Span (Shortened version, and Plans)

Span chapter one was originally over 1000 words long. This version is only 316. The reason I made such a shortened version was so that I could fit more poetry into my portfolio. (Something I’m considering releasing here.)

In order to make this post worthwhile, I’ve also put some commentary on the tail end of it, about my plans for later chapters of this story.

He said, “Why, then, child, are you here?”

I told him that I had become very unhappy because my father was unhappy. I said that he was longing for a son, someone to teach and apprentice, and also that I very much enjoyed and missed listening to his knowledges. I said that we would not have another child, and that my mother told him to stop speaking about things that he could not change. He laughed at me!

“What, Talc, who cuts our meat, would like to kill it too? He considered me. …

So I asked my father about hunting again and he sighed, saying that Sandgrain (awful name, he added,) had a son who had just begun hunting, and that he might go mad with jealousy. Mother spat at the ground, and my father shrugged at her.

I ignored them both, and said, “You would like to teach someone to hunt then?”

He nodded slightly, and then glanced at my mother. She threw up a hand, resigning herself for the night. My father made an exaggerated frown and looked back to me.

“Maybe I will be happier once I am grey like Sunk. Then I can finally have a pupil!”

I swallowed my nerve and asked, “Why not teach me?”

There was a silence. My heart became the loudest thing at the circle, and I watched my father look around to my mother for an opinion. I was, after all, the child of both. My mother’s expression shifted a few times as she considered my words with severity.

“It does not matter to me! She is very slow at any task that is not cutting animals!” At the insult, I looked at her, and she added, “You are good with children as well.”

My father’s expression was one of deep thought.

He bared his teeth, “Tomorrow, you will have to wake up earlier than usual.”


 

Span is a story that sort of hit a dead end for me, and I don’t really know where it wants to go, even though I know exactly where I want to take it. Well, I didn’t know where until I started thinking about the location.

Who else lives in the N’Tariel lands? Who might Talc encounter? Then I remembered—there was someone who lived in the forest.

14753426_1173459149367241_7520138819080270918_o
An older Jin, with her Elken features showing.

Jin was born in the northern woods, and began exploring the south as she began to reach adolescence. I always thought that the first person she met was her soulmate Salt*, but perhaps that was too romantic, too unrealistic.

Maybe the first person she met was Talc.

Anyway, we’ll see where this goes, if it goes anywhere at all. Span is a series I’ve been considering simply leaving hanging, but it’s modestly successful, and I think I can figure out how to propel the plot forward to the places I care about—that is, her adulthood, and more specifically motherhood. Oh, and she also becomes a seer, due to her interest in the dead; divination by entrails.

Perhaps more thought is required. We will see. I will state that Span is currently set up as the backburner story for The Solune Prince release (As Evidence was to Alice and Finch). Unless it gets replaced by something like Alexandre Jutt’s story, we should be seeing more of it in a semi-consistent manner.

*I feel it obligatory to mention that soulmates are fictional. So, while I don’t believe it to be a real phenomenon, so to speak, I do believe that fiction works in fiction—Jin Sing only marries one person, and that person is Salt Resz.

Daniel Triumph.

Further reading:
Span 1
Span 2
Jin’s Backstory

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One Year Blog Anniversary – The Solune Prince Talk

On this, the one year anniversary of the first post of my blog (proof), I’ll be looking into the past and the future in one fell swoop, and all on one topic. This post will contain talk on The Solune prince, followed by a re-release and edited version of the second rough draft of The Solune Prince. (What a sentence…)

Tracing the Origins of The Solune Prince

The Solune Prince is a novel that I’ve been trying, and failing to write since September 6, 2016. That’s the first time I wrote it down in text. The idea underneath The Solune Prince—the idea of Chloe, sixth prince of the Solune going to the Underside to fight some sort of revolution—has been around for far longer. I don’t know when the ideas for The Solune Prince first came into my head, but it was very early into the creation of Däwngale as a world. The oldest concrete date would have to be October 10, 2014, nearly four years ago, when I ran the “Demonic Chaos” Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It’s hard to track the specific date of any idea, but I can say with some confidence that it came after September 30, 2013. Let’s start there. Mind the old drawing quality.

September 30, 2013: Chloe as a Character

Characters from Out of Bounds
The “old” Legends. Left to right, “Chloe,” Yaska, Jan, Drake
Height Comparison (female) by Tehufn
These heights are now very outdated. Left to right, Chloe, Natasha, Yaska.

The development of Chloe as a distinct character is sort of interesting. I may get into the specifics in a later post, but essentially, above is the oldest picture I have on my computer of the character who would become Chloe. By her expression and dress, the woman on the far left looks of it a lot more like Janna, and there’s good reason for this. Chloe, Janna, and Natasha were all once represented by the a sort of primitive Psuedo-Chloe character, who I will be referring to as “Chloe” with quotes.

Long story short, Chloe started off as something like two and a half characters in one.  I have a couple more pictures in storage that illustrate this development quite well, but I only have access to one of them right now, as you can see on the right with the “Height Comparison.” Maybe next time, if anyone is interested, I can get into what used to make each of the three sisters distinct from one another.

You can see that the confident, combative Janna isn’t in the height comparison picture. She would become her own character shortly after, although you could easily argue that she came first—and you would be partially right, but not entirely. That’ll have to be another post.

The “Height Comparison” established some core aspects of young Chloe, and Natasha that remain half a decade later. Natasha remains a very tall (I think 6’6″ or higher, although Solune people are about a foot taller or more than an average human), stoic, and an agent-to-be. (Currently she’s a guard, who appears briefly in Alice and Finch, and has a detective story to call her own.) Here, young Chloe has a sort of waifish, airheaded expression. I say “young Chloe” specifically, because, while she does retain airiness, she grows out of a lot of things. I mean, she has to, especially considering her role in The Solune Prince.

Full body explosion.jpg
Part of the climax of the yet-unwritten Solune Legends story.

It’s this young Chloe who displayed amazing potential in her Laszor/Laszor-eyes abilities—which is linked to her potential as an individual who is capable of projecting their vision into reality, symbolized literally. The Solune Prince is about the realization, and taking control of that potential.

October 20, 2014: “Zeroith Draft”

Chloes Army.JPG
Created as supplementary material for the 2014-2015 D&D campaign.

My early (and to only a slightly a lesser degree, my later) Dungeons and Dragons campaigns were very scattered, and often included references to the ideas and stories floating inside my head. The second one I ever ran, “Demonic Chaos,” took place in the midst of Chloe’s adventures on the Underside. Why? I don’t really know. It didn’t really help the campaign much, and it sort of  fell flat. However, this was the first inkling I had of Chloe as a sort of revolutionary figure. And, it was the first time the Lussa people had appeared, previously known for their striped faces (related to their unusual laszor eyes) and still known for their outlandish everyday fashion.

The idea came out of the fact that the I had recently come up with the Underside, and the Lussa, and the fact that Chloe was on the Underside. And Chloe being on the Underside actually originated from this song:

I don’t really listen to Anarchy Club, but I did enjoy a lot of the music in the first Rock Band game, and this was one of them. I have a drawing from these days that shows Dooll (from the drawing above (also, apparently I did not make creative names in 2014)) teaching Chloe how to use Lussa Laszor Eyes, (also known as flamethrower eyes, despite being purple). In those early days, the Underside was dangerous, dark, and oppressive.

Since then, I’ve found a city, and the flamethrower eyes have faded, but it was essentially still like that in “Demonic Chaos.” Chloe and her army liberated all the Lussa and Chimera (the creature on the far left) people from the work camps that were run by Venus. Venus is still sort of relevant, although I’m pushing him in the back for later. The  Chimera are interesting, but I don’t know if I want to include them in this story. It’s fair to say that they still exist though. As for work camps? That’s all but gone. I feel like, what with all that happened in the twentieth century, labour camps might be too blatantly evil, and also imply things that this story isn’t about.

What did stick is Chloe having some sort of army. It’s weird that she has an army even though she’s an outsider, from the other side of the planet—literally—but I guess that’ll be one of the conflicts in the book.

September 6, 2016: The Awful Second Draft

Chloe - Killer Chloe crop
I really like this drawing, actually.

Almost nothing was salvageable about this endeavour. It was written during a particularly hard time in my life, and to be honest, there’s just a lot of problems with it that I won’t bother explaining because they’re embarrassing. What did survive from this draft was the character Rickur, and our good friend Lillith.

Figuring it Out

The events that occurred during “Demonic Chaos” were more similar to what will be found in The Solune Prince than what I wrote afterwards. Let my try to roughly illustrate what I mean. Here’s an exhaustive list in chronological order, including unwritten, non-canon and canon items.

  • 50% relevant: Chloe during Alice and Finch (Canon)
  • 40% relevant: Chloe during Evidence (Canon, but troublesome.)
  • 60% relevant: Chloe during The Legendary Event (Unwritten, canon)
    • 50% relevant: Chloe during “Demonic Chaos” Draft 1 (Not canon)
    • 15% relevant: Chloe during The Solune Prince Draft 2 (Very Not canon)
  • 70% relevant: Chloe during The Solune Prince Draft 3 (Goodish draft)

There are some issue with Chloe’s development. The two bolded bullets define her character development, whereas the two bullets with links have her as a solid side character. The bolded events might need to happen first for consistency reasons. It’s very frustrating trying to organize all this. Can a Chloe who is overall nervous be a teacher to Finch in Alice and Finch? How the Chloe who is a lawyer in Evidence? That sounds like a career-move, and yet she’s still adolescent-like during The Legendary Event. This might work better.

  • 50% relevant: Chloe during Alice and Finch (Canon)
  • 60% relevant: Chloe during The Legendary Event (Unwritten, canon)
  • 40% relevant: Chloe during Evidence (Canon, but troublesome.)
    • 50% relevant: Chloe during “Demonic Chaos”  (Not canon)
    • 15% relevant: Chloe during The Solune Prince Draft 1 (Very Not canon)
  • 70% relevant: Chloe during The Solune Prince Draft 2 (Goodish draft)

This means that during The Legendary Event, Chloe has already been a teacher. Then, in The Solune Prince, Chloe has already been a teacher, a fighter who has Laszor-exploded (see above) and a poet/lawyer (although only once).

What I mean to say, is that Chloe Rhye is a very difficult character to work with. She’s functionally immortal, due to her father’s gene quirk, she’s been reading for hundred’s of years, has a bit of formal education, and has already had an adventure.

There are also other glaring issues.

  1. I have a couple of antagonists, but I don’t really know their motivations, or how they struggle for control of the city.
  2. I’d also like to explore the subcultures of the Lussa city:
    • the metal workers
    • the nightclub life (which dresses even more extremely than standard Lussa clothing.)
  3. I need to actually figure out what the supporting cast is like. Maybe I’m bad at characterization?
  4. How do I manage the creeping power of the state?
  5. How does Chloe actually get to the Underside?

And more! Maybe I can’t handle it as my second full-length novel. I’ve already failed twice. However, I think it’s necessary to see if I am to fail a third time. Especially since the previous attempts got progressively better. So, without further ado,

August 1, 2017 – November 23, 2017: The Second Draft

It all started with a song, and so it continues with a song. A lot of what exists in the planning for the Second, and even Third (present) drafts was “dreamed up” while listening to one song.

The most recent draft, and it was live on this blog for a long time, months really. It ran a whopping twenty-five chapters, that were decent, a microstep above Evidence. but I couldn’t figure out where to take it. Chloe didn’t have motivation, and so I guess neither did I. I didn’t know why she had to do the two things she had to do, and certain ideas I’d imagined out of songs didn’t fit into the reality of the narrative. That’s what I’m trying to avoid with all the planning for the third draft.

I decided that there were issues here and there, and also giant things I would feel uncomfortable with people reading. One of them being the descriptively indulgent first chapter, which I’m including at the end of this post. It has been slightly edited, but I’ve left the absurd amount of description of Chloe Rhye—almost Victorian-era-like.


The Solune Prince (Act I, Scene i)

Second Rough Draft

Chloe, cover 3

There was a conference going on in the next room. Chloe could hear the voice of the King, her father, booming through the wall. Apparently they were visitors here, foreigners from the other side of the planet. They were called the Lussa.

Chloe had never heard of Lussa. She had read thousands of books, and despite all the information, the Lussa people still managed to fall outside her ocean of knowledge.

They were strange, the two of them. They had the darkest skin then she had ever seen, darker even than that of an N’Tariel or an Elken. And they were so different from each other, too. One of them was small, the other huge and burly. One had a two-handed sword, the other had some sort of unusual dart launcher.

The King had stopped speaking, and Chloe assumed it was because one of the Lussa had begun. The King, it seemed, was the only person with a voice deep enough to penetrate the masonry. Chloe sighed and sat up from the clinic bed. She had been trying to eavesdrop, but unlike her mother, she wasn’t used to it. She hadn’t figured out how to translate the deep buzz of her father’s words into sentences.

“Well, I guess I could just walk into the throne room and listen like a normal person. I’m a Prince, I’m allowed to these things, I think.”

Chloe’s voice was sweet, and it was accepted generously by the air around her. She had a feeling that this was a vocal quality inherited from her father. Her voice carried and almost always demanded attention, but she never knew what to do with that attention. That was why she avoided talking to people. They always seemed to expect her to say something important or tell them what to do, and she rarely did either of those things.

Chloe decided it was time to go, before she missed anything important. She was her mother’s clinic. It was a long thin room with two beds and a large hardwood desk. After her Gwenhime had retired and the hospital had been built, this little castle medical centre was rarely used.

Chloe hopped off the bed and walked to the door. She wore a white button-up shirt and light-coloured shorts. She crossed the room in four long strides. Chloe’s immense height was mostly due to her legs. When she used to go to the academy she would run or jog, but since her graduation she hadn’t been particularly active.

She could still run, and did occasionally when she went out. Her arms were toned, but this was mostly from moving stacks of books and the occasional combat training her mother, an ex-general, gave her; so she wasn’t particularly strong. She had what could be called a balance. Most of her time was spent in the library or at the Solune Academy.

Because of this, Chloe had a few layers of fat throughout her midsection and thighs. She didn’t mind though, such was fairly common for her class. Otherwise, Chloe was particularly well endowed, like her sister and mother. Unlike them, Chloe was at times frustrated with her breasts. Whenever she tried to do anything dexterous with her arms they got in the way.

The face that sat above her shoulders was that of a young woman who had just exited adolescence. She still had a round chin and open eyes. Her head was covered in knee-length blonde hair that was noticeably yellow. Chloe was convinced that she had gotten it to its maximum length because it had nearly stopped growing. This made her feel excited, did head hair have a specific length it grew to like body hair? Chloe eyed the door with deep brown eyes, and then opened it.

After passing through another doorway and a foyer filled with people, She approached the large double doors of the throne room, and swung it open, entering boisterously. She walked across the room, her legs were a deliberate rhythm of muscle as they did their work to push the rest of Chloe’s body forward.

When she arrived at the second throne, Chloe turned and sat in the seat next to the King. It was usually her mothers, and was less ornate. Even without the royal bands around their necks, it was clear that they were both royalty, both related; both father and daughter had an unquestionable regal air about them.

The tall man continued, “That is correct, Majesty.”

“And why does it have to be a member of the royal family?” The King asked.

“This is a conflict between the Lussa royalty and it’s government. Another member of royalty would look good.” He shrugged, “The Queen is desperate. Our heir is missing.”

The King shifted, silently urging the Lussa man to continue.

“The Lussa Queen, Riley*, has asked specifically for a member of the royal family, that’s all that’s official. I am bound to his word.”

“Do you have proof of his statement?” The King boomed.

The smaller one spoke now, and Chloe realize he wasn’t as short as she thought. Just short in comparison to everyone else in the room. He was probably almost average.

He said, “We have a letter, he signed it and put the royal seal on it. We should be good, right?”

Chloe, still not entirely sure if she should be there, decided to push her luck. She said, “Alright, fine. I believe you even, but what about other heirs?”

The taller man shook his head, “That’s not how it works on the Underside any more. There is only one heir, and she’s missing. Out in the desert somewhere. We sent,” the man paused, “Well, I am not at liberty to discuss it, but she is missing. Neither of the older children, Riley* or Jesssssssssssssssssssper are allowed to rule. They have taken the title of Queen, which I’ve heard even here implies that one is not allowed to take the throne.”

“Riley* and who?” Chloe asked.

“It’s as unusual to spell as it is to say.” The man put a hand in his hair. It was matted into dreadlocks, “Jesper* but with nineteen S’s.”

Chloe’s face scrunched up, “Why?”

“If there is one thing about the Lussa language that is distinct,” The smaller man said in scholarly tones, “It’s the presence of extra and unnecessary extra letters, specifically consonants. In fact, seeing as you can clearly understand me, that may be the only major difference between our languages.”

Chloe thought to herself, letting her father take over again. She had actually heard of the Underside of the planet before. Her father had said that four thousand years ago the Solune came from the Underside, aliens to this side of the planet. That’s why he struggled for so long to claim land and build a kingdom.

The King nodded to the visitors, then said, “You may stay on the second floor. It is specifically for guests.”

They had added a third floor in around half a decade ago and moved all the royal quarters up. The floor was very thick and insulated against sound. Gwenhime, Chloe’s mother, had been complaining that she could hear the citizens through the floor in her room. The castle doubled as a public town square, and so it remained loud most of the time. And so, the castle guard had been called in to build a third floor with more soundproofing. Chloe had realized that soundproofing meant brick-tiled slats of softwood over a cubit thick. And it worked.

The King beckoned to Chloe, and she obliged.

“Follow me.”

Daniel Triumph.

Charlotte’s Web: Good Mother

Daniel Triumph

[…]

English 26-205

31 March 2018

The Good Mother

When I started reading Charlotte’s Web, my first reaction to Charlotte’s treatment of Wilbur was one of concern. She started with little things, “ ‘Let Wilbur alone! … He has a perfect right to smell considering his surroundings’ ” (White 61), but then Charlotte began to solve Wilbur’s problems for him, “ ‘Oh, I’ll work [the web] out alone,’ said Charlotte” (64), and following his orders to please him, “ ‘Tell me a story!’ So Charlotte, although she, too, was tired, did what Wilbur wanted” (102).

Œdipal Considerations

The psychoanalytic portion of my mind began to think in Freudian terms. Would Wilbur become overprotected and incapable of living on his own in the future? Freud states that the Œdipal complex is innate (Armstrong); perhaps that is what was happening here. Was Charlotte a devouring mother type character?

Further reflection proves this idea to be false. There is a point up to which it is okay to do things for your child; specifically when they cannot do it themselves. Peterson believes that you should not “do anything for your children that they can do for themselves” (“Strengthen the Individual” 00:20:36 – 00:20:39). Wilbur has a problem that is beyond his control, but is within the ability of Charlotte, his maternal figure. The Œdipal issue does not come into relevance unless a mother is taking power away from her child; so if Wilbur never had the power in the first place, then Charlotte’s actions are not Œdipal. In this context, the relationship is more like that of a mother to her toddler. What got me confused was likely his difficult to determine age.

Nearing the Archetype

By the end of the story, Charlotte’s positive virtue comes to be beyond question. She takes on the symbolic role of an ideal parent to Wilbur. She gives a sacrifice and by dying she, in a manner of speaking, sacrifices Wilbur to the dangers of the world. To me, this is deeply reminiscent of Abraham’s symbolic sacrifice of Isaac to God (or to the “transcendent”) in Genesis (King James Bible, Gen. 22). The ideal parent, by this definition, is the one that is willing to sacrifice their child, and their relationship to them as “strictly parent,” to the independence of that child’s adulthood. In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur’s independence is put upon him in a very literal sense. First by his separation from Fern: “Mr. Zuckerman did not allow her to get into the pigpen. But he told Fern that she could sit on the stool and watch Wilbur” (15-16). The second because of Charlotte’s death. Afterwards, Wilbur has no option but to grow up and become autonomous. A weak connection can be drawn between the Biblically archetypal nature of this story and Locke’s wishes for a more optimal and interesting way of introducing the Bible to children (Locke 260-261). The Biblical ideas of growth, independence, selflessness, and sacrifice are valuable and likely intriguing to a child, even if they are presented in alternate, and perhaps more appealing stories.

Growing Children

Wilbur’s ascension, his growing from childhood to adulthood, is shown in three distinct stages. The infancy stage is when Wilbur’s parent is Fern, and she does nothing but care for and love Wilbur (White 8), an appropriate thing to do with an infant. As a baby piglet, Wilbur lives in “a large wooden box full of straw” (9); a small room. The second stage is something similar to childhood. Wilbur outgrows his infantile life and moves into Zuckerman’s farm (12) where he meets other animals that are different from him (15-17), like a child in kindergarten. This is the reflective of two to four year old humans, who are ready to socialize with other kids, “your job as a parent is to make your kids socially desirable by the age of four” (Peterson, “Biology and Traits: Agreeableness” 30:55-31:00). The first thing Wilbur does is to listen to the barn goose and escape. He then quickly realizes that he would rather not upset his new owner (18), and that he would much rather be safe in Zuckerman’s farm where there is food, than to be free (23). This is somewhat interesting; perhaps safety is more important than freedom… Although I would say that statement functions specifically for a child, in reference to their guardian.

The Sacrifice of the Parent

The final stage is at the end of the story, after the death of Charlotte. Wilbur is something of an adolescent now, and he becomes another symbolic parent for the book; a parent to Charlotte’s children. This is made explicit in a couple places. First is when he protects the egg sac (170), and the second when he re-lives Charlotte and Fern’s experience of letting their children go. “This is our moment for setting forth” (179), one of the baby spiders informs the distraught Wilbur. Luckily for the pig, three spiders stay behind and, able to fend for themselves (and therefore technically adults), they remain with Wilbur and become his friend. Wilbur is rewarded with an ideal Lockien parenthood, one of a parent’s friendship with their adult children (Locke 145).

 

The conclusion is quite unique. Usually a story ends with an allusion the beginning. Charlotte’s Web does something similar, but it goes a step beyond, giving Wilbur, as God gave Abraham, many nations. He not only re-lived the story of the book, but he also re-lived parenthood repeatedly across the short lifecycles of a spider, and became not just a parent, but a grandparent and a symbolic ancestor.


Works cited

Armstrong, Richard. “Oedipus as Evidence: The Theatrical Background to Freud’s Oedipus Complex”. PSYART: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts, 1 Jan 1999, http://www.psyartjournal.com/article/show/armstrong-oedipus_as_evidence_the_theatrical_backg.

Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. ed. Roger Woolhouse. London: Penguin, 1997.

Peterson, Jordan. “2017/03/11: Strengthen the Individual: Q & A Parts I & II.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 Mar. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UL-SdOhwek.

Peterson, Jordan. “2017 Personality 17: Biology and Traits: Agreeableness.” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Mar. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1eHJ9DdoEA.

King James Holy Bible. King James Version, 2004, http://www.gpbc.ca/kjvbible.pdf.

White, E. B., Charlotte’s Web. Harper, 1980.

© Daniel Triumph 2018.

This is an essay I wrote for my Children’s Literature course. I’m far more proud of the connection of the unlikely ideas than the essay itself. Charlotte’s Web is a wonderful work of fiction.

Formatting is MLA, limited only by WordPress’s blog formatting.

Span 3

<Prev|

“What is that?”

I pointed at the shape in the distance. It didn’t look like anything I had cleaned in the past. My father peered between the trees, and crossed his eyebrows. He drew his spear—he had only brought one that day.

He whispered, “I have never seen such a creature. As a warg, but with long hair.”

We watched it, and I thought it watched us.

“We will continue,” my father said. He put his spear on his back and took one of the spools off of his shoulder.

He pointed, “See here is a good place, the trees are very close, so they have to go through this space. Hmm. Yes, this is so good,  we will not need bait. Tell me why.”

This is how he spoke when he was trying to teach.

“I think…”

“No think, just look.”

I looked at the spot. It was a small alley where two tree trunks crossed each other near their roots. Maybe I could have fit my fist in it. I looked around it, and confirmed that the brush was too tight everywhere else.

“This is a good spot, they have to go through there.”

“Look.”

I looked again, and then I saw it. Scratch marks in the ground, and claw marks in the wood.

“Oh,” I said, “so this spot is already being used.”

“We will not need bait,” he handed me the snare, “do not put your smell on it.”

I set the trap, and then stood, looking around. “Where next—there it is again!”

I pointed this time, a foolish thing to do, and the creature saw me and hid. “What is that?”

“I do not know, I did not see,” he said.

We continued as if I had not seen anything. I set a few more snares. It was not hard to do. My father told me that I caught on faster than the boys did, I don’t know if that was true. But, he told me that later he would teach me how to set the other sort of trap.

We reached the ridge around afterdawn. I was impressed by the sight.

“We are the village that is closest to the western ridge.”

The cliff wasn’t too deep, likely someone could climb it if they were skilled. Although, I would guess that if someone went over, they would die twice over at least from the fall. At the base was a desert-like plain that stretched and expanded to the north. To the south was a stone wall, an artificial structure that still astounds me to this day. That is the Solune wall.

But I wasn’t quite interested in either of those. I pointed straight ahead, and said, “What is that forest?”

My father sat down beside me and said, “That is no forest. If you went past that treeline, you would be shocked at how dark it is, it is always sunset—always dusk in the Elken Yjungle. Look.”

I saw what he meant. The trees were thick, and they looked to be only leafed trees, not a mix like here.

“Who lives in the jungle?”

“The Elken people. They are our ancestors. Later, I can tell you of them.”

“Tonight?”

“Perhaps.” He must have thought hard about it here. It was his night to speak at the community fire, and he wasn’t sure if the Elken were a good topic.

We ran out of snares at the same time that we finally caught up with the rest of our party. Shortly after, the other half of the men arrived. I looked around at the clearing we had all gathered in, and saw the circle of rocks, the mounds and logs. This was a campsite!

“How was the woman, Errand?” Sandgrain called to my father.

“She catch on faster than your son, I would say,” he laughed, “Lime, how long did it take you to learn to set a snare?”

“Eh,” Lime looked between the two men, “three?”

I looked at my father. It seemed that he was unsure whether that meant three days, or three sub-fragments of a day.

He said, “Talc can set a trap already. I will show her the deadfall on our way back.”

Sandgrain lokoed impressed, but he did not voice it. He said, “You think she will mind her fingers?”

“We will see, I expect.”

My father, Sandgrain, and Sour (the hunting elder at that time) gathered apart from the group to discuss. I saw that Silver and Quick were bickering in front of the pit, and snapping each other with leftover snare line.

Lime and most of the other boys and men were gathering wood. I figured I should be more useful than those who were sitting, so I went into the nearby brush to see what I could gather.

There was not a lot of dead wood on the ground. I was unsure what to do, but you should know I have a capacity for cleverness! I looked around for a specific sort of tree, and started pulling at its branches.

After I had taken a few off, someone else saw me and called out, “Hey.”

I finished, and brandished the stick. The boy sounded young, so I felt safe fooling around. He dropped all but the longest of his sticks and struck at mine.

“You will never hit the target if you aim only at their weapon!” I said, swiping at his arm.

The attack hit, and he followed up, hitting me in the ribs. I jabbed him in the chest, and he fell over.

I said, “Maybe we should stop.”

He coughed and looked up at me. He said, “You really are a girl, aren’t you?”

I frowned, “I do hope so.”

“Do you really know how to set snares already?”

I realized that this was Lime, Sandgrain’s son. “Yes, and I know when they do not need bait.”

Lime stood up and leered at the ground. “I don’t learn very fast,” he said, “I’m surprised that you do, although, maybe that’s normal, and I’m just slow.”

I didn’t like this manner of thought, especially not in a man-to-be. I said, “You will find no happiness if you only look at that which makes you unhappy.”

He looked up at me. I added, “My grandmother says, do not speak of your flaws unless you intend to fix them and do not speak of your virtues except through your action.

He said, “Oh,” and began picking up his sticks. “Well, I came to say, you should get dry sticks off of the ground, and not take living ones from trees.”

I decided to test his intelligence. I pointed to my tree and said, “Look.”

He did, confused. After a minute the confusion wore off, and then he surveyed the ground. “Oh, that’s a dead tree, is it?”

“Are my sticks not dry?”

“Huh.”

Perhaps this boy was not so hopeless after all.

Read the first part here

Daniel Triumph.

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