The Prince of Endless, pt. 5

Elsewhere, on a forest path toward seaside ruins, MAHKYEL, the Prince’s scoundrel uncle rides with two guards and his weakling aspiring sorcerer cousin BOORYEL. Both are Eastern (Asian) and are dressed well from royal ties and ride with confidence. Booryel sneezes as they approach the ruins.

When they dismount, they are met by the chief kidnapper, HEDDAHNTON. He is a very fit man in warrior’s armor and has the look of a successful mercenary. Some of his thugs and captured women mill about the ruins, now a makeshift base.

Mahkyel approaches Heddahnton with caution. “Well done, Heddahnton. I trust the little rat is safe?”

“He is, Your Highness.”

Mahkyel wags a finger at him. “Not yet. There will be a time when others call me king, but I expect no such respect from a mercenary.”

Heddahnton leers. “Guilty. Like all men of deeds, I respect sword and coin.”

“Understood,” Mahkyel says, strolling through the camp. “A bonus. Booryel?”

The weakling cousin strolls up, pulling an amethyst necklace from a robe pocket. He holds it out for Heddahnton.

“Did you charm this?”

“Nay,” Booryel says, disappointed. “Simple stones from the queen’s closet. No magical potential.”

“Nonetheless,” Heddahnton says, snapping a finger. A thug comes up and looks at his boss. Warily, he takes the necklace in his gloved hand.

Mahkyel smiles. “I’m the kind of liar you can trust, Heddahnton. There’s more riches to come.”

“What about your giant?” Booryel asks.

“Charmu?” Heddahnton wears a satisfied expression. “Like me, he does his job. My men fulfill his craving for mares.” He looks at Booryel. “And what of your craving for magic? If I remove your hand, could you regrow a new one?”

Booryel swallows hard, taking a step back. “I…uh…”

Heddahnton laughs as Mahkyel intercedes, annoyed. “Save your charms for the ladies, High Warrior.” He takes Booryel by the sleeve and they head for their mounts.

Blurry hand holding knife over stone floor

Nearby, there are cliffs above the sea. Several individual jail cells have been built into the cliffs, 50 feet above a rocky beach. Most of the cells are occupied only by skeletons in rags.

In one, along with an ancient skeleton, sits THE PRINCE OF ENDLESS. He is an Eastern (Asian) boy of ten dressed in simple if regal pajamas. Sitting on the rock floor, he is adjusting a dirty wool blanket around him to keep warm. At the bars are two buckets. One is dirty (for bathroom use) and the other contains stale bread. Sea breeze ruffles his hair, and he’s trying not to cry.

The ground shakes, accompanied by heavy splashing sounds, and dust falls from the rock ceiling. Beyond his cell door, slowly and malevolently, appears CHARMU.

Charmu is a 60-foot giant in simple clothes and with a braided beard. He peers into the cell, sneering. The prince scoots back, fearful.

“Prince,” Charmu scoffs. “Mighty prince.” He turns to go.

 

to be continued…

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The Prince of Endless, pt. 4

Dirkennion calmly walks up the road approaching the town gate to Dillingham. The gate is manned by twin brothers from a simple watch tower and walkway over the road. Upon seeing him, one lifts his crossbow while the other holds up a hand.

“Halt, Ehara.”

Dirkennion displays empty hands. “My name is Dirkennion Singh. I was requested by your constable, Marvella.”

The two brothers whisper to each other. One descends a ladder to get Marvella. The other says, “Would you kindly wait there?”

“Fine. Would you kindly put down your crossbow?”

Soon, Marvella approaches and a twin opens the gate for her. “Greetings,” she says, sizing him up. “You…you are…Dirkennion?”

“I am. Your letter spoke of an urgent matter.”

“You got here quickly.”

He looks back down the road he’s traveled. “I am accustomed to fast travel.”

She comes closer, tentatively.

“I do not bite,” he says.

She clears her throat. “I, uh, my apologies. I have never encountered your…kind before.”

“Ehara often have that effect. The urgent matter?”

“Yes, um, sorry. I have bad news.”

Human skull (fake) sitting among greenery

Dirkennion and Marvella are carefully walking down the old dock toward the body. The fog has thinned out. Dirkennion steps slowly with his boots on the most-supported parts. Marvella notes this. The dock creaks beneath them.

“How, may I ask, is your kin involved here?”

“Unknown,” Dirkennion says, coming to the corpse. “Behrattia.” He kneels and examines the body with care, but shows little emotion.

“He said, ‘They took the Prince of Endless.’ Do you know what…?”

Dirkennion stands up, focused. “Endless. Endruskenlessinia? The prince is but a boy, perhaps ten years of age.”

“A little boy?”

Dirkennion approaches the boat, looking it over. “This is a merchant vessel. It came from the east. The nearest port to here is Morondava.”

“Between here and Endless, right?”

“Correct.” Dirkennion glances at her. “Ehara do not meddle in small affairs. If you will permit a few moments of privacy, I will then be underway.”

“To find your cousin’s killers?”

“His path has ended. I go to rescue the prince.”

Marvella grows intrigued and excited by this. “Do–do you need help?”

“No.”

She glances back toward the town. “Would you accept help?”

He looks at her. “You are a town constable.”

She shrugs. “Ibix will be upset, but he can handle local pickpockets for a few days.”

“If you are are offering, then you will need a horse. And supplies.”

 

to be continued…

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The Prince of Endless, pt. 3

In Dillingham, a walled village a mile uphill from the boat dock, Marvella and Ibix enter the constable shack. A messenger is waiting for them, holding two sheets of parchment. Ibix, the boss, takes the parchment from the messenger, who calmly ducks out.

Ibix reads the first message while removing his sword belt. “Miss Tammy’s half-blind cat is stuck up the oak tree. Again.”

“Prepare the trumpets,” Marvella says.

Ibix hangs his sword belt with other weapons behind the simple desk. “And we have a pickpocket operating near the Black Dragon pub.”

“Probably the Simmons kid,” Marvella says. “I’ll go.”

At the door, she pauses. “What of this Prince of Endless business?”

“Endless is a hundred miles away. It’s not our affair.”

“Do you think they know?”

“If what that dying Ehara said is true, that must’ve happened last night. They certainly know.”

“And what of this Dirkennion fellow?”

Ibix, feeling tested, says, “Marvella, we can’t get involved. Later today, I’ll take some pubbies down to bury the Ehara. Okay? Now, go save that goddamned cat before Miss Tammy’s heart gives out!”

Marvella lifts her hands, conceding defeat.

Outside, she pauses, looking at pink flowers near the footpath. With a wry grin, she moves on.

A lone pink azalea bloom in October

~~~

Later, far uphill, Marvella comes to a stand set in a clearing. The wooden stand has a large, peculiar horn set on one post. Two brothers are playing catch near the stand. With a bare finger, Marvella’s touching a fresh claw mark on her cheek. In her hand, she holds muffins wrapped in a large, clean leaf.

A boy says, “Constable.” They both come over.

“Young squires,” she says. “I am in need of a griffin. Do you know of anyone brave enough to call for a loyal messenger, perhaps to be rewarded with a treat?”

The boys eye the muffins in her hand. “Aye, Ma’am. We can do it.”

“Very well.”

~~~

 

High above, soaring calmly below the Aviarinelle river, is a griffin. The creature turns its head at a shrill whistle, which is coming from Dillingham. It sounds a second time, and the griffin turns into a swooping descent.

~~~

 

In Greenhump, Dirkennion is helping to mend a fence. The workers pause when a griffin announces itself with a bark. It calmly lands in the field beside them. Dirkennion looks at it and says, “Misha, would you please see if the butcher has anything for our visitor?”

The man named Misha runs off. Dirkennion approaches the creature with calm movements. Attached to its front right leg is a leather thong with a rolled-up parchment. Dirkennion gently goes to the thong, unties the note and takes it. Misha returns with a chunk of meat, and sets it on the fence post while Dirkennion reads. The griffin barks and eats the meat.

“An urgent matter in Dillingham,” Dirkennion says.

 

to be continued…

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The Prince of Endless, pt. 2

I’ve been writing this material as screenplays, assuming (foolishly) that the format would actually be valuable to a Hollywood agent and, further down the fantasy road, movie director. I also thought I’d put this all into novel form someday. That might happen. For the time being, the scene setting, actions and dialogue (all in present tense) will suffice.

This all takes place in Verisye, a fantasy world not unlike others seen many times. There’s no real technology above crossbows, catapults and large-gear mechanisms. The biggest distinction is the Aviarinelle, a multicolored river which runs through the sky. It’s high enough that it courses past snowy mountain peaks, and it is endless to the eye. Occasionally, characters hear it or think they hear it, so the river serves as a kind of constant in place of any widespread religion.

Tagline for this story: In a fantasy world, two unlikely heroes race to save a boy prince who’s been kidnapped.

(Opening credits with “Would?” by Alice In Chains)

 

In early morning in a fogged-in swamp, two constables (police) creep along a wet boat dock. They are MARVELLA, a blond woman (our heroine) and IBIX, a tough, older man. Both wear the light armor and swords of their job, which is to protect their small nearby town of Dillingham. They are both afraid, swords drawn. Visibility is only twenty feet in the fog.

“We must be close,” Ibix says.

“Why in Gerji [hell] would a boat come here? The dock has been rotting for years,” Marvella says.

“Unknown. Damn this fog.”

Soon, the grunts and moans of a dying “man” are heard. At the sound of clinking armor, Marvella pushes forward to help him.

Close to the boat, which rammed the splintering dock, they reach an Ehara who has been mortally wounded in vicious combat (he still has a sword run through him). A smeared trail of his blood leads back to a broken section of dock, where he fell from the boat.

[Ehara are my own invention, a race of wildly-colored humanoids from the tropical southeast regions. They are thin and tall, averaging seven feet in height, hairless, and come in different hues with markings like tiger stripes, etc. in a different color. Their structure looks similar to an NBA player, but gives them phenomenal strength and mass (they can’t ride horses) and speed. The trade-off is that they are forbidden from magic use, they don’t believe in possessions and are generally altruistic. They are also mistrusted in much of the realm, thanks to the Knight Wars.]

Marvella says, “Ehara.”

Ibix comes up, surprised.

The Ehara man, beige-toned with green markings, perks up at their arrival.

“The prince,” he says, fighting to breathe/stay conscious. “My cousin…Dirkennion…in Greenhump. Find…Dirkennion. They took the Prince of Endless.”

The Ehara man dies. Marvella and Ibix stand up.

Marvella asks, “The Prince of Endless?”

“He means Endruskenlessinia. Everyone just calls it ‘Endless.'”

The two of them look at the boat in the clearing fog. An axe is buried in a bloody railing.

“Endless,” Marvella repeats. “Is this prince the heir?”

“I imagine so.”

~~~

Wall cornerpiece in York, UK

Greenhump is a hillside farming village so named for a large grassy bulge on one side.

DIRKENNION, an Ehara man with maroon skin and copper-colored stripes, wearing light clothing, is standing under a walking bridge being constructed. He is holding a large stone centerpiece in place while workers on ladders adjust other stones to complete it. The bridge crosses a steep-sided creek.

A worker grunts, “Sorry. Almost there.”

Dirkennion replies, “You are okay. Do not pinch your fingers.”

From the creekside, a VILLAGE ELDER watches with admiration. Others watch as well.

A worker says, “It’s in. Let go.”

Another worker says, “Careful. Slowly.”

Dirkennion ignores him and slowly lets go. The stones hold in place. People applaud. Workers clap happily and continue.

Soon, Dirkennion comes to the Village Elder.

“Well done, Master Dirkennion. What will we do without you?”

“I will be around.”

Village Elder gives him a pained expression. “Your time of service is almost complete. Where is the council sending you after this peaceful village? Greenhump is not very exciting, I know.”

“The peace has never bothered me.”

“You are Murrizza, an elite warrior. For two years, you have baled hay and plowed fields for us simple folk.”

Dirkennion smiles at him. “I go where I am needed, Master.”

Village Elder laughs, knowing Dirkennion is halfway joking with him.

 

to be continued…

 

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The Prince of Endless, pt. 1

The tricky thing about stories: You have to start somewhere. Though they are continual streams of thought, action, dialogue and description in the mind of the author, the story itself must have a jumping-off point (or jumping-in point). This can be an art form all by itself. Pick the wrong spot and you can either confuse the reader or put them to sleep with plodding (if necessary) detail. (Does anyone really remember what Tolkien said in 50 pages of Hobbit description? We just remember that they’re kind folk and we like them for being odd.)

The starting point for a world seems just as awkward and problematic. Do you spend a few paragraphs describing moss on a boulder, a peculiar fish in the sea, symbols etched artfully into the hilt of a dagger?

Since your world contains your story, it seems reasonable to use that story to describe the world, which then helps inform the story. (A tale about the crunchies in a cat’s litter box probably doesn’t fit in a realm of airlocks and thruster issues.)

So, where the hell do you start?

Bowness Summit, Lake District, UK

For 25 years (yes, that long) part of my brain has existed in the fantasy realm of Verisye. Dragons, dwarves, fighting with swords, all that stuff. Once this place was created (in high school, thanks in part to Elmore and Easley paintings and the Dragonlance chronicles) my brain gave it a sort of permanent-resident status. It couldn’t be un-created. (Excavators: Turn about, go bother the neighbor.) Not that I wanted to undo it or give it up in any way. The place was fun. Possibilities were endless, and I was King (or God). For once in his life, Justin had his own set of rules and victories. For an audience of one, it was a pretty sweet show.

As the initial concept expanded (and expanded and expanded) the overall story focused on two people: Valessha and Dirkennion. Theirs is a love story set among extraordinary times. (More on that later.) There’s also the significant problem of an unstoppable enemy (Kalimoraith, a fun villain) and why said bad guy shows up on the doorstep of a rather orderly world. (More to come.)

About three years ago, we had a series of foggy mornings right after Christmas. (I love foggy mornings, when my creative engine leaps right into fifth gear.) So over the course of a week, sitting in my leather chair in the foggy quiet (before the kids rose) I penned the scene outline for a new screenplay. (I think in terms of cinema, so this just made sense to me.)

Immediately, this became the story before the big love story and problems with Kalimoraith and so forth. A title of The Prince of Endless popped up and stuck. It’s like it was all etched into stone tablets and my brain took snapshots.

And how to start this story? Where?

How about two town constables (police) investigating a boat-wreck in a swamp?

 

–To be continued…

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