Not What the Fox Says But How
So. Torta. It happened. Knighted wolf, why not. Shark jumped. Oh, who knows, the closets sharks are a very long ways from Helm’s Hollow. The Hidden City. Helm, as in helmet has a meaning coming from hidden. Too clever by half, probably.
Cadith is a pieces of work, but we covered that. His babbling is not overly clear, but paints a bleak picture of the poor soul that died at the back of the caravan during the second assault. A captive, probably from one of his previous expeditions, conscripted for the safety of the one source of kindness left in his life. We’ll never know much more I don’t think. Though, who knows, The Rose of Osyrae is likely, and contemporary with Book II, and the gap to Book III. However much Cadith has been impressed by Sylvans, he found them very human in their weaknesses. To bend, under the same pressures.
Mage-iron is an idea that’s been kicking around for a while. Mentioned (I believe) offhandedly during early Book II. Mage-iron is something of a poetic in the sense of “irons” as old restraining devices, but often somewhat literal. Any ferrous metal technically works for the enchantment, but iron is preferred. Modernly steel with its iron base. As implied, enchanters have jealously guarded the secret of the process for countless generations. This is a pragmatic fear that if it was too widely known, mages might begin to find ways to subvert the effect, and become impossible to contain. So while the guild has no enumerated powers to this end, if there have been assassinations, powers that be were likely complicit.
Cadith, with decades of experience being imprisoned has either reverse engineered what he needed by experimentation, or more likely acquired the information by being feared more than death. Maybe a little bit of both. He’s Helm’s problem now. Though what anyone will make of a Sylvan Temyn claiming (or denying) that he is Prince Cadith, that’s an open question.
Ok, ok. Torta. How did we wind up here? Dire creatures, escalating powers. The thought I think first crossed my mind back in Thebes. That foxes are known to be clever, and that the adaptations of dire creatures, are driven by instincts of need. In theory direness, and self shaping are a practice, and one that primal animal drives can arrive at naturally. All dire creatures are more clever than common beasts. So the thought occurred to me, what would happen if a creature known for being clever had the gift?
Intelligence tends to win with gift, but with very tiny brains they needed to make a leap. A hive mind of memory, but still individual animals. From there they learned to understand, but not to communicate with people. Speech is not just an intellectual endeavor. Adapted vocal chords were the first step, and with careful tongue work were good enough. They struggle though with lip sounds. Fs, Ws, Ms, and Bs fall away, and get replaced.
So, I tried to talk without lips when writing all their dialogue. Originally I had one explaining that Lunka’s mother learned her gift from them. That is still my intention, but left some of the longer speech out, to trim down on the awkward fox talk. Maybe it will come up again.
I’ll be honest, I’m not fully sure how the Torta revelation goes. A wild card shaking things up. More natural outgrowth of where I’m going, potentially subverting plans in unknown ways. There are ways this fits into the grand scheme of things that I have only begun to consider. I mean, they do undermine the monopoly of Amberite on long distance communication. That’s something I need to consider. Also which is easier to suborn. The Torta who have some kind of collective will, and are innately only so trustworthy as the individual or the group. On the other side amberite, which is flawless, unless re-attuned.
And, Kat being Kat. Fates, this set of scenes is so old, though lots of little details have shifted. Did I stick the landing on my intent? Does it feel forced? I don’t know. It’s always been my intention that she tends to seek affection, and human contact to counter the parts of her reality she struggles with. That if she must be the hand of death, she turns desperately to the joys of life. I may revisit some of her phrasing here, but then again she’s drunk, perhaps the ham handed feel fits.
My earliest understanding centered a bit more around an idea of grounding herself, against the chaos that her magic represented. The madness in her blood. Still, it was very much about life, and death. Kindness, and cruelty. This isn’t the life Katrisha wants, this isn’t who she wants to be, but what other path is there? Because surrender to the will of others is more anathema to her nature. If the world will bring war down upon those she loves, then how could she do any less? It just makes her need all the more to be herself in the calm between storms.
The woman who fought a dragon naked. That misadventure made Katrisha indelible in my mind. Yet, if I’m honest, this is the Katrisha I’ve always loved. The dichotomy of her existence, and nature. Trying to reconcile her identity. I may share what happened that night. It may bare saying because it has more to express than the obvious. I don’t know. I struggle a lot with the arbitrary lines we draw. The death and war so easily brushed aside, yet kinder things can be so much more questionable in the public eye.