The Epic: Working Stiff

I’m summing up the next part of Prince Romm’s story, because I’m finding it absolutely impossible to write out. When we last left Prince Romm, he had attacked two mages of the Magnolium Order in order to stop them torturing a rebel wizard. The wizard made a cryptic reference to Lucana’s son, and then died. Romm then ran for it.

News of Romm’s magical ability reaches King Thobis and Cardinal Alabaster. Both are shocked, to say the least. King Thobis is distraught. He wants Romm, his eldest son, to become the next king, but Alabaster reminds him that this will be difficult, now. The law clearly states that anyone with magical ability must enter the Magnolium Order, And the king’s advisors inform him that the nobility would chafe at giving the throne up to the Order, which already places tithes on their profits.

News of what Prince Romm has done reaches the King, as well as the heads of the Magnolium Order. They manage to suppress the part about Romm being a wizard, but everyone finds out that he has run away. King Thobis wants to issue a pardon for Romm and have him come home, but Cardinal Alabaster of the Order won’t have it. All magic users are, by law, required to join the Magnolium Order and submit to its rigorous, ascetic discipline. And as he tells the king, the law is the law. And if Romm is in violation of the law, he cannot possibly Continue reading

Character Notes: Daven

I alluded to someone called Daven in Chapter 3 of my epic. I’m using a variant of the character for Pathfinder Society games, now, so this seems like an appropriate time to talk about him. I will write about the version of him from the epic, not the Pathfinder version.

In my epic, “wizard” means “rebel magic-user,” and “mage” means “loyal to the Magnolium Order.” Wizards are more powerful because they don’t have self-imposed restrictions, but there are some things only those with mage training can do, like heal effectively. I may need to think of better names for these two, but that’s what I have right now.

Daven is a wizard, age 24. Like most with the gift of magic, he was found by the Magnolium Order at age 4, and was supposed to be taken in by them, as usual. Instead, his parents, who were wealthy commoners, fled into the forest with him. This was 20 years before Prince Romm ran away, and 10 years before King Thobis would slaughter Lucana. At this time, Lucana was under the care of the main body of wizard rebels. These rebels, also hiding in the woods, found Daven and his parents. His parents joined the group, though they knew no magic, and they entrusted their son to the rebels should anything befall them. Daven practiced his magic with the rebels as he grew.

Now the Magnolium Order was larger than any one nation, but it had in general done the bidding of the king, when he asked them to help maintain the laws and the peace. Quite apart from their own desire to recapture defectors, they had had standing orders for centuries, ever since the blood feud between the royal family and the House of Amicen, to hunt down the rebel mages. So the band Daven had joined moved on, through forests, swamps, caves, mountains, to keep away from the Magnolium Order.

The Order had many skilled hunters. Many skirmishes between mage and wizard were fought, and the rebels lost many members. Eventually they realized they could not run forever. They had not the strength, nor the numbers. After all, Continue reading

Chapter 3: This Way and That Way

The next morning, Prince Romm awoke with a terrible headache. He turned his head, and something weighty fell off of it. There was the Coin, in the dewy grass of the forest. Oh, no. He hadn’t meant to sleep out here! Now it was dawn, and the whole castle would be in an uproar, looking for him!

Romm stowed the Coin in his pouch and ran towards the palace. The forest seemed so different in the daytime, it actually made it harder to find his way. He hadn’t slept in the forest for almost 5 years. What an embarrassment this would be. His mind started to work through all sorts of excuses he could make, and he realized he had a whopping headache. It occurred to him that sleeping with a highly magical item on his head, although he had slept with it under his pillow or in a pocket before. He felt around for the golden Coin now. Yep, still there.

Just as the palace was coming into view, Romm decided that the best excuse was that he had woken up early and snuck into town. That would get him in just enough trouble that no one would suspect it was a cover. So, he changed direction.

Two hours later, Prince Romm was wandering through the market square, having various goods thrust into his face by eager vendors. Not one of them recognized him, of course. They’d only ever seen him from afar, standing on a palace balcony with crossed arms behind his father. They could tell someone wealthy when they saw one, though, and they offered him bread, fruit, vegetables, meats, spices, jewelry (for the wife or fiancee he must surely have), wine, shoes, clothing, and all sorts of other fineries — “Special price just for you!” they all told him. Romm, who had only been here once or twice before, just smiled and shook his head. He was slightly awestruck, not by the quality or quantity of the goods, but by the people. They were crass, cheery, and doing the business of the kingdom. Romm imagined what it would be like to be a city merchant, and thought it seemed an exciting enough life. Haggling, making sales, making an honest living… Then Romm’s pragmatic side caught up with him, and he stopped thinking about it.

Pragmatic Romm figured that he had two choices: Go back to the palace, or wait to be found. Certainly they would be looking for him. And as he’d be in the same amount of trouble either way, he figured he may as well choose a suitable place to be discovered… somewhere fun, but also somewhere they’d be likely to look. That was how Romm found himself sitting in the meeting house, eating a sandwich, surrounded by people discussing the news of the day. Romm listened in, glancing at the door every few moments for someone to rush in, searching for the lost prince. He was just thinking that someone ought to have found him by now, when the door burst open and Continue reading

Exposition and Notes

So I’ve written a bunch of expository chapters recently, Chapter 2 of Gigas’ Tale, and Chapters 1 and 2 of the epic. I’m not very good at expository writing, or at least, I don’t like it. I didn’t even do my normal editing process on chapter 2 of the epic.¬† My editing process, by the way, is to read through the entire story, to myself, aloud. It catches typos and awkward sentences, and lets me review what I’ve just written. But I need to take a step back from the exposition, and I couldn’t bring myself to edit the forest scene.

As a self-critic, I would like to make a few notes on what I’ve already written, especially the first two chapters (not counting the prologue) of the epic. Both chapters are written not objectively, but from a heavy point of view. The story told by King Thobis, in particular, was biased and inaccurate, although the full extent of this remains to be seen. I do enjoy unreliable narration, although I like to give some hint that it’s going on. It gives the impression that the characters view the world through different lenses, and even with different facts. Some of the mistakes in Thobis’ story are misinterpretations of the facts, or mistakes passed down through history. The idea, for example, that the King’s best friend would march into the throne room and demand half the kingdom is not very believable. It sounds more mythical than realistic, and in fact it’s not quite what happened. Other errors in the story are deliberate half-truths introduced by the Magnolium Order, especially the tale of its own origin. It started as nothing more but the weakest of the various street gangs, fighting for turf. And one particular claim is actually a mathematical error: Each king has not, in fact, died younger than his father did. The historians who have been publishing that fact have been fudging the numbers in order to make that sensational claim!

In chapter 2, there are very few outright untruths, but Prince Romm does have his own take on the world. He is a teenager, of course, and his relationship with his single father is not good. Part of that is teenage rebelliousness compounded by political disagreement, but part of it is a lingering reaction to what his father did to that girl. The same goes for his relationship with Cardinal Alabaster. He had liked both men a great deal when he was 7, but after that day, something changed, and he wanted nothing more to do with either.

I don’t think I conveyed this very well, but Romm’s inability to find a wife is also mostly due to his bad relationship with his father. It’s not intended to be a “rebellious princess” type of thing, where he refuses all comers because of a desire for independence. For one thing, as the man, he is supposed to come to them! It’s more the following thought process: “Anyone my father likes must be no good.” It’s not spite, therefore, it’s mistrust at an almost subconscious level: Romm doesn’t even realize he’s coming up with objections to justify his disapproval of anyone, or in fact anything, his father likes. Apart from that, there are no inaccuracies in what Romm is thinking that I’m willing to reveal.

On the one hand, therefore, I hate writing exposition. On the other hand, I like writing exposition when it’s full of lies. It makes me feel like I’ve got a fuller world, when the characters who live there have differing viewpoints on it.

Coming soon: Prince Romm runs away! Gigas the Halfling vs. Cloud Giants!

Chapter 2: Forest and Magic (In Which Nothing Happens But Character Exposition)

That night, Prince Romm did something he did often. Half an hour after nightfall, until everyone assumed him to be sleeping, he slipped quietly through his bedroom window and out of the castle. He had a rear window overlooking the Royal Forest, and had discovered long ago which stones in the castle wall were safe for climbing up and down. Once outside, wearing his dressing gown in the cool night, he ran towards the forest with as much speed as he could muster. The forest wasn’t very large or very wild. Kings had kept it for hunting in, and it was stocked with game, but nothing really dangerous lived in there, and it was small enough that walking in any direction for a couple of hours would get you out. But to a city prince, at night, that wood seemed the perfect seclusive getaway.

Romm reached the edge of the wood and slowed down, more comfortable here. After looking around habitually to make sure he wasn’t seen, he walked a bit farther into the trees, carrying nothing but a pouched belt. The moon was nearly new again, but stars shone on the boy. He found a branch lying on the ground, and lit it with a little burst of flame from his hand.

The fact that Romm could do magic was a secret the 17-year-old was extremely proud of having kept. He knew the Magnolium Order had ways of detecting such things, but he had managed to avoid them, always. Well, not when he was four. By ritual, all children were checked for latent magical ability at the age of four. If such ability were found, the child would be taken away to join the Order, regardless of the child or parents’ wishes. Even the princes had been subjected to the test, but for some reason it hadn’t caught him. Romm accidentally set a low branch on fire, but stifled the flames with a wave of his hand. Continue reading

Chapter 1: The Curse of Amicen

Here is the explanation given by King Thobis to Prince Romm as to why the girl Lucana had to die, ten years ago.

I know you have no love of history, my son. And I know that you won’t want to hear a three hundred year old story. But the evil that was started in those times has been a constant curse on us for ten generations. So if, at long last, you want to hear the truth — listen.

Three hundred years ago, which is not so long if you stop to think about it, the land was in chaos. Magic ran unchecked. There were none to stop rogue wizards from having their way with the common folk, and so they slaved and stole and slaughtered. The kings were powerless to stop them. The army was powerless to stop them. Mage guilds evolved into gangs, and fought brutal and destructive wars between themselves for turf. Many innocent people were killed, or else had to pay more than they could afford for “protection.” The rest, seeing how the gangs’ words were law, lost all respect for the monarchy. This was before the Magnolium Order, of course.

Anyway, at long last there came a courageous and wise king who set out to put a stop to the madness. This was our ancestor, of course, King Gadric. Known to most as Gadric the Great. You’ve read in your history books how he formed the Magnolium Order out of the few mages who weren’t corrupt. And I’m sure you could recite the battles in which he used them alongside his own army to put an end to the anarchy and re-establish peace and royal authority. As long as we, his descendants, have ruled, we have kept the chaos of magic at bay thanks to the discipline of the Magnolium Order, and to our own wise leadership, which I know you will continue.

That’s what the official histories read. But there’s more to the story, Romm, that most don’t know. King Gadric had a friend. Continue reading

Epic Story: Background

One reason I’m finding it hard to continue past the prologue to my epic story is that I’m not sure how to get the rest of the action started. The main part of Prince Romm’s story involves him leaving home at age 17 and having some adventures, but I feel like some things need to be accomplished before he can leave:

  • We need to see how the trauma of watching his father behead a girl has affected Romm. I feel like the best way to handle this is to cherry pick symptoms from the Wikipedia page on PTSD that I think are interesting. I don’t want to be too gritty with this, but he should definitely be haunted by it. I think he probably has dreams about it, avoids the council room (or perhaps chairs!), and finds it hard to trust his father or Cardinal Alabaster at all. They would have explained to Romm that the girl had to die because she was evil and wanted to kill the king, but Romm believes there’s more to the story than that.
  • We need a proper introduction to Romm’s family. I think the Queen probably dies before he turns 17, because her absence makes Romm’s flight from his home more plausible. I deliberately left the King unnamed, mostly because children don’t think of their parents by their names, even if they know them. The fact that I haven’t thought of a good name yet is incidental. For most characters, I like names that are short and sound kind of like real names, but aren’t. But in this particular case, I think I’d like something vaguely Egyptian sounding. The best I can come up with at the moment is Continue reading