First post...

Discussion in 'Original Works' started by EstuansInterius, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. EstuansInterius

    EstuansInterius Ira vehementi

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    Ok, I've recently revived interest in myself for my sci-fi writing, so... I probably won't be adding to this as much as I expected, but I will be keeping it alive. This way, whenever I get tired of Commodore Kent's story or get writer's block or whatever, I can just jump over to fantasy and put out some stuff.

    Anyway, here's the long-winded and boring prologue (I know... but I have to do it.... this is just how I world build :\ I'll outgrow it one day, trust me).

    Prologue

    My name is Paul. I will be your narrator, and I am an immortal, but I will discuss what that means later. Story tellers better than I suggest a gradual and more subtle exposition and introduction into a setting, but I have decided that an explicit description is simpler. I live in a world called Arthe. Shifting all the letters to the left yields Earth, and again yields Heart, and again yields Thear, but Thear is a nonsense word. Scholars of today suggest that multiple universes may exist side by side. Some may have varying natural laws governing them and some may have different values of time relative to one another in different places. Considering this, I will take some time to describe this universe.

    We have a rather good understanding of things. We have found that there are certain natural laws by which things always happen, and our science of physics strives to understand these laws. There are two well-understood forces, one seemingly basic but still mysterious force, and one other only imagined to exist, and finally, there are the laws of kinematics and thermodynamics, which do not describe “unseen” forces, but are perhaps even more vital. Magic is the first force understood, because we can interact with it so naturally. Electromagnetism is the second, recently explained by a scientist named Waxmell as being a single force rather than two. Light seems to be related to electromagnetism, and, more interestingly, seems to be a wave. We believe light to be an oscillation of the magic continuum.

    Something we call gravity seems to exist, and more interesting is that it is related to kinematics through acceleration, but it is not fully understood. Scholars have thought for some time that Arthe is spherical, and that the sun is an external entity some distance removed. This is the only explanation for the cycle of night and day, since the sun is clearly the source of day. The moon seems to be similar to the sun, but it has no connection to the cycle, other than that its light is drowned out by the sun during the day. Its progression through phases is obvious. Several hundred years ago, a mathematical model was worked out suggesting that the moon is another object rotating around Arthe, like the sun. When the paths of the sun and the moon align, we experience an eclipse. Gravity is what keeps these bodies in orbit around us. Also, it seems that this same force is the one that explains the attraction of all more mundane objects to Arthe. Thus, we arrive at our definition of the force: gravity attracts all objects to the center of Arthe. Some speculate that this may be yet another manifestation of magic. Finally, the stars we see in the night sky seem to move in patters different from the moon and sun. We are still calculating these, but we expect them to conform to the laws of gravity and kinematics. However, we have identified a few stars that seem to move up and down as well as around us, like a point on a wheel rolling across the ground. Our most brilliant scientists are working to explain this observation. Their paths are very predictable with parametric equations, but they do not make sense.
    Finally, there is a fourth force that goes by varying names, mostly because it is not universally accepted. This is the force thought to be responsible for the transformation of elements without magic. Most scientists dismiss this as the work of merely an as-of-yet unknown aspect of the branch of magic known as alchemy. Also, there is mathematics. Mathematics is essentially logic and numbers. Most of our philosophers agree that mathematics transcends even physical reality and the natural laws, and perhaps even our universe. The laws of nature are written in the superior language of mathematics. This most pure science has been advanced significantly as well, even without direct application to the real world. We call this number theory. One of the central problems facing the current generation of mathematicians is the proof of a central conjecture known as Wrymon’s Hypothesis.

    Because, according to our scholars, magic is the force that varies the most from universe to universe, it is the one most likely to be misunderstood by you, so I shall explain it. The magic present at a given point can be represented by a four-dimensional scalar field (one time and three space). In other words, magic is a quantity that has value and varies with time and location. It manifests itself seemingly entirely through life. Living things are distinct from non-living things by their magic. Different species and even different individuals can interact with magic to varying degrees in and various ways. We have found the potential to manipulate the force of magic primarily hereditary, while realization of this potential is primarily determined by practice and talent. Thus, species have evolved to interact with magic. Here I shall digress for a moment to explain our theory of evolution. In essence, organisms are capable of changing little by little over many generations. This began with the first spark of life, created by Fate, a force that may or may not be sentient, depending on the philosopher with whom one is speaking. These random variations either thrive or die off based on their aptitude for survival. Those more apt live on. This process eventually created the two dominant species, humans and elves. Aside from our far superior intelligence and generally superior magic ability, we are no different from any other life. Now I return.

    It is easier to define magic by what it can’t do than by what it can, but even this simplified explanation is ambiguous, so I shall supply you with a less rigorous definition. Basically, magic allows organisms to effect change in their environments without requiring physical interaction. Doing so drains the magic in the area, but magic recharges relatively quickly, and within a day, a location and recharge from no magic to almost full. Most wizards agree that the rate at which magic recharges is almost linear until it nears a maximum value, when it begins to level off asymptotically. It is extremely difficult to drain an area of magic even temporarily because of the large capacity. In fact, in most cases, one has to be trying to do so. Some large cities experience a mild strain. Of note is the concept of a magic battery; a device which can drain some of the magic in an area and store it. The magic in the area naturally regenerates, but the device can be moved, making more magic available. This actually allows for magic importation. Some large factories receive shipments. Skilled wizards have found ways of using their own bodies as magic batteries, storing magic reserves in themselves for when it is not, for some reason, available in the environment.
    Dragons use magic to produce fire from their mouths. Certain species of trees, insentient as they are, can actually drain magic at a steady rate equal to the rate at which it recharges (they always tend toward equilibrium). This magic is used to revitalize the tree, keeping it growing. In distant lands, there are trees almost a hundred meters across, approaching a kilometer high, and tens of thousands of years old. Humans, with their spark of intelligence, can use magic to do far more than this.

    In these two most sentient of animals, magic is controlled partially by the imagination. The limits are not yet known, but we are rapidly approaching them. Each effect requires some sort of action, usually mental, on the part of the magic user. Because of the nature of the required action, magic users are sometimes called will users. Wizard is a more reserved term implying erudition. Necromancers deal with animation and reanimation; mages deal more with straightforward spells, and so forth.

    I’ll pause here to explain more about myself and what I am. As I said, I am an immortal. I am a human. I am no different species-wise from any other human, except for a few small peculiarities which I share with all immortals. First, I stopped aging a few months after my twenty first birthday, and have looked the same for the past three hundred years. Being only three hundred-some years old (I prefer the keep the exact number private), I am one of the youngest immortals; a mere child compared to the elders. The second thing is that I have absolutely no capacity to use magic. My entire magic potential is consumed in the task of keeping me young and maintaining my mind. Third, I remember everything. I can remember how the wind felt on my skin two hundred years ago during a particular picnic, the scents I smelled, and so forth. I can recall anything in my memory at will. Fourth, I receive visions. Sometimes I see people who are all alone, but I know who they are, what they are thinking, what they are feeling, what they are doing, and, in effect, everything about them. I receive these visions in real-time; I cannot tell the future. Fifth, I share a collective consciousness with all other immortals. I liken this to a public library. We are all free to contribute books or to check books out, but this is not to say that we cannot keep our own private book collections. It is like a placeless meeting place for all of us. We can communicate and share information. Finally, I do not die. Whether I can or cannot die is a difficult question. I personally think that I can; I simply don’t. Some philosophers say that I cannot because I don’t. Some are smart enough to realize that it makes no difference. I sustain no serious injuries. Shoot an arrow at me and it will not be deflected by some magic shield as a mage might conjure (unless a mage happens to conjure one for me). More likely is the possibility that the wind will kick up and that you’ll miss. I simply won’t be hit, for whatever reason, though there will be a perfectly plausible, non-magical reason. I stress that this is non-magical. Tests have confirmed this. Attacks still fail even when magic in an area is depleted. Immortals are intertwined with Fate. Most people call us Fate’s Historians. I believe this is our purpose. We record everything. It is the slender hand of Fate that so gently guides us away from peril (or vice versa). Fate probably determines our creation, and I think that in the end, when Fate has decided that we intelligent beings have had our run, it will be Fate that fails us, and allows even the immortals to perish. Finally, it is Fate that gives us our visions. Through these visions we see even significant events that we would otherwise be unable to witness.

    I return to magic. The method by which a change is accomplished with magic is usually discovered through meditation. With enough thought, or lack of thought, realizations are made, and things make sense. There are a few types of magic. These can be, for the most part, divided up into three categories. There are spells, which require only willpower, certain emotions in the user, and the presence of sufficient magic in the area. Wands and staffs may be used to aid in the casting by channeling magic with more ease. These are not strictly necessary for any spells, but most wizards use them since no sufficiently advanced spells are practical without them. Spells can do simple things like create fireballs or shields. They can do more subtle things, like effect the thoughts of those around the caster. A philanthropic wizard can brighten up someone’s day simply by stepping into the same room.

    Next are potions. These are rather self-explanatory. Certain ingredients are mixed for a desired effect. Sometimes potions must be sealed by spells. Potions require more academic learning than magical prowess because they are so ingredient-oriented. Magic is only an issue when the sealing spell for a potion requires a difficult spell. Usually, a potion should be sealed by the same person to mix the ingredients. It could, but may not, function incorrectly otherwise. These usually produce changes in whoever drinks them, but may also produce changes when poured over an object. Some are magical fertilizers used by gardeners, for example.

    Finally, there are rituals. These often produce the most drastic and permanent changes, such as transformations. They are processes more than anything else. They can require multiple spells and potions. Some consider certain rituals unethical. Some extremists consider all rituals unethical. I shall do my best to maintain a neutral point of view in this political matter. Currently, I live in Axoria (this is not one of the world powers), and all rituals requiring sacrifice must be approved by a high council of magic before being carried out. Human sacrifice is, of course, illegal. Animal sacrifices are only sometimes legal, and are more often barred than not. On a more positive note, a simple ritual can be used to grow individual organs externally for transplantation to those who do not respond well to having new organs magically regrown within them (a condition common to those who are not heretically magically inclined). Also, a ritual so simple it consists of little more than just one difficult spell can be used to create twins in a womb. One may see why such things are sometimes considered unnatural and are often controversial. They can, however, be extraordinarily useful. Self-propelled chariots, the most common form of travel today, are driven by an enchantment which is, in turn, bestowed by a ritual.

    Because they are important, I’ll allow myself to follow the tangent to describe these carriages. The first were developed a couple centuries ago. Rather than being pulled by horses, an enchantment allowed their wheels to turn on their own. Note, of course, though, that before this, they were pulled by horses. Their speed was determined by the driver’s will. They were turned manually with a steering wheel. Over time, some with magic-assisted steering were developed, making the wheel easier to turn, along with other innovations. Their maximum speed is dependent both upon their design and the driver’s skill channeling magic. They use up magic like any other spell, but not at a very significant rate. Some, particularly those used in war, now carry magic batteries. Also, most modern ones (excluding only the cheapest) float rather than rely on wheels. Despite this, they still respond (to varying degrees) to variations in the terrain over which they travel, so roads remain necessary. Some provide bumpier rides than others. Some are small and fast, others provide industrial power and can be used to tow large objects, and still others serve as public transportation.

    It is also important that I discuss the nations of this world. There are two superpowers. One is the East; the Kingdom (referred to simply as such). The other is the West, the Republic (again referred to as such). Other kingdoms and republics exist, but these two most important ones are those indicated when the first letter is capitalized and when mentioned without any other name. Relations are generally uneasy, and there is currently a war raging between them. There exist many other countries in addition to these two, but none as large. Some are surrounded by either (or both) of the two superpowers on almost every side, or even, in a few cases, on all sides. Each major power (and most of the lesser powers for that matter) are broken up into subdivisions, called provinces. In the Kingdom, these are ruled by counts or governors. In the Republic, these are ruled by presidents, premiers, or governors (again, titles vary). Each of these has its own customs and local government, though the latter is subordinate to the central government. Again, I have resolved not to describe culture too much in this introduction, but I should note that, in part owing to the immensity of the superpowers, certain provinces, especially those lying far from the respective capitals, are sometimes more loyal to themselves than to the greater state. The nationalistic tendencies of these populations lead them to support their provinces more than the country. Some are almost independent. Also, and quite naturally, in general, those provinces lying near the East-West border tend to be unstable. The war is at its most ferocious from about twenty to sixty degrees North, though there is also a notable conflict in the South, from about fifteen to thirty-five degrees South. This is generally considered a separate theatre.

    History is not the focus of this introduction, but some is necessary. Both superpowers are very old, but the Republic claims to be older. Documents suggest its predecessors could date back twelve hundred years. Understanding of science and mathematics throughout history follows an exponential growth model. Societies have evolved rather uniformly through time. A few great empires have risen and fallen, just as the present ones will fall with time. It was around four thousand years ago that the nomadic lifestyle died out and true civilization was born. The oldest city that hasn’t yet been reduced to ruins is two thousand years old. Humanity has seen a few cultural centers form and fade. Because we all live on one contiguous supercontinent, culture is also contiguous. Go from one end of the continent to the other and one will see great differences, but there’s always middle ground. Grand wars have been fought, and the political map of our world has changed significantly. A little over three hundred years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I witnessed one of the largest wars the world has seen, fought primarily between East and West. To bear witness to this at a young age was probably the purpose of my creation. This is no longer modern history, and much has changed since then. I worry that the present war may reach its scale. Few remember.

    I shall now deliver you into the life of one of this story’s protagonists. Through his experiences and the experiences of others you will learn about the dimension to our world that I have very insufficiently described: our culture. This is because our culture is a rich one, and you must see it to understand it.

    I

    The land was snowy, and a blustery wind swept through the area, turning cheeks red and fingers numb. Lucius was sure he heard a dark b-flat minor piano sonata being played somewhere. He began humming. The third movement was a death march.

    Despite the cold, Lucius had forgone the opportunity to drive himself to the castle. It felt good to walk between the lines of dark, tall, bear trees, beside fields devoid of crops. It was mid March and the snow was beginning to melt, but there was enough left to reflect the colors of the sunrise.

    Lucius adjusted his cloak. He was of approximately average height, or perhaps a little above it, but his bearing and aura of purpose made him seem taller. His hair was dark. His face was somewhat plain, though mildly handsome, but its features were prone to forming into an expression of deep concentration, or even what some others may have called brooding. His eyes were a dark gray almost completely without color. His clothes were just off black. A sword was at his hip; a bow was on his back; magic burned in his hands. At his side he carried a bag full of books. He was seventeen.

    At length, he arrived. The castle may have been called impressive, but only by one that had not seen many castles. It was of only modest size, occupying only a few acres of land, but the architecture was appealing in its own right. It was new, having been built just over a century ago, as the provincial government had gained more power, and was semi-functional for military purposes. Located on a small hill, it was mildly impressive without being pretentious.
    Lucius approached the large reinforced wooden gate, where he was admitted entrance. “You’re early,” remarked a familiar sentry. The youth was in fact early, despite having walked from his house to the castle.

    “But surely not so early as to have arrived before Master Namkriesi could prepare.”

    The sentry smiled. “You’ll never be that early.”

    Lucius proceeded into the more central region of the castle, making his way to the same room as he did every other day at approximately the same time. There he met the smell of extremely strong, black coffee.

    The man in the room, sitting comfortably in a large chair and pondering a globe, was Namkriesi. He was short, a little stocky, wore a mustache, and was at least a decade past his prime. He had dark eyes that could be beady at times. When Lucius first met him, he was overwhelmed by the man’s overbearing demeanor. His limited stature did not stop him from towering over anyone in his presence.

    Despite this first impression, however, Lucius had grown not only to respect him, but to like him. The intimidation slipped away over time, and the two became friends. Lucius found that he could appreciate Namkriesi’s sense of humor, and was thoroughly impressed by the vastness of the latter’s life experiences. The elder had an unvoiced but sincere respect for the lad’s power, intelligence, and personality.

    Master Namkriesi was Lucius’s magic teacher. Lucius was an excellent student with great potential, thus making worthy of Namkriesi’s individual instruction. All that has been thus far described exists, or existed, in the Kingdom’s province of [province name]. This was a small province in the North East of the kingdom. Since a young age, Lucius had demonstrated considerable talent in multiple fields, particularly with magic, and his parents had realized that his best chance for success would be to enter the service of the count of the realm.

    When Lucius first met the man he would serve, he was surprised to see a charming man in his early thirties. He instantly liked him. The count was genuinely polite, kind, and possessed an appreciable faculty for thought. Lucius had decided quickly that he would serve his provincial government. He had been drawn naturally to the militaristic, and dreamed of one day being a senior officer.

    And so now, he was nearing the completion of his teaching as a student. The teaching would continue for him when he entered service, but he would learn from his own experiences rather than from those of others. Already the count was looking at him with great expectations.

    Master Namkriesi stood up, smiled a little, motioned for Lucius to follow him, and exited the room through a door opposite the one through which the student had entered. Lucius had been here many times before. This was a supply room, where various magic items were kept for training purposes. Namkriesi wobbled over to a shelf and levitated a violin down to himself.

    “Today I’m going to show you something that saved me many times during my occupation as a currency smuggler.” A nostalgia for times past, spent illegally, glinted in the man’s eyes. “I believe you once mentioned that you enjoyed the violin.”
    “The cello is my favorite instrument,” Lucius corrected.

    The teacher shook his head with friendly disproval as he returned the violin to its shelf. “Wait here,” he commanded. Namkriesi left and, after a few minutes, returned with a cello from the music room in the castle. Lucius was shocked by this act of consideration; surely the old man would never have done such a thing for a less respected student.

    Namkriesi put the instrument down and tuned it. Lucius was intrigued by how he could use such a thing, but he had learnt to set aside silly questions that would be answered shortly without being asked anyway.

    “I’m going to play the c minor scale, slowly. Hum along with me.” There was a pause. “You can hum in tune, can’t you?”
    “Of course.”

    “Good.” He began to play the notes slowly. Lucius hummed.

    After a few times through the scale, Namkriesi added the suggestion, “Now change the timbre a little. Make it a little thicker. It should sound more like the cello.”
    Lucius wasn’t entirely sure how he was to change the timbre of his voice, but he did his best, and to moderate success.

    “Now more. Make it sound like the cello. Don’t listen to yourself; just listen to the cello. This is a simple exercise.”
    Namkriesi began playing yet again. On the second time through the octave, he stopped playing, but the sound did not change.

    “Good. The problem of reproducing instrumental sound through willpower and vocalization requires no more complexity than many preschoolers can handle, but it requires a great deal of attunement with the magical continuum, so it often finds no place in magical curriculums. After yesterday’s lesson on the manipulation of the atmosphere through one’s emotions, I thought this would be a good break, and it’s not entirely out of place with our trend of attunement over conscious thought. You’ll make an excellent mage, and I know you’re very skilled with those concentration spells like wind and fire control and monitoring life force, and those complete thought oriented ones like reverse burning, but I also know that you’re strongest with attunement. That’s why I’m teaching these last, by the way, and why the final exam on general military applications of potions was way back in September.”
    Lucius nodded.

    “Ok, now we practice. I’ll start you off by doubling with the cello a couple times, but then you should be able to start humming on your own. Once you’ve mastered that, we’ll practice a few other patterns besides minor scales, and you can try some folk songs.”

    And so they practiced. Lucius could start humming solo almost immediately, and transposition was utterly effortless. After ten minutes, he could hum some of the tunes that had been sung to him as he grew up, specific to the region.

    Namkriesi nodded. “Next do this.” He began double-stopping, playing two octaves side-by-side, starting with consonant pairs and then moving to dissonant pairs once Lucius had familiarized himself with the technique. “There aren’t many people who can hum two pitches at once,” he remarked. In fact, there were plenty, but the percentage of the population was small enough that his statement took on the semblance of truth.

    After over an hour of such rapid progress, Namkriesi located a harpsichord, which he began to play. “Now, continue humming cello notes as I play this.” That was easy enough. Finally, the teacher produced some ancient fugal sheet music for harpsichord and cello, and they began playing. As they did, Namkriesi began talking more.

    “I guess it’s obvious how this was useful to me. When one is smuggling, it’s always good to get along well with other smugglers, and this trick made me pretty popular in pubs.”

    Lucius couldn’t help cracking a smile.

    “Anyway, I was in the currency smuggling business, as I mentioned before. Say that person number one who owns property in the Kingdom and the Republic (this alone is, as you know, illegal in both states) and decides to transfer some funds from one country to the other. They use different currencies, and, again, exchange is illegal. The fools in charge of the states are always trying to prevent the other country’s economic growth, but they’re both forced into being so self-sufficient (which isn’t too difficult with such empires) that they only end up being a pain.”


    Yes... it does rather just cut off. Blame it on time constraints mostly. Also, again, I must admit, I've been working on my sci-fi. But although it just ends... I did think I got enough down for a first post. In a week I'll flesh out the first chapter some more. Also, I realize it's rather dry so far. Just give it a chance, there'll be action ;) I promise. I just need to get things started.

    And finally, if you didn't read my post in the other sub-forum, this will have three very different protagonists, switching protagonists each chapter. Eventually, they'll meet up and interact and stuff, but not in the first three chapters I don't think. Look for them to start converging in chapters IV - VI (I know it's a long way off). Even once they do meet up, each chapter will be told mostly from the viewpoint of a certain character.

    Oh, and any comments on my (possibly original) 1st person omniscient writing style are welcomed! Ever since in 5th grade they taught us the different perspectives, I've wanted to mix things up like that, and with fantasy, it's possible! Yay!

    Edit: Oh, and I'm sorry that this doesn't seem to support indentation... could make it an eye sore. I'll see what I can do.

    Edit 2: There, that should help a little (added lines between paragraphs)
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009
  2. Black Tattoo

    Black Tattoo The Corruptor

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    You know, for a long-winded boring prologue, this is actually pretty good! It makes the reader want to read more and that's always a good thing! :D
     
  3. EstuansInterius

    EstuansInterius Ira vehementi

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    Well, I'm glad to hear it! I do plan on continuing this, but (I can't honestly say unfortunately) I've been working on another project that I enjoy very much, so... I don't know when the next update will be. I had initially wanted to finish the first chapter before posting, but realized that that'd take too long, considering.
     
  4. Black Tattoo

    Black Tattoo The Corruptor

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    I certainly understand what you mean about other projects you enjoy. (I'm the same way that's why I have two book and two story ideas all in the works at the same time - LOL) No rush on posting, it's always better to take your time, BUT! I will definitely keep an eye out for it :D