April 17, 2012


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

F Trope: fantasy worlds are pastoral until the Evil One arises

The young prince, Omurbek Akayev is only a figurehead as his people, a race of mountain elves who call themselves the Vos. They have long since fallen from empire and now live the life of peaceful nomads. They live in tents of heavy felt called chee and drive vast herds of ostrich-like animals called vosli, going from mountain pastures in summer to the vast plains of the steppe in winter.

The change in climate is necessary to keep the vosli from changing. Changing into WHAT, no one remembers as the migration has gone without trouble for hundreds of years. Legends remain, though vague and told only around campfires on late winter nights when the winds howl and the vosli shudder in their flocks under tarps.

But Omurbek, who “leads” only in a sort of vague way and is mostly in the shadow of his very practical, gruff and unimaginative father, King of the Vos, wonders about life in the cities of the Kyzhli, a people long established on the ocean beyond the steppe. Their people rarely interact, and then it is peacefully and through interpreters called “speakers to the heartless”.

His father sends him on a trade mission to the Kyzhli so that he might learn more of the people he will one day “rule” (He comments, “As if anyone rules this dung-stinking mob of cursing fighters and plodding morons!”). His father cuffs him and warns him to stay clear of intellectual pursuits. They poisoned the Vos once; he will not allow that to happen again.

The Kyzhli delegation is resplendent – or repulsive as Omurbek learns. Until he catches a glimpse of a young woman standing back of the rest of the lead traders. She is accompanied by two fearsome-looking female guards and seems aloof at first. He overhears one of the guards call her, Kali. He asks the Vosli trade leader who she is – and earns another cuff to the head and a warning to stay away from her.

Needless to say, Omurbek engineers a meeting with Kali as an abrupt winter storm sweeps over the trade village, few of them realizing that it is more than just a simple winter blizzard...

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