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Woke up this morning and just had to write this down. It's been a while since I had a dream that was this much fun.

We start an adventuring group in a fantasy world ruled by an Evil Empire--only I got the impression that what makes this empire so evil is less oppressive regime and more decadent corruption. Of these adventurers (four, I think; only two still stick clearly in my mind), the gun-slinging sorceress Islene is copped from my sister's Iron Kingdoms campaign (from which my plagiarizing brain also stole other elements). The other characters I seem to have invented, but one fellow, whiplash thin with floppy black hair and a red jerkin, also left an impression. Sadly, I don't know his name.

This band of merry rogues is doing their exploratory monster-killing thing in a deserted underground cavern when they stumble across a creaking rope bridge into a strange chamber. There are people in this room standing frozen like statues.

Curious, the adventurers start poking around. Either the spell that held them has grown thin with time or somebody pokes the right way, because a couple of them wake up. There's a knight, clearly glorious and noble, and a man who's kind of blurred out in the dream at first, and kind of keeping to the background.

These men, it quickly becomes clear, are from The Past--you know, before the Evil Empire. The characters refer to it as the Lost Kingdoms, the time before the empire conquered everybody and united the kingdoms under one rule. I don’t know how long in that past that was, but the adventurers are too young to have known it. The knight, it transpires, was alive back then and was someone's loyal and virtuous champion. He fought against those conquests.

Unable to wake anyone else in the chamber, the group decides to head back and tell somebody about this, because it seems important, or at least very interesting. The trek from the dungeon back to wherever it is they're from becomes very exciting, and the knight proves to be (naturally) a worthy fighter. The other guy’s not bad, either, but whomever’s POV I’m sharing develops some contempt for him, because he’s really trying not to get involved in things. He resists fighting—would rather run or hide—and he seems to only reluctantly go along with them at all, almost like he’d rather be back in that cave (except that clearly he wouldn’t). He fades into the background because the POV characters (the knight, I think, and maybe Islene) sort of ignore him.

They're floating on a boat down a small river (along what seem to be the fantasied-up streets of my hometown), when a mob of screaming armed men leap out of the house across the street from my grandmother's to attack. The knight’s prowess saves their lives from what seem, in retrospect, to be private soldiers. After that clears up, the knight suspects that someone's after them. Islene muses that the breaking of the spells in that chamber might've alerted whoever cast them in the first place. So they hustle back home, where they can talk to some other people who seem to be rather organized--not rebels, exactly, but a sort of protective militia. Apparently the Evil Empire is very lax about the whole "oppressive governance" thing.

Oh, a curious thing I'll mention here: it was a very visual dream. Everything was done in a Disney/Dreamworks type cartoon style, and things that were magic had the lines inked with gold rather than black. Created an interesting haloing effect. Islene had a set of magic robes or leather armor, as well as her guns. The man in red had magic boots. The knight glowed all over, as though he were saturated with magic...or on him, maybe it really was a sort of halo. He definitely had a paladin vibe. He's not a traitor or anything; he really is that super-awesome.

Once they get home, Islene (who's got some rank in this militia/underground military) has duties to attend to. The knight figures he needs to know more about what's going on, so he starts answering questions and learning what's up these days.

But the other guy, the one who'd been lurking in the background and seeming almost cowardly in his resistance to getting involved? Suddenly he comes into focus. He's dressed in deerskins with a bow slung across his shoulders. He's broad-shouldered, broad-cheekboned, looks Native American (almost Inuit), with a tattoo scrawled across one cheekbone (and possibly more following the contours of the other side of his face). His hair changes when I try to get a good look at him. It's black and shoulder-long and pulled back, but sometimes it's cut normally and other times one temple is shaved back into patterns. A little like my Kedrihm’Val character, except he’s bulkier, shorter, and less…odd. He’s like a barbarian or something.

And now he wants to go back to that chamber. It seems he's been quiet this whole time because he was doing a lot of thinking, and whatever it was about, he needs more information. He seems to believe that the key to whatever mystery is bothering him may lie back where they found him.

Truthfully, the adventurers didn't look around that complex as much as they could've. It was a cavern, but it was clearly settled--luxuriously so--at one point. There's that rope bridge they passed over, stretched across a chasm, but there was also a sort of amphitheatre layered with rotting carpets and cushions, and more than one room draped in moth-eaten tapestries and curtains. The room they found the people in had a few chairs and benches in it, a little like an abandoned solarium. Certainly there are more secrets to discover in that place.

Well, Islene can't go with them, and the knight thinks he’s in the right place, but the rest of the group is still curious about that cavern. They decide to go back with the native guy to find out what else they can find out.

Coming over the rope bridge, they get attacked by monstrous cave wolves. This is why I remember the floppy-haired man in red, because he pulls an acrobatic stunt with the rope bridge that gets the wolves dead and the party to the other side of the chasm, but leaves them short one bridge. But they figure that’s okay, because they found a secret passage they can use to get out.

Only once they get inside, they only get a peek into the room with the statue-people before they realize the wolves weren’t random cave-dwelling monsters. They were guards. This place isn’t abandoned anymore; it’s swarming with celebrity bad guys. It’s like an evil wizards convention. That amphitheatre they only barely noticed before is now full of the stinking wealthy and sordid lounging about and chattering as if they’re waiting for a show to start.

And here we get a few questions answered about the world. Because it’s clear from the characters’ reactions that these are the movers and shakers of the evil empire. Mostly they are not themselves in official positions, but they are frighteningly powerful magicians. Many are old enough to remember the Lost Kingdoms and were, I gather, part of the reason the empire got off to a start in the first place. They supported it because they wanted to be allowed to do whatever the hell they felt like (such as not pay taxes, be beholden to laws, or be prohibited from raising the undead and performing ghastly human experiments).

There are too many of them here to explore in safety, and they can't be up to any good here. Given that, the adventurers just want out. Only they can’t get out, because it turns out that their back way out doesn't work. Before, they’d found a small antechamber with a secret passage leading back out of the complex. Islene spotted it...except it turns out that it’s less “she found it” and more “it only works for her.” It needs a magician to operate it. When a sorcerer presses the switch, the room actually moves like a horizontal elevator to take its passengers across the chasm. No spellcaster, no escape.

So here they are, stuck and wondering how the hell to get out, because there aren’t a whole lot of hiding places to sneak out via the antechamber. And while they’re attempting to lurk unnoticed in shadowed corners, they get noticed. It’s a sturdy, heavyset jovial fellow who almost seems too friendly to actually be an evil magician. Apparently he’s so tickled by the novelty of skulking adventurers that he doesn’t even feel threatened by them.

Figuring, I guess, that adventurers who’ve found their way into places they shouldn’t be are likely to be up on some good gossip, he chats them up and shares a bit about what’s going on. There’s to be some sort of auction. The assembled wizards are very curious about this little underground hide-away, largely having known nothing about it themselves, but it seems that whoever’s in charge of this place has something to sell—information? And those of the wicked sorcerer community who aren’t interested in buying at least want to know what’s up. But even the worst of the worst are a little intimidated by some of the names on the guest list—such as Asphyxious, one of the few malefic sorcerers who actually does hold an official position in the Empire (shut up, IK fans! My brain did it, it’s not my fault!). He hasn’t arrived yet, but he’s due any time...

Alarming news, especially to the native guy. But at this point, they’re “rescued” from the gossip-mongering wizard by two others who come traipsing by—a square-framed bull of a fellow and his elegant dark-skinned, pale-haired, gossamer-cloaked lady companion, who practically herds the group of adventurers off like a sheepdog.

This, it seems, really is a dubious sort of rescue. The fellow they were talking to is a truly horrid individual who was likely to do something unfortunate once he got bored...but this new pair isn’t especially better. The lady did her good deed, it seems, because she knows the native man and wants to find out what he’s doing here, alive, after all this time. He bargains to give her information in return for her getting them out of here. She agrees, and activates the room, coming along with them for the ride to talk.

“Do you know what happened to the prince, [name I don't remember]?” she asks him.
“He was supposed to marry you,” the native answers, by way of indicating that’s the last he heard.
“Yes, but he didn’t want to. He loved you,” she replies. At which point I realized both that this is why the native man was locked away in that room, and also that whatever happened to the prince was instrumental in shaping the world as it now is.

And then my alarm went off and I woke up.
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With a few weeks of warning, arranging an excuse for Gerald's possibly extended absence wasn't difficult.  His parents believed he was travelling to Greece to participate in a Young Humanitarians action.  In fact, while he was indeed travelling to Greece, the purpose was entirely different.  Amadeus' contact lived there.  The woman had agreed to see Gerald, but she said she ws far too busy to hare off across the planet running errands.

The flight to Athens went uneventfully.  Gerald had never been to the city before, so the incoming view of the Acropolis awed him.  Disembarking, Amadeus' head swivelled around constantly, in search of the person assigned to meet them.  She finally spotted a short, dark, muscular young woman standing aside from the crowd.  Grabbing Gerald's arm, she dragged him over.

The two women spoke briefly in Greek, then the stranger turned to him.  "I am Alethea.  Phrygia sent me to take you to her."

Holding out his hand, Gerald said, "I'm Gerald Davinport.  Nice to meet you."  She simply turned away and started walking.  Nonplussed, he looked at Amadeus.

"I understand she's not one for the niceties," she grinned.

Phrygia turned out to be a sinewy old woman with disturbingly piercing brown eyes.  If Alethea was straightforward, her mistress was harsh as the Agean Sea.  After one look at Gerald, she shoved him into a hard wooden chair.

Read more... )
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Visiting a master of Spirit is no minor thing.  Amadeus took Gerald back to Wales to resume his normal routine while she went off to make the intricate arrangements.  Decarabas begged off, declaring that he had things to get back to, and generally offering the impression that he preferred not to be associated with low-class trash such as Welsh mages, nor such freakish things as the spirit world.  Gerald had a medallion and one half of their connection, and that ought to be all anyone needed--but he did leave them his phone number.

Gerald helped his father rebuild their back porch and helped out, as he usually did in the summer, at the local clinic.  He may not have official certification, but Amadeus had taught him a lot about medicine, not to mention the magics of life.  He had a natural gift for healing, though he was careful to be subtle about it.  The doctors would have been horribly disturbed if they noticed.

While Amadeus was gone, he had another dream about the grey eyes.  )
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Trust might be all well and good for mortals, said Decarabas, but he was disinclined to put his 500-year-old life in the hands of two mages whom he had never met.  By way of neutral ground, he led them to a church where they could talk undisturbed.  He moved about the place as though he had been there a thousand times before, and casually let them into an unoccupied office, where he invited them to get comfortable.  Once they did so, all three felt an uncomfortable silence descend.

Amadeus watched the two men from her armchair opposite the door, noting how they avoided each other's gaze.  Finally, she broke the tension.  "Well, are we going to just sit here all night?  I don't know about you, but I am rabidly curious about what's going on."

"I told you." Gerald automatically responded to his teacher's wishes. "He's the one I've been dreaming about." )
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They stood in the Louvre, in the exact place Gerald had seen in his dream.   They had wandered its halls for more than two hours before locating the precise spot, and now that he was there, Gerald realized that in the dream, he had been quite a bit taller.  His alter ego would've stood out in a crowd.  Despite studying the area as intensely as they could without drawing attention, however, neither he nor Amadeus had deteccted anything else that might even pretend to be a clue; only the height, and the fact that he had indeed been dreaming of a real place.  Even the paintings and fixtures matched.

Amadeus was a touch put out about this.  If he had been dreaming of a past life, as she had theorized, then the paintings would not likely have been warded with laser alarms.

After all that work, the two simply stood there for a little while, absorbed in studying the paintings they had not come to see.   )
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After breakfast, Gerald bid adieu to his mother and set out with Amadeus.  Her story about errands had been a front.  Leading him to a quiet spot on the edge of town, she sat him down on a rock and fixed him with a hard look.  He glared back challengingly.  "What?"
She shrugged, unashamed as always, and plopped down on the grass next to him.  )
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Ever since he can remember, Gerald has dreamed of eyes;  grey eyes, wise and dark and knowing.  When he sees them, he knows that he has known them for eternities, and that they are somehow wicked.  Sometimes, occasionally, he dreams of another pair of eyes, bottomless black and smiling, that look right into his own as if the dream were merely a window opened between them.  He knows to whom those eyes belong, and he never speaks of them. 

Most often, however, like most of us, Gerald dreams he is other people. )
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Morrowin’s activities Villain’s activities
Uncover infiltrated Church
Stop return of an old Power
Save family
Protect self
Uncover growth in Old Faiths
Torture Morrowin
Claim Morrowin to bring back Power
Torture Morrowin’s family
Weaken Church
Strengthen Old Faiths

I want the bad guy to be incognito to most of the world. But why? Already no one knows about the Power he serves. As far as they know, it’s the bad guy doing all this—his motives should be obscure. As far as anyone should be able to tell, he’s doing it all to get power. Obviously he’s preparing for the return of old magic, possibly to strengthen himself. But why torture Morrowin? Does he want to claim Morrowin’s power for himself? Does he want revenge somehow? No one knows who he is, or that he’s tied to Morrowin’s lineage.

This means that certain old documents distinctly need to be hunted down and destroyed as far as villain is concerned. Anything linking him to Morrowin’s family. Anything telling about the possibility of possession—and infiltrating the Church means he can get access to their records.

Order so far

Possibly opening with Vayle and young bad guy
Morrowin and his family
Duke’s daughter talking about favoring Morrowin
Morrowin rescues sister, revealing his power
Morrowin runs to church
Church people come for Morrowin—good church people or bad?
Duke’s daughter helps Morrowin escape
Something happens to Morrowin and duke’s daughter
They get where they’re going, where something else happens to Morrowin and duke’s daughter
They run away—assume it’s the Church chasing, but why is it after duke’s daughter?
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There's no second wizard. It's just the bad guy, both wizards conflated. He's been aching for vengeance all this time against the thing that ruined his life and made him work for it. He's got a thingy of some sort that he believes will allow him to defeat the Power once it manifests, so he's working toward the same goal as his boss-power is: leading Morrowin to allow the thing to possess him. And he does delight in the idea of defeating the Power through the bloodline it cherishes so. This wizard probably was also the lover or something of Queen Vayle. He followed her because he worshipped the same Power that gave her her abilities, adored her as a sort of avatar, but she ended up betraying him in obedience to the Power.

So he's trying to seduce Morrowin, feels drawn to him as the eventual focus of his vengeance and...out of nostalgia? Love for Vayle? Respect/pity for someone whose life he plans to ruin like the Power ruined his? He quickly grows to respect Morrowin's attitude and desires.

So this guy is old. He shows up intermittently to muck with the good guys. He has tendrils of influence in the Church--because he wants to weaken its power so his can grow, and because it's the Power's orders, besides it makes it look good ("Look, I'm helping!"). In fact, the Church is where he knows the doohickey is that he can use to eliminate the Power once and for all. He probably doesn't currently possess it himself, that'd be too risky.

So he comes in and out, alternately messing with the good guys and rescuing them when they seem to be in real danger. Meanwhile, the Church is chasing them--both because of his orders and because that's what the Church does, especially when someone like Morrowin is trying to evade them.

Morrowin, meanwhile, first meets the duke's daughter, and they hit it off. But his family warns him off, and her father forbids her from seeing him. So his powers awaken, and he runs at first because he wants to spare his family the humiliation and danger (right around the same time the Church shows up on his doorstep). Arya (duke's daughter) is heading out, so helps him escape to her destination by hiding him in her entourage. They reach the next city, where the wizard sends Morrowin the first trial--forcing both him and Arya to flee--and he finds some hint that there could be a way to stop this and preserve his family. Perhaps the wizard sends the hint...but that would indicate that the wizard knows Morrowin. But maybe it's just because the Power knows Morrowin, having an inside track on him, as it were.

The wizard keeps the pressure on by keeping the Church on Morrowin's tail. He plans to torment Morrowin like the Power wants him to, building his powers while weakening his resolve (convincing him that giving in to the Power is the way to spare him and his family pain--use the power to gain justice against the people who've done this to your loved ones!). But eventually, he begins to trust that Morrowin might be willing to help him destroy this thing...destroy the POwer, and the Blood will fail permanently. Your family will be normal and you'll be free.

But to destroy the Power, it requires that Morrowin allow it to manifest through him. To do this while still retaining himself would take a phenomenal will. He'd have to be ready to fight it from inside of the reasons the wizard remains skeptical for so long that Morrowin could have what it takes. Something eventually changes his mind--Morrowin's resolve in protecting his loved ones?

But Morrowin slowly finds himself drawn to the wizard, too. For one thing, they share some things in common, like wanting justice, however long it might be in coming. Morrowin has things to fight for, the wizard has memories to fight for. But there needs to be more between them.
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Morrowin's a good young man. 17, he loves his family dearly. It hurts him to see them outcast and ostracized, persecuted and discriminated against just because 'they have the Blood.' In his opinion, only one member of the family ever awakened to the Blood, and she was a bitch, and his family is very nice and wouldn't be like that even if something did happen, and there's no reason to think it ever will again.

So he sees his family hurt every day, good people never allowed to fulfill their potential and gain the honor they deserve. He himself experiences peoples' hate often when they realize who he is, losing friends simply by speaking a name. It leaves him angry, blaming society, blaming the other members of the peerage and the Church. On the other hand, he holds his true friends close, understanding just how valuable they are to stand by him in the face of it all.

He wants, more than anything, to be able to give his family what they deserve. Part of him wants to give the persecutors a taste of their own medicine, to learn what it's like to suffer this way.

So when he learns about his powers, he first fears what people might do to his family because of it. Later, he is tempted by the potential to give them what they deserve and teach people a lesson.
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On souls: a person's soul cannot be taken away, only given. It can be sacrificed, using the proper ceremonies, to a waiting Power, which in these days can only be summoned up at specific (and usually well-hidden) places of that Power's strength. Many of the old Powers have none of these places left, their old centers being now warded by the Faith. A wizard, alternatively, one who has already lost his or her soul, can use that vacuum in her own being to take a soul herself...assuming it is already loosened or willingly offered.

What else can a wizard do? They must be feared for some reason, but if they don't have the power of the Blood, and they don't have the power of humans...what do they do? The absence of a soul creates a void, which they can use as a channel for...what? They can pledge themselves to the service of a Power, thus becoming essentially a priest, able to call on that Power's abilities so long as it chooses to allow them to (but it's the Power's decision what happens, not theirs). Can they channel the lower forces of nature? Leylines, essentially, the flow of the world--telekinesis, scrying, etc.

Not sure: A wizard can steal a soul in a ceremony, in a contest of wills. The strongest-willed wizards are greatly to be feared, as they can rob almost any person of their soul if that person does not shield himself. Most such people become automatons, empty human bodies that the wizard can order to service. Strong-willed individuals, however, may retain their own will, becoming wizards themselves.
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Scene near the end: the Power trying to convince Morrowin. "I will have your friends destroyed. Give yourself to me and it won't happen. I'll protect them, you'll be a part of me."

Something must happen to family, then, if they're loving. Family dies? No, wizard would want to preserve them for the Blood. Church protects them? But later, Morrowin will need to return because his family is basically hostage...which means they need to reappear. What will they do? At least one parent dies to protect little sister (possibly nix the 'mom ran off' plot thread). Parents are watched over by the Church, and held hostage by the Church when it becomes apparent that Morrowin is a threat. Parents are also watched over by the wizard, and held hostage by the wizard. Killed by the wizard to hurt Morrowin. Tortured? Kidnapped? He has to save his little sister, possibly. Wizard and Church conflict over the family...maybe that's when the wizard's influence over the Church comes out. He has his own people on the place, and they end up slaughtering the family and kidnapping the little sister. But why not do that early on? Because he doesn't want Morrowin to go to him straightaway. Wants to screw with him first and make him use his powers...but saving his little sister would do that...except it might just make him turn himself in and plead with the Church to help him until he's grown in confidence and learned to distrust the Church. But if the Church is the one that does it, then it'd be up to him anyway. No, he wants them all to suffer first. Morrowin's disgrace, the fall of the family fortunes because of it. Their humiliation, their pain in watching/hearing about their son. Plus, Morrowin wouldn't be powerful enough at first. He uses his power a while first to grow stronger, and then goes to rescue his little sister in a conflagration of power.
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How common is the knowledge that using your Blood opens yourself to the Power within you? Do people--even the Church--realize that's what's actually happening? They know that touching the Old Powers weakens the wards on Mens' souls. So they know that using the Blood makes you vulnerable. But do they realize that someone could be possessed? Has it ever happened? I was thinking no...but it seems rather implausible, doesn't it? Do they actually know it's passed through lineages? Why should they? Maybe some followers of the Old Powers know more in some ways than the Church does. Maybe it's hidden knowledge. Individuals know the truth, but the Church as a whole won't be seen as Paying attention to such affairs. Even with families they know are tainted, more often than not nothing happens, the few times it does, people are likely as not to be decent types, so the Church reserves to itself the right to kill such troublesome individuals (or the Crown does). But then why tell people it runs through families? Maybe information they couldn't hide--old gossip, followers of the Old Powers. But the Church keeps their witch-hunt doings secret, to avoid such stirs and people doing stupid things, so people don't know about the possessions, they don't know exactly what the Church does with those it hunts down, they've heard rumors that some of the Blood work for the Church but have never seen them, and the Church is very careful to warn people but not to make them think the Blood is innately evil. Even so, people do fear it.
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Before Men were the spirits, and the spirits were the lords of nature and the earth. When Men came, some gave their worship to the spirits, who were after all great and beautiful and terrible. But others cleaved to the God of Man. While the spirits wielded every power, so that the earth and sky and all living things answered to them, the God of Man granted humans a single power: that of protection. Through love and faith could Men ward themselves and what they cared for, defending themselves from the Powers of the world.

The Old Powers were fickle and alien, beings of an essence apart from the World of Man who passed time here away from their homes in the ethereal realms. And these Powers were fell and dangerous, though not all were evil, so that Men grew afraid of them. In time, as the faith of the God of Men grew, so grew the wards that Men laid down for their own protection against the Old Powers. Eventually, those Powers were driven from the World of Men entire, exiled back to their realms of origin, their ancient strongholds shielded by holy places, and the World of Men truly belonged to Men at last, as the God of Men had intended.

But not every trace of those ancient Powers was erased. During their time of co-existence, the Blood of the Old Powers had mingled with that of humanity. And, as the Powers were of an essence indivisible from itself, that Blood that ran through Men was truly of a part with the Beings originating it. Not every old place of power was shielded equally, too, and some few Men held to the pagan worship of their forefathers, forming small places were the Old Powers could still, at need, brush briefly against the mortal realm.

But these things are rare, now, and tame. The Church of the God of Man stands bastion against the ancient Powers that once tossed Men like leaves in the wind, and the earth belongs to humanity.
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Main char--Morrow? Morrowan?--has the blood of a magic critter. It runs through his line. Possibly Bad Guy did something nefarious to a parent.

The Blood is actually a small amount of the essence of the creature. The magic beings didn't have real bodies; their "blood" is in fact part of their single, continuing being. Potentially, a person with the Blood is a gateway to let that creature back onto earth...but humans are warded by their souls. The more a person calls on their power, the morey they weaken that ward, becoming more of a gateway. If the soul is dislodged, the person can become a vessel for the creature, which can remain in the world so long as the flesh that anchors it.

The bad guy long ago tried to become such a vessel, but at the time he didn't understand how it worked. He has no Blood, so though he lost his soul, he gained nothing.

Not sure about this:
A person who gives up their soul either becomes undead--a mindless empty husk--or, if the will is strong, can retain identity and become a wizard--a necromancer, essentially, able to see and manipulate souls due to the emptiness where his own once was.

This wizard learned, and later tried again to become a vessel by taking the Blood from someone who bore it (hero's relative?) and infusing it into himself. This didn't work, so he's left with the option of making another into a vessel and controlling its power.

So, he wants the hero, who has awakened to the Blood of the right creature.

Why that creature? Is it the one he tried to call on? Did he sacrifice his soul to it, so it owns him now? Long ago, he first did it out of desperation--love or despair or some sympathetic cause--but since then, has grown corrupt and insane. Now, he wants--what? freedom from his soul's slavery? To replace it with someone else's? Power?

Those with the Blood do have souls, and aren't innately evil. However, the Blood presents a terrible temptation and a great danger. The more they use its power, the more powerful they become...and the more they open themselves to the influence of the creature, potentially letting it back into the world from its long exile, with all its dangerous power. But those with the Blood are feared, for their own power and for what they could wreak. Thus, the Church hunts them. Some come to work for the Church, understanding the threat and the danger, wishing to protect others from it.

There are rituals that allow such people to reinforce the wards of their own souls after using their power...but these rituals lose strength the more often they're used. These rituals also seal the growing power created by such use. IN the end, eventually, if the power is used, the person will succumb.

The blood runs through family lines, but it doesn't always--or even usually-awaken. No one knows what makes the Blood stir.

If the entity that's the source of a line's Blood is destroyed, the Blood belonging to it goes away too.

So, this is what the hero faces. His Blood has awakened. He hides it for fear of reaction. If the Church learns, it might hunt him down, and he doesn't know what they'll do. If people learn, they might lynch him. Or try to use him.

Some places fear the Blood greatly. Others still follow the old worship, respecting or even revering people bearing the Blood. Rumors abound. church members undestand, but most others don't care or don't have the opportunity to learn the truth about the Blood. Some believe it a throwback to old powers, or a signs of sorcery or pacts with demons. Others covet it, envying such power.

Perhaps people have forgotten, believing the Church's teachings superstitious. Some in power believe themselves sophisticated, and eitehr don't elieve in the power at all, or believe it's merely a source of power to be used. The awakened Blood is rare enough and the Church has done a good enough job that people seldom remember why it should truly be feared. Faiths' wards guard against it as well, but when people disbelieve, the wards fail and the old power rises--the old power contained in holy sites too. This is what the bad guy wants. He's purposely encouraging this lapse of faith.

Maybe there's been a rise of magic over the last few years to decades. The seals on the old places weaken, and more Blood awaken. The few wizards grow more powerful. They might side with the bad guy, but they wouldn't want his ultimate goal--the resurrection of one of the old Powers.

Would he rule above it? Under it? Covet the destruction of his enemies by whatever means available? Desire the insane destruction of the world, or the dstruction of the curtain that holds the ethereal realms separate from Man's World?

Perhaps he does have the means to master a Power. Or the means to control a body that Power is brought into.

Other guy wants bad guy stopped before the final goal is met, but wants the rise of the old power. He's been waiting centuries for an opportunity to harness the power to...what? Win his soul back?

Bad guy waited a long time, Found hero's family generations ago. Perhaps tried to sire a child on the motehr, but she killed herself. Did he destroy hero's family?

She had one child, this son. Later, she went away (quite a scandal) with bad guy (though no one realizes it) who tried to get his own child on her, but it didn't work. She died--did he use the child for a Blood experiment (the infusion?). Did he try to awaken her Blood? (This could be a flaw--impatience, recklessness). Either way, hero is the only one left, raised by his father and stepmother. They're a nice family.

He has a little half-sister, who is 10, named Istelle. He's 17. They're gentry, the cadet descendants of nobility--the bad guy (name: Ivaren? Ivalen?)? A great-uncle perhaps? I'd like him to know the hero from the beginning, possibly have a moment where he hears great-uncle's voice and realizes who the bad guy is. Bad guy has influence within the Church. Family is in a certain amount of disgrace, because his mother left her husband years ago, eloping adulterously with another man.

Opening: hero plays with his little sister. He's been feeling twinges of power, but doesn't know what it is (he might fear he does). She's endangered, his power erupts to save her (when this happens, the world goes funny and transparent and he can see mystic things). After that, only the two of them know his secret, and he uses his power in small ways to please her. But one night, he's threatened, and nearly does terrible things to the aggressor. He flees to the church sanctuary, hiding in its wards, in fear of himself. After that, priests come...he thinks they must be sent by the pastor, but in reality, they're sent by the bad guy to retrieve him. He flees from them and his family.

What kind of critter is he? First instinct says 'demon,' but so cliche. Some Power, the descendant of a god-like Power that was once worshipped--a dark, dangerous Power but not entirely malevolent.
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
Bad guy is actually controlled by the Power he sacrificed his soul to, the same power that runs through Morrowin's genealogy. This Power has been planning this for ages. It's one of the ones that still has a small cult following, and a hidden place of power it can work through. Way back when, it awakened the Blood of Morrowin's ancestress (the Witch Queen Vayle). Because Vayle had been used and abused and betrayed (by her husband?), she desired power to avenge herself on everyone who had hurt her. Thinking it could use her, the Power awakened her Blood, hoping that she would give herself over to it and it would be able to claim her as a vessel.

Instead, she turned out to be strong and canny. She used the power to overthrow the king and usurp the throne, and indeed ruled with a bloody and iron fist for a short time, before the Church was able to bring her down. But she was too clever to give up her soul to the Power, which had hoped to direct its followers (who it kept secret from her) to ensnare her. When she was brought down, it left her lineage in disgrace, for now everyone knew that they were tainted, and with what was assumed to be a dark and evil Blood.

But the Witch Queen's short-lived rule did have an effect. The Witch Queen did not lose her soul, but she had used her power profligately enough to open herself to the Power's blandishments. It directed her to persecute its own followers, aiming her at a man of particular talents. She obeyed its impulses to break him, and, left with his life in ashes about him, this man decided to have his revenge. He had no Blood, but in a rash act, he sold his soul to the same Power that had been tied to Vayle. He had not been a terrible man, but he was agonized, impulsive, and desperate. The Power did not give him what he had hoped for, but he was left a service to the being that had had him destroyed.

This wizard watches Vayle's lineage to this day, as do others in the kingdom. They had been a great family, but, though they are still aristocracy, they have been cast down as far as possible, a bloodline in disgrace.

Though in service to this Power, the wizard has learned much over the years. He wants vengeance on Vayle's blood even now, but cannot harm the Power that holds his soul. He works in tandem with it, doing its bidding to bring it back into this world in hopes that the techniques he has discovered will allow him to avenge himself not only upon Vayle's family line, but also on the Power itself that broke him and now uses him for its own ends. The Power has used him through the centuries to tweak things, facilitating its eventual escape back into the lands of Men, preserving Vayle's bloodline until the right person comes along, infiltrating the Church... That person--Morrowin, whose Blood the Power again awakened for its own intentions--it intends to have the wizard twist to the breaking point, until Morrowin willingly surrenders and gives himself as a vessel for the Power.

So, near the opening of the story, a discussion with...duke's daughter or whatever--the smart girl--regarding Morrowin. She'll favor him, but be told that an alliance with his tainted house is out of the question. Also, possibly near the opening of the story, a flashback chapter with Vayle and evil wizard guy.

Morrowin's family knows about this taint, and lives with it, passing the knowledge down from parent to child. They're used to marrying low, but also used to marrying for love since it's generally the only way their family finds anyone willing to marry into them. Normally, familial descent follows the father, but in their family it follows whomever is related to them. A descendant of this line stays in this line, and can never be apart from it, because the Blood follows. Anyway, they're used to living under this cloud and no one in the family has awakened to their Blood since Vayle, which was hundreds of years ago, so while they can't forget, in large part, among themselves at least, they don't worry about it much. The Church, however, watches them, and their family has very carefully remained practicing all these centuries. They're fairly pious.

Do they know who the Power is? Do they know whether it's evil? At the beginning, Morrowin has senses that his Blood is awakening. Then he uses it to save his baby sister...but he was going to play with her. Perhaps he knows better, and runs straight to the church, which is why he then has to flee. Perhaps by then he's already had an encounter with the duke's daughter, who...why would she help him, if she knows his Blood has awakened? Has memory faded?'s known that not everyone of the Blood is evil. It's known that a few even work for the Church (though they're almost never seen, to anyone's knowledge) (see post about Church and Blood. Though a cloud still hangs over the family, as it does with any family known to be tainted, some who know them to be good people find it ridiculous to think that just because one ancestress was one of the worst people the realm ever produced, they should all automatically be like that. But they don't trust anyone else to trust that. So the duke's daughter decides that Morrowin is a good person, and helps him escape near the beginning, then...does she go with him? Does she love him, or is she actually heading somewhere and hides him in among her people till they can get where she's going...but by the time they get there, they've both gotten involved in what's happening with him. She becomes a target because the wizard figures Morrowin likes her, and hurting/threatening the people he loves will help to break him. (see post about his family.)

The Church protected Morrowin's family, taking Vayle's children under its roof and into hiding. And there was a witch-hunt in the early days. It was just like a real witch-hunt, with innocent people dying, so the Church finally put a stop to it. Or maybe the Crown did, because it didn't want people murdering each other.

Not sure: Other wizard guy.... What if I'm off-base? What if it's the evil wizard guy who ends up having the thing with Morrowin? Hurting him, twisting him, hating him, wanting admiring him. When he's supposed to offer up Morrowin to the Power, hoping he can summon the Power in and then destroy it and Morrowin...maybe he decides he can't do it? Eh.

Could it be the priest instead? Comes in, sort of spying for the Church, increasingly aware of what the wizard wants to do to Morrowin and what he wants him to become...eventually having to decide whether Morrowin should be destroyed for the world's protection...

Other wizard: same agenda as evil wizard. Except...not enslaved to this Power. Clear-headed, calculating. Wants the Power to take Morrowin, then use the tool the evil wizard had to destroy the Power. Eventually, hanging with Morrowin changes perspective, and decides to find a way to keep it from killing Morrowin. Or maybe it never would kill Morrowin, but the evil wizard would never be able to actually use the thing. Maybe both wizards are after the thing, but this wizard wants it before evil wizard gets it, because he knows that if evil wizard gets it, it'll never be used and the Power will take over. Planned to let evil wizard have Morrowin...but by the end, decides to summon out his soul, hold it himself, and call the Power in to destroy it, then place Morrowin back. So it's in this wizard's interests to keep Morrowin alive, let him be harmed (but possibly not as much as villain wants) and get him to where he's bound to go. At least until this wizard decides to trust and work with Morrowin--and Morrowin trusts and works with him--at which point the hurting Morrowin can fall by the wayside.

Kind of anti-climactic though. Morrowin is main character, he should get to strike the blow, or at least help. Hmm.
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
Holly Lisle's "How to Legally and Ethically Steal Ideas

"Altered states"--something about those words set me off

Figure out what you love about a story: I love the whole thing with Jack and Gerald. It's not about the characters; it's about the story between them. That weird romance-thing. The love/hate, the inner attraction.

"Now that you know _what_ you're going to steal, you have to figure out a way to get away with your crime. Granted, you could write a story about a novice and a stable girl who prostituted on the side, but if you did, you would find yourself unconsciously echoing what the author you're stealing from did. Don't do that.

Rethink your idea, (and it _is_ your idea, now, because you're stealing it fair and square), considering all the different ways that you could have two people who love each other passionately but who cannot be together, and will soon be torn from each other's arms.

The way you do this is to throw everything you can think of at the wall of your imagination, and don't stop until something sticks. (This is also known as The Great Pasta Test of Idea Done-ness.)"

So...what? I want them both to be men. But it doesn't have to be lovers. It's about the tension and the intimacy. So...siblings? Parent/child? Stepfather, even? Eh, I like brothers or lovers best. Maybe they never actually get together, maybe it's always teasingly far away.

Well. But I do need something that causes the problem. They start off as enemies, or become enemies quickly. But on opposite sides of what? The one character should be fairly normal. The other is a bad guy, and not a nice-nice bad guy, but a real bad guy. He might be kind of sympathetic, but definitely a bad guy.

Also, how about a female lead who can be admirable and not end up the love interest? Both men have powers; she doesn't, just getting by on wits and skill. Emotionally strong, helps support male lead. Maybe meant to be his bride...maybe even ends up his bride, but he and the other man have a thing...

A world where once, creatures of legend walked. But long ago, they were Warded out of the world, and today, only Men live. Still, the blood of Men mingled long since with those other beings, and even today, occasionally, it awakens.

The magic of Men is the magic of faith. Warding is humanity's special power. Through belief, through faith, humans can protect themselves and that which is theirs. Their power, given by God, is to bind the power of magic. Men alone wield this power, because Men alone have souls. But a soul can be sold, and humanity can be forsaken, and in this manner, that which was once a man can gain great power...if only he surrenders the power he was born with.

The Church is the great protector of humanity, the bastion and focus of faith. Long ago, when magic rode high and endangered humanity, humans fought back and drove magic from the world. Today, the signs remain for all with eyes to see: this is why so many shrines and churches built on ancient sites of power. This is why so many spirits and legendary creatures are remembered in the old writings. Humanity's faith drove them away, and humanity's faith keeps them away. Some even sided with Men; a few are remembered fondly still, if from a distance. Today, the priests still remember. They still quietly defend humanity from the powers that once endangered them.

Way back, some of those mythical beasties slept around. Running through the blood of some families is still a trickle of the old magic, and occasionally, a descendant will awaken to its power. There are various critters--kitsune and isdhe, leshyii and hobgoblins, trolls and piskies. They have different powers and different attitudes, and different looks, all of which tend to have an effect on a person who wields their ancient power.

And these are what the Church still patrols for. Not all of them are bad; some end up working for the Church to protect others with their power. Others simply settle down and live quiet existences. But some are tempted to use that power for their own selfish ends, while others can go out of control. These, warriors of the faith deal with.

But all is not well in the Church. Wielding so much political power, the Church is a beacon to the corrupt as well as to the holy. The politics and intrigue of that august body deal not only with mundane power such as kings wield, but with the power and safety of all of humanity. If the wrong people were to ascend to power, the wards of faith secured and enforced by all good followers could weaken...or even collapse, and a flood of the old magic would be unleashed back into an unprepared world.

One normal young man has awakened to his old blood. He will find friends--a young noblewoman, a priest whose faith is a bastion of safety--and together they will have to face a growing darkness.

A man who long ago gave over his humanity to gain power--a wizard. Dangerous and dark, he works for his own ends. The power that is rising could be the means to fulfill terrible desires for him...or a chance at redemption. The hero could serve as the key to everything he has desired, or might just be the spark it takes to regain his humanity.

The enemy seeks the old magic for his own ends. What ends? Does he simply want the mundane power of ruling the Church, substantial as it is? Defense of all humanity, the warder of Men's souls, the power to which even kings bow. Does he want to become a god? Or something worse? A demon, overthrow the world, create his own order. What can he do with such power if he revives it? He hopes to make himself into the bridge, the gateway. It will flow through him, giving him control of...everything. Why?

But the enemy must shield himself. He works subtly, manipulating certain elements in the Church to harm Men's faith and weaken the ancient wards. He works in the secular courts of kings and queens to gain power...why? The worst foe of all. THE foe. The blood of demons...has awakened, calling to one of its own. A demon, invited, can return to the body of its own blood. And it wants to cast down the world and the humans that are so sacred.

God. Humans have a god, a god that has granted them power, and charged them to guard and protect the world. The magical creatures, then, where do they come from? They were natives of other spheres, but once wandered freely between worlds, delighting in the pleasures of the flesh and of mankind. But as mankind's numbers grew, they became more dangerous... Something else happened, though: did the demons begin a war? Or did mankind mature and realize the danger the magical beings posed?
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
Okay, now this is a story I started a WHILE back, and then stalled out on. It was going to be a short story, but as I went along, I realized that it's actually the introduction to something much longer. But...I'm not sure what to do with it. I have only the vaguest ideas for a plot (that's a failing of mine, starting a story and then finding I have no plot).

Some specific points:
I'm trying to decide whether I ever want these two to have a real romantic relationship. I'm sort of leaning toward 'not,' because I like the unusual dynamic, they don't exactly seem compatible that way, and eventually I might want to hook them up with other people.

As I hope will eventually become apparent if I keep working on this, the setting is something like prehistoric earth. Think of Ghauar as coming from somewhere in northern Africa near the Mediterranean, and Ehl as being from England or France. The distances would be roughly correspondent, which means by their lights, he lives VERY far away.

I'm writing in 3rd-person-limited, from Ghauar's perspective. I want the tone of the story to reflect her attitudes and personality. She's meek, kind of innocent, fairly naive, currently upset and worried, and quite sharp and intelligent.

I'll post more if I think of it. But I'd love a wide variety of critiques, opinions, comments, suggestions, and impressions. Tell me anything you can think of, and don't worry about hurting my feelings. I've developed a thick skin. :)

There was a young woman.... )


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October 2015

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