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  1. The Queen of the Sky sat crouched atop the cliff face, her fingers picking at one of her leather bracers of their own accord. Before her lay a vast expanse of land encircled by mountains. A waterfall spilled over the edge in one place to form a large lake, which then split into a number of rivers that reached out to carry life to every corner of the domain. People gathered by huts along the banks, organizing supplies to build more dwellings while others brought food to them. The sight made the Queen a bit sad, but it was encouraging at the same time. We are resilient…but I hope we never have to rebuild like this again. Her gaze drifted up. The sky was still blue, though not for much longer. The sun was already making its descent, and would start to sink behind the mountains soon enough—even now it was trying to mask itself behind some clouds, but a breath from the Queen was enough to part them. To most, the sky might look different every minute, a million small things that are forever shifting, always interacting in a new way, and many stand in awe at this marvelous complexity. But to some (and certainly to the Queen), the base essence of the sky was what they saw most clearly: the static canvas happy to play host to this ever-changing string of guests, the companion that was always there, always watching no matter its state, like an old guard dog. She smiled, and for a moment her face knew not a trace of weariness. Knowing that her namesake remained so reliable was enough to give her strength. Footsteps caught her attention. Standing and turning, she saw another woman making her way towards the edge, this one wearing a dress of a burnt orange color and a golden crown nearly identical to hers. “Land!” Sky said, starting forward. “Careful, there’s a loose patch of soil!” At the Queen of the Land’s step, the ground reshaped and hardened itself, transforming to fit her foot perfectly just before it landed. “Come now, dear, I’m not one to lose my footing,” she chuckled. Nonetheless, she accepted the hand she was offered and pulled herself closer to the other Queen, pausing for a brief kiss before stepping away. Her expression hardened as she reached the cliff. “To think we nearly lost all of this…and all for some petty sense of competition…” Sky set a hand on her shoulder. She quickly removed it, saying, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.” Land shook her head. “Don’t worry. How are your wounds healing?” Shifting her weight to test her leg, Sky said, “Decently. However, this body has begun to grow old. There may be new limits to how well I can heal.” After a pause, she added, “Do you think we should go see Fire? We have to make sure the Eastern Ruin is sealed away, else—“ Land put a finger to Sky’s lips. “She will see to it. We all decided that the ones at the most extreme points would be responsible for sealing the Ruinous away; we need to honor that agreement. I know it’s difficult right now, but we have to start learning to trust the others.” Sky sighed, running her hands down Land’s arm. “You’ve always said that.” “Well now that the wars have ended, I have all the more reason to keep saying it! Besides, plenty of humans say bonds forged in battle are the most profound. Why don’t we give that a shot?” Sky smiled, trying to stifle a laugh. Land turned and crossed her arms, saying, “I see.” “No, that’s not what I meant! Simply…” She tried to find the words. Land looked over her shoulder patiently. “You’re so eager to see the best in people, I suppose. I never really learned to appreciate it…I didn’t have much chance, with all the warring. But I think it’s an attitude that will serve us well in this new era.” Land tapped her foot. “Hm. ‘You have an attitude that will serve us well.’” She shrugged and smirked. “Not a very traditional compliment, but I suppose it’s one I’ll accept.” Sky gently wrapped her arms around Land from behind, kissing her on the cheek. “I am quite relieved.” They continued to watch the people together. Eventually, Sky asked, “What are you going to name this place?” “I’ve heard that the others are naming their queendoms after the first human who bore their Crown. I think it’s a lovely idea.” “Roche, then?” “I’m not entirely sure it fits. What do you think?” “I’ve always found it a beautiful name.” Land giggled. “An excellent maneuver, dear, but I daresay you’ve missed the point.” She hesitated before asking, “…And you?” Sky lifted her head from Land’s shoulder. “I’ll need to find a domain first. There are some cliffs on the southwestern shore that I think I could enjoy, but they’re quite a distance away.” Clouds appeared, forming a blanket of shade over the two. Land was silent for a time. Then, she quietly asked, “Did they ask us to separate?” “Hm?” “We’ve been operating under the assumption…we’ve thought that, now that the Queens are going to formalize their territories, that means you and I need to find separate spaces. But I’ve been thinking, and…I don’t think anyone said anything about that.” She pulled away so that she could turn and look at Sky. “Sky, think back: did anyone say we needed to separate?” Sky stared at her blankly, trying to remember the conference. “They…well, I hadn’t really…now that you mention it, I don’t recall any specific mention of our situation.” A hopeful grin took Land’s face. Sky could feel something similar within herself, but still said, “That might not mean what we want it to. Land, I want nothing more than to remain here with you, but this…doesn’t seem the best time to stir tensions. We need peace, else the Ruinous might reawaken.” “And would the others break that peace just to keep us apart?” Land asked. Sky looked down. The wind started to pick up. Land reached out to her, saying, “Sky, I love you. I have not a single memory of our time before this realm, but I still know that I have loved you since time began. And I know that you feel the same.” She took Sky’s hand. The other Queen whispered, “I’m afraid, Land. We didn’t see the Ruinous until they were out butchering people. I’m frightened that anything I do might carelessly unleash them again. If the Eastern Ruin destroyed this place, killed even more of our people…if one of them killed you, I couldn’t…” Land embraced Sky. She waited a moment, then said, “The Ruinous draw power from the hate and violence that filled this world. When we began to trust instead, their strength was lessened—we all saw that.” She looked up at Sky, putting a hand to her cheek. “So what do you think would happen if we taught this world to cherish love? I doubt that’s something those fiends could ever recover from.” Sky thought hard, making sure she could not come up with an argument. When she found she had none, she leaned forward for a long kiss, and the clouds cleared away to bathe the queendom of Roche in sunlight. When at last they parted, she found herself giggling, and she asked, “What would I do without you?” “I promise that you will never have to find out,” Land said. Review
  2. Wait, when was the last time I did something related to Divine Strength? On second thought, I’m not going to double check, it’ll only discourage me. Suffice to say it has been months. Well guess what. I got a surprise burst of motivation at midnight thirty the other night (morning?) and wrote a 1200-ish word story. About Queens. So I’m totally going to post it, but, I got to thinking. This individual thing doesn’t really do anything too unique, though it is the first thing I’ve really written since cutting down on the number of Queens and introducing The Ruinous into the backstory. Technically this makes it a reboot! But since this isn’t the first time I’ve tried a short story that’s basically just a conversation between Land and Gravity Sky, and since I think this might be a good opportunity to force myself to flesh out all the other characters, I think I might try to expand it. With multiple chapters. The idea is that I’ll write a short scene with each Queen (Land and Sky share, Light and Sea might as well) all set immediately after the Queens fought The Ruinous and agreed to a truce. Only Land and Sky’s is complete right now—I’m sure I’ll start posting before I finish all of them and then just go to inconsistent updates when I have them, but I think I’d at least like to finish a second one before I start posting. And once I get through the whole roster, who knows, I might even find an excuse to continue this. Hopefully it won’t take me too long to finish the Queen of Nature’s chapter. So I’m going to go ahead and say “Expect Beyond Ruin to appear in the OTC Forum soon!” and hope that’s not a lie.
  3. Okay, if I’m going to rework Divine Strength, the backstory’s probably a good place to start. Now, the idea had always been that the Queens didn’t always exist. I mean, their goddess forms more or less always did, but they lived in an ethereal realm separate from the material one, and humans knew about them through occasional visions and such. At some point the two realms started to merge, bringing magic to the material realm. Eventually, this process resulted in the goddesses appearing in the material realm, but since they had no material bodies they would have dissipated and died if not for being placed within the Crowns. This is where the age of the Queens began. I was also going with the idea that the Queens initially waged frequent wars with each other, leaving the land in a very chaotic state and possibly leaving much of the landscape devastated. At some point, they came together and established a truce which has persisted up to the time the story is set to start. But, I guess I never really put much thought into why they made such a huge change…so, combining this with a desire to try out some other non-Queen related magical creatures, I have an idea. What seems most logical is that there was something so dangerous that the Queens knew they had to work together to defeat it, and the age of peace arose in the wake of that. So, some sort of magical creature was unleashed! The idea right now is that four terrible creatures appeared: one from the north, one from the south, one from the west, and one from the east. (Not entirely sure what kind of creature…my first thought was serpents, but that might be a bit too obvious. Now I’m tossing together weird hybrids and seeing how that goes.) These creatures thrived on the chaos the Queens were engulfing the world in, and so they advanced upon this land and turned chaos into utter ruin. Now, this could range from just destroying things to literally consuming reality as they advanced, I haven’t decided yet. The Queens are unable to stop the creatures on their own, and so decide the only way they can prevail is by working together. Luring the four monsters to one spot at the center of the region ruled by Queens, the monarchs combined their powers in a fateful battle, eventually slaying the creatures! …But, for a little more intrigue, maybe the Queens weren’t able to totally kill the creatures, probably because they were born from the primal force of destruction that can never be truly destroyed or something. (“You cannot destroy me, for I am nothing” and all that.) So the Queens dragged the fallen creatures back to the four edges of their region and sealed them away—the Queen of the Sea trapped the western creature at the bottom of the ocean; the Queen of Fire plunged the creature from the east into a massive volcano; the Queen of Ice froze the northern creature in a mountain cave so cold that only those born of magic could endure it; and the fourth creature was lost to the southern forests, its location known only by the Queen of Nature. The Queens agreed that they must cease their senseless violence, knowing it would only give new life to the four wretched creatures. (They need a group name…The Ruinous?) A truce was called, symbolized by a neutral meeting place being built on the grounds where the creatures were slain—the Hall of Ether, a place filled with magic that made violence within its walls totally impossible. The Queens began to rebuild the world, and the creatures passed into legend. Now, a concern of mine here is that, if these super evil creatures are around, I feel like there will be an expectation that they’ll all be revived or something for the plot/climax. And, I don’t want them to totally override the plot, though they’ll probably become relevant somehow. Plus the abomination-sounding names I’m coming up with at the moment might be a little too silly. (Norsklantal, Sojethalat, Esvayila, Wezgyan…it’s hard coming up with something that has few/no Google results…) I am starting to like the sound of “The Ruinous”, though…
  4. Between how long it’s been since I last worked on it and what changes I’ve made since then, I think I’m going to try going back to the beginning of Divine Strength and just start over. I mean, a lot of it will probably still be taken directly from the current draft, but…well, maybe this’ll help me do a little better. I’m still not sure what to do about Light’s hair color, though. My previous idea was that the color was determined by her age—it starts red, then turns orange as she gets a little older, then yellow, and so on down the visible spectrum, ultimately becoming purple right before her death. I can’t help but feel that’s a little silly, but I like the idea of her hair color changing with age, so I thought maybe the color stays the same as the body’s natural color, but the shade starts out brighter and eventually darkens. So, if the woman had black hair, upon becoming Queen of Light it would become very light gray, and then darken progressively until it becomes pitch-black near the end of her life. But…I’m not sure about this either. I feel like it’s weird to put so much thought into this little aspect, but it’s something I really want to get figured out. If I’m starting over, I’m also considering changing the result of the early battle between the Queen of Light and Riniyon. This is where Riniyon reveals he can sever the bond between the Queen and her Crown, but in the current draft she’s able to retrieve it before he escapes. Now, I’m wondering if the story might be more interesting if she can’t retrieve it and Riniyon ends up stealing the Crown and running away. This would lead to a lot of people questioning if she really is still the Queen of Light—both in the sense of who she is and if she’s qualified to continue ruling Bivor. It would also provide Riniyon with a chance to study a Crown up close, which he could use to craft new spells for fighting the Queens and make him more of a threat. Still…I’m hesitant. It might make it feel like this story about Queens isn’t actually following a Queen. As for making Riniyon more of a threat, I feel like that’s really something I should explore. Up until now he’s been some bumbling angry fool who just got lucky, and I’m increasingly worried that destroys any chance for tension. So maybe he’ll actually be a rather powerful sorcerer? Or, since it still could be hard to justify a human being able to battle the half-goddess Queens, maybe Riniyon could be…something else? Looking back, the magical aspects of this supposed fantasy story are actually very limited, so it might be worth my time to explore some additional magical beings and such. And, another slightly minor concern, the queendom of Roche. The name made the most sense when it was ruled over by the Queens of the Land and Gravity, since it’s a reference to concepts about gravitational pull and orbits. Now that the queendom is ruled by the Queens of the Land and the Sky, however, the name seems less applicable…though, I’ve been using it so much I’m quite attached to it, and I thought it might have some thematic applications to the flaws and conflicts between these Queens. I might be overthinking it—the chances of people caring that much about the name of the queendom are probably lower than I’m worrying. Gee, it’ll be a miracle if this ever actually becomes a thing.
  5. This is a collection of stories and relevant blog posts for an idea of mine with the working title Divine Strength. It is a work in progress with a lot of work remaining, and some of what you see over the stories will include elements that were later changed or altered, so please forgive any contradictions you may find. I will definitely update the story section, but the blog post section may remain as it is—I haven’t decided yet. Blog Posts: (Some include excerpts from early drafts of the intended novel, they will be labelled with (Ex)) -On the Subject of the Queens -An Audience With the Queen of Light (Ex) -A Day in the Life (Ex) -One Queen to Another (Ex) -Progress with the Queens (Ex) -Ah, Yes, the Queens… -The Twelve Queens (Ex) -Pahrak Finally Posts Another Story -I’m Glad to Have Fiction Writing Back -Fiction Writing Class Continues -Do Flashbacks Work with Reincarnating Characters? -Revising the Backstory Stories: -A Recluse’s Dilemma: An FFFC entry that inspired the idea; not relevant to later iterations and only included for completion’s sake. -A Recluse’s Dilemma V2: A rewrite of the previous piece, longer and with more details on the Queens’ world. This is where I decided to pursue the concept separately. -Conference of Divinity: A draft for a scene where all the Queens met, used to establish how many Queens would be present. The number has since been reduced. -Alignment: A piece following Conference, establishing the queendom of Roche and some backstory for its Queens that is focused upon in several later pieces. -Despair of the Divine: A piece presenting a first-hand account of part of the backstory summarized in Alignment. -Divine Strength: Prelude: A draft of the prologue and first chapter of the novel. -Divine Clash: A longer, more detailed showing of War’s attack on Roche. -Mending: Takes place after Alignment and attempts a resolution at the conflict between the Queens of Roche. -Goddess of Evolution: Set nearly a year after Divine Clash, showing some of that piece’s consequences and looking a little more closely at the Queen of War. -Beyond Ruin: A series of pieces set at a turning point in the Queens' history, aiming to flesh out their characters.
  6. So I have decided to go ahead and cut three of the Queens in Divine Strength, and I’m beginning to rewrite what I’ve got so far. One thing that’s coming up is that a Queen who was cut was relating a story to two of the Queens. I could just have someone else tell the tale, but the thing is, I covered the event (and a related event a year later) in two of the short stories I wrote for Fiction Writing this semester, and I kind of like how they turned out. So, I’m considering putting those stories in as flashback chapters. Or maybe just the one. But, there are some problems with this. The Queens reincarnate (sort of), so this event takes place nearly 500 years before the main plot, when they are inhabiting different bodies and are thus slightly different characters…well, in theory. Since I was just writing these short stories as mostly standalone, I recycled my current designs (with one exception) and general character traits for the Queens involved as their five centuries-ago selves. If I use these as flashbacks, I really should differentiate them a bit more so that this mechanic works the way I intend it. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, though. If people are still getting to know these characters, I’m worried that seeing two different representations of them could be confusing. Then again, I could be worrying too much—it’s not that different from getting introduced to Doctor Who and then going back and watching an episode with a previous Doctor, really. Also there is a static part of each Queen that remains through reincarnation, and these chapters tie into the character arcs I’m trying to establish that last into their current lifetime. It could probably work? Maybe? I don’t know. Should I just summarize or use these short stories as flashbacks? And if I do use flashbacks, should I maybe just leave the old Queens looking just like their current selves to avoid confusion, or should I try to make some distinctions between 500 Years Ago Queen and Present Queen? Does anyone have any thoughts on this? (And no, Korra using flashbacks to Aang doesn't count as an example. They're different enough people, and they're referred to by different names while the Queens use the same name/title in every lifetime.)
  7. The Queen of War’s throne was made of polished steel, with crimson cushions that spilled over the sides of the seat and armrests. On its high back was her emblem—a sword impaling a shield—outlined in red. It sat at the end of a long, windowless hall made of ancient gray rock, next to a rack of swords and maces and spears and such which all gleamed with a calm, thinly-veiled eagerness. Two torches hung on the wall behind the throne, creating an orange aura around the Queen and making the seat itself shimmer with ominous intent. The hall was wide enough that the light from the torches lining both sides of it did not make it all the way to the center, drawing attention to its sides. Not an inch of wall was bare. Shields, swords, pieces of armor, bows, banners, pelts. Dozens of each manner of trophy could be picked out even at first glance, just in case a visitor would be too frightened to take a second. It was all kept as clean as possible; a few near the door bore permanent blood stains, but that was unavoidable. War sat upright, hands hanging off the ends of the armrests, her feet flat on the floor. Even now she was in full armor. She glanced to her left, the side opposite the weapon rack: a wooden pedestal with leaves of gold wrapped around its edges sat just beyond her reach, and upon it rested a twelve-pointed crown nearly identical to the one she wore. The crown on display, however, depicted a mountain on one side, the emblem of the Queen of the Land. The iron doors at the far end of the hall swung open. Two guards stepped in, moved to either side, and proceeded down the hall, each with a hand on their weapon. Between them came a woman with dark blonde hair that fell onto the shoulders of her brown travelling cloak, which was just a shade darker than her tan skin. Flashes of red armor could be seen beneath the garment as she moved. War’s eyes wandered up to the crown she wore, and the teardrop-shaped symbol it displayed. The visitor dragged her feet across the stone floor, muttering, “Man, it’s cold in here.” She cupped one hand in front of her mouth and exhaled a brief puff of flame. As she rubbed both palms together, she looked up at War and smiled. “War, thank you ever so much for having me. I know you must be busy organizing and reorganizing your precious collection—I really appreciate that you’ve taken some time out for me.” War inclined her head. “Not at all, Queen of Fire. It is a rare treat to see other Queens come to me.” Fire stopped a few feet from the throne and rubbed her shoulder. “Indeed.” She squinted. “It’s so dark in here, I can barely see you.” She snapped. The torches all flared with new life, growing to twice their normal size and making the hall a bit brighter. “There, that’s better. I think this body’s eyes are starting to go. And so young, too! Perhaps I should re-evaluate my lifestyle and take more precaution next time.” War stared silently. “…Here I thought it curious you had no jester, and now it all makes sense,” Fire said. “I should’ve expected it, really. Perhaps public executions are what get you smiling instead?” A minute passed. “It really is cold in here,” Fire grumbled. “My apologies for your discomfort,” War said. Her expression had not changed, and her tone was less than sincere. “I’m afraid we’ve done all our climate will allow.” “For me? You shouldn’t have. I’ll complain either way.” Fire stretched. The guards jerked a bit, and she chuckled. “I suppose that’s all the formalities I can bear. The real reason why I’m here is in regards to Land’s crown.” War cocked her head. “Oh? How unexpected. If anyone, I expected her wife to come see me about that.” “Oh, she wanted to. She was ready to just lay waste to Kenzaria and leave your crown buried in the rubble, actually. But we’ve…talked her down.” War blinked. “We?” Fire shrugged. “Irrelevant details. I wouldn’t want to bore you.” “…Thank you for your consideration.” War rose to her feet. “You were a bit vague. What is it exactly that you want?” “Well, I shall be clearer, then,” Fire said. “I want to take Land’s crown back to Roche.” “I beg your pardon?” Fire leaned a bit, but her eyes locked onto War. “I’m not one to repeat myself.” After a moment, War walked towards the crown. “Such a baffling request. I killed the Queen of the Land. I am allowed to possess her crown for one year. Those were the terms we settled on when writing the laws of our region.” “You are still within your rights. That’s why I’m here rather than the Queen of Knowledge.” War’s head jerked, throwing her gaze over her shoulder and just short of Fire’s vicinity. Fire suppressed a cackle. “But, with the deadline coming up so fast, and you apparently being too occupied to send a messenger telling Roche when to expect the crown back, I thought that perhaps I would lend my assistance and make the return trip for you.” War turned around. “I do hope you will forgive me, Queen of Fire, but I am surprised. You do tend to usually only take part in matters that concern you.” “Don’t act like I’m not involved already, what with the bait you used to get Gravity away being an attack aimed at my queendom.” The hall began to grow hot. “Ah. I meant you no offense, of course. The troops needed to be sent towards a queendom for the ruse to be effective. I assure you that Pyrada was selected solely for its proximity.” Fire’s teeth showed through a smirk. “I’m sure you meant that to console me, but that’s actually rather degrading from where I stand.” “My apologies.” “Don’t lie. You’re too smart for me to fall for it.” War chuckled and returned to examining the crown. “Well, I’m not about to deny it,” Fire continued. She walked towards War, and the guards tentatively stepped after her. “That’s why you’re so feared: not only are you destructive in a way no other living thing can emulate, you analyze every possible outcome and plan things out with unsettling accuracy. Only you would think to draw a Queen away from her domain just to stroll in, say hello, and stroll back out.” “That’s not exactly what happened.” “But it was your original plan, wasn’t it? You only wanted to make a display, so you could leave deep psychological scars in Roche and eliminate any threat it might pose. But when Land decided to fight back, things changed.” War said nothing. Fire paced to the other side of the hall, warming her hands with another burst of flame. “Admittedly, I’m impressed you haven’t pushed your advantage. A good move for your reputation. But I can see that you haven’t given up on totally decimating Roche, and that’s why I’m here.” War clenched one fist. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Fire sighed. “I’m being honest. You could at least return the courtesy.” War looked at Fire’s back as the visitor continued, “You’re clearly in no hurry to return the crown, and the longer you take, the more anxious Gravity becomes, until she finally snaps and charges in here on her own. Then you’ve got an easy kill due to her emotional instability, a queendom with no Queens ripe for pillaging, and, look at that, it was actually Gravity who made the first move, thus the blame falls on her.” She turned and looked into War’s eyes. “I’m onto you, War. And if I am, then do you really think Knowledge doesn’t see right through you? Do you really think she’ll let you carry out a plan like that?” They glared at each other. At last, War said, “This is all wrong.” She waved to the soldiers. They hesitated a bit, but then left the hall, closing the doors behind them. Fire laughed. “What, are you going to come after me now? I’d love an excuse to warm this frigid keep of yours.” “Why do you defend our current system?” War asked. “This brittle peace we’ve created is ridiculous, and you must know this.” Fire frowned. “Oh, so you’re resorting to this?” “Conflict is natural. Bloodshed is the way of the world, the only way for society to move forward. For instance: in the early days, when we all fought with each other and levelled this entire region, all of our peoples desperately struggled to develop new technology. Some of it went to the combat effort, some of it found other uses that enhanced the standard of living. Can you deny that?” Fire thought for a moment. “I suppose I can’t.” War stepped forward. “All progression, all advancement, all evolution begins in warfare. If we do not fight, we do not evolve. If we do not evolve, we grow stagnant. If we grow stagnant, then we will rot away to nothing. Peace is the road to our downfall.” She paused. “Does any of this make sense to you?” Fire smiled. “I should’ve known you thought of yourself as some kind of hero trying to save the world. You were always self-righteous.” War’s brows lowered. “This isn’t about me, Fire: this is about everyone! I’m not wrong, and you know it! Look at human history, even before we got here, and you’ll see that the driving force behind all evolution is war! If I am to carry that name, then it is my responsibility to spur on the development of the human race so that it doesn’t ignorantly fall into its own extinction!” Fire’s eyelids went up. War stalked down the hall. “You and the others are so selfish. All you want is to keep yourselves safe, to avoid getting your hands dirty. None of you even try to see my point of view.” She laughed. “But how could you understand? You are an element. I am a concept. The only one who might understand is Knowledge, but she too has chosen to shut her eyes and enforce this grand jest.” Turning around, War said, “What you’re all doing is—“ Fire cut her off with a punch. She didn’t recoil from the blow, but it was enough to shock her into silence. The other Queen gave her an annoyed look and put one hand on her hip. “Will you just shut up? This ‘prophet of the end’ act is undignified.” War grabbed Fire by her cloak, but she continued, “I get it, you feel like an outcast because nobody understands your point of view. You think you’re doing the right thing, but so does everybody else, so there’s no resolution to be found. But what do you want from me? To suddenly change my beliefs and side with you? To feel pity for you, and look the other way just this once?” The torches in the chamber began to burn brighter and hotter. “You should’ve thought of that before you prodded Pyrada.” She batted War’s hand away. “I couldn’t care less about your glorious vision, and I’m not going to lecture you about the current system either. Truthfully, I don’t care either way. For me it’s much simpler. Land is dead because she wanted to help me, so that puts me in her debt. I don’t like being indebted.” Fire took a deep breath, and the torches slowly died down. “Now stop embarrassing yourself and just give me the crown.” War glared, then slowly walked over to where the crown sat. She grabbed it, and then looked back at Fire. “I will not forget this.” “Glad to hear it.” *** Fire rode across the grassy plains, her horse galloping towards the smog-wreathed volcano looming in the distance. The diamonds in her crown glittered for a moment as a thought appeared in her mind. Fire: You left before I was put in this new body, so I wanted to send you a wave thanking you. I was about to go mad sitting on that stool, and it sounds like Gravity was nearing her breaking point as well. You said you felt indebted to us, but if anything, we are now in your debt. If there’s anything I can do to repay you, please let me know. However, we might not get to see you in person in the near future—Gravity has decided that Roche shall be isolated…and that she will see to it that our armies are strengthened. Can I ask you something? Do you think War might’ve been right: that we can’t really develop unless we fight each other? It troubles me. Regardless, thank you again, and please do keep in touch. Land Fire scoffed. “Of course she was right—Gravity is proving that.” She rode on. Eventually, she groaned and composed a reply. Land: Don’t worry so much. War was just trying to defend her crazy beliefs, and you know she’d say anything to demoralize a potential adversary. She’s afraid of you, and Gravity, and Roche, so there’s no need for you to be afraid of her. If she does try to stir anything else up, let me know so I can finish settling my own score with her. For now, just be with your wife. She missed you. Fire She sent the wave, and then focused again on reaching Pyrada. “Ugh, I’m sick of this freezing cold!”
  8. The Queen of Gravity strode down the dirt road, her scratched iron armor clanking with each step. Before the gate of Roche castle were five robed individuals—three men, two women—who knelt with their hands behind their backs, each with a knight on either side holding a weapon against their neck. Dozens of others were gathered along the sides of the road, including the Queens of Light and Land, who watched nervously. Gravity stopped in front of the man who sat in the middle of the line. With a short nod, she commanded the knights flanking him to step away, and then glared down at him. He set his face and looked at the ground. “You were the one who organized the rebellion?” He did not answer. “You have lived safely in Roche your entire life. What do you seek to gain from overthrowing the rule of Queens?” Still, no answer. “…Fine. Whatever your reasons may be, you have committed treason.” She stepped back and raised one hand to eye level, keeping it flat and palm-up. The man was lifted to his feet. He continued to be pulled upward, but his feet remained planted on the ground. As his body stretched, he grunted, and his arms began to spasm. Gravity flicked one finger, and the man screamed as his body was pulled even tighter. Light put a hand over her mouth. She turned to Land, who was watching with a blank expression, and then looked back as Gravity let the prisoner fall. As he began to get back up, Gravity swung her arm out. His chest became pinned to the ground while his limbs were pulled up, making him shout again. Gravity slowly clenched her fist, and the man’s limbs gently curled in towards his back, producing cracking sounds that were quickly drowned out by his screams. “Stop it.” Land faced Gravity, who apparently hadn’t heard her. “Gravity, stop, this is excessive.” Her words failed again to reach. The man shrieked as his arms popped out of their sockets. “Gravity, enough!” Gravity’s armor came to life and yanked her arm aside, disrupting her concentration and causing the man to go limp. She gave a bewildered look to Land, who glared through her tears and took a step forward. “What do you hope to accomplish with this? Don’t you realize what you’re doing?” It took Gravity a moment to reply. “I…I’m making an example. People need to know what happens when they go against the Queens.” She looked back to the man and started to raise her arm again. Land shook her head. “All you’re doing is giving people more reason to hate you! You’re acting like a monster!” Gravity froze. “You’re acting like…” Land caught herself before she could finish. She bit her lip, and then walked to Gravity’s side. “Gravity…don’t do this. I’m begging you, please don’t sink to their level. I know you’re only trying to do what you think is right, but…” She gestured to the man. He lay face down, his body shaking and an endless series of pained sobs streaming out of him. “How is this possibly right?” Gravity gaped at her, dumbstruck. Land turned to the knights and ordered, “Take them to the dungeon and make sure they’re restrained. Station guards, at least ten mages, and send a healer as well.” The knights obeyed, dragging the prisoners off. Land looked back at Gravity, who remained silent, and then walked into the castle. *** Light pushed open the door of the library. Magic lanterns lined the domed ceiling, and dozens of towering bookcases lined the walls, some jutting out at right angles into the open center area. At one of the many tables, next to a tall window looking out over the lake, sat the Queen of the Land. “Pardon me.” Land looked over her shoulder, her face tired. “Oh, Light. Come in.” The Queen of Light sat in the chair next to her. “The prisoners have been restrained, and the healer has seen to that man’s injuries. She says he’ll live.” Land nodded. “Thank you.” They sat silently for a while. Land looked up at the window, towards the mountain wall surrounding Roche in the distance. “Light, do you know how large the world outside Roche is? The world beyond this region ruled by Queens?” Light followed her gaze. “Honestly, I have no idea.” “I do. When I focus, when all is still and I draw upon the deepest recesses of my divine power, then for one brief moment…I can feel the entire world.” Her eyes lit up. “Oh, Light…it’s magnificent. Out world is larger than anyone thinks, and somehow I just know that it’s filled with wonders even we can’t imagine. Knowing that, wouldn’t anyone want to see it? Want to go explore the wide, grand, beautiful world?” Light chuckled. “It does sound fascinating. I’m sure anyone would want a closer look.” “I did. Immediately I did. But, you see…it passed.” Land turned to look at Light. “Make no mistake: I still want to see the outside world, to venture into this vast, glorious unknown I’ve had only the slightest taste of. But I don’t need to.” “You don’t?” “No,” Land said, looking back out the window. “And do you know why?” Light didn’t say anything. “Because Gravity is enough. Even in the face of all that wonder, I knew for a fact that as long as I had my Queen of Gravity, I didn’t need to see any of it.” The shine in her eyes quickly faded. “…But…now, with all that’s happened since War’s attack…now…” She put a hand over her face, and her voice became very small. “I feel like I don’t even have her anymore…” Light hugged Land’s shoulders as she began to cry, and patiently waited until she was finished. She pulled back and said, “I’ve heard about War attacking, but can I ask what happened after that?” Land started drying her tears. “Once I was back, Gravity became adamant that Roche needed to be secluded and our military needed to be enhanced. She could always be overprotective, but this was beyond anything she had ever done before. At first…it was nice.” Light nodded. “It must’ve been after what you’d gone through.” “It was a lot for my new body to take in—it took a few lifetimes to figure out how to deal with the trauma, and I felt safer knowing that Gravity was doing everything possible to protect me. Even at my worst, all she had to do was hold me close and all my worries just went away.” She smiled for a moment, before looking down at the table. “But, eventually, I was willing to start moving on. I didn’t want that incident to define me—to define us—for the rest of time. Gravity, though, wasn’t ready to let it go.” Land fidgeted. “I let things stay the way they were. It was safe, for the both of us. I love her dearly, I love just being with her, but she…to protect me, she runs Roche all on her own, and she refuses to tell me anything she thinks might upset me. And it turns out she expects just about everything to upset me.” Looking back out the window, she said, “I’ve managed to hear enough from my servants. A lot of our people aren’t happy. War’s incursion was meant to psychologically cripple Roche for generations, and it’s working. She’s even managed to kick up this strife between me and Gravity.” She shook her head. “No, maybe that’s just me blaming her.” Light took Land’s hand. “Don’t say that—it sounds to me like all this stems from the wounds she dealt to the two of you. It’s not your fault.” “You’re right.” “And I know that it isn’t Gravity’s either. War just twisted Gravity’s love for you into something awful. She’s still a good person, and I’ve never doubted that.” Land smiled a few tears. “Thank you. I was worried everyone but me had given up on her.” “I can tell you that even after the way she’s been acting, a lot of people still see you two as the closest thing we have to Goddesses of Love. Her reputation isn’t beyond saving.” Land took a moment to breathe. “I don’t want to be kept in the dark. I know it might be difficult, but that just means that Gravity is going through all that pain on her own. I’m ready to share that pain with her now. She’s just so stubborn, and I don’t know if I can bring her out of that without hurting her even more.” Light put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll find a way that works. It’ll probably be hard, but the love you two share is unlike anything else in this world. I believe in it.” The door opened. Gravity cautiously stepped in, looking more than a little confused. “Um…Land. I was hoping you’d be here.” Light turned to Land, who nodded. She stood up and left, smiling at Gravity on the way out, and quietly shut the door. Land stood up. “We really need to have a discussion.” Gravity nodded sluggishly. “I’m…sorry for what happened earlier. You shouldn’t have had to see that.” “You’re apologizing that I saw it, not that you did it?” Gravity bit her lip. “You got carried away, Gravity. You’ve been getting carried away a lot, probably more than I know. This isn’t…” She reorganized her thoughts. “I know you just want to protect me, and I love you all the more for that. But your methods aren’t working any more. For either of us.” Gravity looked at the floor. “I’m not sure what you mean.” “My gosh, Gravity! You need to stop withholding information from me. You need to stop doing your best to keep me out of the loop, and leaving me ignorant about what’s going on in our queendom. We’re supposed to rule together, aren’t we?” “I don’t want to overwhelm you, Land.” “So it’s overwhelming you, then?” Gravity mumbled. Land crossed the floor, grabbing her wife by the shoulders. “Gravity, did you really think I wouldn’t see how much you’re hurting? And can’t you see that I’m hurting despite your best efforts? Back then, after War killed me, I needed to be sheltered, and it means so much to me that you didn’t think twice to take on such a burden. But dear, how long has it been?” “478 years, 10 months, 8…” The numbers were rattled off before Gravity even realized what she was doing. She averted her eyes, embarrassed. Land touched Gravity’s cheek. “Can you look at me?” Gravity complied. “I’ve had time to heal, dear. You gave me that time. Now I want to give you a chance to heal, but you have to give me that power. Please.” She gave a distant smile. “I want to go back to the way things were, when the two of us ruled Roche as equals. When I could catch you when you made a bad step, and you could enlighten me when I was being too naïve, and we were so in love that each second seemed like a perfect eternity. Maybe it won’t be exactly the same after all that’s happened. But maybe, if we try, it could be even better.” Gravity closed her eyes. “…Land…” She put her forehead against Land’s and sobbed. Land rubbed her shoulders, whispering, “It’s alright, dear. We’ll be alright.”
  9. We're just about to turn in our second piece. I've had it written for a while, and after editing it every other day, I figured I should just go ahead and print it out and stop stressing. Divine Clash is also up in OTC. It's another story about the Queens, and details an event mentioned in Despair of the Divine and Alignment. I wanted my classmates to give me some feedback on how I write battles, plus this focuses on Queens that are new to all but two of them, so it seemed a good choice. I don't know yet what I'll be doing for the third piece (an entirely different idea is calling to me now...), but even if I'm one of the last ones we go over this time around I'll still have all Spring Break to come up with something, so I'm sure I'll be fine.
  10. The Queen of the Land strolled through the gray-walled, torch-lit hall of her castle. The skirt of her orange dress swept the floor, with the gleaming chain mail sewn into its front and back jingling softly. Mail was also sewn into the shoulders of the dress and around her ribcage. Her golden crown gleamed even in the faint light, showing the mountain-shaped emblem it bore just above her forehead. She passed a knight headed in the opposite direction: a well-built bald man with a layer of mud on his armored legs. He bowed. “Your Majesty.” She nodded. “Commander.” Both continued on their way, Land thinking, Seems something new has happened. The hall terminated at two large stone doors, one bearing the emblem on her crown, the other bearing a symbol composed of eight wavy lines radiating out from a single point. She gently pushed it open so as not to make a sound. Beyond was the audience chamber, a large and rather bare room. Two golden thrones sat at one end, an orange banner between them displaying the same marks that were on the door, with the eight-pointed sigil above the mountain. There were no windows along the walls, with light instead coming from two magic lanterns—massive orbs of white light embedded in niches in the high, rounded ceiling. Standing in the middle of the room facing the thrones was a tall woman with skin the same dark shade as Land’s, gently tapping one iron-covered foot against the floor. She wore a light blue dress beneath a cloak of identical color, and silver gauntlets covered her forearms. Her long black hair was tied in a braid, and atop her head sat a golden crown with the emblem of eight points. She had her arms crossed, body stiff, oblivious to Land tip-toeing into the chamber. Land reached out with her magic, taking command of the metal in the other woman’s boots. With a short swirl of her hand, the other woman was pulled back a foot and spun around to face her, her arms shooting out to steady herself. “L…Land, please don’t do that…” “Haha! Sorry, Gravity, but I must find some way to get your attention when you become gloomy.” Gravity put a hand to her head as she found her footing. Land frowned, asking, “So, what is it that’s troubling you? Does this have to do with the knight I passed?” “…Well, yes, but it is no great trouble, really—not something you have to worry yourself with.” Land put her hands on her hips. “Now dear, what have I told you about keeping me in the dark like that? Tell me.” Gravity averted her eyes and rubbed her neck, humming reluctantly. Land leaned in closer and hummed even louder. Gravity cracked a smile. “Alright, alright. We received a report that a company flying the banner of Kenzaria was seen marching towards Pyrada.” Land’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh…and your response?” “I said to ignore them. This does not concern Roche, so Roche will not become involved.” “…Ah,” Land said, leaning back. Gravity’s face went blank. “…You disagree?” The other Queen fidgeted with one hand. “Well, it’s just…rather…” Gravity threw her arms apart. “W-What, did I do something wrong? If War means to start a conflict with Fire, I don’t want us to get dragged into it!” Land sighed. “I know, dear, but—and I mean this in the most loving way possible—sometimes you’re a bit too single-minded. If we have the opportunity to help Fire, especially in a case as simple as just one company, then I think we should take it.” Gravity crossed her arms again. “Hmmm…I certainly don’t bear Fire any ill will, but War is someone we need to tread by carefully. If we destroy one of her companies, then I don’t imagine she will simply forgive us.” “Well I’m not saying we should kill them. You could just…” She made a sweeping gesture. “Fling them all back to Kenzaria! War might get angry, but I doubt she’ll be willing to fight three Queens at the same time. Even she isn’t that berserk.” Gravity closed her eyes. She rubbed her chin and said, “…I suppose, if a conflict were to arise, the two would essentially be fighting on our doorstep. This could be a chance to stop that before it begins.” Land smiled and wrapped her arms around Gravity’s midsection. “Mm-hm. Sounds like a good idea, don’t you think?” The embrace was returned. “You know, one day I’m going to win one of these disagreements.” “I dearly hope you will; being right all the time is really quite boring.” “I imagine so.” Gravity touched Land’s face, smiled, and kissed her. When they separated, she said, “In the interest of time, I shall go…” She made a slightly jerky sweeping gesture. “‘Fling’ the troops personally. Based on their projected course and speed, I imagine I will be gone for about three days in total.” “I believe Roche can function with only one Queen for that long. But a day longer, and we might fall entirely to pieces!” The two of them laughed. Land stepped back and made an exaggerated bow. “Please hurry back, dear Queen of Gravity.” Gravity knelt on one knee. “Yes, Your Majesty.” *** Land sat on her throne, fingers digging into the armrests. Outside the doors of the audience chamber, she could hear guards shouting, screaming, and ultimately collapsing on the floor. This can’t be happening… Slowly, the doors swung open. In stepped a muscular tan-skinned woman with long blonde hair, covered from the neck down in armor—mostly silver, though her breastplate, arm guards, and greaves were golden. A broadsword was sheathed at her waist, its bronze scabbard encrusted with gemstones of various reds and blues and greens. She too wore a crown, though her emblem depicted a sword impaling a shield. Land swallowed hard and tried to harden her face. The intruder walked to the center of the chamber and stopped, bowing slightly. “Good day, Queen of the Land. I have come to seek an audience with you.” “…Queen of War.” She tried not to look at the corpses just beyond the door. “If I may say so, I find your methods rather excessive.” War rested one hand on her sword’s pommel. “I assure you I only acted in self-defense.” Her tone was smooth, as if this matter were as trivial as a crooked painting. “Those who attacked me met with a swift end. Everyone else was left unharmed.” Land ground her teeth for a moment. “Perhaps you should simply state what brings you here. Something about revenge, perhaps?” “Ah, so I take it the Queen of Gravity was riding for my company after all? Good. Then she shall be gone awhile.” “…I see. You never intended for them to reach Pyrada in the first place.” “Your wife would never allow me an audience.” Land shot to her feet. “You would sacrifice your own people as bait?! That’s despicable even for you!” War raised one eyebrow. “Sacrifice? The Queen of Gravity will not kill them. If I am right, then the only reason she went is because you asked her to, and I know you would never ask her to kill someone.” She received no reply. “Back to the moment at hand, I merely wish to be sure that my point has been made.” Land hung her head. “…That’s all this was? Making a point?” She laughed. It was a dry, hollow sound. “You really are terrible. Maybe I’m terrible, too, because I understand it. With this, you want the people of Roche to see that you’re the one truly in charge, correct? That you can manipulate Gravity and me and stride in here whenever you please, killing anyone who gets in your way?” After a slight pause, the corner of War’s mouth curled into a smirk. “Something to that effect.” She made an about-face. “With that conveyed, I have no further business here. Please give my regards to the Queen of Gravity.” War walked towards the exit, her boots pounding a slow melody against the floor. The doors suddenly slammed shut. She halted. “…You forget something, War,” came Land’s voice, barely more than a whisper. “There is still a Queen in Roche.” War looked over her shoulder. The chain mail on Land’s dress was spreading, seeping out like a puddle in the rain, clinking and rustling ever so slightly, until it came together in one single sheet that covered her entire dress. Additional, thicker armor rose from her boots, sleeves, and torso, bleeding out from the mail and quickly hardening into steel rivaling that of the finest craftsman. Land looked up and opened her eyes, letting them bore into War’s soul. “I see,” War said. “I suppose that, if you were to defeat me, it would undo all I have sought to accomplish.” Land just stared. War grinned. “Very well.” She turned and drew her sword with a ringing scrape, holding it with both hands as she watched Land. Several seconds of silence passed. A stalagmite shot up from the floor beneath War. She jumped to the side, not suffering any damage, and quickly launched herself towards Land, blade arcing towards her opponent’s neck. Land raised both hands—two shoots of metal burst from her arm guards and entwined together, shaping into a thin sword to parry War’s attack. The chamber shook from the clash. Rocks rained down from the ceiling, forcing War to back off and dance around the falling stone. Before long, however, the rocks all froze in place, many in mid-fall. War looked to Land, who carried her new blade in one hand and held the other aloft, open palm facing the ceiling. War’s eyes widened. She leapt back just in time as all the loose rubble converged on the spot where she had stood, forcibly mashing together into one single boulder. It pursued her, plowing her right through the doors and down the hallway. Shaking off the pain, War braced herself and threw a punch, pulverizing the boulder into dust. Something whizzed by her. A cut formed on her cheek. Land was advancing, commanding the floor to carry her forward at a pace beyond that of human legs. War thrust, so Land altered her path, being carried onto the wall and sweeping past her opponent. War jumped against the opposite wall to avoid her swing. The wall opened up to embrace her, but as the rocky fingers wrapped around her and pulled, she tore herself free of the stone’s grip and threw herself into Land, launching her farther down the hall. Land ended up on the balcony of the castle foyer, a wide-open room with brick floors interspersed with a few patches of flowers, a tall five-tiered fountain at its center. She turned back to see War running towards her, and took up a more solid stance. War leapt forward and pulled her sword above her head. Land jumped off the balcony, and as her enemy struck it, she commanded it to pull itself off of the wall and carry War through the opposite wall and out of the castle. She hit the ground a bit hard, but recovered quickly and commanded the castle doors to swing open. She walked towards where the balcony had fallen just a short distance down the dirt road leading up to the entryway. The castle was built into the mountain ridge that circled Roche in its entirety, with windows and turrets carved into one side of the ring’s interior, with one end of this design terminating at the waterfall that allowed fresh water into the queendom. Clusters of stone buildings dotted the grassy landscape, most of them reasonably close together, but none close enough to the castle that she would have to worry about the civilians. War lay pinned beneath the balcony. With a single push, she rolled it away, and she was back on her feet in a moment. She raised her sword once more, but Land simply kicked the ground. The earth beneath War fell away, letting her tumble into the sudden abyss, and when Land brought her hands together, the walls of the crevice closed in on their prey with a deafening thunderclap. Land took a deep breath. “What are you waiting for?” A geyser of crimson light erupted from the ground. Debris rained down around Land, and when the light faded, a 90 meter-deep crater twice the radius of the now-vaporized balcony lay before her. War climbed out of it, covered in dirt and laughing the whole way. When she stood on its lip, she looked to Land, eyes gleaming, body shaking with each hysteric heave, tracks of grime and blood running down her face. “Doesn’t this bring back memories, Land? I haven’t seen you like this since the old days! Hahaha, and here I was worried you had forgotten how to fight in your millennia of complacency! Ohh, I am so thrilled to be proven wrong! Hahahaha!” War rushed forward. Land parried and retaliated. War ducked and punched, sending Land sprawling, and then swung downward. Land rolled aside and tapped the ground, commanding it to knock War into the air, and then came up on her knees and thrust one palm towards her foe. Bits of rock burst from the castle wall, shooting at War like a flurry of arrows as she fell. War twisted, deflecting a few of the projectiles with her sword, and a small rectangle of crimson light then appeared to protect her from the rest. When she neared the ground, Land ceased the barrage and had the earth rise up to meet her; War merely swung at it, cleaving the soil in two and landing without further harm. Land tried taking control of War’s armor, but before she could, War closed the distance and cut her arm. She dropped her sword and had the ground pull her away from the next swing. War pressed her advantage, but Land stood firm. Before the combatants came close again, two long spikes grew out from Land’s armor, piercing War’s shoulders. The spikes detached from Land and carried War back and up, before Land pivoted and they took War back through the castle wall, driving her through the fountain and sticking her to the foyer floor like a bug. She laughed. War ripped the spikes out of her shoulders, oblivious to the pain. The foyer started to tremble as a legion of stalactites fell upon her. She flexed and crimson radiated from her body, smashing anything that came near her. Her aura faded and she stepped forward. The surviving stalactites then swarmed her, binding together in such a way that she could not move an inch. And still she laughed. Land walked into the foyer, commanding her sword to return to her hand. “You have a vulgar sense of humor, War. Perhaps next time you should select a body with a bit more self-control.” “Hahaha! You speak as though you’ve won, Land!” The fused stalactite started to shake. Land tried to keep it whole, but before long it crumbled apart, War using her new freedom to swing at Land yet again. After a quick parry, Land swung in return, giving an extra magical push to the blade. War was able to block it, but she could not pull away. They remained locked like this as fissures began to form in the floor. Land grunted. “What has Roche done to wrong you, War? Try as I may, I cannot fathom what vendetta would bring you here like this!” War flashed her teeth. “Vendetta? You are mistaken, Land—you and Gravity have not wronged me in any way.” Land pushed harder, forcing War back. “Then why?!” “Simple! You—that is to say, Roche is the biggest potential threat. If Kenzaria were ever to go against Roche, there would be very little chance of success. The might of two Queens is something that no one can fight head-on. And, when there exists a power one cannot deal with through direct force…” War ducked. She sprung forward but stayed low, and with no resistance on her blade, Land tripped forward. “One must find a strategic way to cripple it!” War cut Land’s side, her blade slicing straight through the armor in its way. Land shouted and fell. A thrust was aimed at her spine, but she rolled aside and jumped at War. Her fist connected with her opponent’s armored shoulder, and she used a short burst of magic to make the metal twist inward and pierce the skin it was meant to protect, scraping against the bone beneath. As War staggered, Land raised both hands, willing a rock roughly 10-meters in diameter into being above them as blood dripped down her mail-covered skirt. With a heave, she dropped the boulder on top of War, and then clutched her side and tried to catch her breath. War laughed. She crawled out from beneath the stone, her armor dented in several places. Reaching to her injured shoulder, she tore off the plate Land had affected, unstopping a brief torrent of blood. Turning to Land, she threw the scrap of armor, hitting her target on the hand. An audible crunch followed. Land cried out. War stood and swung again. The blade sank into Land’s forearm, becoming stuck in her armor. War tried to wrench it free, but Land pulled her in and drove a knee into her ribs, once again distorting the armor she hit. War doubled over. She managed to pull her weapon free and stumbled away, clawing at the edge of her breastplate, but Land generated another, smaller stone and shot it at War, hitting her like a hammer and sending her skidding across the floor. Land stepped forward. Her legs buckled, and she fell to her knees. “…You…shall not… have your way…!” She slowly rose to her feet. “Roche will be kept safe! That is my duty, as one…as one of its Queens!” War sat up, burying her sword point-first in the floor. A crackling chuckle left her lips. “You…you are truly a force to be reckoned with, Land…this is exactly…why I knew I had to c…cripple…Roche.” Land coughed. A trail of blood slipped from the corner of her mouth. “Come, then. But I promise: I shall not be the one who falls today!” War pulled herself to her feet and leaned on her sword. After taking a few deep breaths, she looked up at Land and smiled. With a roar, she uprooted her blade and broke into a sprint. Land threw her hands up, and a pillar of rock rose from the ground and bent towards the attacker. War turned, letting it impact her shoulder; she fell, but she continued to roll forward, and when she came up, she took her sword in both hands and thrust. “Guh!!” Land’s arms fell to her sides. She looked down and saw War against her, the blade buried in her chest and sticking out of her back. “…Huh…ha!” War exhaled. Her face grew calm, and she brought herself next to Land’s ear. When she spoke, her tone was steady and even, but this time with a deep sincerity to it. “I want you to know that I have the utmost respect for you. In your absence, I will not touch Roche without provocation. Gravity will be allowed to grieve in peace.” Land’s breathing became shallow. She could feel her heart trembling, fighting with all its might to push out the obstruction that had pierced it. But it was futile. War pulled back and looked Land in the eye. “And…thank you. I haven’t been forced to fight like that in far too long…and, in a way…” She gave an oddly soft smile. “It was nice to see another Queen grow as ferocious as me.” Another moment passed, and then War withdrew her sword. Land crumpled. The light faded from her eyes, and as one final breath escaped her lips, her crown dropped from her head and rolled across the floor. *** A thrill lanced through her body—a feeling not unlike having a narrow brush with death, yet somehow completely different. Thousands of years’ worth of memories poured into her mind in an instant, leaving her stunned, and something unspeakably primal flowed into the deepest part of her being, melding itself to her so completely that when the moment passed, she could no longer remember what it felt to think of them as separate. “Land?” She blinked. Looking down, she saw a larger, slightly younger body than her last, clad in plain orange robes. The comparison seemed strange for a moment, but it passed as she remembered her circumstances. She sat up—a hand helped her, and she became aware of Gravity standing over her. For a second she was intimidated, before remembering the two were now equals, as they had always been. “G…Grav…ity…?” Her new voice had a different pitch to it. That would take some getting used to. Or, had she always been used to it? This dissonance was like no other, but it was also entirely familiar. Gravity nodded. Her eyes were puffy and wet, and her shoulders shook slightly. “It’s been about a year, Land,” she said in her calmest, gentlest voice. “Once the allowed time of possession passed, Fire got your crown back from War, and we found a new body for you right away. How…” She hesitated, then finished, “How are you feeling?” The new Queen of the Land looked around. She was back in the Queens’ bedchamber in Roche castle, the single magic lantern in the ceiling casting its illumination on the elegantly carved bookshelves and wardrobes that lined the room. She was sitting on the bed, its canopy drawn up and the dark blue sheets slightly uneven, and she and Gravity were the only ones in the room. Flashes of memory returned to her. She remembered War taking her crown to Kenzaria, setting it on a shelf in her audience chamber for all to see. For an entire year, Land just sat there, still self-aware, but having no means of interacting with the world around her, seeing so many people come and go but being totally, completely alone. Air evaded her lungs. Her arms jerked towards Gravity. She was pulled into her wife’s shoulder, and together they wept. When the tears finally stopped, they just sat there, holding each other in silence. Touching their foreheads together, Gravity whispered, “I’m so sorry, Land. I promise: nothing like that will ever happen to you again. Roche shall be cut off from the rest of the world, and we will grow so strong that not even War will dare to challenge us. I will do everything in my power to keep you safe for the rest of eternity, my love.” Something in the back of Land’s mind protested. This proposal seemed so extreme, she thought, so unnecessary…so lonely. But she nodded. She threw her face back onto Gravity’s shoulder, and found she was perfectly willing to just melt away from the world.
  11. In today's class we sang "Everything Is Awesome" and discussed the cleverness of old episodes of Spongebob before getting on to critiquing stories. One of the stories up was mine, which was the prologue and first chapter of my rough draft novel Divine Strength, and people actually seemed really into it and wanted more! (Which is what a good prologue and first chapter should probably do, I imagine.) I was thinking of doing something unrelated for story 2, but hey, if they want Queens, I shall give them Queens! ...I don't want to just keep ripping pieces out of my novel draft, though, so I'm writing up a new thing focusing on an event that happened a few centuries prior to the novel. It's going to be primarily a battle and in the process I discovered that one of the Queens is a magical girl, and I'm hoping to make people angry by making the first few pages seem like a semi-cheesy love story before letting everything go brutally and horribly wrong. That's what a good writer does, right?
  12. Well, I haven’t figured out any type of writing schedule yet, but I do at least have something to post! As I mentioned, I am taking a Fiction Writing class this semester, which will require us to write three short (ish) stories over the span of the course. For my first assignment, I decided to (edit and) present the prologue and first chapter of the rough draft of the novel I’m working on, Divine Strength. I thought it would be a good way to see how the opening works as a first introduction to the idea, as, barring the teacher and two other students, this will be the first time this group has seen anything about the Queens. Divine Strength: Prelude has been posted in the OTC Forum for anyone else who wishes to read it. I expect I’ll be posting the other two stories I create for this class there as well—as of yet, I am not sure if either of them will be related to the Queens or not, but the main point is that I’m putting more writing up on BZP. I will also try to work on some of that fanfiction I proposed a while back, and/or think up some regular prompt and post method. I hope you enjoy the story!
  13. The young man glared down at the chains around his wrists. Two knights grabbed his arms and dragged him forward, pausing as the wooden double doors were swung open from the inside. Beyond was a long hall with walls made of gray stone, with seven windows on either side to allow plenty of sunlight in. Between each window hung a banner made of white cloth and displaying an emblem: a sun with its center divided into seven equal parts. As he was led down the center of the hall, the armored feet of his escorts scraping along the floor as they went, his hateful gaze combed over those assembled, picking out something detestable in each and every one of them. This knight was clearly arrogant; that spellcaster, too well-dressed; those standing closest to the walls must be cowards; and all of them were so dreadfully, disgustingly pleased with the situation. The elites of Bivor are such filth. At the end of the hall, beneath a banner three times as wide as the others, was a simplistic throne made out of iron. It bore no decoration whatsoever—it was barely fit to be called more than a chair. The only trait possibly worth noting were the velvet cushions attached to the back and seat, making it more comfortable for the one who sat upon the throne. That one—she was there now, sitting up straight, looking at him with a mix of irritation and, if he was right, boredom—that one, he turned his most malicious gaze upon. In the face of this, her expression did not change in the slightest. The knights halted a short distance before the throne and bowed their heads for a moment. One of them announced, “As you have commanded, Your Majesty: the leader of the recent attack, Riniyon, has been brought forth for judgment.” The Queen chuckled softly. She gave a small smile and said, “I don’t believe I said anything about judgment, exactly.” Angered by this, Riniyon growled. “Do you mock all your captives, Queen of Light?” Her smile faded. Now with a very serious expression, the Queen rose to her feet, straightening out her long pink gown as she did so. She took a few steps forward and looked directly into Riniyon’s face. “I meant you no offense, Riniyon. Merely, I wished to be clear that I have not called you here for the sole purpose of condemning you. I am more interested in answers.” He ignored her, glaring up at the crown she wore. The golden ornament glimmered in the sunlight, and the diamonds embedded in its twelve points shone so brightly he could not look at them directly for very long. On its front, just above the Queen’s forehead, was the same emblem seen on the banners, the ancient symbol of Light that had come to represent this Queen and her queendom. “You founded an independent nation about five years ago, as I recall,” the Queen continued. “I remember you quite adamantly refused to form alliances with myself or any of the other Queens. I thought nothing of it at the time—it could be seen as admirable, in a way, that you wished to remain independent. However…I see now that the cause of those actions is the ill will you bear towards we Queens.” Riniyon snorted. “You learn quickly.” The Queen narrowed her eyes for a moment. “Your beliefs are your own. I will not ask you to justify them. But I do wish to know what it was that prompted you to launch an attack against my queendom.” With a toothy grin, Riniyon replied, “It is because you were the easiest target. Your military is far too small for a dominion so out in the open, and it is poorly organized at that. Also, I had heard rumors…rumors that I now see are true…that your current body is aging faster than is usual.” His eyes focused on the Queen’s lengthy yellow hair. “You—no, all of Bivor had an air of weakness about it. I saw it as the best opportunity to test out my strength.” “…Strength?” the Queen repeated. “What made you think you were strong?” Surprised, Riniyon shouted, “What?! You question my strength?! My army has laid to waste countless nomads in just five short years! In all that time, not a single Queen, not even that bloodthirsty demon in the east, made a single move against us, and I know why.” He grinned once again and finished, “It is because you fear me.” The Queen of Light slowly put a hand over her mouth. Behind it, she was smiling. He thought we feared him? No, he still thinks that we fear him? Goodness…I feel as though I should tell him the truth, but there’s no kind way to let him know his tiny kingdom was simply too insignificant to draw attention… “Hahaha, even the Queens fear me!” Riniyon raved. “Why would I not press that advantage? Why should I allow you monsters to remain when I have the power to bring about your end?” After a moment, the Queen asked, “You do recall why you are here now, yes?” Riniyon’s enthusiasm faded. “You do recall,” the Queen continued, “that your army did not perform anywhere near as well as you had hoped? That the ‘weak’ soldiers of Bivor held them off, while you snuck into the castle like a coward to attempt to strike at me? That I detected you and rendered you unconscious before you launched a single attack against me?” Riniyon gritted his teeth. “…This…was merely luck.” “Of course. Regardless, luck was not on your side. I fail to understand why you still see yourself in a position to make these ridiculous claims.” Clenching his fists, Riniyon said, “Oh, you are about to understand…” He released the energy he had been storing. The fire magic flowed out from his arms, melting through the chains and singing his escorts’ hands enough to slip free of their grip. Drawing a wand from his robe’s sleeve, Riniyon lunged forward and yelled, hurling a blast of lightning straight at the Queen. “You are right.” The blast never hit. White light rushed between the Queen and Riniyon, forming a transparent, solid barrier that blocked the spell. “I do understand now.” Panicking a bit, Riniyon ran, narrowly evading the knights as they tried to grab him again. “You still don’t comprehend how powerful a Queen is.” As the barrier disappeared, the Queen of Light raised one hand. Riniyon was still running down the hall, somewhat surprised that no one was trying to stop him. In fact, they appeared to be moving farther away from him for some reason… He had almost reached the door when it happened. Focused light burst from the Queen’s fingers, lanced down the hall, and struck Riniyon square in the back, knocking him to the floor with a heavy grunt. He rolled around a bit, too dazed to stand up. The Queen of Light strolled down to where he had fallen. After kicking aside his wand, she looked down at him and smiled brightly. “I do apologize, but as it turns out, I will be passing judgment today. Riniyon, I sentence you to life imprisonment.” Riniyon tried to grab the Queen, but the pain wracking his body kept it from obeying his commands. The Queen turned and walked back to her throne. After she gave a short waving gesture, knights swarmed Riniyon once more, dragging him to his feet and holding him steady. A spellcaster approached as well and grabbed his wrists. Over the course of around a minute, the caster’s magic created new, stronger chains to bind Riniyon’s hands, and then commanded them to tighten to the point where he could barely move them. “You Queens!” he roared as he was dragged away. “You’re monsters! All of you! This isn’t over, Queen of Light! Do you hear me?! I swear I shall have my revenge!” The Queen of Light sat back down and waved cordially to Riniyon. He screamed, but it was cut off as the doors to the chamber slammed shut. *** Many years later… *** The blinds were drawn open. As sun filled the room, the Queen of Light rolled to her other side, burying her face in her pillow. Ironic…I am Queen of Light, yet my body is averse to the morning… This was not a new phenomenon, of course, but it was one she had yet to fully adapt to. She had been in her current body for not even ten years. It was only natural that there still existed a slight disconnect between the two sides of her person, especially given that the body was already well into its second decade of life by the time she had begun to inhabit it. Servants moved about, advising her that it was time to rise. Reluctantly, and with great effort, the Queen sat up and, after pausing to yawn, exited her bed and got to her feet. She watched as two servants set about making the bed—not an especially difficult task, as it was only slightly larger than the common size. She had never seen the need for such grand sleeping arrangements as some of the other Queens were accustomed to. Moving to the dresser, her servants helped her change from her nightgown into the pink gown she frequently donned. Such a garment, or some variation of it, had been the focus of her wardrobe in all of her lifetimes—a constant of her appearance no matter what body she inhabited. Still, her human side could not help but frown. That side of her had a feeling that the dress was somewhat too extravagant. It was by no means a gaudy dress, but a more billowy material of a lighter shade had been used in the shoulders and part of the skirt, and black and golden thread hemmed its edges and formed lines around her waist and down the front of her torso. That alone was enough to fuel the misgivings. Regardless, she wore the gown regularly, and donned it this morning without a second thought. She then moved to the mirror to examine herself. Her shoulder-length hair was still a vibrant shade of red, she was glad to see. Absent-mindedly, she ran one hand through it. When her hand reached the edge of her crown, the headgear suddenly became translucent, and her fingers encountered no resistance as they passed through it. They emerged on the other side, and the crown returned to its solid state. The day begins, then. The Queen of Light dismissed her servants and then exited her bed chamber. As she made her way through the castle halls, she felt the slightest bit dizzy for a moment, and slowed her pace. If another Queen was sending her a telepathic wave this early, she feared it might be something important. The sensation passed and a thought appeared in her mind: Light: I just wanted to remind you that the messenger I sent should be arriving in Bivor today. She’ll have the maps and reconnaissance reports you requested, and, if it’s not too much trouble, I told her to propose some new potential trade agreements. I’ll let her cover the details. Also…I don’t mean to be a pest, but you never did tell me exactly what you wanted these reports for. You did say not to worry, but I’m afraid I cannot help it. Is there anything you can tell me? Sea Smiling, Light mumbled, “I knew she wouldn’t stop worrying…” She cleared her mind and called upon her magic, creating the basis for the wave, and then started to compose its contents. Sea: I look forward to hearing the proposal. Thank you again for sending the reports—it will be much easier to refer to physical copies than to recall information sent by wave. As for my intention, I will reiterate that it is nothing to worry about, but if you wish for details, I can tell you that it involves the strange occurrences you told me of. If I am right, it involves someone I wish to deal with personally. You have the best understanding of the situation, but as that is neutral territory, I fear that if you spend much more time there it will give the impression that you wish to expand your queendom and set some of the others on edge. The Queen of War has been uncharacteristically quiet for a while now. I suppose I’m a bit anxious. If it’s alright with you—and I was planning to ask once I had a more specific course of action in mind—I was hoping to take over the investigation so as to take their focus off of you. Of course, if you wish for this to be handled differently, I will respect your wishes. I will let you know when I have reviewed the reports. Light Deciding to end the message there, she finished structuring the wave and focused on the Queen of the Sea. The diamonds on her crown sparkled as the wave was transmitted. Once that was done, she continued on her way. The walk down to the audience chamber was uneventful after that. The Queen sat on her throne and, beckoning to a robed man standing nearby, asked, “Nesenian, how many audiences are scheduled for today?” The man checked the scroll in his hands as he moved towards the throne. “Only three, Your Majesty—two property disputes set for this morning, ready to be brought in at your earliest convenience, and one military audience later this evening.” “Hm…this evening, that’s when the scouting party dispatched last week will return and deliver their report, correct?” “Correct, Your Majesty.” “Excellent. I am ready for my first visitor. After you let them in, please head to the barracks and request that our soldiers keep themselves unoccupied, as I may call upon them for a meeting today or tomorrow.” Nesenian bowed and replied, “Of course, Your Majesty.” “Ah, one other thing: if you could find someone, please station an extra sentry at the gate. I’m expecting a messenger to arrive, and I would like to be informed the moment she does.” “I shall see it done, Your Majesty.” “Thank you, Nesenian.” The first audience was a disagreement between two farmers over where the boundary between their land had been drawn; the knight who had responded had hesitated to bring it to the Queen’s attention, but as it was nearly time to begin planting seeds, she had thought it best to get the Queen’s word on the matter quickly rather than wasting time. The Queen preferred to be the one to settle these disputes, in a way, as her current body had also been a farmer before being selected to be Queen. She heard both sides of the story, asked about how well off both families involved were, and then had a servant fetch her a map—the line was drawn so that both regions were nearly equal but provided more land for the farmer who had had a less successful harvest the previous year. “I may consider redistribution in the future, pending this year’s harvest,” she told them. “As for now, I believe this to be the fairest method. Do either of you object?” The farmer who had received less land did not exactly seem pleased, but he conceded this would still leave him enough land to bring in an even larger harvest, so he did not object to the Queen’s ruling and both parties went on their way. The second audience was with Serin, the spellcaster who the previous Queen had (near the end of her life) tasked with keeping watch over and improving Bivor’s system of education. Her case was that the children would benefit from more room to study, but in order to expand the school building, they would need to build upon land currently owned by a noble family. Serin had already approached the head of the family and tried to come to an agreement, but this proposal had been rejected. “Truth be told, they aren’t even using this land for anything,” Serin explained. “I have seen the family take one or two strolls through the area, but there are no crops, no buildings, no gardens…nothing at all. If I may speak my mind, I find it a waste.” The Queen nodded thoughtfully. “I do remember the schoolhouse feeling a bit cramped. How long do you think the building process would take?” “Well, should we secure the land, I’m sure our carpenters can draw up schematics in a matter of days,” Serin said. “Building it could take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months depending on how many people we have available, and then it will take about another week for me to properly construct the soundproofing magic I’ve been using to lessen distraction—half that if I can get another mage to work with me. That mage would need to become familiar with the process first, and though there will be plenty of time during the building’s construction, they would need to be selected and begin that study right away.” “And the nobles would not see any results of their sacrifice during this span of time,” the Queen said. “Hm…I suppose I can see where their discontent may come from. However, your plans for improving education have met with great success thus far, so I am inclined to agree with you on this matter. That being said, the nobles must be compensated if they are to give up their land.” Unfortunately, the castle did not have much extra gold to use for this compensation. The Queen thought a moment before saying, “We shall present them with one of our rare tomes in exchange for the land. Ownership of details for casting uncommon magic is considered more prestigious than ownership of excessive land—I don’t imagine they will argue. Once we have negotiated the land, we will contact you and begin implementing your plans, Serin.” Serin bowed in gratitude and exited the audience chamber. The Queen had a small group of knights and one of the royal advisers take a tome and set off to meet with the noble family in question, and then returned to her bed chamber while she waited for news of the messenger. As the Queen was finishing her mid-day meal, a servant informed her of the messenger’s arrival, so she swiftly returned to the audience chamber. The messenger was brought in immediately, along with a few other soldiers from her home country who had been sent with her. Each wore a few plates of silver armor over their green and white tunics, and their tan skin made Bivor’s citizens seem pale in comparison. They all bowed in respect for the Queen. “Your Majesty, Queen of Light, it is an honor to meet you,” the lead messenger said. “The Queen of the Sea sends her regards. We have brought the information you requested.” She motioned to one of the others, who withdrew a few scrolls from her bag and handed them over. The messenger held them out, and the Queen walked forward, took the gift, and unrolled one scroll to examine its contents. “Thank you very much,” she said, smiling at the messenger. “All of you. I know this must seem a rather unusual request.” “Not at all, Your Majesty! Bivor and Ceandi have always been allies—sharing information such as this is certainly not out of the ordinary.” The Queen handed the scrolls to Nesenian and sat back down. “I suppose…well then, the Queen of the Sea said she wished for us to negotiate some trade agreements. There has not been trouble with our exports, has there?” The messenger stepped back, and a third soldier from Ceandi took the lead now. “No, Your Majesty. Actually, we were wondering if you would be open to importing more fish for food or other purposes.” The Queen thought for a moment. “…I see. Possibly, but may I ask why?” The soldiers hesitated. “Simply,” the Queen continued, “I know that Sea has always been very particular about her trading. She keeps the agreements very organized, and tightly manages all of Ceandi’s resources—if she wishes to make a significant addition to the amount exported through one agreement, it makes me wonder if something has happened to one of her other agreements.” “…Her Majesty did not want you to take pity on her,” one of the soldiers finally responded. “Ceandi’s trade with Arbolana has come to an unexpected halt. The Queen of Nature has refused to import anything more from us, yet has not given us a reason why.” The Queen of Light grimaced. “Ah, Nature. Knowing her, she probably found a way to breed her own fish so that she wouldn’t need to cooperate with Ceandi anymore. Always looking for more ways to be more self-sufficient regardless of how it might impact the rest of us.” “Still, Your Majesty, the Queen of the Sea does not want you to offer help beyond your means. We know that the demand for our exports here has not been especially high as of late. Still, if there is a reasonable way to expand upon our trade, our additional products would be offered to you at half the cost we agreed upon for regular trade—possibly less, if that would affect your decision.” “I see.” The Queen smiled. “Well, I’m sure we can find something. But I’m afraid the best I can offer is about…a 20% increase. Will that be adequate?” All three messengers were shocked at this. Clearly, they had not expected her to offer that large a figure. “Uh…y-yes, Your Majesty!” one of them said. “That would be wonderful! Thank you for your generosity!” Following this, the exact details were refined—the additional imports would be brought along with the regular shipments, extra crops would be added to Bivor’s payment, and the agreement would be evaluated again in approximately six months. The messengers were then shown to their chambers so that they could rest overnight before heading back to Ceandi. Returning to her own chamber once more, the Queen of Light opened the scrolls and began to comb through their contents. For almost a year now, several strange incidents had been occurring along the coast just north of Ceandi’s border. Nomads wandering through the area would disappear, with those that survived claiming they had been surprised by an attacker wielding magic. There were also reports of sudden bursts of light appearing on the horizon, some visible from northern Ceandi and even Bivor’s western edge. Animals seemed to be fleeing the area as well. As for what they were fleeing from, no one knew for sure, but the Queen of Light had a hunch. She read through report after report until the sun fell low and her chamber grew dim. Cupping one hand, she held it about a foot above the corner of her desk and focused, willing an orb of soft light to form so that she could continue. She left it to hover there and rubbed her eyes. “Come now,” she muttered, “someone must have gotten a decent look…” It was almost time to meet with the returning scouting party. She had hoped to find the information she was looking for before then, but it seemed she would have to delay putting together her plan until at least the next day. The Queen skimmed down the remaining length of the scroll in her hands, trying to determine if she could finish it before the audience, but she paused near the end. “One of the surviving nomads gave us a description of what he saw,” it read. “Just before the onslaught of magic began, he had spotted someone coming up over the hill. The figure is described as being an elderly man, likely just over five feet tall with fair skin and a head of short gray hair. He carried a wand that looked well-used and wore dark blue robes bearing a strange crest on the sleeves.” Scribbled in next to these words was a hastily-drawn sigil that appeared to be a sword pointing up and to the left, with some sort of aura surrounding the blade and the halves of a crown cut in two on either side. The Queen clenched her teeth. It was a crest she was well familiar with, and it was all she needed to confirm her suspicions. “Riniyon.”
  14. Work on Divine Strength continues. I just finished chapter five, the bulk of which can be read here (be warned, it's rather long). This scene involves all twelve Queens coming together in neutral territory to discuss the main threat of the story and how they will each deal with it. The same general material was covered in the prototype story Conference of Divinity, which has been posted both here and on Tumblr if you want to compare them. And now I'm a little stuck. The next major event I have planned is the alliance moving into Roche, as in the prototype story Alignment, but I'm not sure if I should go straight to that or insert another event or two first. After that, I do have an idea of what happens next, but the further ahead I go the vaguer my plans get. Ah well, I guess I just need to keep at it and see what happens.
  15. My next semester is starting up soon. Originally I had intended to have a rough draft of my novel Divine Strength done by now, but that definitely did not happen. At least the realization helped me kick myself into making some more progress. Part of that has involved me repeatedly posting about it on Tumblr, and answering some questions people have had about it on that website. I’ve shared a rough map of the story’s setting (it is by no means art, just there for reference), posted the names I’ve come up with for eight of the eleven queendoms, and with some help, have at least tentative emblems for all twelve Queens. I’ve also posted a few more story excerpts, and a few other miscellaneous bits of info. If anyone wants to peruse all this, you can check out the “Divine Strength” tag on my Tumblr blog, found here. It’s recently been sorted for easier access, details are over there. I’ve just begun Chapter 5, and I’m rapidly approaching the point where my short stories left off. It’ll be interesting to see what I can come up with next, but I think I’ll be able to get together something decent. My new goal is to get a draft done by the end of 2014. If I can do that, then I can edit and whatnot in 2015 and maybe work up some courage to try to find a publisher by, oh…2020. …That was a joke. I do need to find a way to fake confidence and not be crushed by rejection, at least. But, I have time—I have no idea how long this story is going to run, but this plot surely has a reasonable number of chapters left in it. One idea I’m toying with is going back and adding in chapters from the point of view of other Queens during the early chapters. We’ve been exclusively following the Queen of Light thus far, and I want to give them all at least some spotlight. Though, that could complicate things, adding in additional plotlines that pile up and make it really confusing…well, hopefully not. If nothing else, I know I want to do something from the point of view of the Queen of War later—I have a particular scene in mind that I think will be important in defining her character. Also what I’m envisioning looks cool. Anyway, I shall continue working. Slowly.
  16. After letting the document sit for longer than I should have, I finally wrote more of Divine Strength, and now things are actually getting somewhere. Chapter 2 featured the Queen of Light finding Riniyon's lair and discovering that he has created a spell capable of knocking a Queen's crown from her head--something that should be impossible. I didn't post this bit since the basics are in one of the short stories I wrote while I was forming the idea. I have, however, posted my rough draft of Chapter 3. This covers the battle between Riniyon and the Queen, and then shows the Queen of the Sea in person while we're told what's going to happen next. The meeting between all twelve Queens is also in one of the short stories, so I might not be posting that either. I feel like maybe I'm moving through this too quickly...although part of that might be because I haven't really planned much (if anything) beyond the point where the short stories stop. I know that a lot of accomplished writers will just write and see what happens, but I'm a little nervous to proceed when I don't have at least a plot skeleton planned out. Then again, that process didn't turn up a whole lot of satisfying results for me now did it, eheheh...
  17. (As I said before, I plan to start Chapter 2 of Divine Strength with a wave exchange between the Queens of Light and Sea. Since it's fairly short, I figured I'd just post it here directly. Hopefully this gives some insight into both characters and their relationship with each other.) Sea: I’m sorry to hear about what happened to your agreement with Nature—don’t fret, your soldiers didn’t offer the information, I dug it out of them. We agreed on a 20% increase in imports starting next month. When they return, they can answer any other questions you may have. As for the reports, I’ve read enough to know that I was right: the one behind these events is someone I have an interest in dealing with personally, and I am planning to depart tomorrow to hunt down the snake and take him into custody. However, since these recent incidents have had more of an effect on Ceandi than Bivor, I will understand if you would rather handle it. Please let me know. Light *** Light: First, I want to thank you for taking on such a large increase in trade. But if it ends up hurting Bivor, promise me that you will let me know, alright? I don’t want your queendom to suffer for lending us aid. As for the incidents…if two Queens are poking around in the same area, will that not be even more suspicious than my continued activities there? It would be no stretch to imagine War taking this as an excuse to start harassing us. How important is this matter? You’re not one to hold grudges, but you seem oddly invested in finding this man. Sea *** Sea: I promise to keep you updated on Bivor’s economy. Do not worry, I am sure all will go well. In regards to this sorcerer, his name is Riniyon. He is the one who launched a feeble attack against Bivor during my previous lifetime but managed to escape from my dungeon. What I haven’t told you is that he has been popping up every now and then for several decades now, causing trouble for me for reasons unknown. He has been a thorn in my side for much too long. I want to stop his foolishness and, perhaps, find out why it is that he hates we Queens so badly. I believe I can find his lair quickly, as I am somewhat familiar with his habits after all this time, and, truthfully…I think it will be most satisfying to confront the coward directly. So I will ask you plainly, Sea: please allow me this. Light *** Light: Haha, I know that tone. I can’t talk you out of this, can I? Very well, I’ll keep my distance. But Light, you do tend to get a little reckless when you’re this focused—I know you said Riniyon is actually quite weak, but if he has escaped and evaded your capture this long, he may be more cunning than he lets on. Or he could just be lucky. Either way, I would advise you to be ready for anything. It never hurts to be cautious, right? Sea *** Sea: I suppose I can get rather carried away…and you do have a point. I’ll try to be careful. For now, I think I will retire; should anything momentous happen in my investigation, I will keep you informed. Until then. Light
  18. It took longer than I was hoping, but now I have a rough draft for the first chapter of Divine Strength! If you'd like to check it out, here's the link. This shows a regular day for the Queen of Light--not the one from the Prologue, but her successor. This is the Queen of Light we'll be following for the main story. I wanted to get a feel for how she runs her queendom, Bivor, and try to refine her personality in general. We also get a partial glimpse at the Queen of the Sea through telepathy. The telepathic waves are Queen-exclusive, with their Crowns acting as both transmitter and receiver; Light and Sea exchange them much more frequently than is normal due to their close friendship, so their usage should not be considered as a standard. (There's only one exchange in Chapter 1, but Chapter 2 begins with multiple back and forth waves.) Don't worry, the plot moves forward a bit too. Light's objective at this point is to take a look at Sea's investigation of some strange occurrences, which leads her to discover a very good reason to get involved further. But you'll have to read it to get a better idea. I won't be posting up each and every chapter as I go, but this early in the game I will be posting a lot. As for Chapter 2, all I have as of now is the aforementioned wave exchange, which I will probably post on its own sometime soon; once I write the rest of the chapter, I may post it too, or I may just hold onto it. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
  19. You may remember this idea I've been going on about involving magic Queens and all? I'm thinking the title of this story will be "Divine Strength", though that's subject to change. But more to the point, I've made a rough draft of a prologue I might use for it. ...But, it's rather long. If anyone's skimming the blogs here in dashboard format, they'd really hate me if I posted the whole thing here. So, instead, I'm going to give a link to the Tumblr post. You can find the prologue here. It takes place a few decades before the main plot, and introduces the villain who sets everything off and the (previous) Queen of Light. I will definitely be editing it at a later date, but if you could provide me with some feedback on the current draft, it'd really help me know what to edit. If you have comments, you can either contact me here or on Tumblr--either's fine. I'd be very grateful for the help!
  20. After some edits for language, I finally put up those stories I mentioned where I’ve been trying out my Queen idea. For some reason I feel like doing a little spiel to go along with it and outline the history or whatever, so… The idea formed during the Fiction Writing class I took last semester. We were told to write three stories over the course, and since I had few ideas for my first tale, I decided to take A Recluse’s Dilemma, one of my FFFC entries, and rewrite it. The resulting second version expanded on the video game that these Queens were from, and I ended up growing fond of the general idea. With that in mind, I decided that the second story should follow the conflict established in the second version of Dilemma, and I also wanted to establish the full set of Queens. This gave me Conference of Divinity, which briefly shows all 12 Queens and gives (or at least hints at) a little more info on this world’s political structure and the Queens’ relationships. It also shows how each Queen plans to respond to this new threat. I wasn’t sure what do to for my third story. Originally, I wanted to show how the previous Queen of Light met the current Queen of Light, to provide more explicit detail on how Queens and their method of passing from body to body works, but…well, I just wasn’t feeling up to it. Eventually I came up with Alignment—not particularly exciting, maybe, but it directly follows Conference, and it can’t hurt for me to practice slower pacing. The class liked it, at least! For completion’s sake, I’ll add this in too. After the class had ended, I wrote another FFFC story that was related to this world, much more so than the original Dilemma. Despair of the Divine was my attempt to step back a few centuries and try putting some details on an event mentioned in Conference and Alignment that still directs the relationships between the Queens of War, Gravity, and Land. With the word limit, I think it feels a bit rushed, but I may still use it as a basis for the canon. This idea is still in its very early stages, so everything you read here is tentative. The stories might contradict each other a bit here and there. Even the few character names present are placeholder. As such, suggestions would be most appreciated, since I want to pour a lot of effort into this over the summer if I can. I hope you enjoy meeting the Queens!
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