After nineteen months of work and spending triple the time that I had originally planned for, the Daybreak rewrite has finally completed my original goals.
Phew. What a project it has been.
The plus side is that the final product came out even better than I had originally anticipated. Part of it is thanks to the feedback I’ve received (especially in Discord), which allowed me to create three volumes that I’m quite proud of. And this time I can move into the 4th volume without the headaches that once plagued me and placed this story on hiatus.
The story was better paced this time. Kaede’s slow acceptance of her new life, her new identity, and her emerging role in the new world is more integrated with the story this time. The supporting cast that I’ve built up in 1st volume is no longer pushed to the side like before — in fact their roles are growing in relevance as the story advances, despite their relative lack of scenes in the rewritten 3rd volume. Lastly, major Lotharin leaders, such as Alistair and Vivienne, were given a much better introduction this time. The fact that Sylviane’s father, Geoffroi, was actually in the story and had met Kaede will also be useful.
— This time, I move onto Volume 4 without a load of ‘technical debt’ to burden me with. Thus in that regard, this project was very much a success.
Volume 3 Themes and Reflection
Daybreak was never meant to be ‘mere’ entertainment. The story has always been a platform for me to conduct intellectual exploration. And Volume 3 covers an increasingly relevant topic in today’s world.
— The fact that as humans, we all have a severe mental blind spot.
We happily ignore flaws and weaknesses in our own argument, but would stop at nothing to pick on the opinions of those we disagree with. Most people don’t even realize that our brains are wired in such a way that the region used for conflict resolution and logic are biologically separate (i.e. it is neurologically impossible for us to NOT get emotional and defensive when facing disagreement). Furthermore, our minds chemically reinforces the concept that “we are right and they are wrong” whenever possible, making it even harder to break out from egocentrism and denial.
Psychology calls this Cognitive Bias.
Daybreak volume 3 was written to highlight how these mental blind spots can cripple our behavior, oftentimes leading us to blame others despite their best of intentions. Not only do the characters’ own perspectives clash in this volume, leading to unfair accusations being laid upon each other. The drama they created even invited the readers to take sides — with some laying all the blame on one character or another, sometimes going as far as making claims like “she’s crazy”.
It is a classic example of the infamous Fundamental Attribution Error at work — when we attribute behavior to personalities (thus laying on the blame on the other side) rather than focusing on the surrounding circumstances.
When Sylviane is undergoing the height of her hypomania episode, it is easy to claim that the Princess is mentally imbalanced. There is no doubt that Sylv has major mood swings — though not severe enough compared to real Bipolar people. Robert’s quip about his father refusing to classify her as Bipolar comes from the fact Sylv actually doesn’t meet the diagnosis criteria in the DSM-V for Bipolar I disorder, and could at best be classified as a very mild Bipolar II.
However, as Robert also points out to Kaede a chapter later — one cannot lay the blame entirely on Sylviane’s personality either. As it was Kaede and Pascal’s actions who pushed Sylviane to where she was. Sylviane’s personality may have exacerbated the problem, but it was not the root cause. Therefore the circumstances must be considered before the finger-pointing begin, and when it is we realize everyone shares in the blame.
This is something we don’t do enough of in real life.
Another example of this is the conflict between Pascal/Sylviane and Edith/Anne, which unlike Sylviane’s episode lasts for more than half the volume. I actually wrote this conflict as an exploration, because the two sides really represent two opposite ends of the moral philosophical debate.
Pascal and Sylviane are both written as moral utilitarians, who believe in using limited resources to maximize benefits for society and kingdom. This also means they believe in consequentialism, aka “the end justifies the means”, and that as long as the results create utility, it justifies their actions — even if those actions are morally decrepit.
Meanwhile, Edith and Anne are moral absolutists, also known as Kantians (due to Kant’s Categorical Imperative). The Categorical Imperative states that since humans cannot control the circumstances of a situation, they can only apply a moral maxim to the situation which determines their choice or decision. Moral behavior therefore requires people to choose an upright maxim and consistently uphold it, no matter the situation.
It is for this specific reason that while I wrote Edith to be religiously zealous, she is also what I call a ‘true believer’ — someone who truly adheres to the teachings of the holy scriptures, and not just pay it lip service as most religious worshippers do. She is the only character in Daybreak who starts off with a ‘moral compass’. Her interpretation of morality might seem extreme to some, but I do not believe any of her actions can be accused of being outright ‘immoral’.
In fact several of Edith and Anne’s lines were directly inspired by scenes from one of my favorite movies — Kingdom of Heaven.
When you stand before God you cannot say
“but I was told by other to do thus”
or that virtue was not convenient at the time.
This will not suffice.
By combining the Fundamental Attribution Error and the different schools of philosophy, I want to reflect and touch upon the one topic that people often fail to appreciate…
— That ethnics and morality are subjective topics. And there is no one-size-fit-all answer. In fact this describes most complex topics. And the more complex it is, the more subjective it becomes.
Today, we live in a world that is increasingly divided. Internet search engines draws us towards groups that reflect our own opinions. Meanwhile every major media increasingly imitate an echo chamber, as it has been proven time and again to be the best business model on how to retain viewership and grow your audience. As a result, rather than broadening our horizons, the internet has become a place where our existing blinders are being reinforced. It narrows our vision even as it extends our reach.
But of course, the internet is just a tool. It still depends on how you use it.
One of the reasons I wrote Daybreak is because I don’t believe any topic as complicated as history, politics, personalities, and ethics have simple answers. And if there’s one thing I want readers to take away from reading Daybreak (and especially this volume), it’s to always consider the multiple perspectives of any argument. This is especially as we live in a world that constantly tries to indoctrinate us with simple-minded views, repeat “X good, Y bad” enough times that the average person becomes psychologically conditioned to labels and slogans.
Because there is another term that most people like to call psychological conditioning, and it is brainwashing.
Volume 3 References
As always, Daybreak loves to make references to the real world, both historical and otherwise. Here are the references from Volume 3. See this post for those interested in references from earlier volumes.
‘Bombed out WWII cities’ – The firebombing of Dresden might be more notorious, but it is in fact the Japanese who received the worst of US carpet bombing campaigns. The use of mass incendiary bombs to create a ‘firestorm’ effect was carried out in dozens of Japanese cities, leading to between 300,000 to 500,000 civilian deaths. In 1977, carpet bombing of civilian centers was declared a war crime by the Geneva Convention.
They clearly saw her as ‘one of them’ – During WWII when the Soviet Union enlisted large numbers of women in the Red Army, many women who worked in supporting roles reported frequent harassment by their male colleagues. The exceptions were those who served in front-line combat units (i.e. snipers and medics) whom often noted in their memoirs that their male comrades were the first to be offended when they were harassed by soldiers from another unit.
Russian Alcoholism – There were many reasons why alcoholism skyrocketed in the Soviet Union. The trauma of war no doubt played a part in it, as were the postwar social policies discussed in Volume 2 Extra Chapter 1. To makes things worse, the Soviets believed that alcohol abuse were the results of ‘bourgeois-capitalist institututes’ and would disappear over time in a ‘classless’ socialist society, and therefore failed to take major corrective measures. As a result, alcoholism would climb until Russia became one of the top 5 alcohol consumption per capita in the world. Systematic reduction only began in the 2010s after Putin’s government took national initiatives on curbing its consumption.
Soviet Economic Collapse – By the 1980s, when the stagnation of the Soviet economy showed that their economic model was unsustainable, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to make market reforms to the economy. Western Liberal economists encouraged him to perform “shock therapy” by liberalizing the market all at once. This failed spectacularly as such a transition was simply impossible for a market that was ran as a Command Economy for decades, and the Soviet system collapsed completely. Gorbachev begged western financial institutions for aid and relief, but was given only the cold shoulder. Meanwhile, western corporations went into the collapsing USSR and bought up former state assets at record low prices, while paying zero regard for the social responsibilities (i.e. pensions) of those former state enterprises.
George Kennan — US strategist of the Cold War — would prophetically remark that history will remember this as the greatest strategic blunder of the US, as it forsook an opportunity to turn Russia into an ally and instead only reinforced the Russians’ distrust.
François Macdonald – Named after French Marshal Étienne Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre Macdonald. His looks and his personality — including Sylviane’s remark that ‘Macdonald will always put Rhin-Lotharingie first’ — is based on the real Macdonald, whose honorable character can be summarized by Napoleon’s departing words to him: “I did not know you well. I was prejudiced against you. I have done so much for so many others who’ve abandoned me. And you, who owe me nothing, have remained faithful. I appreciate your loyalty too late.”
‘Not a real japanese’ – Japanese xenophobia is rather well known, and a commonly found attitude was that Hafu (half-Japanese) were not ‘real Japanese’. As a result Hafu routinely found themselves harassed if not ostracized. This would be especially bad for someone like Kaede, whose Japanese half is of Ainu ancestry — a minority group from Hokkaido that the Japanese oppressed and enforced cultural assimilation until recent decades.
‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’ – quote by the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.
Russian and Chinese Civil Wars – During the Russian Civil War, the White armies received extensive support from foreign powers. This included not just weapons, money, but even expeditionary forces from Britain, France, America, and Japan, who invaded and militarily occupied parts of Russia. This in turn fed the Bolshevik narrative that the capitalist west was out to destroy not just the Bolshevik Revolution, but Russia itself.
During the Chinese Civil War, the Kuomintang also received extensive aid from foreign powers, particularly American aid but also (ironically) Japanese advisors who stayed after their defeat in WWII. The Communists pointed to this as a sign that the KMT were little more than puppets of the much-hated Japanese and ‘white devils’ who invaded and ravaged China again and again over the past century.
Russian Winter – As noted, the Russian Winter is larged blamed for human folly, which is the lack of logistical preparations by both Napoleon and Hitler in their respective invasions of Russia. In fact, when the German Wehrmacht planned for their invasion in 1941, both the Quartermaster General and the General Staff independently ran simulations, and both concluded that German logistic will collapse long before their forces reach Moscow or Stalingrad. Therefore they concluded that Germany must win the war before crossing the Dvina-Dneiper rivers, which they failed to do.
Meanwhile, the Mongols famously waited for winter to arrive before invading, so they could use the frozen rivers as highways. As nomads, Mongol armies were supplied by herds of cattle which would follow whenever they went, thus removing the need for long-range logistics.
Mongol Yoke – Mongol rule of the Rus lasted from 1242 to 1480, and imparted a long list of lasting effects of Russian culture and mentality. Chiefly among them was a fear of foreign invaders and occupiers. And while no Asian power invaded Russia since, the European powers would do so repeatedly over the centuries, which kept this fear alive and led to the modern Russian obsession with national security.
Unbalanced Soviet Economy – The German invasion of Russia in World War II left most of Russian’s most productive lands in ruins. After WW2, Soviet reconstruction focused excessively on heavy industries and military production, partly due to the demands of the Cold War. This imbalance would contribute to the Soviet Union’s economic stagnation later in the Cold War and its ultimate collapse.
Investment Funds – The Dutch East India Company, founded in 1602, was the first joint-stock company to have a capital stock that was continuously traded (long after initial offering). However, the focus on delivering profits to stockowners is often blamed for the company’s crimes against humanity, including the use of genocide against natives in Java.
South Sea Bubble – Established in 1711, the British South Sea Company was given exclusive privileges to sell slaves to South America. The company made great claims about this lucrative opportunity, despite the fact it had no realistic prospect of trade at the time, as Britain was embroiled in the War of Spanish Succession and most of South America were controlled by its adversaries. Nevertheless, the company would continue to hype itself up, even bribing Parliament to support its scheme. The bubble peaked in 1720 before bursting, ruining countless investors and nearly destroying the British financial system.
2008 Financial Crisis – What began as the Subprime Mortgage Crisis in the United States — caused by predatory lending practices targeting low-income homebuyers — escalated into a global financial crisis as a result of financial trickery by US financial corporations. The cause is often attributed to the 1999 repeal of Glass–Steagall Legislations in the US Banking Act of 1933, which previously forbid financial institutions from cross-pollinating their commercial (risk-averse) and investment (risk-seeking) operations.
Arsenal of Faith – This chapter, particularly Leopold’s speech on ‘Arsenal of the Holy Father’, draws its inspiration from US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ speech on December 29, 1940. One of the best persuasive speeches in history, FDR asked the American people to serve as the industrial backbone in the fight against the Axis powers in WWII.
Chinese Policy Experiments – The Chinese (PRC) political system is set up to encourage social and economic experimentation at each level of society, with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) goals to measure outcome. Then, if successful, the programs are expanded with authoritarian political power, from village to municipality to city to province to country. The most famous example of this are China’s Special Economic Zone experiments which pioneered the country’s unique blend of socialism and capitalism and lead to its tremendous growth.
Because of this system, US Statesman Henry Kissinger famously commented that the Chinese Communist Party looks at US/EU politicians the way a scientist would look at a TV celebrity.
Hojo Kamon – Kamons are the heraldric symbols of notable Japanese houses and institutions. Hojo was one of the great clans of the Kamakura Shogunate and the Sengoku Jidai. As noted, the Hojo Kamon is most recognizable as the triforce symbol from Zelda games. Though originally it was called the ‘Three Dragonscales’, making it excellent for representing the Dragonlords in Daybreak.
Ghost Division – During the Battle of France in WWII, the 7th Panzer Division commanded by Erwin Rommel became famous for advancing over 100km in just two days. The speed of his advance caught not only his enemies by surprise, by even his superiors in the German high command lost track of his whereabouts — since he had been ordered to stop due to his exposed flanks (orders which he then largely ignored).
The division was also commanded by General Hasso von Manteuffel later in the war, whose family the Manteuffel Clan is named after.
Rommel is often attributed for the ‘war without hate’ in North Africa, where his ‘celebrity general’ status allowed him to ignore certain orders without repercussions. When British Commandos were sent to assassinate him, he famously ignored Hitler’s Commando Order (to execute all captured commandos) and even buried the dead with honors.
Faerie Rings, Crossroads, Pathways – In fae lore, it is believed that there are countless points where the boundaries between our world and the Otherworld overlap, allowing for a variety of supernatural phenomenons from plane shifting to instantaneous transportation. These could come in many forms, from grass/mushroom/flower rings to druidic ritual sites like Britain’s Stonehenge.
Old Faiths – In addition to Britain’s period of druidic paganism, ‘Fairy Faith’ is its own belief. It’s a set of beliefs, rituals, and practices observed in the old days by Scots, Welsh, and Irish who wish to appease the Sidhe and avoid angering them.
Seelie and Unseelie Courts – The Seelie Court is also known as the ‘Light Court’. Often linked with the Spring and Summer seasons, these faeries tend to be lighthearted and mischievous. Meanwhile the Unseelie Court is considered the ‘Dark Court’. Popularly associated with the Autumn and Winter seasons, its fae are broody and somber. Despite post-Christianization misconceptions, faeries were never meant to be wholly good or wholly evil. the light fae may be benevolent or vindictive, while the dark fae may be malevolent or respectful — it all depends on the circumstances under which they encounter humans.
Ghulams – Ghulams were slave-soldiers of many Islamic Empires, including the Abbasid Caliphate, the Safavid and Afsharid Persians, and to a lesser extent the Ottoman and Mughal Empires. They follow a similar tradition as the more famous Ottoman Jannisaries and Egyptian Mamluks. Purchased as young slaves, Ghulams were put through years of draconian training which gave them inhuman determination and courage. Upon becoming fully fledged soldiers, they were given their freedom (either immediately or after some time of proven service) and could even acquire significant rank/power despite their humble beginnings. This provided incentive for the slave-soldiers to faithfully serve their masters and actually made the system work in many empires — unlike the silly, idiotic versions that you see in pop literature like Game of Thrones (the Unsullied).
Asawira – The Asawira were Persian-Iranian cavalrymen, especially noble cavalry, of the Sassanid Empire (heirs of the Persian/Parthian Empires who made the Parthian Shot famous). After being conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate, they were absorbed in the Islamic armies. Unlike their nomadic Turkic/Mongolic counterparts, these Persian horse-archers actually wore excellent armor.
Shooting Circle – Better known as the ‘Cantabrian Circle’, this is a mobile formation where mounted archers form a revolving circle, which unleashed a continuous stream of projectiles upon their target. The constant motion of this formation and its hollow center made it hard to target by opposing archers, making it an effective tactic for mounted archers to fight foot archers.
Phoenix Durandal – Named after the sword of Roland, Charlemagne’s most famous Paladin. It means “to endure”.
‘There is no deity but God for God is greater!’ – This phrase is a combination of the Arabic phrases “La ilaha illallah” (There is no god but Allah) and “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Greater [than whatever god you believe in]).
There is a lot of contention on whether ‘Allah’ means ‘God’. My answer to this is: it depends. Arabic does have a different word for god. However not all Muslims are Arabic, and some of these cultures have no linguistic basis for god until Allah was introduced to them (and therefore Allah = God).
Bipolar Disorder – Bipolar disorder classifications are currently separated into Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymia, and Bipolar NOS (Not Otherwise Specified), roughly in order of decreasing intensity. Sylviane’s state is closest to Cyclothymia: a chronic but mild form of bipolarity characterized by numerous mood swings and periods of hypomania that do not meet the criteria for a full episode (defined by DSM-IV as lasting at least four days with three or more symptoms).
Hedgehog Defense – A defensive military tactic that focuses on using a combination of strongpoints and defense-in-depth to break the momentum of attacking forces. This tactic was widely used during WWII, especially in the vast, open terrain of the Russian and North African fronts.
Qadi al-Quda – First created by the Abbasid (third) Caliphate, the Qadi al-Quda was the office of the chief Qadi. The position largely served as an advisor to the Caliph on the appointment and dismissal of Qadi (magistrates/judges of Sharia Law). Because of the central position of the judicial in Islamic administration and rule, it was not unusual for those of legal background to rise to high leadership in other fields.
Jinn – A race in Islamic mythology, often described as humanoid creatures of smokeless flame who have taken physical shape. They are said to inhabit an unseen, parallel world separate from humanity, but could coexist and even marry humans. Islamic texts describe the Jinn, humans, and angels as the three sapient creation of Allah. And like humans, the Jinn also have the free will to choose between good and evil. Jinn are divided into multiple kinds, with the Ifrits and Marid being two of the more powerful varieties, although exact differences between them are unclear.
Baha ad-Din Salim ibn Ziyad – Named after Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad, renowned Kurdish historian who served as scholar and jurist to Saladin. And Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslim slave-turned-general who spearheaded the conquest of Iberia.
‘There is no deity but God’ – The Arabic phrase “La ilaha illallah, Muhammadur Rasulu-llah” (There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah) is a testimonial phrase of Islam, which declared one’s belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as God’s Prophet. The encounter between Major Hamid and General Salim is based on the tale of Usama ibn Zayd, whom the Prophet Muhammad berated for killing another in combat despite the use of the testimonial phase.
Holy Month of Revelation – Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calender, celebrates the first revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad. During this month, Muslims are to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, or sexual relations from sunrise to sunset. Instead, time was to be spent refining themselves through prayer and alms giving.
“Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith.” – quote attributed to the Prophet of Islam.
Mubarizun – Meaning ‘duelists’. The Mubarizun are a special unit of elite troops in the armies of the Rashidun (first) Caliphate. Battles in ancient warfare often began with individual duels while both armies watched, and these men were trained specifically to provoke and duel opposing leaders and champions in order to sap their morale. As highly trained, elite troops, they were also used for special operations and leading important attacks.
Dervish Order – The name ‘dervish’ is given to a number of Islamic Sufi mystic orders who embrace asceticism and accept a life of material poverty. They focus on the universal values of love and service, abandoning the illusion of ego in their pursuit of the divine. Dervishes are known to practice dhikr (rememberance) through physical exertions, including the famous sufi whirling dance.
Deus Vult! – Latin for ‘God wills it’. This phrase is most famously used as the Crusaders’ battlecry.
“Exciting her happiness nerves” – Sir Robert is talking about endorphins (endogenous morphin), a chemical produced by the body’s central nervous system. It was not discovered in our time until 1974, so there’s no way Hyperion biomedicine would have isolated this. However its effects, a joyful drug-like high, has been studied for a long time. It’s best known occurrences come as a response to sexual stimulation and muscle fatigue (Runner’s High).
Munich Conference and the Oster Conspiracy – During the Munich Conference in 1938, Hitler aggressively pushed for his territorial claims on Czechslovakia. The German Generals believed this would bring war to Germany, for which they were not ready and would be disastrous. Taking advantage of this, General Hans Osters (whom Major Ostergalen is named after) of the German army intelligence established the Oster Conspiracy to launch a coup against Hitler. However, before the plot could reach fruition, Neville Chamberlain’s decision to appease Hitler gave a latter a major diplomatic victory and destroyed any support for the coup.
Phoenix Olifant – named after Roland the Paladin’s horn. In the Song of Roland, he blows it during the Battle of Roncevaux to call for aid, but the force required bursts his temple.
Highlander Charge – Famous shock tactic used by the Scottish Highland clans during the early gunpowder era, where infantry in wedge formations would charge straight through a musket volley into close melee while bellowing war cries (to unnerve defenders from reloading or fixing bayonets).
Wunderwaffen – German for ‘wonder weapon’, a term used by the Nazi propaganda to describe many revolutionary new weapons that would supposedly help Germany turn the tide against the Allies in late WW2.
Galiots and Xebecs – The Galiot was a light mediterrean ship equipped with both oars and dual lateen sails (thus called a ‘half-galley’), giving it excellent maneuverability and higher top speed than other contemporary ships. Xebecs were similar vessels, though with less oars and more sails (usually three), with a long, overhanging bowsprit to hold out the forward sail. Both were commonly used in the 16-18th centuries.
“Not a step back!” – Soviet motto for Stalin’s infamous Order 227, which forbade Soviet commanders from retreating without expressed permission from high command on pain of death. It also created ‘penal battalions’ for officers who failed to adequately perform their duty, as well as established ‘blocking detachments’ to stop deserters who try to flee from the battlefield.
Contrary to Western media and Cold War propaganda, Order 227 was not used to machine-gun men from behind while they’re sent on suicidal charges. Especially not in Stalingrad as Chuikov actually had less men than his German adversaries and could scarcely afford to throw men away. Instead, it was largely used to hold leaders accountable when they abandoned their posts and/or men due to battle fatigue. Many Eastern Front historians, commanders, and soldiers alike consider it one of the pivotal orders that helped to win the war.
For more information, see this remarkably well-research presentation on the Myths and Reality of Order 227.
Battlegroup – Based on the German Kampfgruppe, which were ad-hoc formations that could be temporarily formed by any commander to focus on a single tactical objective. This doctrine offered tremendous flexibility for commanders with initiative in the field, as they could pull units from even outside their normal organizational structure (another division or even another branch) to form a temporary command hierarchy and bypass the usual chain.
Testudo – Roman Legionary formation meaning “tortoise”, where the men would close ranks to form a wall of shields to their front and top.
Solar Ignition and the Mushroom Cloud – Pascal’s spell utilized fusion, not fission. Hence he used “heavy and tri-hydrogen” (deuterium and tritium) for the chain reaction. Radiation produced by fusion have extremely short half-lives, so only those exposed to the initial burst were really affected. The mushroom cloud, created by the Stack/Chimney Effect of rising hot air, also wasn’t affected by the type/shape of the blast.
Nevertheless, as Kaede had a limited understanding of physics and was in an emotional state, she mostly judged the situation based on what she was familiar with historically, which was the fission bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Social Constructionism – See my Dev Diary for this rather complex topic.
Phoenix Courtain – Named after the short-sword Courtain, which belonged to Ogier the Dane, a legendary knight and one of the paladins of Charlemagne. There is belief that Courtain is also the same sword as Curtana, the Sword of Mercy that British monarchy uses as a ceremonial sword at coronations.
Miracle of Ronceval – Named after the Battle of Roncevaux Pass, where the Basque army ambushed the Frankish Carolingian Army of Charlemagne, leading to the death of the Paladin Roland who held the rear guard.Author's Comment
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