28 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Wren and Jyslyn got to know each other.
Council Hall, Wildwood, the Sylvan Forest
The journey to the Council Hall took far too long for Nyssa's taste.  The healer remained by her side, clucking at her and her leg.  The knight put up with the coddling; she was getting to see someone of import.  She knew she could hobble faster, but the healer had given her two choices; a slow pace or meet the Matriarch in the morning.  The tension she felt from the elves in Wildwood had her concerned.  The presence of the dark elf was the cause, but the reaction was still building.  The knight had to meet with the Matriarch now, before the inevitable riot broke out.

Nyssa lowered her head as she entered the elven Matriarch's office.  The healer fell to one knee, his head also  bowed.  The Matriarch signalled for the healer to stand.  "Kazimier," the Matriarch started, "you bring yet another surprise to me."

"Matriarch Starpetal, this is Dame Nyssa of the Kingdom of the Seven Domains.  She requested an audience."

Nyssa smirked.  "I demanded, so don't punish the lad."

27 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 9

The required shopping trip, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 9.

Yeah, I had Wren and Jyslyn go shopping.  It's not what they did, but what happened as they did it.  Wren is excited for reasons covered in an earlier chapter.  Not everyone in Wildwood is as excited to have a dark elf in town.  Kaleena isn't completely convinced, but is warming up, also as seen in other chapters.  Tersial represents the common Wildwood citizen, not in the know of what's going on.  Wren's story is well known; she was the sole survivor of her village.  She hasn't spoke since then, so her opening up is a major event, even if she's shopping for one of the Accursed.

The key point in the chapter was establishing a relationship between Wren and Jyslyn.  This is Wren's first time getting some character definition beyond being the reason why Jyslyn's execution was stayed.  She lives simply; a small apartment, simple cooking.  Wren also is forcing Jyslyn to look at things in a different way.  This idea will be getting expanded on in later chapters.

Wildwood, as mentioned before, is in the trees.  Everyone who lives there is used to being off the ground.  Even Nyssa and Leomund aren't so weirded out by it.  After all, multi-storey buildings do exist.  Jyslyn, though, comes from underground.  Claustrophobia isn't an issue for her.  Being off the ground, though, is a new sensation.  Even with multi-level dwellings, there's always solid rock beneath her feat, not wood.  She has never seen the level below except when on stairs.  So, Jyslyn has a bit of acrophobia.  Enough to give her pause, at least.

Jyslyn also has to get used to being in the sun.  As someone who has pale skin - really, transluscent is a skin colour - the sun is not my friend.  I have had bad sunburns in the past, so I tend to avoid the sun as much as possible.  Jyslyn gets to be the bearer of all that experience.  She's been on the surface once before, at night.  Daylight is not her friend, at least not yet.  It'll take time,  Until then, she will have to cover up.  She'll have to cover up for other reasons, too, like being one of the Accursed, but the sun will be the main reason for now.

Friday, Nyssa meets with a Matriarch, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 10.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, the year-end wrap up.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, what to expect in 2019.

21 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Kazimier tended to Nyssa's wound.
Marketplace, Wildwood, the Sylvan Forest
Jyslyn let herself be dragged along by Wren through the market.  The little blonde elf didn't seem to notice the crowd gawking at them; Jyslyn did.  The dark elf fought against well-honed instinct to slip into the shadows, not that there were many.  Overhead, the canopy of leaves thinned, letting the sunlight into the market.  Wren wouldn't let her go, either.  The young elf hadn't let go of Jyslyn since the shackles were removed.  Of course, with Kaleena a few steps behind, if someone tried to attack, Jyslyn would be safe, or so the dark elf hoped.

Wren pulled Jyslyn into a shop.  The young elf dropped her protector's arm to dash further inside.  The owner's expression shifted from warmth to fear on seeing the dark elf.  "Is there something I can help you with?"

"I need new clothes."  Jyslyn held out a pinch of grey fabric from her dress.  "This apparently isn't the fashion."

"I don't have anything that would suit you."

Wren returned with several sets of clothes draped over her arms.  She started holding each item up to Jyslyn.

The dark elf smirked.  "You were saying?"

20 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 8

Kazimier works his divine magic, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 8.

Shorter chapter this time around.  For a serial, I prefer chapters of about equal length.  The Elf's Prisoner was originally meant ot be a novel, though, so chapters were allowed to go as long as they needed.  Some needed more words than others.  If I intended to serialize the story, I'd have figured out chapter lengths as I wrote.

That said, the chapters have purpose.  This one's was to get Nyssa healed, Kazimier brought into the main plot again, and send Wren and Jyslyn off.  Kazi and Nyssa became the wise ones of the group.  Both have insight into how people tick, though they learned through different ways.  With three characters who are young or unfamiliar with the world, I needed them to be the leaders.  I hadn't exactly planned this.  It just came out of who the characters were.

The Seven Dominions are away that dark elves exist, though most of the tales are almost myths.  Nyssa is somewhat out of it thanks to her wound, but she has dealt with dark elves before.  Leo, not so much, but he's off on his own mission right now.  Nyssa turned out to be fun to write.  She's been around long enough to know when to be diplomatic and when to be a bull in a china shop.  This chapter, she's on the border between the two.  Nyssa knows she needs to play nice with the elves, but she's not going to be obsequious.  Nor is she going to let a little thing like a poisoned, infected wound slow her down.

Kazimier's prayer brought out both the poison and the infection from Nyssa's wound.  I just didn't want to say that,  That "show, don't tell" thing.  Plus, extra words thanks to being descriptive.  Similar prayers to other deities would have a different description, depending on the god.  The Lightbringer's prayers use light as the basis of the spells, with healing spells being gentle, like the morning light on a dew-laden field.  The Defiler's spells, while still healing and removing poison, would cause the injury to twist painfully back into position.

Friday, Wren and Jyslyn get acquainted, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 9.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Bond Project continues with Moonraker.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, the year-end wrap up.

14 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 8

Chapter 8

New evidence came to light, staying Jyslyn's execution.
East Gate, Wildwood, the Sylvan Forest
Kazimier arrived at the East Gate behind Kaleena.  An old human woman in riding leathers lay on the wooden floor of the gate with a young human boy.  The woman's thigh was oozing along a wound.  Kazimier pushed the Watch members out of his way to kneel down beside the woman.  He pulled the ripped leather out of the way to get a better look at the wound.  A foul smell struck him.  "Poisoned."

"I don't understand you," the boy said in the human tongue.

Switching languages so the humans could understand, Kazimier said, "We need to get the woman to the temple grove.  Her wound is infected, and the poison isn't helping."


13 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 7

Jyslyn's execution, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 7.

I did play up the execution in my promotions.  The spoiler of the chapter was Wren's appearance.  While I keep mentioning I wrote The Elf's Prisoner by the seat of my pants during NaNo 2015, Wren's appearance and backstory was a known plot point for several years.  I had worked out exactly what happened in Wren's home village and what Jyslyn's part in the slaughter was.  The goal, though, was to show the events from both of their viewpoints, so what I knew had to be filtered.  For Wren, Jyslyn was her saviour, the one who kept her alive.  Yeah, Wren had problems after as a result, but she was in the equivalent of her young teens if she were human.  Jyslyn, though, saw Wren and realized that she just could not go through with killing her.  Instead, Jyslyn faked Wren's death the best she could.  Jyslyn would've been mid-teens if she was human.

So why is Wren still young while Jyslyn is definitely an adult?  This goes back to Jyslyn's early days as an AD&D character.  Drow elves aged faster than surface elves, so even if Jyslyn and Wren were the same age, Jyslyn would be in a different age category.  The idea carried through to The Elf's Prisoner.  Jyslyn and Kazimier are about the same age; she'll age faster than him.  Wren is still young enough to have a childhood name, which is my explanation on why she doesn't have a modified Polish name; she hasn't chosen it yet.  Yeah, that was a retcon, but it fits.  And since Wren wasn't able to speak in the years/decades since the slaughter, no one could get a name from her.

The insight on elven politics wasn't intentional.  It just happened.  The matriarchs all have their own agendas.  Matriarch Moonflower is the head of the more conservative branch on the council.  She's very much into "do what I say."  Matriarch Starpetal isn't so much liberal as shit disturber; she likes winding up the more serious types, like Moonflower.  Matriarch Oakfeather is the nominal head of the council; she had the fewest objections from all the factions on the council.  She gets to deal with the headaches.  After the trial, she's planning on finding a tun of wine and get blitzed for a decade or two.

Another note on elven names here.  For given names, I went with Polish names, then making minor changes to them.  For family names, though, I went with a nature theme.  I didn't want to even think about translating them to "elven".  I'm writing in English.  The characters' dialogue is being translated to English.  The family names are being translated to English for now.  If this were to be published, I may go through and translate the family names to Polish, just to maintain some consistency.  For now, the idea is to give a bit more background to elven culture without doing too much work.  Again, the necessity of pantsing.

With the truth of what happened out, the Matriarchs are in a tough position.  Jyslyn didn't kill anyone, but she didn't stop the killing, either.  Yet, she did prevent one death.  Kazimier to the writer's rescue!  It's the best solution for the story.  Is it the best in-universe?  The comment section below is waiting for your thoughts.

Friday, Kazimier gets his worst patient ever, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 8.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, remaking Mystery Science .Theatre 3000: The Gauntlet.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, The Bond Project continues with Moonraker.

7 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 7

Chapter 7

The trial of Jyslyn
Council Hall, Wildwood, the Sylvan Forest
Kazimier paced in the Council Chambers.  As much as he wanted, needed, to go with Jyslyn to the Central Garden, Matriarch Starpetal had ordered him to wait for her.  There were few people Kazimier wanted to be on the wrong side of, and his own Matriarch was on the top of that list.  The wait, though, was excruciating.  Kazimier couldn't understand why, though.  The dark elf was still a mystery to him.  She was nothing like the tales told of her kind.  The very idea of one of the Accursed atoning for a past wrong threw Kazimier.

At long last, the door to the inner sanctum opened.  Matriarch Starpetal, flanked by her aides, glided out.  "Kazimier, walk with me."

Kazimier fell in step behind the matriarch.  "Is there a decision?"

"Not in here, Kazimier."  She stopped walking to shoo away her aides, then resumed her pace.  The matriarch led her young charge out of the Council Chambers, taking a meandering route through the Hall.  "Kazi, what is your impression of your prisoner?"

Kazimier took time to form his thoughts before answering.  "When I first saw her, she was in need of help.  Since then, her behaviour has been ideal.  If all prisoners were like her, the entire Watch would need to find new jobs."

"Do you believe her, Kazi?"

6 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 6

Jyslyn on trial, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 6.

For someone facing a trial with the potential of the death penalty, Jyslyn doesn't seem all that concerned.  While not intended, this does show her intent later.  It worked out for me.  What I was originally thinking is that she knew what the verdict would be and was taking advantage of the last luxuries she'd ever have.  However, the other explanation is that Jyslyn is fully expecting to be put to death and has the calmness of finality.  There's nothing to be done by worrying, panicking, or getting emotional.

Kaleena, though, isn't calm.  Her job is to guard the prisoner and make sure she doesn't escape, with the added, unspoken, order to not let a mob kill Jyslyn before the trial.  Of course, if the prisoner does try to escape, Kaleena would have to do all she can to stop her, even if it means killing Jyslyn.  Given where Jyslyn is from, setting up Kaleena to do the Council's dirty work is an obvious ploy.  Kaleena, though, is a professional.  She can see that Jyslyn doesn't want to escape.

I managed to get a better look of Wildwood in.  Again, I wanted the elven city to be different, something that reflects elven culture.  Building a city out of a forest, encouraging the growth of the trees to support a population and using magic when needed.  In a fantasy setting, why wouldn't magic be in use in architecture?  I hope that the city feels different.

The Council of Elders is made up of the matriarchs of the clans that live in Wildwood.  It wasn't an idea I had at the start, but having elves base their government on families instead of a singular head of state made sense to me.  The Wildwood Council is a contrast to the Seven Dominions with its one king.  Still, I didn't name six of the clans.  That would have taken time from the actual writing and they weren't important to the story.

Despite the War of Splintering, the dark elves still maintained the clan structure.  A clanless elf is rare and implies that something serious happened to cause the rift.  Jyslyn doesn't even mention her clan's name.  Part of this was that I didn't want to leave the groove I was in while writing the scene.  Technically, I do have a family name for her, but it turned out to be not important.  In fact, not giving her the name helped with building her culture, even as she violated a taboo.

Something that might be noticeable is the length of the chapters.  Unlike Unruly and Mecha Academy, The Elf's Prisoner wasn't written to be a serial.  It's being serialized, a minor difference.  The chapters were allowed to go as long as needed, while a story that's being written as a serial will have parts of equal length, more or less.  Thus, Chapter 6 is noticeably longer than Chapter 5.

Friday, the execution of Jyslyn, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 7.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Phantom of the Opera.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Mystery Science .Theatre 3000: The Gauntlet.