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Sharing some of my plot, characters, and the relationship between the two (1 Viewer)

Questionable

Senior Member
I'm currently underway writing a fantasy novel consisting of 3 POV characters. It rests somewhere between "middle" and "high" fantasy and will probably be a little on the long side when I'm done with it.

There are a few important core concepts to speak about before I get to the characters and the jist of the story itself.

Magic exists as a manipulatable form of energy occupying a space somewhere between what we know as "Dark Matter", electricity, and water. The intent of my magical system is to steer away from what I perceive to be the "popular" implementation of magic in fiction, that being the rather contrived and convenient method of "wave a wand, say a word, and something happens". In the universe I've devised, humanity has been able to study the rules of magic and determine a few of the natural laws of this energy themselves, but just as in the real world with many of our own sciences, even the finest minds cannot answer some of their most burning questions and must do with "I don't know how that works" until a suitable observation is made. There are a few basic terms in the magical encyclopedia used in the name of standardization so that anyone who uses them knows what they mean.

Magic: This term has multiple uses. It can either refer to energy of any given form, or any step of the casting process, or even as a general term referring to some portion of the community. Often used as a catch-all term by those uninitiated with the system.
Basic energy: The basic form of untransmuted energy that resides within the planet. It seems to follow the rules of gravity as far as one can tell and on its own has very little use.
Transmuted energy: Any energy that has been altered from its basic form into something with reactive potential.
Conductance: The act of pulling basic energy from the planet.
Transmutance: The act of altering basic energy into a form of the user's choice, sometimes known as "final energy".
Transmittance: The act of sending transmuted energy to a given destination.
Transactance: The act of transmuted energy performing its given task and thereby returning to its basic form, completing the cycle.
Cast: The singular term for the entire magical process. To follow all of the previous steps successfully results in a successful cast.
Rescindance: The act of reversing an in-progress casting.
Practitioner: A general term for one who practices magic.
Load: The amount of strain placed on the body by performing a cast.
User: Used to refer to a "user of magic", generally only in the company of other practitioners to avoid confusion.

How exactly any creature is able to manipulate this energy and harness it is a topic still hotly debated, however the assumption is that the origins of this energy and the origins of the miniscule electrical impulses coursing through a living body at any given point is very similar. It is assumed that any living creature is born with the inherent ability to sustain their own life by continually manipulating these energies through themselves as subconsciously as breathing. Anyone who can't, never lived, and if they lose the ability to, they die... Same as breathing. This poses complications for those who want to elevate their own abilities, however, because manipulating magic isn't as simple as willing yourself to breathe, but better. There are requirements, and while one or two of them at a time wouldn't challenge most, all of them at once is required to be truly successful and that is where most discover they cannot succeed.

For us outside this fantasy world, think of energy like an electrical current. Energy has "voltage", it has "current", and in order for the user to send it anywhere it is a requirement that the user do several things simultaneously with success. A successful cast, in its four parts, is completed using a combination of mental and physical dexterity and fortitude. The brain serves to instruct and to direct, and the physical body serves to sustain the "voltage" and "current" of the energetical load the user seeks to conduct, transmute, transmit, and transact. As human beings are imperfect, there are many ways for this process to fail at any given time. The most prominent is in the user's thoughts. Any slip-up, any deviation from absolute serene focus could result in anything... Perhaps a conductance too strong or weak, a partial transmutance or one into the wrong form of final energy, a transmittance too short or long, or a transaction in the wrong shape. Any practitioner must turn into their own personalized form of monk - one who at any desired moment can maintain the utmost focus lest they slip and fail in the blink of an eye, sometimes with devastating results.

The second, and often saddest, method of failure, is in a new practitioner's body. As energy courses through a practitioner's veins it strains their nervous system. If there is a weakpoint anywhere, it will come out within the first several days of training. Most who find a body-related deficiency discover they now have a consistent pain somewhere on their body, some lose motor function in a finger or toe, but there are always... More serious mishaps. Hearts, eyes, vital organs... Parts of the brain. Anyone desiring to practice magic takes these risks knowing the harm it could bring to their body when they first practice, and with each new class, several leave for home on the first day missing some portion of themselves... Some more than others. Almost everyone sustains pain during their first week, and almost everyone who doesn't suffer an irreparable injury learns to manage it enough to focus on their task. The amount of effort and subsequent physical strain required to perform a given cast by a given user is dependent upon several factors:

Length of conductance (the distance the user is from the energy's vertical boundary, which changes with location)
Amount of energy desired to be conducted
Desired speed of conducted energy
Length of transmittance (the distance the user is from the desired end location)
Amount of energy desired to be transmitted
Desired speed of transmitted energy
Desired intensity of transaction

There is probably a math formula that could be made for this, but the synopsis is that the more extreme the scenario, the higher the effort requirement. It has a habit of being exponential, and also exponentially dangerous.

However, magic as a feature is not as simple as it has been made out to be so far. There are a wide variety of facets to be explored. Here are some advanced terms that all play a very important part in shaping the role of magic in this world.

Form: Distinct, identifiable, officially-classified form of final energy. There are many forms and most are common sense. Cold energies and hot energies are the primary two categories, but other categories exist and are quite popular and/or useful. Possibly the most interesting and niche is "communications", which entails the sending of messages over vast distances. Communications mages are sought after by ruling bodies for obvious reasons, but due to their scarcity and the skill required to utilize communications magic, there are few enough that they're snatched up only by the largest and most powerful countries. Due to the distance messages are usually sent over, an enormous amount of energy is required, and a "receiver" is also required to cleanly receive and decipher the message at the other end.
Focus/Focii: Singular/plural. A gemstone of any given variety that is used to multiply a practitioner's ability to cast. In technical terms it functions analogously to an electrical relay. By using a focus, the user's brain still decides what to do with the energy they wish to use, but the focus sustains the load. Its efficiency depends upon its size, purity, and the type of gemstone. Different forms of energy have preferences for different types of gemstone, often branded by color. Once a practitioner is experienced enough, owning a proper focii will facilitate much of what they want to do with their talents. Before they own one, they are very limited in ability due to the exponential toll that increasingly complex casts require - it quickly grows harmful and possibly fatal without a focus.
Rune: A specific carving that can be made on energy-proficient material, most often focii. A rune can serve as a stand-in for a brain to serve instructions, while the object it's attached to serves as the transference vessel. Runes are extremely intricate and become more complex with more complex castings - in general, they are good stand-ins for humans in extremely menial tasks. Since they are a physical carving, they are always at risk of being "corrupted" by weathering, erosion, or collision accidents - most of the time when they are damaged they simply become harmless and inoperable, however disastrous results have occurred under the right circumstances. They are occasionally used on certain high-value low-usage weapons such as assassin's daggers, or on single-use items such as runic penetrating arrows. Runic weapons are most often used by government-sanctioned hitmen, assassins, or bounty hunters. Only very specific, very trusted, and extremely experienced carvers can carve runes, and they can only do it in low volume so any carving will be expensive.
Mire: A geographical location specifically altered to force energy out and away, making it nearly impossible to cast due to the impossibility of conductance. Some are natural, and some are manmade - though the techniques for generating a permanent mire have long been lost. When found naturally, they are most often swampy or marshy areas.
Nexus: The antithesis of a mire. They can also be natural or manmade, though their methods have also been lost. It is much easier to cast within a nexus, and many of the most prestigious Guild colleges were built upon a nexus to ease the learning process. When found naturally, they are most often elevated or mountainous areas.
Mage's Guild: In the current age, magic simply cannot be discussed without discussing the Mage's Guild. The Guild is a relatively universal sanctioning body that provides a framework for aspiring practitioners to both achieve their magical education, receive certifications, and access job opportunities. While it isn't completely universal, as the Guild's highest echelons would like for it to be, it is widespread and well-known enough for most places in the civilized world to recognize it. Much like you'd expect from a guild of any stripe, the Mage's Guild institutes a ranking system bolstered by educational progress that serves as a benchmark for a practitioner's skill. While most people will just call people of magical aptitude "practitioners" (the term "Magician" is frowned upon, and the term "Mage" can be used by those who don't know, but is truly reserved for a rank within the Guild,) often they will be corrected with a proper rank soon afterward. This is a minor list, but the ranks are as follows.
Initiate > Apprentice > Practitioner > Mage > Master Mage > Grandmaster Mage
Once you're a Practitioner you're considered educated enough to use magic for work, and once you're a Master Mage you're considered educated enough to teach others in high-level classroom settings. Each rank requires its own set of improvements over the last in order to progress, and as can be imagined, they become more and more difficult to achieve. (There are details but I don't want to make this section any longer than it has to be.) Of note, there is usually only a single Grandmaster at a time, as they are required to display uncompromising mastery of every form of magic under duress for a significant period of time. They usually show up once every several hundred years, though those who come very close are not nearly as rare.
Intent: This is far from a major facet of any of this system, but it is nonetheless interesting to talk about. Practitioners, when performing a cast, must always have some way of solidifying their intent in their own mind. Highly experienced mages might be able to generate a 5m wide fireball 30m away with their hands and feet tied, their mouth gagged as they're underwater being eaten by a shark, but for a brand new learner, intent is important to visualize and speak as an assist to keep their minds on track because the brain is easily distracted. As is sometimes seen in books, wizards wave a wand and say a word... In this world that's not required, but some people still do. Many do when they are new, but for a few the habit remains into their more experienced years - this could be as a result of it becoming a crutch, some form of mental difference, or perhaps a preference. The fact remains that pointing has a way of helping a transaction reach its location properly, and saying a word specific to their own learning experience might help as well - because it helps establish intent, which is the absolute rock-bottom basis of a cast. Physical or audio cues can (and should) be disposed of as soon as possible, if possible at all, as they simply add another avenue for making a mistake.
The Blood Moon: This world is blessed with a second moon - blood red, its presence always shadows its larger and more ordinary cousin. Though none have set foot upon it, scholars postulate that the deep hue it displays, along with its hints of reflectiveness, indicate that it is not rocky. Instead, it is perhaps some form of gemstone, perhaps a less pure rock of some form... Regardless, its effects upon the world are known by all. Just as the waters are drawn up upon moonhigh, the energies of the world are drawn too, submerging otherwise "dry" areas. Candles burn a little brighter, the wilderness seems a little more threatening, the winds and the rains and all the world's natural habits seem just a little stronger for just a little while. During this time it is much easier to cast than it would otherwise be, as in most places the tide will swallow up all who stand on solid ground... Though they may not know it. Behind closed doors, it is often speculated by those less religiously inclined that the moon is the source of the energy throughout the world - after all, legend says a chunk is missing on the far side.
Arcanite: A mineral spoken of in old folktales. It is said to be the same color as the blood moon, existing in harmony with the energies of the world and acting as the purest fount for a practitioner, though its corruptive qualities can drive great men to madness. It's... probably not real.

After typing all that up I'll take a break for a little while, but I will definitely update, maybe even tonight. In general, the whole "magic" thing isn't necessary to understand for the book, it's more something I constructed so that as magic is used, it's used in a consistent way grounded in as much logic and reason as I can get. It also exists because I enjoyed making it. It's not really related to the plotline and I was GOING to write about characters 'n stuff right away in this post but I got excited and/or carried away, so... Next comes the general plot, the 3 characters, and how they relate to it. There's still some stuff I need to figure out. Regardless, I'd love to hear some opinions so far.

Also, sorry if this is in the wrong section, I think that this is just the closest there is. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

NEW ENTRIES: General background/ ideas

The plot involves 3 characters from different backgrounds arriving at the same place under different circumstances. They have all suffered losses, though their lives are in different phases - one old, one young adult, and one child.

The background: In a magical world, two major continents exist - one is inhabited by humanity, the other is not, and they are separated by a continuously raging storm. Magic and its interactions with technology (primarily engines of any sort) have stifled advancement, leaving the vast majority of humanity stuck in a historically-analogous modified spread of 10th-15th century technology, without gunpowder. The ability for magic to fill many of the gaps left by technology has made humanity relatively complacent as far as research goes, as practitioners can serve many of the functions that otherwise would have been served by technology. As such, progress has been slow, meaning civilized history goes back tens of thousands of years. Not all has been peaceful. In the current era, feudalism engages in a constant clash with more stable forms of government and territory lines constantly shift in rolling waves and pockets across the continent, combat balanced between magic and physical means. The sword, the bow, and magic all serve a purpose the other cannot fill - where the sword and bow are volume tools, magic (though more practitioners are peaceful than violent) can unleash a larger swath of death per person.

Before this, however, recorded history details the tail end of a dark age where it wasn't simply humanity vying for survival against their own kind, but instead fighting for the future of all mankind against a much larger threat. Rather than being the unparalleled masters of their realm, man was hunted. A war of attrition, violence on a scale only birthrate could overcome, and like rats, man seemed to occupy every hidden space...

For the winged beasts of fire and rage, that seemed to mean they had a steady supply of food. At least for a while. Their zealous attacks brought them sustenance, a veritable wealth of meat clutched within their claws, but every once in a while one would fall from the sky... And once in a while was far too often. The dragons incubated too slowly, matured too slowly, and though they were able to keep man from expanding even against slowly mounting losses it eventually became too much. For every one dragon killed, a thousand men need be slain... Perhaps they came close, their natural flame-throwing abilities roasting even deep tunnels, but while one or two wasn't looking a crew of men would carry a ballista out of a hidden passage. Through the heart, a bolt would fly, and that was enough to win.

There were always more men - rarely more dragons. Today, these dragons inhabit small pockets popularly known as "dragon territories", and the olden wars are known as the "dragon wars". Far from forgotten, the vendetta against the scaled beasts has risen into legend. Trophy hunters come back with a head in an oxcart - horns cut and hung from the sides. Kept as something to be hunted. Too few to prove a threat, too many to rout without losses too significant to bear for any country engaged in war against another.

There is, however, a single place where history tells a different story.

In the far north, a country isolated from the very beginnings of their cultural coming-of-age still harbors dragons. These dragons are a shadow of their legendary warmongering cousins, a sub-breed that was once a migratory species too small, too skittish, and too few in number to engage in conflict against humanity. In the hands of conquering man, this sub-species was easily caged and soon afterward man's once-singular settlement split apart, taking their prizes with them - trophies, this time living to serve a purpose to be decided. New settlements were made, homes dug into the rock, these dragons brought in as captured animals and bred like dogs for countless millennia. Universally, the ability for fire and flight was squashed... No more fighting back, no more fleeing. The separation between communities resulted in different preferences which turned into different "breeds" of dragon, all becoming more docile, domesticated, a purpose for their existence ever-so-slowly emerging. From their cages they were tentatively allowed, still owned, but now too separated from their wild roots to have any understanding of the past, not that they would have ever been shown what they once were...

Their uses to mankind evolved over their long lives, each generation becoming slightly more specialized. First they became used as competition gladiators - like dogfights, the dragons were placed into cages and let loose against a dragon from a different city. Slashing to the death, to the winner goes a reward - another fight next month. Their second assigned purpose much later was to accompany royalty in ceremonial events. A show of power, might, and nobility in their refined muscular form - half again as tall as a man and twice again as long as tall, they stood even with the tops of carriages, their stride taught to be catlike - predatorial. A beautiful, intimidating threat. During their "second assignment" era, a Hadimus (the centralmost city in this country) royal breeder came to discover a specific potential in their kind. One unexpected, but with vast opportunity for exploitation. Little did they know, this would be more important for their country than anything in the past.

The first time a Hadimus dragon spoke, the crowd before the King they accompanied instantly fell silent. A product of many generations of incredible secrecy, an unheard-of acknowledgement of animal intelligence, and what the public would consider to be a shameful amount of respect for what was, truly, still just an animal. But... Something curious unfolded that day. The King would sometimes fall silent in the face of a question, turning to his accompanying dragon and discretely nodding as though giving permission. With an intelligent curtness, what was once considered to be a lowly beast would answer correctly in a coarse, deep voice, gaze levelled ahead. Again and again they would answer any question correctly even as their King fell entirely silent, allowing this to happen. Little by little the King grew a smile, and little by little the crowd could not help but to stare not with disdain, but with a mixture of awe and bewilderment. The news spread like wildfire, and the development of the dragons did not stop there. As this new role matured over time, human traits were required to best serve the purpose man had found for them now. Reading and speaking had been accomplished, but higher social and communicative traits could be trained. And they were. Writing became common, as did a proper immersion into the human psyche through education from an incredibly young age. Some dragons naturally didn't take to this - those would fill lesser roles, such as gladiators or carriage-pullers. Those who did learn had a keen way of maneuvering through social interaction. They grew ever-closer to the rulership, a purpose sought by aspiring younglings for prestige, honor, purpose, and loyalty to their home.

Even that is ancient history, however. Today these dragons are known as Noblemen's Dragons. They still serve as gladiators, as ceremonial accompaniment, as honor guards, but the most important role is as Primary Advisor to rulership. Kept in small quantities by each city's keep in this cold northern country, they are as intertwined with the country's culture as mankind itself. The existence of Noblemen is in itself a contradiction - looked up to for their physical prowess, their regality, their intelligence... But thought of as something below humanity even so. Quadrupedal animals with a long face, paws instead of hands and feet, big flickering ears, a tail. Something that cannot be allowed true freedom for fear of just how high they can truly fly on their own - and thankfully for man in this frigid place, Noblemen know not the concept of true freedom... As long as their lives are, as good as their memories are, there is no way to remember what has been destroyed countless generations ago for fear of revolt.

As one can imagine, the existence of these dragons conflicts with the continent's ancient wars with their larger relatives - an uneasy peace with the concept of the Noblemen's Dragon has been struck by those who know of them and understand what they are - a comparatively small breed who cannot fly, cannot breathe fire, lack thick protective scales, and only exist in small numbers under the ruling thumb of humanity as trophies. Perhaps even a small amount of pride is achieved upon knowing that man hasn't just purged the beasts, but truly conquered them...

I'll update more in a bit! I got carried away... Again... and am now exhausted from all that rambling. It is... Pretty disorganized, as most of it is still in my head.

Thoughts? Opinions? Anything!

NEW ENTRIES: CHARACTERS

1st character: Miirthaleirix (meer-thall-air-icks)

Species: Noblemen's Dragon
Age: TBD (probably somewhere around 350-380)
Gender: Biologically female, identifies as female

Miirthaleirix (otherwise known simply as "Miir" by those close to her) is a Noblemen's Dragon loyal to Hadimus. Her youngest years were spent raised as her siblings were - efforts to instruct on reading, writing, speech and cognition finding suitable purchase in her intelligent mind. Very quickly it became clear that she was to be elevated into the higher echelons of a Noblemen's possible duties, her generalist tutor swapped for one intended primarily for social-related education.

Placed under the then-current Primary Advisor, her little form shadowed the Queen and her entourage just behind her mentor; absorbing all the knowledge she could glean in pursuit of her task, no doubts in her mind about her calling in life. This period of Miir's life was a sort of golden age... Free of worry and strife, her home happy, productive, with successful trade. There were no rose-tinted glasses... Even the recordings and entries from the time dictate a relatively glamorous existence for Hadimus and most within it. Keen senses and a sharp wit kept her on the forefront of interactions where delicacy was required, even outperforming her mentor at times... The progress not simply gained through study, but a natural intelligence. Above many expectations, the youngling was shaping up into something most impressive.

Her private tutoring gave way to full on-the-job apprenticeship, and by her more mature adolescent years she became a common sight wherever the Advisor was dictated to go. Councilship meetings, legal hearings, trials, trade negotiations, diplomatic excursions to both neighboring cities both within her own country and without. The day came when her mentor could no longer fulfill his task, and upon his confirmation that he found her suitably educated on their work, she became a fully-fledged Primary Advisor. For a time, things remained as they had once been - a glorious time to be remembered. Each night one devoted to study, each day one devoted to providing as much necessary information as possible to the Queen. Past events and their outcomes, possible paths through any given problem based on previous happenings, official opinions based on the dispositions of those sitting at the opposite end of the table... And fitting of a Noblemen's intelligent reputation, she did her very best to file every encounter away, learning from anything she did.

It worked out. For a while.

As a female, the expectation of her (one considered to have the finest blood of her breed, given her lofty position) was to provide at least two children to both continue and improve upon the bloodline. Her traits deemed satisfactory, her mind deemed exceptional, an uncomfortable swallowing of foreign pride allowing her to choose who to procreate with for the benefit of her home, the luxury of choice something afforded only to her... Some were deemed unfit to procreate at all. So she did. Two beautiful children, and she, a mother, displayed before the world as an image of the fertility of her home just as she had slowly become an image of its stability beside her Queen. Though she was happy to be a mother, something about her situation filled her with distaste... The happy faces all around unseeing of what mental struggle began to boil inside her.

Raising two children brought some things into perspective. One was that her own childhood hadn't been so normal. There were no recollections of parents, simply of human words, human hands, and the coldness of an empty room every night. Two was that her home relied on her a little more than she thought they had... As child rearing took her away from her post, missteps were made... Missteps that she could have steered them away from. Rather than an advisor, over time she had become a true legislator without any of the recognition or appreciation that came with it... Simply a token position. Of course she was appreciated, but... When she wasn't needed, what greeted her was her choice of a library, an archive, or a room filled only with three beds - one large, two small.

Over time her smiles around nobility grew less wide, her eyes shone less brightly, though neither interfered with the sharpness of her mind... She was still needed. Her people needed her, and most of all, her children did... Almost of age now, their education revealed two different paths, the occupiers of which she loved equally, and though Hadimus had begun slowly sliding into a mediocre standing due to what she assumed was outside causes, her sense of duty remained for the most part unswayed, regardless of how shallow and meaningless the modest compliments paid upon her were known to be.

A single moment changed all that. A sleepless night spent in the archive led her drowsy, lidded eyes to a pouch tucked behind a bookshelf in the very far corner of the room - where there had once been a label there remained only an indistinct smudge upon leather undoubtedly hundreds of years old. It was smaller than she was used to, paws accustomed to uncapping large scrollbottles containing grand parchment easy for her to handle, but in her curious state she simply couldn't stop trying. Back in the light of one of the archive's reading tables, Miirthaleirix suffered what one might call a panic attack, a small leather book clutched so tightly between her claws it was nearly cleaved in two... The book had once been intended for burning, and she wished it had reached its destination before she found it.

She spoke to nobody on her way to the Queen's chambers - all history knows for sure is that she left her home that night and for the next one hundred years, only vague descriptions of what could only be assumed to be a dragon were occasionally voiced across the continent.

What is very clearly known, however, is that Hadimus had come to use her as a crutch. The passing of the Queen she had served along with the sudden absence of a suitably-trained Primary Advisor proved too great a power vacuum to overcome. Though a new ruler attempted to rise to the occasion, the instability and weakness of Hadimus's position was like blood in the water to both neighboring cities and foreign states. As a lucrative mining hub, many valuable ores of various kinds provided the majority of the city's income - renegotiations were sprung almost immediately by most trading partners who had heard the news, with their goals oriented at gaining an extremely favorable rate for their desired product... Where Hadimus once had a team of experienced minds to gain the upper hand, all that remained was an uncomfortable, inexperienced, temporary replacement for whoever would have come next.

Within that hundred years, Hadimus collapsed spectacularly. At first there was a collective attempt to stay and patch the situation together by the general public, then there was a schism leading to multiple parties vying for power, then it was realized that with food shortages looming atop the usual impossibly cold winter on the horizon, nothing could be done in time to prevent death visiting their home to collect its debt. People started leaving and taking what they could - accompanying them were all of the city's Noblemen, piece by piece, taking it upon themselves to protect these vulnerable parties in their journeys as far as they could take them. After long enough, a once-great city became a ghost town with only a skeleton crew remaining, siphoning off just enough of the place's remaining riches to survive and retain strength in hopes of something changing.

One day, a veiled figure appeared. Curiously, it paused at the gates as though waiting to be greeted, peering at tall stone walls that had once protected tens of thousands from the outside world. The figure eventually pulled the gates apart itself... The silence was louder than any of the people had ever been, its first steps inside otherworldly. Stacked houses full of cobwebs, mice and rats scurrying into dark corners, the echoes of old generations finding what was once a great nation to now be a dead one. Through the empty castle it went, shadows cast large on seldom-walked flagstone pathways.

A child leapt from the shadows with a sharpened broomhandle clutched tightly in his small hands - a water pail covering his head a little too much.

"Stay back, he said. You're evil! I've heard stories about you."

The figure reached up, grasping its hood with what appeared to be a paw, the shadow receding with a singular tug.

He knew what she was, but not who she was... At least, she didn't think he knew. He'd only be a descendant of who she once knew, perhaps even third generation. Miirthaleirix stared at him blankly.






It took a long time, a lot of explaining, and a great deal of apology to them and their ancestors for them to even tolerate her presence. To have soiled such a once-great kingdom with her treachery was treasonous, a crime befitting of death... But with so few people, to serve the punishment would be impossible lest she make herself willing. Silently, they listened to her stories. They all knew who she spoke of, for those who remained were almost universally descendants of those she once saw and spoke to every single day. Over time, the grief she felt over her decision - over not knowing what would have happened in her absence - softened their resolve somewhat. That night she slept in the woodlands outside the walls, vowing to return in the morning.

She did. Gathering as many as she could, she placed herself in what was once considered city center and formally apologized to everyone, including those who weren't there anymore. A period of sullen silence was filled by a strong gust of biting wind, her gaze meeting as many as she could.

"Please let me right my wrongs. I'm not leaving anymore.

If you would allow me, I will not rest until I rebuild. Even if my task is incomplete by the time I should be in my deathbed, my final words will consist of what to do next for whoever continues in my stead, and even then-"

She pauses, swallowing.

"Though my reputation is stained by my mistake, I am confident that I am remembered for my abilities. Allow me to become Queen. Even if it might not strictly be the most intelligent option, the selection we--ah.. You, have, is restricted given the circumstances. These walls still stand, these homes are still dry, and the minds that stand before me have all the same potential as those I once stood beside. I will see to it that Hadimus rises again, if it is the very last thing I do."





Today, Miir serves her role as Queen of Hadimus Keep, earning the socially-dubious honor of being the first Noblemen to rise to a rank not specifically bestowed upon them by mankind. Her staff is small, the city is still empty, but each and every decision she makes is not just as it would have been when she was younger... Every decision is informed by a new century of experience, her adventures having shown her the world in all its flavors... For better or worse. She is a little achier, there are a few more creases beneath her eyes, she is perhaps a little grumpier... But the soul of the woman her home once knew burns bright with the sole intent of revival.


Erika is a bounty huntress in her mid-20’s. Born into a family that had once found fame as dragonhunters, she was told as a child that the torch would one day be passed to her. Her youngest years were spent training for this purpose, and upon completing her first contract she returned home not with the head of a dragon in her arms, but the head of a man. Her only choice was to convince herself he had been guilty of something evil as she had been told. The money felt empty.

Fast forward several years and she had come home with a total of two dragon heads. Hundreds of the heads of men, women… A few children. She had found the love of her life - a woman roughly her age, with a beautiful smile and just the right thing to say to soothe an aching soul. Erika planned to leave with her and had even gone so far as to exchange wedding bands as a promise to make good on their love. The killing would stop, and over time her wounded soul would heal.

One day she fell to her knees before the obliterated remains of Helmstadt’s common dormitory, tearing into the wreckage to find the body of her love regardless of how it hurt to do so. By the end of the night she had passed out from the pain, her hands stained with her own blood… An unrecognizably mangled corpse bearing a wedding band clutched against her chest.

However reserved and guarded she had always been before that night, Erika was even moreso afterward. There was nothing she wouldn’t do, because nothing mattered to her anymore. Men, women, children… Each time she came home to Helmstadt she deposited a head, her contract, then drank herself to sleep. After a long enough time she found she could no longer cry regardless of how she hurt.

A slow beginning

Erika begins her journey by accepting an anonymous contract given by a shady individual. Our first introduction to her gives us the impression that she is an unscrupulous bounty huntress willing to do anything for enough money - she is even excited by the prospect of hunting a Dragon. It will have been her first in years. The fact that she could live comfortably off this single payment for a decade scarcely registers.

Reaching Miir requires her to travel across roughly half the continent. Her journey will be loosely followed, further cementing her image as a distant loner. Over time her emotional pain is hinted at through minor events, bringing to light for the first time her usage of emotional distancing as protection from harm.

Kills her brother

Erika is in possession of a physical contract. During an overnight stay at a village inn, she meets her brother. The last time she saw him had been as a little girl, a point at which she admired him and believed him to be a hero. We see a side of her we haven’t seen before as they first discuss - for the first time she seems lively and excited, seemingly ecstatic to see her brother. Over time however, a discussion of their shared profession arises and the same numb greed Erika had shown the whole time prior displays itself in him. She finds him to be no more a hero than she had turned out to be, and is concerned for both him and herself.

She is awakened during the night to find him rummaging through her satchel. Upon questioning him, he asserts that he will be taking her contract and completing it himself. They had discussed it the previous night, as she thought she had been safe as though speaking to a friend. Instead he saw her as competition, and as all that is required for contract completion is submitting the slip of paper with the severed head of the target, he is satisfied with relieving her of the contract.

However, he is not content with simply taking it and abandoning her. His assumption is that their motivations are the same, and given that he would be willing to kill anyone to protect a contract of his own, she would do the same. He feels he has no choice but to kill her to gain the contract lest he face the possibility of death himself.

After a bloody fight during which Erika fights her way out of a nude, weaponless disadvantage, her brother finds himself pinned to a wall, seemingly disarmed and pacified. She states her desire to let him go and he agrees, but instead of simply leaving, in an instant he turns and tries to slash at her using a hidden dagger. He is successful at grazing her, but in the same moment her short sword had slit his throat. She is speechless, agape as his lifeless body falls to the ground, shattering one of the few sweet memories that had remained untainted in her life.

The following days of her journey are spent in a wounded haze, Erika’s life choices not seeming to make any sense to her anymore.

Accidentally meeting her target

She arrives at Hadimus a different person than we first knew her. Clearly wounded, Erika is seen nursing a heady ale at the nearly-empty tavern, trying her hardest to think about nothing but failing miserably.

Miir enters in search of the tavern keeper and is unmistakably the target of Erika’s contract, however, there are a few issues with offing her at that very moment even though the bar is temporarily empty aside from the two of them. One is that Erika is too tipsy to trust her own reflexes, two is that the contract requires the target’s death to come off feasibly as an accident, and three is that after the events of her journey, Erika is taken aback by the behavior of what is supposedly a “Dragon” and truly questions the idea of killing someone for the first time in years.

Against her better judgement she allows herself to make conversation for a few minutes, during which Erika passes herself off as a traveler who had been mugged a while back as an explanation for her visible injuries. Miir displays a tinge of disbelief that isn’t noticed by Erika in the huntress’s intoxicated state, however until the tavern keeper arrives she allows herself to sate her curiosity in the presence of the human. On a whim, Erika requests an audience with Miir the next day and Miir accepts, paying for the woman’s tab and her room for the night when the tavern keeper returns. Miir leaves with the tavern keep, leaving Erika once again deeply doubting things, already tremendously anxious about meeting the Queen the next day.

Meeting with Miir

Waking from her fitful slumber to midmorning light, she purchases and eats a portion of perpetual stew before going to her meeting with the Queen. Upon entering she finds the dragon sitting beside a throne intended for a human, the skylight shining upon the stone seat but not upon the dragon herself. Several guards stand at attention by her sides, evidencing her suspicion of the huntress, however she still seems friendly and disposed to a chat.

A few hours of back and forth questioning passes, though Erika was mostly the one asking, and they part ways once more. There was never any doubt that Miir was the target stipulated in the contract - however, there is now doubt in her heart about killing someone who genuinely seems to be a good person. Someone who has made mistakes, but is trying in earnest to right her wrongs and better the world.

During their conversation Erika learned of Miir’s planned trip to the neighboring keep, and after reviewing a map that night she decides upon a time and a place to kill the Queen so it could seem like an accident. Looking back on her life, she decides that she, Erika, was never a good person anyway. She will complete her contract, collect her money, and move on - it’s all she knows.

The attempt

The scheduled day arrives. Erika has been camped on the mountainside above the pass for several days by this point, and after spotting the Queen’s caravan approaching she prepares to enact her plan.

The pass seems unstable, prone to collapse if given a significant enough jolt - if the pass doesn’t collapse, the snowpack will likely loosen on the mountainside above and an avalanche will come down upon them anyway. Thankfully Erika has runic arrows that will serve the purpose. She plans to time her shot so that the pass collapses and the entire convoy, or at least the majority of it, goes tumbling down the cliffside to certain doom either by blunt force or exposure over the following days.

The moments leading up to the fateful shot become riddled with doubt, the final death throes of her good conscience desperately clutching for anything it can find inside her. Trembling like never before, she squeezes her eyes shut and takes the shot.

Having either timed it wrong or missed, the arrow blows a hole through a guard’s steel armor and buries itself in his gut rather than in the ground. By this point Erika is already curled into a ball, crying.

Miir hears her crying and she is discovered immediately, Miir’s guards throwing themselves up the cliffside to drag the would-be assassin down dead or alive in the middle of her panic attack.

Post-attempt

The Queen demands to see who had just made an attempt on her life and is both perplexed and disappointed to see that it had been the “traveler” she had spoken with at length just a few days ago. With disgust in her eyes, Miir orders Erika to be kept, bound, in the same carriage Ulias is riding in for the duration of the journey. He remembers seeing a glance of her during the conversation the huntress shared with Miir, and is thoroughly surprised to learn that Miir had missed the signs of such intent.

Over the next several days of the journey she isn’t spoken to and simply wallows in her own grief. Having finally lost all hope, her eyes brim constantly with tears yet she remains both silent and unresponsive to any offering of food or drink. One night, however, she finds herself pulled from the carriage and set upon a rock before a lonely campfire. Opposite the campfire is Miir. Her cyan eyes aren’t soft, but they are curious, and even with her would-be assassin ungagged she remains silent for quite a while.

That night would reveal the huntress’s story to the Queen in complete honesty. With nothing left to lose, Erika honestly felt that she could die without a sliver of remorse for herself. The two would speak, quietly, for hours, with Miir detailing some of the events of her own life… Things she hadn’t shared with anyone before. Though the huntress wouldn’t find herself swayed in the immediate moment, what followed would be a gradual change over the course of days.

By the time “Miir’s traveling circus”, as the two came to call it together, reaches the neighboring kingdom, the huntress is unbound and standing beside the dragon with a hand on her sword hilt - not for a second attempt on an innocent life, but a second attempt on trying to make something of her own.

Must come to terms with her life thus far

Erika’s life has been filled with sorrow. Her actions up to a certain point in the story were dictated by her grief and the methods of obscuring said grief. She has done herself and many others great harm for these reasons.

During the story she crosses a precipice, a point of no return - a point after which she has no choice but to reflect on what has transpired in her past. She realizes that hiding from it will do no good, and that the only way forward is to move on. Rather than continuing her cycle of harmful behavior, Erika chooses to consciously disconnect and separate herself from her old life regardless of the negative consequences. From then on, she decides that her purpose is to serve Miir - the Queen might act as a mentor of sorts, a moral compass to teach Erika the correct way to live until the huntress can internalize it.

Wishes to make a good person of herself

The post-precipice portion of Erika’s storyline revolves around her conscious effort to be a good person. Where she once might have had little concern over killing an innocent person for a suitable enough reward, she now must wrest that thinking from her habit-driven mind.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This isn't ALL of her story. The overview ends at the beginning of her redemptive arc, which probably begins at the 2/3 or 3/4 mark of the story as a whole. I haven't ironed out all the rest of the details just yet, but it's safe to say she earns her keep multiple times over.

NEW ENTRIES: GENERAL PLOT
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Very impressive work, and I'm proud to be the first to respond since I developed four "schools" of magic and a system for them for my Silverdawn game back in the 80s. I wrote a product called "Society of Sorcery" we sold in conjunction with the game. Of course, one of the pieces of advice given to fantasy authors these days is to develop a set of rules for their magic system so that their use of magic is consistent ... Baen Books specifically mentions it in their submission guidelines. So you've started on the right track. :)
 

Questionable

Senior Member
Very impressive work, and I'm proud to be the first to respond since I developed four "schools" of magic and a system for them for my Silverdawn game back in the 80s. I wrote a product called "Society of Sorcery" we sold in conjunction with the game. Of course, one of the pieces of advice given to fantasy authors these days is to develop a set of rules for their magic system so that their use of magic is consistent ... Baen Books specifically mentions it in their submission guidelines. So you've started on the right track. :)
Thank you! I started thinking about the system probably about a year ago and with little bits of tinkering and fiddling here and there I think it's turned out relatively well, albeit there are probably some issues I'm not seeing on my own that a group of people could easily spot and point out. Ape alone weak, apes together strong and all that. Above all else, it bothers me when the mechanics of a system are inconsistent. Characters can be inconsistent all they want because they're usually fleshy imperfect meatbags with flaws, but laws are laws, you know? There are special occasions where something new is discovered in a story and it changes things and becomes a big deal, and that might happen in my series if it gets that far...
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Glad that you already got a positive response from @vranger who is a specialist in this area.

I'm impressed with your detail of thought. This looks like the beginning of a serious work. I'm not very familiar with the mechanics of fantasy writing, but I hope I can comment once you discuss the characters and plot.
 

Questionable

Senior Member
Glad that you already got a positive response from @vranger who is a specialist in this area.

I'm impressed with your detail of thought. This looks like the beginning of a serious work. I'm not very familiar with the mechanics of fantasy writing, but I hope I can comment once you discuss the characters and plot.
Thank you. Sometimes I can't help being obsessive, and other times I can't help not being able to lift a finger to do anything... Depends on the day, what minute of what hour, what day of the week, what food I ate this time last month, how aligned the planets are, if there's a sun flare going on right now, if there's a cat within my vicinity, and how many times I've blinked in the last 33 minutes. Feels like there's no rhyme or reason.

I'd love to ask you and anyone in the future a question, and it's okay if you don't feel you have enough information: If you were to read through a story abiding by this system, do you feel you'd be able to, ah... Well, whatever is closest to "enjoy it" is. Suspend disbelief? Become immersed? Does it feel...- Not necessarily realistic, but... Like it could grab you? I know certain people have a disdain for magic in novels and if I'm honest, I'm one of those people in most cases unless I feel there's a depth to how it works. A history, a lore, a weight, risks, rewards, goals...
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Thank you. Sometimes I can't help being obsessive, and other times I can't help not being able to lift a finger to do anything... Depends on the day, what minute of what hour, what day of the week, what food I ate this time last month, how aligned the planets are, if there's a sun flare going on right now, if there's a cat within my vicinity, and how many times I've blinked in the last 33 minutes. Feels like there's no rhyme or reason.

I'd love to ask you and anyone in the future a question, and it's okay if you don't feel you have enough information: If you were to read through a story abiding by this system, do you feel you'd be able to, ah... Well, whatever is closest to "enjoy it" is. Suspend disbelief? Become immersed? Does it feel...- Not necessarily realistic, but... Like it could grab you? I know certain people have a disdain for magic in novels and if I'm honest, I'm one of those people in most cases unless I feel there's a depth to how it works. A history, a lore, a weight, risks, rewards, goals...
Well as long as you are getting stuff written, I don't suppose it matters what your cycle is.

I would say that I am usually only drawn to real-life stories. However, that being said, we have had quite a good discussion on what is an original idea. If this could be presented in a way that encompasses a real-life issue, in an original way then I could be enticed to read it. For example, it brings to mind an old Sci-Fi movie from the 70s called Soylent Green. Although the story was based on a fantasy, the concepts about government and how they work were life-like. The theme that eventually we may as a whole run out of food, was new for many at the time and thought-provoking. I remember being very taken with the movie, even though I don't typically like anything fantasy in that way. I am open to your structure if there is something about the story that attracts me.

My question for you though, is how will you convey this system? Will I as a reader have to study it and understand it before I read the actual story? Or will these standard laws be introduced as I read? Also, will you have a glossary to refer to, in case the reader forgets?
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Your magic system is part of your world-building, and that's important. World-building is essential, particularly in fantasy and science fiction. But world-building enhances your story, it doesn't make the story work. That's depends on what you do with characters and plot.
 

Questionable

Senior Member
I just updated some more. This story won't be so immersed into the system that it won't function if you don't know the rules - the rules will simply be applied naturally within the story so it's consistent and if someone is curious, there will be material to read so that the reader can foster a deeper understanding if they like. I also think it would help a lot for those who might want to make stories of their own in-universe. There's a lot to leverage in it for building a character from scratch.

In fact, the story takes place primarily in a place that has outlawed magic of any kind as a knee-jerk ostracization due to some negative experiences in the past. Necromancy is a thing too (hint hint, there are some things that can only be done by using someone else's body as a form of focus and it is very bad both for the person being used and for other people) and the people in this country tend to associate magic directly with necromancy even though that isn't nearly the case.

After reading the new bit of explanation I put up, it might become clear that these "Noblemen's Dragons" possess intelligence comparable to humanity but probably exhibit a significant amount of stockholm syndrome after such an extended ownership by humankind. The main character will tie into this very strongly, and while she has several conflicts in the story, one of the most interesting ones to me is how to "solve" the plight of the Noblemen. They are servile to man, but at this point is it willing or unwilling? Do they understand their own position? A brainwashing from childhood can turn any intelligent person into a willing part of a cult, and while their circumstances don't constitute a proper cult I feel the question remains - what amounts to true freedom? If they are exposed to their reality, what will it destroy? As humanity becomes so reliant upon their existence, is destabilizing everything by showing an indoctrinated species the truth of what they are a worthy sacrifice? I feel that it is an interesting question, considering the reality of the world. It's definitely not a real-life issue per-se as we are talking about an entirely different species, it's more to do with what the boundaries are for treating something as... Human, or something similar. What would we treat a foreign species like if it could stand toe to toe with us, not just intellectually, but physically?

Edit: I should mention that there are 3 POV characters, and that each one has a different challenge to overcome specific to themselves.

2nd edit: When I add something new to the overview I'll simply edit the first post so there's no needing to scroll a lot to get to the meat and potatoes.
 
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Questionable

Senior Member
I made a new entry! It's kind of a mess and should definitely be combed through but as far as a background goes it works, sort of.

Edit: The more I read, the more I realize that I... Have kind of already written a book here but am considering it all to be backstory. I haven't actually explained anything yet. I ended up removing Miir's part for now because it felt like a lot of nothing to me - informative only for those interested in what happened before the current plot, which isn't what this is about. I'm really struggling to get my head in order.
 
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robertn51

Friends of WF
Aside:
Since world events have led me to temporarily pause my current work -- my MC is an Afghan mujahid embedded in the US ... so .. sensitive ... yeah ... wave-off and circle around, Robert -- I'll come up and do something else for a while.

Like the one about where fiction is a felony?
No. Besides writing writing stories is impolite low fruit.
No. Like keep this magic and dragons thread moving along.

First of all your magic system is superlative.

Built-in limiters, checks, and costs. Concentrated effort and training. Like being a musician, or a writer, weaving spells. And there's even a magic-lite with those runic "handguns" for the non-practitioner? -- would have loved to see a practitioner fretting over letting that tool lose on the populace.

I like that the magic is in the nature of the world, needing only knowledge and effort to manipulate. It's not something that can be hidden away and kept by decree to only an anointed few. Do the work. And it's there.

Second of all, but not at all secondary, those dragons.

I have to mention, I am one of McCaffrey's dragonriders from the way back. And I didn't find Paolini's "Eragon" a child's book at all. And I haven't seen much dragon-work since. Those elemental berserkers on GoT interested me not at all. Thugs.

But these creatures of yours. They are complex.

You've constructed a dizzying array of forces with them. Their long life implies their memories alone would make them terrifically valuable. And dangerous. Their GMO nature makes them an interesting story in the realm of subjugation -- to the point of obliteration of their "true" nature? Or what? That alone is an interesting line to explore.

Your sly ellipses nudge
...It's best that the public not know.
And
not that they would have ever been shown what they once were...
And (that's my ellipse here)
...under the ruling thumb of humanity as trophies.
All tell me that you recognize this as an interesting engine for many stories.

How they can remain friendly and subjugated is a fine line I very much want to see walked. And, here in the US, we are dealing with our own legacy of subjugation -- but not of another species. Would the dragons' "humanness" cause some consideration there? Not only likely, but here we crown one Queen! Lots of good things happening here. And the fireworks from that could go on and on.

I rather liked the image of Clydesdale horses, but with creatures of comparable intellect I felt very uneasy, squeamish. An equal okay with subjugation? That would take some effort to convince. Unless this is an allusion to systems like the UK's royalty. But I think not. Perhaps.

All good stuff and I look forward to seeing this bud bloom blossom.

So I sat here with this
...half again as tall as a man and twice again as long as tall,
And imagined that scaleless creature here in my room. They'd fit, uncomfortably, and the tail I imagined a problem. They are sitting and looking over my shoulder as I write this and I try to imagine their scent and breath and temperature, as they read and slightly shake their head at my silliness.

I turn, "What?"

And I am stunned to see a hornless, muscular, elegant, heraldic cousin of slacker Sisu from "Raya" also taken aback, their head lifted, saying, "What?"

I hadn't thought about their looks.
Nor about nails longer than my hand.

Now I'm not sure if I like all that history and abuse at my back.

Thanks. More please.

PS: What audience age are you writing for?

[2021-08-28 0006]
 

Questionable

Senior Member
First of all I'd like to issue a gracious thanks to your lengthy response, Robert. I had been worried that I'd been excessive/boring/uncoordinated enough to turn potentially interested parties away... I am very glad to be able to make conversation with someone.

First of all your magic system is superlative.

Built-in limiters, checks, and costs. Concentrated effort and training. Like being a musician, or a writer, weaving spells. And there's even a magic-lite with those runic "handguns" for the non-practitioner? -- would have loved to see a practitioner fretting over letting that tool lose on the populace.

I like that the magic is in the nature of the world, needing only knowledge and effort to manipulate. It's not something that can be hidden away and kept by decree to only an anointed few. Do the work. And it's there.

I tried my hardest to make it a system with realistic depth, where the possibilities are there for those who work hard and take risks. It's a mental and physical juggling act, and that's the balance of it. Some might drop out as soon as they begin learning due to medical defects that become known due to the strain of learning to use magic, some might only be able to cast a certain way or in a certain mood because it's how their thoughts work. The successful ones must be both lucky and driven to the lengths of their success. Lucky that their body can sustain what they do, lucky that they are naturally able to get into the proper mindset, lucky that they can focus their thoughts... And driven to do anything it takes to reach their goals.

I might not have made it clear enough in the beginning, but runes are VERY hard to come by! They are costly, time-consuming to produce, delicate, and finding a person who can carve a safe, sturdy rune into anything is difficult. I can definitely see a runic artifact considered "dangerous", but unless they are being actively used in something I also imagine they'd likely be safely decommissioned - that is to say a critical portion of the carving would be "blanked", erased or carved away, rendering the whole operation missing a critical piece that won't result in a runaway reaction. I'd like to believe that runes themselves are a balanced feature that would be difficult to abuse by dangerous parties, unless said parties are the ones creating the artifacts themselves.

Which, might I add, is actually a feature in the story that all of these features are a part of. The country the dragons live in has been known for legendarily brutal winters for a very, very long time, and I'm thinking that the reason for it is a pretty extravagant gemstone hidden in the ancient depths of Miir's castle by a sect of necromancers in the past. They sought to hide their presence - what better way than to keep people away than by forcing them away in a manner that doesn't arouse suspicion of human involvement?

A final note on runes - you might find it interesting. One of my characters, Erika, is a bounty huntress. Her story begins with her accepting a contract to kill my primary MC, Miir. Erika's family, the Helmstadts, were once fabled dragonhunters during the Draconic Wars but are truthfully just glorified contract killers nowadays. Erika received thorough training in her family trade and as such, she knows how to carve a few runes of her own. Very simple, but effective for her task. The most notable is what she calls a "penetrative" rune designed to be applied to gemstone arrowheads. When the arrowhead strikes a solid object, the collision immediately destroys a crucial portion of the rune inscribed upon the very tip of the arrowhead which then releases a small explosion ON the tip, which has a habit of blowing a hole in whatever the arrowhead has just struck. As you might imagine this would work wonders on armor, and that's exactly the intent. Useful assassin's tool. The arrow effectively penetrates a single layer of armor and is then free to pass beyond. Often into vulnerable flesh.

She keeps 5 on her person when she's "on the job", stored in what is essentially a padded, lidded quiver fastened with leather straps to prevent any damage from coming to the arrowheads. She carves the runes herself - after she uses a penetrative arrow, the night will be spent replacing the loss via meticulous carving.

Second of all, but not at all secondary, those dragons.

I have to mention, I am one of McCaffrey's dragonriders from the way back. And I didn't find Paolini's "Eragon" a child's book at all. And I haven't seen much dragon-work since. Those elemental berserkers on GoT interested me not at all. Thugs.

But these creatures of yours. They are complex.

You've constructed a dizzying array of forces with them. Their long life implies their memories alone would make them terrifically valuable. And dangerous. Their GMO nature makes them an interesting story in the realm of subjugation -- to the point of obliteration of their "true" nature? Or what? That alone is an interesting line to explore.

All tell me that you recognize this as an interesting engine for many stories.

These "forces" have been something I have spent a vast amount of time pondering over to reach where I'm at.

They are indeed a multi-faceted affair, and that is what will (I hope) make them intriguing. You do touch upon what I find to be the most interesting part of their upcoming journey - Noblemen will be forced to come to terms with the realities of their existence.

In truth, the closest term I can come up with to describe what man made of them is an "artificial race". Not artificial as in not flesh and blood, but a species so far diverged from the natural course of evolution as to be completely nonsensical when viewed from any perspective but one aligned with humanity's desires of them. For eons, the manner in which they exist is owed entirely to mankind's intentional meddling - the alterations made have been so thorough that they have lost what once made them true dragons, and gained what we would consider the primary thing that makes us human. All of it has been intentional, and none of it has been consensual.

I'm sure that if you or I discovered that every last bit of humanity's existence has been intentionally sculpted by an alien race and that anything we've done has essentially been to fulfill goals they set out for us, it would make us question the meaning for existence at least a little. An unknowingly predetermined reality where choice has always been an illusion. What would that make mankind? Lesser than? Do we have the ability to change ourselves and our circumstances? What is "true", and how much of our lives have been owed to this controlling force?

How they can remain friendly and subjugated is a fine line I very much want to see walked. And, here in the US, we are dealing with our own legacy of subjugation -- but not of another species. Would the dragons' "humanness" cause some consideration there? Not only likely, but here we crown one Queen! Lots of good things happening here. And the fireworks from that could go on and on.

I rather liked the image of Clydesdale horses, but with creatures of comparable intellect I felt very uneasy, squeamish. An equal okay with subjugation? That would take some effort to convince. Unless this is an allusion to systems like the UK's royalty. But I think not. Perhaps.

All good stuff and I look forward to seeing this bud bloom blossom.

That fine line, as it happens, is very important... Because on either side of that line exists great pain.

The nature of the Noblemen's plight is complex. They are trapped in many ways both literally and metaphorically - bound to a history they had no control over. To the casual observer their position might seem one of purpose and intent, of pride, of certainty in life's course. Just underneath the surface is a reality where they are raised from their youngest days on a diet of passively manipulative behavior by mankind. It has been so long since they had any taste of true freedom that they choose to accept the slim array of options given by man as what freedom always was... Any dragon who seems to understand that they aren't able to dictate their own lives is disposed of as quietly as possible. Old, young, male, female, none of it matters, and for all the knowledge man chooses to keep... They never keep any of their records of the origins and past of Noblemen. Those are burned.

So, from their perspective, what is the meaning of life? What is their worldview? Their very bodies have been sculpted by man to suit a predilected purpose for so long it's impossible to even pretend to remember, and instead, they believe what they are taught is correct by man. They know not the possibilities that lay beyond what their indoctrination preaches, and even if they knew, what can they do to change any of it?

They are, currently, utterly trapped. The two scenarios that might be found in a disorganized outrage among their community are internal revolt and exodus. Now it is important to clarify that Noblemen are by no means a monolithic people, and also that their existence is spread out across an entire country... A large one at that, so in this imaginary circumstance it is very likely to see a combination of the two happening in each city as the Noblemen populace grows restless over time.

Pretend for a moment that every last Noblemen collectively decides to gain their freedom by simply leaving their homes behind.

The rest of the country remembers the Draconic Wars, and to them, a dragon is a dragon. Noblemen are spoken of as a curiosity, as a party trick, and tolerated because humanity rules them. If Noblemen are no longer subservient, they are automatically categorized as a threat. A threat that happens to be defenseless. They cannot fly and cannot breathe fire, they have no weaponry developed for their usage. If every Noblemen were pitted against a developed nation's army all at once, any competent military would simply line up several hundred archers and volley at range until this "threat" is dealt with. Without question.

Now pretend that they choose to go to war with their captors for their freedom.

First of all, this is possibly the only thing that would be worse than simply leaving for foreign lands. Man has done everything they can to ensure Noblemen remain impressive physical specimens while also being easy to kill if blows arise. They are relatively soft creatures kept in very small numbers - perhaps 250-500 humans per dragon in each major city/kingdom, or more aptly, probably 10-25 soldiers per dragon. And that's assuming that every dragon chooses to take up arms and fight. They have no armor, no weaponry aside from their claws, and they stand no chance of survival.

What is the solution, then?

I'm still thinking a little about this one. I have some ideas, but won't spoil them too soon.

Also, I DID have a significant portion of backstory to Miir... I removed it, but since you seem to be interested I shall re-add it for your perusal if you desire to do so. Long story short, her ascendance to that lofty position came only at great cost and she would much rather have never found it necessary. She is Queen because she feels obligated to in service of her home, and because there wasn't a human willing or able to fill those shoes.

So I sat here with this

And imagined that scaleless creature here in my room. They'd fit, uncomfortably, and the tail I imagined a problem. They are sitting and looking over my shoulder as I write this and I try to imagine their scent and breath and temperature, as they read and slightly shake their head at my silliness.

I turn, "What?"

And I am stunned to see a hornless, muscular, elegant, heraldic cousin of slacker Sisu from "Raya" also taken aback, their head lifted, saying, "What?"

I hadn't thought about their looks.
Nor about nails longer than my hand.

Now I'm not sure if I like all that history and abuse at my back.

Thanks. More please.

PS: What audience age are you writing for?

Given human standards for dress, many of them wear what might pass as "clothing" like you see in Miirthaleirix's image, though hers is an example of what she wears as Queen, often the outfits are less showy and there's no fussy hairdressing to go with it. Some do it simply because they must for decency's sake, some actively enjoy picking and choosing what they wear because it excites them. Some wear specific fragrances, especially in high enough positions, though naturally they don't possess much of a smell if properly bathed.

Each kingdom has its own species that differs significantly (visually) from the others, but for the sake of consistency and fairness especially in gladiator events, there are general standards that are adhered to. Males are typically larger than females and most of them possess horns. Their front "paws" have become akin to hands in support of their writing ability, and as a requirement for their roles as imposing figures they all tend to have a piercing stare. Some stare unflinchingly while others exercise social awareness and soften their gaze to ease human company in close proximity.

The primary constant is that if one wanted to kill you, you would last approximately as long as it takes them to make their way over to you - plus a second or two. There is no understating their size or the intensity of one's general presence provided they make no attempts at politeness. Their weakness is entirely societal - kept in a box where their potential can be utilized only as much as desired before becoming too enlightened or important or numerous.

I haven't decided on a numerical age bracket, but it will absolutely be intended for adults.
 

piperofyork

Friends of WF
This looks very impressive, Questionable! The magic system alone blows Brandon Sanderson's Allomancy system (at least circa Mistborn) out of the water, and I love the possibility of the would-be magic-user being harmed, potentially seriously, by trying to engage with it. In addition to the possibility of such dangers ensuring that only people of a certain bravery, vanity, or valor are attracted to the vocation, the outward signs of failed magic might ensure that a collective feature of wizards is, at least commonly, some manner of deformity...fertile grounds for all kinds of character development. I also heartily agree with you about the importance of consistency in such matters, even if it is only 'behind the veil.'

The big challenge I see with the magic system you've developed is that it is so involved. I am reminded of the scene from Kubrick's version of 2001 where Dr. Ralph Halvorsen is trying to figure out the labyrinthine details of going to the bathroom in space...important details for getting the job done, no doubt, but from the reader's perspective that would be - even in an Appendix - a pretty heavy info dump. (ba-dum-tss!) Even trying to sprinkle in the pieces of the system moderately in the text would be a very hard task, I would think, given how involved it is. Do you think there might be value to simplifying the magic system somewhat for the reader's sake, while keeping the superb core?

The Noblemen's Dragons are very interesting - very fertile ground for fascinating questions and developments of all kinds, as @robertn51 said (although I might suggest calling them simply 'Noble Dragons').

At this point I'm eager to learn more about the other 2 MCs, and I'm especially interested in the character and plot development, as @Taylor said. The stage you've set is very rich!
 

Questionable

Senior Member
Many thanks!

This looks very impressive, Questionable! The magic system alone blows Brandon Sanderson's Allomancy system (at least circa Mistborn) out of the water, and I love the possibility of the would-be magic-user being harmed, potentially seriously, by trying to engage with it. In addition to the possibility of such dangers ensuring that only people of a certain bravery, vanity, or valor are attracted to the vocation, the outward signs of failed magic might ensure that a collective feature of wizards is, at least commonly, some manner of deformity...fertile grounds for all kinds of character development. I also heartily agree with you about the importance of consistency in such matters, even if it is only 'behind the veil.'

As far as the relationship between practitioners and deformities is concerned, you are generally correct. Many successful magic users have their own little "quirk" they gained as they learned. "Oh, you can't feel a spot on your bicep? Hah! That's nothing compared to this--"

Maybe a little place has lost sensitivity, they lose full range of motion in an appendage, et cetera et cetera... Those who have no issues whatsoever are uncommon but they do exist.

The big challenge I see with the magic system you've developed is that it is so involved. I am reminded of the scene from Kubrick's version of 2001 where Dr. Ralph Halvorsen is trying to figure out the labyrinthine details of going to the bathroom in space...important details for getting the job done, no doubt, but from the reader's perspective that would be - even in an Appendix - a pretty heavy info dump. (ba-dum-tss!) Even trying to sprinkle in the pieces of the system moderately in the text would be a very hard task, I would think, given how involved it is. Do you think there might be value to simplifying the magic system somewhat for the reader's sake, while keeping the superb core?

As far as the magical system being involved is concerned, I'm at the point where I'm so familiar with the system that it's common sense to me. It won't be strictly necessary to provide a reader an explanation for everything that goes on, but in my head I abide by my rules naturally and after a long enough time daydreaming about the freedoms and limitations of the system I find it quite fun to stay between the lines. Of course for those so inclined there might be a "primer" published in conjunction with the novel... More likely it will come in conjunction with the series, though I'm not keen on getting ahead of myself. Even starting on the first book has been hard enough. If there's a second one it will only begin after the first one is said and done.

I'm sure you've guessed by this point that I'm hesitant to simplify given how the rules of the system seem to fall in line with a basic overview. In general the system boils down to a few key components and they revolve around some basic concepts that are extrapolated upon the deeper one chooses to delve into any of it. To cast, one must pull, transform, push, and react. On a basic level it's not much more complex than breathing, and to one familiar with it, it becomes second nature all the same. Pull the energy, transform the energy, push the energy, and incite the desired reaction. To accomplish this, one must simply focus their mind on all the necessary steps, ensuring they are carried out properly. Any distraction might result in a dangerous deviation, so complete control is of utmost importance! That is why one must become excellent at steadying their mind when they cast. The final building blocks are minutia in the grand scheme of things - understand that there are different kinds of gemstone that specialize in transforming different kinds of energy (and that their effectiveness depends upon their size and their purity), at least have a basic understanding that there are different kinds of magic, and finally, understand that magic can easily become physically harmful to manipulate in circumstances without a gemstone focus to use. The three go hand in hand, really. I've put out paragraphs that say all this in about five times the detail, but that is the gist of the system. As with anything one chooses to do, there are many levels of intricacy that can be delved into, but for someone who doesn't do it on a daily basis, knowing all these ins and outs isn't strictly necessary.

Take any mental trade in the real world. I'll pick one - acting. Acting is an interesting profession, and it is a mental and physical dance that either results in failure or success. It can have physical tolls as well depending on the specific brand of acting one chooses to pursue, but the fact remains that every actor or actress has their particular mental gymnastics to perform to give a convincing and enrapturing performance. To someone who isn't an actor, it is still interesting - they don't need to know the minutia of what goes on in an actor's head, but it amazes them nonetheless and at the end of the day an excellent actor inspires awe. I believe it to be much the same way with an accomplished practitioner in my lore. The average reader sees a basic glossary, sees a character working hard (mostly hidden in the mind), witnesses the result (displayed physically), and rather than questioning what goes on in the background of the action there's a believability to the outcome as a result of the surrounding effort. If the reader becomes interested (or skeptical of how any of it is balanced) there will be literature available to both educate interested parties and assuage the doubts of skeptical ones.

I'll give a little example scene. Say you have a young student who has just graduated into an apprenticeship. This means he gets his first focus, on the house, courtesy of the Mage's Guild. He's not particularly well-versed in any one brand of energy over another, so he chooses a Quartz gemstone as it's one of the generalist's stones, as white/clear gems tend to be, and as such it's not excellent at transmuting energy of any form, but it is infinitely better than having no focus at all.

His mentor, assigned to him upon graduation from initiate to apprentice, has asked him to tag along on a pretty routine job - as a "mobile forge", he travels to a client's location with a specialized carriage filled with his tools, ready to smith on-site. He serves all kinds of people - wanderers with extra pocket change, construction guilds, bounty hunters, anyone in need of tools quickly regardless of price.

Arriving at the client site, his mentor sets up and gets to work. As you'd expect of an apprentice, our student is watching, learning, and helping where he can - though his mentor is specialized in fire, the basic elements of casting remain identical with only the minutia changing. How does he retain concentration? How does he safely break a cast? What if he miscasts? Does he use any particular cues to signify the beginning or ending of a cast? Our student's young eyes watch intently as his mentor bathes an ingot in flame so hot it's almost blue, bringing the steel up to a brilliant, radiant white hue before slamming his forgehammer down upon it. In thirty minutes a pickaxe head has taken form. Into a bucket it drops, sizzling as it cools, and then - "Alright, kid, this one's done. See how that works? They need some stakes beat out - those don't need as much heat to form, so I'll let you try a few. This place is a little loud, so try and keep your head."

His flame is weak, unsteady at first, but his mentor's hand settles on his shoulder. "I try to visualize heat when I work. Not pain, but the feeling of being next to a bonfire. Ever been to a bonfire? ...Nah? Well, maybe a campfire. Start small, focus on getting steady while I grab a workpiece." By the time his mentor returns he's managed to settle a steady torch upon the anvil. Just as a slender ingot is slid under the flame a nearby worker drops a wooden beam off an elevated platform and just like that, the torch sputters and dies. "'S alright, kid, let's start again. Remember that your only job here is to think about this right here. Nobody's gonna drop anything on ya and I'll make sure nobody bothers ya." A few moments of mental preparation is followed by the familiar feeling of pressure in his veins, his heart beating a little faster, the torch reappearing once more.

Throughout the day he slowly improves, bit by bit, but as with any trade it's incremental progress. His mentor performs many duties specialized to his chosen form of energy and this is but one opportunity for the student to get comfortable with his own mind.

That's not even a very good scene from a technical perspective but hopefully it illustrates that throughout the process there will be details dropped here and there to inform about the depth of what's happening. It'll never be "an explosion happens in front of him", nor will it be so overly detailed as to be overwhelming. Onward to the next topic!

The Noblemen's Dragons are very interesting - very fertile ground for fascinating questions and developments of all kinds, as @robertn51 said (although I might suggest calling them simply 'Noble Dragons').

I've been told the "Noble Dragons" suggestion before, but I have a singular issue with that: Their name originates from the class of society they serve, not from the fact that they are noble. They serve nobility - thus, Noblemen's Dragons. They belong to nobility. It started as a colloquialism in ages past and eventually became the term referring to the species as a whole.

They are, without a doubt, noble creatures - as mankind has ordained them to be. "Noble", in this instance, isn't a descriptor of their appearance or behavior, but of who they belong to. It is yet more evidence of their circumstance. As with many other memories of their past, their original name for themselves has been intentionally erased, leaving man's interference their only lasting remembrance.

In-universe, it also serves a tertiary function - to temper the inherent mistrust of foreigners. Where they might see "Noble Dragons" and visualize a powerful, free creature, they instead see "Noblemen's Dragon" and think of them the same way they might think of the term "King's Horse", thereby reducing the chances of any unfortunate misunderstandings by anyone who doesn't know better. Dragons are still hated, after all, and a free dragon should rightfully be a dead dragon as soon as possible.

At this point I'm eager to learn more about the other 2 MCs, and I'm especially interested in the character and plot development, as @Taylor said. The stage you've set is very rich!

I will be posting an overview of one of the deuteragonist MC's today, so you will have more to read! One of the common threads among all three is coming to grips with loss of various kinds. A loss of a past life, a loss of purpose and meaning, a loss of family. The three occupy vastly different stages of their lives and they all begin in different places in their own hero's journey. They come from different places, but their differences are what have brought them to the same time and place. Fate has a funny way of teaching the same lessons to different people in different stages of their being.
 
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Questionable

Senior Member
Just posted the overview of the next character up top! I've taken the liberty of adding underlined headers of sorts to break it into somewhat organized chunks based on events or motivations.

This isn't ALL of her story, mind. It ends at the beginning of her redemptive arc, which probably begins at the 2/3 or 3/4 mark of the story as a whole. I haven't ironed out all the rest of the details just yet!
 

piperofyork

Friends of WF
Thank you Questionable, that helps.

One quick note on the "Noblemen's Dragon" name - the reason I suggested changing it to "Noble Dragon" is because the original name might alienate some of your non-male readers. I understand if your reply is that this is just the convention there, but I'm guessing that most editors these days will want to avoid male-centric language.

About your magical system: it's a thing of beauty, no question, and I see the underlying cohesion. Your example helped. But if it's OK with you, I'd like to play devil's advocate. (And please don't think that I'm being snarky in what follows! It's intentionally a bit overdone to lean in to a possible stumbling block for readers.)

Consider this excerpt:

X leaned forward. “Although I have only been a Practitioner for a few years, I have had my share of difficulties, chief amongst which took place two years ago during moonhigh. I was engaged in an act of conductance focused upon an ancient hill at some two miles’ distance – sadly for me, on the far side of a mire. You can imagine the effort required, given the length of conductance, the amount of energy I desired to be conducted, and the speed of the conducted energy I sought! As to form, I sought to draw both hot and cold energies from the ancient hill, but also to communicate with any who might be living there. At the time I was still relatively inexperienced, so managing the foci gems was troublesome, especially given that the emerald and jade were slightly impure and the topaz was considerably smaller than I would have liked. However, one of my foci had runic enhancement, which helped to balance out those shortcomings. Most importantly, my intent was fluxing. Yet – damn it all! – I underestimated the load! Worst of all, I suddenly realized that another user – likely aided by a Nexus – must have been in the very act of trying to steal the energy of my cast by an act of combined transmittance and conductance focused on the basic energies of my own body! I had no choice but to rescind the cast. The load was almost unbearable, but I managed it…though the tremors will never leave my spine, I’m sad to say.”

Again, I don't mean for this to come across as petulant or snippy or anything like that, but rather to display all the moving parts in one go. I can see some readers at least finding this a bit too dense, especially compared to Sanderson's Allomancy, for example.

To be clear, I admire your system. It has a scientific comprehensiveness that is remarkable. I'm just wondering if it can be communicated to your readers in a manner that won't lose some of the more impatient ones along the way.
 
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Questionable

Senior Member
I definitely understand where you're coming from, and playing devil's advocate is valuable! Situations as complex as you describe are extremely rare - you undoubtedly sought to bring as many aspects together as you could recall, and the result is a story being told by a veteran of a ridiculously complicated situation. It strikes me as the sort of thing a master mage would tease at an initiate to scare them off! So many variables in one scenario, each and every one explicitly described... Does that not sound like the makings of a tall tale? Two or three of those concerns alone would account for a situation that could feasibly be called "normal".

An event unfolding during moonhigh, at extreme distances, across a relatively rare form of magical landmark, with the goal of conducting a presumably large stream of energy for use in multiple different kinds of reaction at the same time using multiple different imperfect focii, one of which was runic?

Their focus is wavering and they misjudge how much energy they'd need to handle, and all of a sudden they discover someone else attempting to actively sabotage them using another rare form of magical landmark as leverage, forcing them to abandon the cast altogether.

I believe you misunderstand the grandiosity of the average magical scenario, which is understandable considering I've been the one responsible for explaining all of it - perhaps I've miscommunicated somewhere and that's resulted in this misconception. Practicing magic for 80-90% of the average userbase (including all ranks of Guild members) consists of... Remarkably mundane interactions. Challenging, no doubt, but considering that the word average really does mean average, by these standards what you describe is impossibly rare.

The average practitioner performs, both conducting and transmitting, at distances between 5 inches and 20 yards from themselves using moderate amounts of energy - equivalent to the intensity of, say, what a campfire exists at. They specialize in a single form of magic, they own a single focus, and very rarely do they own anything runic mostly considering their cost and fragility. (Keep in mind that these are averages. Going out and describing every possible variation would be silly.) Having another user sabotaging a cast can happen but not for no reason, and both mires and nexii are uncommon.

So, yes, of course I could spend five paragraphs intentionally overwhelming someone by including every possible mechanic I have thought up all in one fell swoop... But first of all, having all of them coming into play at once is borderline impossible (it's like a fantasy SNL skit) and it's me choosing which scenarios to write, so picking something so extreme, just dropping it all on someone at once without any familiarization as would happen throughout the course of a novel, would be silly. The mechanics exist for a reason, and they're not to overwhelm someone. They don't exist for the sake of complexity in a given scene, they exist to provide a breadth of possibility and enable a variety of dynamic scenarios where the mechanics are used in moderation, appropriately to what is happening. Some scenes might contain more than others, and some might be simply nothing at all. For example, it would take absolutely no detail for someone established to be an accomplished practitioner to summon what is essentially a candlelight in their palm.

If Tolkein began his very first book by plopping every single race down into the very first scene, and they're all speaking the languages he created for them without any of the required context or buildup or familiarization whatsoever, you can be sure it would overwhelm any potential reader - but he didn't, because though those things exist in the lore, they are presented as wonderful storybuilding elements as appropriate for a properly-paced story. Introducing them all at once would be intentionally disorienting.

So, that's my response. There is a lot to the system, but the details don't exist to be churned into a scene just to make it seem complicated and fancy. They are included as possibilities for a story, not a "they are only listed as a mechanic because they are constantly dealt with" item.
 
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piperofyork

Friends of WF
Very well said, Questionable! That allays my concerns (and the SNL comment elicited a very genuine LOL). It's an excellent system, and I look forward to seeing it in print! :)
 

Questionable

Senior Member
Very well said, Questionable! That allays my concerns (and the SNL comment elicited a very genuine LOL). It's an excellent system, and I look forward to seeing it in print! :)
Haha, I look forward to getting it there!

...hopefully I can do that

Edit: Also, about the male bias of the name "NobleMEN", I fully intend for them to decide a new name for their kind at the end of the first novel, so the name is definitely not intended to be something that remains attached to them - it is a blemish they will rid themselves of. Hopefully that will speak against the perceived male bias in the name (although I wouldn't know a gender-neutral alternative to the word "noblemen" that isn't... something that sounds way different. Noblemen just sounds pretty regal to me as a species name) given that it carries a negative connotation even in the story.
 
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