Happy Allhelgensdag!

Jah, in the world of Akiniwazi, you don’t celebrate Halloween.  That is a day of darkest black infamy.  It is the date the Skaerslinger first made the dead rise from their graves and caused their own zombiapocalypse that was quickly overcome the following day, but not without it’s horrible price.

creepy dark fear grave

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So on November 1st, Allhelgensdag (All Saints Day as we know it) is celebrated as a victory over the forces of darkness in a very real way.  The day is one of solemn remembrance that begins a week of feasting, bonfires and culminates in a celebration of life and God’s grace over Forsamling society as they turn forward to face the soon to arrive Season of Ice, aka Winter.

Feasting begins on the Sunday before the holiday, and goes to the Sunday after.  If Nov 1st falls on a Sunday, it is the first day of the celebrations.  It lasts a week, for after the dead began to be raised, the Forsamling dug up every cemetery and burned the bodies in an updated and Christianized version of the traditions from the Gamlehaven (what they call their ancestral homes back in Europe).

orange pumpkin on brown hay near gray carriage

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This also marks the beginning of the tradition of cremating the dead instead of burying them.  Many “pyres” are created on that evening where effigies are burned to remember their dead loved ones.  Lamps are kept at the doors of houses to symbolize the Holy Spirit protecting them from the Draugr, as well as ward off the other minions of the Devil.

antique art beautiful blur

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The Forsamling mark themselves with ash from the effigy pyres mixed with oil and drawing crosses and other related symbols on their bodies. They also write the names of their loved ones.  Many visit the memorial stones as families. This is done with no particular schedule throughout the week.  On the seventh day of the feast week, a ceremonial washing on the last day of the feast days.

Hope you enjoyed this little piece of culture and society from the Akiniwazisaga.

PS: this is a general overview and a little bit a work in progress, but as it sits, this is the basis for the holiday in my world.

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Sometimes You Must Go Back To Go Forward

After a great meeting with my editor, I realized that I had to restore a subplot I cut out of the book.  I figured it was going to end up being in book 3 instead, before I realized that its original intent was going to work.  So… 5 new (old) chapters were put back in the book near the beginning.  In fact, one of them is now the new first chapter.

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But as for moving forward, I had gotten stuck on several points on my last chapter, and it just… blech!  It wasn’t working.  Too overwrought and loaded down with purple prose that was muddying even my understanding of what was going on.  The good news is that now that I have worked through a serious scientific problem, I can also see that this book is living up to my hopes and has the potential to being a real awesome adventure when I discussed my plans with my editor.  She was so good at just letting me vent ideas.  Still not sure on a few simple points, but mmmm boy…. this ending, thanks to the solution brought back by the restored subplot got so much better.

It was a sub-plot that originated from characters from A Light Rises in a Dark World, so some favorites are returning and having an impact on what’s going on.  This also will end up creating more of a tie-in to book 3 that I hoped.

I also have the timeline more squared away.  Having to start writing chapters that will be inserted earlier into the book because I’m writing this chronologically forces that issue.

I’m seeing the ending far more clearly, now, and that makes me happy.  But I have to start thinking of what to title this thing.  Even a working title would be good.

Stats

Pages 407
Words 135970

As you can see, a significant jump in word count too.

New (Restored chapters and locations)

1. The Hunt

3. A Desire For Home

5. Confession & Revelation

7. An Interrupted Meal

8. Breaking Bread With New Friends

And the new chapters since last with their new position:

57: Rewards, Conundrums & Disappointments

58: The Drowned Forest

59: The Valley That Drives Away Evil With Light

60: Temple To An Unknown God

61: The Weight of Sin

I guess it has been a while since I’ve given you a chapter update.  So as a mea culpa and désolé, here’s an excerpt from the new opening chapter

 

The Hunt

 

The beast had come across the ice that winter.  Tracks left in the snowpack frozen by spray from a storm haunted Aske’s mind.  The prints were startling along the beach of Neinnvanbjarg as it had wandered along for a short while, looking for evidence of food, found it, then went into the trees and vanished. Perhaps the beast would just pass on to another island looking for better fare, but that was not to be.  A week later, an team of oxen were killed.  Their kusk escaped with his life by the grace of God.  Something needed to be done now for this beast was there to feast.

Early March had created a world without horizon.  For days on end, the air was warm and thick with fog.  Heavy coats were laid aside, and most timberjacks went about with only light oilskins normally for rain over their autumn clothing.  Aske and his men slogged through the mud and wet snow of the spring melt.  Near the beaches the crunch and hiss of ice shoves were a disquieting din as the winds and waves pushed floes and bergs all the way to the treeline.  Sometimes the piles reached over forty feet high.  But among the trees the sound of dripping water and sighing boughs was all that could be heard.  The birds refused to sing, not even the chickadees or cardinals, for they knew a killer lurked among the pillars of nature’s cathedral.  The beast made it easy to follow by dragging the dead oxen back to its cave in the rotted limestone cliffs that made the northeastern end of the island. Ten of them came with Aske while the rest protected the woodyard and the logging camp.  The track may have been there, but it might be still on the prowl.  None the less, Aske’s knowledge of nature told him to expect a full it  inside.

The plan was simple.  They would go in as many men abreast as possible and when they came across across their quarry, pin it in place with the first rank of spears, then the second rank would stab the trapped creature till it stopped moving.  The hide might be ruined, but this was not about another fur, this was about survival.  Of all the choices for hunting the beast, this was the safest and fastest.

The cave was a small alcove set back a few dozen yards from the beach and elevated in the rock about the height of a man with talus of rotted rock scattered at its base.  The smell of feces came strong on the stirring breeze outside the mouth of the lair.  A deer’s ribcage poked out obscenely from the melting snow telling that the oxen were not this beast’s first kill.  Even in the full light of the foggy day, the shadows inside were deep enough that the men could not see more than a few feet into the short cave.

Aske took the middle of the first rank, was flanked by his two strongest men, and began entering the dark.  The cave was not too deep, maybe a hundred feet or less, but it took a bend to the left, which concealed the deeper chamber of the cave.  Behind him, a rank of men held torches high.  The flames sizzled in the spiderwebs and burned the rock lice.  Unstable slabs of loose rock clunked under their feet and the stink was overwhelming.  The torches were now their only light.  Ahead, soft breathing could be heard.  Would they be so fortunate as to catch their prey still sleeping?

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Feel free to comment and ciao for now!

Christian Magic: The Philosophical Foundations of the Supernatural in Akiniwazi

One of the reasons I have a love/hate relationship with fantasy is due to my faith.  My testimony is long and winding, and with some strange bumps that even I don’t understand why I experienced them or could prove if they were real.  Suffice it to say, it’s very strange that I’m writing fantasy at all, and here’s why.

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I came from a background where I was raised Lutheran, had my faith broken completely and fell into paganism and new age occultism for 7 years before being born again, I saw and experienced some things I could not place in the natural.  I knew in my heart of hearts that the supernatural existed, and that becoming Christian again did not erase those experiences.  No, instead it made the Bible become that more alive to me!  I saw how the supernatural worked from the wrong side of the tracks to some degree, and then learned even more about the spiritual war that we live in. You may not believe in the supernatural, and that is fine.  Just know I believe in a reality that is more complex and irrational than what you might dream of in your philosophy.  And that’s cool.

“Yes, but M.D., what does this have to do with your distaste for fantasy?”

I’m getting to that, oh precocious one.

Because of my experiences, I’m very open and constantly fighting against temptations and experiences I was opened to from sinning in these areas.  Palmistry, divination, sorcery… Or one big dose of self delusion as well, I need to guard my mind all the more.  A portion of my life that well, I have lots of scars and weak spots from so I have to avoid it a lot.  This means some of my favorite fantasy books, or games are ‘no-go zones’ now.  They tempt me far to greatly no matter how well they’re written, or awesome or whatever.  That means I never have, nor never will read Harry Potter among many other things.  Pick your jaw up.

I also stay away from a lot of horror and sxi fi.  It is part of why I will not read any Transhumanist SF and quit participating in a shared Transhumanist collaboration.  Plus other supernatural things for just that reason.  It gets in my head and messes with me, but the love of the genre is there.  At least some of the best selling fantasy series of all time are Christian.

…so … there’s that, I guess.

“The point is…..?”

The point is that this is part of why I started to be inspired to write this series.  I liked the challenge of creating a fantasy world where there was all the ‘sorcery’ and ‘magic’ like flavor, but it was based on Scripture and in alignment with God’s Word.  For many years I struggled with this very thing when it finally hit me.

“Hey…. ” I sez to Me.  “What about the Gifts of the Spirit?”

“Bwuh???”  Me responds.  “What about them?”

“Well,” sez I. “Miracles and healing, and prophecy and all that stuff is pretty spectacular cinematic goodness, right?”

“Yeah,” Me sez skeptically.

“And demons and angels manifesting would be pretty wild.  Plus you’ve experienced some weird stuff in the form of inanimate objects and seen the possessed be delivered before.  That’s some crazy-ass stuff too, right?  Just as good as flinging around fireballs and lightning bolts.”

“Well… it could be if you turned the special effects of it up to eleven.” Me agrees.

“So why not do that?  You know that’s what you want.” I sez.

“You know what?” Me agrees.  “That’s a bloody fine idea as long as we keep it to stuff founded on scripture and be very careful about it.”

That conversation blazed through the head, and I realized I had a very different way of looking at magic as compared to what I had seen in RPGs and some of the fantasy books I knew from the past.  So the whole philosophy I took to the book is the supernatural is about spiritual authority and relationships.  It’s not like so many games where you find magic lying around like coal or electricity: an impersonal power for you to mine out of the ground or hunt like deer just to bend it to your own will… or even your own supercharged willpower like in another RPG that created the most terrifying “realistic” magic system and view ever.  If I get enough people to ask about it, I’ll explain that.  Post below of you really want to hear me riff on it.  The magic number is 10 comments.

See what I did there?

So, The idea in the novel is that supernatural comes from God or Satan.  God can impart power directly through the Holy Spirit, while Satan sends minion demons to connect you to power from him or his minions.  That means knowingly or not, you pick a side.  There is no neutral.  If you want to know power, you need to follow your master, be it God or Satan.

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So that’s the big underpinning of all the metaphysical stuff going on in Akiniwazi.

For the TL:DR.

  1. It’s a relationship between you and either God or Satan.
  2. There is no neutral party or self empowerment to gain supernatural power.
  3. Your source is your master.
  4. Even if you do not have supernatural power, you chose a side even by doing nothing.

There will be more to come.  Again, comment below if you want me to expound more on something that caught your eye.

 

Oh, as a reminder I will be on vacation next week so I will be not posting anything big I think… But who knows?  Something cool might happen.