Thursday, March 15, 2012

#FridayFlash: World With End

I must admit, I read Lord Dunsany’s Book of Wonders this week and it went straight to my head. And yet, there were a couple niggling things I’d written about in my world that needed some tying-in, and this is a good vehicle for it.



World With End

Source: WikiMedia Commons
Protector Ethtar shook his head at the large man leaning out the window. “Wet enough?” he asked.

A rumble of thunder answered him, then Chelinn withdrew from the window and closed it. A flicker of lightning lit the rippled glass, clear enough in the light of their oil lamps. “I’ve always enjoyed storms,” he said, wiping his face and hair on his cloak before sitting. “Air and Water forget their alliance, and go to war.”

The third occupant of the room was Chelinn’s adopted daughter Sarna, herself a noted warrior-mage; she gave a hearty laugh. “When I was a child, Mother said this was the kind of night that wants a story.” She sighed. “Showing fear was not allowed, in our House.”

“A story…” Ethtar scratched his thin beard. “Ah. I know just the one. This is a story that has only been shared among Protectors. And yet, if we are going to break Termag’s habit of hoarding knowledge, we must start with our own, eh?” He stood; his tall, rail-thin figure threw strange shadows as he strode to the window.

“Once, in the time of Camac That Was —” Chelinn snorted and Sarna laughed, as this is how many children’s stories begin — “there was a legendary Protector, Thurun.

“Now it was a common conceit among folk in those days, that the world was flat. To them, the world consisted of these lands in the center, the ocean around it, then a ring of land that was the Edge of the World. The learned knew better, of course, and Thurun was one of the most learned who ever walked Termag. And so, he dwelt in Camac itself, in a high tower, and thus had no end of dealings with folk.”

“Perhaps he would have preferred your relative isolation!” Chelinn laughed.

“Perhaps. But we all have something that nettles us, and idle fancies about an Edge of the World was Thurun’s. He would try to correct folk — sometimes gently, sometimes not — and yet they persisted in their error. And at last, Thurun decided if folk wanted an Edge, they would have one. Because Thurun was also a Maker.”

Chelinn and Sarna both sat up straight at that. There were ancient legends of Makers, those whose magic was the opposite of Chaos, men and women who could create anything they could imagine. But if Chaos was beyond the ability of even a Protector like Ethtar, how much more so Making?

Ethtar smiled at their reaction. “Yes. Now some say the many worlds were Made by those such as Thurun, whether for fancy or some purpose? That is no longer known. But Thurun Made a world with an edge.” A wooden orb, the kind apprentices use for practice, floated to Ethtar’s hand. “A world is usually round, like this ball. Thurun Made half a world — as if you were to slice this ball in half — and set it ‘round its sun, the round half always in daylight, the flat hinder part always in night. The marge between them — that was the Edge.”

“Fascinating,” said Chelinn. “I must admit… it has been long since I have been awed by mere words.” He wore a wide-eyed look that neither of the others had ever seen on him. “What was the flat part like?”

“It was a vast plain of obsidian, flatter than a puddle on a calm day. To cross the Edge of the World was to find oneself in eternal Night. The stars above were reflected in the blackness below, and it was said that folk who came there would lose their way, and then their mind. And although the plain was flat, it drew them away from the Edge and into the Great Nothing, which is what those who dwelt on that world called it.

“But in the very center of that plain was said to be a great valley. And in that valley, shining by its own light, lay a city whose buildings were shaped from the obsidian that surrounded it. Thurun created this city as a refuge for the Makers; for throughout the time of Camac That Was, Makers were hunted. The wealthy enchained them to create more of what they had; the poor hounded them for the stuff of life. Others simply considered Making an abomination and sought to exterminate them.”

“If this were a children’s bedtime story,” said Sarna, “there would be a moral. So is this but a story, or is there such a world? Father has seen other worlds, some even stranger than Thurun’s. He took me there once.” She laughed.

“It may exist,” said Ethtar, returning to his seat. “Or it may be only a tale. And yet, for sorcerers, it does explain a few things — especially why there are no Makers among us now.”

Chelinn nodded. “Those who did not find their way to Thurun’s refuge were slaughtered by the ignorant and fearful. As before, as now, as then — world without end. Except, of course, the world that has an end.”



As it turns out, there’s more to this story

19 comments:

  1. This was an interesting tale, the end of the world really a hiding place for those who were different - misunderstood became the end of a race.

    I liked the feel of this of the storyteller and the two character's who were his audience.

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  2. What were the niggling things you wanted to sew up in this piece? I'm curious for context.

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  3. Hi all!

    Thanks, Helen — Chelinn you've seen before, but this is the first time I've ever written in his adopted daughter, and the first time Ethtar has seen the light of blog.

    JohnW, what got pulled together mostly has to do with the system of magic in this world. I wrote a story about a Maker before, but it's too long for #FridayFlash, and I didn't know how they fit anyway — but if there's an equal and opposite for everything, Chaos needed one… and it's Making.

    Thanks, Cherie!

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  4. Yay Chelinn! One of my characters of yours.

    I liked the stark landscapes the story brought to mind.

    “When I was a child, Mother said this was the kind of night that wants a story.”

    Nights like that are rare by me, but I enjoy them when they do come around.

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  5. "it was said that folk who came there would lose their way, and then their mind."

    Really like that line, Larry. =)

    And it's probably a good indicator of how interesting a world (worlds) you have here that it set my own mind spinning with ideas...

    If the makers were no more, then what kind of beings might move into a city of obsidian and eternal night, with no witnesses but the distant stars...? ;)

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  6. Like John, this is such a fascinating tale it set my mind spinning with ideas, too. Great stuff.

    This is obviously a part of a larger world and greater stories - I must try and check out the others.

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  7. I really enjoyed this, it felt like a wonderful fairy story, but one that blossomed into high fantasy. Excellent work!

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  8. Craig, last night (when I wrote this) was stormy, so the setting was just right!

    Thanks, JohnX! You want to tackle that one? Personally, I think the Makers are still there, perhaps taking vacations to the sunlit side and secretly helping or bedeviling the inhabitants as suits their fancy.

    Jack, the novella Chasing a Rainbow features Chelinn in a (shall we say) less-relaxed situation. I haven't rolled it out yet (working on getting cover art), but the flash Far From Home is the opening scene. Other stories I've blogged in this world are What is Due and Off the Cub.

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  9. Crap, I missed Icy! Sorry! Thanks so much — I hoped the "story in a story" would work OK…

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  10. A lovely fantastical tale Larry. Enjoyed it very much!

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  11. An unusual, and interesting angle here Larry, a half-globe world, are you thinking of writing a piece about a journey from the curved side to the flat side? The obsidian city sounds like it would be well worth a visit.

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  12. What a neat world! I've read about disc worlds and two-dimensional worlds and ring worlds, but never a semi-hemispherical world. The obsidian city sounds like something out of HP Lovecraft (he keeps coming up with me these days).

    I liked how these three were perfectly comfortable with being magic-wielders, but the two listeners were astonished at the idea of a Maker.

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  13. I can see a wondrous-eyed child asking "So if the Makers could create anything they could imagine, shouldn't they have created some sort of aura shield to protect themselves from those who would do them harm?"

    Thurun's "half a world" seems to resemble a firmament, eh? The story in a story and the relaxed feel of the scene contributed to a very enjoyable read. Nice writing.

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  14. Thanks, Cathy!

    Steve, I haven't come up with anything yet, but give it time…

    Katherine, "The Complete Works of HP Lovecraft" is next on my reading list, I think! And I'm glad I was the first to come up with the concept. ;-) As for the audience, the idea of Making has long been postulated as the mirror of Chaos… that people once had that power is the surprise. (Protectors, being the chief sorcerers of Termag, are privy to such information.)

    Thanks and good point, Rachel! My answer would be, "even with god-like powers, Makers are still human and thus subject to coercion or ambush." And yet, Camac That Was is thought to be a time when legends would spring from nowhere… or perhaps the mind of a Maker trying to defend herself or loved ones from a mob.

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  15. Larry, while off-topic, but book-related, I thought you might enjoy watching this imaginative short film about flying books. Hope you enjoy it!

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  16. Rats, couldn't get it to load last night. On my computer, Safari and YouTube have an ongoing snit about something, so I'll try again tonight with a different browser.

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  17. Larry, it's kid-safe (at least, I think so), non-commercial in nature and it may even spark some creative ideas for story-telling. Please let me what you think...? Thanks. Enjoy!

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