Working title "Arathor".
wardrobe
ath_winter_lord
One of the many beginnings I've got lying around here that didn't get rolling.
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_<Title>_

****

Lyssei stood at the harbour watching the sea, like every day for far too many moons. Ships came and went, but not the one she was watching out for.

Karnai had wanted to go exploring, discover new lands. It had started as a silly idea, but unlike most silly ideas it hadn't gone away after a laugh. When enough of his friends had caught on to this one, they had gone to the Protector for permission, and had gotten it.

There had been a celebration, a farewell with much cheering and laughing. And then the Reach for Horizon had taken off. It had been a happy day. Karnai was an experienced sailor, going up and down the coast almost all his life. He and his friends had mastered storms, drifting far from the coast. But they had never deliberately gone straight ahead to where sky met water.

The sun set to Lyssei's left as the harbour quietened, the last ships unloaded, the sailors going home or to one or the other harbour tavern. Their cajoling and the slaps of their bare feet on wet cobblestones were replaced with the occasional clang of metal from the silent Wardens' boots, making sure the cargo yet out would still be here the next day.

Lyssei pulled her shawl tighter in the now crisp air and turned round. She had never liked the sea, didn't understand why anyone would want to spend time out there, never mind in unknown waters.

She went back into the city proper looking at the worn cobblestones, half-listening to the brown two-storey brick houses on either side filled with laughter, arguing, and the occasional child complaining. At home no children would be waiting; she hadn't passed the test yet, and hadn't been told why. Not that passing it would do any good without a partner who did, too. And Karnai hadn't even wanted to take the test. Perhaps too much a boy still, than a man, going out seeking adventures.

When Lyssei reached her house, she stopped and looked up at the dark windows, then shook her head. Going home for a meal by herself and then another night alone wasn't very appealing. She turned up the street and started walking again. This couldn't be all there was, day after day, and never a sign of what had happened to Karnai.

She hadn't often consulted the Oracle. She had before Karnai had left, and had been asked what choice she had. Not very useful. She had warned him of the dangers, and said that the Oracle had promised nothing good, which was true; it hadn't. But he had laughed. Drawn to whatever lay beyond the horizon, he had been blind to what all indeed may lie behind it.

Even this late the Oracle's shrine couldn't be missed; the bright shine coming out of the arched doorway of the round whitestone building could probably be seen even beyond the city walls, from there it must look like a halo lying above the entire district.

Lyssei went up the stairs and into the Oracle's business hall, and no more than that was it, of that she was sure. At the end of a shift, it would go home to its own life --probably not empty, dark rooms-- and the next one took over, perhaps even man and woman taking turns. How else could the Oracle be present at all times?

Just inside she stopped, blinking in the bright, fuzzy interiors, trying to make out proper contours. It felt like standing in a cloud, even the floor seemed to be only half as solid as outside. Everything was cast in a gray haze, by no discernible lightsource.

The Oracle turned round where it stood off to the right, dressed from hair to heel in wide, white robes and scarf, leaving only the just as white eyes free. Perhaps it was even looking at Lyssei, but how, she couldn't even guess. Maybe whatever trick made its eyes look like that instead of the common black was transparent from the other side.

"Karnai still hasn't returned." she said. "Where is he?"

"Is that really what you want to know?" the Oracle returned in a neutral voice, gender indeterminate.

"Of course that's what I want to know!" What a silly question. "My friend is somewhere out there and I'm here all alone."

"Is he your only friend?"

"Yes. No!" Lyssei frowned. "I want to know what happened to him. Why isn't he coming back?"

"The Reach for Horizon has indeed gone beyond the horizon." the Oracle said and started walking slowly across the fuzzy floor towards the other end, one hand half raised. It looked as if it were watering plants, if there had been plants, and it if it were carrying a can.

"And you can't see that far?"

It turned its head, as if looking at her with those white eyes. "It's how far you can see. I can not bring him back, yet that's what you want. I am not the one to approach with that. I can only tell you that he is lost."

"Lost? What does that mean?"

"Lost to you. I do not see him in your life."

"Of course he isn't in my life! He went on that awful ship and sailed away."

"That's where he is, then."

"Pah." Lyssei turned round and stomped down the stairs. Whyever had she thought the Oracle could be of any use?

She knew that he was out there somewhere, and only the sky knew what had happened to him. Of course she wanted him back. And she knew who to approach with that; the one that had permitted the trip in the first place.

Lyssei turned up the street again and stomped on. The Protector had as good as sent Karnai and his friends away, he could just as well see to them coming back.

As bright as the Oracle's shrine was, as dark was the Protector's temple; a night-black pyramid with an upright coil emerging from the tip, reaching for the sky. The building sat in the city center like a void, even in bright daylight. But just as the shrine, the temple was open at all hours, the Protector willing to see his citizens whenever they needed him.

Lyssei climbed the stairs going a third of the way up the flat front side, wondering as always that no Wardens stood guard at the entrance, indeed she had never seen any inside or even near the building, as if no one could possibly come here with ill intent.

Inside, everything seemed to be made of glass, by all rights she should be able to see all the way to the dark corner of the pyramid's third point, opposite the front side. Yet, here, too everything became fuzzy, despite the clear, sourceless light, merely further away than in the shrine. Only the floor was made of the same black stone as the temple itself, or perhaps it was just too dark below the glass to take it for anything else than polished stone.

Lyssei walked on along the corridor, between walls of glass that seemed to shield nothing but more glass walls, until she came to the sanctum at the center; a less angular room, but still roughly three-sided, empty but for the curtains draped in places over the slanting walls.

She didn't have to wait long until Dar Arathor, the Protector of Tonara Bay came out of the doorway in the wall to the right, walking slowly towards the center of the room.

Dressed in just a short, skin-coloured skirt, and of course the transparent coil of his position wrapped around his left forearm, his most unusual feature were his eyes; they, too, looked as if made of glass, only not allowing a peek behind them, with rainbows flickering across, reflecting the indistinct light, and faintly what they beheld. Lyssei couldn't even guess what trick was behind it.

Once one managed to look past that, one was caught by the smooth, even face and shape; as if designed to be perfect, rather than natural, right up to the straight black hair falling to just above his shoulders. And even if one managed to ignore that, there was still the presense, sense of power, that accompanied Dar Arathor like a particularly strong scent.

Lyssei swallowed, but then took a deep breath, unnecessarily trying to straighten up. She already wasn't covering, or hunched up. She opened her mouth, then closed it again; perhaps it was more polite to wait for a prompt to speak.

"Your reason for coming here?" he asked, voice deep, pleasant.

"You allowed Karnai and the others to sail away. They still haven't returned. What are you doing about bringing them back?"

He smiled, teeth as straight and perfect as the rest. "Bring them back?"

"Back home. They should have returned long ago. Something must have happened to them. You're their Protector, too. What have you done to prevent them from coming to harm? What have you done to bring them back?"

"The request was to go out exploring, not for coming back." he said as if that were an answer.

"But they have to come back! You have to bring Karnai back. The Oracle said he is lost. You can bring back people that are lost." The Protector had many abilities, most of them probably not even known to whatever people he might call friends or family.

The Protector put his head to the side. "You want me to send a Spirit Catcher?"

Lyssei blinked. That was it! They could bring anyone back, even from the dead. She dreaded to think that that was what had happened to Karnai, but there wasn't any other reason to explain why the Reach for Horizon hadn't returned. "Yes."

"If I send a Spirit Catcher to get Karnai, his life will be mine." he said in an imploring tone. "Do yo presume to make that decision for him?"

What kind of question was that? Something terrible must have happened to him, of course he would want to be back home. "Yes."

The Protector shook his head. "Your request is inappropriate. It is denied." He turned round and started walking back to the doorway he had come through.

Lyssei rushed after him, then planted herself in front, frowning. He was a lot taller from up close than standing in the middle of the room. And it couldn't be that the floor was uneven, she would have noticed running across it. She took a breath and returned her thoughts to the reason for coming here. "Is that all? You're not going to do anything at all?"

"I will consider further requests." he replied, voice and expression neutral.

"Aren't you worried that they haven't come back?"

He put his head to the side. "No."

"What?" She frowned. "Do you know what happened to them? Is that why you aren't worried about them?"

"Are you worried about them?"

"Of course I'm worried about them! That's why I'm here."

He shook his head. "You're worried about yourself. You're worried about being left behind while your friend is having adventures, worried that perhaps he found a partner, when you think he should be here and keep you company, pass the test and father children. Only he wasn't interested when he left; he did leave instead of staying with you. And now he's gone, all your plans with him. You claim to think of dangers to evade facing the truth inside you. How far do you really think my reach goes?"

Did that mean he could protect them wherever they were, and Karnai just didn't want to come back? Lyssei shook her head. That couldn't be true. He had to want to come back.

Her plans, the Protector had said. Karnai had never said that he agreed with them, but there had been no need; it was the only course. A good life for both of them.

Dar Arathor put his left hand on Lyssei's head, touching it lightly. "Go home and grow, my daughter." he said, then retreated his hand again.

She frowned up at him, then at the doorway leading outside. She might as well, with the Protector not wanting to do anything about Karnai. She started walking, staring at the dark floor, then the cobblestones outside, pulling her shawl tigher. It wouldn't be all that warm at home either, with her being out so long with the heating off. But she could sit by the stove, waiting for the meal to get ready, and think about her plans, what the Protector had said, and who else she might approach.

****

Naetha picked out his stones from those in the middle of the table and placed them in a row before him, face hidden to the others, then glanced up at Falharnen sitting across from him doing likewise. "What's that going to be?" he asked with a smile.

"I'm playing, too." the Spirit Catcher replied, voice neutral but his eyes, the only part not hidden by gray cloth, showed humour.

"You're losing." Sceela, one of the other two Wardens at the table pointed out.

"Every time." Jinrai, the fourth in their round added.

"One or the other of you loses, too, every game." Falharnen replied.

"We do occasionally win, though." Naetha said, then grinned. Their discussion went pretty much the same way every morning.

"Yet, you don't play to win." He lifted a finger, the metallic-looking talon at the tip briefly glinting in the light coming in through the small window. "I may play just to play, too."

Naetha laughed. "If you think that's fair."

The Spirit Catcher nodded and went to inspecting his stones.

"Who's got the Pharay?" Sceela asked when the had all collected their stones.

"I do." Naetha replied, picking it from his row, and placed it face up on the table. It was the stone with the highest value and decided who would start.

Jinrai, to his right, placed one of his stones, by the choice obviously making it easy for Falharnen.

Humour entered the Spirit Catcher's eyes again and he placed a stone of his own. Not too bad a choice. However he managed to never win was a mystery; he wasn't that bad a player. Naetha had often wondered that perhaps it was Falharnen's own game to lose without making obvious mistakes.

Sceela placed his stone, and it was Naetha's turn again. Just as he considered his options the door to the sanctuary opened and a woman walked in. By her colourful dress, she put importance on such matters, though a friendly expression would do a lot more for her appearance; without the stubborn set of eyes and mouth she could easily be called pretty. As it was, no amount of expensive cloth could improve her looks.

She strode in and up to the table, stopping only a pace away from Falharnen. "I want to hire you."

Not the first to come with such a request. Thinking that beyond their own, they could also take other people's matters into their hands.

The Spirit Catcher looked up, eyes neutral. "I am to be ordered by the Protector alone."

"Pah. Who decides that anyway? He?"

"I do."

"So it's up to you whether you help me or not." she returned.

"It's up to the Protector to send me out."

"Only because you say so. You can change your mind. This is important. The Reach for Horizon still hasn't returned. Something must have happened to them. You have to get them back home."

"I will seek out and bring back whoever the Protector sends me to get." Falharnen replied, still neutral.

"Have you even listened?" the woman burst out, ever more agitated. "They're out there somewhere. The Oracle said Karnai is lost." She turned to look at Sceela. "What about you, you're here to make sure the people are safe."

"I'm here to make sure people aren't disregarded by other people." he replied.

"Well then. Everyone's disregarding Karnai's fate. Including the Protector."

"Lady, our guidelines are quite definite. Twisting matters to suit yourself isn't going to help you find an ear."

"If there's something to do, the Protector will see to it that it's done." Jinrai added. "Your claims alone don't warrant action."

She stared at him as if he had spoken out of place. As if without his words she had been well on the way to convince Sceela and Falharnen. "Pah." She turned round and stormed out.

"Wonder what has her so agitated." Sceela mused.

Naetha nodded. If there were reason to worry, Dar Arathor would not just send a lone Spirit Catcher, there would be a whole fleet going out in search of the Reach for Horizon. He remembered the launch, they had taken enough supplies to last them over a year, plus an Oracle to help guide their way, several Wardens to protect against whatever wild beasts they might encounter, and a Spirit Catcher to step in when the worst happened. Wherever they were, they were quite safe.

"The young are often rash, and selfish." Falharnen said, sounding sad.

Often, yes, but not always, Naetha thought looking at his fellow Wardens.

"This one is going to cause trouble." Sceela observed.

Jinrai nodded and glanced at the Spirit Catcher. "See anything immediate?"

He shook his head. "I will know when there is need." he looked at Naetha. "Your turn?"

He smiled and went back to considering his options. Not every stone could be placed next to any other, and the more stones lay on the table, the fewer the possibilties became, as it also depended on the entire arm going out from the Pharay, and what stones would end up adjacent if he put his at the base.

He made his choice and placed it so that there likely would still be at least one option the next time it was his turn, then looked at Jinrai, who placed his own stone.

The morning went on with few visitors, only townsfolk asking for one lost object or another, most of them indeed waiting to be picked up here or at one of the other sanctuaries. Falharnen, as usual, lost the game, and the one following as well.

Half-way to noon the second shift returned from their patrol and Naetha and his comrades rose to get ready to do their own round, exchanging news on the small things each group had dealt with while they put on their light chainmail coats. Made of the same material as the unrolled coil hanging from the Spirit Catcher's right shoulder, it weight no more than a cotton cloak would, though the townsfolk often adressed them with questions on how they could stand walking around in something that looked so heavy. And hot, in the increasing heat towards and after noon. In truth it protected against just that as well.

Naetha adjusted his hood, waved at the second shift settling down at the table, and stepped into the bright daylight outside. He took a moment to let his eyes adjust, then turned to the three that had followed him to see if any of them had specific plans for their route. They would walk every road in their district at least twice, but it was wiser to not take the same path every day. Odd as it was, with all that was provided for the citizens, some still sought to take from others, and not only material things.

Falharnen nodded up the road ahead and started walking. "Let's start with the less wholesome areas today."

Why the less balanced spirits always seemed to gather in one or the other place was also a mystery, Naetha thought as he fell into step beside Jinrai. The places shifted over time, but there were always some spots where more people tried to take advantage of others one way or another. The Wardens and accompanying Spirit Catchers made sure they weren't successful, but more often than not the culprits were surprised that they had been found in the first place.

Whatever the cause for those attempted crimes, Naetha was glad he had been allowed to join the Wardens to help do something about it. There were a great many people that ought to live unbothered and unburdened.

Those they met on the way to the Evening Park greeted them with smiles or waved, just as glad to see them walking the streets. Especially their children liked to walk along, asking questions and telling tales of their little adventures.

Naetha sometimes wondered whether the way they would turn out could be told even at such young an age. Perhaps what sort of questions they asked, or what kind of adventures they prefered. It would be nice if they could be spotted early, and taught better. Though how that should be possible, he didn't know. The parents were wise and kind, and the Spirit Catchers made sure the children had no experience that would skew their outlook.

Falharnen, of course, just said that people had a mind, and were to be varied, not uniform. It was their choice to give or expect.

And varied they were, from the quiet scholar to the exuberant merchant prizing his wares.

Or preacher.

As they entered the Evening Park, they could hear one of them well before they saw him.

How they made up their tales was also a mystery, Naetha thought. They came up with the oddest explanations for life and order, some ranting against the Protector, the Oracle, or both. At times they aquired a number of listeners even, who went out to spread their tales.

Somehow, Naetha wasn't at all surprised to find the woman from this morning standing in the crowd that had gathered around this one, nodding at a speech about the injustice of the Protector.

Sceela climbed the steps to the little pedestal, nodded at the crowd, then looked at the preacher. "I do not wish to interrupt your little diatribe, but perhaps you are not aware of a few flaws in your reasoning." he did indeed interrupt the man. "For your information; you are free to leave Tonara Bay and set up your own place in the unclaimed lands between the cities, with all the support and supplies you need for a good start, or indeed leave the protection of the Dareth alltogether. However, wishing to inflict your view on the happy citizens of Tonara Bay is just what you criticize. They do not want it your way, and it is their city."

"I was born here, too!" the preacher burst out.

"And all you had then is what you are entitled to; yourself, the protection of the Dareth, the wisdom of the Oracle, and the choice to live as you wish, in mutual regard or outside the cities."

"And who decides that?" the woman from earlier demanded.

"What claims do you offer?" Sceela returned. "I offer wisdom and prosperity. Whose wisdom do you proclaim superior? Or do you offer first come, first take? In that case, you're last, not first; you did not build Tonara Bay. Do you offer anarchy, to be robbed by the next one, and no one to catch you? Or do you only claim rights for yourself, denying it others?"

The woman blinked, then frowned. "The Protector is doing nothing to save the Reach for Horizon from whatever fate they met."

"What reason is there to believe they need saving?"

"They haven't returned! And the Oracle said Karnai is lost!"

"As it talked to you, it would mean lost to you." Sceela pointed out. "For any other meaning, others would have been adressed, long before you went to it, and actions taken."

Naetha watched, looking from one to the other inbetween keeping an eye on the crowd, wondering how the woman could have turned out that way.

"That can't be true." she stated "They would have come home long since."

"Why?" Sceela returned. "They went out to have adventures. The obvious reason for not coming back is that they're enjoying whatever adventures they do have."

She shook her head. "No! I'm here, he has to want to come back. Perhaps the others don't let him!"

"In that case Venshaid would have stepped in and brought him to safety." Falharnen said calmly.

The preacher turned his frown from Sceela to the Spirit Catcher, obviously displeased at yet another person disturbing his speech.

"You are not happy here, are you?" Naetha asked him, drawing the frown on himself.

"Why?"

"Because it occurs to me that another expedition might satisfy more than one citizen." He indicated the others in the crowd. "Perhaps some of these people as well. We can build another sea-hardy ship and follow the Reach for Horizon, and on the way look out for a place you would prefer."

"I don't want to go out on a ship!" the woman Sceela had been arguing with protested.

"Not even in search of your friend?" Naetha returned. "Perhaps you will see what holds him out there, and come to understand."

"And how do we know we won't sail past them?" she asked.

"With an Oracle to guide our way, we will meet them if it is in the interest of both ships to meet." He blinked as Falharnen disappeared, leaving only a faint mist the shape of his cloaked body behind that quickly dissipated. As aprupt as always, and just as apruptly Naetha was drawn to the cause of his disappearance. "As you see, we are urgently needed elsewhere. If my proposal is to your liking, I invite you to come to the sanctuary, or indeed apply to the Protector along with any fellow citizens that wish to come." He nodded at them, then turned and started running, Sceela and Jinrai already well on the way ahead.

****

Mirla gave a start. One moment she was backing up the hallway in her home, the next she stood in her old bedroom in her parents' house. She whirled round as she noticed something in the corner of her right eye, only to stop staring at the Spirit Catcher walking around her.

"Don't be afraid." he said and removed the veiled hood they normally all wore, revealing a friendly face that could just as well be any Warden's. "You're safe."

"He tried to break in!" Mirla burst out, still shocked at the reaction she had gotten from telling Baro that she had reconsidered their relationship. She had known that he was moody, easily irritated, but previously she had always been able to cheer him up again, liked making him smile and drawing out his humour. But when he had failed the test for the second time, she had wondered why, and whether he ever would pass it. Perhaps it was not so good to hang on to someone who wasn't fit to father children. And not because of that but the reasons behind it, though raising children had been the reason for her choice four years ago, and his reaction had well shown that he wasn't a suitable companion.

"I know." the Spirit Catcher replied. "That's why I brought you here. He will be retained."

"How?" But what she really wanted to ask was; 'How _could_ he?' And not meaning the man now standing in her old bedroom. Baro didn't seem to have listened, insisted that they were a couple, with plans, and of course she wouldn't leave him, what a silly idea. How dare he even call it silly? As if she had no mind to make decisions, ought to stick to his side for all time, solely to please him.

The Spirit Catcher shrugged. "It's what I do." He smiled. "I'm Falharnen. Would you like to see your parents, or return home?"

"Home?" Mirla wasn't sure she wanted to go back there at all.

"I would show you that there is nothing to be afraid of. It's not good if you let what happened weigh on you. I suggest concentrating on the fact that nothing could possibly have happened to you, either."

She frowned at him, then grinned. "You brought me here!"

He mirrored the grin. "That's what all of us do; jump in and prevent people getting harmed. Thus your home will continue to be safe in the future, as will the streets and all other places. I only brought you here so the first thing you saw was a place you still knew as safe."

Made sense. This was her first home, still a comfortable nest to return to when she felt like it. "And Baro will be retained?"

Falharnen nodded. "A Phantom will stand in to resolve his concerns, so there won't be a loss to others indirectly caused by his misbehaviour and intentions. You're free to witness the Protector's judgement, with whoever you wish by your side if they will come. To all others he will settle matters and leave."

She had heard about Phantoms, but never any details. People not directly touched by an attempted crime weren't told, could only guess that the person before them wasn't the same as they had heard about, if they did actually listen to the gossip. Usually, some little known person just packed up shop and left, without the cause ever becoming known. If there were indeed a cause; some people just didn't like it in Tonara Bay.

But with the Spirit Catcher's swift work it wasn't really anyone's business. There was no danger to be warned of, only ominous tales to be told for those who had a liking for them.

Mirla shook her head. "I trust the Protector will judge rightly. And I thank you for saving me from Baro's intentions." She smiled. "Perhaps you would like a fresh honeybread for your break, as more substantial thank you to you and your comrades?" They would have to be dealing with Baro right now.

He smiled as well. "I'm sure they will be as pleased as I. Shall we leave this room now?"

"My parents, will they have heard us? Perhaps it would needlessly worry them to come down the stairs with you." She frowned. "Then again, they will wonder why we didn't when I tell them..." She shrugged. "Let's go." She went to the door and outside, leading the way down to where at this time her mother would be cleaning out the shop for the noon break. She found her --or rather him by now; she had shifted when both Mirla and her brother had been grown and left house-- just closing the front door to his bakery.

After the initial surprise at seeing Mirla here, and a moment's worry glancing at Farlharnen, her mother smiled and rushed over. "It's good to see you well." he said, hugging her. "Come, let's sit down." he added, letting go and turning her round to the dining room. "Your father will surely join us shortly. I've got us some nice Sanflow tea the other day." He glanced at Falharnen, his veiled hood hiding most of his face once again. "You like tea?"

"I do." the Spirit Catcher replied in his friendly voice, and he and Mirla sat down around the table.

Her mother briefly squeezed her hand, then stroked over her face and hair, as if to make sure that she was well despite the cause for them turning up here, then went to the window, readying a pot with tea from a shelf beside it and the water left to heat in a metal can out in the noon sun.

Her father came in just as her mother returned to the table with the pot. He hadn't shifted, instead chosen to change profession, and was now one of many tending the gardens and parks throughout Tonara Bay. After a glance at Falharnen, he took a long look at Mirla, clearly making sure she was well, then went to her mother for a more intimate greeting, stroking the back of his hand down his companion's chest.

"Falharnen," Mirla said to the Spirit Catcher, then continued looking at her parents, indicating each one, "these are Satha and Nirae, my mother and father."

He nodded and received his tea with a thanks, leaving her to puzzle at how he might drink it with the veil. He obviously had practice drinking or eating beneath it, she noticed in passing while she related what had happened.

"It is good that you brought her here." her father said, squeezing her hand. "How did you know, though?"

"Just as a moment of peril is a strong emotion, so is the tie to a safe place." he replied. "I just followed her spirit."

Satha nodded. "You are aptly named."

Humour entered his eyes. "It would hardly do if we were called millers."

Mirla chuckled at the image of Falharnen covered up to his elbows in flour.

Her parents had to smile as well, at ease. She could see it in their faces that they, too, focussed on the fact that nothing _had_ happened, assured, instead of what might have happened. They enquired if she had any new plans now, and then told of the small and not so small things in their lifes, the bakery, and the gardens. Just like on any other visit.

At one point Mirla turned her head to the window, the beam coming in having wandered to touch the table, and noticed that Falharnen was no longer with them. She couldn't recall when he had disappeared, but this afternoon had turned out so normal that for a moment she wondered why a Spirit Catcher would have been sitting here with them at all.

She smiled at her parents, comfortable.

****

"It's your turn." Jinrai pointed out, looking at Falharnen. Not that it would make much of a difference; the way it looked, he would lose this game as any other. But as long as he was enjoying himself.

Falharnen had his head turned to the door behind Jinrai. "There are a great many people on the way here." he said. "Perhaps we would be better off making space."

Jinrai glanced around the little room, wondering how that could be accomplished. The shelf for the found objects took up what wasn't occupied by their chainmails hanging from their pegs, and the table with enough room to sit down without squeezing. "Maybe we would do better to receive them outside." he said just as the door opened. He turned, wondering whether it was too late, but only one young person entered, one obviously just beginning to shift; by the sash around the waist it was male, though the shape, hips broader than shoulders, indicated a woman.

Jinrai recognized the face as that of the Phantom that had taken the assault the day before instead of the young woman that had been the intended target. It had been a grisly sight, but necessary to judge the entire scope of the attacker's attempted crime. The Phantom itself wasn't actually harmed, and as Wardens they had been trained to accept it as a display of the criminal's extend of intentions, nothing real. Without that, they would likely retain nightmares. Even so, young Naetha had been rather startled and spent part of the afternoon with the Phantom, him being reaassured, with its appearance restored.

Mirla greeted them with a broad smile, then lifted the covered tray he was carrying. "I brought you some honeybread, as thanks."

Jinrai grinned. "Just what we were all dreaming, and it will save Falharnen from losing another game of Pharay's Arms." And it would help not only young Naetha to see that the real target was well. But they all came to visit the sanctuary responsible for saving them, bringing one small pleasantry or another. "Come, take a seat." he said, rising and pulling out his chair for their visitor.

"May I ask what moved you to shift?" Falharnen enquired as Mirla sat down.

He grinned at the Spirit Catcher. "Nothing frightful. We talked about what to do now, and I decided that I wouldn't sit around without a companion, instead go out and see a bit more. I can still shift back when I find a new one, and do another test."

"You have returned your permission?" Sceela asked.

Mirla nodded. "It seems only right. Before, the path to take was pretty clear. Now, with whatever the unknown brings, I might not be the same person afterwards."

The right choice, too; Jinrai thought. While the events of the day before wouldn't weigh on Mirla, his situation had changed.

"Perhaps I'll even go exploring." their visitor said as he pulled the cloth from the tray, revealing four equal chunks of freshly baked honeybread plus accompanying smell. "The city was overflowing with rumours yesterday afternoon. They want to start another expedition." At the last the spark of anticipation entered his eyes.

Sceela nodded. "It was suggested to some people disagreeing with how things are handled here, as well as one wishing for the Reach for Horizon to return."

"If they do go out, they will follow its path." Naetha added, receiving his honeybread with a smile.

"Think they found something?" Mirla asked.

"New lands, strange cultures, mysterious paths to wisdom?" Sceela suggested good-humoured.

Everyone knew the tales; every expedition going for the horizon encountering something that held their attention. Many returned, some only years later, with stories that fascinated the young and the old. A few even stayed with whatever they had found, more content there than here.

Mirla nodded. "Cerya --my brother-- and I often went to the harbour museeum when we were children, dreaming of going out on one of those old ships and finding lands made of sweets and spooky ruins --with friendly ghosts of course." He grinned, then turned wistful. "I think Cerya went with the Reach for Horizon to follow those dreams." He looked from Jinrai to Falharnen. "Today I'm just curious. I'd like to see things. I hadn't thought much about what to do after telling Baro that I no longer wish him as companion, but even right afterwards I felt strangely free, as if I hadn't been before. I want to experience that in a more extensive way."

"Then sailing away to explore strange lands might just be the thing for you." Falharnen said.

"Well, first they have to build a ship, if the Protector gives his permission. Maybe I'll start by helping with the construction, and then see about sailoring."

Jinrai smiled. "You don't strike me as someone who would take up a passenger cabin and sit through the journey."

He nodded and rose. "I better see-" He was stopped short by the door opening, accompanied by a swirl of voices from outside.

The preacher from the day before was the first to enter, the woman that had complained about no one going out looking for the Reach for Horizon on his heels. More people tried to press in as the door opened further, but the two of them took up all the remaining space there was.

"You said-" the woman started looking at Naetha, then stopped when she spotted Mirla, the initial stare quickly turning into a frown. "What are you doing here?" she asked, then indicated the young man's sash. "And what's that?"

"Good day to you, too, Lyssei." he replied with a chuckle. "And that's a length of cloth boung around my waist, commonly refered to as 'sash'." he added, lifting one end.

"I know that." Lyssei returned, stroking over the ends of her own hanging down her chest. "You were preening your permission last time we met."

Mirla blinked. "I'm sure it was your trying to pry out how I had passed the test that brought and kept up the subject at all."

"Take that somewhere else." the preacher ordered. "We've got more important matters to talk about."

Jinrai gestured at the door and the crowd gathered beyond it. "Might I suggest we do that outside? You're not all going to fit in here."

"You need not speak to all of us." the preacher stated. "I'll pass on your words."

"How inconvenient, when they're right here." Sceela said as he and the other two around the table were rising as well.

Together with Mirla they maneuvred their reluctant guests outside. Once there, they persuaded the crowd to shape a half-circle around the sanctuary's entrance and took up station at the door.

"I take it you are here to hear more about the suggestion to sail out for yourself?" Naetha asked.

"How is anyone going to do that?" Lyssei promptly demanded. "We don't even have a ship!"

He smiled. "Then you came to the right place. No doubt you haven't forgotten that it is also our job to guide any enquiring citizens through dealings with the Protector, or other official business." He looked past her at the crowd, adressing them all. "Which of you surely wish to sail out on the ocean for one reason or another, and which of you are merely curious? Which of you are yet indecisive, perhaps because you don't know what to expect? Please be so kind and group accordingly, so that we can see the rough numbers we can expect to start with." He gestured to the right. "As fitting, I think, those with a higher interest please gather towards the ocean."

With some shuffling and muttering the crowd complied, the largest part ending up towards the city center to the left. Lyssei, among a handful of people in the middle, was frowning at Mirla in the definite group. The young man stood there only with the preacher and a couple of his followers.

"What we will do now is head to the Protector for permission, where you will each have an opportunity to state your reasons. Once we have permission, we will start gathering supplies and ask for sailors, and continue to do so while the ship is being built. The builders will no doubt welcome assistance, just as the later crew will, but the plan and order will be taken care of by Dar Arathor; you aren't expected to know the details and requirements. They will take your individual reasons into account as well. Once-"

"You mean I just have to wait until the boat is finished and then go on board?" Lyssei interrupted him.

"If that's what you wish, of course."

"Why didn't he say so, then?"

"Did you ask to go after the Reach for Horizon?"

"I asked for him to send someone."

"Send someone who doesn't have an interest in it?"

"They should have an interest!"

Naetha shook his head. "You're the only one worrying over a sailor on the Reach for Horizon. I expect the other friends and relatives trust that they are well."

"Why aren't you worrying?" Lyssei demanded of Mirla.

"Because I know that nothing bad will happen to them wherever they are." he replied.

"And you'll just leave Baro behind?" she asked with another glance at Mirla's sash.

"Baro will go his own way. I've told him I do not wish to continue our relationship before I decided to join the new exploration." He turned to Naetha. "Once...?"

The young Warden smiled. "Once the ship will be finished, you'll have your cabins assigned --and tasks if you wish to be part of the crew-- your travelling gear will be brought on board, and it'll be launched with fitting farewell. If you do not know what to take, we'll offer advice on that as well."

Lyssei's displeasure at the delay was visible on her face, but then she moved as if straightening an already straight posture, and took the two steps to join the definite group.

Four more followed her, the fifth from those standing with her went to join the onlookers. Instead, two citizens from that group split off, one of them stopping before Naetha, looking apologetic. "It didn't seem real before, now it is definite."

Naetha grinned. "No doubt more will join once the word spreads. I expect about twice as many passengers." He gestured towards the city center, looking back at Mirla's group. "Shall we go?"

By now it was late enough that the second shift had arrived, so Jinrai and his two fellow Wardens went inside to get their chainmails and the honeybread, then walked the people to the temple without further delay or discussion, accompanied by those of the onlookers that apparently hadn't yet had enough of the spectacle.

****

"You've got a friend or relative on the Reach for Horizon?" Shanueth asked the young man that had just started to shift.

"My brother." he replied. "What about you?"

He shrugged. "I wondered whether to go with them, decided against it, then wondered what I might have missed." He put his left hand against his chest, then turned it thumb outwards, smiling. "I'm Shanu."

"Mirla." he replied with the same gesture. "If I had chosen differently four years ago, I might have accompanied Cerya, but I was still planning to have a family then."

Shanueth nodded. Mirla would have made a fine mother, the best of starts. Shame there hadn't be a suitable companion. But a spirit seeking new impressions was just as welcome. "You appear to be looking forward to this as strongly as to a family."

Mirla beamed. "It's strangely exciting. Who knows what's out there? The tales all tell of different places. And there's no regular traffic to bring news of what became of them."

"Perhaps it's because there's nothing to trade but news or tales. And it's the Oracles that set the course. I heard that even experienced sailors following another captain's log didn't get to the same place."

He nodded. "Those stories were among my favorites, though mostly because I hoped that one would explain why."

"Maybe it's that you indeed have to go and see for yourself to find that out." Shanueth suggested.

Mirla grinned. "Now that would be something." He nodded to the pyramid ahead. "Have you ever gone to see the Protector?"

He shook his head. Not this way, though Arathor was a familiar figure. "I hear some people visit him regularly." And not all to complain. Some sought reassurance, or guidance from him instead of the Oracle. And some just came to give their respect. As many people as Shanueth had seen, the various ways they could turn out never ceased to amaze him. It was why he liked to be right in the middle of them. An expedition with so different goals in just the first few that decided to come would be an interesting home for a while.

He turned to Lyssei just before they reached the stairs. "You seem to be on edge. Almost as displeased as our preacher fellow here to see the Protector."

"He wasn't very helpful." she replied curtly.

"Perhaps a Helper as ruler of Tonara Bay would be more to your liking?"

"What good is a Protector if he doesn't protect his people?"

"Would you rather have them tied down in what you consider a safe place? Would that not harm their spirit?"

She frowned, then glared at him. "What about my spirit?"

"What about theirs? They might ask that very question, too." He shook his head. "A different question; what rules would you set up if you were Protector?"

"I would start with letting people have children when they will."

The preacher nodded. "And not deny them the truths to lead them to the right path. The Protector wants his people to stay ignorant. But there are forces beyond us, and they require recognition."

Shanueth raised both eyebrows. Wherever did people get these ideas?

"What path is that anyway that you keep talking about?" Lyssei asked.

"The Path of the Art. Do you think the Spirit Catchers and Oracles can do their tricks without assistance? But they keep the power to themselves, unwilling to share. I wouldn't be surprised if it is they who keep the Dareth in power."

"That would match him saying even less than the Oracle, and unwilling to send a Spirit Catcher."

"Is that what you asked him?" Shanueth enquired. "Do you know what it means if he sends one on behalf of someone else, rather than the one in need?"

"Or what he claims that means." the preacher stated.

"What do you then expect of this journey? Proof?"

He glanced at Shanueth. "You do not expect me to be allowed to bring back evidence against him and those with the Art?"

"If it exists, why not?" he returned. "You're allowed to speak freely to any adults willing to listen."

"By then it is too late for most!" the preacher burst out. He gestured at Mirla. "Look at that young man. He would wave it all off as nonsense."

Mirla turned to them. "Now, I wouldn't do something so unkind. I would enquire how you came to your conclusions. In fact, I'm rather curious how you do." He smiled, motioning at the entrance to the temple, right before them. "Not now, though. But I expect we will have much time to discuss this."

The preacher glanced from him to the corridor ahead, his expression turning to a scowl, saying no more.

Perhaps he would do better to look back, not forwards, Shanueth thought and trailed a hand along the transparent wall; the onlookers that had followed them up the stairs would find themselves in an empty corridor rather than still tagging along behind those set on sailing away. A fact that would no doubt feed the preacher's ideas.

They filed into the center of the pyramid, Arathor already waiting for them in the middle of the room. When no one spoke up, Warden Naetha stepped forwards and stated their reason for being here.

Even before the young Warden had finished speaking, Shanueth found himself suspended in a dark void; as if the light had been turned off, and walls and floor had turned to black mist. All that was still visible were himself and Arathor before him, grinning, amused.

"You wish to accompany them?" The sound of the words hung in the air without either of them speaking.

Shanueth had to grin as well. "I wish to accompany them." His own voice, too, appeared around them. "I wish to be a shipbuilder, and then a sailor."

Arathor nodded, and Shanueth stood again in the center room of the pyramid. The people beside him blinked, surprised by a similar experience. Less so the Wardens and those familiar with the test; it wasn't the first time they had been touched directly, to show the whole of their reasoning in privacy.

How the talk went of course depended on the individual, and how willing they were to share. The preacher looked even more disgruntled, expecting some trickery. But he didn't protest any further; likely all had been said during the private talk.

"I will have the ship built. You each know where your feet will take you now." Arathor said, then turned and walked out. As brief as always.

Mirla turned to Warden Jinrai. "That was quick."

He nodded. "It seems I'll be coming, too." He looked around at his fellow Wardens and Falharnen, who all nodded.

"Us as guards seems the obvious choice." Warden Sceela added. He took out his honeybread and bit into it. "I wouldn't be upset if it were you who volunteered to be the cook." he said with a grin after swallowing.

Mirla chuckled. "I might help out with the bread and sweet rolls; that is just about the only things I can make, and that only because my parents have a bakery."

"Looks like our first task is to find a decent cook." he concluded.

"We're unlikely to find one in here." one of the others explorers said good-humouredly, then introduced himself. "I'm Saika."

The others repeated the gesture one after the other, giving their names as well, even the preacher and the two citizens staying close by his side.

"Saika is right." Nulae said as Silay, the only other woman in their group moved her sash from around her neck to her waist, reducing the number of women to one. "This place looks sparse on cooks. And I think we all do have an idea of where to go now." He reversed the introduction gesture, then walked out.

As if that had been a signal, the others also started moving towards the entrance. Next to last, before Shanueth, were Mirla, Falharnen, and the Wardens, deep in conversation about their plans.

Not surprisingly, they and a few others took the same direction as he, and after a while Falharnen fell behind to join Shanueth. "You're heading for the harbour, too, I see."

"Building something seems a worthwhile task." he replied, grinning.

Falharnen laughed. "I like this turn. It may attract more disgruntled or just curious citizens than the Reach for Horizon."

Shanueth nodded. That one had had an air of closedness about it; a group of friends doing their own thing. They would have accepted others going with them, but few had even just enquired about it. And while Arathor wouldn't chuck people out, he was well willing to offer alternatives to those not content here.

And a bit of fresh air, with the smell of the exotic, did even those good that stayed. It gave them something to talk about besides every-day matters, gave their imagination something to work with. He himself would likely never get bored even staying here, but enough of even the more settled citizens might. And ideas that sprang from boredom rather than inspiration might be a lot like what the preacher tried to spread, with no real benefit for anyone, not even those that had them.

"I think I might be a storyteller as well, and bring back fancy tales to entertain our fine citizens." Shanueth said.

"Slate or canvas?" Falharnen enquired.

"Slate, I think. That might puzzle later generations as well." Clear drawings left little to decipher.

"As considerate as always." he replied, chuckling.

Shanueth grinned. "As any wholesome citizen should be." When he spotted Siray glancing back, he motioned for the now man to join them. Outside Wardens, the citizens were often reluctant to approach Sprit Catchers, and this was an opportunity to show that there was no reason to keep away from them, especially as Siray had been walking alone, as if not really part of their group.

Siray stopped, then fell into step beside Shanueth, throwing curious glances at Falharnen. "You two look as if you know each other."

Shanueth smiled. "I'm not shy to ask our friendly officials to come over for a tea on their free time. And, surprising as it may be, they're not shy to accept."

"The Oracles and Dar Arathor as well?" he asked, astonished.

"The Protector is busy most of the time, but yes, they, too. I have always felt that it is sad for them to be so separated from the other citizens, simply because of the office they hold creating a perceived distance."

"The veil doesn't help." Siray concluded, smiling.

"With the exception of the Protector, it would be unwise to have our faces known to too many people, because of those less pleased with our service." Falharnen said. "And to make selected exceptions might just increase some citizens' disgruntlement."

He sighed. "Makes sense." He shrugged. "Still feels odd to be chatting with you, though, outside your patrols. As a kid I used to pester you and the Wardens whenever they came by our street."

"Children all over the city have that habit. What do you think causes the retreat?"

Siray shrugged. "Perhaps expecting that you're busy. And no idea what you might do in your free time. Perhaps even the idea that you don't have any free time."

Falharnen chuckled. "Like, we might be deactivated at the end of our patrol?"

Siray nodded. "Something like that." He grinned. "Sounds silly, I know. But who does know anything about you?"

"Anyone who asks." He gestured at Shanueth. "Shanu here hasn't lost his curiosity. I think perhaps it even increased."

"With every year." Shanueth agreed, smiling. "I'm also curious about your reasons to go exploring, if you don't mind saying."

"I've spent the past eight years doing nothing much at all, besides meeting with other women, speculating about the future, going out to meet new people, finding a companion at the back of my mind. I think I've sat around long enough. This is an opportunity to do something entirely different, not just shift and take up work here in the city." He glanced at Falharnen, then back to Shanueth. "What about you?"

"I'm not only interested in our officials, but other people, too. I contemplated joining the Reach for Horizon, now I'm not going to miss this exploration. Just look at the varied motivations, and where that might take us."

"You think the course depends on the passengers?"

He shrugged. "I wouldn't dismiss the possibility."

Siray considered that, then looked at Falharnen. "What about you?"

"As Sceela said, we seem the obvious choice as guards, being involved already. And as none of us objected, there's no reason not to come."

"You aren't curious yourself?"

A smile entered his eyes. "We, Spirit Catchers, are in touch with people, wherever they are, so I doubt I'll be surprised by what we may find."

"Even at that distance?" he asked, astonished.

Falharnen nodded.

"I wonder why Lyssei is so agitated, then."

"I suspect it's because she wants one of the sailors here rather than there."

Siray shook his head, then looked at Shanueth. "You're right, the motivations are indeed rather varied."

They stopped beside the others in front of the shipmaster's office, the man himself already waiting. "I just got the plans." he started.





++++

****

--------------------------------

And there it stopped with me realizing that there's no threat, so no story. Also not sure how interesting this is even without that problem.


Spoiler: It's meant to be Fantasy with Gods the way I would want good gods to be; preventing bad stuff. You can't have that and real threats in the same story.

Why "may contain adult concepts".
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ath_winter_lord
In short, to be on the safe side.

I've just (in the recent news post from LJ) noticed that LJ means nudity and/or erotica, while I mean violence and nasty things (I went looking for a proper definition and couldn't find one, so decided for the flag just in case).

Some details on that for the stories themselves:

The S&E has the investigation of a site with dead bodies right in the first scene after the prologue-thing. As well as nasty and violent things later (what the bad guys do, including attempts to mate with non-agreeing females). Non-explicit.

There can not be erotica in it (they're not humans, their mating is different, and the physical part of it is only ever implied), and wearing no clothes only leaves the characters wondering about the point of it. There's no description of naked people, apart from mentioning that the patterns their scales make on the skin from elbow to knee are visible.

The ME has nasty below-the-belt stuff, and, IMO, is not for people under 20, at least. No explicit descriptions (apart from someone talking about it in a later book, still without details), but the evil overlord likes to hurt people, including children. There's no doubt about what he does.

(You may consider the level of detail I give here equal to that in the stories.)

Seasons&Elements, scene 5 to 8
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As before, the lines that help me find something (viewpoint, day-of-story, rough time of day, and location of each scene) are removed from the story and put here before the cut. For a faint idea of what's to come, and because they're not part of the story text itself.

    -Gorash-     __0001__    12    Winter   
    -Dahrahn-    __0001__    18    Winter   
    .Dahrahn.    __0001__    ..    Winter   
    -Gorash-     __0002__    04    Winter   

Read scene 5 to 8Collapse )

Seasons&Elements, misc info for the curious.
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ath_winter_lord

If anyone's curious, here's a map, a table for how the magic would mix, an explanation for terms used/how long a week and stuff is, and a description of what the cover would look like if this were a book (anyone know any free software for easy creation of images - rather than having to draw it all manually - please let me know).
Appendix stuffCollapse )
Tags:

Seasons&Elements, intro, what's needed, first 4 scenes.
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Let's start with the one that needs the most help. Seasons&Elements trilogy/serial.

I've had a 'blurb' for this one for quite some time:

--------
The blurb for Seasons & Elements, Controlled by Magic might misrepresent it (the way they usually do) as:

"The peaceful life of the tribes was shaken when the unthinkable happened; families slaughtered and people abducted. Gorash, the leader of the Winter tribe, sets out to hunt down those responsible and get his people back, while not only he struggles to continue in a world suddenly strange to him.

"Along the way his group grows, but with it the danger of starting a war between the tribes, for some of their ways differ as fire and water do.

"Meeting, and dealing with the other tribes, he has to remember that they all share the same basic values, ignore his own customs to protect the continuation of another tribe, and eventually learn that there is a reason why they all live so far apart."

'This tale of dire fate alternating with light humour is reminiscent of <insert morst unfitting author>.'

[g]

(Btw, I wouldn't buy it for that blurb, because it highlights all the things I wouldn't want to read, thus I say 'misrepresent'; it's aimed at what people put on covers to get buyers.)
--------

The bare facts are true, mind.

What this needs most is 'polishing' the writing (for values of 'polishing' that are closer to de-messing a health-hazard-dirty flat than just dusting a few surfaces). There are several chunks of text that I cheerfully refer to as 'rambling', where even I get bored reading them. They're filled with information that I feel needs to be there, or at least somewhere, so I stuffed it into a viewpoint's thoughts, adding to it the more I learned later (I'm terrible at adjusting text after it's written). Help!

Something less laborous with which you could help me is simply telling me whether the characters make sense, along with the setting, and things that happen. Does it all work out? This is a non-human species, no humans in sight in the entire story. Some things at least look familiar, but some things are specific to their species. For me, a story has to make sense inside its own setting. Does this, for you? Does the introduction of the species draw a clear image?

Less important, but still welcome... I'm of course curious whether anyone would actually find this story interesting. Any other thoughts can at worst not help, so feel free to speak your mind.

A few more things (mostly copied and pasted from <http://home.htp-tel.de/fkoerper/ath/athintro.htm>):

- Nothing is meant as an infodump (see 'rambling' above, this is the stuff that needs to be fixed).

- Please note that I know that in some cases, speech requires a comma, not a period as I use. If I were trying to get someone to publish my stuff, I'd fix that. As it is I leave it because the comma upsets my sense of balance.

- Please don't tell me 'what readers want', I ask what you think. Hypothetical nonexistent readers aren't going to convince me. The impression you have might well.

The first line of each scene is not part of the story, but contains information for me to easier find it. It's viewpoint (where it's supposed to be clear from the text), day-of-story, time-of-day, and place (also where it's mentioned in the text). If the viewpoint isn't obvious from the text, or too late for your taste, please let me know. (The story is (meant to be) multiple tight third, with only one scene having no viewpoint at all.)

Now to the meat (the actual text), behind a cut:

Edit: I've moved said first line to before the cut, as info on what's about to come, and taking them out of the story itself.

    -[        ]-    __-200__    ..   
    -Gorash-        __0001__    06    Winter   
    -Dahrahn-       __0001__    ..    Winter   
    -Tashen-        __0001__    ..    Winter   

Read first 4 scenes of S&E.Collapse )

The list.
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To start with, just the raw list with data. Mainly, it tells you how much there is.

I'll use the title (or keyword that reminds me which story it is) as tag when posting bits.

Other tags will be:
- 'finished' if it is, 'beginning' if it's just that, or neither (as is the case for the S&E; there's something in the second book that I need to fix, after that I should be able to finish it).
- 'betareader' or 'problem', for needing a betareader to get the writing straightened out, or at least some comments (see 'wishlist' in the profile), or a problem that stopped me writing it that might be removed with some input (usually they are objections I had, something I didn't like).
- 'sig'; I'm using quotes from the ME and S&E in my sig on some Usenet newsgroups. Naturally I've restricted them to 4 lines. I'd like to post some of those scenes somewhere with more text around the quote. Maybe anyone who's seen the sigs would even like that.

                             Started:    Last edited:  Words:    Filesize:   
Hibernation                  11.06.04    28.01.07      3474      20230
    2nd viewpoint            13.07.04    28.01.07      2362      14129

Space                        25.01.05    16.10.07      6002      35913

Seasons&Elements trilogy/serial (short: S&E)
Controlled by Magic   1/3   ~12.02.05    16.05.08    196935    1136416
Controlling the Magic 2/3    03.05.05    20.10.10    207541    1197920
[No title yet]        3/3    22.06.05    13.03.07     37171     217648
Short story                  05.11.07                   445       2656

Magic Earth series/serial (short: ME)
Getting Caught        1/6    23.09.05    16.04.08    140325     800119
Without Heart         2/6    25.11.05    19.04.08    125784     715627
Magi Shans            3/6    25.12.05    27.04.08    148750     846243
Seeing Far            4/6    29.01.06    02.05.08    134463     763720
[No title yet]        5/6    07.03.06    06.05.08    125193     707307
[No title yet]        6/6    08.04.06    08.05.08    131981     751027
[No title yet]        7/6    28.05.07    21.12.10    105896     605147

Demons                       08.06.06    25.06.06     19701     114530

Tikki                        30.07.06                   303       1815

Following is 6 attempts at Fantasy with Gods. It's something I wanted to try, but that didn't work out for one reason or another in each case.
FwG 01 (weatherwitch)        01.10.06    07.10.06      3909      22582
FwG 02 (shakish,             11.10.06    24.10.06     21915     126244
        which may or may not jog my memory)
FwG 03 (Crysta Pardai)       25.10.06    15.04.07     30311     172702
FwG 04 (witches)             25.11.06    16.03.08     30628     175426
FwG 05 (fohel)               03.12.06    06.01.07     10130      56988
FwG 06 (Theshone)            27.01.07    22.03.08     18630     106154

The Knight's Journey         17.03.07    08.04.07     24603     141487
Kaldan                       06.08.07    23.03.09     10510      60792
(Adrian)                     18.08.07    29.08.07     10636      62072
Takon Dar                    26.10.07    26.11.07     20758     118773
Tracker                      21.01.08    03.02.08      1692       9796
(Arathor)                    24.03.08    11.04.08      9640      55622
(Node)                       05.10.08                  1576       9175
(Snakeman)                   20.10.08    25.10.08      1920      10921
Heart of the Land            07.12.08    18.01.09     27587     155425
(Plane World)                15.04.09    16.05.09     11841      66964
(Twofold)                    12.07.08    13.08.08     11566      66482
(Rats/mammals)               14.07.09    15.07.09      2805      16226
(STORY3 marble thing)        19.10.09                   294       1956
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