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Dissimulate St. Morgan’s

Masks of Men written and illustrated by Brendon Reyneke

Dissimulate Masks of man Story and Artwork by Brendon Reyneke Editor Brian Garman Assistant Editors Danica Kreusch Kayla Mizen

Copyright Copyright (C) 2019 Brendon Reyneke. All rights reserved.


Story overview Alfred (or Alfie to his friends) has never really been in any trouble. Sure he’s talkative, but he makes sure he keeps his head down and does all his work. He is at school after all. Nearing the end of grade 11 and standing at the edge of the abyss that is his exams, Alfie needs to buckle down and prepare and at the same time start to think about making some life choices that will have a massive effect on his future. Lucky, he does not have to face the drudgery and confusion of teenage life alone. Together with his group of friends, each going through a similar yet unique story, they attempt to navigate their home life, school life, balancing subjects they love and hate, trying to be active in sport as well as pursue their own interests. Each is struggling to forge his own path, or at least keep on track with the paths that have already been made for them. And as this isn’t enough, they are all at the age where they are dealing with what being a “man” could possibly mean and the type of man they want to become. This reality can be a bit overwhelming though and each person has some type of escape; for Alfie and his friends it is the online gaming world of Aurora – a fantasy role-playing game. Aurora is a wonderful world full of magic, monsters and heroes, a world where they can become any person they wished and for Alfie it was a place he could truly live out the man he felt he is. In the real-world Alfie is not a confrontational person, he does not like the idea of fist-to-cuffs and would much rather talk his way out of a situation than get into a fight. But when he shows his caring and concern for others, showing emotions like empathy, sadness and grief he is dismissed as a “moffie” or not a “real man”. After all, those are not the attributes of a successful, powerful, stable man. Those are the emotions of a “girl” or at best, a flimsy man, a man easily blown over in the wind and scared into submission by someone stronger. But in Aurora, Alfie takes on the role of a powerful mage and healer and can embrace what he really wants to be, who he really is, and be valued at the same time. Each of Alfie’s friends is dealing with his own version of this issue. Some choose to play the “stoic warrior” being the man they are expected to be. Some are obsessed with being the most powerful player in the game, while others are simply content to put reality on hold for a while and live in a world that requires nothing of them except to play. That is why the world of Aurora is so attractive to this band of brothers. Each of them living a life untethered by the world outside; a life where they can find value, either for who they really are or who they wish they could be. Together, as the guild Honourbound they traverse the world of Aurora, engaging in epic


battles with monsters and looting caves and castles. Over time the boys became more concerned with the players in the game that purposefully sought out and kill other players, and so Honourbound became a protector guild. A guild dedicated to protecting the players of Aurora from player killers. Each of them in the group was held accountable by the code of their Guild. But, reality cannot be put on hold forever… As the final exams are approaching and the application to become a prefect in their final year closes in, the walls of life creep ever closer around Alfie and his friends. These are the exams that will “decide your future, determine where will you go, what will you choose to do, where your path will lead you and who you are to become”. While being chosen as a prefect in the school also seemed to open so many doors, that the boys could see no other path but to become a prefect, a leader, or become a failure. These pressures begin to tug at the minds of each of these young men as they are forced to make decisions about their lives that they are not prepared for. Each of them must make a decision and make it soon.

choices begin to creep into the world of Aurora causing conflict in their guild, Honourbound. A battle for the leadership of the Guild forces friends to choose sides, threatening life-long relationships. This helps Alfie to realise that the path of “manliness” that he is being forced into is deeply flawed and so he decides to walk into the manhood he feels fits him, despite the consequences. Others in his group face similar struggles – to get swept up in the norm of what it means to be a man, or to make their own paths. Do these boys erase their shared past and experiences in Aurora, or can they somehow reconcile their player characters in this virtual world with their reality and save their friendships?

Alfie struggles to reconcile who he is in Aurora with the man he is labelled in the real world. And with time rapidly slipping away he begins to realise that the decision about the man he becomes will ultimately fall to him. He can choose to bow to the pressures of his friends, teachers and family, or he can walk is own path. By leaning on each other and with help from their mathematics teacher and mentor Mr Ngqondi, each of the boys approaches the same challenge – the call of what man they will become. This struggle puts a strain on their friendships as these trials and

Their relationships are put to the test as each boy chooses a side in the battlefield of manhood. Alfie loses some friends, but the bonds with those that remain are made even stronger. They aren’t perfect, and each of them has a lot they are still working through, but at least each of these young men has started down the path of their own choosing, whether it is the right path is a question only the future can answer.


Meet the characters Alfred williams aka Jethro Alfred is an empathetic and sentimental person and does not believe in himself. his father has constantly favoured his older sister, and so Alfie has developed an apathetic way of viewing his abilities. This is also why he favours his mother over his father; because he feels as though he receives more affirmation from her. he is Not too concerned about his own future but feels as though he must gain good marks to attain the favour of his parents. Sometimes, to avoid the stresses of life, he gets more invested in Aurora than in his school work. Alfred uses the online game to help others, so that he can run away from his own problems. he chooses to be a mage healer because it allows him to be valued for helping others. He is one of the two lieutenants in the guild under its leader (George). This is because of his friendship with George. Jethro (Alreds character) is Quite a powerful healer and semi-famous in the world of Aurora.

George Petersen aka Ulthar George is a person who doesn’t really have any direction in his life, he feels that the real world is too overwhelming and he doesn’t feel up to the challenge, therefore he doesn’t try. This is due to his feeling of inadequacy. Throughout his life he has never really felt accomplished due to his father trying, unsuccessfully, to fit him into a particular mould. Also, because of his mother’s illness that George can do nothing about, he feels quite helpless and almost as if nothing he does will ever matter or be enough. This has caused him to fall into using Aurora to feel like he has worth and, in that space, where success and power is so easily quantifiable, he flourishes. George’s character is a strong, noble paladin. he is powerful and he becomes a formidable force in the Aurora. He flourishes in leadership and is a great strategist —, talents that he could use in the real world but that are kept untapped because of his negative selfimage. Aurora is George’s world, a world that to him makes sense


Dian Meyer aka Sheera for most of dian’s life things have come easily to him; marks, sport, friends. He wants to be a leader and prove himself because he views success and wealth as markers of manhood, mostly because his mother is really successful and uses the money to look after the family. Dian feels indebted to his mom and tries to prove he can take care of himself, which causes him to act aloof towards people who try and help him. This can cause tension in the friendship group when the others (especially Alfred) try and assist him. He is charismatic, and people generally like him, boosting his self confidence. but he also has a fear of failing which drives him to focus on success as an indicator of manhood. Dian loves to play aurora because it is a place where he can achieve his ideals of wealth and success quite quickly. He chooses to play a female character because, “it gives him something good to look at while he is playing”, but mostly because he knows he can use this to trick other players into giving him what he wants. He Enjoys aurora more when he is affirmed in his role and has success in the game.

Siya Mahlangu aka Moira Siya is seen as the manly one in the group, mostly because of his physical appearance. He grew body hair from quite an early age compared to the other boys in the group and so was labelled as being manlier. He stepped into a type of macho role in the group, feeling as though it was a way for him to gain acceptance. He is sporty but not over-committed, he would rather focus on his school work. he constantly tries to buy people’s affection and acceptance through his actions. This has led him to receive his self-worth from others. That is why, even though they place him on a pedestal, he loves the group, because they accept him. Siya plays Aurora because he finds it to be a stress-relieving space in which he can enjoy time with his friends simply having fun. His drive to be excellent causes him to focus a lot on proving his worth to the group through dealing damage, but he has no real ambitions beyond that. He Exploits men in the game because he has a bit of a complex against men (his dad divorced his mother when he was very young) but also as a way to keep ahead.


Lionel Thompson aka thalsa Lionel is a charming only child who is very active and constantly getting himself into trouble. He is a people-pleaser and because of this tries to get approval from both his teachers and friends. He struggles with rejection issues and so will do anything to fit into the friendship group, but won’t build relationships too deeply because of his fear of getting hurt. This has caused him to create a lone wolf mentality for himself by isolating his true feelings from his actions. This causes him to resent any authority that doesn’t immediately acknowledge him. From a very young age, Lionel felt as though he was rejected by his family and began to associate acknowledgement from others with his self-worth. Lionel isn’t the best gamer but his need to be accepted by the group brought him to Aurora. Lionel chose an Ukra hunter because the group needed one, and filling this perceived gap would make him feel useful. His character is neither famous nor too impressive, but he enjoys playing the game with his friends and feels accepted by them in the game.

Sophia Kingston aka alyssa Sophia is the only female friend in the group. She is not the closest to the boys, but they have known each other for a while and hang out at break time. Sophia acts as a guiding compass to some of the boys as she helps them realise that some of the ideas they have of manhood are wrong. Sophia is the smartest in the group, which causes some issues with Dian sometimes when she out performs him. All the boys really enjoy Sophia’s company. Sophia is also quite outspoken at times and has an extremely independent streak. Sophia does play Aurora but is not super committed to the game like the guys. She is part of the guild and will often join for big events. Despite this her character is quite strong and she can hold her own in a fight. Sophia plays Aurora because she enjoys it a lot and finds it relaxing to play the game with the guys. She spends a large portion of the game helping mediate arguments between the guys but often she will go off and do her own thing if she feels they are being unreasonable. She supports George as the leader of the guild and continues to play alongside the guys for fun.


Travis Bridge aka Vraxx

Travis grew up in a very unstable family. Unlike his older sister, Ashley, he never knew his parents when they weren’t fighting, and this has led him to feel normalised to hostility. Travis PRIDES himself IN HIS INTELLEGENCE, mostly because he is quite a small boy and so gets bullied at school. He compensates for this by acting arrogant AND ALOOF. he suppresses his emotions because he feels that they lead to unnecessary weakness. TRAVIS HAS A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS SISTER. HE KNOWS SHE LOVES HIM BUT FEELS CODDLED AND DISEMPOWERED. This leads him to manipulate heR. After being introduced to Aurora by his sister, Travis took to the game quite quickly. The sense of control made him feel safe. Travis became slowly addicted to the game as it afforded him a preferable reality that he could enjoy. The sense of power went to his head, and he reflected the bullying he receiveS at school in the game by becoming a player killer (PK). Travis is very protective of his reality in Aurora and reacts badly when he feels disempowered there. This causes him to often act rash and violent actions against players who he feels undermine him.

Ashley Bridge aka Amber At her core, Ashely is a proud, kind girl who looks out for the best of her little brother, Travis. From a young age she felt a responsibility to look after him, as they live in an unstable home with a verbally abusive mother who fights a lot with their father. She is relatively closed off to everyone else except her best friend Mina, who befriended her when they were very young. Ashley is self-sufficient and believes that the only path to her happiness is to get her and Travis out of the house. She is quite artistic and has a flair for poetry, which she turns to in times of distress. Her unstable home has led her to be quite critical of strangers, especially those who are not nice to her brother. Aurora is another way for Ashley to protect her little brother and the guild she formed is all for him. Therefore she tolerates Travis’ acting out in the game and this is why she allows the guild to become a Player Killer guild. She doesn’t deny Travis much, because she feels she needs to make him feel loved and protected. This ALLOWS TRAVIS TO MANIPULATE HER FOR HIS OWN ENDS, which causes problems for our protagonists.


Nqondi bulumko Mathamatics teacher Mr. Ngqondi is the Math teacher at the school and is a mildmannered man whose quiet continence and gentle nature make him approachable and a wonderful teacher. He grew up in a low-income house and believes he owes much to his mother and father who worked very hard for him to gain an education and access to opportunities. He feels indebted to them and was greatly saddened when they passed when he was 26. Their death changed his attitude to life, where before he was extremely focussed on gaining wealth for security (which caused him to become quite critical and miserly), after his parents passed that changed. He started going to church, where he met his wife, and began to take a humbler attitude to his life. He realised he loved teaching, so he studied and started teaching at the school where our protagonists attend. The loss of his child in a miscarriage and the near death of his wife caused him to have bitterness in his heart, something he had to deal with quickly because it almost cost him his marriage. This made him realise he had to be faithful with what he has, and causes him to take a great interest in his students and their lives. He becomes a mentor of the boys who first begin to confide in him in grade 9. His own experience of his youth, is what gives him his wisdom and strength that the boys start to admire. He is concerned not with the outward appearance but rather the heart and intention of the boys.

Lawrence mostert English teacher Mr. Mostert is the English teacher at the school and is very gruff and overly masculine. He carries himself with a lot of pride and maintains a dominant position in the class, often causing his students to feel belittled. His obsession with perfection comes from his days in the army. This drives him to push the students to a breaking point in his subject, constantly demanding them to meet his standards and publicly humiliating them when they don’t. He was drafted into the army at an early age and was systematically bullied in that system for a long time because of his love for literature and his aversion to violence. After many years of being bullied, he decided to try gain power by building himself up physically and becoming quite emotionally defensive. He does not have a wife or children because of his emotional unavailability. Mr. Mostert is deeply lonely, but does not feel as though he can admit to his desire for companionship, as he is confused by the lone wolf mentality drilled into him when he was a child. His over-masculine nature and drive to project power leads to him butting heads with a few of the boys at school. He also becomes a questionable idol in terms of masculinity for some of the boys, who see him as an example of dominance and Physical strength.


user.experience.find (“prologue�) display.prologue //Prologue The 21st century is in full swing and virtual reality technology has taken the world by storm. Every sphere of life has adopted it in some way or another, but none more vigorously than the entertainment //continue right industry. Video games of all types attempt to catch the VR boom. One game to do this with great success is the online multiplayer game Aurora. With a player base of 40 million it is an enormous //continue left success, because it allows the

player to get immersed in the online world. Our story focuses on a group of South African teenage boys who are avid players of Aurora and spend much of their time in the game. As each //continue right of these young men struggles with adolescence and the idea of becoming a man, Aurora provides a great escape from these pressures. But you cannot hide from the responsibilities of life forever. //end prologue

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user.experience.find (“epilogue”) display.epilogue //Epilogue Leaving Aurora and that strange experience behind Dian goes to prepare a meal for his hard-working mother. Yet Sheera’s words continue to echo in his mind. //continue right Word’s that would go on to change the future of Honour-bound and all its members. Siya logs off confused about Dian’s reaction and slightly worried about his friend. Lionel wondering whose side, he would continues his evening, choose if it ever came to that. //continue left Alfie goes to bed with a heavy heart. He could not understand why Dian reacted that way and hoped it would all work out. George had his mind on other matters:All Forsaken. They are going to come up again. What was an issue that was definitely Honour-bound’s next step, George //continue right thought. As leader he needed to act strong and decisive. Yet, deep down a fear began to rise up. What if he wasn’t good enough to lead? He felt these fears begin to grow. What if...? //end epilogue

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