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29 December 2012 @ 12:48 am
The news of this week  
And when I say news, I of course mean "random stuff I got up to since my last post". Yes.

Got my Yuletide gift and it is awesome! I mean, a Moomin & Winnie-the-Pooh crossover? What more could I ask for?! Link here:

Moomintroll in Autumn

I've seen The Hobbit twice now, once with friends and once with family. Obviously I loved it. My favorite parts are how they managed to make each dwarf an individual with a distinct personality, while still keeping all of them very dwarf-ish in nature (I will admit to having had trouble remembering who was who when I read the book - except Thorin of course). I also liked all the extra material they put in and that the dwarf women actually had beards too (seems like muttonchops are in fashion for them) <3

But to avoid spoilers, I'll instead go on another, related rant. The Hobbitw put me in the mood for fantasy, the old fashion kind of fantasy, you might say. This led me to dusting off a story I've had in the works for some time, as well as plotting a new one in the same fictional universe.

Naturally, the new story focuses on dwarfs :)

I'm having so much fun with the world building it should be illegal! My sources of inspiration is a great mess of Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, the Pinis (ElfQuest) and a mass of my favorite fantasy tropes and cliches. I'm going to ramble on about the stories under the cut, fair warning ;)

The world in question doesn't have an assigned "evil" species. Instead, I'm doing the usual "conflicts happen, some people are douchebags and some douchebags end up in positions of power"-thing. So we have protagonist dwarves and antagonist dwarves, as well as neutral dwarves and all the shades in-between. Same goes for the other peoples.

Quick story overviews

Story 1
A human prince finds himself befriending a stranger in the woods, while out practicing magic; something that could get him in big trouble. His friend never shows their face to him, always wearing full-body armor. The prince still gets a crush on them though, due to the two of them being great friends (his friend having a voice that makes him shiver every time he hears it is just a bonus). Then one day, his friend tells him they have to leave for a long while. They promise to come back again, but can't say when. The threat of war from a much larger neighboring nation soon distracts the prince from brooding over his missing friend. As diplomacy fails and a war seems inevitable, a party of surprisingly finely dressed orchs show up at the castle. They offer their aid in the upcoming war, on one condition: a princess of their people wishes to marry the youngest prince. Shocked the royal family (the king and his sons; the prince has two older brothers) retreat to discuss this. Our dear main character decides to agree to the terms, to give their small army a chance against the invaders, and he goes with the orchs. Of course the orch princess turns out to be his friend, so the marriage ends up a happy one (though convincing his next oldest brother of this will be tricky).

- The human prince: The third son of a small, peaceful kingdom, he's rarely seen the darker side of humanity. A sweet person, but far from harmless (you can't grow up a prince and not learn how to fight). His greatest secret is that he has healing magic, which he's only confided in his friend (the orch princess). Magic is frowned upon among humans, since it's seen as a something only elves and orchs use, and neither of those peoples are overly popular among humans.
- The orch "princess" (orchs have no nobles, she's taken the title to impress the prince's family): A warrior through and through, but with a huge soft spot for the human prince. She's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but she's honest and loyal. When the prince's land is threatened by invaders she hurries back to her people to beg them for aid. A vote is cast and it's agree that the orchs will go to the humans' aid, if the humans show signs of open-minded-ness before the alliance. The princess' mother, knowing of her daughter's love for the prince, comes up with the 'alliance through marriage'-idea and another vote is cast. It's decided that the princess can't tell the prince who she is; she can't even accompany the party to the human land, this being a question of how self-sacrificing the humans' leaders are. The princess is none too happy about this, but a vote is a vote, so she sucks it up. Luckily everything turns out all right in the end. She calls the prince her little dove.
- The next oldest prince: Hostile, but only because he cares. He's devastated when his little brother is "sold off " to the orchs and secretly swears to get him back at any cost. Basically, he's the main antagonist for the second half of the story.
- The king and the oldest prince: Diplomacy first, always. They're both ready to sacrifice their lives to prevent their people form suffering. Neither of them are happy to see the youngest prince go with the orchs, but as he goes by his own free will it is a far better choice than sending their small army up against a foe they never could dream of defeating.
- The other orchs: They're a mixed bunch. None are outright hostile to the prince, seeing him more as an oddity than anything else, and when they find out about his healing powers they hail him as a hero and a treasure.

Story 2
Jale has few talents. He can fight and use a forge, but he'll never be a famed warrior or smith. He's average in most ways, which wouldn't be so bad if his sister Warsa wasn't so great. Warsa may be 50 years Jale's elder, but she had a full beard when she was his age and she's been a member of the third prince's personal squad for seven decades. The unfairness of it all stings on occasion, but he isn't jealous. Warsa is far too kind a sister for jealousy to grow, so instead Jale finds himself a victim of self-pity (which makes him feel bad for feeling pitiful when he has a good life, which leads to more self-pity, etc.). When he ends up saving the life of an elf (who turns out to be surprisingly polite and not at all interested in eating his soul), he sees his chance to prove himself, through possible trade and alliance with the elf's people. If only the rest of the dwarves saw it that way...

- Jale: A young dwarf, not even 80 years old yet. Has recently been given the job as guard, on the outside of the mountain. His job is both to watch out for invaders and to help lost people wandering the mountain (you'd be surprised how often humans get lost up there). He has two dreams: becoming a feldsher and catching the eye of Prince Onren. He believes himself to have more of a chance at the feldsher thing. He's not as melancholic as I might have made him sound. He's quick to smile and eager to be at the center of attention; he's just not all that self confident.
- Warsa: She's proud of her place in life and loves her work. She can be quite cocky at times, but has deep love for all her friends, her parents and her brother especially. She worries a lot for Jale, hoping he'll find a place in society where he'll be happy. She's also roped her entire squad into matchmaking him and Onren, as she knows Jale's been head over heels for the prince since his early dwarf-teens and that Onren (who basically is her best friend) finds Jale attractive. This matchmaking has been a slow process over the past 20 years, ever since Jale came off age. However, Warsa doesn't spend all her time worrying about her little brother. She's one of the best young warriors the kingdom has and is always right at the head of a charge or ambush when invaders approach. Her first concern is and must be the safety of all of her people.
- Prince Onren: Third child of Queen Erta and thus third in line for the throne. He's approaching 150 and is already a great warrior and smith; pretty much the ideal dwarf. Hasn't the charisma and social skills of his two older siblings, but people tend to look through their fingers about such things when you're royalty. He's gruff and not good with words, but he'll lay down his life for his people any day. He fell in love with Jale quite some time ago, but hasn't done anything about it, since Jale is his junior by 70 years, as well as his best friend's little brother.
- The rest of the squad: They're a rowdy, but nice bunch. They're also all subtly (or not so subtly) pushing for Onren to start courting Jale. They won't say anything outright though, since it wouldn't be their place. The squad has eight members, not counting Onren. My favorites of them are Kaaz and Fanwa, the squad's two pranksters (and lovers), because all cliche fantasy stories need a playful pair of not-too-good-with-responsibilities characters.
- Narathriel: The elf Jale saves. Narathriel is very grateful to the young dwarf for not being prejudice against his kind, and they soon become fast friends. Narathriel is on a mission to bring back herbs that grow on the dwarves' mountain, which are needed in a spell that will secure his people's borders. As a person he's very zen, only breaking his calm appearance when someone he cares about is in
- Other dwarves: They show up on and off. Most important to mention is Queen Erta, whose decisions set in motion most of the main conflicts in the story. Also, there are dwarves in a neighboring mountain who're set on invading Erta's kingdom. They're not very nice :)

The currently decided on peoples

- Orchs: Big, green and often seen riding great wargs, these guys are feared by everyone who don't know them; and that suits them just fine. They're very protective of their own and will put on horrific displays to warn off enemies. Torture is rarely used though. Their most used tactic is to kill their enemies swiftly and then show any survivors/the second wave how the bodies are given to the wargs to eat (and they don't make it clear that the bodies are dead bodies; fear is always a good demoralizer). Heads on spikes is popular too. They're also the people, other than the elves, who use magic the most. A fairly peaceful and diplomatic people, unless threatened. The group the first story focuses on have allied themselves with dwarves and therefore live inside a mountain. System of leadership = direct democracy.
- Humans: The humans and orchs have shorter lifespans than the dwarves and elves, which makes diplomatic relations between them and the elves/dwarves tricky. It's hard to have diplomacy when the other side has the same politicians for every ten generations you pop out, you know. Humans are, like most of the peoples, very suspicious of elves, due to history (see "Elves" for more info) and are terrified of orchs, seeing them as crazed beasts who only wish to eat human flesh. Dwarves they sort of get along with, depending on which dwarves and which humans we're talking about. Other than that, these humans are very much like real life humans, i.e. diverse and complicated (as are the other peoples, really). Their levels of tech are very Lord of the Rings at the moment. System of leadership = varies greatly, but the ones that show up in the stories have either a king/queen or a chief.
- Dwarves: The most technically advanced people, they've reached an early pseudo-steampunk level of tech. They live in mountains and are, in general, great smiths and miners. Their culture is very focused on personal responsibility and loyalty to superiors, be they elders or higher in rank. That said, they're a fairly cheerful lot, if a bit brusk. System of leadership = monarchy.
- Elves: They all have dark skin, but they're not dark elves or drows. If given a category, they're mostly like wood elves, though with a bit more architecture to their name. Due to a mishap with a couple of humans way back in the day, the elves have gotten a reputation as manipulators of the mind. Most dwarves, humans and orchs fear the mere presence of an elf, believing they'll be turned into mindless zombies the moment they meet the elves' eyes. The reaction to elves therefore tends to be "SHOOT IT! SHOOT IT!", which is why they prefer to keep to themselves. They are the only immortal people, though they can be killed. System of leadership = representative democracy.

Also, the dwarves have kicksleds. Because kicksleds.
Current Mood: energeticenergetic
Listening to: Blunt the Knives - The Hobbit OST