?

Log in

Sand and Bone 18 and the noble death

This chapter makes me cry every time I read it. It's a silly thing but also emotional for me.

The Noble Death

Living in the desert is painfully hard in my world. The Mifuno Desert is thousands of kilometers across and roughly the size of Asia. It has no rivers to speak of, terrifying wind storms, and an unrelenting heat and dryness. There is only one continent in the "known world" and most life is gathered in the 500 km strip along the coast where moisture still reaches the ground.

I think, mainly because I never finished the map.

There are many reasons for why the desert clans remain in this inhospitable place. Mostly, their magic is here and they have a tight symbiosis with their spirits that gives them what they need to survive.

The last of moisture and rain also means that there aren't a lot of resources. Every oasis Rutejìmo passes is a fortress or shelter created by only a few spirits who used their energy to provide liquid or shade. Every city is carved and crafted by a clan who spent their energies building it. It is very personal, this world.

It is also brutal. The hunt for resources means that clans attack each other with regularity. It was only recently that the clans found an uneasy peace with each other and started to pull themselves out of the sand into the great civilization. The old ways are still there, which means warriors still have powerful magic to defend their clan (and its resources) from attackers.

This realization is part of the fabric of society. It is a failure, a weakness, for a warrior to die of old age. Somiryòki, his step-grandfather spent the last decade of his life with PTSD and nerve damage from a battle he almost didn't survive. He is relegated to a cave because of the shame that he didn't die in that fight. Of course, with this culture's obsession about not talking about it, he was basically left in a cave to die where no one could see him. Only Rutejìmo's grandmother, Tejíko, took care of him much like Mapábyo cared for Rutejìmo in Sand and Ash.

In Sand and Blood, Chimípu's biggest struggle was the realization that she was going to die painfully in service to the clan. It was an obvious conclusion, mainly because of this cultural belief that warriors have a "good death", a noble one if you will.

There is a reason Seven Samurai was an inspiration of this book. It is about the noble death of warriors and the pain that goes when you lose someone close to you.

The title of the chapter might give you an idea of who Rutejìmo loses.

Sand and Bone 18: Brothers

Along with the others, Rutejìmo ends up running for his life. He sees his friends and families for what might be the last time before he sets off on his own perilous journey. Before he goes, however, his brother has one last thing.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2legaZv. I decided to make all of my books free downloads at https://fedran.com/. Please read and enjoy them, maybe talk about them or throw a review my direction. If you want to read more, consider becoming a patron on my site or at Patreon.

Sand and Bone 17, Choice, and Wisdom

It's a short chapter today but another one leading up one of the more painful chapters in the book next week.

The Choice

While I didn't set out to write the Hero's Journey, it is a narrative that this story is fitting into nicely. This chapter is one of them, mainly because Rutejìmo stands on the threshold of the Crossing the Threshold. He has to make a choice to enter a new world and he does.

The important part, and the failure on mine, is that he doesn't think about the choice. A few short paragraphs for what would probably be the most important decision in his life.

"No, it's true, Mípu. The only way to give me a chance to get home in time is to send me in the straightest line, which would make me the easiest to ambush."

With a sigh, he returned his gaze down to the rocks. He picked one up and rolled it in his palm, struggling with the swelling of emotions. He was going to die. Probably alone in the middle of the desert where no one would lead him to Mifúno's embrace.

Rutejìmo almost threw up, but he managed to keep it down. The answer was obvious the moment they mentioned it. But, it took him a few minutes to quell his fear to let the words out. When he managed to look back up, he could feel the tears burning his eyes. "Let's tell the others we're splitting up."

He caught only a look of relief and sorrow in their eyes before he looked away.

The failure came back to the reason I wrote this story in the first place. He was supposed to be the "man next to the Chosen One" but in this scene is the hero. Of course, it makes sense since he's the main character of the novel, but I ended up being so happy that the decisions and struggles he experienced up to this point made the decision obvious. It wasn't forced, not the speed he made the choice or the acknowledgement that he was the one most at risk to being killed. Three books leading up to this choice.

Wisdom

This chapter also ties in the events of the entire second novel, Sand and Ash.

"I am Fidochìma, and I speak... for no one right now."

For those who read the second book, the above quote is significant because it says so much. It also pushes Rutejìmo further into the path of speaking for the desert. The one thing I like about this plot in the story is that most of it doesn't have to do with violence. It is happening around him and people are dying, but he continues to be a pacifist despite all the horrors.

Next chapter, I get to show off Fidochìma's fractal archery skills which I think is cool.

Sand and Bone 17: Splitting Up

After making a decision the night before, Rutejìmo has a terrible night of nightmares and being sick. When he wakes up, he found out that something changed and it won't be only Chimípu running for their lives.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2kPPEF2. I decided to make all of my books free downloads at https://fedran.com/. Please read and enjoy them, maybe talk about them or throw a review my direction. If you want to read more, consider becoming a patron on my site or at Patreon.

Sand and Bone 16, R5-D4 plots, and dragons

A while back, I wrote about R5-D4 Plots and that has colored my writing for almost three years. In short, minor characters of one book have a role in other books. This guided me into splitting Flight of the Scions apart and also tying that series into this one. This chapter is the first clear connection between the two books.

Rutejìmo's papers were old, and the edges crumbled when he touched them. He carefully puzzled through them, struggling with the unfamiliar way the eastern clans wrote their words. The first was a letter written in a rough hand of someone barely able to write, a Kosobyo Mioráshi. It talked about the birth of her daughter, Kanéko.

It also ties a suggestion from my editor. I originally had the tall rocks that show up in all thee books as "Dragon's Teeth" but she suggested I make them "Wind's Teeth." I ended up going with it and used it as the base for my wind spirits (which are... a secret for a later book).

Sand and Bone 16: A Second Wind

Ah, the plot. This chapter is where we find out Kosòbyo is keeping a secret. Of course, this is probably the worst info-dumping chapter in the book. In short, a gyotochizōmi (also known as a dragon) supplies a nearly endless source of magic to anyone who controls its soul (or enslaves it). Almost all of the dragons in the world are captured now, the most famous is the Puzzle King's castle which is powered by one (I might write that novel, it would be a 13 Ghosts style piece though).

There is another dragon running around, Kanéko's Big Bad from Flight of the Scions, Damagar. Yep, my favorite eighty-foot, telepathic toad is an immortal god spirit capable of powering a castle or uplifting a megalomaniac spirit into power.

There are other things going on in this chapter, including Rutejìmo crushing Nifùni's spirits by pointing out the truth of his actions.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2kP4fOJ. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patron or reviewing one of my other books. Even a dollar a month helps get this edited and properly published. Plus, you get to see how it ends now instead of waiting weeks.

Sand and Bone 15 and speaking for gods

This is a short chapter with only two major plot elements inside it. However, it is still one that I think is powerful because of everything I've built up in the last two books. It ties into the events that caused Rutejìmo to be cast out from his clan and also with the very nature of Mifúno, the desert spirit.

The Great Triad

As I mentioned earlier, in the desert there are three great spirits, the triad.

Mifúno: The desert mother.

Tachìra: The sun spirit.

Chobìre: The moon spirit.

These three spirits are the foundation of all society. All magic flows from them (actually from Mifúno into Tachìra and Chobìre and then into the rest of the spirits). It also the basis for the conflict in the desert, justified in the social narrative as the fight for Tachìra and Chobìre over the affections of Mifúno.

While they are called spirits, they are effectively gods in the desert. They rarely interact with mortals and none of them have avatars (gods do not walk the earth in this setting). Instead, they can show their presence through omens and signs.

All three of the triads are also spirits of their own clan. The only difference is that very few people are capable of taking on the power of a god. There are only a dozen in each of Tachìra and Chobìre's clans, twenty-four warriors total capable of tapping directly into the powers of the sun and moon.

When someone says "I speak for", they are proclamation both their clan and their authority. In this chapter, when Rutejìmo makes his proclamation, he is basically telling everyone that he is following the most powerful entity in the entire desert. He is speaking for the source of all magic, power, and civilization itself. The entire world, as he knows it, is built on Mifúno and her power.

The Mifúno Clan

Which leads into the question: how many are in the Mifúno clan. The answer? Three. In the story, two will die within the next few months and there will only be one for close to twenty years before it changes again. Only three people in my entire world are capable of taking on Mifúno's power for even a minute.

This chapter is where I failed to not make him a hero. Three books with the intent of writing a story about the guy next to the Chosen One and I ruined it with only a few short words.

"I am Rutejìmo, and I speak for Mifúno."

Naturally, I had to emphasize that declaration a little more than just a sentence.

Desòchu's feet crunched as he turned back to Nifùni. "I am Desòchu, and I speak for---"

Rutejìmo had to speak; he could not let Nifùni die. Whispers in the back of his head rose up, demanding that he speak. He relented despite everything that told him to remain silent. "I am Rutejìmo, and I speak for Mifúno."

A blast of wind tore through the shelter, kicking up rocks and sands. It pummeled against all of their bodies. The flames around Desòchu and Chimípu wavered with the air, something that Rutejìmo had never seen happen, and then snuffed out.

I love this scene, not only for the foreshadowing but the details.

Hero System

I talked a little bit about using the HERO System for building my characters. Every clan has a theme with their powers, sometimes it's in a power framework, other times it isn't.

Mifúno's powers are pretty different than a lot of clans. She has more meta-magic than any other clan, mainly because she influences every clan spirit. That gives her Aid and Dispel/Suppress. She also has a Major Transform to making someone "non-magical." In effect, the followers of her clan can permanently remove the magic from anyone.

There is also a vague one about resonance, she is compatible with all desert magic with little or no feedback.

There is also a butt-load of PD and ED as you may have seen throughout the series.

Sand and Bone 15: Banyosiōu

Rutejìmo realizes that he is seeing the events from five years ago from the other side. Instead of his brother beating on him before kicking him out of the clan, it was Nifùni who had risked everyone's lives and was going to be declared dead for far longer than a year.

He couldn't have that, but did he have the authority to speak above his brother, the elder of his clan?

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2jOkpHQ. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patron or reviewing one of my other books. Even a dollar a month helps get this edited and properly published. Plus, you get to see how it ends now instead of waiting weeks.
This is a big chapter. Like many of my tragedy chapters, it starts with a beautiful day where everyone is happy. It doesn't end that way.

Felony Feedback

When I created the world, I wanted a reasonable reason for writing a steampunk/industrial magic world. It also had to answer the question "why haven't mages taken over the world." My answer was resonance which is where powerful magic reacts violently with all other forms of disharmonious energies. In short, powerful mages cause each other pain and artifacts explode in the presence of anyone besides their creator (or someone with a compatible resonance).

Many cities have a resonance. It comes from years of magic seeping into the rocks and wood. A necessary harmony to keep everything from exploding while still getting the benefits of magic. In the desert, it is the clan who claimed them which is why every city, valley, and built-up area is named after a specific clan. The resonance of the clan is the resonance of the area. All energies outside of that can cause destruction as artifacts explode.

There are also laws around resonance. To willfully use powerful, incompatible magic is called Felony Feedback (mashio kajudūfa). It is a crime, punishable up to death or imprisonment based on the amount of destruction that comes from using such magic in close quarters.

Up to this point, Rutejìmo's stories have been relatively isolated as I worked out the details of resonance through short stories. We had a little foray into resonance with Sand and Ash with Mapábyo running through the city but this chapter has two very high powered fighters causing all sorts of destruction. It is a logical progression and something that is going to happen a couple times in this book.

The Call

The Call is a concept that completely surprised me in Sand and Ash. I wasn't entirely sure the thought process that came out of it but it seemed like something that would have formed with the magical guardianship between clan members and their warriors.

I thought of it as hearing my children scream. Most parents can tell if a kid is just running around with high-pitched screams verses the scream of pain. More importantly, a lot of parents know that it is their kid and respond faster than just a generals scream of pain.

The Call is a magical version of that child's cry for help. The difference is that it uses more than just sound waves but also the will of the person doing the cry. It has a compulsion with it, a drive to come and help regardless of what the person is doing. It is a drive, a "must help" that is tied directly into the powers of the clan.

Warriors, like most aspects of the desert culture, have a lot more power than the non-warriors.

Rutejìmo is an exception because of his ties to the desert, we'll be seeing that later. I've written about how he is special in how other warriors treat him, that also applies to who will answer his Call.

Anime Fights

One of the things I've noticed is that a number of readers don't like it when I say my novel is anime-inspired. I'm not sure what they mean, but I usually attribute the inspiration to fight scenes that destroy scenery, a certain style of special effects, and the over-the-top nature of actions. Personally, I imagine all the characters as anime (Fairy Tail, Slayers) as I'm writing.

This is also my bucket list: to have my novels animated as an anime movie or series.

This fight shows that. The powerful parries leave concussion blasts, there are tornadoes of golden fire, and a mile-long fireball directly influenced from one of my favorite martials movies, Shaolin Soccer. When you through in massive mechanical spiders spitting fire and acid and I think I have a fun little fight.

Sand and Bone 14: Presents

Nifùni sneaks away to accept the job the rest of the clan decided to turn down. What started as a beautiful but expensive day of shopping for Rutejìmo turns violent when he has to find and save his clan member from being murdered.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2iFHtX7. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patron or reviewing one of my other books. Even a dollar a month helps get this edited and properly published. Plus, you get to see how it ends now instead of waiting weeks.
There are a couple things with this chapter that I found enjoyable. It was more than the interplay of the individual characters but also how they work together.

Nudity verses sex

It was touched at the end of Sand and Bone, but public nudidity isn't a problem. It is also not automatically sexual like it is in many parts of the United States. I wanted this scene to show that but also to show how the clan works together when they travel. That includes sharing the shower areas and taking turns.

It reminds me of the shower scene in Starship Troopers. While the scene was pretty much fan-service for the viewers, the characters didn't treat it as a sexual encounter. It just was. Of course, when the US created co-ed bathrooms, it is a big deal. Same with breast-feeding in public. Neither are a big deal if people don't make it so, but a large hunk of the population seems to make it a big deal.

That isn't the case here. It doesn't matter if it is Desòchu dancing naked in the last chapter of Sand and Bone or the clan taking turns with the shower. There is a time and place for sex and the culture understands that isn't it.

Of course, that leads into the cultures who do have taboos against nudity and the warriors' sterility to rant and rave about it. If you read the epigraphs of the chapters, you'll see those voices.

No rape exists here

Part of this culture also comes from author intrusion. I decided a while ago that rape doesn't exist in my world. No matter how dark, no matter how gritty I try to get, Fedran will not have it. If I make a reference to it, that is a mistake on my part because it doesn't even enter the consciousness of the characters.

I made this choice for a number of reasons but I felt that I could come up with a story that could show horror without using rape as the mechanism. That doesn't mean people won't get tortured but I won't let sexual violence be that mechanism. Even the torture will mostly be off-page.

Struggling for money

One of the common themes in many anime series is running out of money. I don't know what it is, but some of my favorite series all have that including Hyper Police and Slayers.

I can understand it. Writing is not a rich career. What I made just softens the blow of getting a book out and it remains a labor of love instead of a viable fiscal path in my life. There are times when I'm looking at my balance counting the hours to payday or hoping that one check will get in fast enough that I won't bounce a check.

In some ways, the struggle this chapters has with the hundred thousand pyābi offer is a reflection of my own writing. I take commissioned jobs frequently but they don't advance my career. I can't share them, I can't even say anything more than "I wrote a fifty thousand word commission and it took up my bandwidth for two months." That is frustrating because I'd rather write a fifty thousand word novel in this world.

I don't though. My Patreon is slowly building up (I tripled my subscribers since the first of the year!) but it is a long way to let me give up writing commissions in favor of my own worlds (the fantasy or even the sci-fi one).

I like the idea of the clan being poor like most small business owners I know. They worry about every job, every mission. At the same time, they are willing to buy presents for everyone because it brings joy. They struggle but also share what bounty they do have. I love that about this clan, it is a little thing about a close-knit family and circle of friends that I think makes them special.

Sand and Bone 13: Voting

Rutejìmo and the other of the clan finally come up to a choice the next morning. Do they take the job that Nifùni found or trust Rutejìmo's feelings that there is something wrong. Even though both men have a strong opinion about their own choice, it is up to the clan to decide if the job is worth the risk.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2jAoF0s. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patron or reviewing one of my other books. Even a dollar a month helps get this edited and properly published. Plus, you get to see how it ends now instead of waiting weeks.
One thing I notice is that I take a long time to get to the inciting event of a book. In this case, twelve chapters of building up the characters and personalities all so I can start the crux of the story with a simple meeting in a bar.

A lot of advice says that I should be getting to the bulk of the plot earlier but I really want to establish characters. There are parts of his plot in the first chapter, the disdain from the rest of his clan and their view of his cowardice, but not the "OMG, we are going to die" bits.

I'm not sure if that is the inciting event or not. It is the arc for the entire story though, the man who ran away from combat in the beginning is the one who will be running into a battle despite everything he wanted.

That said, I think this book is paced pretty well. There are not a lot of "side plots" as it were and the story stays focused on a single path, Rutejìmo's. He doesn't have a lot of distractions either, this story didn't fit well with the wandering tale that some writers excel at.

HERO System

There was another thing in this chapter that drew my attention.

He always wondered if his slowness at running and his unwillingness to take a life were somehow connected with his services to the dead.

The answer is "yes." Internally, I use the HERO System (6th ed.) to manage the characters in my stories. This gives me a framework for how they evolve over time (experience per chapter) but also balancing out their skills to each other. It isn't exact and I fudge a lot, but the rough progression helps me frame that aspect of the world.

Rutejìmo's powers have been pretty much set in Sand and Blood with little improvement during Sand and Ash. Some of that was building up his attributes and skills but a lot of it was banking toward the powers he's beginning to manifest in this book.

Of course, this is shown in the above quote. It is limiting his services to the dead because he was saving up for a number of high-cost powers, contacts and networking, and social influence. Despite being "weak," he is actually well known throughout the western region.

He also has always had a very high END, REC, PD, and ED which are all passive attributes that have little physical indicator of their values. By this book, he had quite a number of defensive combat levels (as we'll find out) in addition to his powerful abilities that finally kicked in.

Some day, I might see about licensing HERO or something and writing a source book for these characters, which is one reason I haven't posted any specific details. Not to mention, they are filled with spoilers even in the first chapter.

Sand and Bone 12: The Offer

At the end of the day, Rutejìmo is wandering around a too-large city looking for Nifùni who never returned to the inn. Not having a way of contacting him, the rest of the clan had spread out to check out the taverns and stores. Naturally, none of them would consider that Nifùni would have found a night to himself; Rutejìmo's history showed the danger of disappearing in the middle of the night.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2hVT9cQ. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patrons, reviewing, or even talking about my book on social networks. Any little bit helps me get the next book out.
On the last day of Lexember, I present a word for the joy of finishing a good book.

Lexember 31: nakasabyofino

Pronunciation

nakasabyofìno: /na.ka.sa.bjo.ꜜɸi.no/

Noun

nakasabyofìno

The joy of finishing a good book.
For Lexember 30, I present a word for an unread book. This word was blatantly stolen from the real world Japanese definition because I think it is awesome.

Lexember 30: tsudoku

Pronunciation

tsudòku: /tsɯ.ꜜdo.kɯ̥/

tsudōku: /tsɯ.doː.kɯ̥/

Noun

tsudōku

An unread book or books.

Verb

tsudòku

To acquire books but not to read them.
On this lovely day of Lexember, I present a word for paper cut.

Lexember 29: takawumofu

Pronunciation

takawumófu: /ta.ka.wɯ.ꜛmo.ɸɯ̥/

takawumōfu: /ta.ka.wɯ.moː.ɸɯ̥/

Noun

takawumōfu

A paper cut.

Verb

takawumòfu

To be a persistent annoyance.