart Hannibal’s cards. “I activate Artifact Moralltach and Artifact Scythe; I Summon them and use their other effects. A large sword and scythe rise from the Graveyard. “Moralltach, destroy Matthew’s Dragon an Scythe, paralyze his Extra Deck!” Moralltach decimates Celeste Dragon into stardust while Scythe binds its target with a dark spell.

 

Matthew is not amused, “Cute, but I mill Carboneddon to revive Celeste Dragon.” His creature reforms but with its battling power halved. “And I play my Trap; Dragonic Desperation!” Letting two more Celeste Dragons to appear.

Hannibal is once more prepared, “That is none of your business for now, but my Trap is: Bottomless Trap Hole!” And all of Matthew’s monsters vanish into a void.

Cringing in disappointment, Matthew plays a new card, “Dragon’s Mirage. I end my turn.” As he does so, he Summons 4 Dragons from his Deck, powerful new Hieratic Dragons, equal to the number of his old Dragons were destroyed; Hieratic Seal, Dragon Core Hexer, Hiertic Dragon of Su, but their ATK and DEF are halved.

HANNIBAL’S TURN: He is none too happy, for Matthew already swarmed the field! “I switch all my monsters to Defense Position and set 2 facedown cards.” His turn over, his opponent’s Continuous Trap, Dragonic Desperation, fades away per its effect.

Matthew snorts at this move, “You are a coward, Hannibal, you could have killed my weak Dragons. Are you scared of my Trap? Now I realize the morals you taught me are as useless and cowardly as you are.”

Matthew snorts at this move, “You are a coward, Hannibal, you could have killed my weak Dragons. Are you scared of my Trap? Now I realize the morals you taught me are as useless and cowardly as you are.”

MATTHEW’S TURN: “Let’s get this Duel really started, shall we?”

“I agree.” Hannibal shoots back, “Dimension Barrier, and I call Link monsters! There will be no Ultimaya Tzolkin combo on my watch.”

“Then I will rely on something else. I tribute Hieratic Dragon of Su to Summon Tongue Twister and use Su’s effect to destroy your facedown.” His blue dragon shattered, reforming into a giant ugly red-shape field, then Hannibal’s card is destroyed. However, Hannibal does benefit as he Summons Artifact Caduceus, an enchanted staff, to his field.

Matthew says, “You better watch this, Maya; see your own tactics used, as they should be, to truly destroy another human being! I overlay Hieratic Seal and Dragon Core Hexer to Xyz Summon Galaxy-Eyes Prime Photon Dragon, then continue my overlay with Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor Photon Dragon, then Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon!” His dragons fell into the overlay network wormhole, giving rise to a mighty interstellar dragon only for it to give rise to a new one, and then another new one. “I activate two of its effects. I mill 3 Dragons to my Graveyard, you banish 3 monsters, and I detach 1 Material to let it attack twice!”

Maya reflects on Matthew’s strategy from the sidelines. If Matthew uses her own ruthless moves, then she will face a mirror of herself in battle. If that is so, then it is another reason for her to grow beyond her past, beyond her limits.

Hannibal reminds Matthew he made a mistake; he did not activate Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor’s effect to pop an Artifact, to which Matthew response, “Of course not you idiot! As long as you have a full field you will struggle to kick your combos off, and I want to trample you down before you do that. I activate Dragon’s Rage so I can do piercing damage! Now, Dark Matter Dragon, destroy Artifact Caduceus and Traptrix Mymeleo!” The huge black dragon beats its wings, two black gales cut through Hannibal’s cards as knives, and push Hannibal staggering back. (Hannibal LP 8000 à 5200)

“Clever,” The old man admits. “But not enough to beat me. I Summon Artifact Vajra from my hand and with his appearance my entire back row is destroyed.” A magical vaijra manifests a blue spirit to wield it and shatters Hannibal’s cards with lightning bolts, which only brings out more Artifacts. “I activate Artifact Sanctum and my second Artifact Moralltach in my Graveyard; you’re attackers are destroyed!” A new Artifact emerges from the dusty Graveyard, and Matthew’s aggressing fiend and dragon burst into flames.

“I’m not done yet, old man.” Matthew insults his opponent. “I banish Tongue Twister to draw 2 cards and set 1 facedown.”

HANNIBAL’S TURN: “Brace yourself Matthew! I will put an end to your ways! I link 2 Moralltach and 1 Scythe to Link Summon Artifact Uraniawar, then overlay Vaijra and Beagalltach to Xyz Summon Shark Fortress!” Three of Hannibal’s Artifacts fall into three arrows on the edges of a square portal, lighting them, allowing a new Artifact a be Summoned; a rocket-like missile manifesting a black spirit to carry it. The two remaining Artifact’s fall into an overlay network, letting shark-shaped submarine to cross to the other side.

Stella grabs Maya, points at Hannibal’s new Artifact, “Is that nuke?”

Maya answers, “Yes. Uranium is the antique weapon of our times.”

“Wow, that is… profound. Who knew Pegasus cared so much about the future of the human race.”

“He is the sensitive artist type, after all.”

Banter aside, Hannibal announced, “Preparations are complete, Matthew. The rash man only blunders. Now I am ready to attack!”

“You only attack when you’re certain you won’t be challenged. Are you moderate, or mediocre?”

“I detach 1 Material from Shark Fortress, now attack Matthew directly twice!” His submarine strikes Matthew with two torpedoes, blasting his opponent’s Life away. (Matthew LP 8000 à 3400) Hannibal is just about to cripple Matthew for good but he pauses midway in declaring his attack.

Studying Beethoven – Piano Sonata in F (Op.10)

Beethoven left his usual pattern once more when he composed his piano sonata in F (Op. 10); it is in three movements only and lacks a slow movement, usually the heart of the sonata and the crux that divides the large first movement from the lighter third and fourth movements. In later sonatas, Beethoven will fully exploit using the middle movement as a crux that contrasts and balances out other movements in emotion and form. Striking examples include the sonata in D (Op. 10), the sonata in Cm (Op. 13) (Pathetique), the sonata in Dm (Op. 31) (The Tempest).

Beethoven takes a slightly different approach in the sonata in C (Op. 53) (Waldstein), the sonata in Fm (Op. 57) (Appassionata), and the sonata in Eb (Op. 81) (Les Adieux); their middle movements blend into the final movements, acting as part of the counterweight to the weighty first movements as well as the dramatic crux of the whole piece. But these sonatas are for another time.

However, Beethoven uses other forms as central cruxes in his sonatas, such as minuets, which he does use in this sonata in F (Op. 10). Here the minuet acts a melancholic episode to contrast the bright and witty first and third movements. A more famous example is the sonata in C#m (Op. 27) (Moonlight) where the sweet minuet contrasts the dark and gloomy first and third movements. Franz Liszt compared it to a flower between an abyss on one side and an abyss on the other.

Allegro
The first movement is in Sonata Form in F, mostly lyrical and funny but sometimes suffers from small bouts of angst. So how does Beethoven go about building such a movement? He establishes his main subject using two thick calls made of chords followed by a thin turn. Then he follows up this idea with a long and complex melodic arc, full of syncopated and dotted notes but in essence climbs up and down the F scale through turns, peaking at the high D6 note of the Bb (subdominant) harmony before falling back to F (tonic). Beethoven uses chords, an idea borrowed from the two calls before, to anchor the melody with a solid rhythm and flesh out the harmonies, and they move mostly parallel to the melody.

Beethoven makes a striking move by developing his main subject a little before going to the transition; he uses two chord calls to carry us to D#d, then uses loud triplets (borrowed from the thin turns before) to carry us to E, which D#d leads to. E is a nice distant harmony but is the median of C (dominant) and submediant of G (V/dom). Everything connects to everything else like a spider’s web in Beethoven’s world.

Beethoven constructs the transition melody as a simplified version of the main subject and in octaves, which heightens the emotion. He states a question and answer to establish us in this area, then develops it to lead us to the subordinate subject. He does this by using two phrases in the top voice over and over again to raise the tension in the music. He leads F# to G, then descends C to G; it’s all vii/G and IV/G, the usual tactic to “overshoot” at the V/dom before going to the dominant. Again Beethoven underscores his melody, with arpeggios in this case. At first it’s mostly C and G, with some Em and Dm7 to keep things interesting, then uses Gs4 and D7 over and over when he really wants to transition.

So far Beethoven created a lyrical tone to his music, now he brings humor into the work. The subordinate subject is a simple arpeggio in Bd7 resolving to C, a descending melodic arc to contrast the main subject’s rising melodic arc, and ending in a few block chords similar to calling chords at movement’s beginning. Then Beethoven jerks sharply into an angsty variation in Cm, the alto or viola voice continuing the subject while the soprano or violins are in wide triplets. The block chords seem to lead to Cm but ends in Ab instead! Here we see Beethoven’s humor; upon seeing his “mistake” he “corrects” himself with a meek chord in F#d. Beethoven designed his subordinate subject to be simple so he could have this kind of fun as complex melodies don’t have that much potential. I should know as I myself dug deep into simple music to find treasure hidden within.

Beethoven builds a bridge to the closing section by using more comedic phrases, a variation of the main subject; broken up into choppy woodwind parts that peaks on the G (dominant) harmony, then returns to the tonic in triplets. The joke is how the left and right hands cannot play together and it conjures the image of a clown wobbling on a ball. The closing subject has a murky tinge to it’s sound because Beethoven uses a D# note leading to an E note and an F# note leading to a G note, which he supports with harmonies of D#d7 and F#d7 respectively. But both harmonies lead to C, not Em or G as you would expect. The subjects reminds me of a skit with one man being tall and skinny and the man short and fat; Laurel and Hardy.

Beethoven uses two ideas for his precore in Dm; he expands the triplets he worked with from before into longer melodic turns while he uses phrases of three block chords from before, and both ideas swap registers with each other. For his first core, Beethoven uses broken 16th note octaves underscored with a conventional base; the treble is an expanded version of the turn while the baseline moves up or down a scale before dropping down a 4th or 5th. Beethoven travels through a rather tame route of relative harmonies, with nothing crazy; the progression goes from Dm to Gm to Bb back to Dm. The second core uses precore material, taking where it left off, and Beethoven now jumps to the distant key of Bbm. Beethoven then retransitions, preparing us for the first subject by going back to Dm and suspending us in A…

Which leads us to D, the wrong key. Again we see Beethoven’s humor; he begins the main subject in the wrong key, then “corrects” his “mistake” by returning to F, which he does by going from D to Gm, then holding us a while in C7. Beethoven deviates into a small variation during the transition so as not to repeat himself; he swaps treble and base while making a variation of the rising chord motif we saw from before. The closing subject has its usual properties, but Beethoven expands it while raising the dynamics to fortissimo to finish the movement on a strong note.

Allegretto
The second movement is in Minuet Form in Fm, but while the mood is not of deep tragedy it is melancholic to balance out the humor of the other two movements. The best comedies in plays, books, and film have dark moments, part of the real and serious aspects that underpin the work. This sonata is no different, and the painful Fm minuet functions to give it depth by grounding it with heavier human emotions. Keep in mind that 18th century artists saw Fm and Ab as distant and dark keys, meaning Beethoven turns the light minuet into serious music.

The music of the minuet itself is simple in rhythm and arc to contrast the complex and odd melody of the main subject from the last music. Beethoven basically ascends and descends the Fm chord with parallel arpeggios, while also using Ed7, which changes to Eb to take us to Ab, the relative major. Beethoven then uses new material; a melody that now ascends the Ab scale, then suddenly drops to C, dominant of Fm. The alto voice joins in imitation while the base delays timing in keeping up to allow less plain harmonies.

Beethoven resumes his subject but adds many new elements to heighten the drama. He returns with the subject but an octave higher in the woodwinds, and he plays a striking sighing phrase; the dissonant Eb7as4 chord (the seventh note, Dh, augmented and containing Ab, the root of the subdominant) resolves to Ed (iibd). Beethoven takes the music to its logical conclusion with the last phrase, a codetta of sorts, by having the melody ascent up the Fm chord to the high F6 note.

The Trio in the dark and rich Db, contrasts the Fm Minuet with low notes and thick chords, suggesting a string ensemble to contrast the thin woodwinds in the Minuet. Beethoven borrows from the Minuet, making the melodic arc a rise up the Db scale, but suddenly he makes a leap before resolving it by a step into the Eb7 (dominant) harmony. This is a common tactic for Beethoven; to break a step-by-step melody with leaps or break arpeggios with step-by-step climbs, and he even emphasizes his leap with a sforzando, before resolving his sentence with a gentle arc to Ab. He repeats the sentence to cement the Trio in your ear but he plays a variation of it; he uses falling staccato notes like in a cello part and he drifts into Bbm, Ed7, and Fm to give the Trio a darker feel.

He develops his Trio by exploring the diminished chords and progressions he touched on earlier, but he does subvert the chord progressions you would expect by using a chromatic descending base. His big example is Ebm to Ed7 to Ad7 to Ab, and finally to Db. He lets the chromatic base take him to whatever diminished harmonies they offer rather than quickly resolving to Ab as another composer may do. This idea, of letting a melodic or base line give you harmonies to choose from, is something Romantic composers take advantage of, such as Chopin. And later, rather than finishing off the segment with a V7-I phrase, he uses Ed7 to Db9a to Db to create an extra segment that suspends us at the end. As we saw before, Early Beethoven is fond of suspending us in this way in a Minuet before resolving.

He returns us to the Fm Minuet using Db to Cd (diminished vii of Db) to mutate to C7 (dominant of Fm), then to Fm. The Minuet repeats as before except now the treble and base are syncopated and the base is a little more active, which Beethoven does to develop his material further even when wrapping things up. What use is a journey if you haven’t changed or don’t see things in a new way?

Presto
Beethoven returns us to a happy F key to play a breezy Rondo, but it has some fugal traits to it and heavily uses counterpoint. The entire Rondo is based on a subject, first heard in the base, that Beethoven uses constantly to build the entire movement, around as compact and austere as his 5th Symphony or Bach’s fugue in D from the Well-Tempered Clavier. The movement is a gem the student of Euterpe should not carelessly pass by.

Beethoven begins the movement as if he was writing a fugue; he puts the subject in the tenor, then alto, then soprano registers, a countersubject singing below. His harmonies are F & C for the subject in the tenor and alto registers, then C & G (harmonies around C, the dominant) for the subject in the soprano registers. So far, so good. Now you would expect Beethoven to use some free counterpoint to take us to Dm, where he will play the subject again. But he doesn’t do that; he condenses the subject, repeats it in even higher registers, and makes the music homophonic. He takes the melodic line very high to the F6 note then races it all the way down to C4 with a flourish of 16th notes. With harmonies; he jumps to A (submediant of C), a striking move, and progresses with A to Dm (iv/A) to G7 to C to smoothly move to a quiet closing phrase in C. Beethoven does all this in 32 measures.

What does Beethoven do now? He decides to develop his subject in a development-like section you see in Sonata Form. He jumps far away to Ab (submediant of C), a striking move similar to how he jumped to A before, and builds tension; he does so by having his subject, now in unison, slowly rise to higher registers. Now he has the subject swap around many different ranges alongside some free counterpoint, meanwhile moving from Ab to Bbm. He then keeps swapping the subject among soprano ranges, to have the soprano lines constantly imitate each other, with a basso continuo underneath, now in Fm to A7. Then free counterpoint in the soprano that is like the basso continuo while the tenor and alto play the subject in thirds at the same time, now in A.

Beethoven returns to D, now in a kind of bridge, but now he takes a piece of the subject to make some new material. Two countersubjects are almost the same as the subject, and they play along just fine, while a basso continuo persists, as he modulates back to F by progressing D to G to C to F to Bb (notice the subdominant). But Beethoven takes us to a new development section instead, now in two voices; he once more uses the subject but has it swap roles with free counterpoint based on the 16th note flourishes from before. Thus he moves from F to Gm to Bbm; now to a variation of the fugue-like beginning with the subject and countersubject in 16th notes to raise the pressure. Beethoven progresses the melodic line as before while he guides us back to F by basically moving to Fm, the mutating to F.

We are at last back to the gentle closing phrase, but it is not over yet; now we enter a brief coda, built like the bridge in D two pages back. But a piece has to finish, and Beethoven does so by going down the F scale in octaves, in crescendo, finishing the movement in a confidant fortissimo. The Comedy of Errors comes to fulfilling end.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Cm (Op. 10)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I will continue analyzing Beethoven sonatas in blogs but I will no longer make YouTube videos on the subject as it takes way too much time. I have also struggled with some time to describe melodic line and harmony changes without being tedious, sounding like I’m merely describing every little thing in the music, and making YouTube videos does not help. I should hopefully do better. – I should still learn to condense this a bit. Sonata form movements are the hardest. It should only have 4 paragraphs.

The Cm sonata (Op. 10) is Beethoven’s first published piano sonata to have only three movements instead of four. Beethoven wrote the first four sonatas to sound like symphonies through many different means; he wrote them in four movements, wrote each movement to be large to allow subjects much space to develop, and often writes for orchestral parts such as clarinet parts in the Fm sonata (Op. 1) and horn parts in the Eb sonata (Op. 7).

Now Beethoven tries something different and writes a more typical sonata; with only three movements and with no obvious orchestral parts. Still, Beethoven develops his subjects and follows his ideas in a clear, forceful, concise way, in fact even more so in this sonata. It is useful to see the striking differences between this Cm sonata and the Fm sonata (Op. 2) Beethoven wrote a while back as both are dark and impassioned music but approached in very different ways.

The way Beethoven ends this sonata is also important; a fizzling out to a quiet finish rather than slamming thick chords at the end. Indeed Beethoven ends many future sonatas in this way as an alternate way to finishing a piece of music and fulfilling the journey back to the home key.

Allegro molto e con brio

The first movement is in sonata form and is based on the Mannheim rocket; an intense phrase where notes rise in a broken chord to a high register. The main subject in Cm is short but complex, broken into three parts. In the first part Beethoven forces two sharply contrasting colors together; a thundering Mannheim rocket played in dotted notes to make it even more intense followed by a soft sighing motif. In the second part Beethoven builds off a descending scale, starting at a high G (the dominant note), and repeats it, each new phrase more intense, until he hangs at a low G (again the dominant note). In the third part, Beethoven suddenly breaks away into new material again; right hand arpeggios resolving in Cm. Beethoven consistently plays Cm and Bd (diminished) chords the entire time, using Bd as a darker counterpart to G7. He uses only two chords for most of the main subject but he does much with them.

The transition is simply the Mannheim rocket again, using G (again) as the high note. Beethoven simply uses Cm and G the entire time and simply decides to break it off after he resolves in Cm. The main subject and transition here are very different from their counterparts in the Fm sonata (Op. 2). The Fm sonata main subject is far simpler as it slowly moves from piano to sforzando using a simple Mannheim rocket the entire time. The Fm sonata transition, by contrast, is complex as Beethoven makes a big deal modulating to Ab, using Dba (augmented) and Bbm to spice things up. But in this Cm sonata, it is quick and simple. Beethoven is fine jumping from Cm right to Eb (the mediant).

The subordinate subject is based on the submediant; the first phrase starts in Eb7, the second in C7, the third in Ab7. A simple descending base makes up the backbone while the soprano and alto parts fill the harmony in. From now on Beethoven stays in Eb, which is pretty typical for classical sonata form. The second subordinate subject is a rising arpeggio with an Alberti base underneath, harmonies simple Eb-Bb7. He quickly gets more interesting with a chromatic melody, using Ad and Aa harmonies. He thunders with the Mannheim rocket again for a while so he can lead us to the closing subject, but he uses Ebd and Cd7 instead of Bb. The closing subject itself is built on the small sighing motif we saw way back in the main subject to slowly fall to a low Eb, while Beethoven uses some Cm7 and Gm7. The purpose is to darken the Eb closing theme a bit and connect it to the main theme in Cm, to show how close we are to dark and minor keys.

Beethoven builds the development with two cores, both based on the less striking melodies in the exposition. He elevates those melodies by playing them in octaves in a very singing manner. But first he needs to make a bridge to lead you to the first core; and he does this with the Mannheim rocket subject in C (submediant leap from Eb), and he uses it like he did with the transition by cutting it off after he resolves. The first core in Fm is based off the filler melody of the first subordinate subject underscored by an Alberti base. The second core in Bbm is based off the second subordinate subject while the base is taken from the closing subject. The retransition is based off the sighing motif but he strings many motifs together to make a long melodic descent all the way from a high G (dominant) to middle C (tonic). Meanwhile, he keeps the base at G to emphasize a V-I return to the main subject. But do notice how many different harmonies Beethoven plays throughout; it’s anything but a boring V-I for 11 measures.

The main subject is just as before and Beethoven skips a transition altogether, making the journey even more streamlined. The subordinate subject comes right after, now in Db7 (IIb7 of Cm), and he breaks his descent by submediant theme to quickly move to Cm. However, do note how he frequently plays C also, the mutation of Cm to make the harmonies more interesting. But the quick resolution to Cm is a ruse. The second subordinate subject is in F instead (mediant of Db) then quickly goes to Fm (the subdominant of Cm). This is important as the subdominant is usually emphasized in a recapitulation but Beethoven delays for a while to keep the listener guessing. The closing subject neatly wraps it all up in Cm.

Adagio molto

The second slow movement is in sonata form without development but with a coda with a variation of the main subject. The main subject is in Ab and is played twice; the first in its “base” form and the second as a variation where the base becomes arpeggios and repeating 16th notes. The subject is based on a rising and falling third, the melody rises to a climax in Db (the subdominant) before making a long fall back to Ab. The transition is a striking contrast to the lyrical subject; a loud drop by two octaves. The harmonies sometimes blur together in the little sighing motifs and, while F7 is a striking submediant leap from Ab, the harmonies are the usual ones around Cm.

The subordinate subject in Eb is made of two different parts. The first part; we have a rising 3rd motif similar to the main subject, and it also peaks at a subdominant note (Ab in this case). The virtuoso 64th note arpeggios in Bb9 is a development of the rising 3rd. The second part; a long rising scale from G to Eb on dotted notes. This would be boring in itself but Beethoven uses Eba, Dd7, and Ad7 to make chromatic use of it. The variation that follows peaks in the harmony of Cb7, the tension highest in a distant key of Eb. The retransition is based on the subordinate subject and is in Eb, preparing to return to Ab.

The main subject has little change in it except some variation in the base, first dotted notes and later arpeggio triplets. The transition has an extra phrase; sighing motifs clumped together to make a chromatic descent to Db. Beethoven uses many distant keys such as Fb, Gbm, and Fhd7 (half diminished); a striking alternate way to going to the dominant. The usual method is F-Bb-Eb or Dm-Bb-Eb, but Beethoven plays odd F chords before going to Bb-Eb.

The subordinate subject and retransition are almost verbatim similar as before except now in Ab. The coda is a variation of the main subject, now in cantabile as we have a viola part in the middle made of syncopated notes. The coda has no dramatic peaks but simply slowly falls down the Ab scale: from Eb5 to Ab4, from Ab4 to Ab3.

Prestissimo

The finale is in sonata form but is very brief, much like rondos of classical sonatas, a breezy finish. Still, it has some weight. The main subject is based on a rising chord, this case Cm, but the melody dramatically peaks in dissonant F while the harmony is F#d7. The second time around Beethoven climbs up the G scale and peaks at F again while the harmony is in Fm. Then the rhythm intensifies to 16th notes so Beethoven can rush down to G (dominant) with flair. There is no transition. A jump from G to Eb happens instead. Notice how the melodic line of this main theme climaxes on a subdominant note, not too unlike the main theme from the last movement, while also highlighting G like in the first movement. The harmonies matter too; Beethoven sometimes mutates Cm to C, while he uses the F#d and Bd chords to lead to G and Cm.

The subordinate subject is based on a rising and falling 3rd with a distant last note; it reaches a sudden climax in Ab (subdominant). At first Beethoven falls to Bb into what seems a quiet finish but suddenly rises to Eb at the last moment; a creative way to avoid a typical resolution. The closing theme uses the turn motif of the main subject over different registers, and it peaks at Ab (again subdominant) before resolving to Eb. Beethoven then resorts to more distant harmonies; Ed and Bd, diminished versions of the tonic and dominant, and frequently uses Fm and Cm too. He does all this to make the ear less certain it is in Eb, making Cm stronger. He also drops a sudden Cb7; instead of going from Bb to Eb to goes from Bb to its Neapolitan (IIb7/V).

We only have a small development of the main subject motif; though in Eb it uses Bd, Dd, and Bb, all related by a 3rd. Beethoven also briefly uses C7 to again disrupt the expected Cm and he develops the melodic line by having it rise to a very high F (subdominant of Cm). The main subject makes little change while the subordinate subject is in C (mutation of Cm), except with a chord progression from Dm-D7-G. The closing theme is different, starting with the main subject motif rather than a tremolo. The next part has the same chord structure as before except tailored around Cm; this includes C#d leading G and the sudden drop now in Ab7. The closing theme halts, holds the tension on suspended Ab7, withholding the ending.

We enter a brief coda based on the subordinate subject in Db, the music suspended in a slow calando. It’s mostly V7-I except for a brief Ebm-Eb-Ab (chromatic base) and how the colando suspends in Ad7. Then, an abrupt eruption as the music resumes its normal tempo, but rather than race to the finish it fizzles out, slowly moving from Ab to C. Beethoven does this by pretending the C is just Cm and playing the usual nexus of neighboring chords. The melodic line, back in the main subject motif, starts at a high Eh note but falls down the C chord to lowest C on Beethoven’s pianoforte. The lowest range of the pianoforte back then was F1.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Eb (Op. 7)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As interesting as it is to analyze Beethoven’s sonatas this may be my last analysis. Even if I did analyze each sonata for my benefit as a composer I would still need to analyze symphonies, string quartets, and works from other composers. I would never get to write anything of my own ever again! The best path to take now is to work on my ear training, sight reading, and piano playing. Then I can easily analyze any music I listen to.

The Op. 7 Eb sonata is the young Beethoven’s most massive piano piece; only the Hammerklavier sonata will surpass it in size. Beethoven seems to have truly struggled to take his music to the next level by putting more stuff into the sonata; longer subjects, denser harmonies, more detours to prolong the music before resolving it. The sonata is truly a great work and while the score is cumbersome to look at the music itself is smooth, leniently winding down its way like a river into the sea.

Of his first sonatas, like mini-symphonies, this one is the most like a symphony of them all in scope, grandeur, and orchestral-like score for the piano. His later sonatas feel less like symphonies not because they are lesser works but because they don’t have the symphony’s four-movement structure or formal and harmonic progression you hear in symphonies. On the contrary, the later piano sonatas are greater works as Beethoven strives more for depth and less to impress as time goes on, likewise making the sonatas more connected as he outgrows the stilted formula of a four-movement sonata.

Form of Eb (Op. 7)

0:00 – The first movement, in sonata form, is famous for its horn calls and gently rising and falling triplets, but don’t think Beethoven uses 6/8 time only for triplets, he creates all sorts of different rhythms. Beethoven uses a false closing theme to mislead the audience into thinking the movement is over only to float around in many different chords, all this for a striking effect. Beethoven uses diminished chords and the chords they lead to in the transition more densely than he had ever before.

8:23 – The second movement is a complicated sonata-rondo form where the main subject refrains like the chorus part of a pop song yet the other rondo parts behave like sections of sonata form; transitions, subordinate subjects, development sections, and so on. Beethoven keeps putting turning the main subject this way and that as he gives it different embellishments, which he contrasts with a stark and gloomy subordinate subject in Gm.

15:24 – The third movement is a gentle minuet based on the Eb chord and a cadence based on chords as well. Beethoven develops the minuet subject in Ed7, the Neapolitan of Eb, assumes a false reprise, and trails away. The pause he takes before he resumes is a musical joke as if he forgot the script and doesn’t know how to get back. The trio is a small tempest in Ebm where triplets are once more used, this time with vigor and angst. Again, Beethoven avoids convention as he modulates from Ebm to Bbm instead of Bb and begins the development on that same key.

21:24 – The fourth movement is the greatest in emotion and harmonic density. The subject itself uses such blurred harmonies and changes them so often it was a nightmare for me to analyze; he pulls this off by using four voices while using the base to constantly hum away in 16th notes. Many parts of the rondo are like this, with gentle singing melodies underscored by blurred and complicated harmonies, they create a very gentle and surreal feeling. Then Beethoven jolts you with a terrible beast to contrast the beauty, a creature made of strong chords and clear minor harmonies. But Beethoven tames his beast, as he often does, and rewards beauty with the laurel; in the coda the terrible beast transforms into a sweet melody to bid you goodbye, the most beautiful passage Beethoven ever wrote up to this time

Beethoven’s Style

grumpy-beethoven_o_1761517

At this moment I have a strong grasp of Beethoven’s personal style with harmonies and overall music structure, at least the style of early Beethoven. He tries very hard to avoid the cliché I-IV-V harmonies in classical music to the point where it almost feels forced at times. He is fond of taking you to remote keys using otherwise ordinary intervals and builds many a harmonic structure on the 3rd interval. The whole idea is to make the music dense and weighty while also expanding the overall structure of the peace by delaying IV-V-I cadences in creative ways.

Examples:
– The 5th interval normally takes you to V, the 4th to IV, but Beethoven may take you to v and iv instead, the minor versions of those keys. C to Gm is one example.

– The 3rd interval normally takes you to iii or vi, which usually comes before a IV or V and then I. Beethoven takes you to a major or a minor version of those keys that is very remote. He will go from Eb to G, or C to Ab. He may even do something crazier like take you from B to Abm.

– The whole step (M2nd interval) usually takes you to ii, which resolves into IV or V and then I. Beethoven instead takes you to II or VIIb such as C to D or C to Bb.

– The half step (m2nd interval) is often used to go to the Neopolitan (IIb) before going to IV or V then I. Beethoven does that but he also likes going down a half step to a remote harmony, such as Eb to D.

– Beethoven is fond of using diminished chords and the leading tone (especially a chromatic base) to lead to a chord in an interesting way, even if that chord is common in a certain key, like C to F#d to G. He will sometimes pull a twist where the diminished chord leads to the dominant of its intended target, like C to F#d to D. During these times he may leap by a tritone, the Devil’s interval.

– Beethoven sometimes likes to mutate a chord into many different forms; such as D to Da or D7a or Dd to Dm. In this sonata he sometimes goes from Dm to Eb instead of Dd to Eb. Sometimes he will simply he happy to turn a major to a minor chord and back again, something other composers like Schubert did well. Sometimes Beethoven will even play a minor version and major version of the harmony at the same time.

– Beethoven will blend two chords together or mismatch the melody and base. This often creates a chord, like one in Eb, which can be read as Ebs4, Eb9, or Eb11. (He is also fond of minor 7 chords.) Beethoven will sometimes delay a melody, usually to keep it in the dominant of a chord, while the base will play the intended chord itself on schedule. Baroque composers often used this technique but at the end of pieces, not in the middle.

– Another trick is to play an ordinary melody yet make the harmonies going with it to be anything but.

When it comes to creating music subjects, Beethoven builds them from small cells based on intervals; in fact he builds the entire piece from these cells. Some composers are painters as Debussy, others are poets as Chopin, others are miniaturists as Scarlatti. Beethoven is an architect and sculptor, and so he builds his music brick by brick, chiseling out the raw stone of his improvised ideas until they are concise, defined, and strong. Beethoven places intervals, counterpoint, and voice leading over typical harmonies more and more as he grows as an artist so by the time he composes the Great Fugue he writes “pure interval music” as Stravinsky described it.

As for melody, Beethoven is usually careful to balance close intervals such as the step with striking leaps up or down the keyboard. He will often create the most lyrical music out of simply going up or down a scale or chord. As for large intervals, he tends to save them to help craft a distinct form to the melody, highlight a key point in the melody, or simply to strike a strong emotion.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 3

Duel 3 – Emergence

People expect sudden breakthroughs, revolutions, and emergences of consciousness to be loud, violent, and obvious to see, but in truth they are born so quietly into this world at moments so mundane you would miss it if you blinked. The violence, fanfare, and flame are merely echoes after the fact the way your thoughts are born of your passions but only dimply echo them. Xiaoyi pondered these thoughts, amusing herself with philosophy, in the bathtub where Gernand her master would soon join her. While the old man readied himself to pluck his favorite peony flower, to crush his favorite butterfly, she turned her thoughts to many years ago when master and student met.

Xiaoyi was twelve and a half years old when she ran away from home, stranding herself on the great mid-West American desert, the highway her lifeline, sometimes hitching a ride on people ready to lend a helping hand to an urchin. Her pale skin was burned red into a blush as it was in Egypt, she remembered. And there she saw Gernand for the first time, in action; the large fat man dragged two boys with his monstrous strength from an old car out into the highway, gripping their heads with large vices for hands. The young men pleaded for their lives, tried appealing to the man’s heart as if he once loved them, but Gernand was cold as ever. They outlived their usefulness in pleasuring him or being worthy students to his cause, so he crushed their skulls as the giant he was. Xiaoyi saw Gernand kill with his monstrous strength, screamed, ran as far away as she could.

She met that fearsome man again on the highway again later that same early June day, during sunset. The girl froze in terror but did not run away this time as he stood in front of her path, sitting still as a little bird in front of a cobra, hoping he would leave her be. He never did; instead he went out to talk to her, and the whole dialogue went as such:

GERNAND: “I know you saw me dispatch my last two students for they were too weak to fulfill the tasks I require them. I am as a farmer and I prefer large, strong trees with deep roots that yield the sweetest fruit, but enough of my obscure metaphors. I, like you, am a drifter of sorts, searching for something but a little lost. I have traveled the world for centuries, believe it or not, going on many libertine adventures to expand my tastes and learn all about mankind and the world. Yet I need a companion, someone to transmit by knowledge to so it may remain immortal should I perish, yet no apprentice is strong enough to keep faithful to my evil principles, and they waver. I tire of them anyway and dispatch them as I see fit.”

XIAOYI: “…”

GERNAND: “I must have frightened you, no doubt; a pity. I see from your shirt you come from Los Angeles, yet why would you leave? It is a fine city with warm sunny days, Hollywood nearby, easy drugs and porn as they are the true trades of the land, anything a spoiled child could want. You want to run away as fast as you can, which I easily understand, but mark my words only I have a gaze penetrating enough to know what you truly want and how you may get it. You want freedom, hence you ran away, but I wonder how that desire pressed itself upon your heart, my little creature.”

XIAOYI: “M-Mama was not well in the head. Shortly after she became pregnant with me she had vivid dreams of a great black demon, the Devil she thought. S-She kept having them after I was born, thought the Devil sired me, not dad, tried to drown me when I was a baby, so dad locked her up. Mama just died in hospital and dad killed himself.”

GERNAND: “I am very sorry to hear that.”

XIAOYI: “Please, Sir, let me go. I am frightened and I don’t understand your riddles. I will never tell anyone what I saw you do to your… b-back there.”

GERNAND: “That concerns me not in the slightest. You want freedom after such a woeful childhood, do you, but do you know what freedom is?”

XIAOYI: “I never want to be in such a bad home anymore, full of pain. I learned from school it means having your rights protected and doing what you want as long as you don’t infringe on their rights and –“

GERNAND: “Wrong! Fools and dupes everywhere prattle freedom but have no idea what it really means, what sacrifices you must make to be a free man! Look around, desert wildflower; you see this wide dessert and setting sun, home to lizards, snakes, and scorpions with no pity for you. Nature is the cruel mistress who rules over all, She alone grinds the cosmic mill, the creatures crushed underneath it doomed to live an endless cycle of raping and killing, these being the true and only principles of living beings.”

XIAOYI: “But what about God?”

GERNAND: “Don’t be an idiot. I know you are too smart to be believe in fairy tales, let alone big for your age, so let me outline the grade school truths for you. God, like all orthodox religions, is a lie created by earthly powers as propaganda to control the minds and hearts of its people, working in tandem with the State to do so. Excuses in believing in gods or afterlives beyond this world are specious at best; you have no way of perceiving either except through mental illness and they are redundant to Nature in the end, who is the only God there is. Of all gods, you can only touch this cruel mistress and thus only Her Divine Laws exist; Power and Pleasure at all costs!”

XIAOYI: “But what of other people and the animals? I wish I stayed home, maybe to become a vet one day to take care of animals?”

GERNAND: “It is only natural that one who loses God flees to his vestiges, humaneness. – How interesting out little chat is! We have moved past two and half centuries of thought already! – We are born in this world utterly alone and in misery; our flesh separates our minds so far apart true understanding of what it is like to be another person cannot be done, and your very life proves that evil rules the world. Every moral in this world, I repeat, every moral is a human invention, created by a ruling class to dominate their subjects, bolstered by their deluded pride, and upheld by centuries of convention, and every moral is man is a dupe taken by one of the three. Quickly looking at cultures around the world you will see that not one virtue or vice exists in the entire globe that is upheld by all peoples. It is natural for living creatures to will for power, to take what they can, to pursue what pleases them. Only then can they have a few trifling pleasures before Nature grinds them to dust under Her millstone.”

XIAOYI: “So freedom to you is only license. Sir, please let me leave. Your speeches are so tedious.”

GERNAND: “Girl, you know nothing of freedom.”

XIAOYI: “I don’t know how to feel. I want to leave you this instant but listening to you somehow makes me feel strong.”

GERNAND: “You want to become powerful, to compensate for a life of powerlessness and frustration, oh yes! I foresee your natural talents emerging already; you will have power greater than the earth’s, a cunning surpassing the worst tyrants, and an evil so great you will ruin man and his children, forever will you be known as his greatest Enemy. I will help you gain this power; become uncivilized, let no restriction bind you, answer to no man but me and you will be the cruel embodiment of Nature herself.”

XIAOYI: “What inspired your prophecy?”

GERNAND: “The Supreme Being that is Nature. I am no prophet but merely a philosopher able to predict the far future by observing natural laws. You may say the two are similar in essence. I say no, and here’s why!”

And Gernand expounded on his philosophy for another hour. Xiaoyi knew a classmate back in Los Angeles who just discovered Atlas Shrugged, and he would read the book aloud whenever not in glass. It’s author was the dullest, most conceited human to have ever lived, hence her prose, and Gernand was almost as bad as she was. Yet despite the decrepit man’s failings the young Xiaoyi was strangely compelled by his doctrines, drawn toward their owner in fascination and revulsion at the same time. She knew there were indeed a few kernels of truth in his creed, however dimply she could perceive them, and she resolved she would learn everything she could, and then, when the time was right, break away and find her freedom.
“I will show you everything.” Gernand beckoned her. “You will learn all the secrets of Nature.”

And that was how Xiaoyi submitted herself to the cruel Gernand, going down and under to find her knowledge, who in turn wasted no time giving his eager pupil her first lesson. He forcefully tore the sunflower from its roots, ripping it apart, and Xiaoyi knew someone by the flesh for the first time.

——————————————————

Maya pulled an all-nighter rebuilding her deck from the ground up. She completely discarded her old deck, the one that swarmed the field with low ATK high Level Dinosaurs to Xyz Summon all sorts of powerful monsters. It was great, but not enough for the finals, especially not now, and she even suspected that Pegasus created Link Monsters just to make her deck useless. She wondered if every other finalist had the same suspicions.

She built a new deck but it too was a failure. She threw her cards at the wall of her lodging. It was frustrating! She knew what she saw, what she wanted, and was so close to grasping it yet unable to! Her thoughts turned to Sophia; she lusted after every other person, treating love with ridicule as she was too disgusting and evil a person to deserve it, but with Sophia things were different. She felt she could trust her heart for once, the only time in her life, she listened to it. What did she feel to that sweet sunflower? It must be infatuation; she never knew what love was like before and she wasn’t ready to make any wild guesses in that area.

Sometime when her team was in Luxor, Sophia mentioned being in love with a boy, to which Maya scoffed off at first. But Yukio coaxed Sophia on to get to understand her feelings, something Maya would never let him to do her, and Sophia did answer what she thought love was like. She had said, “Love is not a feeling but life itself. It is a doing, not a being. Only it lights the stars.” Maya pretended not to listen to her younger and better peer, but she did.

Maya could indeed relate that description of love; it was passion, specifically the desire to give, to give the creative life force, and being enlarged as that life force erupts out in the greatest show of power and strength. Maya loved when she wrote or played music, she loved when she worked on a story or some other writing while Jolene drew, she loved when she created anything for Sophia. It was limitless, a power that could break past every cruelty and limit of the earth, every weakness of being human, and reach even beyond the stars, greater than the universe itself. She picked up one card, Beatrice Lady of the Eternal, the card where she always thought of Sophia. Now she got ideas! And she started working. This new deck would have deeper strategies, every facet of the deck linking together into a far greater whole, a deck that could touch almost anything. A Beatrice Almighty deck.

Maya looked at you, the audience, directly. “Let this new way of dueling work. Let me evolve Yugioh and go to a higher game.”

——————————————————

Gernand slid himself into the bathtub with great effort, his total mass nearly crushed Xiaoyi inside it, his body riddled by so many folds his shriveled small penis could never be seen. But there was no want of trying, the old man fancied himself a young and vigorous Don Juan and took his time toiling with Xiaoyi. The old man bit and carved into Xiaoyi’s flesh until blood came out, taking special delight in biting her tits and ass until blood came out, which caused him to eject a few drops of sperm with Xiaoyi’s assistance, then collected the blood into a basin. He darkly muttered an Egyptian chant from millennia ago, causing the blood to whirl upward on its own, assuming a snake-like shape then slithering into Gernand’s mouth. The effects came right after; his pure white hair revived some blond in it, his small watery blue eyes lost some cataract, and his flesh sagged slightly less.

Gernand told Xiaoyi a long time ago that his ritual prolonged his life for a while, provided he cruelly withdrew and drank the blood of one he lusted after while in the whitest heat. The spell itself. Gernand told her, came from the Book Isis, the only spell known after the one that used ninety-nine sacrifices to create the Millennium Items. Gernand, now done with his chores, could relax in his bath with his slave.

Now was the time. Xiaoyi quietly excused herself so Gernand would not notice, returned with a meteorite blade, and drove it straight through Gernand’s chest, bowls, and groin thirteen times each. The old dog woke in a fright, startled but not dead, his fat saved him. He was many times Xiaoyi’s size, able to crush her bones with no effort, but he fled in terror. He tripped out of the bathtub, over the wet floor, out of their private room deep in the Luxor country, his jowls, stomach, and ass cheeks desperately flabbing after him. Xiaoyi calmy walked after him, sure to take her time in witnessing the coward bleed to death with fleeing for his life.

The student soon cornered the master in a deserted alleyway with little effort. The frightened Gernand called forth his Ka to defend himself in a last resort for his safety, an ancient and great but flightless eagle, only for Xiaoyi to smash to bits with her dragon Ka, the damage rupturing Gernand’s internal organs. He lay dying, he glanced up at his student one last time, now towering over him, and cackled while chocking in his own blood. He created the person to embody Nature in all Her caprice, viciousness, and destructive power, but he did not have time to say his thoughts or even appreciate him.

Xiaoyi drove the dagger into him in a white hot fury hundreds of times, her face pale with rage, her lips peeled so far back every ferocious tooth in her wide mouth could be seen, shredding Gernand’s body so much she skinned him and bathed herself wet in his blood.

It was over as quickly as it began, an event surreal even to a seasoned killer as Xiaoyi. She dropped the meteorite dagger in fatigue, not caring about it anymore. She went back to the hotel room, slinking in the bathtub alone, the water inside mixed with her and her former master’s blood. Gernand was dead and she needed to make excuses for his superiors. But now was not the time.

Well, Xiaoyi thought, this is a pretty nice blood bath. Get it? She helped herself with some red wine and turned on the bathroom television to the Yugioh channel. It was time to see which basement-dwelling loser played a children’s card game better than anyone else. She crossed her fingers, hoping Maya would win, as she was the key to all her planning up to this point. Maya had retrieved the Book of Isis. That was certain. Now she needed to keep winning, keep that book in store until the right moment came. Xiaoyi had no idea gambling could be so fun – no wonder it was so addicting! – and though Maya was the dark horse at the races she hoped the dark horse would win for a change.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 2

Duel 2 – Infinite Mirrors

Each finalist saw a white jet with blue stripes cut across to clear blue sky, seemingly coming out of the sun, as if from Heaven itself, and gracefully land on the runway. The jet was so pale and gleaned so brightly under the sun that no finalist could look at it directly before adjusting their eyes. Only one man stepped out of that bird of paradise, Isono; a tall severe man with short, neatly trimmed graying hair and whiskers who somehow managed to wear a suit under such blazing heat, everyone knew him to be Kaiba’s right-hand man. Things were getting serious.

Isono seemed to have access to the airports controls for the finalists heard his grave voice, “Attention please. The Battle City Tournament No. 13 finals have begun. Gate K-13 will currently be boarding with the finalists each team selected. Mathias Blackheart, finalist No. 1, begin boarding! Maximus Clay, finals tournament commentator, also begin boarding!”

Mathias and his comrades grimly heard those words, knowing that the test of the Headmaster’s weighty prophecy was soon to be tested, but nonetheless Mathias stood as tall as he could, as if he wanted his shadow to obscure Maximus and Ivy with his towering shadow, ready to face the challenges ahead. However, Maximus and Ivy rose from their seats to face Mathias from the front, Maximus offered his hand to his brother in arms, “Godspeed. May our choice be wisely made and you be up to the momentous task.” To which Mathias hugged his friends, hiding his umbrage towards his brother, and the two men walked out into the concrete plane beyond leaving Ivy behind.

“Hannibal Davidson, finalist No. 2, begin boarding!”

The famous archeologist and bearer of bad news accepted his destiny with courage, duty-bound to the Stoic tradition he willingly embraced many years ago. He gave his wife, Indira, the Minerva and Venus of his life, a final call on his phone, telling her loved her, worshipped her, bidding her farewell as a Spartan off to war. This grim and self-important man left the common world to the fight ahead, determined to stop the rogue Matthew and Maya, whoever be the Red Dragon, at all costs.

“Svanhildur ‘Stella Nova’ Minvervadottir, finalist No. 3, begin boarding!”

Stella embraced her friends, took a last selfie with them all, and left for the finals, a little nervous but happy to duel such challenging foes, and the fame and outreach! If every girl in the world saw her become world champion, the bright light of inspiration she would infuse in their souls would make the world a better place.

“Maria Wight, finalist No. 4, begin boarding!”

Maria, who carefully eyed each finalist with scrutiny, cast her sharp scrutiny at the dismal and gross fiend Maya for a second, which Maya returned with her own piercing tigerish glance, before heading on out. She wished Kaiba to see her ascend to becoming champion every step of the way, so she may prove to be worthy of him and win his love.

“Marina ‘Maya Brook’ Bozuslowsky, finalist No. 5, begin boarding!”

Maya only felt her broken ribs at that point, each breath she took splintered her chest, but she would never tell Yukio and Sophia that because they should surely never let her go off to fight in that condition. Believe it or not, Maya always felt like this since childhood, a constant dull pain or weight on her shoulders but one inside the mind, but whenever saddled too much she would stoke the flame inside her extra bright to burn it away for a while.

Now was such a moment, with no room for fear of failure or death but only glory for the spirit, and she would shine bright and strong. She gave Yukio and Sophia every card she owned except for a black binder of the most essential ones she would need. Before Yukio could object, saying he would never take such a gift, Maya shut him up by grabbing him and kissing him ardently, lewdly, then gently hugged Sophia with a sweetness and candor mirroring the girl’s heart. She bid them farewell and stepped into the concrete plain full of glaring sunlight beyond.

She say Mathias and Maximus standing close together, their shoulders turned away, Hannibal trying to marvel what little nature was around him, Stella waving at her, Maria gazing at her with contempt. She joined with Stella to discuss the finals, wondering where Kaiba and Pegasus would take them; if Egypt was not exotic and epic enough than what was? Something from the future, beyond the dusky history of Egypt perhaps?

“Tamas Vargas, finalist No. 6, begin boarding!”

They saw a man with a crew cut on top of a head with a nondescript face, wearing a black leather jacket despite the head and worn out jeans, his eyes shielded by sunglasses, and couldn’t help poking fun at him. He looked like every other local tournament jerk out there, the kind of guy who would beat eleven-year-old kids with the current meta deck then strut around like he was the toughest shit since Kaiba came out of his ludicrous Blue-Eyes White Dragon Jet with a jetpack. But this Mr. Vargas did make it to the finals, somehow, but the two women could not overcome their prejudice and kept taking potshots at him.

“Weevil Underwood, finalist No. 7, begin boarding!”

No one could suppress their laughter; even the stiff Isono twitched his manicured thin mustache and smirked a little, but arrive Weevil did, short, squat, and bug-eyed, barking up at everyone like a small dog, demanding respect. Stella, noticing something strange with her sharp eyes, gave Maya notice of it; as the workers crammed a few bags in the jet, did one seem to move like someone was inside it?

“Matthew Carter, finalist No. 8, begin boarding!”

Silence. Maya felt very cold, waiting to see the man who wanted her dead was far worse than being with him in person. Everyone else waited as if frozen. Isono checked his watch after fifteen minutes. He repeated, “Matthew Carter, finalist No. 8, begin boarding!” Nothing. He decided it was time. “We shall all board.” In everyone went. Maya was last.

She was just about to get in when she saw HIM stalk towards her, Matthew himself, a short but sturdy light brown-skinned man, his brown eyes piercing, smoldering with volcanic hate underneath the earthen surface. Maya and the man she destroyed looked at each other for a brief moment, not saying a word, matching his steel resolve for her own. She didn’t care how he felt, he nearly killed her, Sophia, Yukio, and actually killed many others. Maya began to wonder, once again, how a tournament where so many people died and a government shattered in could high rating and scores of cheering fans, but she dropped it. It was all too late.

All the finalists huddled inside the jet, all seats facing each other, making any privacy impossible and forcing all duelists to face each other for hours on end. Isono retreated behind the crew as a flight attendant of sorts and the jet took off. Maya knew the jet was flying west of Egypt into the Atlantic with Earth’s orbit as the noon sun stayed behind them rather than setting in the evening.

Regardless, Matthew stared at her throughout the entire journey with a fixed intense gaze Maya did not believe was possible. To say she felt deeply uncomfortable was an understatement, but she could not reveal any weakness to such a dangerous man, a monster she created by daring to fight for her right to live and duel the way she wanted all those years ago. The other finalists were nearly as daunting a challenge; there was no weak link among them, even Weevil could defeat her if she was not careful. Mathias kept his eyes closed the entire time as if meditating. Hannibal kept his head down to read a book. Stella studied her rivals closely with a caution that mirrored Maya’s. Maria stared at a small picture of Kaiba she kept with her with a restless look on her face. Tamas slept the whole time with his leg awkwardly stuck on Maya’s lap. Weevil fidgeted the entire time, sometimes happy, sometimes anxious. Thus did six numbingly intense hours pass in this way until they landed on the unknown island.

Isono opened the door, the first to leave, directing the finalists to their final destination. The island was as Shangri-La except it did not float; most of the ground was fine white sand or short grass and trees, heated bright by the sun but cut by start black shadows, the weather warm and mild but with a sometimes chilly wind, nothing but the wide blue ocean and the wide blue sky surrounded it for miles around. The finalists walked to the mainland, and gasped at the sight of the massive pyramid at the center, almost as large as Khufu’s at Giza, with two other giants, Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford, waiting for them at the pyramid’s base.

The austere yet august Kaiba greeted them in his frosty manner, “Congratulations at making it to the finals. As host of this tournament I applaud your achievement but as you are all too aware the real struggle has just begun. Every duel you fought through before is nothing but child’s play compared to what you will face tomorrow. At eight o’clock sharp everyone will arrive to the base of the pyramid and climb to the top where every duel will be held. Each duel will last for exactly twenty minutes at most, with each duelist given thirty seconds at most to make any move, and if the duel doesn’t end on time the duelist with more Life Points will be declared the winner.”

“Hey! Wait up, guys! Aah!” Everyone turned to see Rex gasp for air as he ran after them. Weevil was as shocked as everyone else to see his friend, asking how he god here, with Rex explaining, “I snuck in the luggage, you know, like we did in the Doma Arc, the one nobody liked.” The two bros laughed together at their silly adventure thirteen yeats ago, with Kaiba seething in annoyance and everyone else rolling their eyes.

Pegasus, smarmy as ever, gestured to the finalists, “This way to your lodgings, fellow duelists. Even the greatest men need to sleep.” He said, twirling his cane around in a gentlemanly way as he guided them to what looked like a large building. He showed them inside, directing them to the dining hall n the center surrounded by mirrors and the surrounding rooms, each designed to match the character of each finalist, then notified them of dinner being served within a few hours, so it is good to be prepared.

Everyone did so. Maya crashed unto the bed of Room V, nearly shouting in pain from her broken ribs, clutching her chest and writhing in bed. She could never relax, could she? Joking aside, she unpacked her bags, hiding all her cards in her binder and the Book of Isis, stashing both away in a trap door underneath a drawer – almost as if Pegasus knew she would hide the Book the first thing she did – The room itself was simple with great color contrasts, a sun of deep red, bronze, and burning gold painted above where the ceiling light hung at the room’s corner and dark greens, blues, and blacks below on the floor level. A wide desk was placed below the ceiling light and golden sun so she could work on any dramatic art form she wanted while right next to a single large window to the sea and sky outside. Truly, it was an inner sanctum; Pegasus only needed his mortal eye to see into her heart and she fully understood that Pegasus was a profound man beneath his foppish demeanor. How did Pegasus design everyone else’s room?

Maya took a long warm shower, shaved her body hair, tamed her mane of black hair with conditioner, afterwards donning black sneakers, black jeans, and a black sleeveless shirt. Everyone sad down to eat a simple yet filling dinner of soup and meets, each finalist had many chances to look into all the mirrors surrounding them, to see themselves infinitely reflected and refracted among the reflections of the other finalists. It was all too surreal, easily dislodging any comfortable sense of self. Maya knew Pegasus was an artist as she was, though a painter to her the musician, and she pondered exactly what message did Pegasus want to tell them or the world for that matter.

After dinner, the host Pegasus appeared before his guests, with the press of a button he caused a small hologram projector to appear at the center of the table, the lights dimming. He threw his finalists the final curve ball the tournament had to offer, “Ladies and gentlemen, you have all evolved prodigiously as duelists in my marvelous tournament, now you must evolve further, for in the finals I will have you premier a new game mechanic into Yugioh, none other than Link Summoning!”

“What?”

The projector revealed all with Pegasus making the right comments to their questions. A duelist could no longer Summon monsters from the Extra Deck: Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, or Pendulum for that matter, with impunity like they did throughout the entire tournament. They could only Summon one monster from the Extra Deck in a new Monster Card Zone for each player made for that purpose. But they could Summon more monsters by using Link Monsters, new Extra Deck monsters, that each had one to eight Link Markers on the card pointing to another Monster Card Zone based on the card’s Link Number, which now became “Linked Zones”, allowing the player to summon more Extra Deck Monsters. Imagine the Extra Deck Zone as one electric socket; most an Extra Deck monster was one plug but Link Monsters were plugs with extension sockets, allowing you more plugs.

But how did a duelist Summon Link Monsters? A Link Monster needed the number of monsters equal to its Link Number, thankfully no Level requirements needed. Examples: Decoe Talker; a Link 3 Monster needing “2+ Effect monsters”, needed 3 monsters to be sent to the Graveyard, at least 2 of them would have to be Effect monsters. Encode Talker; a Link 3 Monster needing “2+ Cyberse monsters” needed 3 monsters to be sent to the Graveyard, at least 2 of them would have to be Cyberse monsters. Link Monsters could be used as Material for the Summoning of other Link Monsters, but only as 1 Material or the number of Materials equaling it’s Link Number. Example: Firewall Dragon, a Link 4 monster needing “2+ monsters”, could be made using Decode Talker (3 Materials) and 1 other monster (1 Material) but not by using Decode Talker and 2 other monsters. Also: Link Monsters had no DEF, so cards like Book of Moon, Burden of the Mighty, and Return to the Frontline had no effect on them since they could never go into Defense Position.

All the finalists were dumbfounded at first but soon reacted violently to this astonishing twist in different ways. Tamas, a typical reactionary gamer, stormed out the dining room, shouting how Yugioh was dead and the game was broken now and he would never play Yugioh again. Maria held a frozen look of mild distaste but sighed and resolved to learn the new rules before retiring to her room. Mathias shrugged, then proclaimed to Pegasus, “You got yourself a game, old man.” Pegasus was pleasantly surprised, it was the reaction he liked but was too smart to expect it from anyone.

Maya cocked her head and laughed out loud, rueful and glad at the same time. “So Konami, I mean Pegasus, finally figured out Dracoslayer Pendulums were cancer killing the game. You have no idea how many Ghouls used that against us! But I must ask: how long will it take for these novel Link Monsters to become old and replaced by something even more outlandish? Three years? Two this time?” She didn’t even mention how Pegasus thought Internet references were still novel: Decode Talker, Firewall Dragon? What was this, the late nineties? Did Pegasus still use AOL dial up or something? Did Space Jam just come out?

Maya could see Pegasus deflate a little and it was a good sign, for it was always important to curb the pride of nobles: aristocrat, bourgeois, or otherwise. This got Pegasus to hand over binders to the remaining finalists, holding none other than a set of staple Link Monsters of all kinds for all different archetypes, yet to be released to the public and slowly over many years. “And I still have yet to tell you about the New Duel Disks you will use for the finals.” Pegasus cheerfully chipped in.

The finalists groaned, which Pegasus swatted aside, “Oh hush, you babies.” Before he called the hologram projector back into the table and opened a large silver briefcase, revealing what looked like a novel, high-tech gadget but had no board to place any cards and only one slot for the Main Deck. “My dear friend Kaiba-boy wanted to show you his new toys tomorrow but I couldn’t help it but show this wonder of technology to you, I hope you keep it our little secret. From now on, even the cards you will play with will be holographic but that won’t mean you can use any card you want. You have to scan your cards in the Main Deck to build a card database, then use it to build your Deck. I’ll leave it up to you bright souls to figure out how to do all of that.” Pegasus finally bit his guests farewell and bed time, it was long in the night, so the finalists made their way to their rooms.

Except Maya. Pegasus abruptly grabbed her shoulder, and Maya, on edge this whole time for so many different reasons, nearly attacked the man out of shock but stopped herself at the last moment. Pegasus said to her, deathly serious, “Thank you for looking after and protecting Sophia, my adopted daughter and prodigy, your responsibility was not at all expected but you fulfilled it. Please protect her life and ensure her well-being in the future.”

Maya replied simply, “You have my word.”

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in C (Op. 2)

I still feel sketchy when analyzing the melody or thematic material. Otherwise, my formal and harmonic analysis is fine. I may not analyze any more sonatas or only sonatas I really like since it may take a year to analyze them all and I would really like to compose my own music thank you very much. Improving my own skills is the reason I do such tedious work in the first place. Beethoven’s 3rd sonata is a brilliant finish to a unique triplet of works, each showing very different moods. The Fm sonata was tragic and brooding, the D sonata was lyrical, the C sonata is vivid and dazzling; it’s virtuoso score hints at piano concerto material.

As usual, a complete formal and harmonic analysis of the piano sonata is in the video above, an overview of the sonata’s overall form below.

Form of C (Op. 2)

0:00 The 1st movement, in sonata form, has the most distinct piano concerto feel to it, since the transitioning passages do look very much like a piano accompaniment to an orchestra. The main subject on the other hand is not that energetic by itself but does have enormous potential energy, which Beethoven exploits by setting it off like dynamite. Unlike with the earlier sonatas, Beethoven’s doesn’t focus so much on the main subject; most of the music in this movement sounds like stock set of riffs Beethoven used to improvise, which he did a lot early in his career.

9:30 The 2nd movement is far off in the mediant key of E, a relation we see for the first time. The movement itself is made of two very different characters; the first one is a rather complex lyrical melody Beethoven goes out of his way to leave unresolved, the second character devotes the left hand for a singing baseline with dotted rhythms lifted from the first character while the right hand plays arpeggios similar to those of a Baroque prelude.

16:40 The 3rd movement has cheeky scherzo that uses F# and starts the downbeat at A, which confuses the key of C major. The scherzo consists of a descending subject that changes registers (and hands) as it keeps going down the keyboard. Meanwhile, other voices join it in counterpoint, often based on the playful turn at the very beginning. The minor trio is more conventional; the right hand plays triplet arpeggios while the left hand plays a simple base. The coda is built on the Bdim-C cadence (vii/I) as opposed to the more usual G7-C cadence (V7/I). All this is subtle humor on Beethoven’s part but sadly most of the jokes are lost to us as we don’t understand the language of sonata form like Beethoven and friends did. It’s hard to get parodies and jokes when you don’t speak the language fluently.

19:57 The 4th movement is an extensive rondo as Beethoven returns to the main subject over and over again, changing it in many different ways, while departing from it afterward in a new direction almost each time. What you get is a pretty complicated rondo, so complicated you could even see sonata form elements in it, complete with two expositions, a long development section, two recapitulations, and a coda. Beethoven, as I said before, wanted to give the finale of a piece the most weight, and tried different ideas throughout his career. He often settled this problem in his early days by expanding the rondo by making it more like a sonata.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in A (Op. 2)

This sonata gave me a real headache. Anyway, this is the second of three Beethoven piano sonatas in Op. 2. This work is light, lyrical, and witty, as opposed to the dark and tragic Fm sonata. But don’t be fooled! The A sonata is more complex and difficult as Beethoven plays with mediant (III) and submediant (VI) keys a lot, frequently leaping to them. He also likes to leap to the supertonic (ii) and flattened subtonic (VIIb), which are both a M2nd away.

A complete formal and harmonic analysis of the piano sonata is in the video above, an outline of the overall form below.

Form of A (Op. 2)

00:00 – The first movement plays a lot with downward triads and running up and down the scale, usually with a lot of counterpoint. Beethoven is fond of leaping by the III or VI in the subordinate subject, as well delaying the harmony from changing alongside the melody, which makes the keys more ambiguous. Beethoven leaps down the VI especially in the development and the subordinate subject in the recapitulation.

11:11 – The second movement suggests definite instruments; muted trombones and string bases in the main subject. Beethoven bases the whole melody of the main subject on peaking it at B4 and F#5, then taking it down. This is the basic structure to many classical melodies but Beethoven takes it to an extreme. The developments in Bm and D are in typical keys. The first development is based on the descending scale, a contrast to the main theme.

17:32 – The scherzo of the third movement is based on a rising arpeggio while the trio is based on a descending scale, like so much other material in this sonata in all the Op. 2 sonatas. Beethoven takes the development of the scherzo all the way to G#m (vii), an extreme place to go relative to A. The development of the trio is in C, a far less distant key relative to A.

22:18 – The last movement is very long and substantial for a rondo, showing that Beethoven is unhappy with the overall structure of sonatas. The minuet and rondo are usually short and light in content, which is lopsided considering how large and important the sonata form in the first movement is. The early Beethoven’s attempts to solve this problem involve making the last movement either sonata form or lengthy rondos, such as this movement. Save the best for last as the saying goes.

The main subject is an operatic dip from E6 all the way down to G4 or F#4, and is the most striking subject of the entire sonata. This movement may be the most gentle and lyrical of the entire sonata but it is the most complex and difficult as Beethoven leaps to the III and VI keys more than in any other movement. The “development” sections explore the dotted motif of the main subject while the “transition” turns the 16th note ascension of the main subject in all sorts of directions; descending down the scale, arpeggios, turns etc.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Fm (Op. 2)

Beethoven’s first published piano sonata is far longer and more complex than his Kurfursten sonatas, and we see the mature Beethoven for the first time. His basic musical tastes, harmonies, and means of developing material stay firmly in place despite him transforming through three different styles. We also see Haydn’s influence in using a few notes (like the Mannheim rocket) as a base to build the entire movement. Beethoven composed this sonata when he was only 25.

A complete formal and harmonic analysis of the piano sonata is in the video above, a general outline of the form is below.

Form of Fm (Op. 2)

00:00 – The 1st movement uses the Mannheim rocket for its main subject and its inversion for the first subordinate subject. He uses the melody to create a hard dissonance (m2nd) against the harmony of the base. He blurs harmonies a lot with his “triplets” in the second subordinate subject.

5:38 – The 2nd movement is made from recycled material from an unpublished piano trio, but now the material is more complex and is developed more. It features complex melodies with a strong emphasis on rising and falling and a sighing motif. Beethoven is also fond of mixing a chord in the base with a note in the treble that implies the chords’ subdominant. Like in the 1st movement, he cadences with an 11 chord.

10:28 – The 3rd movement has has a murky feeling. The minuet is in Fm, yes, but it doesn’t sound like such a clear, tragic minor piece, because Beethoven uses Bbm (ii) a lot along with Fm. His orchestration as it were is frequently is in 4 parts, suggesting a string quartet. The trio is more straightforward, using a chromatic C-Bh-Bb descent in its latter parts.

13:13 – The 4th movement is volcanic, with less restraint than the other movements, as if Beethoven saving the pent up energy for the last movement. It’s main subject makes great use of 1st-7th-1st notes, a simple cadence, with V9 and viihalfdim chords. The transition is very dense, with many different harmonies squeezed into one measure, like Beethoven is trying his hardest not to play I-V. The subordinate subject is in a minor key (Cm, Fm) but frequently stays in the mediant (III) (Eb, Ab). The long downward scales give a dramatic, tragic feeling to the music, a falling down to ruin.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 1

Duel 1 – Gathering the Metals

Matthew lunged at Xiaoyi, who held his dear Alexis hostage, only to have the awful woman bat him away by smacking him in the face, as if he was but a large beetle; the astonishing force from the small woman landed him facedown in the sand, scorching his face. Matthew Howard Carter, one of the wealthiest men in New York City, virtual center of the world, heir to his grandfather’s fortune as former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, former American National Champion, lost everything, as small and lost as an insect in the barren land far from home. His brown hair and tanned skin did little to protect him from the harsh sun and sand.

Xiaoyi, small and pale with a large head, features as fine as those of a porcelain doll, gave little regard to the red sunburn mounting on her cheeks like a blush, even seeming to enjoy the fiery sun above her. Matthew could not look at her without shielding his face with his hands for the sun made her long black hair burn with a bright light. Xiaoyi gripped Alexis, Matthew’s lover of many years by the hair, as black as hers, almost to the point of ripping it off her pale head, but Xiaoyi was deaf to her captive’s tears, giving Matthew a steady gaze with her dark brown eyes.

Her temperament phlegmatic, she spoke to him as if she read his thoughts, “No, Gregory, you couldn’t escape your plight even if you transformed into a bug and burrowed in the sand. Your failure to defeat the Saints, to even defeat your high school friend, doesn’t sit well with me. Frankly, I think you’re problem lies with motivation. While I’m no life coach I would like you to be more proactive in your career. You’re the boss of the Ghouls, aren’t you? I know Seeker, Umbra, Lumis, and Keith are all dead – God bless their souls their job was a huge commitment – but they would feel entitled to a promotion over you. They worked at their job for over a decade but the kid with the trust fund gets to be boss instead. I’d say it’s a little unfair too.”

Matthew threw a fistful of sand at Xiaoyi in a fit of rage, only for the woman to laugh at him, as aloof and cruel as the sun itself. But he, above it all, knew who to truly hate. Maya ruined his life. If the insolent fiend only accepted her loss at New York’s Duel Academy with dignity, she would never have formed an antimeta team with her degenerate high school friends, then she would never have dethroned him in the Nationals, then he would never have fallen into a pit of morose self-pity, then Xiaoyi and Gernand would never have come to his doorstop, then he wouldn’t fight Maya and her comrades again, then he would never be groveling in the sand as a scarab beetle. His downward spiral was an arrow, pointing straight to Maya. Everything stemmed from her.

Xiaoyi again seemed to have read his mind for she asked quizzically, “What if you let her win and enter the Academy?” then enjoyed herself watching Matthew violently reject even considering the idea of a different future. “Cheer up, kid. The scarab beetle is a symbol of eternal life but whether you become Gregory or are reborn again as a god is you’re choice. Pretentious Kafka references aside, not like you ever cared, remember that I gave you all your dark powers.” Matthew opened his shirt, revealing the palm-shaped black mark reminding him of his dark pact with her, the pact that gave him the power to use Horus the Black Flame Dragon as his Ka, his monster spirit as direct manifestation of his creative life force. Xiaoyi concluded, “You are linked to me by a red thread. Your thoughts are my thoughts and if I die so do you, so think twice before attacking me.”

She threw an dagger sheath coated with gold between his knees. “King Tut’s own dagger, forged from the iron of outer space, not like the incest-ridden gimp will need it anymore. Pretty cool, isn’t it?” She violently pointed at Alexis’ chest. “Use it to kill this whore. Severe the very last tie you have to another human being and you will truly be a man with nothing to lose, only then will you have the strength to destroy Maya and reclaim your life.” When Matthew hesitated, Xiaoyi barked so severely it shocked him. “DO IT! Kill her quickly or I will kill her slowly.”

Matthew stood up, picked up the dagger, trembling, his hand wavering, unable to step forward. Xiaoyi rolled her eyes, annoyed she had to further motivate the spoiled brat. She tore out Alexis’ left eye, Matthew heard a clear pop and Alexis shrieking in pain and terror, watched frozen in terror as Xiaoyi popped it into her mouth, chewed it carefully, swallowed it. When Matthew still refused to act, Xiaoyi tore out and gobbled Alexis’ other eye, frozen once more by his lovers’ screams. Xiaoyi pulled the unhappy woman up, licking the blood and tears off her face with enthusiasm. “The hero needs an inciting incident before undergoing his quest!”

Now blinded, Alexis could take it no longer. “Kill me, Matthew!” She implored to him. “Take your revenge on Maya to reclaim your life! I will do anything, even lose my life, to see you happy again!” Matthew slowly paced to her, his blood so frozen he felt cold in the middle of the desert. Alexis could no longer see him but she gripped Matthew’s hand tight with one hand, caressed his tearful face with another, and told him goodbye. Matthew stabbed her in the heart with the dagger of kings, relieved to see her die so quickly, then attacked Xiaoyi in rage only for her to smack the dagger out of his hands and point it at his throat.

“Destroy Maya and everyone else who challenges you in a shadow game, your dark powers will increase enough so you may challenge me. Follow this path if you want to kill me.” Matthew collapsed to the ground in sobs, knowing there was nothing else he could do, but learned to embrace his fate. In his despair he found a small hope, that perhaps he could shed his old skin as the beetle does and emerge into a better person with a better life. That hope was all he had left.

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Meanwhile, off in the distance, hiding behind a ruined temple wall, a man named Hannibal Davis saw the whole terrible ordeal. He checked to see was in the clear, he dashed into his van and drove at a furious pace to Cairo airport, wiping the sweat off the stubble on his round tan face, the grease off his curly dark hair, airing his round overweight body with his shirt, all caused by nervousness less than the heat itself. He stumbled to the airport gate, himself a tournament finalist, telling the news to none other than the Saints themselves.

Mathias, the Saint’s leader, a gentle giant, dropped his slice of Buffalo Chicken Pizza, the gaiety of the Saints evaporated. A resilient, gregarious man, almost nothing could fade Mathias Blackheart, except something like this. His comrades; the small, thin, red-headed Maximus, and the fit, equally fiery-headed Ivy, knew everything Mathias did. Long before the tournament began, the Headmaster of their Irish monastery foretold to them the prophecies of Revelations; he predicted a Red Dragon, sired by Zorc Necrophades the Satan and demiurge of this world, rising from a fiery pit to destroy humankind, a woman clothed in sun giving birth to the Savior who will defeat the Red Dragon after a long war over the fate of the human race.

The Red Dragon is none other than Matthew Carter, Mathias thought to himself, since he wielded Horus the Black Flame Dragon as his Ka. The woman clothed in sun is Maria Wight, fair as the daystar, holding the power of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon within her, and the Savior the son she would one day have with Seto Kaiba. But these answers did not satisfy him. His own Ka was none other than Horus the Black Flame Dragon as well. Was he the Red Dragon? Impossible! A righteous man like him could never be a minion of the Devil! He eyed Maximus with glaring suspicion, his brother in arms wielded Shining Swordswoman, did that entitle him to the role as the Archangel Michael and the privilege of smiting the Devil? Maximus always wanted to surpass him as a duelist but in now way would Mathias give him this right even if he did become the better duelist!

Mathias told his comrades he needed a break, that too much pizza made you shit worse than eating too many chilidogs. He patted Maximus in the shoulder, whispered in his ear, “Don’t get too proud or your hubris will be your downfall.” leaving Maximus bewildered. He was almost out of earshot when Maximus reminded him behind is back, “Same applies to you.”

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Stella Nova joined Maya by the airport window. The two women, of similar height and temperaments, seemed a bit like long lost sororal twins on virtue of looking as different as the sun and the moon. Stella was a woman of handsome features with a prominent nose, both hair and eyes falsely colored pink by dyes and contacts, wearing a tie-dye shirt and jeans that closely hugged her body. “Are you ready for the finals?” She tentatively asked Maya, who said she didn’t know, and Stella replied, “Not so sure either.”

Maya turned to her counterpart to talk about politics, one of their favorite subjects, to get her apprehensions out of her mind. Most people saw politics as rather serious and grown-up but Maya saw how experience trumped popular belief; she found politics to be the most childish and frivolous thing in the world, and far easier to handle than her hidden thoughts. The obvious proof was in watching politicians and celebrities do their work. You may say the errors of leaders lead to war and suffering of all kinds, but the grave cost of buffoons’ mistakes only adds to the farce. But then politics reminded Maya of how she murdered Heishin in cold blood and would rather not think of that either. She was trapped.

Stella noticed one man and several women in black burqa’s pass by them, seeming to view the two duelists with caution and mistrust, a rightful attitude since Pegasus and Kaiba exploited Egypt for its history and current turmoil for publicity while Heishin himself wanted more tourist revenue, and Maya said as much. Stella told Maya her outrage, “It’s horrible how people in America, Britain, and even Germany are talking about banning burqas. People of nonwhite ethnicities have the right to cultural expression and should not be culturally oppressed by laws coming from such problematic normative perspectives.”

Maya turned around, not to see if the one man and several women were still around but to see if any of Stella’s fanbase was present, unlikely as it was. She gave Stella a funny look, when Stella asked what was the problem she obliged, “Stop talking like a columnist from Jezebel. I sometimes wonder if you’re making a PR move when you say such canned phrases. No feminist fan is here to judge you for using the wrong pronouns or judge me for appropriating my mother’s own culture when in high school. I want to know what you really think.”

Stella hugged Maya instead until they were uncomfortably close. “We slept together more than once before you got a boyfriend but no matter how close we got we always felt far apart; I always feel a certain small desperate loneliness that can never be bridged. I sometimes think it has something to do with being a progressive celebrity for so many naïve kids.”

This struck a chord within Maya who had a similar feeling deep inside; she could never let down her guard to reveal what was really inside her because if she became weak someone would hurt her, like father did, sometimes even mother, and like many clever animals built a wall to protect herself. But she wanted to reach out across the infinite void that is between two minds to make contact but she could never do it, she never even dared. Instead she pressured Stella to tell her true opinion about burqas only to have Stella push her away. Another conversation on politics became fruitless, no surprise there at all.

Maya by returned to her dear friends Yukio and Sophia to play dominoes Yukio brought along with them. Maya may have been their best duelist but she was terrible at dominoes, loosing every game. She scratched her head in bewildered amusement, wondering what was going on, “I’m getting a brick hand so bad like I did in Duelists Orochi 2.” Making Yukio and Sophia laughed at her in good cheer, Yukio saying, “You’re overthinking it. It’s just dominoes.”

Maya scanned the faces of her friends. Yukio, tall and stringy, with short spiky black hair, some black stubble, and an idealists’ light in his eyes, glinted with mischief. Sophia, of pale but average body, dark red hair tied in a single compact braid, impressionable dark brown eyes, and introspective look, had the same mischievous shade on her face. “You two must be working together to beat me.” She leapt behind them to see their hidden dominoes for herself. The plot revealed, she shouted, “The conspiracy is real!”

“You mean like that one made by that fartknocker Alex Jones where the Illuminati are making kids gay by putting estrogen in their juice cartons?”

“Yes, Beavis.”

“No, I’m the Butthead of the group. I’m more cool and rational. You’re the impulsive lunatic, Beavis.”

“Butthead is rational?”

“Relatively speaking, yes.”

Sophia had to roll her eyes at them for their mock argument. “Speaking of which,” she commented. “You dorks are more like Rex and Weevil than you know.” inciting Maya and Yukio to protest such an absurd and slanderous idea before debating between each other whether the flat earth theory or the hollow earth theory was the dumbest conspiracy in existence. Sophia vouched for one conspiracy an ignorant woman posted on YouTube claiming rainbows in the mist made by backyard sprinklers was from the government putting something in the water supply. Maya and Yukio gave her a gold medal for effort but dismissed her in the end.

The trio heard Maria gliding away at the piano near a café, something Maya could tell by the choice of music and playing style – Her eyes may sometimes fail her but her ears never did – and saw the Saints and a few other people crowd around her. Maria, Maya judged, was very much a musician of the later Romantic style; playing slowly, using the pedal as if the piano was a car, long arching lyrics, her face contorting into all manner of expressions. She played some fine Tchaikovsky and Chopin indeed, with all the Victorian malaise of a House of Mourning. Maya could almost hear the coughing of the sensitive artist with consumption, too good for this cruel world.

Maria finished, the Saints cheered, Maya as well, she asked Maria for her turn to play. Maria, tall and fair as a statue, an albino with pensive blue eyes, brushed by Maya with typical aloof contempt, like Maya was someone horribly offensive by her very existence. Maya returned the gesture with typical defiance and wit. Maya thundered on the piano with her own repertoire of Cherubini and Beethoven, her face showing concentration but otherwise betraying no emotion. Maria judged Maya to be using Classical and early Romantic styles; with a fast and vivid tempo, crisp, dynamic volumes and colors with lightning fast transitions, forceful and deliberate use of rhythm. Oh yes, the vain noise and pride of Lucifer before the fall, much like so many radicals in that period, cruel and ugly, making light of things that should be beyond humor, disrespectful to the natural laws of art. The Saints cheered for Maya when she finished her program like they did for Maria.

The contest continued, the two duelists rotating from one new piece after all, determined to wear the other down. Yukio and Hannibal were impressed with witnessed the two lionesses bite and scrape the other. “By Jove himself, it’s as if Minverva and Ishtar fought for the title of wisest and most powerful goddess!” Hannibal couldn’t help himself from stammering. Yukio put his hand on Hannibal’s arm, “Calm down, dude. No woman is worth worshipping.” And before Hannibal could object to such a sexist claim Yukio quickly added, “Men even less so.”

Three hours passed, the combatants not quite exhausted but starting to get there. Maya had no choice but to play the wild card she kept in store until this very moment. Maya decided to play her second favorite piece of music, Handel’s Suite in Bb, Beethoven’s Große Fugue being her first, Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag being her third. She danced with Handel, enthusiastic but graceful and light on her feet, going through the prelude, sonata, and variations. Now she arrived at the minor minuet she decided now to take a completely different direction, the improvisations she made up in her mind during the whole contest would now be unleashed. She played a minor variation of Handel’s theme, similar to the minuet itself in form but different in substance, then a minor singing variation, then bursting the tension with a violent tarantella. She returned to Bb to play more variations, each one faster and more volcanic than the last one – she would not let Maria win! – until she came to playing small dotted rhythms and 64th notes triplets – “Ack!” Maya clutched her cramped wrist but quickly went back, playing the last bars of her last variation, before clasping her wrist again.

Everyone applauded, except Maria who turned away from the crowd, thinking Maya vastly overstepped her bounds. It was mortal sin for a performer to play outside the composer’s intentions, as if someone today could dare suggest to a genius of the past. No Handel or Beethoven existed today because people like that are no longer born in our decadent age. Mathias threw Maya’s afflicted hand into the air to announce her victor only to cramp Maya’s arm by accident, Maya taking the pain in stride. All this only revealed the philistine, vulgar, and shallow attitudes of modern times, the crowd whooping as if at the circus.

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Weevil Underwood and Rex Raptor, Weevil being our remaining finalist, were doing less dignified things. “Goddamn it Rex I need to use the bathroom! I gotta’ PEE!” Weevil jumped up and down like a grasshopper; his teal blue hair, molded in a Beatles haircut, and his huge round green glasses bouncing with him.

“We’re getting there, butt-muncher.” Rex said as he evened out his dirty aged red beanie and scratched his long greasy brown hair.

“Up yours, asswipe!” Weevil met Rex, his narrow squinting blue eyes meeting Rex’s sharp brown ones. The two got lost in their quest for the public bathroom, Weevil now almost ready to burst.

“Remember that time at Charles de Gaul Airport when we got lost so long you did pee yourself and everybody laughed.” Rex himself chuckled a bit at the fun memory. “Man, that airport looks like a schizophrenic made it.”

“Not helping!” Weevil desperately shouted. They saw a man named Tamas, the last finalist and a nondescript man after his short blond hair and black leather coat, and his teammates play testing each other for the finals. Weevil asked him for directions to the bathroom, Tamas answered, Weevil relieved himself, the two asked Tamas again for directions back to the right gate, Tamas again pointed, the two went their way.

Weevil witnessed the crowd surrounding Maya and Maria and got a wonderful idea, he whispered it to Rex, who grinned at the thought. Weevil promised Rex twenty dollars if he did what he wanted, to which Rex accepted, and he dashed around the airport, pinching every female finalist’s butt. They all yelped, much to Rex and Weevil’s delight. Stella claimed sexual harassment, Maria condemned the horrible disrespect to women, Maya chased after them to beat them up.

“WEEVIL! BUDDY!” Mathias caught Weevil, giving him the biggest bear hug in his live, enjoying watching Weevil squirm in his embrace. The insect shouted, “I have a restraining order and I will sue you as soon as I get home! Rex did it! It was his idea but I told him not to do it because it was sexual harassment punishable by castration and sensitivity training but did he listen? No!”

“You have a home?” Maya said in mock surprise. “You look like a chain-smoking stoner, so I guess you do live under a bridge or in your mother’s basement.”

“Ha ha! Very original!” Weevil tried his best to point at Rex. “There’s the culprit, get him!” Yukio caught Rex by the scruff of his neck, who squirmed under his grasp, babbling everything he could to save himself but nothing helped him. Mathias threw Weevil at Maya, telling her to hold him. “Sometimes you need 1950s parenting.” He remarked. With Weevil and Rex pinned to the wall, he let loose his belt on their asses, cracking it on their butts tender as a baby’s. The two stooges pleaded for mercy but none was given. Weevil threatened to call his lawyer but no one cared. Rex said he would sleep with any woman nice enough to free him, thinking his little trick would work. It didn’t.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Prologue

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Welcome to Season 3 of my series (Season 8 of Yugioh), where I will write things differently than before and in a better style. A typical chapter from now on will be five pages at most to have more content in each chapter and spent less time writing, since I dislike the style authors use to write most novels and I simply don’t have the free time now as I did before. I like how less verbal artforms like film, paintings, and games work since they use symbols and actions to give you substance rather than telling everything up front or through tedious dialogue between characters. I hope to translate my ideas in a similar war albeit through writing. I’m trying to explore different ways of writing and conveying more serious ideas so forgive me for being pretentious.

Prologue

She woke in a sudden moment, in her sleeping bag on the airport floor, not from any nightmare that frightened her out of her sleep but from something she did not understand yet. Her sleep, deep and dreamless, was the coma of a person who, after a day of immense suffering and fatigue, falls into for what seems like countless hours, as the infinite sleep a person falls into as she dies or the infinite sleep before birth. A second ago she was not and now at this moment she was. She sat up, hot and sweating from the heat of the sleeping bag and in constant pain from her bruises, burns, and broken ribs; she forgot at all who she was or what happened, and looked around the airport for answers, to piece her shattered self back together, as Atem the lost pharaoh did when recovering his long buried memories.

Nature gave her body of strong build of average height, her powerful hands wide, her fingers long, her nails large. Her face reflected the person behind it: a broad forehead, full cheeks and lips, dark brown eyes as vessels for a burning, fiery light, her skin brown and red, and her hair a lion’s mane of black curly hair. She was Marina Bozuslowsky, daughter of Aleksandar Bozuslowsky and Arifa Masri, but she long shortened her name to Maya Brook. She started dueling as a professional at the age of seventeen, joined her friends JC, Yukio, and Jolene to become national champions and defeat the snobbish rich demagogue Matthew, remained a pro for four more years, entered this world championship tournament to somehow stop the now late Egyptian dictator Heishin and claim the forbidden ancient Book of Isis, and now waited for the tournament finals having succeeded doing both. And she liked playing the piano, writing satires, communism, alternative subcultures, and black cats. “I think I got it about right.” She said to her heart.

Maya hobbled her way to a large pane of class, her breathing aggravated by the broken ribs, to see the outside world. Never before had she seen a sunnier, prettier June morning, nor did she feel a sun comfort her through her black sleeveless shirt and jeans quite like this either. But she did feel a deepening darkness despite it all, a gathering pressure, an electric static before the storm. Too many people died in this tournament from the resurging Ghouls, too many secrets revealed from Mathias and his warrior Saints, and she underwent too much struggle and loss already.

Yet all this struggle, sacrifice, revelation, was merely the tip of the iceberg, the darkness that was to come. Ra-Amun, the sun, shattered the world through his divine powers into stark bright lights and black shadows, a contrast where all stood revealed. It would be high noon; each finalist would smash against the other with everything they had, everything they were in these last duels, and only one person would stand on top. Maya’s whole life was at stake for if she won she would pay off her many dueling and college debts but if she lost she would be in ruin. More importantly, she knew her innovative dueling would not keep her ahead of her competition forever, and she needed to push herself further not just to stay in the game but reach a new creative level. All life was art and war, darkness and heroism. If music taught her anything it was these principles from Beethoven, and the Eroica the finest lesson. Let this heroic journey reach fulfillment at last.

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Pegasus J. Crawford, the man who created Yugioh itself, put himself deep in thought as he quietly sipped his wine in the small dining room of the complex that would be the lodgings for all eight finalists. He went so far as to design each room to reflect the true nature of each respective finalist, putting his great skills as a painter to use, whereby the carpenters, electricians, and plumbers followed his exacting instructions. The dining room, the hub each apartment revolved around, held eight large mirrors that reflected off each other face, creating a prism of infinite refractions within each mirror. Pegasus saw his own self in one mirror; his dandy red business suit, his tall stature, broad shoulders, long fair hair, one brown eye, shattered into shapes he could barely recognize.

Such was the true nature of humankind, where there was no one person in each body but only a labyrinth no Theseus could ever escape. What of the Minotaur at the center? Pegasus amused himself with the idea of seeing it revealed by the finalists playing his very game. The high priests of Egypt extracted Ka monsters from people’s souls and used them in battle for this very purpose; it was one reason Pegasus created this game in the first place. The Millennium Items, magic artifacts smelted from gold and the bodies of ninety-nine sacrifices, used by the high priests for such purposes, were lost, but the Book of Isis, holding one spell used to create the Millennium Items – merely one spell of the many mysteries – was still at large. The evil person who used the Book would cause untold catastrophes, which Pegasus wanted to avoid at every cost. He instinctively reached for his left eye socket but did not find the Millennium Eye he used to have within. He could no longer use its divine powers to see further than mortal eyes could. Now he was just a man and could only use his human powers.

Pegasus left the complex behind with such melancholy thoughts in mind, trotting on the soft sandy ground of the small Pacific Island where the finalists would be held. The warm light, blue sky, and fresh sea did not comfort him but only worsened his mood, the setting sun cut through everything with its harsh light. He thought of Sophia, one of his favorite adopted children and protégés, locked in the dangerous tournament, and hoped she would come out in one piece. Using a refined wooden cane, the debonair Pegasus showed his grit as he slowly climbed his way up a rocky hill and the massive pyramid at the center of the island he built alongside his colleague Kaiba, the battleground every duel would take place, laboring his way to the very top.

Seto Kaiba, the mighty technocrat who singlehandedly drove Yugioh in its modern form with his massive wealth and brilliant inventions, stood tall with his shoulders crossed as a bronze memorial statue, glaring down the pyramid to the white sand, green trees, and blue waves beneath him. Let this tower engrave in history the supreme achievement of the tournament’s winner and prophesize the great events of the future, the imperious Kaiba thought. Here, in this very tower he built, let history be made! He thought back to the first Battle City tournament he hosted thirteen odd years ago, how he also hosted the finals on top of a mighty tower, and watched history form as Atem became the first official world champion. Now he would witness something just as grand in the thirteenth Battle City as the Yugioh game would evolve to an ever higher level.

Pegasus, who finally reached the top, cut Kaiba’s lofty thoughts, “Whew! We should have made a smaller pyramid, Kaiba-boy. I think we made our point.” He patted his damp face with a silk handkerchief before stowing it away in his suit. Kaiba turned his piercing blue eyes to glare at contempt at the annoying man who cut his thoughts with such a frivolous remark. The two men could not have been more different. The gay, effete Pegasus contrasted the severe Kaiba, who had tall and with broad shoulders as Pegasus, yet wirier, donning his battle armor; a black leather body glove with a long white trench coat. He wore this same uniform at the first Battle City and wore it now even though he would not duel. He had a far greater plan, to defeat the very champion of this tournament to take the title of King of Games for himself. Why waste his time in an entire tournament when he would make it to the finals anyway? “Speak! Why are you here?” He demanded at Pegasus.

The debonair man sighed in a knowing way, “Very well, my Wagnerian Ubermensch. I would like to just share the beautiful view with you but, as such simple joys are far beneath the higher man such as yourself, I will get to the point. Beware of the Book of Isis and the people who seek it. It is owned by a finalist, it calls out to me, knowing I once held a Millennium Item. The Ghouls have been thwarted but one dangerous man remains, Matthew Carter. He will enter the finals to claim the Book for himself and avenge his grandfather’s demise, but even if he fails Gernand remains as well as a dark shadow, an evil intelligence I know little about. They are not threats right now but they will be.”

“First of all,” Kaiba scoffed at Pegasus, “The Ubermensch derives from Nietzsche you illiterate old fool. Second, I couldn’t care less about any occult threats lurking under whatever rock they choose to hide in. My tournament is about the future, not the dusty ancient past. You would do well to remember that.”

Pegasus rebounded, “You call me an old fool but look at yourself! You sound exactly like you did thirteen years ago, right down to the ‘I focus on the future’ spiel. You carry the obsessions and grudges you held for literally over a decade. Imagine how bad they would smell if they were food. You are, dare I say, an Ubermensch parody, more like Siegfried than Dionysus. It was this thing called satire. You know, a joke?”

“Jokes are for happy-go-lucky, shallow types who cannot stand the darker sides of life.” Kaiba growled. “Do you want me to destroy you before the finals even take place?”

“I must disagree, Kaiba-boy. Humor let’s us see the extra dimension in our lives as tragic creatures we would otherwise never see and transcend them, and this includes the so-called darker sides of life as well. Only man lives in such horror he needed to invent laughter. You are a tyrant but will never be an artist while I will always be both, and only this type of person can win this tournament.” Pegasus did not budge and inch throughout their entire discussion and, seeing Kaiba’s mild surprise, said, “Yes, who would have thought little old me who created Yugioh in the first place would know so much. You’re constipated character is why you always failed to beat Yugi and why generic antihero rival characters always fail.”

Kaiba became so frigid the very warm air around them dampened. “You’re meaningless foppish words did not move me an inch.” But Pegasus knew it wasn’t true. He had a special talent in annoying Kaiba and nothing amused him more than seeing Kaiba overreact, like watching Donald Duck get mad in a Disney cartoon. Kaiba punched a code on his duel disk, a newer sleeker model that outdated even the new models the finalists had used up to this point, the machine projected a holograph roster of all eight finalists, which Kaiba read out loud.

Matthew Carter
Heir to the Carter Foundation. Twenty-two years old. Has not dueled in a tournament since he lost the nationals in 2005. Dominates the opponent with powerhouse monsters overriding effects, favors Lightsworn and Horus.

Mathias Blackheart
Leader of the Saints, a team of professional duelists based in Ireland. Age unknown. Uses psychological warfare. Favors Nordic Gods and Horus. Teammates are Maximus and Ivy.

Maria Wight
Best duelist of Team A Cappella. Based in the UK. Twenty-three years old. Wins through card control by controlling resources. Uses Normal Pendulum monsters.

Svanhildur “Stella Nova” Minervadottir
Leader of Team Stratosphere. Based in Iceland. Twenty-three years old. Specializes in controlling the field with floater monsters. Favors Yang Zing. Notable teammate is Willow.

Marina “Maya Brook” Bozuslowsky
Best duelist of Team Baby Blast Furnace. Based in Iceland. Twenty-two years old. Used a variety of strategies in her career, now swarms the field to create many high level Extra Deck monsters. Favors banishing cards. Teammates are Yukio and Sophia.

Hannibal Davidson
World-renowned archaeologist and classical scholar. Based in Athens. Thirty-one years old. Uses strategies that spring during the opponent’s turn. Favors Artifacts.

Tamas Varga
Leader of Team Impossible. Based in Hungary. Twenty-eight years old. Uses beatdown. Favors all Dragon-Types. Teammates are Bence and Beze.

Weevil Underwood
Leader of Team Loser Dog. Based in Japan. Twenty-six years old. Uses strategies that slowly weaken the opponent’s monsters and bind the duelist in a lock. Favors all Insect-Types (obviously). Teammates with Rex Raptor.

“Kaiba! Weevil may be a loser but you must at least pretend he is noteworthy. He did survive the tournament after all. He has just as much right to the finals as everyone else.” Pegasus admonished his colleague.

Kaiba scoffed at the mere idea then left in a huff, leaving Pegasus alone to appreciate the view on top of the pyramid. The Egyptians thought the pyramid likened to the rays of the sun and thus paved a stairway to the Underworld. Well, Overworld if you think about it, Pegasus joked to himself. So, which finalist would make it to the top and reach the Heaven of being forever remembered in history? Did it even matter? Well, it certainly did, at least for Pegasus’ entertainment and Kaiba’s vainglory.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Eb (WOo47)

800px-Thirteen-year-old_Beethoven

INTRODUCTION TO THE KURFURSTEN SONATAS

We first see Beethoven writing piano sonatas in 1783, not the wild man we turned into a titan genius through myth but a mere boy of twelve. By this time Beethoven’s father Johan could no longer teach his son through his brutal methods so he turned his son over to more able tutors such as Christian Neefe, who introduced the young Beethoven to Johan Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. The boy learned quickly, practicing on the piano long past midnight for many nights to refine his skills, soon mastering J.S. Bach’s works.

Beethoven occupied himself with other tasks and hobbies. He played the organ in his church and the viola in the court orchestras of the prince electors ruling Bonn at the time. – The nation of Germany did not yet exist; the land was part of the Holy Roman Empire, broken into many small territories each ruled by a different prince. – In his spare time, Beethoven frequented the local university lectures, salons, and other forums, and quickly became enchanted by the principles of the Enlightenment, ideals he held until his final days.

The young Beethoven composed his first three piano sonatas in this climate, dedicating them to his Prince Elector Maximillian Frederick as per custom. The pianist Ronald Brautigam describes, in his booklet that comes with his recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, that Beethoven drew heavily on Carl Phillip Bach’s “sensitive style” keyboard works and Haydn’s “storm and stress” piano sonatas. He then mentions how Beethoven was lucky his father was too drunk to discipline his son to compose in a so-called proper style; had Mozart tried to write such music his father would have stopped him.

I am listening to C.P.E Bach’s keyboard works as I write this very essay and I do hear some of the same muses who stirred Beethoven when he was only a teenager and would inspire him for the rest of his life. The music is indeed in a “sensitive style”, with touching melodies one moment and stormy, abrupt chords in another, elements Beethoven puts in his own sonatas. I hear adolescent melancholy, youthful play, ventures in playing dark and difficult music, and some sight into the abstract realms music takes you when you really listen to it.

Let us now study the first of these earliest sonatas. I created a road map, posted just below this paragraph, and a YouTube video with the entire sonata in annotations, link at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tWsQlPM1rg.

Scan Forms i

MOVEMENT ONE – ALLEGRO CANTABILE

The first movement, unlike Beethoven’s later sonatas, does not have any clear first subject, second subject, and so forth. It is like Mozart’s earlier sonatas and Classical ideals in general; you hear one gracious melodic line, then another, a new idea develops, all in balance and harmony. You can really think of movement one’s sonata form as a few melodies in Eb, then a few melodies in Bb, and so on.

Beethoven thinks along these lines of balance and harmony, his ideas mostly abstract, not trying to state any definite idea. He does explore a simple contrast between a high delicate woodwind range, a warm middle string range, and low stormy range. He does put more thought in his later “Kurfursten” sonatas on what he wants to say and how to say it; in the Fm sonata he explores loftier thoughts, but he is not used to writing in sonata form at the moment. Give the kid a break. He should do better things anyway, like try to get rid of his pimples, go to Hot Topic, and flirt with girls.

Beethoven’s “main subject” is made of a few melodies with little relation, but they do connect in the same way a few sentences create a paragraph; the paragraph being the “first subject”. The boy does put some color and contrast between sentences; sentence one has a rising then falling arc and implies a string ensemble (bars 1-4), another sentence leaps then falls in a woodwind’s register (bars 11-14).

When he modulates he plays many sixteenth notes to amp up the tension. Beethoven is technically in Bb already but he wants to establish a Bb harmony by modulating, so he does so as if he was in Eb in two sentences. In his first sentence he starts his first phrase in Bb, the second phrase in C (bars 15-18). He changes the harmony by moving it up a whole step, a technique Beethoven is fond of. The whole point of his exercise is to move to F, the V chord (or dominant) of Bb. By using the F harmony, Beethoven “overshoots” so he can play a V-I cadence of F-Bb.

The “subordinate subject” (bars 25-30) is very short and also counts as a closing statement, but what a striking and playful tune it is! Beethoven plays it twice, once as a flute, another as a violin. He brings back a similar contrast as before in his “first subject” but the order is reversed (woodwinds first, strings second). Beethoven does develop a few simple ideas; a contrast between high and low keys, and he develops it further.

We can break down the development into two “cores” where Beethoven explores an idea in the exposition. The first “core” . (bars 30-40). imitates the second idea but in Cm, among the highest keys. Nothing too new here. The second “core“ (bars 48-55)  is made of arpeggios in minor chords, mostly Cm, the register low, dark, stormy. He retransitions to the “main subject” easily by playing Bb then Eb.

I can only comment little on the recapitulation since everything is the same as before, just a 5th lower, in Eb. The only difference is the “main theme” is truncated, so we only hear one sentence. For a while I wondered by Beethoven played a sentence in Bb so soon (bars 11-14) but I may have a clue now. Beethoven may have seen how the line in the recap is in Eb exactly repeats the line in the expo, so he may have changed the latter to Bb to avoid repeating himself and create a bigger feeling of returning home as the movement closes.

MOVEMENT TWO – ANDANTE CANTABILE

Beethoven shows his true talent and craft in this movement. Like in many sonatas, including the Fm sonata, the middle movement is the heart of the sonata, the highest seat of thought and feeling and a fulcrum between the two fast movements. Beethoven uses this form in many later sonatas throughout his career but he takes it to a much higher level. A good slow movement can change the nature of the entire sonata, such a crucible seems to transform the music as you go from the first movement to the last movement. As a composer myself, I find slow movements hardest to write but when I do it somehow helps me write later fast movements far better.

In the second movement we can really see Beethoven express the sensitive style he picked up from C.P.E. Bach as he sings his lonesome and tender song. The constant mood is of adolescent melancholy; you truly understand how sad and lonely this boy was, with no intimate friends, with only a few sensitive adult women to comfort and protect him. Already we see the young Beethoven improving as a composer in learning what emotions to express and what techniques he needs to do so.

Beethoven sets this mood by cleverly using chromatic notes in the treble and base and in the way he uses his sentences; he makes them “two-bodied” where the first phrase or clause, if you can call it that, is simpler and the second one is more complicated and intense. You tend to hear this in the second part (of B part) of the exposition and recapitulation. However, his base is somewhat staid, as he plays Alberti base for almost the entire movement. He lets the melody do most of the work and, like in a lot of early classical music, the base is used for harmonic filler.

In the main subject and very short transition (bars 1-13), Beethoven makes both Bb and Eb natural. This adds color, yes, but also suggests the key of C, which is the V chord of F, the dominant. He plays a chromatic rising base as he transitions, up from Bb, to B, to C. This way he plays an inverted F chord, making the cadence imperfect, keeping suspense kind of like how a novelist refuses to resolve the plot of a story just yet. The harmonies he implies throughout are Bb, F, C, F (IV-V-V/V-V), again he “overshoots” by playing a C-F cadence, which is V-I relative to the key of F.

Beethoven writes two subordinates subjects in F. The first subject (bars 14-19), is in the tenor and base registers. Beethoven suggests a viola and cello, the warm tones contrast high notes in the rest of the piece. It is a shame Beethoven doesn’t use more contrast. He again plays a chromatic rising base, this time suggesting Bb-F (IV-I) harmonies, and again keeps us in suspense with an imperfect cadence.

The second subject (bars 19-25) is more straightforward. The harmony is “offbeat here”, starting as V-I not I-V, and Beethoven plays a string of 32nd notes in fortissimo afterward to intensify the emotion. He also plays an F# note, implying Gm to make the harmony more ambiguous. Beethoven is very fond of the F# and Bh chromatic notes in the second and third movement of this sonata. And finally, he plays a perfect cadence at the end, resolving the tension he set up earlier and leading us to a poignant closing statement (bars 26-31).

The development section (bars 31-37) is very short but Beethoven makes good use of it by playing many chromatic notes; these include F#, G#, Eb, and C#. While Beethoven technically plays F-C7 (I-V) the whole time the chromatic notes imply other harmonies like Am, Cm, and Dm. In the very brief retransition he plays the Bb note at the end to imply a subdominant harmony (relative to the key of F) to return to the home key of Bb.

The recapitulation, like in the last movement, repeats the exposition almost verbatim, most of the material is transposed a 4th higher. The main subject (bars 38-42) is shortened so much it merges with the transition to make one sentence. The second subordinate subject (bars 49-56) has an extra bar but it is important. Beethoven uses it to play an Ab note; at the moment it suggests a Bb7 chord but in the entire subject it creates a strong subdominant feel. Most composers at the time dwelled in the IV chord in their recapitulations to anchor your sense of hearing back to the home key and usually to play a IV-V-I harmony. Beethoven does something similar here.

MOVEMENT THREE – RONDO, VIVACE

Beethoven changes form in this movement; now he opts for a rondo form not the usual sonata form, but it does sound a lot like a sonata. Its three main stanzas of A,B,C each resemble an exposition, development, and recapitulation, and each stanza is made of four lines of a,b,c,d. Like the first movement, this last movement is made of a string of different melodies that have little relation to each other but the emotions expressed are more intense. The major lines are more zesty and playful, the minor ones more brooding, the cadenzas otherworldly.

In stanza A, line a (bars 1-8) is a theme in Eb in the standard I-V-I harmony. Line b (bars 9-16) acts like a transition of sorts; Beethoven plays a arpeggios throughout to fill out harmonies, he toys with a chromatic rising base a bit to create Ebaug harmony, and later modulates by playing Bb-Cm7-F-Bb. Line c, the “subordinate subject” (bars 17-23), Beethoven plays arpeggios again, just with the hands reversed, plays Bb and Eb to create a I-IV-I feeling, as if he didn’t modulate to Bb at all. Beethoven ends the line by playing Edim7 then holding out on F a bit. This is a diminished cadence where the composer plays viidim7-I rather than the usual V-I (relative to F in this case). It adds some spice to the music and lets the composer travel to a distant key easily without having to worry about a V-I cadence. It becomes clear to us at this point this piece focuses more on harmonies than having distinct melodies, a contrast to the first two movements, especially the second movement.

His closing statement is in two sentences (bars 18-36). Beethoven must get back all the way from F (which is a whole step above Eb, notice how this parallels the first movement) to Eb. He does this by going down the harmonies by 4ths, from F to Bb to Eb. Once there, he goes briefly to Cm before going to Bb (playing I-V-I) where he suspends us in a Bb chord. We are now in the end of stanza A, the suspending chord acts as a cadenza, which many pianists fail to improvise as they lack invention.

Stanza B begins. Line a (bars 37-44) is our familiar first tune. Now in line b (bars 38-55), we enter the first “core” of a “development” section. Here Beethoven explores the arpeggios from before but this time he cycles through a bunch of flat harmonies close to Eb; these are Ab, Fm, Bb, Gm, Cm, Bb7, and F7. The second “core” in line c (bars 56-62), he plays a Ebdim7-F cadence so he can hold on to F a bit. Then in line c, the “retransition”, (bars 63-71) he hangs around Ebmin (the minor version of the home key) before arriving to a second cadenza in Bb.

Stanza C mimics a recapitulation but Beethoven is more inventive here than in the last two movements. Before he played the exact same material just a 4th below in harmony. Now he does a few new things. We hear the first tune again (bars 72-79) as a “main subject”, barely any different than before. In line b, the “transition” (bars 80-87), he moves to Cm. He returns to using diminished cadences, this time twice; first with Bdim7-Cm, then with F#dim7-G. In line c, the “subordinate subject” (bars 88-99), is in Eb with the standard V-I, spiced up a bit with Ab (the subdominant) and another diminished cadence from F#dim7-Gm. Next Beethoven hangs around Cm, playing V-I with some Fm in it. This Cm sentence thus mirrors the Eb sentence before.

We enter the final cadenza, the notes held out in a single voice on the C note. Then we enter line d, the “closing section” (lines 100-109), where the main tune repeats again with a small extra flourish at the end to finish the movement. The main Eb theme changes very little throughout the entire movement, which shows how the young Beethoven is still pretty new to sonata form. The mature Beethoven would never repeat himself like that, a good counterexample being his “Rage Over a Lost Penny” rondo. He transforms the theme in so many ways; he changes its register, plays it in a remote key, diminishes it, embellishes it, shortens it, develops bits of it elsewhere in the piece, makes at least two variations out of it, uses it build a coda, and so on, all in five and a half minutes. However, the young Beethoven’s genius is emerging, even now he is getting the knack of writing complex and passionate music.