Commentary III:16

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Well That Happened

I’ve been feeling something like this coming for a while now, and I’d like to apologize for some sloppy editing on this chapter (that I hopefully cleaned up the Monday after.) Partly I’ve been letting myself get distracted playing with art I’m not ready to share yet, and partly…this was not according to plan, sort of…

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Commentary III:9

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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.

Chapter III:8

Watch your gait,
keep your stride,
move with the pack,
stay alive.

Watch your gait,
keep your stride,
circle the heard,
stay alive.

Watch your gait,
keep your stride,
scatter the pack,
feed tonight.

– Common Osyraen military training chant, circa 20 E.R.

Honor Among Wolves

It gave Mercu little comfort that he seemed to be fairing marginally better than his pursuers. An accomplishment given his injuries. Though faster in a sprint the men seemed less agile, and even light armor was clearly fatiguing them compared to light traveling clothes. Except the scrawny one, he was a problem.

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Chapter III:2

The gift endures in soul-ward order,
the material marches on toward decay,
the flesh a fickle beastly carnivore,
the path endures if we do not stray,

great spells give way to entropy,
even suns before it cannot endure,
yet the aether burns above eternal,
to temporary desires become inured.

– The Clarion Call, Saint Darius, circa 130 B.E.

Artifacts

Vhalun 23rd, 655 E.R.

Katrisha opened her study door, and considered the overly tall bundle the man outside held. She gestured in, and Xander carried the package taller than him to the central table. He set it before Kiannae, and barely spared a curious glance to the massive orrery overhead. It was not an easy sight to look way from on first sight.

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The Storm Cycle: Book II: Complete

 

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For those who believed themselves but consort to the hero,
only to find they might yet author their own fortune.

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

In the world of Thaea prophecy is rarely kind.  Even a rare glimpse of joyous days ahead can prove the undoing of the careless.  The gifted see not the destiny they will take, but threads of possible fates ever in motion.  In the fourteenth year of their lives the Ashton twins listened to haunting dreams, and ignored the words of a mad old woman.  They were told to, as children.  It cost them dearly, but what worse fate might have come, who can say.

The prodigious skills of battle mages are earned by future trials.  One mad plan to kill a feral dragon is not the sort of thing that etches a single face through the ages.  That has let countless prophets clear eyed and mad stare into the same emerald gaze.  Whatever price has already been paid, the prophecy of the Storm still lies ahead.  It is not kind.

If the Fates themselves are to be defied, it will take a will that could move worlds.  It will take powers that could upend the natural order.  It will cost far more that the price already paid.  For the mark that even dragons left on prophecy, pales, to the Child of the Storm.

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

 

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  1. Into the Forest
  2. Out of the woods
  3. State Decay
  4. Mage Blood
  5. Friends in Need
  6. The Winter Frost
  7. The Passing Storm
  8. Moonlight
  9. Summer Glades
  10. Difficult Company
  11. Ink on the Page
  12. Seasons in Thebes
  13. The Lady of the Tower
  14. Eastwash
  15. Little Wars
  16. Corruption
  17. Pupils and Masters
  18. Fire with Fire
  19. Trials of a Council Mage
  20. Follies End
  21. Kindred Spirits
  22. The Court of Storms
  23. The Hand Dealt
  24. All’s Fair
  25. A House United
  26. Falling Hours
  27. The Calm Between
  28. This Too
RightBracket.png

Chapter III:1

Her name was Katrisha –
daughter of the moonlight and the winter frost,
Court Mage of Avrale, and a woman of Lycian faith.

In but a few scarce years of her youth,
she fought a dragon, and nearly won,
knew true love, and most plainly lost.
No less than twice stood at death’s door,
yet these things, were only her beginning.

– The Mage of Avrale, Mercu Peregrine

The Turning of Pages

Vhalun 22nd, 655 E.R.

An unseasonable spring snow fell that morning. A thick blanket that washed color from the valley, and topped the parapets of Broken Hill in caps of white. It was the sort of morning that invited a leisurely pace. Stirred a sense of calm. A desire to linger near hearth, and other warm refuge. High in the westward tower of the castle. Above steep stone cliffs and shimmering waters. A woman of great and terrible power worked subtle magic, to profound effect. She bore the snow little mind. Though it was often among her favorite things. Other wonders had her full and rapt attention.

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Book III: Foreword

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For all the futures left behind,
in the name of one we chase.

New Readers Consider: The Story So Far: Book II

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There is a saying, that blood buys time.  Not an overly kind sentiment, but true, by most historic record.  An enemy beaten bloody, will lay down, and stop fighting.  One way or another.  A conqueror successfully defied, will give pause.  Insure victory in the next contest.  Millions dead.  Well, that might just buy generations of tentative peace.

The blood of a forsaken heir, decades.  That of innocents and malcontents.  A few years.  The blood of a wedding night, and a child, a few more.  The death of twelve souls; a Queen, a Council Mage, and an adorned knight, slow the inevitable crawl of bureaucracy.  Slow, but not stop.

Prophecy has divided twins.  Changed them into women of night and day.  Worry and disquiet driven a further wedge, and distance between them.  Fate still spirals around the Ashtons, but blood, has bought time.  Even if all the world feels a gnawing call.  An urgency, like time is running out.

Five years have passed.  Tiny Avrale remains isolated from the wider world.  No direct communication with Mordove.  Limited trade as caravan masters think twice before intruding on uncertain grounds.  A Court Mage, still stands in the long and now mysterious absence of her mentor.  The center cannot hold.  The world itches to move on.

In such perilous times, it would be far too easy to declare Avrale in violation of treaty.  Sacrifice her in appeasement of Osyrae’s hunger for conquest.  The Council, is after all, dedicated to peace, not war.  No one is sure what kind of escalation would finally cross an ever rising threshold for intervention.  For in truth, if one discounts the unproven, they have not openly broken the treaty.

Forces are shifting.  Bandits plague lands that have always been quiet.  An Archdruid moves like a dignitary.  The Storm Queen has closed her borders, as an impossible tree can be seen to rises above southern horizons.  Nohlend denies being under siege by Sylvan forces.  The free cities have fallen.  Refugees from the north, perilously cross deep ocean lanes to seek, shelter in Carth, and spill over into Wesrook.

Yet life, indifferent to the shadows of a war that never quite comes, carries on.  What can three gifted souls do, in the face of armies, dragons, and prophecies that offer no answers.  Only beg terrifying questions.