I once had a plan, to write a story. The plan began like many do, with some initial step, or two – then would continue, each page before the other, until it wasn’t done.
So some number of things got written, and I posted them places, then lost a password here and there, but found those again, and recovered some things, forgetting where I was and was going.
I’ve even somewhat forgotten which of these things ended up here already, but under other, uninformative titles where stuff could hide and never be found again. I might write a blog post about feeling happy, and call it something like When Again Have I Been Here Last? Or I might write a chapter about Dooley the family dog (Maeve’s family, Maeve being a character in the story), and call it Some Tuesday When Something Happened.
The Dear Reader might see my self-imposed problem. I do in the electronic world what I do in the physical one: pile things atop one another, enthusiastically mislabeling them as I go. How many junk drawers do I keep on the Internet of Things? Perhaps I’ll write a post about it someday, and maybe I already have.
The bit below is about a character who is part of the story but has not been so far. His place in things is somewhat unclear. He is based loosely on a friend I’ve known for years – the only character who is most templated after a single person (though with magical powers and mystical origins); the rest for the most part are amalgams of many people, with bits of myself mixed in, and then imagined stuff on top of it all. Where all characters come from, I sometimes suspect.
I think of a lot of this stuff as backstory. I don’t necessarily plan to stuff a book full of diverging trains of thought, that’s just how my brain likes to do things. I find backstory great fun to write, because I’m under no commitment or constraint to go anywhere with it, and yet it helps me tell myself the story first. This too is part of the sketchbook mentality that I am quite fond of these days (meaning the ones that make up my lifetime).
The character image I keep using to mark the posts that are actually part of the story (rather than my story) is the character I’m referring to – Bardlii. He has this thing called the Flaming Scroll of Aggregated Opinion, which you might say is like his world’s version of the early Internet. It is a great device for getting into contentious debates with other opinionated wizards at great distances.
I do not like how I drew his eyebrow(s).
I have now prefaced the piece overly much.
Bardlii Noonstar was, according to those who knew him best, “unusually charged”. This meant different things depending on the day and circumstance.
On the evening he was born, for example, I would be referring to the excess of electricity used to perform the feat – his parents, practitioners of the Elemental Arts, had read in a manual about such things that a lightning rod of seven to fourteen Arms (Estherflutter Arms, to be exact) in length, struck twice by lightning in succession on or near the stroke of eleven on a late Autumn evening could shock life into a clay form made with loving and conscientious hands – Bardlii’s clay form had been struck a full five times by the time his parents had pulled the wires from their hand-made child-bearing contraption. It was unprecedented, you might say, for so much charge to be applied to such a young golem as he.
Regarding this unusual charge, during the year of his fifth birthday (which both wizards and witches would call his anniversary of awakening), we would be referring to Bardlii’s being the youngest (by far) Junior Mana Architect ever to be admitted to that fine though by then fading and venerable institution known still and simply as the South College of Magical Arts, to which no other golems or assorted automatons having been ever or since so admitted.
In conversation with others – particularly in matters most pressing (he was pressed so by many matters), I would be referring to the sheer energy he would bring to bear in both his questions and his answers and also his commentary… and also intentions. And attention, for the matter.
He was, in short, an intense young man.
You might now be imaging a five-year old, made of clay, and prickling with electrical charge. Metaphorically he was most of those things, but in matter of fact, he then as always had resembled a fully grown man, having been formed that way from the outset, on purpose, and by necessity. The charge itself was simply within him, though you could well say it leaked out in all things that he did. He was not dangerous to touch, if one did not mind an occasional static jolt for doing so.
The clay, having been charged thus by good and loving parents well-practiced in the arts of automation, had since congealed into something much more closely resembling Human flesh, though with a slight sheen when seen in just the right light.
Bardlii Noonstar was an unusually charged fellow, in all those ways and more. And why have I yet to say much at all about this central character in our tale? Well that could be revealed later on, I suppose, for it is too far a departure to manage at the moment – the story as you have no doubt come to know has one too many characters already. To omit Bardlii now though would demand we replace him with another, even more artificial creation of the imagination, for his role in moving our story forward, at this time, is (perhaps inappropriately) unequivocal.
It begins – or rather, continues – within an Inn, as so often these sorts of stories do. Remember, we are telling a tale of fantasy and high adventure, and the setting is none you’d be able to see here on Earth, at any time past or present, for where it occurred (or is occurring, or might yet someday occur) is in the Central and Western region of the Westfarian Isles, where, when we last visited, a man and his mule had met an invisible woman named Wimsel, and became soon and secretly stalked by a bounty hunter whose name was Brom.
This troupe was not even yet that (though you might have already now imagined them soon to be so), and was still at that time in need of a proper catalyst to get their proper adventures properly underway. As you also might now have just imagined, Bardlii was that self-same catalyst, having recently travelled the high and low roads of the kingdoms clear from the city of Owl (where the High College was) to the backwater where our story continues (or begins, depending on your point of view), for reasons I have yet to reveal, for reasons.
I will say no more in advance of simply recounting what then happened next, in more or less chronological order…