A Rolling Stone Travels Eventually
I was a little worried going into editing Chapter 3. A lot of new ideas butting up against what was already an unreasonably long chapter. Yet as I started piecing things together I found I could fit all I wanted to in under the title in a reasonably sized chapter instead, and maintain my lead content. I was tempted to bring something important in here, but I think it will begin the next instead of end this one here. Which I think closes strong enough. Better to save the next scene as an opening.
One thing about writing as I have to this point, where I write ahead, come back, revise, is it has let me really capture the nature of the tale I’m telling. Little details like Kiannae’s enchanted calite stone, having already introduced Kat to the gem I introduced in this chapter long ago. I may have some thoughts about that going forward now that I think of it. Something I’d been tempted to do, but now have a reason.
The chance to re-introduce the expression, “An Ashton always returns,” which had been introduced in the vision of her father’s oath. Something that had happened before she was born. A circle slowly closing on a plot that I had long daydreamed. Which gave reason to whimsy. There is the sum of so many things that grew deeper as I iterated back over past events in this chapter. Weathered stones etched by the elements of refinement.
What let me keep things reasonable was changing this from “Parting Ways” to the more poetic allusion. The siblings do not begin their journey yet, but find another mission to undertake along the way. A small detour. Back to where it all began. A nice symmetry that early in book three we return to the roots of the Ashton’s tale.
I seriously toyed with more explicitly calling out the emotion behind Kat’s hugging Catherine. That she realized part of why she had always disliked her, was that she wanted so much for her to liker her, and she never seemed to. Life is stupid like that sometimes. We are easily angry at people who want us to be their vision of better, because it is asking us not to be ourselves. It isn’t always malice.
Wren and Celia. There are a lot of things going on here, and I debate how much I should go into it. Let me own that things have changed, reasons, shifted. Making Kit into Wren flipped things around. Yet it all played out more or less the same. Except for with Celia.
Originally she had just not been ready, which was all the sadder, and harsher. There was a deeper ambiguity though with Wren. He, was a he. It was a problem. He was a he, with a mixed up soul blended with a young woman, his mother. His first choice, his first instinct of who to love, didn’t want him cause he was a boy. He didn’t understand that at the moment, but in time, he got the message.
She fell in love with his sister, and yeah, that’s complicated. Yet, he was the one that made her unsure. The only one. Because he was just Wren, to her. He wasn’t the complicated one in her eyes, she was. So yes, this scene was once a little different too. Both parts. Like so many other things, stronger for the hard choice I made those years ago. How many things have turned around since then.
I’m toying around with the idea of publishing a partially finished exploration of, well, a lot of things. Dancing around sensitive subjects much as I have, I hesitate, because even though it tends to stay little less tame than I already have, it is unavoidably adult in the context it provides. The frankness of the situations. Still, there is a lot of editing yet, and some decisions to be made internally. Maybe half way through Book III, by then I might have them sorted out as some extras.
An enviable position, is not always enviable. I think that’s the take away I’ll leave you with. The dream, not always what it’s cracked up to be. I feel good how some things worked out. I’ve played a lot with polyamory in these pages, and it’s been a mixed bag. I think that’s fair, though I feel bad I’ve shown so little of it working out. There is a backdrop here of Lycian culture in which it is quite normal, it often does, and I have shown none of it.
Let me also quibble a bit about Sasha. I adore her, more than I should, and I put myself through some hell involving her. Till I realized I was quibbling over something that had a better choice. I’ll let anyone speculate on the precise math. There are lots of dates to work with. Sasha is in fact nearly but not quite old enough to be Wren’s rather young mother…who’s soul he possesses. Yeah. Complicated.
On the one side it worked, it added interest to what was once a far more amorphous plot point. It also helped tie things together after Kit became Wren. Originally it was more generic, Audrey wanting to explore, Kit following along, and finding she could not see a man that way, without her mother’s memories intruding. There’s still a nod to that here, but it’s a whole other issue. A hammering home of Wren being conflicted with the two women he was most drawn to, both, wanting a woman.
Broaching the Subject…
Ok, side note first. Fairly sure Mercu told most of the dad jokes. More mom jokes around my house, usually. My father would orate enunciate his humorous stories of the past, which might contain lines such as ‘belay the air to the horn.’ Yes, dad jokes, Mercu told a lot of those too. Any way…
Visually, the broach is one of the oldest elements kicking around the world. The initial image of Kat was almost fully formed in my head somewhere between 1999 and 2001. The silver hair, green eyes, freckles, ‘pale’ complexion. I know she is a bit short, and her twin a bit tall. That their practices of magic changed them. Pale though, relative to what though I guess is an open question. The flipping of the script, or global centrism as it were, I think occurred to me maybe 2007.
2005 (Forgive the old art.)
I’m not sure on the year on this one. Export date of 2005, but this is a later save without the background for animation (wasn’t worth tracking down, trust me.) There is only one older image of her, which is entertainingly odd. I totally planned to show it, but didn’t feel like digging it out of cold storage on some random drive. It also is before the broach, or, at least it’s gem.
I always felt it was special somehow, but it was really there to accentuate her eyes. As you can see I hadn’t settled into her black and silver motif fully. All the jewelry is supposed to be gold here, but the silver hair, the silver trim… In the book the initial one is described as brass, for practical reasons. If it was set in silver it would have cost more, Mercu only offered them so much. There is some symmetry I guess in replacing it with a silver one as we move into Book III, and she truly begins to take on the mantel, as her sister moves to take it. Her silver and black settled.
I’m not really sure whether I ever made mention of the moon necklace in the book. I think I did, somewhere. I’m actually feeling more certain this was 2005. Looking at that hair it was clearly inspired by my gnome mage’s hairstyle. At the time named Kirae. Kat was taken. K’at invalid in the system. Katrisha I settled on round about the time this was made.
20017 (Much closer)
Here we see an all silver motif, but it is slightly wrong due to timing. The broach, here, again used as a cloak clasp, is silver when it should be brass. I’ve always imagined it was designed to do both. The hair is black because this was meant to be Kat near the end of Book I, in experiments with the cover. Her skin tone has waffled a bit over the years, in part because it is hard to nail the look I’m going for. Sylvans are a somewhat pale, vaguely asian forest people. They do however darken up a bit with enough sun. Her mother was just the pale side of average for the local wide range of olive complexions. Further she was effected by that illness that changed her. So I waffle. Yes, long gap there between versions. I was doing other art, and not trying to revisit Kat because I didn’t feel I cold make it much better at the time.
I really like the softness of this version. And this is by far my most successful version of her, it captures that spirit I always imagined. Resting cheeky face, that tiniest smirk, eyes picking you apart. Looking up at you cause most people are just a bit taller. That feeling this little woman will knock you on your ass if you give her a reason, but she’d rather not. Still, you aren’t always sure she wouldn’t rather you gave her a good reason.
I kind of wonder if there is a natural, and perhaps unwise cockiness in knowing your fate is to die young, beautiful, and far too spectacularly to worry much about common adversaries. I don’t think this is conscious in the least. Save in little ways. Her defiance of Oradin, she had faced a dragon and lived in no more. He was nothing, and she wished to show him this. Not that she has any illusions of invulnerability. She can be hurt, and she can lose those around her, and no prophecy is absolute. She believes that far too much to be consumed with undue confidence. She has to, because she plans to defy it.
It’s fascinating to try try and imagine the difference between the two’s faces. Same bones, but one has smiled more, the other more serious, and reserved. The tone of the muscles in their cheeks, their expressions, they look so similar, but one wouldn’t mistake them for identical easily.