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[NaNo 2020] The Land After Miscreants (working title)



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Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:34 am
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Liminality says...



I'm planning to roughly draft 5 x 10,000 word novellas (?) set in this same universe and with the same cast. Given that I've mostly written short stories so far, I thought this would be the best approach easing my way into NaNo. The best way to describe my project is 'the RPG is over, how do we settle back into the real world?'. Despite the solemn-sounding tone and political elements, I do hope I can get some comedy into this piece as well as heartwarming slice-of-life moments.

P.S. I'm currently planning either third-person omniscient narrative voice (because it's an ensemble cast) or third-person limited. Any opinions on this (strong or otherwise) are very much appreciated.

General Premise

After his bloodline's rule for nearly 200 years, a tyrant king has just been toppled. With the coronation of a new queen, the kingdom enters an uncertain period. Minor nobles are jostling for power and favour with the new monarch, especially with her promise to give ministers a fair hearing. However, the people are not keen to have another dictator come into power, hence there brews chaos and new factions of opposition, such as former heroes vying for the crown. Their claims are convincing to the populace, since the new queen has a weak bloodline claim to the throne anyway.

The Heroes' Guild is an organisation which utilised volunteer labour to fight the king's army. Having birthed many legends, it has secured a powerful place at the queen's court. Now that the battle is over, though, flaws in its system are starting to resurface, including the problematic law that allows any methods in order to fulfill quests. Its favour in court has also made it possible for friends to secure the pardons of many rogue heroes attempting to challenge the crown for their own ends. Because of this, the long unbroken love for the Guild is coming into question.

Against this backdrop, a new folk hero contends with bureaucrats and a blundering populace as she attempts to reform the Heroes' Guild, foreseeing the unpopularity of the Guild as well as the overall damage it does to the population at peace. She requests an audience with the queen to overturn the aforementioned rule in their Guild law.

The society of this world is highly superstitious and dominated by personality cults. On the one hand, this gives an advantage to people who are more pragmatic. During the war, pragmatism helped peasants fight as well as nobles, as they could debunk the 'fake' elements of the nobles' alleged prestige and power. On the other hand, the power of the personality cult itself makes people stubborn when it comes to questioning their status quo. Pragmatists are not popular.

Aided by an early retiree and her band of former miscreants, Golzar must learn her way in the world without resorting to solitude and vigilantism. She has only recently been elected to the Guild council, and many challenge the legitimacy of her appointment. Guild council members are xenophobic and distrust the youth, considering themselves an 'Old Guard' of heroes. Furthermore, they have their own traditions of heroism and camaraderie that contradict Golzar's more universal values.

Severe social inequality has bred grounds of support for Golzar. With the new queen retaking land from peasants who had won it from the king's army, some are rising up against the feudal state altogether. However, Golzar will need to balance performing in the political circus with staying true to her and her friends' ideals. Golzar needs a reason to show she's not just another charismatic tyrant and that her ideals won't become the new superstition . . .
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Tue Oct 06, 2020 9:31 am
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Liminality says...



Here are some characters. The protagonist and friends were all part of the same resistance party led by Ricmod (think a party as in RPG party, not political party) against the old king. Queen Lucretia is the aforementioned new sovereign. Any sense of location or place is VERY loosely based on the medieval period in history (i.e. European Middle Ages, Islamic Golden Age). I am treading a thin line that will allow some groundedness with the story, without making any strict analogies to real-world places and situations.

(Notes:
--> the 'the-epithets' or nicknames for each are names given to the characters in-universe by the kingdom's people - admiring, neutral or otherwise.
--> on gender; I'm not following a particular historical period in terms of societal gender roles. The way I've structured the kingdom is that men and women generally have equal say, but there is some prejudice against having women on the battlefield and against having men in the clergy of some religions - hence explaining the segregation in occupations that Golzar obviously defied during the war. It's kind of a haphazard cultural system so far, but I'm hoping to put it in more detail later on, and of course add non-binary characters with their own cultural situation attached.)

Golzar the Folk Hero - Protagonist

Golzar is a young woman from a faraway village in the east. She is short and stout in a way that commands attention. Her bronze complexion has a warm undertone and her eyes are heron-like and dark. She looks a bit older than she is. Her cropped, ear-length hair is messy, giving her a threatening rugged appearance. Being from a small village once harangued by pesky swordsfolk with power, she is something of an anarchist, disliking people who hold power for their own sake. The one exception was her mentor, whose party of heroes worked to help their homelands. However, Golzar has wider ambitions stemming from her idealistic values of justice. She wants to tame her band of miscreants to follow a creed and she wants to help and protect the poor. In this story, her goal is to overturn a law passed in the main heroes' guild that allows heroes to do 'whatever it takes' to fulfill a quest.

Golzar's most noticeable trait is her irreverent sense of humour. Like the boldest of court fools, she'll take a crack at almost anything she finds contemptible as a matter of principle, regardless of the consequences. This behaviour comes from a religious background, she being a follower of a goddess-centric religion (with typically all-female clergy) prominent in her home country. There the goddess represented boldness and honesty. This wit of hers made her popular with her party, but ironically unpopular with the much stricter and more orthodox followers of that sect in Woodlands, who have a different interpretation of said goddess. Constant conflict with them from a young age has given her an irrational fear of most women. Hence, she tends to spend more time than she cares to admit hiding among her brothers-in-arms despite being a lesbian interested in getting a date at some point.

Golzar's idealism and comedic timing are what have allowed her to thrive in a world where it's easy to give in to sorrow. The traits she values most are pragmatism and sensibility, which she is trying to develop as she is aware it is her weak spot. Indeed, a line that best describes her is "Into the valley of death we go!".

In terms of skills, Golzar is an exceptional swordswoman, having grown up around weapons. She is a charismatic leader and a good strategist. However, she is a poorer tactician due to always relying on her fussybritches mentor's micromanagement. Other skills she has includes being bilingual - not unusual in her world because of the mix of cultures - and woodwork, which she learnt to impress an old flame who was a carpenter's daughter. She hates singing or listening to singing, but enjoys baking her own bread - coincidentally, her favourite food, which always surprises people because of how bland it is.

Her closest relationship is with her mentor, whose pragmatism tempered with kindness she considers respectable. He becomes annoying to her when he is too fussy. She takes naturally to the role of the older sister because she has always wanted to lead/ be the boss of things, hence she has a tough love, rough-and-tumble familial bond with all her brothers. Three of her horses have died, and she doesn't think it prudent to get too attached to animals. She often butts heads with her more restrained and introverted second-in-command.


Ricmod ("Old Ric") the Cunning

Ricmod is a young man (though older than he once was) born in the countryside. He is tall and slender in a way that resembles a kingfisher. He has long russet hair, which he keeps tied up. His skin is a light ochre with cold undertones. He has started using a sturdy wooden walking stick in lieu of a severe injury to his right leg that never fully recovered. In many ways, he is a typical person of this kingdom, often careful and distrustful of strangers as was the norm during the reign of the tyrant king. As a child, he would often have to lie and trick ruthless guards in order to get out of trouble, thus he grew up to be quick-witted. In the story, he is plagued by a need to feel useful now that the war is over, which develops into his aim of making Golzar chief of the Guild - even though that is not her intention. He does this primarily because he doesn't trust her reforms will be passed otherwise and wants to secure her position in the traditional way.

[Edit: forgot to warn for a couple of slightly risque jokes in this paragraph! :( So sorry!]

His most obvious trait is his meticulousness. During the war, he kept a long-running list of all the names of his soldiers and their wills should they perish - all of their wills, even ones like 'rat-infested wagon to my estranged and mushroom-nosed older brother' and 'golden brothel filled with blond scribes to be built after death' and 'army of succubi to be summoned with corpse' (this was Golzar's). He is not the most charismatic leader, often coming across as strange to others, which is why his original party was so small. His fellow heroes see some kind of continuity between his personality and the grey colour of his puffy, somewhat narrow eyes.

Despite his prickly exterior, he is an unusually compassionate and tender-hearted person. His good deeds tend to stem from inclination and magnanimity rather than principle, as compared to Golzar. This could be due to his upbringing as the eldest brother of many young siblings, some of whom perished during the war. He is attentive to his fellows and treats them all as family, sometimes to an embarrassing degree. Ricmod will never put children in harm's way; though many youngsters were recruited by heroes in the course of war, Ricmod has always sent those below 16 away to hide with the elderly and babies.

In terms of skills, Ricmod is an excellent organiser, having taken on that role since childhood. He is also a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to weapons, and can use the sword and the bow alike - though he is a 'master' at neither. His preferred method of recreation is to study tactics, especially improvised ones, which can be invaluable in surviving a desperate situation. He also enjoys cooking and singing, much to Golzar's chagrin. Ricmod's voice has been damaged by his years of barking commands, but no one outside of Golzar has the heart to tell him he sounds terrible. Because she was worried about him following his injury, Golzar gifted him a lute to play, but has since then regretted it because he plays it all the time, and she suspects he does it to irritate her, because he claims not to like the sound of the lute himself.

His closest relationship is with his former aide-de-camp, who he has known since childhood. They predict they may die together, as neither of them wants to get married with child.


Queen Lucretia

Her Grace Queen Lucretia is the newly-crowned sovereign of Woodlands. She is a small and plump woman with a caramel complexion. She has piercing onyx eyes and courtiers often comment on the fine curls of her dark hair. Her bloodline is allegedly an old one, from a branch of the royal family that split off centuries ago. The evidence presented for it has been approved by the Guild of Old Wizards (who do metaphysics and ethics, not magic), and is pending approval from the Forest Witches (who do alchemy, not magic or theory). In this tale, Queen Lucretia is keen to establish her power in a sustainable way. She wants to create a constitutional monarchy while preventing individual heroes from grabbing too much power, especially with their status as war heroes.

She is a clever and subtle politician, exceptional at gaining favour with the populace. However, she has fewer ties within the nobility and scholarly classes. While her greatest triumph in the war era was the gain favour within the Guild of Old Wizards, the Forest Witches continue to hold her in suspicion, as they have more stringent methods of determining the legitimacy of monarchs' claims to the throne. Furthermore, she has the obstacle of the Old Wizards' former support of the tyrant king, as this has threatened their credibility with the people.

Queen Lucretia grew up on the very outskirts of Woodlands, raised quietly on a manor to avoid assassination by the tyrant king's forces. She has an affinity with nature as a result. She was educated by her mother, a former Wizard, and developed political acumen by studying the histories of her realm. Unlike our protagonist, she has little wartime experience, as she spent most of that period among civilians. Her guardians were her mother and a few notable stewards who aided her in both charitable endeavours and in her studies at the Old Wizards' university (which is where she made her connections).

Queen Lucretia's closest relationship is with her ageing mother, whose advice she treasures. She is also close with her head handmaiden, harbouring romantic feelings for her that the Queen falsely believes are unreciprocated. She maintains something of a friendly rivalry with one of her stewards, who also studied with her at the university. He often challenges her ideas and decisions, despite her new queenship.

Her desire to become queen stems from pride and frustration with the present state of the ministers and nobility. In short, having lived around them her whole life, she is eager to have them buck up. She wants to create a more efficient, less glory-obsessed bureaucratic machine to serve the ends of her kingdom, but this may put her in conflict with the very people who brought her to power in the first place . . .
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Thu Oct 08, 2020 6:52 pm
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Liminality says...



Notes on Social Class

During the tyrant king's reign, there was a strict system of social class, starting at the bottom with the serfs, followed by freepersons and then the nobility. Post-war, the heroes occupy a category between freepersons and nobles, with their privileges having been expanded for expediency during the war - e.g. allowed by nobles to collect taxes from the land they occupy in order to fund skirmishes against the king.

Serfs are obligated to pay their land-owning nobles a portion of each harvest, as well as work on the nobles' fields for most of each week. Unrest amongst some serfs has been increasing since the tyrant king's demise, as they fear their situation won't change with the new queen. Serfs are not treated fairly by judicial court.

Freepersons include former serfs who managed to buy the tract of land they were tenants of, merchants, immigrants from surrounding kingdoms and craftspersons. They have more power within the judicial court than serfs, but most freepersons avoid going to court against nobility, knowing they won't win.

The nobles for the most part are descendants of the party of warriors led by the king's first ancestor. Many have large tracts of land given as a reward for fighting on that ancestor's side.

Serfs are often (but not always) illiterate. Freepersons by necessity learn how to read and write, however most academic and political resources are hoarded by the nobility. Religions, such as the goddess sects, often advertise unity beyond social class, for example the few serfs that do know how to read are often taught by clerics/ clergy. However, in reality, discrimination against the lower classes does occur, and most of the higher-ranked clergy are from noble families.

Freepersons are often the most resentful of heroes. Heroes' battles disrupt enterprise and hurt small businesses, which have no rent money to bolster their incomes. They are also resentful of the status afforded to heroes by the new monarch. To contrast, heroes are mostly popular amongst the serfs. Many heroes rose from that rank and hero-status is aspirational to the serfs. As a result, the Heroes' Guild tends to hold most gatherings and official business in the territory of serfs, while avoiding main marketplaces, where the free merchants reign supreme. However, as the mercantile side of things is vital, this hasn't stopped individual heroes striking deals with groups of merchants in order to secure power or resources, for example, a party might offer to give a blacksmith's area priority in terms of fulfilling quests in exchange for equipment. For the most part, these are harmless, but they are illegal as they do not go through the guild council.

With regards to our protagonists, Golzar is a freeperson, but many of her party were former serfs. Many are confused and awed at their new 'privileges'. They are often confused as to how to behave around nobles, now that they are almost of equal rank. On principle, Golzar opposes heroes who try to carve out 'empires' for themselves and lord over the freepersons, but Ricmod is more sympathetic towards them on account of them being former serfs who grew up with nothing.


The Heroes' Guild

The Heroes' Guild is a hegemonic organisation, which is somewhat influenced by seniority. They have a mostly horizontal structure to a point, as the Guild Council has 7 members governing over the bulk of heroes, who are all technically equal in status. Heroes organise themselves into parties, so they vary hugely in size. However, party leaders receive instructions directly from the 7 council members. These tend to be general policies that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Indeed, the Guild was a highly ragtag oppositional force that arose from the serfdom to oppose the former king. Their unpredictability assisted them in fighting the king's outdated but also poorly disciplined forces.

In terms of group culture, they value camaraderie and loyalty, sometimes to the extent of nepotism. Groupthink during the war has made many complacent in the leadership's nepotistic tendencies; most heroes have simply accepted it the way it is so far. Heroes are expected to be relentless in the pursuit of their goals, called quests, which mimic the narratives of bardic tales. Many heroes die and are memorialised for their commitment to their quests.

The Heroes' Guild has a sigil composed of a large tree with intricate networks. The tree symbolises the lumber and agriculture related occupation of most of the serfs, while the networks represent the ties of friendship that bind them. The networks are heavier on the roots to emphasise the weight of the past, but notably sparse on the branch-side, which gives the symbol a forbidding and imposing feel. Officially, the Guild colours are black, green and red - black representing grief and sincerity, green for the forest, and red for bravery.

One of the Guild's rituals includes carving a wedge into a tree using a special ceremonial sword. This signifies completing a quest. Initiation into the Guild is commemorated by the planting of a new sapling. The location of the plant will often symbolise something about the hero's family or origin. For example, Golzar's tree was planted along the border facing eastwards. Ricmod's tree was planted by a river that leads to his countryside home; one famous story from the war is that the tree was struck by lightning moments before he received the injury to his leg. Ricmod always rolls his eyes at this, insisting the lightning came earlier on and he had been there to see it strike the tree.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:13 pm
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Liminality says...



Here's some stuff I did for PlanMo: clubs/2753/forum/78090

1. World-building! What world do your characters live in? A fantasy world? A sci-fi world? The real world? If in the real world--what place? What makes the world your characters live in unique? Describe in your thread what your world looks like.

The whole lot of miscreants live together in a realistic fantasy kingdom called Woodlands. It is a heavily forested place in a temperate clime, where people dwell in towns and villages connected by dirt paths and a few stone roads than run through thickets of trees. This world's culture and social hierarchy is unique in the sense that it is dominated by personality cults. Heroes have adoring war-bands surrounding them, which make them a challenge and threat to both the present establishment and vulnerable ordinary citizens. The story is meant to deconstruct the RPG-hero archetype by putting such characters in a more realistic setting where not everything is about battle.

2. Have a think about your opening scene. Write about what plot points will be hit and what information will be shared in your first scene, or first scene that you consider to be important.

(This is a description of the intro scene for the very first novella.)

I'll have a description paragraph about the relieved but tough state after the war, and consequent coronation ceremony made lavish by inconsiderate nobles. Golzar decides to set up a stageplay to amuse folks in the city who were quite upset about damage from the final battle. She attempts to reenact the final battle had with the king himself in an attempt to spin the story into a heroic win for the Woodlands people. However, it becomes excruciatingly clear Golzar has memorised none of her lines and is simply making it up as she goes along, much to the detriment of the other poor souls forced to play along with her chaos, but much to the delight of the audience, who are excited to see the nobles mocked.

They expect mostly weary serfs and freepersons to attend, but the performance draws quite the crowd, including some nobles who come up to Golzar after the performance asking her when she will host them. They claim to be sent by the queen, whose distinctive carriage is not too far away. One of the nobles tries to send her a message from the queen, but Ricmod helps her decline saying it is against propriety, as the queen has only just been coronated and is yet to travel to the temple for a blessing (can't issue orders yet). Thankfully, only one noble seems at all aware of who Golzar had been mocking.

Golzar is confused, until Ricmod explains to her that she has to host the nobles in the party's shared home. It is tradition for a newly inducted Council member. The Council members supposed to inform her hadn't said anything in an attempt to sabotage her chances at favour. Golzar then tries to explain the stageplay was all part of the plan to welcome them, that their home will be ready in a few days. Ricmod grits his teeth and plays along, and eventually the nobles leave.

    -The stageplay helps set the medieval setting
    -The nobles basically explain the scenario for the first novella: that Golzar has to make a good impression on the Guild's behalf - otherwise, there's the threat of being kicked out of the Council
    -Golzar's behaviour paints her as a humorous, young but also charismatic and witty person
    -She can show off her swordplay on stage, but also parody how out of place fighting is in an urbane political setting
    -Ricmod's behaviour makes him seem more mature and guarded
    -The Council is established as an antagonist
    -The Queen is also established as an antagonist
    -This scene is important in setting the comedy/political intrigue tone of the rest of the story
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
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Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:45 pm
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Liminality says...



I've made the 'goddess' religion a monotheistic one now, because I feel it fits better with the direction of the plot and themes I want to weave in. Does it sound believable? I'd love to hear your thoughts! :D (Even if not on the fictional religion, I'd love opinions or questions about anything in this story.)

The Mask-faced Goddess


The people of Woodlands and the surrounding areas practice a monotheistic religion centered around the Mask-faced Goddess. She is believed to be a deity who conquered the world by masking herself as the world. This is a sentence directly quoted from one of their religious texts, which is said to have been left by the Goddess for her descendants to find. Interpretations wildly vary, and some devotees even practice wearing mud masks while frolicking in the woods.

In their religious text, called the Scripts, the Mask-faced Goddess is said to crawl through paintings and other works of art. Hence theatre, tapestries and carvings are common all throughout Woodlands.

Women dominate the worship of the Goddess, as women are said in the Scripts to be creatures of art, direct descendants of the Goddess; men meanwhile are said to be models she made out of clay and are therefore meant to fight in the battlefield. All creatures are said to both wear masks and become masks, endlessly through time. The Scripts give an account of people who are neither women nor men, in that they have resulted from fusions of different masks, the flesh with clay, or one mask splitting into two and becoming a different substance. This interpretation of course is an on-going debate among the wizards and different people will read the text's origin story for gender differently.

Crowning a queen rather than a king or monarch has suggested to some extremist devotees a new era of art and culture. Most people are more concerned with the damage from the war and the social inequality among serfs, freepersons and nobles.

Other points of divergence for believers are 1. whether the Scripts are metaphorical or literal, and 2. whether the Goddess' bold character should be revered or imitated. In the eastern kingdoms, where Golzar comes from, they believe the Scripts are metaphorical and the Goddess' boldness should be imitated. In Woodlands, people tend to take the texts literally and revere the Goddess' boldness.

For Woodlandians, their religion praises values of deference to one's betters and determinism; i.e. a version of Great Person Theory where the 'great' individuals were always meant to be. The Goddess is interpreted as a Great Woman and a 'good' devotee should be humble and modest in light of that. They tend to promote studying the Scripts, as the ascetic priests do in solitude, as opposed to the active debate done by witches and wizards - this is a significant threat to the power of witches and wizards, who discreetly try to quash this view amongst the serfs. Being outspoken or overly direct is taboo - which is why outspokenness is the feature of so many jokes and forms of ribaldry (which lie outside of a Woodlandian's religious life and are sacrosanct in their own way). The Great Person Theory aspect of the religion also links back to why the heroes became so popular during the war.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
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Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:53 pm
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Liminality says...



P.S. I'm also thinking of renaming Ricmod to Gerhard. Ricmod seems too antiquated for this setting, whereas Gerhard seems to have a more medieval feel. What do you guys think?
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

  • Pronouns? Any, to be honest!
  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
  • You can also come yell at me in WFPs.
  





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Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:50 am
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Liminality says...



Probably the last 'major' character I'm going to do a bio for?

Bryn the Outlaw

Bryn has never actually been caught breaking a law. They are Golzar's second-in-command (and used to be Ricmod's, but they refused the position of leader when he stepped down, not wanting to be in the limelight). Bryn is medium-height, a bit taller than Golzar but shorter than Ric. They have a copper complexion and neatly-combed black hair. Their piercing eyes are onyx in colour. They have never wanted to settle anywhere, hence choosing the career of a hero. However, the end of the war seems to have forced them into some kind of stalemate. They support Golzar's reform campaign, because it involves a lot of travel and they want to stay on-the-move. However, they find Golzar herself to be headache-inducing, as they are comparatively more cautious and less inclined to do things in broad daylight.

Bryn used to live and work on a typical Woodlandian farm, but they hated the people there for being too placid and sheep-like. Being an introverted orphan living on the steward's charity, they saw an opportunity in the war to find their own place in the world. Bryn worked as a scout/thief/spy for various hero parties before finally meeting Ricmod. They fought several battles together and Bryn decided to stay with Ricmod's party. If asked about this highly out-of-character decision, Bryn would answer it is because he lets them keep all the trinkets from the king's warehouses they used to rob. Ricmod vehemently denies any of his heroes stealing anything - but he is lying.

In terms of skills, Bryn was the only member of the Miscreants who originally knew how to read. They had learnt from a priest as a child and taught Ricmod and Golzar later on. No one else has so far been able to stand their disapproving stare for long enough to actually pick up anything during their lessons. Bryn is lithe and sneaky-sneaky, which makes them a good spy. They are also an avid pebble collector, which has lended to a knowledge of geology and the local terrains of the Woodlands.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
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Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:11 pm
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Liminality says...



Here's some information about the first setpiece, the capital city Lucrece.

Lucrece

Lucrece is the capital of Woodlands and the location for the first novella. It bears a similar name to the current sovereign which is taken by the locals as an auspicious sign. Being at the meeting point of two rivers, it is an ideal location for a capital city. Lots of trade occurs at its marina between inhabitants of the kingdom and travellers from far away, which dock their ships on the eastern coast before boating inland in smaller vessels.

After the defeat of the tyrant king, the heroes responsible are given personal residences in Lucrece. Lucretia is keen to keep them closeby. Because of the size of the city, many of these are often filthy, and the heroes need to find their own means of handling the dirt (unlike nobles, they don't have servants). In cities such as Lucrece, complex sanitation systems don't exist yet; instead people rely on tracts of open land to bury their organic waste.

Lucrece is home to a wide variety of special fantasy fungi that only grow in cities. I'm currently thinking the fungi could give the setting some colour, given that the rest of it is quite drab for realism purposes. The artisan population (freepersons) often incorporate the fungi as motifs in their artwork, for instance in carvings, tapestries and paintings dedicated to the Mask-faced Goddess.

The palace at the heart of Lucrece sits atop a small hill. It is stark and imposing, bearing shadows of the previous regime. However, Lucretia is quick to redecorate - moderately, but not scantly, commissioning paintings and wooden masks to fill the empty hallways. She has to push back against nobles wanting to gift her lavish decorations, though, as such reckless spending could causes discontent among the people and goes against her desire to cut down on the nobility's expenses.

Woodlands has long been aware that wooden buildings catch fire easily, especially in summer. The Forest Witches helped put forth an edict a long while ago that a certain percentage of buildings in one area of the city be built in stone. Hence, many structures in Lucrece are made of grey stones mined out of the nearby mountains. Shanties and other illegal housing are much more likely to be made out of wood, however.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

  • Pronouns? Any, to be honest!
  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
  • You can also come yell at me in WFPs.
  





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Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:33 pm
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Liminality says...



The 5th Class: Witches, Wizards and Priests

In the Kingdom of Woodlands, the scholarly class of witches, wizards and priests has special importance. They act as ancient guardians of the throne, as well as the laws of the land. Witches and wizards run different sectors of the judicial system, whereas priests are comparatively isolated ascetics, who run the temples.

The class, which is defined by initiation and not by parentage, descends from an ancestral tradition of the priesthood. It links back to the scribes and scholars associated with the pantheon of religions practised in Woodlands. Scholars can be serfs, freepersons, heroes or nobility. However, they have to renounce any property they might own in order to be initiated into any of the three branches.

Despite this official doctrine that denies material possessions, socio-economic inequality transfers into status hierarchies within the class. For example, the leaders of each branch have never been from the serfdom. This can occur because scholars still rely on favours from the outside world to get ahead - of which nobility has more access to.

Originally, there was only one class of priests. This first divided into two after the development of cities and towns meant there needed to be some scholars living amongst the populace, while a few remained to guard the sacred grounds. Then the scholars in towns further divided into the Old Wizards and Forest Witches on account of methodological differences of practice: the Old Wizards are considered more traditional, with their role confined to preaching, theological/ metaphysical study and advising the monarch on religious matters. The Forest Witches are unorthodox in their combining religious rituals with local ecological knowledge and using that knowledge practically to conduct experiments and treat disease. Meanwhile, the priests consider themselves above the two competing groups and do not often engage in their arguments.

The scholarly class has mixed reception from the people. They are sometimes helpful to serfs, especially the Forest Witches, when they offer education. They are also sometimes admired by freepersons for their work and spiritual image. However, the scholarly class often favours nobles in legal disputes, hence many serfs also resent them. Freepersons also see the scholars as elitist, preventing them from getting ahead economically through the defense of nobles' exclusive rights.

Laypersons tell the three types of scholar apart by their clothing and hairstyle. Priests typically wear plain white robes as a symbol of deference to the various gods and goddesses, with a green band to hold up their hair. Wizards and witches all live in densely populated areas, which are far filthier. They wear strikingly dark clothing to avoid the stains showing, as that would seem unbecoming of their status. Whereas witches will dye their white robes black and add a hood, wizards inform the onlooker of their allegiance to noble houses by wearing silk coats instead of a robe.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:07 am
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Liminality says...



Some Stats

Day 1: Party House Plot - 1954 words
Day 2: Party House Plot - 544 words
Day 3: Party House Plot - 684 words
Day 4: Party House Plot - 1967 words
Day 5: Party House Plot - 2257 words
Day 6: Party House Plot - 771 words
Day 7: Party House Plot - 800 words
Day 8: Party House Plot - 1998 words
Day 9: Party House Plot - 110 words
Day 10: Party House Plot - 1127 words
Day 11: Party House Plot - 1517 words
Day 12: The Outfit Plot - 58 words
Day 13: The Outfit Plot - 1111 words
Day 14: The Outfit Plot - 290 words
Day 15: The Outfit Plot - 1703 words
Day 16: The Outfit Plot - 756 words
Day 17: The Outfit Plot - 1072 words
Day 18: The Outfit Plot - 1458 words
Day 19: The Outfit Plot - 1066 words
Day 20: The Outfit Plot - 1362 words
Day 21: The Outfit Plot - 1228 words
Day 22: The Outfit Plot - 1168 words
Day 23: The Outfit Plot - 200 words
Day 24: The Outfit Plot - 1636 words
Day 25: The Outfit Plot - 976 words
Day 26: The Outfit Plot - 43 words
Day 27: The Outfit Plot - 932 words
Day 28: The Outfit Plot - 60 words
Day 29: The Outfit Plot - 1097 words
Day 30: 0

Total: 30,081 (give or take, I'm too tired to check the calculations because I subtracted headers and such)/ 50,000 30,000
Last edited by Liminality on Tue Dec 01, 2020 8:38 am, edited 30 times in total.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

  • Pronouns? Any, to be honest!
  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
  • You can also come yell at me in WFPs.
  





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Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:12 am
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Liminality says...



My fave bit from Day 1:

Spoiler! :

In the noise of the marketplace, Golzar made out a loud heavy-handed argument. There were voices rising and swinging down, as if an axe chopping wood, the sort of pompous weight in emphasis that could only deserve a comparison to metal.

Golzar turned to Bryn and remarked "Take my horse, I'm going over there."

Before Bryn could reply, she was already down on the cobbles. She removed her helmet and tucked it to her side, shaking loose her choppily-cropped black hair and revealing sharp russet eyes.

The crowd parted begrudgingly, watching her with suspicion. They were mostly freepersons, lodged in the core of the marketplace. It was not uncommon to see them sneering at heroes and so Golzar grinned and continued marching on.

She arrived at the source of the noise.

At the base of four stone foundations, blackened by flame and scarred by the touch of combat, two richly-dressed men were arguing.

One was tall and thin, with a blue silk cloak draped over his shoulders. The other was shorter and plumper, and he wore the characteristic silks of the Old Wizards.

"Egads!" the tall one said and made the surrounding area cringe away in distaste. "The Queen must be mad to think we can hold a proper dinner in such sordid conditions."

The short one looked up at him with narrowed eyes. "You're not saying we should become ascetics, and live out the sufferings of the serfdom in the mountains?"

The tall one snorted. "No, my friend. I am saying we should eat elsewhere."

Golzar watched the exchange in silence. . .
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

  • Pronouns? Any, to be honest!
  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
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Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:22 pm
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Liminality says...



Didn't quite meet the target today, but here's a piece of the writing to share nonetheless:

Spoiler! :

Below, the audience clapped and cheered. Every so often a round of raucous laughter would cut through the air, even drowning out the actors. They were bitter laughs, Gerhard thought, as he surveyed the destruction of the capital. But a bitter laugh was better than no laugh at all.

It was about mid-way through the king’s death throes when a carriage arrived at the site. Golzar paid no mind to it. She was watching the serfs' reaction to her - well, the king's - words. They found it deeply gratifying to watch the former tyrant be humiliated on-stage, even if her impression of him had taken significant artistic liberties. She rolled like a pin from one end of the stage to the other - mostly by her own strength, for Tanya hadn't given her a good enough push. Another cheer resounded from the audience.

Gerhard and Byrn, however, had their eyes fixed on the far-left side of the marketplace area. There was the sound of horses neighing as they were brought to a halt. The carriage was small, but intricate, its roof shaped like a flower or a mushroom top and decorated with silver that glinted orange. Perhaps, Bryn thought, they had lit too many torches.

They could see the shadow of a someone sitting inside the carriage, a clear silhouette through the purple veil that separated the figure from the outside world. From the other side of the carriage, several persons emerged that were unwelcome, to say the least.

    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
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Tue Nov 03, 2020 5:15 pm
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Liminality says...



Day 3 - and I realised I've been spelling one of my own characters' name wrong the whole time :D On the bright side, here is a small snippet I found rather nice. (Btw, please tell me if any of this makes you laugh. I'm trying to write comedy and it's super hard, so I'd appreciate feedback on that~)

Spoiler! :

"I was sent to ask when you would be hosting us."

A silence swallowed the air. In the background, a child shouted for her father and was whisked away.

"Host? What host?"

The noblemen were statues, watching over the exchange with a concentrated, solemn gaze. The little bells decorating their coats jingled, blown by the breeze.

"The dinner, of course. In honour of your admittance to the Heroes' Council?" Redvine dipped his head, tone of voice kind but patronising.

Deep inside, Gerhard sped forward in time, lurched and fell into winter early. They had only just received the letter from William’s office that morning, but it had been vaguely worded. He remembered it with ire:

Golzar,
The deliberation on your recent appointment is complete. You will be expected at the Guild Hall in a week’s time. All the necessary ceremonies are in due order. Congratulations.


Of course, he had not elaborated on what those ceremonies were. The Heroes’ Guild was a cryptic organization by nature – built to be secure in war, and now vexing without it. Gerhard watched the wheels turn in Golzar’s head. Putting on his sweetest smile, he pulled Golzar away by the arm – far enough away so the nobles could not hear them.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

  • Pronouns? Any, to be honest!
  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
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Thu Nov 05, 2020 2:31 pm
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Liminality says...



Day 4 and Day 5 - a slightly longer snippet than usual, and also a more serious scene:

Spoiler! :
They walked along the side of the path, diverging away from the one that led to the row of buckets people made their dirt in. Instead, they went down the cobbles, into the sloping valley where the memorial trees were. The trees, many of different types, cast reticulated shadows over their heads.

“Bryn, you know what the problem is with favour?” Golzar spoke quietly, but firmly. It was a voice belonging to the sort of person who built armies out of tavern-goers, a voice like a hook being reeled in, and Bryn could not help but listen attentively. They stopped in front of a tree with many scores trailed across it. It was in the very centre of the forest, blended in with the rest of the pine trees. It was just as surrounded by grass, by the odd rock or two that darkened the shadows on the ground. Golzar touched the marks with one hand. She thought of all the quests this tree’s hero must have undergone in order to mar it to such an extent.

“Favour goes one step at a time, not knowing where it’s headed – which means it goes nowhere.”

Bryn pulled their hands out of their pockets. “So, like a bad play, then?”

“Maybe.”

“And we don’t want a bad play, I suppose,” said they, as they took a seat on the large grey rock opposite Golzar.

“So tell me, what do you want to do?”

--

The Heroes’ Constitution contained a very special law. Like many of these, its uniqueness – and therefore its power – came from being old, one of the first laws to be written down on the stone slab William kept leaned against the altar in the Guild Hall. Just as Bryn and Golzar were reentering the room, William was reading it out.

“. . . that all heroes may take whatever means necessary to finish their quests, Goddess conserve.”

In answer, a whooping cry came from the crowd, along with raised mugs of ale. “Goddess conserve!”

They chanted it like a rhyme, like children at a dame school repeating after a teller of tales.

Upon the altar, the scented incense burned with a red glow. It smelled sweet, a barky fragrance of sandalwood and ash, forming a misty tint in the air. The flame cast a light spot on the wooden carvings of the structure, outlining the asymmetrical shape of the Mask-faced Goddess, her long wavy hair, her mien like a half-moon. When the meeting was over, they put out the flame, and the Goddess vanished into the dark.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

  • Pronouns? Any, to be honest!
  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
  • You can also come yell at me in WFPs.
  





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Fri Nov 06, 2020 3:11 pm
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Liminality says...



Day 6 - Just for a change, here's a part I disliked most, mainly because:
1. It's too abrupt.
2. "Said they" is such an awkward thing to type, even if I'm trying to fake an early Modern English style.
3. Overall, I think I need to add more to Bryn's arc here. I feel I'm doing them a disservice, because there's just so much else going on.

Spoiler! :


Inside her private study, it was dark and dusty. They had given each party leader one in their halls and expected that the room be used. It was smaller than that of a lower lord's, but bigger than a freeperson's wagon. They had had the measurements taken to avoid offending any lower lords. However, this had been the first time Golzar had stepped into that study, as it was also the first time she had received a letter that required private opening. It was a lead-coloured envelope without a seal.

She had gone inside, still feeling quite happy from the epiphany of the mushroom, when Bryn had walked over and checked the envelope. "Why would someone not put their seal on it, unless they did not want to be recognised?" said they.

It said: "If this reaches Golzar of Besiv, tell her to await a visitor at the Witchfield inn." They did not know who the letter came from.

"I'll go," said Bryn. Before Golzar could protest, they added: "Not to meet them, just to see who shows up." And with that, they departed from the main group.

    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

  • Pronouns? Any, to be honest!
  • I spend a sizeable chunk of my time in Poem a Week and the Worst Poem thread.
  • You can also come yell at me in WFPs.
  








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