I’m using what free time I have to go back through my notes and write out the script from the top. What follows is some thoughts on the story.
There is an old – and likely outdated – book on the far-ancient tribes of Britain, France, and Germany, which contains a listing of known demarcations for territorial boundaries. Among the material which is of interest, the use of stones, boulders, and sticks (from proto-fences up to tree-trunks) to say “keep out” to any unknown and hostile groups. A ring of stones on its own is a bit too close to The Spiderwick Chronicles, and merely having sticks of some description seems a tad underwhelming, so a mix of the two is the best way to make the boundary clear while providing an immediate image for the village.
Whatever opportunities paintings present, I want to keep clear of things which are obviously going to pose archaeological problem. They will be fine in exposed locations, where the rain and wind can do their work to obliterate traces, but in enclosed locations it is less troublesome simply refraining from their presence. As boundaries, especially at the beginning, when there ought to be some initial hesitation on Ligesba’s part when arriving at the village, are essentially a permanent statement of ownership, this is something which needs to be clear to outsiders.
The background to Ligesba has been troubling me, and I’ve concluded that there should really be a scene in which she communicates her history in minor ways. Not a direct “this is what happened” conversation, but a more general sense of why she is on her quest. While her name isn’t bad (for the moment) it isn’t particularly working for me. Chaso (the high energy stoner) and Chaub (the low energy stoner) seem to wear their names better, and although similar are different enough to give a flavor of the society’s naming conventions.
And as it only occurred to me as I was writing the dialog…
Crystal balls are incredibly difficult to date, which is why – for both comedic and dramatic purposes – they are going to be present. Yes, I know… the likelihood of them being in circulation so far back from their initial description in what we have of Pliny the Elder’s knowledge. By the first century they were well known, and there are indications (if the conclusions of Northcote W. Thomas have not been superseded by modern research) that they can be dated back to the Iron Age, and the Druids. While it doesn’t seem that there were any existing in the period which I am using, there isn’t any way to prove that such things didn’t exist at the time.
Obsidian and beryl balls – as well as crystal – allows a lot more variety in the visuals of the , so I’m not going to be too focused on the specifics regarding the composition. I get a twofer by using them, with a joke when Chaso says “Mivsa let me feel her orbs,” then I get the Chekhov’s Gun moment when it turns out to be a crystal ball he was referring to. I also get to have him show a degree of competence by using it for some degree of usefulness, qualifying his place on the quest.
I’m considering changing the line to “Mivsa let me play with her orbs” so that his subsequent proficiency with a crystal ball is all the more surprising.
Now for the moment where the antagonist’s plot is dealt with. I’m going to make a (possibly highly controversial) statement regarding the use of snakes in fantasy films:
Snakes aren’t scary.
“Hold on a minute,” I can hear you mutter, “They are a staple of the genre, and need to be represented.” Nope. Sorry, but I’ve seen all the notable films (as well as a slew of unimaginably awful ones), and they are almost always used badly. Even looking outside of fantasy, the presence of snakes in SF and crime drama is usually to signify something, rather than being an essential presence in the narrative. I’ll admit that the first thing which came to mind was James Earl Jones turning into a snake, but more influential on my thinking is the Mayor in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The more I ponder such a transformation, the more of a problem I have. Surely the mass shift would mean that the large snake is either very insubstantial (a hollow center?), or would be extremely weak until it eats enough to sustain the new form.
Which is why I figure an anticlimatic ending is a better way to go.
But he has to seem threatening enough to prompt someone traveling halfway across the known lands to end him.
The Evil Dead and The Black Cauldron have already made use of zombie armies, and I don’t feel like adding yet another genre to this story, I dislike the vague “conquer the planet” plans so beloved of fantasy and SF would-be conquerors, so there needs to be something specific to this person.
I’m still thinking.
The only thing I’m completely happy with (very much so) is the avoidance of a stupid “tagalong” character (Orko, Slimer, Jar Jar, and the rest of eighties and nineties television and cinema sidekicks) as the main characters perform the function.