TW: emotional abuse + possessive relationships, heavy mental illness themes, demonic possession, flashing color effects, suicidal ideation (non-graphic), unreality/surreal themes
Background image by Stuart Sporn, retrieved here, edited by El.
The Ellendale Edgelord
TLDR: EE goes way back. As in, 2019 back. She didn't really get any characterization other than being a straight-up demon until October 2020, and never lost her deeply problematic foundations as a literal demonization of my persona at the time. I realized this was a problem when, in March/April 2022, I started basically treating her as corresponding 1:1 to me.
What do we make of EE? How do I concisely explain who, and what, she is? Previous versions of this page would have had EE going on a first-person villain rant about how she embodied an entire era of my life and was more than an OC, how she'd dominate and destroy my entire universe and also maybe me. Ranting about the concept of being "edgy" and what that means in reference to both fiction and real mental health. It'd be exaggerated and have very little to do with the entire rest of the page. It doesn't establish her as anything except megalomaniacal and edgy. Which she absolutely is. But reducing her to just being another edgy OC, or an "inner demon" in the sense that she's a threat to me fictionally, is...not accurate, to say the least.
To start off, EE is short for two things: "Ellendale Enforcer" and "Ellendale Edgelord". Occasionally I've backronymed it to other things or said that it doesn't need to stand for anything, it's just her name, but that's what it stands for. Ellendale is a real-ish city that was important to my lore at the time. Edgelord and Enforcer have obvious meanings. It's hard to trace where exactly EE comes from as a character. The first uses of the term "Ellendale Enforcer" happen sometime in early 2018. The term was definitely established as of April, but before then, I don't have stable records. References to the Enforcer as a separate entity from me, more precisely, in reference to the darkest and edgiest moments of my Pokemon Go sona, happen starting in fall 2018. The Enforcer being an extremely powerful entity with godlike power over Ellendale is established in December 2018, while they're still technically a term for my sona, but not really. In December 2018/January 2019, the Ellendale Enforcer is established as a metaphysical entity who is entirely separate from me and my avatar and they get separate lore. It goes something like this.
Basically, in case you aren't up on the lore, Ellendale is an "unincorporated community". It's neither a subdivision nor a separate city. You can actually be addressed in it, but only at the post office. Ellendale used to be a separate entity before the main city annexed it probably sometime in the 1970s. Despite its annexation, Ellendale and its inhabitants still retain a sense of Ellendalian identity. That commitment to what is essentially a city that doesn't exist fascinated me, and I based the Ellendale Enforcer's lore off of it. The earliest versions go something like this: basically, once upon a time, the Enforcer was the anthropomorphic personification of Ellendale's animum, essentially the subdivision's "soul". They maintained order in Ellendale and things were pretty great. Then the main city annexed Ellendale and sealed the Enforcer into another subdivision called Shadowlawn, where they descended into corruption because they just wanted revenge for their annexation. This disconnected Ellendale from reality, leaving it a distorted space that wasn't quite in tune with space and time. I had been obsessed with Giratina and the Distortion World starting in October 2018, so EE has many influences from them. The Enforcer lurked beneath the seams of Ellendale, pretty much your bog-standard corrupting eldritch abomination who descended the area around them into madness and longed to be released to wreak havoc on the rest of the city.
Pay attention to the fact that the Enforcer is directly antagonistic here. This will change. The most important aspect of the Ellendale Enforcer's character is that despite dating back at least as far as Ellendale's conceptualization, possibly earlier, they had a rather complicated relationship with me. Because of my Pokemon Go endeavors, I was the first person to substantially care about Ellendale for decades, or perhaps because they engineered my birth or first spoke to me in 2014 in the form of a Neopet (pay attention to my attributing past characters and my motivations to them. this will be relevant later.), I was mentally linked to them. This gave me some degree of control over Ellendale's weather patterns and general vibe and granted me good luck in my Pokemon endeavors. I proudly wore the title of the Ellendale Enforcer's avatar. But in order to maintain Ellendale's special brand of organized chaos, I, too, needed to be organizedly chaotic. I needed to remain a certain degree of distorted, or as I put it back then, "Like That", or else the Enforcer would get mad at me and order in Ellendale would collapse. I may have gotten major benefits from being their avatar, but I didn't really have a choice in the matter.
That idea magnified over the Enforcer's development as a character. Eventually, over the spring and summer of 2019, it turned directly into them being a demonic figure who was to blame for all of my distortion and who that distortion strengthened. I was fundamentally corrupted and not much more than a vassal to the Enforcer, descending gleefully into depravity and wearing it with pride. It wasn't me. I was actively destroying myself. I looked in the mirror and saw someone who wasn't me looking back. But hey, I was so powerful that who even cared? Around this time, the acronym EE starts being consistently used. It was periodically used previously, but before late April/May 2019, she's generally referred to as just "the Enforcer". I'm not totally sure why I started using the acronymic concept during this time. Perhaps using a personal nickname as opposed to a title let me paint myself as closer to her, or it was in reference to an alternative acronym, perhaps "Ellendale Edgelord" or "Ellendale Entity". This is the point at which EE is functionally codified, and we also start seeing drawings that are definitely of her. She doesn't get a defined design until August 2019, but we start consistently seeing margin doodles of girls with ponytails, Giratina tentacles, and something covering their mouths, often with lines of text attached referencing Ellendale, distortion, or chaos throughout spring and summer 2019.
The August 2019 design has remained fundamentally unchanged since then, save some minor modifications for digital art friendliness and to remove the Team Instinct emblems. It's fascinating for a number of reasons, mostly because it combines other characters and motifs that I liked and uses all of my favorite design tropes all at once for a thoroughly unnerving effect generated by a creature who's trying to be everything at once. I self-described it as a "horrible, distorted mashup of everything I loved" and you can see the influence of other sonas and characters in the Faerie Hissi wing from my sona at the time, all of the Giratina aspects, the armor being pretty much directly taken from Elaphe, and the multicolored hair and flashy weapons bearing a major resemblance to 2015-18 character XP.
Figure 1: Various people EE was before EE was EE. Click to open in a new tab.
Figure 2: EE's codified design and some of its influences. Note: Elaphe's (farthest right) image may not be wholly accurate to her pre-EE self. The image used is from 2020 because due to insufficient file backups, I could not find any art of Elaphe's black-outfit design from before EE influenced it.
Really, the idea of EE as a bog-standard tempting, corruptive demon who, if I embraced my "dark side", whatever that entailed, would drag me and all of Ellendale into ruin remained her fundamental characterization until October 2020. In October 2020, I decided that EE had taken on an unhealthy level of importance in my life for someone who was fundamentally a fictional character, or as I occasionally phrased it, a "glorified Neopet". So I took calling her a glorified Neopet literally and created her as a Neopet, which by necessity, required her character to get somewhat lighter. While her demonic vibe remained the same and she kept her associations with mental illness, the religious and sexual symbolism she had occasionally been portrayed with through 2019 and 2020 mostly subsided. This also changed EE's narrative from being a supernatural entity whose only connection with me was convenience to being, to some degree, part of me, and also established that she and the Ellendale Enforcer were different people.
The new, improved backstory for EE in the Neopets version (also the very first time that her backstory got written down) had the blatant references to Ellendale subtly removed in order to minimize references to real locations, but summarized to her not being the spirit of order in Ellendale itself, but rather the manifestation of corruption that had affected them. While I was mentally linked to the Ellendale Enforcer, my self-loathing had projected onto them as a being in its own right who merged with a growing corruption in Ellendale and took over the Enforcer, leading Ellendale into an age of distortion and chaos. However, because the corruption had sprung from me, I still maintained control over it and was able to use that to purge the corruption from the Enforcer and cast it into the form of a Neopet, who became the revamped EE. This also symbolically removed her from my life as well.
This would all be well and good if it wasn't for the fact that in the actual writing about EE, it was written from EE's perspective and was considered less me casting out an evil entity or abandoning unhealthy thought patterns as me rejecting part of myself. "This Isn't Me", the first story written for EE's petpage, blatantly compared my experiences with gender dysphoria due to me not feeling like my persona, either on or offline, accurately represented me and EE being distraught at being trapped in an unwanted redesigned form. The story further combined our experiences by using the same pronouns for me and EE.
Number 1, there's the fact that I had to explicitly state EE wasn't real and couldn't hurt me, and I'm not sure I ever fully believed that. Number 2, there's the fact that in many ways, EE represented my gender dysphoria, being an embodiment of the disconnection between my persona and myself and also an explicitly feminine demon who represented everything I didn't like about myself. This theme of treating EE as part of myself or conflating her with me was common throughout 2020 and peaked in November/December, to the point that some artwork explicitly played us up as either romantic interests or before Neopets allowed mentioning relationships, subtext-laden "friends". EE being associated with sex or romance to some degree or described as having a relationship with me wasn't new, but in previous versions, it usually wasn't treated as a good thing. The 2020 texts used my friendship or romance with EE to represent self-acceptance or treated my having broken things off with her in the past as necessary, but still tragic.
Figure 3: We're friends, right? Various images from November/December 2020 portraying EE as my friend or with romantic implications.
Of course, despite being portrayed as my friend or love interest, EE never lost her goal of taking over me and destroying the rest of my creative work and self-concept, so all of these romantic implications were combined with continued themes of EE taking over me or the lines between me and her blurring to uncomfortable degrees. "Love|Illusion", a story from December 2020 which I'm not going to post any excerpts of because it makes me extremely uncomfortable to read, describes a surreal montage of moments between me and EE which would be romantic if it wasn't for who they were with. Throughout it, I'm contemplating how this is going to go horribly wrong. This is EE. I know what I'm dealing with. She's probably eating my soul right now and us being romantic is just a happy illusion. But hey, it's a cute illusion, and if my soul is going to get eaten anyway, I might as well enjoy it. EE being portrayed as possessive of me, wanting to dominate me, or being explicitly stated in internal notes as "yandere" is common at this point despite her being generally portrayed positively, including drawings of her targeting previous characters with the theme of destroying the past to make room for the new or dominating me. EE might love me, but she doesn't seem very good at expressing her love, and if she loves me and I love her, there isn't really room for anyone else. Including, maybe, myself since a distinction isn't clearly made between EE wanting to love me and wanting to be me.
Figure 4: YanderEE at her finest. Various images from November 2020-February 2021 featuring EE dominating or being possessive of me or attacking my other characters as competition for my affections.
I don't think I need to explain why this is a problem. Admittedly, this isn't entirely EE. Part of the damage was that she got mashed up with a toxic friendship I had throughout 2020 and only got out of in December 2020. The person on the other end reminded me of EE in a lot of ways, mostly the "overly feminine edgelord who embodies everything I hate about myself" sense. I used to think that EE had actually just been a fun and cool outlet character and that her being mashed up with my toxic friend, let's call her LC, was what damaged her character. In practice, the idea of EE being yandere for me or her loving me, wanting to be me, and wanting to consume my soul/kill me being the same basic emotion dated back to her earliest depictions. Her getting a webpage just got that kind of thing written down in a more permanent form and metabolized into worldbuilding, which likely wasn't a good thing. It didn't help that I had some of those same EE-flavored emotions towards LC, since I misinterpreted my trauma-induced feelings for her as legitimate attraction. EE as much influenced my perception of LC as vice versa, and given EE's complicated relationship with my perceptions of myself and my hometown, that wasn't good for anyone involved.
Really, EE is what got me to stay with LC. My having conflated trauma responses and a desire for revenge with attraction, worship, and the ideal of the Ellendalian State was what let me justify and glorify LC's actions while at the same time denigrating myself. My treating LC like she was EE in human form, a position that had formerly been held and never stopped being held by me, was what led me to stay along with continuing manipulation and self-loathing. EE was used as a metaphor for LC and vice versa, resulting in me never having really been attracted to LC for any reason other than self-destruction, which she gladly exploited by getting me to hate myself even more than I already did and furthering the narrative that I was the reason she had treated me like she did in the past. And I believed it. Because that was exactly what EE would do. EE had always been a possessive, emotionally abusive edgelord, but after I met a real one, she took on much more presence and I started trying to justify her behavior. EE claiming she wanted to protect me, or be my friend, started being considered to be literally true. Even as I realized that no, I didn't deserve what LC had brought on me, I continued glorifying EE who was fundamentally a fictionalized version of her. EE was my demon girlfriend, and LC wasn't going to steal her. EE was part of me, and one I was going to embrace. Possibly literally. Throughout 2021, I started portraying EE as a conflicted figure who, despite being made of bad vibes, just wanted to help me. Eventually, I started accepting her help and treating her as my equal and opposite counterpart, my foil, one of a paired and perfect duo of gamers on a couch. A necessary balance. My "bro" with all of the subtext the modern usage of that word implies. This mostly comes up in commissioned art from 2021.
Figure 5: Just bros being bros, right? Commissioned or traded for art of my sona and EE from throughout 2021. Left to right, pics are by Namulord (color by me), littlebun @ FR, javi__17 @ Neopets, and Scales25 @ FR.
The portrayal of EE as my equal and opposite counterpart or really wanting to protect me, no matter what, peaked in stories from early in 2022 featuring EE actively helping me when I was dissociating while acknowledging the heavy subtext that was barely subtext, or absurdly, showing her fighting or being opposed to the Ellendale Enforcer, who was portrayed as even worse because hey, EE at least had the same aesthetic as me! The Ellendale Enforcer was a construct I put on for my "community" who didn't remotely involve me and had taken on far too much of a role in my life! They're totally not still basically the same person! "Admin Rights" even goes as far as to associate my trauma associated with groupchats with EE via her being uncomfortable being called an "admin" and compare her defying her character backstory and being more than a monolithically evil entity to me defining myself outside of what happened in Ellendale as a bizarre extended metaphor that leaves out that EE as much intensified the trauma as anything. EE describing herself as a demonic edgelord is treated as self-loathing. Which it would be if EE were me. Or if in her case, it wasn't literally true.
Somehow EE being part of me or protecting me, which was already deeply problematic given her connections to LC and her fundamentally being based on a 98% fake, dyphoria-inducing persona, had segued into EE pretty much literally being me, with her being the one experiencing the trauma symptoms and dysphoria that she fundamentally represented. This never-finished fragment even has EE experiencing nightmares about LC and frames me as an antagonist for hurting her by suggesting that she's functionally irrelevant - we're no longer in the hometown the Ellendale Enforcer backstory is based on and my recovery's moved past flashy metaphors. This prospect drives her to suicidal ideation and self-loathing as a metaphor for my experiences, which, again, would be sympathetic if in her case, it wasn't true. Beyond this section, it goes on to have her meeting some of my old characters in a dream sequence, suggesting that she's sharing my memories. It also fundamentally violates her worldbuilding, described in Stylistic Stuff below: if she can go into full power form even when I'm supposedly regulated just via dysregulating herself and is a sentient being in her own right as opposed to being integrated as part of me, what's the point in casting her into the Cognitive Distortion World at all?
It was while writing this story that I realized that a character who was fundamentally an embodiment of my trauma and gender dysphoria experiencing symptoms of those things was patently bizarre. After realizing I continued to make minced oaths to EE and attempted to get "possessed" by her during a breakdown even after months of expressing that she wasn't real and couldn't hurt me, I came to the conclusion that my relationship with her had never been healthy and her being a 1:1 representation of me was the most unhealthy version yet. She's a demonic caricature of me and/or LC, and never really stopped being one even when I tried to revamp her to make her nicer in the name of self-acceptance. That character shouldn't be my most iconic character, xe shouldn't be the only way I express my feelings, and really, xe shouldn't exist. Basing my narratives, both metaphorical in how I think about myself or literal stories, on my suffering isn't a healthy way of thinking about myself. Really, EE is about 90% trauma response by volume (87.5% by weight), and should never have been publicized, which allowed her to metamorphoses from a vanilla unhealthy coping mechanism into a codifier of my entire "brand". The other 10% of EE is her badass design and the whole deeply satisfying stuff about bright colors, asymmetrical eyes, and the idea of the "Enforcer", which I've gladly folded into my sona.
So, what do we make of EE? She was absolutely a functional coping mechanism. She was a way of getting out my feelings in a safe and generally supportive environment the only way I knew how. I metabolized self-loathing which made me feel like a demonic edgelord that corrupted everything they touched into a badass sona character who did legitimately make me feel powerful and like I had control over my experiences and how I thought about them. She was a valid attempt to reclaim the narrative I'd been fed that I was an overly emotional, rebellious for no reason child who was probably bound for either prison or hell. But I can't reclaim a narrative if it's not my narrative. Everything EE was and did proved the very toxic people who told me that right, and I let myself continue to reinforce that internalized narrative by claiming it was a legitimate outlet. EE did provide some real catharsis, but it's impossible to separate from the very real damage she also did over her entire existence. With that in mind, this is why I'm retiring EE as an active character. For the time being, her page will remain up both to share this essay as a message to anyone who needs it and to provide proper credit to the artists who've drawn her over the years. If anything in this story resonates with you, talk to someone and seriously look at how your fiction interacts with your real life. It's true that sometimes, some of our greatest works can spring from trauma, but in many cases, trying to metabolize those attitudes when you haven't fully processed what happened just reinforces them under the guise of "worldbuilding". Consider what makes a sona a sona, what parts of your own experience you're expressing through your characters and in what ways, and where your ideas really come from.
Keep creating, keep processing, and keep imagining. Things do get better and while sometimes fiction can keep you repeating patterns, it can also be a powerful tool. As long as you acknowledge your fault and improve, mistakes or "problematic" things you did or wrote in the past do not define you and no act of creativity is ever wasted. It makes you a better artist if nothing else. After all, EE has made me a heck of a lot better at doing dithered gradients.
Information explaining how EE and her powers work and providing assorted details intended to benefit artists. I am no longer seeking art of EE, so don't worry about this unless you want some nifty character info.
Click to open in a new tab at original size.
I am no longer actively seeking art of EE, but if you want to draw xem, go right ahead with contacting me on the homepage. If you draw EE, please be mindful of the character's complicated history. Even though there's historical art of it, please don't draw her with my sona.
From January 2021 onward, EE was the single one of my characters who had the most art by others, which she still is. When I first started requesting and commissioning art on Flight Rising, she was my only character I felt comfortable having users there draw because she wasn't explicitly either Neopian or a sona. Plus I was hyperfixated on her for quite some time and considered her one of my most "iconic" characters.
If your art is here and you don't want it there or you're being credited under the wrong username, contact me and I will update the page to suit your wishes.