Saturday, February 17, 2018

Autobiography of a Fantasy Character - The Journey Begins

Fantasy is my favorite thing to read and write, but every genre comes with its own suitcase of tropes. In this blog series, we poke some fun at our beloved stories and at ourselves as fantasy lovers.

If you haven't yet read the first instalment, check it out:

Origin Story (in which Hero grows up in Quaint Village, Mentor is mysterious, Incentive dies, Villain's backstory is disclosed, and Hero discovers his singular purpose: to save the world.)

Mentor and I set out the very next day for Distant Land. We packed light, for everyone knows that heroes aren't supposed to look like burdened pack ponies. Taking too much food or supplies would ruin our appearance. Astride our gallant steeds, we bid Quaint Village farewell and rode out into the mountains.

My heart pounded like my stallion's hoof beats. I'd never left the valley before. Never seen the world before. And Distant Land was many, many leagues away, with untold wonders and dangers in between. Suddenly I felt very small.

As we rode, the prophecy ran through my mind.

Darkness watches the chosen one
Many wrongs have been done
When the final note has been sung
And night is day and old is young
Seize the keys that Villain flung

What could it all mean?

Mentor and I rode in silence all day, upslope and downslope and up again, through winding passes and over steep crags. Our horses never tired. We stopped once to eat, but never to relieve ourselves or feed our mounts. Heroes are invincible to normal human needs, you see. That night, we took turns keeping watch and sleeping under the stars. The rocky ground did not disturb my slumber, and I awoke feeling rested.

Our second day of travel continued much as the first. So did the third, the fourth, and the fifth, the mountains growing shorter every day. We could have used all this monotonous riding for discussion--Mentor could have explained more about his past or about my crucial role in saving the world--but where's the fun in that? Better to go into the big wide world with only the bare minimum of knowledge.

We did, however, spar together every night to keep up my training, and I even practiced using my powers. I learned how to start a campfire with a snap of my fingers, move a rockslide out of our path with a blast of light, and probe ahead with my mind to search for living beings.

But my abilities did not warn me of the dark soldiers following us. We had just reached a wide plain that stretched as far my eyes could see, when the enemies attacked from behind. A flurry of crossbow quarrels landed all around us. One struck my shoulder. I cried out and turned my horse to blast our attackers with a frenetic spray of energy. Several faceless soldiers died, but I missed four of them. They ran closer, crossbows taking aim again.

We didn't gallop away to escape their shots. We stood our ground. Heroes aren't supposed to run away from a fight, you know. So when the soldiers fired again, Mentor and I came within inches of death . . .

But Mentor raised his staff and shouted a mysterious word. "GHAOWOUSHAL!" Blinding white light shot from his staff like an exploding star, knocking the quarrels out of midair and searing the enemy soldiers where they stood.

Then we turned and ran.

My shoulder burned with pain. Every hoof beat seemed to drill the quarrel deeper. All I could compare the pain to was fire. Coals on my skin, heat in my veins, fire, pain, fire, pain. (Although I'd never been burned before, so this was all hypothetical.)

Mentor led the way over the grassy plain. We rode hard for several leagues before finally veering into a forest. By this time, I was nearly fainting with the fiery, burning, crackling, searing pain. My vision swam. My thoughts dispersed like fog burnt away by the sun. Mentor pushed his horse through the trees, and my stallion followed.

Just as black crept around the edges of my vision, I glimpsed a massive tree with faces peering out of windows carved in the trunk.

At last I fell unconscious.

* * *

I don't know how long I slept, passing in and out of a feverish haze. Blurry faces hovered above me. Words in a flowing language passed between them. Cool hands touched my burning wound. Somewhere in the back of my muddled mind, I deduced that the quarrel had been poisoned. No ordinary crossbow bolt would make my whole body feel as weak as wet paper.

As I slept, my mind was plagued with more visions of terror and death. I saw cities burning and fields slicked with blood, and a haunting aria of strings seemed to play in the background. I tossed and turned, too weak to rouse myself to wakefulness.

In one vision, I saw Mentor with his staff raised again. He shouted that gibberish word, but this time I understood it. "Cease and desist, by the Light that Blinds Enemies and Burns their Wicked Hearts!" Apparently much could be said in a single word. But understanding its meaning did little to answer my questions or bring peace to my troubled mind. Instead it added to my confusion. Who was Mentor?

When at last the fever broke and the fire in my shoulder eased, I opened my eyes and found myself nestled in a soft bed. Sunlight streamed through a window to illuminate a cozy room carved out of wood. Moss grew on the floor and flowers dressed my bedside table. Was I inside the huge tree I had seen? Whoever chose to live so close to nature must be noble folk indeed.

But what arrested my gaze was a pair of brilliant blue eyes staring down at me. Ruby lips turned downward in a frown. Pointed ears peeked out from waves of golden hair tumbling down her shoulders.

Standing at my side was the most gorgeous girl I had ever seen. And she was an elf.

To be Continued . . .


  1. Oh my goodness, Tracey, it’s so so so accurate! This might even be better than the first one. I absolutely love it. <3

    1. Hahaha! Thanks, Faith! I'm really glad you're enjoying yourself. ^_^

  2. {For some reason, Mikayla H's comment didn't go through.}

    That was awesome! Especially the journey. Its so true, these people never stop for anything! And they never talk, its rather odd. And yeah, all wounds are related to fire. I don't know why. You'd think someone would come up with another word to describe it. ;)
    I can't wait for the next part!

    1. I'm always wondering why no one grows beards or stops for the bathroom or gets tired! Haha, if they DO talk, it's often to dump some important backstory. XD As for fiery wounds...I'm terrible at falling back on that description too. I need to work on that!

      Thanks, Mikayala!

    2. Haha, yeah. Some incredible people that don't have to stop. I need this... XD
      Me to. I just hadn't really thought about how much I did it. Gotta work on that to.

    3. Everyone has their blind spots and pet descriptions! (And that's why beta readers are awesome.)

  3. *DIES* You nailed it once again! I declare half the books I've read are this exact thing. own early writing works. *COUGH*

    The mention of them never relieving themselves or feeding their mounts killed me. SO ACCURATE. And the fact that Mentor never really talked or explained anything, despite monotonously traveling for days. Because I've thought about that before! There are SO many scenes in books where they're traveling for daaaays but, somehow, never really TALK. I mean, come on. XD

    But this is where I REALLY lost it: "I was nearly fainting with the fiery, burning, crackling, searing pain." XDDDDDDD YEP. Exactly how pain is explained in these stories!

    And am I getting whiffs of instalove? LOLZ.

    I'm just sitting here grinning and cackling to myself. You are seriously a genius, girl!

    1. HAHAHAAAA... You should see MY early writing. >.< But imitation part of the learning process, right?

      Seriously, nobody pays attention to their physical needs! I think practicality alone could fix a TON of fantasy tropes, actually... *stares off into the distance as plot bunnies emerge* LOL, it's true, isn't it? Characters are often the worst at explaining things. Or talking through conflicts--but that's another matter altogether. XD

      LOL, I maaaaay have written some of those fiery pain descriptions in The Brightest Thread... :P

      Whatever gave you THAT idea? ;)

      Awww, thank you! It's been so fun swapping jokes with everyone in the comments for these posts. Y'all are the best!

  4. This is utterly perfect. I'm still laughing far too hard . . . oh goodness! It's all so TRUE, though. I wish I had the ability of a fantasy character - to not use the bathroom on very long trips. XD And yay! The elves have appeared complete with tree house, preternatural ability to heal, and stunning beauty. :D

    This was amazing!


    1. Just think how much faster we could get places if we didn't have to stop for bathroom breaks! XD Heehee, yuuuuup, the gorgeous tree-hugging elves have arrived indeed. This is going to be fun...

      So glad you enjoyed it, Brianna!

  5. Hooray, the elves I've been waiting for!!
    Love these. =)

    1. Methinks the elf girlfriend is here to stay! ;D Thanks, Hanna!

  6. I loved both this post and the last one :) I caught several LOTR and Eragon references there :).


    1. Thanks so much, Catherine! I loooove LOTR, but it's funny how many fantasies have borrowed heavily from it. *cough* Eragon *cough* XD

  7. Enter the elves!
    I've always wondered at a hero's ability to go all day without a washroom break- or even a tea break. I've also wondered how it's always the shoulder that gets hit.

    1. It would hardly be a Proper Fantasy without 'em! ;)

      Me too! I guess if they don't drink tea or eat anything on their journeys, bathroom breaks aren't necessary...? Sigh, I seem to injure a lot of shoulders in my writing too. It's a convenient place to be wounded, I guess. It's painful, but apparently not debilitating enough to keep the hero from running, riding, climbing, or fighting one-handed.

  8. This made me laugh so hard, why is this so similar to my first book! XD

    Love the part about the horses never needing to stop.

    1. LOL! I guess we all start out imitating before we learn to be more original.

      What can I say? Fantasy horses must all have their invincibility stars. (Wait, Tracey, was that a Mario reference? XD)

  9. I'm reading these to my mom now and she is duly entertained. We especially liked the parts with "fire, pain, fire, pain" and "a haunting aria of strings seemed to play in the background". XD

    On the topic of heroes never needing to relieve themselves, I've read stories that did and did not include mentions of relieving one's self and for the stories that did mention it...they did it tastefully and it was interesting to see the author trying to be realistic but at the same time I kinda felt like I didn't need to know that character 1 had to turn away because they realized character 2 was taking a potty break behind the tree. :p In my one story that involves lots of travel I've kinda tried to make quick mentions that they stopped for rest and I figure the reader can just assume potty breaks are happening then. XD

    1. Awww, really? (Hi, E's Mom!) I guess pain is never the smarting, prickling, stinging, slicing, crushing kind--just burning. And of COURSE we need those strings in a sad moment. XD

      Balance is tricky when it comes to mundane or not-completely-appropriate things like that! I've seen it go both ways as well. Sometimes it's like, "Yeeeeah, I didn't need to know that." Other times it's cleverly done. I remember one book where the main character drank lots of water before bed in order to wake himself up in the middle of the night to sneak out.

  10. This is painful to read. *moves farther away from Fantasy*. But it does make you admire those authors who have sucessfully written Fantasy and created realistic worlds.

    1. LOL, it IS a tricky thing to strike the right balance between the familiar and the original when it comes to fantasy... or any genre, I suppose. But fantasy requires some serious worldbuilding skills!

  11. Oh my word, this is awesome XD All of it screamed LotR, but when you're reading LotR, it definitely doesn't feel like this XD

    Btw, I tagged you for the Liebster Award!

    1. Thanks! XD Haha, maybe that's because so many fantasy authors ended up mimicking LotR. Because LotR is FANTASTIC and not all of the copycats are. :P

      Oh, thank you! I love your questions--I'll be adding this tag to my list! ^_^

  12. Hahahahaha! I love it so much! I love that he can search AHEAD for living beings, but misses the soldiers following them! LOL

    "Coals on my skin, heat in my veins, fire, pain, fire, pain. (Although I'd never been burned before, so this was all hypothetical.)" *dies laughing*

    And Mentor's GHAOWOUSHAL and later definition was hysterical.

    Am I catching glimmerings of the "hero suddenly believes he shouldn't trust Mentor, even though Mentor has done nothing to make him suspicious" trope beginning there at the end?

    ELVES! (said like the kid in the Polar Express movie)

    1. Thank you! That was halfway unintentional on my part (honestly), but it's so true that heroes' abilities tread a delicate tightrope over the Land of Plot Holes. They can get TOO powerful, or don't exercise their power in the ways they logically should. But now I'm overanalyzing. ;)


      *bows* Why, thank you. That was literally a keyboard smash.

      Hmmm, a little bit, I think! More of an increased curiosity about Mentor's backstory, but that curiosity is usually sprinkled with suspicion too--so you're right!

      Haha, I haven't seen that movie in ages!

    2. That’s awesome that it was a keyboard smash, because it’s such a perfect onomatopoeia moment: ga-WOOSH-al I can just hear the power swooshing from his hand or staff or whatever! 😂😂