Monthly Archives: August 2015

Arc Four Chapter Two

Queen Eilinor of Reis-Bohnen quietly wiped a tear from her cheek before it could drop onto her needlework. She wasn’t making much progress on the piece. In all likelihood it would remain forever unfinished, but it gave her something to focus on, other than her worries about her nation, her people, and her family. And she was very worried. Armies from the Empire, led by Emperor Marus, were only days away from the city. Marus had proven to be an able commander and she had no doubt that the soldiers her husband led would not be able to stand against him for long. There was no longer any doubt in her mind that the city, and the kingdom, would fall before the Empire’s military might.

Her eyes started to cloud with another tear and she smothered a sob of fear. What would happen to her son? She knew her husband; he would give his life with his men in the field. He would die with the land they both loved so much, but her son, he was only a child. What would happen to her son at the hands of Emperor Marus? Would Marus make him a puppet Ruling Prince? Would he simply kill the boy so that no true leader of Reis-Bohnen could ever rise up against him? If she could purchase his survival with her own life, she would do so. He was the only child she had borne her husband who had survived this long.

She looked up from the needlework to give her eyes a chance to clear and saw the stranger standing in her bower and started to scream.

He raised his hand, as if to comfort her. “Please, please don’t be afraid of me. I’m not here to hurt you.” There was something pleadingly kind in his manner and she fell silent.

Several guardsmen rushed to her door. “Majesty? Are you well?” They glanced at the stranger and grew concerned.

“Yes,” she called out, “I am well.” They bowed to her and then left and she took a good look at the stranger. He was tall, with an ethereal air that made her think of trees and the dryads. His face was kind, and vaguely roguish. He smiled at her and she found that she smiled back. His hair was reddish gold, like autumn leaves, with a streak of white running through it.

He bowed to her. “To be completely honest, Majesty, I could not harm you even if I wished it. I am not truly here.” He passed his hand through a table to show her. She watched, fascinated, as his fingers moved through table and vase without disturbing anything. He paused, with his hand half in the table and half out, and wiggled his fingers in a small wave of greeting.

Her eyes widened slightly. “Are you a spirit?” Her voice was just this side of a whisper, an awestricken sound. A brief memory came to mind, Lord Gryphon in his bodiless state, and she wondered if History truly could repeat itself. She wondered what this stranger needed from her, that she could see him.

He smiled as if to a private jest. “No, Majesty, I am not a spirit, though I am very like one at the moment. I needed to see you, to speak to you and to your son.”

“Who are you?” Curiosity won out over fear.

“I am called Dramsol, Majesty. If you please, I do not have long. On the morrow a woman will arrive here, a Castellan knight and her companion. Put your son into her care, she comes here to guard him.”

“What of my guards? We are not without protection.” She protested from habit. Her soul, though, cried out in relief that there was a path for her son, a path of freedom where he would survive. She prayed that this woman, this Knight, would love her son as much as she did. He deserved the love and devotion that a parent could give.

“Majesty, Reis-Bohnen is doomed. Your guardsmen will not be able to protect you and your son. The woman will take him to Castellan and he will survive. If you wish to go with them then that is your choice. Your son is not like other boys. The lady Knight, she will understand him.”

She knew that her son was different, even from other boys who had been born of nobility, born to lead and to rule. He had been odd even from the moment of his birth in the way he would look at her with an expression that was so much older than his years. Still, she made the protestations that were expected. She needed reassurance. “Why should I trust you? Or her?”

Dramsol sighed. “Majesty, she is a Castellan dreamer. She wears Lady Grainne’s bracelet.” The Queen’s eyes widened in surprised understanding. There was only one Castellan dreamer who would wear that bracelet, and she had been told about the secret that Castellan hid, the secret her husband had agreed to keep as well. “As for me, I am a kinsman of hers, after a fashion. I helped her escape Pallantia.”

Slowly the Queen nodded. She had heard the stories of the young Imperial Princess, her oddness, her old-seeming expressions. Perhaps she would be just the woman to guard her son. Perhaps she would understand him in a way that even she, his own mother, was hard-pressed to manage. Just then a young boy entered the room. “Mother? Did you hear something?” He looked at Dramsol and his eyes widened. “Who are you?”

Dramsol knelt and looked at the boy, slim but sturdy, with wavy dark blond hair and a serious face. For a moment the resemblance was very strong and Dramsol had to restrain a laugh. Oh, his kinswoman was going to throw a fit when she finally understood who this Princeling was. “I’m a friend. We’ll meet again someday, but I had to see you with my own eyes.”

The Princeling cocked his head to the side curiously. “You sound strange.”

Dramsol grinned. “I know. That’s because I’m reaching into the past to be here tonight, and I’m not really here at all. Listen closely to those around you, it might be all the warning that you get. I need you to do me a favor, if you will.”

“What is it?” He sounded somewhere between curious and suspicious. All to the better, Dramsol thought. It wouldn’t be easy, but at least he would survive.

“Someone important to me will take you away from here. She will say that she is to guard you. I need you to guard her for me.” He wanted to ask the boy to keep an eye out for his Princess as well, but that would only confuse matters. Best to keep things simple for now. If all this worked there would be time enough for his Princess later.

The boy frowned in confusion. “How am I to do that?”

“You will know.” Dramsol sighed and let his head hang for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. “Something terrible is going to happen to her and you need to help keep her from doing anything supremely stupid in the process. She tends to do things big when she does them and I’d rather not have her charging headlong into any onrushing armies if we can help it. As much as she hates obligation, she is bound by it as well.”

“And I will be able to do this?” He sounded doubtful. Dramsol didn’t blame him for doubting. Sometimes he doubted promised matters himself, and he was the one who saw that they were promised.

Dramsol nodded. “Yes. She will need you very much. She will need for you to need her, if that makes any sense to you at all.”

The Princeling nodded. “Very well, I will do my best.”

Dramsol grinned at the boy. “I will warn you now, youngling, she has a tendency to be very annoying and know-it-all. She will be the most frustrating person you will ever meet, and I’m one of those who truly like and understand her.”

The boy frowned and tilted his head slightly to the side. “You like this person and you say that she is annoying?”

“She is very annoying, trust me. She thinks that she knows everything and the most annoying thing is that sometimes . . .” he lowered his voice conspiratorially, “she’s right.” He grinned at the boy’s laugh in response and then let his voice return to normal volume. “She means well, though, and she has survived when many others have not. She can teach you a great deal, if you let her.”

After a moment of consideration, the boy Prince nodded his acceptance.

Dramsol stood and looked at the Queen again. “It would probably be best, Majesty, if you found a way to get the relic of King Daneil, of four hundred years past, out of the city as well. I would rather not have it fall into unfriendly hands. But I don’t know that I would let anyone know that it got away, at least until it is safe, and then only in great need. The survival of all involved might depend on it being even more hidden than the Dreamer who comes for your son.”

She nodded. “I will make arrangements.”

“Thank you, Majesty.” Then Dramsol’s image wavered and disappeared, and he was gone.

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On Writing, Fanfiction, and Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about fanfiction of late.  A post linked through a Facebook group that I follow pointed out some of the hazards of writers of fanfiction transitioning into the realm of Original Fiction and it’s caused something of a crisis in my mind and conscience.

You see, I write fanfiction.

I used to write more of it, to be honest.  When I discovered that it was, in fact, a Thing, I dove into writing fanfiction and offering it up on the Internet as fast as I could write.  Of course, I was in college at the time and the Internet was a very different thing back in the mid to late 90’s.  In point of fact, for the role playing game Changeling: the Dreaming, by White Wolf (this was the original version, not the later one), if a site was hosting fanfiction for the game, chances were, my story “Account of a Chrysalis” was on their list of works hosted.

I like to think that “Account of a Chrysalis” was the most popular fanfiction piece on the Internet at the time.  I may or may not be biased in that belief since not much remains of that early Internet.

The issue comes in when I make the transition to Original Fiction.

See, fanfiction, obviously, isn’t marketable in the same way that Original Fiction is.  It’s not valued the same way even though the very same skills are needed in order to write it.  Fanfiction is derivative and suspect, though that might be related to the fact that it’s been largely the writing form of women in the past decades instead of the, more respected, forms of fanfiction that were common long ago.  Let’s just say that Shakespeare could never find an original plot to save his life and the sheer mass of Biblical fanart floating around as the work of the Masters is astounding.

Still, a lot of my storytelling has its origin in fanfiction and that worries me.  I worry about the line between “inspired by” and “derived from”.  “Account of a Chrysalis” has yet to make the transition, but it’s sequel, “Cityscape” does, in fact, exist within the Grizzyverse under the name FaerieEarth: Ever Faithful and I hope one day to finish the edits on it so that I can make it publicly available and maybe sell some books.

Castellan Dreams, currently being made available here, also has it’s origin in fanfiction, though in the case of Castellan Dreams, it’s a much different situation.  Taking “Cityscape” into the realm of Original Fiction was a matter of reconfiguring the world on which it was set, the foundations for magic (which is something I still haven’t completed), and just rewriting to add a lot of detail and development.  The plot and the characters were already my own due to the nature of being formed from a role playing game.  The source material for Castellan Dreams, though, was a fanfiction tale called “A Traveler in a Strange World“, which was my retelling of Final Fantasy XII, with the addition of an original character, an old Mary Sue I’d had in the back of my mind since I was nineteen, Goldeneyes Dreamsail.

Taking that story into the realm of Original Fiction is a much bigger project.

In my own defense, though, I should note that the original text of “A Traveler in a Strange World” covered all the current material of Castellan Dreams, at least so far, within the first chapter and a half, maybe the first two or three chapters.  And the whole of the material I’m having to rework from the manuscript of 2007 to 2009 comprises maybe the first half dozen or so chapters.  And I wasn’t even halfway through my original outline when I set it aside.

In taking the tale into the realm of Original Fiction I had to rename and reconfigure the world and map, revise all the races, and rework the characters.  I also started to go into a LOT more detail of the development of the various threats.  It is now to the point that the relationship between Castellan Dreams and “A Traveler in a Strange World” is the same as the relationship between Final Fantasy XII and Star Wars. (Seriously.  Balthier = Han, Vaan = Luke, Basch = Obi Wan, Bahamut = Death Star, etc; just try and tell me that I’m wrong.)

I believe in fanfiction.  I love the feel of audience participation, the idea that a work can so affect someone that they feel the drive to be part of it, somehow.  I respect the fact that writing fanfiction, especially writing it well, involves all the skills of writing Original Fiction and then some, because some aspects are not of the fan writer’s creation.  Thus is the nature of the artform.

But I do worry about weaving in enough original development in altering a story.  Perhaps it is enough to realize that I worry because I care about the integrity of the craft.  And integrity matters to me.

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Arc Four Chapter One

It didn’t take long to get their supplies together. Bastion saw to readying two horses while Riva raided the kitchens and ran to their rooms so she could grab her knife. She had actually stopped wearing it all the time, but for some reason, she needed the feel of the deerskin sheath sitting at her hip with the weight of the ancient knife inside it.

She grabbed some of his maps from the table and rolled them up to stuff them in a bag. She always kept a pack readied in the corner, in case of something like this. Sometimes Traveler powers went wild and she usually had a few moments notice, enough to grab something handy.

She ran all the way to the stables and found Bastion just finishing with the second horse. She handed him one of the packs and then threw hers onto one of the animals, securing it down easily enough. She never failed to be amazed by how easily she adapted to these fantasy worlds. She’d fallen off the first time she’d tried to ride a horse, before she became a Traveler. Now, it was as easy as riding a bicycle. At least it was a horse in this world, and not something weird like a lizard or a chicken.

They were on their way within an hour.

Bastion led them down paths and across roads that only he knew. Riva was content to let him lead. She would have found her way on her own, but not without surrendering her will to the voice in the back of her mind, and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to do that at the moment.

For a while, the silence between them was companionable. It didn’t take long, though, for the tenseness of unspoken questions to rise between them. She stayed silent, though, let him decide for himself what words he would use to ask the questions she knew were gnawing away at him.

Finally he sighed deeply. “Has this ever happened before?”

She glanced over at him as they rode. “Which part? The unfortunately timed command that I can’t refuse that drives me to go rescue a princeling from what is likely a doomed city?”

He winced. “That’s a rather specific, if an accurate, description of our circumstances. I wasn’t aware that the fate of Reis-Bohnen was already set.”

“Oh, I don’t know for certain, but it’s highly likely that the city is going to suffer something worse than just a military defeat, or I wouldn’t be dragged there like this.”

“In any event, please, has this happened to you before?”

She sighed deeply. “As a matter of fact, yes, it has. With almost those exact circumstances. Some Lord Prince got hold of my Soulname and used it to summon me across time and space to save his son from the destruction of his city. To say that I was pissed would be putting it mildly… but the need was real, as was the danger. I never was able to get him to tell me how he’d gotten that Name, though. Too busy getting me and the boy the hell outta Dodge, so to speak, before the demon-storm landed and killed everyone.” There was a biting anger in the tone of her voice. An old resentment that still burned.

“And the unfortunate timing part of the situation?”

She looked down at the back of her horse’s head for a long moment. “You know how we’ve got this Unfinished Business thing hanging over our heads?” He nodded and she continued, reluctance in the slowness of her words. “I was hit by the command before I could deal with similar Unfinished Business with someone else. Simon mentioned him, the Dragoon. Kenshin. He-” her voice stumbled slightly, “I promised him I’d return. I was on my way to him when Wolf Eyes found me and… well, that’s how I ended up here, in a roundabout way.” She paused, her voice fading slightly. “I… I didn’t know at the time that he- who he used to be.”

Bastion was silent for a long time before he nodded in understanding. “So who do you think is summoning you now? I can’t imagine that you’re a well-known enough figure to be called out of just nowhere.”

She chuckled softly. “Oh, I’m a well-known enough figure in some places that they make it a point to only mention my name if they really mean it. I’m a point of last resort for those who have no other choice, if only because if things go wrong then someone ends up killing everyone involved, if not Simon then me.”

Bastion didn’t quite know how to respond to that.

Riva sighed. “In point of fact I know who’s giving me the command this time, and in that it’s not like when I was pulled away from Kenshin. This one… this one has every reason to know that Name and know when to use it, and if that one is sending me to Reis-Bohnen to retrieve the Princeling then it’s for a damn good reason, arguably as good a reason that sent me to save Kale of Coriander from the destruction caused by his father’s folly and arrogance. The boy is important, and likely powerful.”

— — —

The peaceful trees in the forested grove were disturbed by the loud roar of a mechanical monstrosity. It was a sound they had never heard in all their endless years within the crystal-lit cavern. Almost animal in tenor, it was an engine, and it carried a rider on two wheels down a path to the floor of the cavern, and the trees there.

Once at the bottom of the path the man brought the creature-like vehicle to a stop and let the engine fall silent. He wore a helmet of very strange design, with a curved visor that did not have eyeholes to see through. His leathers were black, with trim in a dark green, and there were touches of white beneath the black of his jacket – a cloth shirt. The jacket laced up the front through slits cut through the leather and reinforced with green stitching. The pants had green panels inset on the sides that the leather was laced over so that the whole fit close to his leg to the knee. A sword-hilt peeked up from a scabbard at his back and two more scabbards set on either side of the vehicle.

He reached his hands up to pull the helmet from his head and he shook his hair loose as it came off. His hair was a dark green color to match the accent on his leathers. He looked around at the trees and took a deep breath, tasting the air through his nose.

He dismounted from the vehicle and put a hand out over it. He murmured a word too low for the trees to hear and the vehicle was embraced by light and then was gone, and the man now held a small, hand-sized, stone carving which he dropped into a pouch at his belt. He carried the helmet in his hand as he walked through the trees, touching one or another, and murmuring softly to himself.

“Did she climb this one? Swing from that branch? She was here; I can feel it, but why?”

He walked for a while through the trees until he stopped suddenly and dropped to one knee beside the roots of a particularly large tree. There was a burrow dug out beneath the roots, a burrow that was intelligently created. He reached one gloved hand out to touch the entrance, where the dirt had been worn away by comings and goings even though it had been quite some time since either had happened.

Something caught his eye because he pressed himself flat to the ground and reached into the burrow, stretching his arm out to the fullest. When he stood back up he held a stone carving in his hand. It was similar to the one he was carrying at his own waist. For a moment his expression was unreadable.

“Oh, Maracae, what could make you lose your bike?” He closed his fingers around the carving and held it for a moment to his chest. “I will find you again, Maracae. I swear it. I will find you and I will stay at your side like I should have done in the beginning. I should never have let you leave without me. I’ll find you… and this time I won’t be too late.”

Categories: Castellan Dreams Traveler | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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