About Order & Entropy

Book IBook I – (Index) Book IIBook II – (Index) Book IIIBook III – (Index)
Book IV – (Index) Book V – (Index) Book VI – (Index)
imageBook VII(Index)
For centuries there has been a tenuous peace through the ruins of the Corinthian Empire. One bought with the blood of countless thousands, and floundering in the shadows of a cold war. A conflict fueled by magic, faith, and dragons. The memory of mages may be long, but time begets complacency, and ambition is a wolf ever circling at the door.
Three children are cast into the royal court of a small western kingdom. Avrale, a land ever caught between the true power brokers of their world. Yet the forces spiraling around the Ashton children hint at a larger picture. That nothing about them is at all ordinary. Even if all they want is to live their lives, and find their place, the world it seems has other plans. They will learn that gifts can be burdens, and great power is never without consequence.

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VII:6 – Ruts in the Road

I returned from my long wanderings,
troubled by the folly of men so mired,
how like a tree planted by the roadside,
the untraveled masses, so uninspired,

undistracted they labor beneath the sun,
unknowing fields may wave more golden,
roads unwinding and cobbled smooth,
towers proud upon horizons beholden.

– The Tree by the Road, 135 E.R.

Ruts in the Road

Jovan 20th, 1 S.R.

A young, blond woman crowned in elegant jewel laced boughs opened her door. Considered a moment the auburn haired, middle-aged attaché outside. The blond leaned with a sultry smile on the frame, a slight jangle above drew a visitor’s eyes up. The adjustment of a low cut robe the least ill fit, back down. Stock taken of what little things didn’t match. A smaller rack of antlers still growing, and a curvier bust, stuffed in borrowed clothing. However much she looked like the owner of a house or robe, there were differences.

It was hard to place their relative ages, perhaps near nonsense to try. One was by some measures near two decades older, and by others four. All around the reverse might have been claimed. If one believed the claims. What the year marked on a fresh new calendar had to say, not the least useful.

Among the most preposterous stories was that she had died some months before. No less than four decades the auburn haired woman’s senior, on the very first day of that new calendar. The attaché had seen the body, and known the woman well enough to be amongst those identifying her. The girl certainly looked like her. Younger, no strands of gray, with a more coy, but familiar baring. Smiling like she knew far too much. That wasn’t new.

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Commentary VII:5

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Lake Retreats

Another late commentary. I’ll admit I’ve been struggling. It’s also had some unfortunate knocks on the writing. Not that some escapism of the very sort that lead to this world, isn’t a factor. For a while there seemed a slight inoculation to the madness, having grown up expecting the end of the world. The strain however is real, and we all go through it to different degrees. Some more blessed with islands of sanctuary than others. Some more resistant to the empathic overload of watching it all burn, and feeling powerless to help. Wondering if there isn’t more you can be doing. I do wonder how much of that subconsciously has been channeled into the writing, but by in large, we were always coming here. How, is another matter.

Invasion wasn’t right, but it wasn’t wrong. Bright, and orange it had looked like a flame. Had the light been any other color, it would have taken longer. Fire, it was fire, and that was all the screaming of a tree meant. «Fire.»

It bothered me not explaining how Katrisha understood what she was seeing. Perhaps this explanation belongs in the prior chapter, but here it lives for now. This is how her intuition works, like a game of hot and cold. She can throw out guesses, and just know what’s on the right track, deduce ever more rapidly in on the answer.

Rather holmesian, but with a mystical component.

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VII:5 – Treacherous Paths

The forest wailed in a shuddering breeze,
though had no mouth still might scream,
the trees spoke amongst their leaves,
and man still did as he might please.

– The Forest’s Cry, 331 E.R.

Treacherous Paths

It was a rumble like close thunder, but did not end. Seemed to start, already passing away, and then swept back over again. A groan resonating through the wood and world. Katrisha traced a bright line in the wall, and felt the resonance through the amberite veins. Saw many look up from corners at her passing. Clung close to loved ones, or even to those that they oft quarreled with, and resented.

It was not deafening, but the sound gnawed at the bones. It demanded to be understood, and most couldn’t. Katrisha wondered if having seen it was the only reason it was so clear. The same certainty that had settled in as she tried to guess what the sight could mean. It had only taken two.

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Commentary VII:4

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The Tipping of Scales

Moving things along is the big struggle just now†. This chapter starts to push things on, and still I wonder if I’m rushing at all. Chapters are still coming together in time, but this is definitely a challenging stretch. The world and the worries it comes with these days (I won’t comment on further at the moment) a layer of exhausting atop the challenge I’ve undertaken, and so far pulled off. Often by the seat of pants, or skin of teeth. (Which is mostly a nonsense phrase lost in translation it seems.)

† And of course finding the time to edit commentary for public consumption. So EOD Thursday for finalizing, and pushing while still worrying. Since worrying is a thing I do excessively, that I’m saying anything in a way I will regret.

The Epigraph. I admit I made all of the following up while writing commentary and doing my final edit. The attribution changed several times from original draft as Clarion Hymns -> The Psalm-Myriad -> …

The Maiden’s burden is an odd musical play. Odd, in that it is best described as sympathetic satire. Satire that was lost on many Clarion audiences who embraced the narrative at face value. Some have become common hymns over the centuries.

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VII:4 – Fallen Boughs

O’ reason’s wisdom give me strength,
that I am tempted now,
to stray from a Path, true and clear,
and to desires bow,

for the honeyed song of yearnful things,
to ruin surely leads,
O’ let a faithful servant know,
what she truly needs.

– The Maiden’s Burden, 343 E.R.

Fallen Boughs

Jovan 14th, 1 S.R.

A greater dragon settled with grace before two not much lesser, nor smaller. Vharen found he could tell better in his ascendance, that they had never been men. That they had grown into their great forms, and took them for granted. Languishing, sleepy creatures slow to rise, even having seen him coming. They were powerful, each nearly so much as him. The question was if they were clever.

“I have come for Hurval,” Vharen rumbled.

“You shall not pass, whelp of the brood whore.” The dragon on the right of the vast cavern entrance stepped before it.

“I am not her whelp, I am her mate. I forgive you, not recognizing a King ascended.”

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Commentary VII:3

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A Slight Ring of Truth

The Epigraph. Cadius, the Darwin of Thaea was a bit of a poet, though not his most published work. He traveled widely, and saw all the variations and similarity of animals through the world, but it was Osyrae that fascinated him most. Osyrae has a markedly harsh ecology, and he was particularly struck by the contest between the wild Osyraen rose and the Ram, two prominent symbols of the land. That the rose’s thorns had failed in their original purpose to the Ram’s leathery tongue and palate, and so instead coiled further in some. As such became looped hooks, to catch in the Ram’s oft long shaggy coats. Thus be carried off, and fall farther from the bush.

He put this work together with earlier hypothesis of his own and others to form the modern theory of Evolution as it stands in the world of Thaea. Including his observations of high-dominant traits that seemed to always be inherited, or exaggerate between generations. He blamed this for the initial over correction of thorns becoming ever harsher, resulting in the above. I believe Ryahanae refereed to this quirk mid Book VI.

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VII:3 – A Thorny Bond

A roses thorns are sharp,
that beauty go unmarred,
that gnawing teeth not bite,
a flower so bright adorned,

the ram she does not care,
a pallet so tough as leather,
failed thorns find other tricks,
hooked, carry seed with her.

– Writings of Cadius

A Thorny Bond

Jovan 14th, 1 S.R.

Zale shifted in piled pillows he’d tried to convert to some semblance of a chair.

“Sorry, the rooms only seem to come with one, and I did offer.” Kiannae shrugged in hers by the vanity.

Zale huffed. “Not… really a conversation I want to have, with you sitting on a bed. If one can even call these cursed cat’s idea of a….” He lost half his improvised backrest.

“The two of us have slept in the woods without blankets, and rocks as pillows on a good day. We’re hardly one’s to judge.” Kiannae tried to keep her tone light, but avoided laughing with some agitation.

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Commentary VII:2

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Seers and Listeners

I’m not the happiest with this chapter in some ways, but what is the high-wire act of a 7k a week serial without a little risk. I’ve been a bit stressed about the next chapter (coming together) so commentary late. I still feel like I got across the story I meant to, even if the execution in some spots can be improved, or some things make me cringe. Though I did obscure a tiny bit having two morningstar epigraphs in a row by hiding this second one under eveningstar. It’s a very different symbolism, and exactly the same thing. The first section was written as part of the first chapter, but things expand, and move. (Laurel’s vow to defend Avrale was one of the Vows in the title of VII:1.)

Speaking of symbolism I’m going to break this opening section down a bit, but still going to leave a lot to mystery. True to form I try to leave commentary spoiler free outside of providing insight into process, and development, which can contain clues.

A gray haired, half blind hanan shook their head, and laid down a card as shutters rattled. The floorboards rumbled through a quaint but pleasant little hovel. Reverberating from a crack worse than the closest thunder, that seemed to roll on forever. “Can you eclipse The Sun, my guest?”

Strictly speaking the Arcana are all ‘face cards,’ so the use of another familiar word would almost be nonsensical. It’s also become a slightly ruined word and it breaks my heart a little every time a perfectly good word gets ruined. Still eclipse is an apt synonym, particularly in the context.

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VII:2 – Eveningstars

Oh bright embers light the late summer night,
remind of a lost star our young memories belie,
what became of you oh herald of summer storms,
how now in your name the wrong month mourns,

for you will not shine first and last eveningstar,
your jewels strung too thin to light a sky so far,
your time is gone and only embers shower,
fleeting streaks of fire in twilight hours,

oh Jovan now takes your lofty wandering place,
cold distant father some years in evenings late,
we call your days autumn, at an Emperor’s word,
the true names of a season so rarely heard.

– Rhaea’s Reverie, 173 E.R.


Jovan 11th, 1 S.R.

A gray haired, half blind hanan shook their head, and laid down a card as shutters rattled. The floorboards rumbled through a quaint but pleasant little hovel. Reverberating from a crack worse than the closest thunder, that seemed to roll on forever. “Can you eclipse The Sun, my guest?”

A man, himself gray haired and silver eyed, a bit weathered and ragged, but youthful of features shook his head. He lay down The Child from three in his hand. One face half masked, the other inverse held a fan over the same and yet opposite side. “You go first, dear Ryahanae.” He drew from the deck on his right.

Ryahanae’s pale eyes shimmered through a translucent lavender with a tilt of the head. “Dear? So you have warmed to me, Mr. Grey?” The Lovers were laid on the seer’s side before The Sun. Always so hard to tell which side was up. More rumbles shook the land, and a distant roar echoed down lanes of a city. Walls of stone like little canyons catching the sound.

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Commentary VII:1

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A Ring by Any Other Name

I’ll be brief on the topic of the Foreword, which is itself almost commentary in the voice of a narrator, that remains mostly detached otherwise. I have a complex relationship with these asides. I love them, but they are a little harder to edit, and against conventional marketing wisdom. Here one could argue that the chapter opening of VII:1 is stronger. Dialogue and crypts, dragons and psychopaths (well one is probably only a sociopath.) Then again the Foreword I intend to move ahead of the epigraph of I:1 for final publication, gives me what I consider the strong opening line of that book, and the series as a whole. It sets an expectation for what will take time to deliver.

Does it make people more likely to read a Foreword if it has a title? The Unfixed Clock is a happy accident. It was supposed to be a snide stab at the Council fumbling with fixing the calendar, and getting interrupted, but winds up beautifully self referential to the nature of no absolute reference frame. Cut was a line that was a bit out of place/too much.

Everything is relative. There is no frame of reference from which an iota of absolute truth may be discerned. One may try to play an honest broker of truth, but even a determination to facts, shows a bias against the comforting lies others tell themselves.

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