While I’m still editing Phoenix, I’m not updating any of this site’s posts because it’s going to an agent later. So you guys are probably getting bored by now.
Well, I know I’ve said in previous posts that I had two ideas: the one about Fenna and Corid, and… another one. *flicks through list of posts* Oh. Yeah. The Eragon-ish one. I forgot about it.
This third one, believe it or not, is also about forming the Agency. I think it’s better. F+C sounds a lot like Mirrorworld in its structure: go here, go here, maybe meet some enemies or get captured once or twice but always find a way to get out alive. And where I enjoy Rhenna’s potential character and like the idea of giving Anatola a history as well, that plotline still sounds way too much like Eragon.
This one has plenty of cultural structure behind it; it takes place in kind-of-like-medieval-Europe-but-not-really-on-Earth. This is the opening chapter; it gives you a good base idea of what’s going to happen.
In any world, there is always something worthy of somebody’s notice.
In this world, at this time, in this place, the only person who knew that this particular person’s activity was worth notice was a local shepherd.
He raised dogs. He raised rather good dogs, too—they had good eyesight, and could run fast, so they could see where several sheep might start to stray. They were gray-coated, sleek beasts, with shorter fur that didn’t get caught in brambles. And they obeyed well, learning and responding to commands easily.
He wished he could train this customer that well. She wasn’t from the village, and unlike everyone else he knew (except his dogs and sheep), she wasn’t human. She couldn’t be. Her skin and her hair were a smooth, dark brown, like good teak wood—he had never met that before. Her expression was blank, emotionless, but she was… too beautiful.
She wanted a dog. He was sure he knew why, although she hadn’t said. She had to be a sage. She had that slightly-not-human way of existing—everything she did seemed… wrong. False, or acted out.
The woman had been standing there for thirty marks, inspecting his dogs. After a long time of standing and watching, the shepherd jumped as she stood up, bore an almost-crazed grin, and declared, “This one.”
Negotiation of the price was minimal. She didn’t seem to care for bargaining very much. The shepherd was grateful. Now she was out of the house—and he planned to be, too, once she cleared off safely.
A sage! And he knew why she’d come—why she needed the perfect animal, so much she was willing to trek through the storm outside to get it. She was running out of life. This was newsworthy.
He pulled on a better pair of socks and his boots; as he buttoned up his coat, he muttered an explanation of where he was going to his wife and ran out into the rain.
The horse could not go fast enough. The village wasn’t that far away, but it was difficult to see, and muddy, and he knew he would need to give his horse a long scrub afterwards. But this needed to be dealt with now.
The Silver Arrow was crowded; on a rainy night, the people who lived nearby needed a drink to get through the cold night. Seeing his ragged, panting figure schlep over to the bar, the barman immediately grabbed for a mug as the people started to ask the shepherd what was wrong.
“She’s dying,” the man said, over and over. “She’s dying.”
Shrugging off the worried inquiries as to who was dying, and where, ad whether his wife was all right, the shepherd grabbed the proffered mug from the bartender and gulped several times before elaborating.
He explained what had happened.
“She looked the strangest—darkest hair and skin you ever seen, except in foreign parts and nobody really goes there except old Tom, and he makes up half the stuff he says now. She acted funny, too. Wasn’t right.”
“Frank, who’s dying?” the bartender pressed.
Frank shook his head. “She must have been a sage. She was too strange to be human!”
This caused a lot of uproar.
“She’s dying?” an anonymous voice called.
“Dying,” Frank responded. “She’s looking for her own replacement! And it ain’t human!”
“For heavens’ sake, Frank, why’d you sell her the dog?” asked another person.
“I wanted her out of my house!” Frank said. “But she wouldn’t go, not without that dog. I would have refused to take her price, but she went along with the first I suggested! Gave me a whole handful of silver coins!”
“What in the world are you boys going on about?” asked the bartender’s wife, appearing in the doorway from the back room where she’d been slicing up a ham. “What story—Frank, have you been drinking?”
“No!” Frank said, setting the mug down quickly. “I’m trying to tell everyone, we’ve got a dying sage on our hands!”
“It sounds right, Fannie,” the bartender said. His wife pursed her lips.
“Well, that’s not good,” she said. “I always said, they ain’t human and they shouldn’t be given that kind of power. They’re just animals, they’ve got no right to come in and control things. Which sage do you think it is, Frank?”
“I think she does storms,” Frank said, “which means we’re in for some rough weather soon while she tries to turn that dog human.”
“I don’t know why they make such an effort, it never really works,” Fannie said.
“That’s right,” said another member of the audience. “If there’s somebody with control over something that affects us humans, then a human should be the one to control it!”
“Well, the first ones were, remember,” Fannie said.
The bartender snorted. “Didn’t stay that way long, though, did it?”
“I understand,” said a man with a particularly strong-smelling drink, “that they might not have thought the humans back then were trustworthy. But the animals can’t tell the difference, so there’s no chance they’ll think any human is ‘worthy’ to be a sage! How is that supposed to end up back in human hands, you tell me!”
A murmur of agreement. Several voices, piping in:
“They’re just animals.”
“It’s a disgrace!”
“And what do you expect to do about it?” the bartender threw out. “They have magic. We don’t. We’re humans. They’re transformed animals. We hate them. They hate us.”
“Now is that really true, Red?” Fannie asked. “If they really hated us, why would they bother to protect us from storms and bad favor?”
“Because then they’d have to deal with it, too!” the bartender said, to more murmurs of agreement. “If they didn’t hate us, they’d find a suitable human successor!”
The murmurs were almost roars now.
“What are we going to do?”
“This won’t take!”
“And why aren’t we doing something now!”
“You could never fight a sage head-on,” Frank said, turning around and getting a little dizzy after his drained mug of beer. “Never. They’d… poof you… into a pile of straw.”
“Well, let’s say we want them out,” Fannie said.
“Which we do,” Frank interrupted, as the bartender refilled Frank’s glass in exchange for a silver piece that would cover his p’s and q’s for the rest of the night.
“And if you’re prepared to take the worst that would come without the sages, then all you need to do is starve them out. Give them no food, nothing.” This was Fannie.
“They grow their own food! Are you kidding!”
“No food, no firewood, no soap, no clothes, no shelter in the middle of the night, no animals, no seeds, no bandages—nothing. Not a piece of string.” Fannie’s eyebrows were raised. It was a clever plan. Maybe it was a clever plan to do a stupid thing, but it was a clever plan.
A little bit of quiet ensued.
“A mean mind you’ve got, Fannie. So it’s go?”
It was, by consensus, go. They would starve out the sages.
This entry was posted on Saturday, April 21st, 2012 at 7:42 pm and is filed under My Stuff, of course. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.