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The Well of Visions / Re: Weaving a story from the mists
« Last post by Bear on December 11, 2017, 03:33:13 AM »
A smile spread across Sheela’s face. “Brave of you. But why?” Her voice was so soft he could barely hear it, yet he could hear nothing else. He sounds of the battle stilled in his ears, replaced by an immense silence and the voice, suddenly melodic and so beautiful that it almost hurt. “You could have jumped to safety. You want the snakeskin?”
“Not just that. For Heraf.” The crossbow grew suddenly heavy in his arms, his speech labored, and his words sounded a hundred leagues away.
“Revenge?” The voice grew louder and she took a step closer to Koach. “A worthy cause. But here, misplaced. I tried to save your captain.”
His crossbow weighed down his arms like lead, but he kept it aimed at her heart. “And Tubbs. You left him to die. With your crew. Even though he saved your life once.”
She let out loud, long laugh. “Come out, Tuberance,” she shouted.
A figure in a brown cowl came out of the cabin and lowered its hood. It was Tubbs. He took one glance at Koach and beamed.
“So he joined us after all!” Tubbs’s expression changed from joy to horror as he saw the bow.
Koach’s heart wrenched. So Tubbs was alive—but he was in on it, too. He had joined a plan that left all those people to die, had even left Koach to die, out of loyalty to Sheela.
Tubbs stepped in front of her, his arms spread out as a shield. “Koach! What are you doing? You’re going to get yourself killed!”
“I’m the one with the crossbow!”
“But you can’t pull the trigger, can you?” She pushed aside Tubbs and stepped to within five paces of Koach. “Try it.”
And, try as he might, he couldn’t. Beads of sweat grew on his forehead from the weight of the crossbow, which felt like pure iron pulled downward by a boulder lodestone.
“Witchcraft!” Koach shouted.
Sheela raised her fist with the jewel and brought it down like a punch through the air. As she did so several paces away, Koach felt his head struck by something and crumpled on the ground. He got to his knees, still clutching the crossbow and blinking away blood that trickled from his forehead.
 “Don’t call her a witch,” Tubbs said. “She doesn’t like that. She says when men do it, it’s always respectable ‘magic’ and women doing it is always ‘witchcraft.’ But she has enough power in that stone to overcome even a Devorian cleric.”
Koach’s mind flashed back to the swamps, the sickening sight of Dennel thrown over the side of the airship by invisible cords from the clerics. He recalled numberless stories of the intrigues and exploits of the dark order, moving unseen or inconspicuous unless they sought you as prey or a pawn in their games. All poachers feared these zealots who acted with impunity, following no code but their own, harnessing the dark arts that were banned from use by all others by order of the emperor, on pain of death. Koach could scarcely believe that he had seen the use of magic in open violation of the ban. By the looks of it, she had used magic before, though the stone seemed to help her use it.
“The same clerics that attacked our party in the swamps, the same that killed Dennel, are coming right now to kill us,” Tubbs said. “She’s seen it, in the stone. I’ve seen it too. But if you help us, Koach, you will be rewarded richly by our patron, Lady Elif. Think of all that loot split just three ways!”
Koach got to his feet and looked as though he would spit on the deck in contempt. That was Tubbs, always thinking how the death of others would enlarge his share.
“More importantly,” said Sheela, smooth as ice, “if you join us, you will save your own life. And have your revenge. For Dennel.”
Koach paused. “First release my bow.”
She nodded. He felt the crossbow lighten in his arms. He spun at once and fired a bolt at the head of the swan he had peered through earlier. It struck the very edge of its beak.
 “I suppose you’ll need an archer, then.”
“First get the snakeskin,” Sheela said. “It augments the stone’s flow of energy.”
This statement sunk into Koach. So this is why Lady Elif and other nobles would pay dearly for the skins of serpents. They were connected to magic. The use of magic that the emperor had banned on pain of death. Such a scandal would rock the empire to its core—and the emperor’s guard would pay handsomely for the intelligence.
“I’ll help you fight off the clerics and sell the skin. Then I’m off. I’d rather not be known as a pirate.”
“Too late for that.” Tubbs grinned, looking over the prow. Two figures with black cloaks and black turbans stood atop a piece of wrecked shipping a few dozen paces below that seemed tied by invisible cords to the Sarian and drew closer each second. “Best help me bring out the snakeskin.”
The Well of Visions / Re: The Land of Ayra
« Last post by Raven on December 10, 2017, 08:22:46 PM »
Two doors of blackest iron took up most of the front of the squat tower that loomed up from the crest of Caern Mountain. Queryn could barely see the slight fissure where the doors met, so fine was their craftsmanship. Birdweaver grasped the round iron knocker with both hands, a grimace playing around his mouth. He glanced at Queryn.
"We have no love of iron," he mumbled, and then raised the knocker and slammed it into the doors. They could hear the rumble within the tower for a mountain, followed by silence.
"Again?" Queryn asked when no other sound followed. Birdweaver just shook his head. There they stood, with the evening stars beginning to appear in the clear mountain sky. Birdweaver turned his back to the doors and looked to the heavens.
"Do you know the stars, Queryn?" he asked.
"I know the Star of Luned," Queryn said, pointing with his left hand. His right arm was still clutched defensively to his side.
"Yes," Birdweaver said. "Luned is a star beloved by humans, turning in the skies according to the harvesting of your crops." The elf pointed to the north, towards a bright star just rising above the horizon. "That is the Watcher's Star, translated from the old elfin. It is the star closest to the hearts of we elfin folk." Queryn did not reply.
"That, however, is the dragon star." Birdweaver now pointed into the east. Queryn had seen the star before. It had a red glow, like a far-distant fire. "It is said that once the dragon-star burned green," Birdweaver said. "Once when the elfin folk were many, and their prayers more numerous."

"What is your business, elf and human?" a gravelly voice asked from behind them. Queryn spun around. The two iron doors had swung open without so much as a sound, and there in the gap stood what looked like a man, only half the height, stocky, and with a mask of carven iron over his face. Torchlight flickered from sconces within the tower, backlighting him and the two silent masked figures who stood with spears on either side of the entrance.
"We come to seek the counsel of the dwarfs," Birdweaver said. The foremost dwarf made a grating, gurgling sound that Queryn could not identify. "'This no laughing matter," Birdweaver continued. "The dragons fill the skies."
"This we have seen," the dwarf replied. "Still, at our gate is no dragon, but an elf and a burned man smelling of elfin medicine."
"No dragons at your gates, but soon at the gates of Ayra. Is this not a trading post? With whom will you trade?"
"And what would you have of us?"
"We bring the blood of a drake, one slain by this burned man," Birdweaver said. Queryn thought he saw the slightest of movement from the two silent guards with spears, a shifting of the weight from one foot to the other, perhaps. The foremast dwarf remained stock still, but he spoke:
"You will dine on dwarfin bread and ale, tonight, elf and dragon-slayer."
The Well of Visions / Re: The Land of Ayra
« Last post by Bluerose31 on December 09, 2017, 04:46:06 PM »
“The dragons have only been getting worse,” Oenel said, “They kill humans, elves, livestock without a care. We have to get this problem under control.”
Esta nodded, “We will, if anyone can help we can. I will tell all here about the plan tonight at a meeting. You can stay here in the monastery. You will meet many elves and humans that would be glad to assist you.”
Luin looked out the window to see the soft blue sky and the light coming through the window.
“We would like to attend the meeting tonight too Esta, if we may.” Luin said.
“Yes, certainly,” Esta said, “We have a main room where we hold prayer and the meeting will be there.” Esta explained.
Esta for a moment pushed her long black hair off her shoulder and began to braid it into a long braid with a burdened expression on her face.
“I knew a day like this would have to come,” Esta said. Esta continued to speak, “Our land cannot deal with the dragons anymore and the elves are the lands only hope. I knew that the problem of the dragons would result in us having to step forward and use our magic. We here have been praying for a day such as this, I just know it won’t be easy.” Esta looked down for a moment then back at Luin.
Luin could see the worry in Esta’s eyes but also the piercing hope.
Neldor spoke, “This is what you have been praying for Esta. We elves are healers and the humans are with us, praying too. We are going to be victorious we just need to have all the elves we can with us. We need not be scared. There is no time for that. We need to be brave.”
Luin watched Neldor as he spoke. There was strength in Neldor’s voice and passion for healing.
Luin turned to look at the window again, at the beautiful light entering the room and covering the table.

The Grey Horse Tavern / Re: Horror: Why Are People Drawn to It?
« Last post by Raven on December 09, 2017, 11:42:51 AM »
I've scanned through the article. It makes some points about peoples attraction to the Other and to that which cannot be understood which I think apply well to the horror genre. And I would agree that this attraction to mystery is fundamentally an attraction to God, whether understood or no.

But, on another level, the horror genre initiates fear, which causes a whole chemical reaction in the body and brain and plays on the nervous system, no doubt releasing epinephrine (adrenaline) and other chemicals that can seriously alter a person's mood, energy levels, etc. Fear is a basic and intense human experience that plays on our physiology in significant ways.
In the song Hurt there is a line that goes something like this: "I hurt myself today / to see if I still feel."
Creating fear in a controlled environment is a way of experiencing very intense physical and psychological reactions that might in fact be pleasurable to people in some way on the level of bio-chemistry, and at the very least cause them to feel intensely. Furthermore, watching horror films in a group could be considered a group bonding experience, kind of a tribal type of factor in being bonded by the chemicals released. I'm hypothesizing here.

So, yes, people are spiritually fascinated by the Other. At the same time, people are deeply biologically and psychologically affected by fear, and within a controlled context, perhaps enjoy that.

Now, I am not personally a fan of the horror genre. I'd say I'm even less attracted to it at this point in my life because of my now years of working with truly horrific real-life circumstances in the medical field (both in the traditionally medical sense and in working with serious mental illness). In my life, I have also had to encounter spiritual evil as well.

 For me, there is little attraction to experiencing the grotesque when I have to deal with some seriously unpleasant circumstances in real life.

But, I can also speculate as I have above about why some people are drawn to it. My lady has expressed interest in watching Stranger Things, I think. I may have more thoughts on that and this topic if I do end up watching it -- if I enjoy it or if I don't.

I look forward to hearing your own thoughts on the matter.

The Grey Horse Tavern / Re: What Are You Reading Now?
« Last post by Raven on December 09, 2017, 11:02:39 AM »
I am just now entering into a new phase of life, wherein I will theoretically have some more time for reading for a bit. But I need to make some choices about what I read. I stalled out part way through the Gulag Archipelago. I want to finish it but I'd also like to read something in the fantasy genre. I need to hit up the used bookstore here and see if I can find anything, or else order this Norrell business from online.
The Grey Horse Tavern / Horror: Why Are People Drawn to It?
« Last post by Coír Draoi Ceítien on December 09, 2017, 12:35:44 AM »
I know that I've spoken of it several times, and I must reiterate that my first love is fantasy, but I love horror. I can't say that it scares me exactly (at least the horror I read doesn't), but I'm so terribly fascinated with it. I'm drawn to things in shadow; nightmares are bad to experience but interesting to study.

Of course, this may provoke some warning signs from Christians. If we're called to follow only that which is good, then what uses do such dark things have for us? Is there anything that can be salvaged from horror that can bring one closer to God? Is there something inherently evil about it?

I definitely don't have all the answers, and I'm not a strong enough Christian to understand it now, but I might have a few ideas. I was just browsing through the website for the magazine Christ and Pop Culture (which I highly recommend), and I came across this article. As of this writing, I've only given it a brief glance, but it seems to be making a fine case for appraising horror for a Christian audience by contemplating some of the philosophical underpinnings of what scares us and why people are drawn to it. Give it a read:

I don't want to get into too much detail right now, but I hope to have my own opinions posted soon enough.

What do you think? From what you have experienced of it, if any, do you feel there is something positive that can be gained from horror, especially for Christians? Does the article make a convincing case?
The Grey Horse Tavern / Re: What Are You Reading Now?
« Last post by Coír Draoi Ceítien on December 08, 2017, 11:50:48 PM »
Once again, I might change up my reading schedule. Having undergone a rewatch of the movies recently, I'm planning to read through the Harry Potter books - not all at once, of course. I'm thinking of making it an every-other-book sort of thing. That way, I can still fit in Strange & Norrell.
The Grey Horse Tavern / Re: Recommended Reading and Viewing
« Last post by Raven on December 05, 2017, 05:08:15 PM »
The dragonbone chair did immediately make me think of the iron throne.

Growing up, with long black hair and running through the woods, I always related to the hero of stories. Then one day, I realized I was a bald man who played the harp and other instruments and tells stories, and I realized I was more like the bard. Now adays, I'm starting to feel like it won't be long before I am more like the older man who gives advice to the young adventurers. Lord help me gain the wisdom for that.
All that to say, I get what you're saying about young protagonists. I started writing a book series years ago, and one of the elements is that two characters grow up and get old throughout the scope of the books. But the main characters are always kids because the books are intended for kids.

On the other hand, I'm working on another book where someone is older.

Personally, I wouldn't mind more fantasy works about older protagonists, or from the perspective of older characters. There's been this myth knocking around for a while that people in medieval times did not live long, which I suspect may have influenced a lot of our fantasy stories as a result. Of course, it is typical to tell stories about young people, anyway. The whole coming of age thing, identity crisis (though the mid-life crisis is an identity crisis too, I suppose), etc.

Those books sound like something to check out sometime, at any rate.

The Grey Horse Tavern / Re: Recommended Reading and Viewing
« Last post by Nephmodule on December 05, 2017, 04:52:47 PM »
I am only five chapters into the book right now, so I've barely scratched the surface. However, here's my thoughts thus far: 

The first book in the series is called The DRAGONEBONE CHAIR and the currnt king is KING JOHN.  Is it possible that this 'Dragonebone' chair gave GRRM the idea for the dragon skulls in the SoI&F? And is GRRM's JON inspired by the King JOHN who current sits upon this Dragonbone throne?  Or is it purely coincidence?

MS&T, as far as I've gotten, is only one POV right now, Simon. Simon is described as "man-tall" but with the traits of a lazy, uninspired boy who'd rather catch frogs, climb the castle walls, and just plain goof off. 

In recent years, I've grown to prefer my protags to be more mature and/or adult characters, and the 'young misfit' who becomes the 'chosen one' has grown stale. (On a complete sidenote, I'd like to see a fantasy novel where the 'chosen one' is an elderly bearded man, possibly a beggar, who finally gets a break when he somehow becomes the prophetic chosen one. As a nice way to deconstruct the 'young heroes' tropes maybe his ragtag team are all 'young whippersnappers'.) 

In terms of writing style, MS&T seems a lot more personable, friendlier maybe? Whereas Martin's prose is oftentimes dry and comes off like a university history professor sometimes.

I do find the beginning of the story a tad slow moving and uneventful. There's not much happening in the way of developing any semblance of a plot and I feel like Williams is just touring us around the castle at this point -- which wouldn't be so bad if he'd only toss a little drama in there a little more often. I mean,I'm at a part right now where Simon goes to the market, meets a friar and they talk and walk and buy some walnuts . . . something very, very small does happen at the end of this scene that earns Simon a tongue-lashing from his caretaker, but nothing significant.

I think Martin's characters were more interesting even when delivered in his dry voice, and he had some interesting hooks at the opening of GoT whereas I think MS&T is missing some of the oomph in these opening chapters.

But I think I'll stick with MS&T as I do think it has potential to become a fun, more light-hearted maybe, fantasy romp. 

The Grey Horse Tavern / Re: Introduce Yourself!
« Last post by Raven on December 05, 2017, 01:35:06 PM »

Some say that I hatched from an egg in the Timberlost forest, where it climbs up the slopes of the mountains. They tend to believe that my human form is in fact my secondary appearance. Other's believe that I was put under an enchantment, causing me to split in two, my heart roving as a raven and my body walking as a man. Others believe I was called raven merely because of the long black hair that I once wore.

All that aside, I am not one for revealing a terrible amount of specifics about my existence outside of the Lost Pathway. Suffice to say, I am the one who pulls the strings of this website behind the scenes, who first watched over the Lost Pathway many years ago in the first days of this community.

If anyone is having problems related to the function of the forum, needs help with moderation or conflict, or is having any kind of Lost Pathway related technical issues, I am the person to contact.
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