07 May 2010

A Scene From Qawra-Pol's Youth

Go to Collecting Whistlegrass to see a snippet of young Qawra-Pol's life. She's commencing the final test of her skills and must begin by gathering a number of poisonous stalks of grass.

Playing

I'm considering playing with an incomplete story set in Imotina which I abandoned earlier. Its working title is Failing, which in no way fits how the story is turning out, even only four chapters in. However, until I think up a better title, it will remain known as Failing.

Its MC is Danere, a bigender individual who would like to be referred to as "neither," which is rather impossible as there is no acceptable designation for one of that gender identity in Imotina. Her/his mentor has set his thoughts on that, however, so I expect him to come up with something at some point. I should note here that it is extremely arrogant to refer to any intelligent being as "it" anywhere on Ferodoxis. That designation is reserved for Abodaore's Avatar, the genderless Child whose care Zaashen has been given.

Speaking of which, I've made no progress on Baheen the past few days. I'm thinking that I'll stay in Likii's pov, however, and have her/his would-be mentor kidnap her/him while she/he is cuddling a child from another family on her/his lap. Seeing as Likii's relatively new to being a priest, I do believe I'll give her/him some trouble in returning to her/his home Oasis. Perhaps a bit of a trek. Still need to think up some things for Zaashen to do while Likii's gone. And I need to think up a description of the mage plane that satisfies me. Oh, and it just occurred to me that Likii doesn't know how to connect to others' spirits in order to move them. Hrm. Things just keep getting more and more difficult for Likii. Oh, and she/he also has no idea how to read landmarks in the mage plane. Likii is in deeeeeep shit.

Now I just need to figure out how to get an unarmed, unprepared youth with a toddling child back home. whee

05 May 2010

Qawra-Pol

Qawra-Pol is one of my oldest (agewise, not conceptually) characters on Ferodoxis. She is a mage, a priest, and a shaman of the Ird-an'e people. In age, she has lived for over three thousand of Ferodoxis's years, was a youth when she saw the rise of the Unity, saw the fall of the Unity, and was one of the directors of which peoples would retain what knowledge. It was Qawra-Pol who suggested the Imotinans be assigned the keeping of technology.

She is actually bigendered, like Likii, but she prefers to be known as female. This does not mean she has closed herself off from accepting a woman as a spouse; Qawra-Pol simply prefers the female gender and does not feel that this is any disrespect to Deity; she takes the view that Deity made her to prefer to be known as female so won't be angry that she chooses to be known as such.

Qawra-Pol's people are Especially Chosen of Deity on Ferodoxis. They have more Holy Ones than any other country has priests. I should perhaps make it clear that shamans aren't necessarily Holy Ones (priests), but are simply those who have mental abilites instead of magical abilities. However, for the Ird-An'e, shaman generally does translate to Holy One because the Deific Gift of Holiness is given to almost any Ird-An'e who practices the basics of prayer and compassion and asks for Holiness. The Ird-An'e are also Especially Marked, in the color of their hair, which is always some variation of red; this tends to breed true in all descendants, regardless of how much actual Ird-An'e blood they retain.

04 May 2010

Epiphany

What if the one who teaches Likii her/his magical skills isn't Yasaroon? What if the "foreigners" who teaches the people aren't just aimless foreigners? What if the "people" who are supposed to do that are the same person? What if "they" are Qawra-Pol?

I will have to play with this idea a little before I can decide if it's the one I want to go with.

Today's Justin's Exercise

I've decided to see if I can keep up with doing Justin's Exercises at least a few times a week over on Forward Motion. Since I don't really have anywhere else to post such things except here, I'll be posting what I do here as well as on FM. Today's exercise involved a character cozy in their home hearing footsteps outside. The image that came to mind has nothing to do with Ferodoxis, but I wanted to write his bit anyway. Wordcount came out to 1530. Here it is:

------

Wade opened his eyes. Had that been a footstep? The sound came again. A distinct ploomp, a slosh, then another ploomp followed by another swish, just barely audible over the sounds of the wind whistling around the Cathedral. Someone paced outside his window.

He rose, leaving the pew's row, and padded to the Cathedral's door. The sound had come from the east side, so he went down the stairs, heading to the east. At the end, he levered himself over the railing, perched his toes and the balls of his feet on the curl of the bottom step around the one above, and leaned out past the corner of the Cathedral to look up the long side of the building.

Light scattered on the water. A hard wind blew, stirring the water up, creating waves which flickered in the colors the light through the stained glass windows threw on the surface. Wade shifted, rubbing a hand over his coarse hair in a gesture of frustration as the wind blew his loose garments about. Granted, it was pretty boring being stuck in this place whenever he slept in his own world, but the last thing he wanted right now was the frustration of mysterious noises outside his dreamland-home.

Then he saw it. A movement. A flicker of silhouette, a bit of face partially lit by the light coming through the open window. The stranger halted, facing the wall, and moved the shutter a little. If the hinges squealed, Wade couldn't hear it as far away as he was.

"Hey, you!" he called.

The stranger started and looked at him, taking a half-step in retreat. This brought the stranger completely into the light. Wade gestured, a come-hither motion.

"Who's there?" the stranger called.

Wade shifted, glancing down. Since nothing happened most nights, he'd chosen to appear in his blue pinstripe pajamas. Them, with his black skin, probably made him pretty nearly invisible in the darkness here. He sighed.

"I live here," he called back. "Well, sometimes. Come this way. I'll meet you just inside."

He turned, one foot slipping into the water. Wade didn't take any time to test whether his foot would sink in or not. It was irrelevant if it would; that his visitor could walk on the water was enough for him to know. It told him that the other was probably another visitor like he was.

Rain slammed down as he levered himself over the handrail. It soaked him in moments, but he ignored his wet clothes. He mounted the stairs and entered the Cathedral just far enough to get out of the rain. Thunder rumbled; a few moments later, lightning flashed.

He heard the sound of hard soles hitting the stones of the step just before the stranger entered. Wade watched the stranger enter, then shut the door and barred it before the wind could blow it open again.

"What is this place?" the stranger asked.

"I'm Wade," Wade said. "What's your name?"

"Valon," the stranger said, pushing a heap of wet blond hair out of his face.

"This is what's known as a Cathedral where I spend my waking hours," Wade said, indicating the room at large. He took a moment to shake himself, concentrating so that his clothes dropped all the rainwater at once. The water slapped the old wooden floor. "It's a kind of religious gathering place."

"You're not from here?" Valon asked.

"No," Wade said, turning. "Come with me. Hungry? I have some food."

"A little."

"I'm not from anywhere in this place," Wade went on. "I come here when I dream. Every single night, since I was a child. I imagine I came here when I was an infant as well. Here, for this place, this world, I am an Oracle. Where are you from?"

"Not here, either," Valon said. "How did you get dry?"

"A little bit of concentration. Try it, you'll dry out, too."

Valon's footsteps ceased for a moment, and Wade paused. It took Valon a while, but Wade eventually heard the slap of water hitting the floor again.

"What brought you here?" Wade asked.

"I don't know. This is the first time I've been to a place like this--or in a dream that feels this real. What's the name of this place?"

Wade glanced over his shoulder, then stopped to turn and take a closer look at Valon. The blond looked to be in his middle teens. He wore a simple tunic to mid-thigh and a pair of heavy hose that could have been wool, with a pair of ankle-high boots with hard heels.

"The name of this world is Mizariel," Wade said. "You are most likely another Oracle, Valon. Don't ask me how we come to be here when we sleep, or how we learn what we need to know for the people who ask questions of us. There is no way to know any of this."

"Why didn't you come across the water to me?" Valon asked.

Wade chuckled and continued walking, mounting the steps to the platform where the altar stood. He went to the altar and pulled his satchel close, digging into it.

"Because my mind is not as flexible as yours. I doubt that I can walk on water, and I don't want to test the theory that I can because I can't swim."

"But we can do anything in our dreams," Valon said, joining him.

Wade chuckled again, passing the youth a fruit. "Take the peel off that before you eat it," he said.

Valon accepted it. "What's it called?" he sniffed it then dug his thumb nail into the peel.

"It's an orange," Wade said. He watched Valon separate a length of peel from the orange and took it to put in his satchel; there were animals that liked such things. "And, usually, we can do anything in our dreams, but Mizariel is a world as real as our waking worlds, so I doubt my abilities."

"I just walked across the water from the shore," Valon said, gesturing with a bit of orange peel toward the door. "What am I supposed to do here?"

"Go someplace and hole up," Wade said. "I've always been here, but you may have to go to the woman herself for advice on where to go."

"The woman who?" Valon asked.

"Mizariel," Wade said. "I suspect you're probably to go to the other continent. The one on the other side of the world, I mean. I've heard things are nicer there than they are here. You don't want to stay here. Things are . . . unhappy."

Valon looked up at him. Wade took the last bit of peel from the youth's hand and put it in his satchel.

"Where is she?" Valon asked.

"In a cave on Northaff--the northern continent. If you concentrate, you'll go directly to her. Unfortunately, she's one of the few Landmarks you can use here, and none exist on the other continent--at least, none that I know of."

"Can I stay here for a while?" Valon asked, looking around.

Wade looked around as well. The storm's power had increased and now the wind almost continually howled around the building. Rain pounded on all the windows as the wind whipped it around, and frequent rolls of thunder joined the howling of the wind. Flashes of lightning, just as frequent as the rolls of thunder, lit the windows from the outside. He realized that he'd left the lower window open and went back to the pew where he'd been seated to close it.

"It's best to go where you need to be as soon as possible," Wade said as he returned to the altar. "How's the orange?"

"Unusual," Valon said between mouthfuls. "But good."

Wade smiled. "Well, when you're done that, I'll teach you how to go on to Mizariel so she can tell you where to go."

Valon looked around, biting into one of the last few sections of his orange. "What's this place called?"

"The Waterborne Cathedral," Wade said.

"Will I see you again?" Valon asked, looking at Wade again.

"Probably not," Wade said. "Once you get to your dream-home, you'll be tied there." He watched Valon eat and swallow the last orange section. "Ready to go on?"

Valon looked around again, frowning, then sighed, meeting Wade's gaze. "Not especially," he said. "But I don't have much choice, do I?"

"Not really," Wade said. "Now, close your eyes."

Valon did so.

"Okay, stretch yourself out until you feel a point of great power."

Valon inhaled a deep breath. He remained silent for several minutes.

"I feel it," he said. "Somwhere northwest of here."

"That's Mizariel. Focus on her like you did when you dried yourself off."

The youth didn't speak. Wade watched, nodding a little when he saw the power increase around Valon. A subtle glow surrounded the youth for a few minutes, then Valon faded, leaving only a silhouette of light in his shape before that, too, faded.

Wade sighed and dug into his satchel again, this time for an apple. He set it down, pulled himself to sit on the altar, retrieved the apple, and bit into the fruit.

Ready To Write

I'm feeling ready to write today. Don't know if I actually will, however.

I still haven't decided exactly what I want to do with Zaashen's next scene. I'm considering bringing in a foreigner or two to assist him with teaching the people how to defend themselves. At the same time, I'm wondering if there's a way for me to bring in some other Meeyaharans from a different Oasis to do the same thing. The main problem with the second option is that the priests once had the duty of teaching the people these things and there aren't any other priests left in Meeyahar. Well, none that have any training in any of the duties they're supposed to have, anyway. If I go with the foreigners, I have to fiture out exactly where they're from (as the backstory for them will fit pretty much anyone who shows up) and who they are.

Then there's Likii. I need to start bringing in her/his want-to-be mentor. Confusions galore there, at least until her/his want-to-be mentor announces a preference for being known as female. She's not going to be very happy with Likii's unwillingness to cooperate. I still haven't figured out how Yasaroon will know that Likii needs training. Perhaps Likii's want-to-be mentor will complain to Yasaroon? But why, when the other mages avoid Yasaroon because of her/his unwillingness to join them in the mage plane? Maybe she/he is a bit Touched by Keena-Valaacha, though not a priest? I don't know. All I know is that Likii needs proper mage training and she/he can't get it from any of the other mages who'd take an interest because it would take her/him away from the people and she/he wants as little to do with the mage plane as possible.

Reading over this, I just got it. Yasaroon will arrive with the foreigners, who are priests or shamans of Deity. That will solve a couple problems quite nicely. Unfortunately, I still need more scenes for Zaashen, and I still need to figure out where the foreigners come from. Much as I want to write, I just have no idea if I will today. whee

03 May 2010

Basic Instructions For Using Langmaker Software

To create your language: *SAVE the spreadsheet after each step or three. The program will tell you that it wasn't able to save, so check to make sure it did, because it will regardless of what it says. It's always been that way.

1. Click the uppermost, leftmost box on the spreadsheet and format your font. Arial size 12 is a good size; using serifed fonts like Courier New takes up more room, so try to avoid them, especially since going smaller on the font's size makes the words more difficult to read.

2. Resize five or six columns; remeasuring for twice the original width is a good ballpark for four-syllable words in the above suggested font and size. Any wider than this, and you may not have all your columns on the page if you print out the words, which is a good idea; that way you won't have to open the Lexicon file every time you need a new word.

3. Select the first column by clicking on the header.

4. Select LEXICON, then select GENERATE.

5. Using letters of the alphabet, enter the patterns you wish to use. (I generally start with C and V--Consonant and Vowel, respectively and choose different letters for different consonant or vowel makeups).

TAKE CARE and USE CAPS in the PATTERNS box. If you use lowercase letters, you won't get words; you'll get only the patterns you entered into the pattern box (took me five minutes to figure this out). It's a good idea to work out your patterns on paper before you enter them into the patterns box. It's another good idea to copy-paste your PATTERNS to each pattern box for each column you're using.


An example. For Meeyaharan, I have three entries: C, V, and W. Consonant, Vowel 1, and Vowel 2 repspectively. These include the sounds b, ch, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, sh, t, th, v, w, y, z, zh in the Consonants section; the letters a, e, i, o in the Vowel 1 section; and my made-up letters aa, ee, ii, oo in the Vowels 2 section.

6. Enter the number of words you want generated in the column. I generally choose anywhere from 500 to 1,000.

7. Check the EXCLUDE DUPLICATES box. This means when you generate the column the words appear in will NOT have duplicates. Duplicates from column-to-column is another matter, however . . .

8. Click SAVE before exiting each Generate box; the box will then automatically close.

9. Once you have prepared your 5 or 6 columns' Lexicons, reopen each, and click the GENERATE button next to the SAVE button. This will generate whatever number of words you've chosen to have generated in that column. The box will automatically close again.

10. It's a good idea to ALPHABETIZE your columns. There is a little button above the spreadsheet that will do this. SAVE after each generation.

11. Once you have the number of words you want generated, print out the lexicon for ease of access.

Today . . .

I've made no writing progress. Not even pinning down ideas. sigh

On the other hand, I've been afflicted with a desire to head up to the nearest office store to purchase things I may not need right away. I've done a budget and I don't have the money for that and some of the other things I want this month, though, so I need to think about it. On the other hand, I do tend to eventually use whatever I buy, so it'll come in handy someday. Sun's still high enough. If I leave now I should be able to get home before dark or just near. whee

I found some old software that I had years ago for making languages and I've used it for making a list of words in case I need them for naming concepts we don't have and other Meeyaharan characters. I'll put the link to it in the sidebar later.

Epiphanies

Ever since that little character chat, I've been getting teensy epiphanies. I already knew that Likii had already memorized all the Holy Laws Governing Marriage, and that led me to the fact that she/he, at eight (almost nine), is going to be the one officiating marriages. She/he is also a mage, and that chat cued me in to the fact that she/he is going to have to be the one to raise the dewllings and other structures for new settlements. I've just realized that this also means that she/he will be the one raising the walls that are supposed to surround Oases as well.

Now I just need to think of some more things for Zaashen to do. Hm, methinks it's time to bring in that foreigner from overseas. And, what luck, I already have her backstory planned. All I need to do is figure out what the hell her name is. Something derivative of Imotinan, for certain, as she's Sakmar, and they're a breakaway nation. Hrm.

02 May 2010

Character Chat: Likii

This is a character chat I did for Zette's Gym on Forward Motion (FM). I thought it would be fun to post here:


I'm sitting at my desk watching Chat pass by when Likii walks in through my front door. And it's closed. She/he stops to look at me and shakes her/his head before stepping over to prop her/his rump on the arm of my sofa. She/he looks like she/he will in a few years in the MS I'm working on--brown hair loose around her/his shoulders, earrings, a multitude of fabric necklaces decorated with beads of various colors and shapes, a sleeveless sand-colored tunic that extends to her/his knees, a shesees (a voluminous garment worn to protect against sun and blown sand), barefoot, more lengths of fabric laces with beads wrapped around her/his wrists and ankles.

"So, when do I get a say?" she/he asks.

I glance at her/him. "Well, considering the way my Muses are acting, probably not for several more months."

"Ha ha. Very funny. Without being foolish, A." Likii folds her/his arms and tosses her/his head a little, flipping the ends of her/his loose hair back.

"I'm thinking after Zaashen leaves the Oasis," I say.

"You're not going to go into the beginning of my training with Yasaroon?" Likii asks.

"I'm not sure," I say. I watch a few more posts enter Chat.

"I'd like my point of view to be included sooner," she/he says.

I look at Likii. "I know, but you know how much it's going to drive readers nuts reading 'she/he'?"

Likii laughs. "So? I choose to honor Keena-Valaacha. If you don't let me be myself, I won't cooperate."

I mutter.

"What?" She/he asks, voice perky. "I didn't get that, A. Speak a little louder."

I chuckle against my will. "I was complaining about other characters getting to you before I trained you properly."

"Oh, you'd hate us all of we followed you like sheep, A., so don't try to tell me otherwise. So, how many years do I have to wait before I can rejoin Zaashen?"

I sigh. "A few," I say. "He'll be at the Oasis for a few years, then leave to work on the next settlement, and you'll have a lot of training. You really should stay with your Oasis."

"What for?" Likii asks. "The community's too small to require additional homes, and once Yasaroon's set the mage lights and I've added my power, they'll be good. Besides, if Zaashen's going to be trekking a new community to an oasis for settlement, he'll need me along to set that up. And a few of whose years? Yours or mine?"

"Yours," I say. "Four, I'd say, but I don't think you'll take the same path he does. You'll have a few things to do on your own."

Likii groans. "How am I supposed to help Zaashen if I can't be with him?"

I chuckle. "I'm considering sending you on that trek with the new community instead of him. I think it'll be good for you, teach you some things about responsiblity that you'll need to know. Why does Zaashen need that?"

"No reason, I suppose. So, are you going to have me reconcile with Zaashen now?" Likii asks. She/he stretches out her/his left arm and shifts the bracelet on its wrist around with her/his right hand; the cord the beads are on is the same color as the rest of her/his priestly garments. She/he looks at me, folding her/his arms again. "I'd like to, you know. I mean, where you are in the MS, I'm angrier than a sandstorm, but I do want to reconcile with him. I believe you should put in my point of view now, A., because I think I have something to say where you've left off." She/he snickers. "And I think what you've got going on right now is kind of boring, never mind Napiina's squeamishness about sex. And at his age," she/he snickers again, shaking her/his head.

I chuckle, remembering Napiina. "I'm trying to figure out how to go about the reconciliation. And I'll consider putting in your point of view now, too. That's all I can promise."

"Well, I know better than to beg," she/he says, rising. "I have a question."

"What?" I ask, watching her/him step over to the door.

She/he looks at it as though really paying attention to it for the first time since her/his arrival. "Will I be able to walk through doors like I did when I came in here after I've had my mage training?"

"Not unless you use the mage plane," I tell her/him.

Likii winces, looking at me. "I don't think I'll do that," she/he says. "I'm not looking forward to meeting my want-to-be mentor for the first time, and I'm not too sure about Yasaroon, even though she/he's kept away from the mage plane as much as possible."

I chuckle. "That's understandable. I have a question for you."

"Ask."

"Why did you choose to remain known as both when you don't want to be a mage in the first place? I mean, other mages who are also priests or shamans choose one gender to be referred to as."

She/he looks at me, smiling a little. "Like Zaashen told me, I'm the perfect bodily image of Keena-Valaacha. I want to honor Her/Him. That's my entire basis for accepting myself as I am, even to my future agreement to being trained by Yasaroon. Like I told Zaashen, I'm what Keena-Valaacha made me to be--with, of course, the additional bits I've acquired since infancy--but I'm essentially Keena-Valaacha's child, and I refuse to disrespect Her/Him by not claiming all that I am." She/he starts to step through the door, then halts and leans back to look at me. "Ah, A.?"

"Yes?" I ask, ignoring Likii; looking at her/him leaning through the door makes me queasy.

"Will Yasaroon be the one to teach me how to raise the structures for the new settlement?"

"Yes," I say.

"Oh, that's a relief," she/he says. "Nice speaking with you."

She/he leaves and I slump in my chair, putting consideration into her/his suggestion. Maybe I will put in a bit of Likii's pov now in the MS. I think I'm seeing what she/he has to say.

Resurrection

I'm playing with something in Ferodoxis right now. Totally different project than anything before and I want a place to babble so I won't annoy my friends in FM chat any more.

Currently working on something that's been "complete" as a short story for quite some time now. I've long thought that Baheen could be extended into a novel and I've been writing on it for four days in a row. I don't know what this means for my other writing, and progress is slow (for me, at least in my opinion), but I am making progress.

Thus far, the MC, Zaashen's lost his spouse of 11 (Ferodoxan) years, gained an Avatar, and is reawakening the faith of his people. I'm having a fair amount of fun with this and would be having more if it wasn't like pulling teeth.