Monday, December 03, 2007

Rani in the Tree: A Fragment

This is the scene I just cut from Heirs of Mâvarin. Enjoy. I still love the scene, which helps to establish Rani's character, the reasons for the hunt and the wayward tengrem's state of mind. But it delays Rani's confrontation with the tengrem for several pages, and almost everything here is accomplished by something else somewhere. Therefore it has to go. I think. This scene actually appears in the chapter as posted on this blog a year or two ago, but has probably changed a bit since then.

"Later This Somewhere" will be back in a week or so.--KFB

Cut from Heirs of Mâvarin
Chapter One: The Tengrem
by Karen Funk Blocher

A short while after Bil and the blacksmith passed beneath Rani’s tree, he again heard the clop of hooves from upstream, and tensed. Was it a tengrem, or a hunter on horseback?

As the sound grew louder, Rani strained to listen, and then relaxed. There were two sets of equine legs coming, and human voices hung in the air. In a moment another pair of villagers emerged from the woods onto the River Road. Like the first pair, they were arguing. The argument ran along much the same lines as that of Bil and Jord, but without the sister.

This time, as the hunters passed under his tree, Rani called out to them. “Ho, there!”

The two horsemen reined in quickly at the unexpected greeting. Then one of them looked up, searching out Rani on his high branch. “There you are! You shouldn’t startle a man like that! You’re Rithe Fost’s boy, aren’t you?”

Rani frowned at the word “boy,” but replied with dignity. “Yes, I’m Rani Fost,” he said. “I—I was wondering how the hunt is going.”

“Why aren’t you with the hunters?” Clif Wipan asked. “Then you’d know what’s happening.”
“Hush, Clif,” Suri Pelch said. “I expect the lad’s only trying to respect Rithe’s wishes. Such a nervous woman! Meaning no offense, young Rani.”

“That’s all right,” Rani said. “It’s true. She is.”

“Anyway,” Suri continued, “It’s not going well, not at all. I’ve never seen an animal as fast as that tengrem. We keep losing it, only to see it again as it circles back.”

“We think the tengrem is between here and the village,” Clif added, “so we’ve split up into pairs to try to surround it.”

“It hasn’t been on the road here,” Rani said. “Not in the last half hour, anyway.”

“I’m not surprised,” Suri said sourly. “It’s probably chasing my sheep while we’re all busy tromping around in the woods.”

“I’m sure that’s all the tengrem wants,” Clif said sarcastically. “It’s not trying to save the kingdom or start a kingdom or kill the mages or marry its pale queen, or any of that other contradictory nonsense it told us this morning. No, it came all the way north just to gobble your sheep.”

“The tengrem said all that?” Rani asked.

“All that and more, when we first confronted it,” Suri said. “None of it made the least bit of sense.”

“That’s right,” Clif said. “Then when we attacked, it pretty much stopped talking.”

“Pretty much,” Suri agreed. “I thought I heard a few words, but most of what came out of its mouth after that was growls and smoke.”

“And flame,” Clif said. He grinned. “Maybe it was getting ready to barbecue a few lambs.”

“Laugh if you like,” Suri Pelch said, “but I’m going to check on my flock. Are you coming, Clif?”

“We can take a quick look at your sheep as we’re circling around,” Clif answered, “but only because it’s on our way. Be careful in that tree, Rani. The tengrem could be anywhere. We don’t want you falling off the branch and into the monster’s jaws.”

“I’ll be careful,” Rani said. As if that could happen! He had never fallen out of a tree, even as a little boy.

Suri and the miller rode on, leaving the River Road just before the bend to take the path that led to the Pelch farm. Rani settled down for another wait.


Revised version:

A short while after Bil and the blacksmith passed beneath Rani’s tree, he again heard the clop of hooves from upstream, and tensed. Was it a tengrem, or a hunter on horseback? Rani strained to listen, and then relaxed. There were two sets of equine legs coming, and human voices hung in the air. In a moment another pair of villagers emerged from the woods onto the River Road. Like the first pair, they were arguing. Rani spoke with them briefly, but Clif and Suri had little news to offer. Rani settled down for another wait, hoping that the next horse he heard would carry his friend Shela. Whenever anything interesting happened in or around Liftlabeth, the selmûn Wanderer was inevitably involved.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Later This Somewhere, Part Three

Here we are with Part Three at last. Part Two is three entries down, and Part One just below that. As promised, I've enlisted a collaborator for this project. Please welcome Sarah Kishler, a hoopy frood from way back, whom I've met in person exactly once. She has at least a hundred times more theater experience than I have (I was in one of my mom's shows in 1965), so she's definitely the go-to person for this story. Knowing how defensive I can get about my fiction, I was more than a little nervous about collaborating -- but so far, so good. Thanks, Sarah!- KFB

The Jace Letters 2: Later This Somewhere

by Karen Funk Blocher and Sarah Kishler
© 2007 by KFB & SK

Part Three

Subject: Re: That Impossible Theatre
Date: 7/6/2013, 4:23:573122 AM
From: NotaBeach
To: JaceFace

Dear Jace,

Well, of course I went back, at night this time. The box office for the theatre – it’s called the Jubilee Palace – is hidden away in a close, sort of a cross between a courtyard and a cul-de-sac. I only noticed it the first time because I saw a couple in evening clothes walking in that direction. This time I walked past it twice before I found my way in. Even then, they didn’t want to sell me a ticket!

“I'm sorry, but the play is sold out,” the man in the booth said.

I looked around. The theatre looked pretty much deserted. “How about tomorrow night?” I asked.

“Different play, and that's sold out, too,” he said. “We're sold out all this week.”

“Look, is there a reason you don't want to sell me a ticket?”

A woman entered the box office through a back door. “Let her buy a ticket,” she said, and flashed me a brief smile. “She's all right. We sold her one last week.”

“But why, Carly? What makes you think she's all right?”

“She's got the Look,” Carly said. “She's one of us.”

The guy at the counter didn't answer directly. He turned to me and gave me a long, searching look. “One for tonight, then?” he asked. “It's Brigadoon.”

“That will be fine,” I said. “What’s on tomorrow night?”

Man of La Mancha.”

“Great. I’ll take one for tonight, one for tomorrow night, if that’s okay.”

The man glanced back at Carly, who nodded. The tickets were forty pounds each, and I’m not rich, but I handed over the money without regret. How could I not?

And it was worth it.

To answer your question, the theater was packed to standing room only capacity. The usher showed me to my seat in the second row of mezzanine. I actually had a great view! Don't ask me how I lucked into that when I bought my ticket at the last minute.

As far as the audience went, I didn't notice anything unusual about how they were dressed. They seemed to have more expensive clothes than I do, but that's no shock. I do remember reading somewhere that people don't really dress up for the London theater, though, so maybe that is a little odd. I guess I haven't been to enough “normal” performances in the West End to know.

Do you know who played the leads in Brigadoon? Of course you don’t, but you may recognize the names when I tell you. You may have even seen Robert Goulet on television when you were younger. He played Tommy, and he looked about thirty years old.. He’s not my favorite actor, but it’s remarkable that he was there at all, considering he’s been dead for six years. I scanned the program for any other names I might have recognized, but I only knew his, so I figured he was the only “big name” brought in for this one.

I couldn't have been more wrong. You should have heard the collective gasp of the audience on Fiona's first appearance– and then the applause that followed lasted for minutes. Goulet had gotten applause too, but this dwarfed his, in volume and duration. Everyone in the audience seem to be so surprised and delighted to see this actress that they had a difficult time settling back down so the show could go on. Of course, I was sure I was the only one there who hadn't a clue who she was. I looked in my program again and only saw the initials “SB,” which didn't mean a thing to me. I supposed she could have been someone very famous in the UK but not in the States.

It was only after the applause for “The Heather of the Hill” subsided that I worked up the courage to turn the woman next to me and ask who it was. She looked at me as if I had horns coming out of my head. “You need an introduction to the Divine Sarah?”

“Thank you,” I said, afraid that saying anything more would cause me to get kicked out of the theater or something equally terrible. But that was enough for me to puzzle it out. That was Sarah Bernhardt! I don’t know much about her career myself, but I understand she was the most famous actress of the 19th century. Her singing as Fiona wasn’t the best, but she gave the part real depth and feeling. And it gave me a clue into the nature of the audience, too – to instantly recognize a stage star who's been dead for almost a century? Clearly, these people are serious about this stuff.

I’ve been thinking today about having “the Look,” as Carly put it. I think it must be something to do with my having been in the time bubble. She can detect it somehow. Have you any thoughts on what there might be about me that a time traveler could actually see, and how they might see it? Whatever it is, I’m grateful. They’re obviously very secretive and security conscious about what they’re doing, trying to serve a very select clientele without the general public finding out about this strange theatre troupe and its anachronistic casts.

Tonight is Man of La Mancha, which I’ve loved ever since seeing the Quantum Leap episode about it. I didn’t much care for the film, though. I’m looking forward to seeing who they get for the lead roles in that one.

Beyond that, I really want to get to know more about this whole setup. Who is doing all this, and how and why? Do the actors know they’re working in 2013, with other players similarly out of their time? Are they living in 2013 for the duration, or going home after each performance? How do people get back and forth? I know we’re not supposed to discuss how you got me out of the time bubble alive in my past, your future, but knowing what these people do might help you with your research. Or am I wrong about that? In any case it must be a logistical and financial nightmare, organizing all these people from different eras, mounting full productions and still keeping the rest of London from noticing anything unusual. But I’ve noticed. I’m really glad about that! And as for David's autograph – I don't know if actors come back for repeat performances, but if he does – it's a plan!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Beneath the Orange Sky

I'll get back to the other stuff eventually, but meanwhile here's a special treat, cross-posted from the Outpost. With closure, even!

Into the Land of Shadows

Vicki of the blog "Maraca" is responsible for this week's Round Robin topic, "Shadowland." This is going to be my most ambitious RR entry to date, not so much photographically as, well, you'll see.

Beneath the Orange Sky
by Karen Funk Blocher

They rode toward the mountain side by side, Rona Sable on her horse, Apple, her grandfather Seth on Chub as usual. The oncoming sunset did not pause in its approach, unlike several of the cars that passed them, heading toward the city as the two horses left it behind. While they were still on the long, flat highway, Seth played his favorite game with Rona, asking her questions about stars and planets, brains and botany. Rona answered dutifully, but she was not in the mood for it. Her whole body throbbed with tension, not just from the long ride, but with anticipation. She looked no more than seven years old, but today was her thirteenth birthday. Tonight after sunset, her impossibly youthful grandfather would finally tell Rona the secrets that had been withheld from her, all her life up to now.

Once they reached the base of the mountain, Seth lapsed into silence. They directed the horses carefully along the narrow shoulder, lest they miss their footing in the gloom. Ten feet to the right, the drop was at least a hundred feet, and increasing with every step.

"How far are we going?" Rona asked after a while. "This is getting dangerous."

Her grandfather did not answer immediately. Then he said, "Yes, it is. But for now we're riding only as far as the first vista point, another three miles or so."

Sunset was starting to fade as they turned right onto the looping drive of the Frog Mountain vista. A couple sat on the wall between the paved parking and the drop toward the valley below. Rona knew her grandfather would not want to tell her anything interesting with strangers around, so she wandered along the stone wall, taking pictures with her new camera.

"Point the lens this way," Seth said in her ear.

Rona aimed her camera in the direction her grandfather had indicated, over the wall onto a path that went past of couple of mature saguaros. Beyond the cactus, and over the foothills themselves, the LCD viewfinder revealed a light in the sky, arcing over the blue, like a cloud but not a cloud. Rona glanced away from the camera, but her naked eye revealed nothing.

When she turned back, the couple were getting in their car. "Finally," her grandfather said. "Now, look that way. See the mountain over there, where there's still an orange glow? That is where we are going."

The more Rona looked, the less sense Seth's statement made to her. "From here? Tonight?"

"Yes, from here. Look, that's the way down, over by the two saguaros. Take Apple's bridle and follow me."

Rona protested even as she obeyed. "But why from here? That mountain is down beyond the airport. Half the city is between us and it. And it's getting dark."

"It won't get dark. Not quite. And now that we've passed the boundary, we're not where you think we are. There is no city, until we reach that mountain."


"Wait and see," her grandfather said.

Five minutes later, the switchback they were following turned suddenly onto a disused section of road, where no road ought to be. Below was a flare of light, but it was not a set of headlights. The sky ahead of them was more orange than before, and the ghost of a full moon was in the sky, although Rona knew it should only be a half moon. By its light and the distant orange glow, she found she could see every pebble, every bramble. The horses plodded along the dark pavement.

"Welcome to the Shadow Kingdom," her grandfather said. "While we're here it will never be daylight, but it never quite gets dark, either. "Look behind you."

Rona looked. Behind her should have been the looming mountain, but instead she saw a valley and the twinkling of lights. A yellow glow fringed the horizon, and a much brighter glow above that seemed to hold back the night. "What's that? It almost looks like, I don't know, a bomb or something."

Seth shook his head. In this strange light he looked slightly older than usual, perhaps a year older than his students at PCC. "It's the interface between the world you knew and the one we just crossed into. It's not visible from the other side, except sometimes through a camera lens, when the two worlds come together at dusk. But on this side it's the primary light source. You won't see the sun again while we're here."

"How long will that be?"

"Until you come of age."

"What does that mean? Until I'm eighteen, or twenty-one? Or worse yet, until I look twenty-one? That could take decades."

Seth smiled at her. "It won't be like that. It's the sunlight that slows down our aging in the other world. Here you will finally start to age normally. And no, we're not waiting for you to reach some arbitrary age or stature."

"What then? Am I supposed to go and prove myself in some way, so I can be admitted to some strange tribe? Or engage in ritual dreaming? Or kill a deer with a stone knife? Does this world even have any deer?"

"Mutter's Grey deer. And no, you don't have to hunt them, although some do. You're here to complete your education."

"I can't do that at home?"

"Haven't you guessed? This is your home, the land of your birth and birthright. The things you need to learn, you can only learn here. Your mother will teach you."

Rona stopped dead. "My mother?"

Seth smiled at her. "Of course."

"But isn't she dead?"

"Did anyone ever tell you that she was?"

"No, but I kind of assumed...."

"You know better than to assume things. Observe, hypothesize, and test. But in this case you don't need to. I had a message from Mana, just last week. She's looking forward to seeing you again."


"Truly," Seth assured her. "Now come on. It's time we were riding again. The horses see this road as well as you can, and we've a long way to go."

Full of wonder, Rona climbed into the saddle, and rode on into the endless orange twilight.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Children in the Shoebox: an Experiment

While we're waiting for the collaboration on "Later This Somewhere" to take off, here's something I'm writing off the top of my head, under the influence of E Nesbit and Miss Mullock.

The Children in the Shoebox
An Experimental Faerie Tale

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

Part One
Once upon a time there were three children who lived in a shoebox in the cupboard. Their names were Mattie, Maggie, and Maddie. I expect you think a shoebox is a very odd place for three children to live, but it was their home, and they were used to it.

The shoebox was in a cupboard, as I have said; and the cupboard was in a pantry, and the pantry was in a little stone house in a grassy clearing in the Deep Woods. The house belonged to a witch, and the Deep Woods belonged to the King, but he wasn't around much, just once a year to smile and wave and hunt the same magic deer who never let him come close to catching her. She was really a princess in disguise, and the King knew it, so he wasn't as ruthless in trying to trap her as he might otherwise have been. He kept hoping that one year the princess would get tired of being a magic deer, and let him take her home at last.

Meanwhile the King let the witch live in the woods to look after the deer and the children, who were his cousins once removed on his mother's side. They were part Faerie, enchanted to remain in the miniature form the Good Folk sometimes preferred. In this size they fit in the shoebox quite well, with three tiny beds lined with the down of baby robins, for indeed their beds had started out as a large bird's nest. The witch, who was a decent sort, really, had cleaned up the nest so that it was quite habitable and pleasant, and not at all smelly.

Every morning the faerie children would fly out of the cupboard, whose door the witch thoughtfully kept open except at night, for protection, and outside into the meadow for bath and breakfast. The little stream that ran through the clearing was shallow and only a little dangerous, as long as they stayed in the inch-deep water at the very edge. Breakfast was nectar from flowers and tiny millet-cakes the witch left out for them. They didn't actually see the witch, for she was invisible; but they usually remembered to sing out a "thank you!" to her, especially when she came up with something extra special to eat, like honey-buns or a tiny omelet.

Afternoons, the faerie children might go racing with butterflies, or make forts out of sweet grass, or visit with their friend, Princess Doris,
the deer. Doris was secretly in love with an enchanted skunk who lived in the hollow of a nearby oak tree. Years before he had behaved very badly toward the witch's sister, which is a very foolish thing to do. He was sorry about it, but not quite sorry enough yet, in the witch's estimation. So the deer waited for Prince Roger - the skunk's real name - to be sorry enough for the witch or her sister to let him go. Another year, Doris thought, or two, and he would probably be quite reformed enough for them, and for Doris as well. She probably couldn't live happily ever after with a fellow who still went around insulting witches and princesses and thought it an all right thing to do. But the children thought Roger was quite fun to be with, and usually pretended that his smell didn't bother them at all.

The one thing that bothered the children about this life was that it got to be rather dull and lonely after a while. Doris and Roger were very nearly adults, and sometimes acted more like animals than people. The witch was invisible, so if she was even around they usually didn't know it. And the King, jolly as he was, seemed a little awkward around them when he came through every spring. "It's the politics," Mattie explained one year, and Maggie nodded wisely. Maddie didn't really understand this explanation, and wasn't quite sure the other two did, either. But she didn't say so.

The fact remained, however, that the three faerie children suffered, just a little, for lack or a mother or father or playmates aside from each other. Then one day, everything changed.

Well, really, only one thing changed, but it was a very important change. Someone new came into the Deep Woods.

Maddie saw the girl first, in the second clearing over from the stone cottage, on the left. She was sitting on a rock, dressed in a frock the exact color of buttercups. She was reading a large, thin book with a paper cover and colorful pictures on every page. Maddie, who knew her alphabet and more besides, flew close enough to read the words on the cover. "The Amazing Spider-Man," it said.

Careful not to be seen, yet, she flew off to find her brother and sister.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Later This Somewhere, Part Two

Two months without an entry! What a slacker I've been on this blog! Of course, the truth is that I've had a busy time in the rest of my life, securing a new job after First Magnus crashed and burned, and getting serious work done on Mages from Mâvarin. I've hesitated a bit on this new Jace and Sandy story, not knowing which direction to take after the opening installment. The most promising plotline I came up with seemed to be the theatre angle. Unfortunately, despite the many amateur plays and revues my mom wrote, directed or appeared in as I was growing up, I'm no theater expert. So I've enlisted Sarah K., who is, to help me write this serial, starting with Part 3. - KFB

The Jace Letters 2: Later This Somewhere

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

Part Two

Subject: That Impossible Theatre
Date: 7/4/2013, 05:41 PM
From: JaceFace

To: NotaBeach

Dear Aunt Sandy -

Wow, you really do seem to have stumbled into another major time anomaly of some sort. If I could, I would fly out there tomorrow and help you investigate. As it is, though, I have an interview for a summer internship, which promises to be far less interesting than a play that features out-of-their-time actors. And I have about $16 in my purse and $27 in my checking account to get me through the week, so I couldn't afford the trip anyway, even if I weren't busy here with the summer thing and my ongoing appearances as Gabby, getting ready to rescue you in my future, your past.

I am therefore counting on you to keep me updated on any other weirdness you come across over there. Are you planning to try the theatre again by night? I really think you should. Maybe the renovation stuff is to keep people away in the daytime. I mean, I can't imagine that someone would go to all the trouble of bringing actors from other times, rehearsing them and staging a play, all for just one night. I'm no expert on plays and such, but that sounds like a very expensive thing to do. On the other hand, maybe whoever did it has plenty of money, using the old cheat of investing in the past of stocks that you know do well in the future. Even so, it seems like logistically, it would be a lot of work for a one-night production. Maybe you happened to catch the last night of a longer run? Was the theatre full or empty, or something in between? Was there anything weird about the audience? Were they wearing mod clothes or leisure suits or silver jumpsuits?

You asked whether it's possible that your seeing actors from the past and future could be an aftereffect of your being in the time bubble. To be honest, I don't really know, but it seems unlikely to me. How would something like that work, exactly? More likely, you're just more observant than most people about time displacement, having experienced it yourself. You may even have picked up on the time anomaly subconsciously, when you happened to walk by the theatre.

I suppose that you may not want to get involved in another time travel mystery, considering that you almost died the last time, but a theatre full of actors who happen to be the wrong age doesn't sound dangerous to me. If you do go, be careful, and I'm sure you'll be fine. And if you do see David Tennant again, try to get me his autograph, will you? Thanks!


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Later This Somewhere, Part One

While we're waiting for Jor and friends to get the story moving again in The Mâvarin Revolutions, here's the beginning of a new story about Jace and Sandy. Thanks to Sarah K. for the title. - KFB

The Jace Letters 2: Later This Somewhere

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

Part One

Subject: So How Is London?
Date: 7/2/2013, 07:43 PM
From: JaceFace

To: NotaBeach

Dear Aunt Sandy -

Now that you're safely settled in my time, it bothers me a bit that in some ways you're farther away than ever. I've seen you at least eight times as Gabby, but only twice under my own name, as my college-age self. Forgive me, but I have to ask: was that part of why you moved to London? Is communication with me so awkward under the present circumstances that you feel the need to distance yourself from me physically?

Well, all right, I know it's something you really wanted to do anyway, and I admit it's a place I'd really like to see myself. Unfortunately, I'm just a penniless college student, with no money to travel any farther than Deming or Sedona, and even those I can't get to very often. Now that the school year is over, most of my free time is taken up with research, trying to work out exactly how to save you in my future, your past. The time bubble is working for now, but I'm not sure how stable it is, or how we get you out when the time comes. I know I can't ask you about that, so I won't. Oh, paradoxes are fun, aren't they?

So what is London like? Since I've never seen the real thing except on tv, it seems to me like a magical, fictional world, the place of Mary Poppins and Sherlock Holmes, Winnie the Pooh and Doctor Who. I suppose it's nothing like that, really, just another modern city, with a number of historic buildings but nothing truly extraordinary, no dimensionally transcendental police boxes or magic nannies. And that's a shame, really. It's not that I expect space-time anomalies like the Deming-Sedona one everywhere we look, and really, that one is causing quite enough trouble, all by itself. But London, the fictional London of books and tv and film, is such a place of wonder that I'm sure I'd be disappointed if I saw the real thing.

Still, I'm hoping you'll say that even the real London has charms of its own. At the very least, you can look at the Houses of Parliament or the Tower of London and be reminded of their history, both in the real world and less mundane ones.


Subject: London Is...
Date: 7/
3/2013, 8:23:573122 PM
From: NotaBeach
To: JaceFace

Jace –

Please don’t be hurt by this, but yes, you've guessed correctly about my motives. One of the reasons I moved to London was to minimize the contact between us. You said yourself (or at least you will) that it’s the easiest way to keep the ontological paradox from getting out of hand.

I'm happy to say that you're wrong about London, though. There is something utterly charming about the place, even without the outright magic found in literature. I am surrounded by "brilliant" (they say that a lot!), funny people, speaking in a surprising variety of accents on a wide range of subjects. I'm sorry to say I'm too shy to have made any friends so far, but my landlord is rather nice, and there are a few people at the shops I frequent that I would like to get to know better.

More than that, it's a different country, a heady mixture of foreign and familiar. Every day is a mini-adventure, just buying different foods and other items in strange packaging, paying for them with something other than dollars, then taking the tube back and cutting across Kensington Gardens to my "flat." So far there is no sign of Mary Poppins in the Park, but I have to admit that sometimes I catch myself looking for her.

There is one odd thing that has happened, and I've been meaning to email you about it, since I can't reach the older version of "Gabby" any more. Last week I set out to see a play in a certain theater in the West End, but the play had closed and the theatre was dark. Instead I ended up at another theatre nearby. They were offering panto, a version of Aladdin, which surprised me because it's my understanding that it's something they normally only do at Christmas. But I paid for my ticket and went in anyway. I can't pretend I understand the panto genre; it was the most thoroughly foreign and incomprehensible thing I've seen here to date, even more so than the cricket match. To be honest, I didn't like it much. It wasn't just silly, but pointlessly silly, and full of allusions I couldn't hope to understand.

But there was something strange about it, even beyond the cultural sensibilities that I lack. David Tennant was in it, but he didn't look anything like the David Tennant on tv. He played a Grand Vizier, and all right, yes, he was all done up in a wig and a fake beard. Even so, he looked older than I expected, even allowing for the fact that I remember him mostly from Doctor Who five to seven years ago. I assumed it was the costume, but I hung around the stage door afterward, and I saw him leave. Without the wig he had gray hair, I swear to you, actual gray hair, and his face looked genuinely older. He walked right past me as if he didn't see me, and disappeared into a rather odd-looking car.

Even that isn't the weirdest part. Also on the cast list was Julie Andrews! She's certainly not someone I would expect to be doing panto at this stage of her career. Nor is she, as far as I can tell, because she wasn't the older actress of The Princess Diaries and other more recent roles. The part she played was that of the young princess, sort of the Jasmine character if it were the Disney version, which it wasn't. I saw her leave the theatre, too, and she looked no more than 15 years old! I would say it's a different Julie Andrews, but Equity is careful about such things, and besides, there was no mistaking that voice when she sang.

It was all so strange that I wondered the next morning whether I just dreamed it, or whether my experience in the time bubble has left me with some kind of dementia, or maybe an ability to see the past and future and present at once, all jumbled up. I went back to the theatre, and it was closed for renovation! I asked one of the men working on it, and he said it had been closed for a month.

So I guess I need your expert opinion, yours and Ken's. Am I going mad, or is time even weirder in the West End of London than it is in the American Southwest? And if I really did see Julie Andrews at 15 and David Tennant at 50, is it because I was somehow seeing into other times, or did the other times recombine themselves independently of me, in an unseasonal panto show in 2013?


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Black Rose Kate: Stop MDC

And now for a word from Black Rose Katie specks, the Pirate Scribe!(Cross-posted from Outpost Mâvarin)
Stop MDC

Kate and her pistol
Black Rose Kate has no problem dispatching history's villains

"Aye, I thought ye'd be at the computer," announced. I looked up, startled. There she was, standing in front of my L'Engle books, my semi-fictional pirate friend, looking down at me with her usual air of amused tolerance. It was Thursday night, ten minutes past one in the morning. "Ariel said that you wanted to see me," she explained.

"Hi, Kate," I said. "Yes, I did. But how did Ariel know that?" Our mutual friend Ariel travels between time and between universes, meanwhile attending Croatoan College, which is itself transdimensional.

Kate shrugged. "She reads your blog. You mentioned me in tomorrow's entry. And that black cloth rose of yours was in one of your photos this week, so we knew you were already thinking of me. So tell me. Am I here for a particular reason, or is this a social call only? Did you want my expert opinion on that Johnny Depp movie Ariel has spoken of for the better part of an hour tonight?"

"Oh, I didn't go on about it that long," Ariel said, coming into the room behind Kate. "Hi, Karen."

"Hi, Ariel. And no, it's not about Pirates of the Caribbean. I have a Weekend Assignment to do, and I thought Kate might be able to help. You too, Ariel."

"Oh, one of those," Kate said, looking none too pleased.

I pasted the relevant text into this entry, and let them read it over my shoulder:

Weekend Assignment #168: For reasons best left unexplained, you have been allowed to excise one and only one person from the course of history. Which person would you choose to remove from history and why? That's right: Any one person you think history would be better without, you can now expunge. So who would it be -- and how do you think history would be changed with their absence? See. Told you it was one that would make you think.

Extra Credit: Favorite historical-themed movie. Because why not?

"I see," Kate said as she finished reading. "Because I have dispatched my share of enemies on the high seas and elsewhere, it pleases you to seek my advice before murdering some historical villain before he is ever born. Is that it?"

"Pretty much, yes," I said. "And you're right. I do think that preventing Nero or someone like that from being born is a kind of murder."

"But you don't have a problem with--" Ariel began. I was starting to think she was a mind-reader.

"Shh," I interrupted. "I don't want to talk about that. The point is, I wouldn't have the right to stop someone from ever existing."

"And you think that I, the bloodthirsty pirate, would be more ruthless about such things, and thus could give Scalzi an answer in your stead," Kate said.

"Yes," I said. "And if not, you can at least discuss the idea with me, and I can report on that."

"As I notice ye be doing already," Kate observed.

"Your problem with this is that you lack perspective," Ariel said. "There are plenty of worlds in which there was no Hitler, or no John Wilkes Booth, or no Nero. On the multiverse level, it's not that big a deal."

"It is if you're in a world where he did exist, and now you decree that he doesn't," I insisted. "That creates a whole new universe, right? And that's on top of the loss suffered by family and friends."

"I have known several families," Kate said, "that benefited greatly from the death of a father or brother or son. A woman my own age once thanked me for killing her husband, who had chained her and beaten her. Pick someone sufficiently awful, and the world is certain to benefit."

"Well, I did think about choosing someone whose nonexistence would mean lives saved," I said. "I could go with Adolf Eichmann or Josef Mengele, but that violates the spirit of disallowing Hitler."

"Who were these people?" Kate asked.

"Eichmann helped Adolf Hitler, the ruler of Germany, organize the murder of millions of Jews and Romany and other people," Ariel said. "Mengele conducted horrific medical experiments on some of their victims before killing them."

"Right," I said. "But it's all part of the same horror. And I don't think there is an equivalent person in more recent examples of genocide. Usually it's groups of people killing other groups for the crime of being a 'them'. So I was thinking along the lines of a Richard Speck, or Timothy McVeigh - you know, someone who personally killed a lot of people."

"Aye, that makes sense," Kate said. "But ye didn't need me to figure that out."

"I still don't like it, though," I said. "I still wouldn't do it. Would you?"

"Aye, with hardly a moment's thought, nor any regrets," Kate said. "Oliver Cromwell is another one I would not mind seeing gone from the world."

Ariel was rereading the text of Scalzi's assignment. "You know, I don't think you read this very carefully," she said. "It doesn't specify that one person was never born. It only says excised from history. There might be other ways to do that."

That got me thinking. "Such as?" I prompted. I was starting to have a few ideas, but wondered what Ariel had in mind.

"Lock the person up so he or she can do no harm," she suggested. "Send the person back in time, or forward, or to another universe."

"Where the person can do even more harm in unknown ways," I said. "That's no good. But if we can stop the person from becoming crazy or evil or both, that would take him out of the history we know."

"Mark David Chapman," Ariel suggested.

I nodded. "I suppose I should go with McVeigh or someone like that anyway," I said, "or the older of the two DC snipers, or one of the serial killers up in Phoenix last year. But Chapman...I don't know. If you could catch him young, get him the right treatment, keep him on the right medication and away from the Dakota, that still only saves one man's life, technically."

"Yes, but what a life you'd be saving," Ariel said.

"Whose?" Kate asked.

"John Lennon," Ariel and I said together. "Of the Beatles," I added.

Before I could explain further, Kate pointed at me, a look of triumph on her face. "Aye, that's the one!" she said. "I like the Beatles. Ariel even took me to the Cavern once."

This made me angry. "Why didn't you take me with you? You know how much I want to go."

Ariel shook her head. "We bend the rules quite a bit even just coming to see you, even for a quick conversation. Your version of the world isn't meant to have time travel, and I can't let you go wandering the multiverse with me. We're pushing the fiction boundary as it is."

"Fiction boundary? What's that?"

"It's a way of gauging relationships between realities, and the relative safety of certain kinds of interactions," Ariel explained. "As my supposed creator in the context of this reality, you can receive my visits, as long as they can be passed off as fiction. But the moment you actually go into the past with me, or off into a world in which the Beatles have been reunited for the past twenty years and are currently in the studio, you damage every timeline you touch. Sorry."

"Whereas I have no such restriction," Kate said. "Say the word and I will take this Chapman person from history, my way."

"You know I won't condone that," I said. "Much as I'd like to."

"And anyway, you can't do that either," Ariel told Kate. "John Lennon wrote a song about you. That makes you fictional to him, too."

"He did? When was that?" I asked.


"But he died in 1980," I said.

Ariel looked thoughtful. "Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Kate does go after Chapman," she said.

"Then that's my choice, if I have to choose someone," I said. "Just don't actually kill him if you can help it."

For a moment Ariel looked tempted. Then she shook her head. "No, sorry," she said. "Lennon's death is too well established in your world. But we might be able to do it in another world, a few universes over. Are you game for it, Kate?"

"Aye, always. Let's go, then."

"Bring me back a CD," I said.

Ariel laughed. "Can't do that, either," she said. "but if you're very good, I'll find a way for you to at least hear a later album, at least once."

They left, then, and I was alone again, finishing up this entry. I don't know how serious Ariel was. She could easily have been making up all those rules as she went along. And I'm still a little worried that Black Rose Kate will kill Chapman rather than try to get him into treatment, or at least locked up.

Imagine there's no murder.

But oh, wouldn't it be something, having another 26 1/2 years and counting of new music by John Lennon?

Oh, drat, I didn't ask my guests about the Extra Credit. I'm not big on historical movies, unless you count Back to the Future or Camelot. Lawrence of Arabia was kind of amazing, although the long version really is too long. Oh, I know. My Favorite Year. That's based on a very specific history period: the days of early television, and the live comedy variety show.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Mâvarin Revolutions: Final Instructions, Part Six

Wow. It looks like nobody got around to reading the previous entry. Short of a truly crippling level of lurkiness, I don't think anyone could have read it through and failed to alert me that I repeated the opening block of text at the end! Well, no matter; it's fixed now.

Good news: King Jor finally told me what he has in mind about how to handle the royal succession when he dies. Can you guess what it is?

The Mâvarin Revolutions

Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

Final Instructions, Part Six
(With Fayubi's magical help, dying King Jor of the alternative version of Mâvarin has just summoned witnesses to hear him to name a successor.)

Prince Carmi. Original art by Sherlock; combined with photo and colorized by KFB“Wait for what?” Prince Carmi asked impatiently.

“We need more witnesses first,” the King said. Fayubi didn’t like the feverish look in King Jor’s eyes. But if the old King was to make the decision Fayubi had thrust upon him, he needed to do so without interference. Fayubi hoped the result would not just increase the death and destruction to come.

Lieutenant Govan was the next to arrive. “I don’t suppose you know where Commander Masan and the Princess are, do you?” King Jor asked him.

“No, Your Majesty. Have they gone somewhere?” Fayubi couldn’t tell for sure, but he suspected Govan was being disingenuous.

“Apparently so.”

“Do you want a search mounted?”

“That depends. If we were to find them, would it help the situation?”

“I do not understand the question, Your Majesty.”

“You don’t? Well, neither do I, really,” the King said. “What I mean is, I’m a little concerned about the security around here. If you find Princess Cathla today, will she be alive tomorrow?”

“I…I don’t know, Your Majesty,” Govan managed to say.

“That’s exactly the problem, isn’t it?” the King said.

“Why wouldn’t she still be alive?” Prince Carmi asked angrily. “She always does exactly what she wants, and nothing ever happens to her. Why would today and tomorrow be any different?”

“Because today or tomorrow, I’ll be dead,” King Jor said.

“Don’t say that,” said Carmi.

“Why not? It’s true.”

Carmi shook his head. “Even if it is, what does that have to do with Cathla? It’s not like she’s going to fight me for the throne.”

“Are you certain of that?” Jor asked.

“Of course I am,” Carmi said. Fayubi wondered what else Prince Carmi’s wife and mother had forced him to believe.

“And if Cathla is my designated heir instead of you, what then?” King Jor asked. “Will you fight her for the throne, as you put it? Will your mother do so?”

“Mother would support me,” Carmi said. “She always has. But Cathla can’t be the heir. Not while I’m alive. I’m the male heir.”

“So was Ari Selevar, two centuries ago,” Lt. Govan said. The man sounded nervous, but to his credit he said it anyway. “But it was Queen Torla who ruled after Epli, not her brother,” he continued.

“That was a long time ago,” Carmi said between gritted teeth. “And you’re dismissed. Forever.”

“You forget, Carmi, that I’m still the King, and I want him here,” King Jor said mildly. “And if you’ll take my advice, it’s not a good idea to remove someone from his position for daring to state a fact.” Govan looked at him gratefully, but said nothing further.

“What good is your advice to me, Father, if according to you I’m not going to take the position I was born for?” Carmi asked bitterly.

“I didn’t say that,” King Jor told him. “I asked what would happen if I were to designate Cathla as my heir? I did not say that was my decision.”

“Then what is all this about?” Carmi nearly shouted at the dying King.

“This is about preventing a war,” King Jor said. “And I think I’ve just about worked out how to do it.”

(Original art by Sherlock; combined with photo and colorized by KFB. Originally of Carli (Del), but also depicts Prince Carmi.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Mâvarin Revolutions: Final Instructions, Part Five

Here we go, the last bit of this particular scene, and the next scene with the same characters. I was going to stop at the end of the first, but the second is short, and more interesting, and my handwritten draft ends 83 words later. I actually have no idea yet what Jor is talking about, but we'll get there. - KFB

The Mâvarin Revolutions
Fragments from a Work in Progress
by Karen Funk Blocher

© 2007 by KFB

King JorFinal Instructions, Part Five
(With Fayubi's magical help, dying King Jor of the alternative version of Mâvarin has just summoned witnesses to hear him to name a successor.)

Guardsman Medor burst in. “Your Majesty, what…what was that? Are you all right? Did you want to see me?”

“That was a request, no, I’m dying, and you’re just one of the people I want to see,” the King said. “I suspect I will have quite a few visitors shortly. They are all to be admitted except my Queen and my daughter-in-law, Do you understand?”

“But the Queen—

“—has no authority over me except what I cede to her. Please tell her, if she turns up, that I said that if she loves me, she will not interfere with this meeting. If she does interfere, she will live to regret it. Can you do that?”

“I…yes, Your Majesty. I think so.”

“Good man. Don’t worry. It will be all right. I think. Now, go wait for my guests, please.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“I rather enjoyed that,” Jor remarked when Merc had left the room. “Too bad it’s my last chance to do anything interesting.” He looked pale but contented. His hand trembled as it lay on the quilt. “I don’t suppose you know a healer who can save me.”

Fayubi shook his head. “Sorry. I know a number of healers, but the only one better than Dimider lives far away in the other world. My contacts assure me that she could do nothing for you that he hasn’t already done.”

“Ah well, I expected as much,” the King said sadly.


The first to arrive was Prince Carmi, accompanied by his personal Guard. “What is this all about, Father? I’m certain that I heard your voice in the Sun Room just now, but it seems impossible.”

“Yes it does, doesn’t it?” the King agreed. He had no intention of explaining about the invisible visitor at the foot of his bed. “I need to make an announcement, Carmi. I don’t think you are going to like it.”

“It’s something to do with my sister, isn’t it? She looked awfully guilty earlier, when I saw her sneaking out to the stables with her Guard Commander lover.” Jor did not like the look on his adopted son's face as he repeated the usual Palace gossip about Cathla and Wil Masan.

From Carmi’s point of view, a moment of silence followed. For Jor, however, the moment was filled with Fayubi’s less jaundiced assessment of the Princess’s actions. “We may be too late, Your Majesty. That was probably Princess Cathla’s attempt to escape being murdered when you die.”

Jor’s conclusion was much the same as Fayubi’s. “How long ago was this?” he asked Carmi.

“About half an hour. Maybe a little longer.”

“Might she still be in the stable?”

The Prince shrugged. “I suppose. She’s not in the Palace, that’s all I know. The Guard at the back door says he hasn’t seen her since she went in the stable.”

“It’s not all that hard to get from the stable to Prince Street without being seen from the Palace side,” the King said. I’ve done it myself.” The thought that such exploits were long since behind him made Jor a little sad.

“Well, yeah, if your horse is a good jumper, or you don’t mind climbing an eight foot wall that’s guarded on the other side,” Carmi said. “But why would she bother?”

If Carmi didn’t understand the danger to his sister, Jor realized sadly, there was no easy way to enlighten him. “So Cathla has fled the Palace,” Jor said, more to Fayubi than Carmi. “That complicates thing. Hmm. There’s an idea.”

“What are you going to do?” Fayubi asked.

“What idea is that?” Carmi asked.

“Wait and see,” the King said.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Mâvarin Revolutions: Final Instructions, Part Four

The following takes us to about a page from the end of the scene, but not the end of the sequence. Yep, the next entry will be a cliffhanger. After that we've got the next section of the "A Fire in Mâvarin" sequence with Temet and friends. (And wait until you see who the friends are!) By the time that's in the can, maybe we can get poor King Jor to tell us all the idea he had, which for some reason I didn't write down. - KFB

The Mâvarin Revolutions

Fragments from a Work in Progress
by Karen Funk Blocher

© 2007 by KFB

King JorFinal Instructions, Part Four
(Fayubi has gone to visit the dying King, trying to get him to name a successor.)

“What would these people do, I wonder, if I called them in as you ask, and they saw you standing here?”

“They won’t see me,” Fayubi said. “Only you can see me. I’m not really here.”

“So I’m hallucinating again?” the King asked. He sounded more resigned than surprised.

“No, this is my projection. It’s an illusion of sorts, but for your eyes only.”

“Oh, one of those,” the King said wisely. “If you’re not really here, then you won’t be able to do anything to me – not that it matters – if I call in those people and endorse Carmi as king.”

“Is that your choice, Your Majesty?” It was less than ideal, but the Mâ-na-Mâ might be willing to accept Carmi, at least for now, if Jor officially endorsed him.

“Carmi is as qualified as I was, and would do an equally good job. He would maintain cordial relations with Mâton, and fill our tax coffers for the same purposes as always. He is mild-mannered and does what is expected of him, and will not lead this country into war. Does that not sound like a good king?”

“With respect, I have to say no, Your Majesty.”

“I don’t think so either,” Jor said. “If I do nothing, or endorse Carmi, then he makes all the same mistakes I made, and dies young. Cathla could die even sooner. Or don’t you agree?”

“I agree completely, Your Majesty. Cathla is in danger either way, though.”

“Just so. I would save her if I could.”

“Perhaps you can.”

“We’ll see.” He lifted his head and raised his voice. “Guards! Come in here, please.” The ailing King was clearly doing his best, but the sound was weak and quavery. No guards appeared. Jor tried twice more, and shook his head sadly. “There, you see? It’s not just that people don’t listen to me. They don’t even hear me any more.”

Fayubi smiled. “Let me help you with that.” Casting a spell from a projection was a little harder than doing it while embodied, largely because of the energy loss; still, it was the best option for the present situation. The spell itself was a two step variation on one he had used many times before: tricky, but far from impossible. Fayubi closed his aura eyes, and placed Jor’s voice at the center of his mind.

“Please just speak normally while I set this up. It should only take a few minutes.”

“What do you want me to talk about?” the King asked.

“Anything you like. I have to concentrate on my ritual, so I’ll be paying more attention to your voice than your words. I won’t reply, but I will listen.”

“All right, then. As long as you’re obliged to listen, I may as well tell you something nobody else ever cared to hear. For example, I’ve always wanted a parrot for a pet. I saw one once, when we traveled to Derio and Lehic. Huge, colorful birds, they are. Beautiful! Better still, I’ve been told they can be taught to speak human words, and even understand them somewhat. The king of Derio offered me a parrot once, about sixteen years ago. I said I’d be delighted. I even picked out a name, but nobody ever gave me the bird, either then or after we returned home. Skwok, I would have called it. Isn’t that a great name for a parrot? But I think Lormarte told them not to send the bird. She’s allergic to feathers, you see. But I would have kept Skwok in his own apartment, and oh! How I wanted him! He would have listened to me, and not ask for anything in return but food and affection. And maybe freedom, but none of us have that. Not really.”

Fayubi was ready. “We have enough freedom to make a difference, Your Majesty. Please try calling the guard again.”

Jor called out to the guard again as Fayubi activated the spell. Fayubi imagined the King’s voice growing louder and louder, filling the Palace with a wave of illusory sound. The words “Come here, please,” obediently echoed and reverberated from room to room, repeating themselves for a full minute after the King spoke them: “Come here, please…. Come here, please….”

“Wow,” King Jor said when it was over. “I don’t think Lormarte is going to like that.”

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Mavarin Revolutions: Final Instructions, Part Three

Okay, I missed a week again. Here's the next bit. I've written quite a bit further than this, but tonight's installment is all newly, um, typed.

The Mâvarin Revolutions

Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

Final Instructions, Part Three
(Fayubi has gone to visit the dying King, trying to get him to name a successor.)

“So you want me to choose between my children?" King Jor asked. "Between Carmi and Cathla?”

“As the next sovereign, yes. I assume your other two children aren’t under consideration at this point.”

“They’re alive? How do you even know about them?”

“They are both mentioned in my failed prophecy. In the world your queen prevented, they rule together.”

The King’s brow furrowed. “How can that be,” he asked, “if the world was prevented?”

“It was prevented here, but another world exists in which it did happen.”

“How do you know?”

Fayubi smiled. “I’ve been there. Part of the time, I live there.”

“Are they good monarchs, your King Del and Queen Crel?”

Fayubi decided not to explain about the name differences. “They do all right.”

“Is that what you would have me do here? Turn the country over to a pair of illegitimate orphans?”

“Not necessarily, Your Majesty. But they are your children, as the Prince and Princess are not.”

Now it was the King’s turn to grimace. Fayubi was unsure whether his pain was physical, emotional or both. “I know that,” Jor said irritably, “but it hardly matters now. They are officially my children, and I love them. I will not disown them on my deathbed.”

“I would not ask you to do so, Your Majesty. But only one of them is likely to rule, and the country’s future depends on that choice. Your word could make all the difference.”

“I don’t see how. I’m never consulted about these things. Even if I were to tell you what you want to hear, who would believe you?”

“Quite a few people, and I’m not the only person you can tell. Get Dimider in here to testify to your competence, the Royal Scribe to witness and record your wishes, and the Captain of the Palace Guard to protect the truth.”

Jor shook his head. “Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that.” Then he peered up at Fayubi. “Could I?”

“Of course you could,” Fayubi said firmly. “You’re the King.”

“For a little longer,” King Jor said.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Mavarin Revolutions: Final Instructions, Part Two

Yes, it's true: I've neglected this blog dreadfully, shamefully. I mean that; both dread and shame were involved. I've been busy, but I've also been stuck, with bits in both the handwritten and typed versions of this scene that I had trouble getting through. These things almost never fix themselves, though. It's not enough to reread what I have so far, close the notebook and walk away; or to open the Word document and leave it untouched for days at a time. I have to actually work on the darn thing. So, as a step in that direction, I'm going to finally get a new entry in here. Maybe I'll get stuck in this version, too--but maybe not!

The Mâvarin Revolutions
Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

Final Instructions, Part Two
(Fayubi has gone to visit the dying King, who wonders whether it's too late for anyone to ask anything of him.)

“Not while you still live, Your Majesty.” The opportunity to talk to King Jor actually extended a little beyond death, but Fayubi was not eager to exercise that option.

Jor’s eyebrows shot up. “You mean to kill a dying man?”

Fayubi smiled. “No, Your Majesty. I mean to ask a dying sovereign for last instructions.”

“Instructions about what? Who in Thâle’s name are you?”

“I have several names, Your Majesty. The one you may have heard is Fabi the Innkeeper. Or possibly Fabi the Drunk.”

Jor peered at him curiously. “Are you drunk? You don’t sound drunk.”

“Nor am I, Your Majesty. I no longer do that.”

“Good for you. The name is familiar, though…oh! Oh! I remember! You’re the one who made that strange rhyming prediction about me being kidnapped.”

Fayubi was startled. “You know about that?”

“Lore told me about it long ago. She and Jere created a spell that saved me from it happening. Or so they said.”

Here was confirmation of Fayubi’s suspicions, but the means remained unclear. “What kind of spell was it?”

Still lying nearly flat in his bed, the King managed a shrug by twitching his right shoulder. “Oh, I wouldn’t know about that. Have I upset you?”

“A little, Your Majesty. Whatever they did affected my whole life since then – and yours.”

“For the better, I hope.”

“Not necessarily.”

“I hope you don’t mind if I disagree with you. That’s the one luxury I have now, disagreeing. You may think that getting kidnapped would have been an interesting experience for me, but to be honest I see no possible advantage to it. How can being dragged away by the creatures in the prophecy possibly be better than being right here in my Palace, with the woman I love, who loves me in return?”

Fayubi hesitated in his reply, which prompted an amused smile from the dying king. “You don’t think Lormarte loves me, do you?” he asked.

“I don’t know, Your Majesty.”

“Well I do. Even now, when she has withdrawn her mindpush spells to help keep me alive a little longer, I cannot doubt that my queen really does love me.”

“Forgive me, Your Majesty, but how do you know you are free from such influences?”

“I know because I see now all my faults that were once hidden from me. I know because all those private opinions I hardly knew I had, now run freely through my mind. I know because Dimider said three days ago that eighteen years of magic have drained me of vitality to the point of death, and yet for the moment I still live. Do you believe me?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Good man. Now, what did you want to ask me that you can’t divine for yourself?”

Fayubi winced. “In this world I can no longer divine anything, Your Majesty. So I ask questions. Chief among them is this: who would you choose to succeed you on the throne of Mâvarin?”

“Ah! You must be with the Mâ-na-Mâ. But what makes you think my opinion on the subject matters? Nobody’s going to listen to it.”

Fayubi sighed. King Jor might indeed be right about being free from his queen’s mindpush spells, but imposing his own will on the situation seemed to be beyond his capability. Still, Fayubi had to try to get Jor’s approval for whatever needed to happen next.

“I’ll listen, Your Majesty,” he said. “Perhaps, with my help,” others will listen, too.”


Yeah, that broke the log jam.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Mavarin Revolutions: Final Instructions, Part One

Now that my marathon of consecutive days worked is finally over for now, I can post the beginning of the scene I've been working on intermittently at lunch. Here it is.

The Mâvarin Revolutions

Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

Final Instructions, Part One

They thought about using the baggy pants man, recently updated by Dupili with a new visage and identity. After some discussion with Mera, however, Fayubi decided to visit the dying King as himself—by projection, of course. Unlike his physical body, his projected spirit was not subject to arrest. Even a capture bottle would not hold him this time.

The voyant window was still at his house in the other world. Projecting without it required more preparation and more expenditure of magic, but it wasn’t really a problem, as long as his visualization was sufficiently accurate. He had never been in the apartment of this world’s King Jor, but he remembered the tower hallway well, the one where he had walked unseen toward the bottle containing his other self. A selective visibility subritual would ensure that he went unseen this time, too, by all but the King himself.

The entrance to King Jor’s apartment – double doors with a rather nice stained glass mosaic in blue and gold – was blocked by two large Palace guards. Fayubi was pretty sure he’d seen one of them before, guarding Imuselti’s apartment the day Rani Lunder had visited openly while Fayubi slipped by unnoticed. This time, neither the guards nor the closed doors were barriers to him. His projected spirit passed unseen through guard and glass, and a moment later stood before the dying King.

King Jor lay in a huge, sumptuous feather bed, his too-thin body hardly making a bulge on the left side of the thick blue quilt.

“Your Majesty,” Fayubi murmured.

King Jor opened his eyes and peered up at the visitor only he could see. “Hello. Whatever you want from me, you’re a bit late, don’t you think?”

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Mâvarin Revolutions: Princess on the Run, Part Two

Okay, I didn't manage to get this done a week after the previous installment, but it's been less than two weeks. That's progress! And I have finished the scene, after being a little stuck on it. I've even been writing the next one in my head, so I guess this book is truly underway. You won't see all of it here, but I'll post one more scene, at least.

Meanwhile, there's this. Last time, if you'll remember, Commander Wil Masan of the Palace Guard was trying to convince Princess Cathma Masha of the "otherworld" Mâvarin to flee from her own family to avoid a bloody succession at the imminent death of her father, King Jor.

The Mâvarin Revolutions

Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

Princess on the Run, Part Two

“Fãrnet, I suppose. There really aren’t a lot of choices, if I’m going to do this at all. Do you think Prince Areno and his family would give me their protection?”

Wil nodded thoughtfully. “They might at that. Especially if they expected to gain some advantage by it.”

The Princess looked annoyed. “Explain,” she said.

“Prince Areno plays politics better than you do. He knows that Mâton and your family are unlikely to express official disfavor if he takes you in and marries you. That would effectively preclude your ruling here, but Areno’s eldest child could be the monarch of a country much larger than his own.”

“I hate it when your suggestions put men in my bed,” Cathma Masha remarked.

Masan flashed her a calculatedly lascivious grin. “No more than do I, with one exception,” he said.

“Which you dare not make,” she retorted.

“We’re getting off the subject here. The point is that Fãrnet probably is the safest place you can go – if you can get there, that is.”

“And the rest of it? I have no intention of marrying Areno.”

“But it does no harm to hold out the possibility, while we see whether a better resolution to your situation is possible. I’m with the Mâ-na-Mâ on this much: you would make a great queen.”

“So your counsel is to run away now, and perhaps return in triumph later.”

“That’s pretty much it, yes. You can hide in Mâvarin instead of Fãrnet, but you would need to be either extremely well-hidden or extremely well-protected. Even if you leave the country, you will need help along the way. My influence, such as it is, does not extend beyond these walls.”

“If I do leave – and I have not yet agreed to do so – where is my immediate destination, then? That inn with the Mâ-na-Mâ innkeeper? Perhaps Liru’s home with all the magic doorways?”

“Either will do. The big problem will be getting you out. Princess, please. I want you to live.”

She must have heard his earnest tone, with no trace of the banter in which they’d indulged just moments before. She nodded slowly. “So do I, Wil.” She sighed. “All right. Set up your people to get me to the Palace door. I don’t suppose I can pack anything?”

“Best not. It should not look as though you are going anywhere.”

“All right. Give me half an hour. I’ll go. But I still don’t like it. And Wil….”

“Yes, Princess?”

“Thanks for making me go.”

“I can’t make you do anything. You’re going because you’re an intelligent and sensible young woman, who will not invite death for no good reason.”

“That, too,” she said.

Related Entry: A Fire in Mâvarin

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Mâvarin Revolutions: Princess on the Run, Part One

Okay, so I got stuck on the prequel. I guess I'm not ready to write about teenage Lore yet.

So here's what we're going to do. I'm going to shoot for a weekly schedule again, but the actual content will vary. If I'm working on Chapter One of The Mâvarin Revolutions (the book after the Mages trilogy), then that's what you're going to get. If I've managed to squeeze out a scene from the prequel, you'll get that instead. If all else fails, I'll write a "Missives" entry (Mâvarin apocrypha), or throw in a Joshua Wander snippet, or maybe even take a stab at "The Passion of Glenn Stone" (title subject to change) or "Leaving Denny's." Fair warning: any text from the actual novels will be deliberately fragmentary. Still, I'll try not to jump around too much! For tonight, you get part of Chapter One, Scene Two of

The Mâvarin Revolutions

Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB

King Jor was dying.

This sad fact was known to the Mâ-na-Mâ within a day of it being known in the Palace. At least, that was what Commander Wil Masan of the Palace Guard assumed. It was a fact that Lt. Tarso had given the news to his brother Keni, a lowly Gate guard. Keni had undoubtedly told Mera Sinan, or someone like her. This was just as well, in Wil's opinion. The balance of power in Mâvarin was about to change, and it would be well for the country's patriots - such as they were - to know what was happening, and make their preparations.

Lt. Bruber was at the Princess' door when Wil arrived. "Is she in there?" Wil asked.

Modo nodded. "Just got back from the Tower," he said.

"Any trouble?"

"None so far."

Wil shook his head. "That we know of, you mean." He knocked on the door to Cathma Masha's suite, using his usual identifying cadence.


Wil winked at the guard and went in. Cathma Masha was sitting on her couch. Her face was damp and red. She looked up at him. "I'm not going, Wil."

He knew what she was talking about. It was an old argument they were about to replay, given new urgency by the present situation. This time, Wil had to win the argument. He chose his opening gambit. "And I can't make you go. But if you don't, I will have to commit all my resources to keeping you safe - and that's going to draw attention to my people."

"Then don't do it. Look, Carli's never going to do anything to me. I'm his sister."

"And Lormarte's daughter. But neither relationship will protect you. As long as the Mâ-na-Mâ favor your succession, you are a liability to them. But if something happens to you, the revolution is over before it begins."

"But I didn't ask for a revolution. If these people fight to put me on the throne, they'll die, and Mâton will curtail this country's freedom even further. Isn't that worse than letting Sumarte and my mother rule through Carli?"

"The Mâ-na-Mâ think it's worth the risk."

"And what do you think?"

"I think it's better if you stay alive long enough to find out whether they're right," Wil said dryly.

"What if I were to issue a statement endorsing Carli's succession?"

Wil shook his head. "I doubt the people will believe that's what you really want. Is it?"

"Well, no. If Carli were free to make his own decisions it would probably be fine, but we both know he isn't. Yes, I do think I'd make a good queen, but this is my family, and Carli is the rightful heir. How can I go against him?"

"Other than being female, your claim to the throne is as good as his," Wil pointed out. "There are precedents."

"Not many, and not recently."
Cathma Masha got up and crossed the room, giving Wil a view of her luscious back, but hiding her expression.

"That hardly matters, if public sentiment is on your side."

The Princess dipped her hands in her washbasin, splashed her face, and patted herself dry with her favorite floral hand towel. Then she turned to face Wil again. "But is sentiment on my side? Is it really? We know what the Mâ-na-Mâ want. But what of the Twelve Families?"

Wil smiled. "They all like you personally. I can vouch for that. Besides, half of them are either
Mâ-na-Mâ themselves or sheltering someone who is. The other half have an economic interest in seeing Mâton's influence reduced, as long as it's done without their expending either funds or people."

"That's just it. I don't want people to die over this."

Wil looked into the face of his Princess, so different from the rest of her family save for the dying King himself. Her eyes were sorrowful, her expression sincere. It was odd that he could love someone so idealistic. "I don't think you can prevent that," Wil said gently. "My interest is in seeing that you aren't among the dead."

Cathma Masha was silent for a long moment. Wil began to hope that at last she was beginning to understand the reality of her situation. Then she tossed her head, in that gesture of defiance Wil knew so well. "There must be a way," she said. "What if...what if I were to go into exile?"

It wasn't a perfect solution, in Wil's view, but it was progress, the first time the Princess had indicated a willingness to leave the Palace. If he could finesse the conversation from here, he might be able to save her life after all, and possibly even her succession.

"Where would you go?" he asked.