To Your Eternity – S2 11 – New Pieces On the Board

Fushi arrives in Renril with Eko, Kahaku, and Horse to survey and make preparations to protect it from the Nokkers, who will attack in less than half a year. It’s the biggest settlement yet he’s visited, and Eko clearly gets a kick out of the size, complexity, and vibrance of the place. Fushi, who was looking very inhuman last week when he became one with the vines, feels a lot more human now that he’s in the big city.

Back in Uralis, Bon has his brother Torta ask the elite soldiers assembled a series of questions intended to give them an honorable out from what may be a one-way trip. Only one walks out, but not because he doesn’t intend to join Bon’s cause. On the contrary, the soldier later reveals himself to be an acquaintence: Kai Renald Roulle. He, along with the former Church of Bennett soldier Hylo Rich, accompany Bon to Renril.

The third ally, Messar, they meet in the city. The triad have loyalty, apostasy, and cunning, and Bon believes that not only are they worthy of his and Fushi’s trust, but are the best people to make into the new batch of Immortals. Fushi is upset to hear that the allies Bon gathered are still human, as he has always found using people’s bodies distasteful.

Even so, Bon believes this is the only way to win the battle before them. They all appear before Renril’s Princess Alme, and Fushi, who is in a bad mood, doesn’t mince words about her fate should she refuse their help. Alme doesn’t challenge Fushi’s assertions, but ask that rather be handed the things they need—the trust and cooperation of the people, the castle, the entire city—that they go out and obtain those things for themselves.

Fushi remains skeptical and bitter towards Bon—their first fight, if you will—and the ever-smitten Kahaku even offers to re-take his place as Fushi’s eternal companion in Bon’s place. Fushi is in a hurry, but Messar tells him not to cross the princess, and that there’s a proper way to do things in Renril.

Kai can tell Fushi is restless, so he invites him to play a Reversi-type game with him. While they play, Kai regales Fushi with the details of his background, in which their city was attacked by Nokkers, but he, his father and grandmother all survived.

Kai joined Bon’s army, and eventually his remaining family members passed, but he remained determined to live a life of purpose as long as he could. That’s why he finds the promise of Fushi’s abilities so attractive. If Fushi acquired him, he could live, and serve, forever. Fushi has lost many vessels, but Kai, Hylo, and Messar are offering themselves willingly as new pieces on the game board.

Thanks to Eko, who is very sensitive to change, Fushi notices a collapsed water wheel building on the edge of town, and sees his first opportunity to gain the trust of the citizens of Renril. He restores the building in a single day, and also builds Booze Man’s house behind it, to serve as a base of operations. With the people in awe of his feats, winning over the castle and princess can’t be far behind.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Vinland Saga S2 – 01 – Living is Winning

After a thoroughly badass James Bond-style OP followed by a downright poetic sequence about carving “that warmth” into anything and everything, Vinland Saga’s second season settles in the idyllic home of Einar, who lives there with his little sister Lotta and their mother. He’s practicing hacking with an axe in case their home is attacked again (the last time claiming their father), but their mother tells her children that as long as they’re alive, they haven’t lost.

Things don’t go well for Einar’s family, as their home is burned and pillaged. When the three try to flee, the mother is felled by an arrow, and neither Einar nor Lotta are able to leave her behind and keep running. Instead they are paralyzed by the prospect of doing so. When Lotta is carried away she stabs her captor in the neck, and is killed for it. Einar is taken away to be sold as a slave.

After a passage from the Old Norse poem Hávamál equating one with no love in their life to a fir tree on a barren land, Einar is on a boat filled with other slaves, one of the women can’t stop coughing. Their captors determine she won’t survive, so they toss her overboard to drown. Einar protests, but his captors are as cruel and unreceptive to mercy as the brooding ocean waves that churn before him. Once ashore, he and the others are washed and fed and put on display in the market.

Einar tries to escape, fleeing to a farm and stealing some food, but is immediately re-caught and severely beaten as a message to the other slaves: There’s no escape. There’s no going home. In this world, it is better to be a slave and be fed for their work than a runaway beggar. The world is utterly uninterested in your welfare.

Our first familiar face appears at the market, when the slaver presents Einar to Leif. Leif isn’t interested, as he’s looking for his relative, Thorfinn. But before departing, he grabs Einar’s arm and apologizes. It’s the first time anyone has apologized to Einar since he lost his home and family. He envies the man Leif is looking for, since it means there’s someone in the world who still cares about him.

Eventually a farmer inspects Einar and agrees to buy him, and escorts him to his sprawling farm, which reminds Einar of the idyllic home that was destroyed and stolen from him—the home and the family he was trying to defend, but could not.

At this farm, Einar meets the “blonde, small” guy Leif was looking for: our boy Thorfinn, who is chopping trees at the border of the woods. He has the look of someone who is carrying on with the same determination Einar’s mother demanded: to survive, and live at any cost, is what it means to truly win.

It may not feel anything like winning to Thorfinn or Einar. Their wait has only just begun, and may end fruitlessly. But as long as their wait continues, and their hearts continue to pump blood, they still carry the potential to carve their mark into the world. Maybe they can help one another.

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