PLOT BOARD FOR THE BASILEGATE – HIGHMOOT

I meant to put this up for Tuesday’s Tale, but work and other things interfered so I’m putting it up here today for Highmoot.

What you see below are the creation materials (or some of them anyway) for my four novels of the Other World, specifically the first in the series, The Basilegate.

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Actually I have 1200 to 1500 pages of research materials (mainly historical but also containing other materials) for all four novels already, most of it on CD or DVD and on computer files on my main work system. The rest is in hard files, collected notes (post it notes in the big white container that say BOOK I), in my notebooks and sketchbooks, outlines, timelines, etc.

I laid all of that out on Sunday and had my youngest daughter take pictures of it. This week I am taking all of that material, my chapter outlines for the first book (Basilegate), my notes, etc. and transferring it all to my Chapter and Plot Board. You might think of this as a Case Board by which I’ll run the plot and structure of my novels (in this case, the first in the series) as they progress. I already have about a hundred or so pages of the first novel finished, and various sections of all of the novels completed (as first drafts anyway), not counting the various scenes I have sketched out for each of them. My overall aim now is to collate and compile and arrange all of these scenes and what I already have written into a coherent and consecutive and consequential novel storyline, and thereby push on to finish the first novel while simultaneously arranging all of the other serial plots.

In this collection you will see all of my files, notes, the plot board itself (before being arranged), notebooks, research materials (on CD and DVD), some of the maps I’ve created, and the poems, songs, and music I’ve written and arranged to be included in the books/novels.

(You might ask, “Why does he have the AD&D and 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guides as apparent research materials?” Simple, not for the research itself, but because these two books are the best fictional writing guides I’ve ever read. Anywhere and on any fictional subject. If you are a writer and you do not have these writing guides then you really should, they are simply superb and extremely useful for all kinds of story arrangements, including plot arrangements.
You might also ask, “why the harmonica?” Well, because I often like to play the harmonica when I become stuck on some aspect of the story. It helps me think.)

Once I’ve gotten everything fully arranged and up on my Plot Board in proper Order I’ll take a new set of photographs and post those here too. I’ve been working on this novel series for years now, and as a general idea for a decade or more, but I’m finally in a position to push on and finish all four books now. I’m now satisfied that all of my major research and preparation work has been properly conducted and finished and I’m now ready to finish the novels without anymore large-scale or wholesale plot revision. Just minor tinkering at the edges left really, and then the finished writings.

Which is a big relief to me as I intend this novel series to be one of my Magnum Opae (one of my major Life Works – I literally cannot say Magnum Opera as that construction seems wholly silly and inappropriate to me in English).

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THE IRON GATE: PART ONE – BOOKENDS

This is part of a draft chapter from my book The Basilegate (from The Other World novels). Rather than explain or detail the background I’ll just let you read the story for yourself.

This chapter begins at the Iron Gate, winds through what today would be modern Russia and ends along the frontiers of the Byzantine Empire.

But this is only the first part of the chapter.

I will be serializing parts of this novel here, on Wyrdwend. For Bookends.

THE IRON GATE: PART ONE

He passed through the Iron Gate and none bothered to oppose him. Why should they? Death would come soon enough.

He had seen men watching him as he stumbled past them, had noticed them as they studied him, pointing, or whispering to themselves. He had seen the guards; skins burned dark by long life lived outdoors among the frontiers, their flesh the color of fine but sanded clay. He had seen them take notice of him, and realizing that he was alone, and doomed, had seen them finally turn away or gaze on at him in curiosity, but not in fear.

He staggered forward, impelled more by main force and force of will than by any desire to make any kind of camp, or achieve any end, other than the one he suspected lay not long before him. He was a mass of Northern muscle, and in a more carefree age, a mass of unconcern. But not this day. Not this hour.

He was a mass no more, except of wasted flesh, blood-clotted black and clinging to limbs still driven hard, but all a’quiver. His clothes were ragged, and perhaps more threadbare than he. His boots were tattered, consumed with holes by hard wear and patches from long poverty. His cloak was gone, it covered him no more. His helm was likewise long ago departed. His armor, what was left upon him, did creak and hung loose and much abused. His single weapon, his langsax, was chipped and knotted, bent at places, it’s sharpest tip now broken blunt. His skeg axe was missing, already lost a’field from many days before. His sword was shattered, having given its last service long before he himself had been likewise cleaved from himself, run to ground by desperation and long flight at night. His spear had been splintered along the banks of a river he had long traveled, but never heard named. And with it went his last hope of war when he found himself numbered among the doomed of his watch.

His shield had long lasted, but round at the edges it had been burst sharp through the center, till like the timbers of a battered prow it had been smashed to pieces, along with the spine of his arm. At that blow he had staggered, a man drunk with too much of the wine of close combat, and toppling like one of the frigid giants of old he had crashed from the cliff into the gelid waters below. And this, this fall from manly grace and the unnatural fire of a ferocious battle he could not have won, into the cold of the waters from the earth underneath, this had stilled his heart with shock and preserved his life with a flood of harsh ice. But only for a moment.

The cold had slowed his wounds, made blood freeze in his veins, made him sluggish, numbed the bright agony of his broken arm and shattered knee, had helped to staunch the long gash torn through his calf, had wearied his mind so that death approached slow and as bedraggled as he. The river had turned him, tossed him, oriented him away from his companions, and his brothers at arms. Yet deep in the recesses of his darkest thoughts he knew they were no more. Colder even than he. Once men, and large, and well made, trophies now to despoil.

He pulled himself from the waters, a mist of stinking furs and wounded flesh, injury the common lot that ran the entire life-course of his body. He was insensible of the pain of his catastrophe, or perhaps it is better to say that he was nothing but hurt. So much harm inflicted that he could no longer mark any particular pain, but rather pain seemed all he was, and all he wished to end. He tried to stand, collapsed, breathed hard and harshly, his mouth steam rising like that of a newborn calf, his stance no straighter or better. But he grimaced, and would not relent. He stood, and staggered, and felt something rend inside his leg each time his knee did make to support his weight. He shed his cloak as a serpent would his elder skin, in long and frustrating effort, it peeled away from him as if in regret and with the anchored weight of besoaked hide. He grunted. He stuttered. He could not speak, groans his only tongue. He rested, sought to scan the horizon with his eyes, the land having been made flat again by the time the river had disgorged him like a misspent meal. But his vision was blurred, dim, closed in and frozen. It extended no farther than his imagination, and his imaginings were all of darkness, and dread.

The sun made to collapse in the West, behind mountains he could sense in the distance, but not see with his eyes. The warmth of the day, what small comfort it had given, was already fading, his own heat wasted and stolen by the drench of his baptism by water and trial by ice. He made to the tall grass, then fell to the dry ground, rolling and coating himself in the dirt as he could, hoping it would absorb the wet and help dry his shaken frame. A frog scampered by and he caught it with his unruined arm, and tore off its head in his mouth. The cold blood was warmer than his and the skull of the frog he did gnash in his teeth as he chewed. The sound comforted him. He could still eat, and he could still kill. Therefore he could still live if the long night would let him. He found he was hungry, and that the gnaw in his guts did wear hard, and began to grow and inflame, and as it did so, so did his limbs. And the ache of his body was far worse than the hunger he felt. But as he ate he regained some lost measure of hope, and there settled into his mind a new will to press forward. He tore off one of the back legs of his catch, and then the other, eating slowly, watching the night fall. Then he pulled out his langsax from his battered belt, and used the blade to slice open the belly of the frog and he did, as he could stand it, smear the blood and the entrails of the thing onto the deep gash in his calf, and along the break in his arm, where the bone did protrude from the mottled blue skin. For he had been told in times past by the Rus that if he smeared the blood of a beast upon an open wound then the clot of gore would help seal his own cut, and help knit it together and scab it clean. He did not know if this were true or not, but he was full for the moment and it seemed foolish to him to waste the entrails by tossing them aside.

He slept uneasily for awhile within sound of the river, crackling sounds sometimes startling him, as if the ice sheets from further upstream were still washing down and clashing against each other to shatter like frosted glass. The dew came down and reminded him again of the damp that still covered him, causing him to shiver while shards of sweat and frozen drops did run along his back from time to time.
He was cold beyond reckoning, but with the rise of the moon he took once more to stand, and after several tries he regained his feet. He moved West, into the darkness, towards the mountains he had felt in the distance. Towards the land that the Rusmen had told him could not be conquered. Towards the land of the Roman, and the place they called, the City of God

THE ALLUSIONS OF THE OTHER WORLD

Lately I have been compiling the literary allusions that will appear in my Other World novels and inserting those allusions at the appropriate places in the plot structure of MY books.

My novels will have allusions to many previous works of literature but rarely will I quote or mention by name or source the allusion. Rather I will take the allusionary reference from the original source of literature and rewrite it to fit the events of my own novels, yet, nevertheless, the allusions will be there encoded within the works if you know what to look for or if you are familiar with the passages from the original works.

I will include allusions to the following works, among others:

A Song of Ice and Fire, GRR Martin
Acts of the Apostles
Aeschylus (various plays)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Beowulf
Book of the Fallen
Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
Elric of Melnibone, Michael Moorcock
Harry Potter, JK Rowling
Icelandic Sagas
Jonathan Strnage and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Kalevala
Le Morte De Arthur, Tennyson
Lyonesse, Jack Vance
Oz Books, Frank Baum
Siegfried
Shakespeare: Henry the IVth, and MacBeth
The Gospels
The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
The Song of Roland
The Torah
The White Stag
Thomas Covenant Books, Stephen R Donaldson

 

As an example of how I intend to insert such allusions into my own novels here are two illustrations of my process of my process:

The Aenied, Virgil

Original Line: “Sleep! Sweet gift of the gods… It was the time when the first sleep invades languid mortals, and steals upon them, by the gift of the gods, most sweet.”

My Line: “And where will you go now?”

“I would lay down upon the ground and go to my death if I could, but failing that I would go to my dreams.”

“To your dreams? And who will you meet there?”

“I do not know, but this is too much and I must sleep. For I am weary and if God himself finds me in my dreams may he finally gift me with forgetfulness of all I have seen and done. That alone would be sweet and meet to me now.”

The Worm Ouroboros, Eddison

Original Line: “There’s musk and amber in thy speech,” said Juss. “I must have more of it. What mean they to do?”

My Line: “Musk scents your voice with something strong and dank, but amber seals and occludes your real meaning. Speak clearly to me now or I will slice open the rank resin of your speech with my keenest hunting knife and peer into your throat to smell for myself your true intent.”

THE KING HAS ASKED ME… from THE OTHER WORLD

“The King has asked me how I fare, I’d answer him but do not dare
For then the court would surely mourn, to hear my tale
the Knight of Storms…”

THERE IS A ROAD from THE OTHER WORLD

“There is a road far greater than the Weirding Road. For although both Sidh, or even Man if he may find it, can use the Weirding Road to cross between one world and the Other, this miracle is nothing compared the Greater Road. By means of the Weirding Road there is no longer any Great Gulf between Iÿarlðma and Klarvâl, but what is that uneven road and humble passage compared to the transit of the Wyrding Road?

Sidèhl and Men may use the Weirding Road to go where it leads between our worlds as the troubled times will dictate. But upon the Wyrding Road all things move everywhere – it connects all worlds at all times and forevermore.

The Weirding Road was made for us, for Sidh and Man, so that we may come to know each other and together wonder upon those marvelous and numerous things we know not of. Yet the Wyrding Road was made for all, to answer everyone of everything, if they will but seek it out and traverse its infinite paths and eternal length.

The Weirding Road is ours my friend and makes a traveled way between us, but the Wyrding Road is everyone’s and everywhere makes a secret and mysterious way to everything that is or will ever be. The Wyrding Road is God’s own highway and upon this Greater Road we must now go if we are to answer true the charge lain upon us and help to set our worlds once more right and free.

For us our Weirding Road has come to its end. Our Wyrding Road is still open though, yet where it leads I cannot say. But if we take it then we shall also be taken, and to unnamed places we have never known.”

KURIAL AND EKLANSÖS

Had a really interesting and nice morning at church today. The sermon also helped me make progress on a plot matter for my Other World novels that I’ve been trying to think about how to resolve for some time.

The novel involves Prester Jhon, the Samarl of Samarkand, who (in the novel and contrary to belief back then) does not reside in either Asia or Africa but on an entirely different world which is identical to our world at the time but is not inhabited by humans or animals common to our world. It is geographically and geologically identical, but biologically it is very different.

Anyway, because of the underlying religious theme(s) running through the novels (the Byzantines look to this “Other World” and to Prester Jhon – called John by the Byzantines, to help them fight both the Persians and the Muslims, but Jhon has more than enough deadly threats in his own world to contend with) I’ve been looking to develop a sort of Other World analogue to the Eucharist. Because Christianity, miracles and Orthodoxy all play a role in the Other World as well, and because there is a secret underground movement of Christians in Jhon’s own world. It’s a secretive movement, but it exists, sort of like China’s Christian movement but it is almost entirely underground. Maybe in that sense it is far more like the ancient Christians in the early Roman Empire than in China.

In any case I wanted an analogue to the elements of the Eucharist. So at church today the sermon made me think of some things and I started making notes. This is what I came up with.

The secret Christian movement in the Other World (they aren’t really Christians as we think of it, but it’s as close as I can briefly summarize the concept) develop an analogue to the Eucharist but do so almost by accident. The elements they develop are these:

KURIAL – Kurial is a bread similar in some respects to the Lembas bread of the Elves in Tolkien. But it also shares properties with the Manna of the Exodus and the Eucharist. It always tastes warm when eaten even if it is cold. It is a dark brown bread with white flecks throughout and it tastes somewhat bitter. The word is Eldeven (being derived from the Eldeven linguistic root, uria, for “ground up,” and “of the Earth”) but it also shares roots with the Greek term Kurios (Lord) and Cure (Latin). When Kurial is consumed it inspires trances and mystical visions of God. It fills the stomach, alleviates hunger, and provides sustenance for 4 days (if an entire loaf is eaten). It can also, sometimes, cure disease and speed healing from injury. It provides a great deal of physical energy and strength and occasionally promotes abilities and capabilities in those who have consumed it of an almost superhuman or miraculous nature. Humans (the Byzantines) also call it Maræne, the Manna of the New World.

EKLANSÖS – Eklansös is a golden colored wine (although not a true wine, it is as close as I can describe) which is also thick and both sweet and salty tasting. On occasion it glows if brought into proximity with Kurial. The word is Eldeven, being derived from the Sidhelhic roots lan, and sos, which mean “secret” and “drink.” But it is also related to the Greek terms, Ekklesia, meaning “gathering or congregation” and Angelos, meaning “messenger.” When Eklansös is consumed it inspires numinous dreams and visions and prophecies in one’s sleep. Eklansös will also alleviate thirst for 3 days, helps to prevent or ward off disease, and makes one calm and relaxed and at peace after it is drunk. Usually a single cup or bowl of Eklansös will suffice for these purposes. The Byzantines also call it Soræ which means the Drink or Wine of the New World.

If Kurial and Eklansös are used to fertilize and set a newly planted tree or the seed of a tree then the resulting tree will grow large, strong, tall, and true, and it will be disease free. These trees are called Umman trees. If the tree is a fruit or nut tree then this is called a Thummąn tree, which means Miracle Tree. The leaves, sap, and fruit or nuts of Thummąn trees can be used to produce extraordinary foods and medicines. Umman and Thummąn Trees are extraordinarily long lived and all kinds of life will flourish in and around the tree. But Umman and Thummąn trees will not grow in close proximity to one another. So as far as is known it is impossible to produce an Umman or Thummąn forest.
Also I made some good progress on Eldeven Arts, Crafts and Sciences.

I have divided Eldeven Art into the following categories: Drama, Poetry, and Song, with other Arts being Architecture and Building and Sculpture.

I have divided Craft into these categories: Craft (being almost any type of high-skill craft) and Illumination and Invention.

The Eldeven Sciences are: Eldyll (Earth and metallurgy), Laral (life and natural sciences), and Glośon (what we would call chemistry, though it is really both organic and inorganic chemistry).

THE OMEN

“War does not come often among the Sidhs of Iÿarlðma (Seeds of the World), but when it does it comes large, bloody, deep, and dark. Such a war comes now, and it will either make a ravening and deadly monster of you, or a ruined and desolate monument.”
The Omen of Samarl Jhönarlk (Prester Jhon) to the Sidèhl of Samarkand (the Seeds of Samarkand)

From The Weirding Roads