Supervillain Alert: The Pale Warden

         Some say that there are worlds hidden within this one, their gateways invisible unless viewed with the proper eyes. Folklore is brimming with accounts of escaping prisoners, lost travelers, or runaway children stumbling upon seemingly impossible passageways and of the grim fates awaiting these hapless mortals when they encounter what lies on the other side; few true fairy tales have happy endings, after all.

        However, the results of such unexpected invasions are unpredictable to say the least, and every so often the experience of crossing the threshold into a new world has the potential to awaken strange and uncontrollable powers in many of these often already peculiar travelers. Unfortunately, when this occurs, these hidden kingdoms can often end up all but destroyed in the resulting chaos and panic, and so, to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring, a being called the Pale Warden was sent down to our world with one terrible and oppressive purpose.

        The secret office of the Pale Warden exists to make sure that inter-dimensional breaches don't, or more precisely, can't, occur. The Pale Warden's job, in a nut shell, is to snuff out the latent magical powers of human beings before these can ever manifest, in this world or the next, and by doing so to make us blind to any and all roads which lead out of this world and into others. What follows is a short description of precisely how he safeguards the hidden kingdoms of the Fae from the sort of spontaneous mortal intrusions I've mentioned above. Depending on how entrenched you are in his snares, these words, if they reach you, may be your only warning, so mark them well.

        The premise underlying all Pale Prison Technologies is as simple as it is effective. In order to protect the doorways that physically lead out of this world, the Warden has encouraged the creation of nearly limitless decoys to capture any imagination which might be predisposed towards such a portal in the first place. Although the Warden didn't invent human art, he quickly realized that all art contains the innate potential to provide such trapdoors, from the author's page to the painter's canvas to the spotlit stage and the silver screen, all of these can be specifically designed to capture any mind searching for escape. Today, with web browsers and smart phones joining the mix, such trapdoors are now nearly ubiquitous and perhaps more fascinating than ever. I bet you're caught in one right now.

        Of course this is only half the trick, since, even though these may temporarily distract us from our surroundings, not every piece of art undermines the growth of human magical power. In fact, traveling through some of these portals can do quite the opposite, in addition to revealing things which the Warden absolutely does not want us searching for when we snap back into the real world. No, Pale Prison Tech is a very specific type of trapdoor, designed to keep you in for as long as possible while providing little to no nourishment to your spirit or your imagination. These can be discovered anywhere one finds virtual risk, simulated achievements, empty rewards, and synthesized heroic satisfaction, all beamed directly into the pacified eyestalks of languishing bodies which have forgotten their own weight. Pale Prison Tech is, in short, junk food for the human will; you can see it most clearly in the quick and easy disappearance of so many misspent and wasted days.

        In recent years the Pale Warden has shifted his efforts away from the merely creative (or anti-creative, if we're being precise) to a more fiscal approach to the management and propagation of his terrible technologies of capture, initiating a relatively recent stratagem called Pale Economic Warfare. The current Warden's control over large pockets of the human economy has allowed him to likewise dominate educational institutions up to and including numerous colleges, as well as many of the companies into whose cubicles such sad graduates must eventually be herded. In short, if you're going to attempt to fight the Pale Warden, you shouldn't expect to get paid doing it; much of the big money had been intentionally and methodically tied up elsewhere.

        Our arts and entertainment, compulsory education and high academia, so much of our work, our play, and even our most casual social discourse have all become flooded with the clever traps of this exceedingly sinister adversary. However, now that you have been clearly warned, you can not only use your new and open eyes to conscientiously avoid all such spiritual dead ends as these, but also to search out or even to create your own alternatives to this terrible yet subtle war against the magical will of mankind. What will you do today to push back against the anti-magical machinations of the Pale Warden? Whatever strategy you may choose, as always, good luck and namaste.

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