I decided to jump the gun and make a tab for my new project from the August 2012 session of Camp NaNoWriMo.
This is an update from Sept. 2nd. I exceeded 50,000 words for August so that's considered a 'win' in NaNo terms. I have not gotten to the magic point where I type 'The End' or 'Fin'. I might have
over another 50,000 words till I get there.
Thematically, this is nothing like The End of the World Sucks, unless you wish to think zombies and an alien invasion are pretty much ending the world. I'm going to need a new theme for 2013 because I believe I'm returning to Vanna in November for National Novel Writing Month to write the sequel to Sucks.
Neferseshotep further explores what the 'right thing' to do is, and since the core of characters have powers I'm circling back to the Spiderman credo - With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. There's different views on what that responsibility is.
I don't know why I wasn't expecting this, but I was stumped last week when asked about comparable literary works. I know - never start writing something without researching what else is in the genre and picturing what your current endeavor is similar to. I only came up with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, even though I know I've read other time travel/travel to alternate world fic. Should I say Narnia? That seems too ambitious a comparison. I can think of a few shows and movies, but referencing those doesn't make me look like a good writer.
Right now, I should be writing more of the first draft. Some things have been bothering me though, so I circled around and took a look at what I have so far. I'm also doing that since I didn't stop going to my usual writing critique group while I was in draft writing mode.
I rewrote the section that I had posted on this page in order to 'add more conflict'. Initially, these two appeared to be having a diplomatic conversation. I still needed the result to be cooperation between two people that should not normally collaborate.
Summary of chapter 1 till this point:
(Ramiel, the angel of hope who guided the souls of the faithful into Heaven, has a huge problem on the astral plane, and has decided to ask an agent of a false god for assistance)
And introduction of main character:
Since the astral plane was without landmarks, many were easily lost. Mortals were even driven insane by its monotony. Yet Ramiel was a skilled navigator. He was charged with protecting the souls of the faithful, and it was a duty he performed tirelessly throughout time. Ramiel had help from many of the Seraphim, and knew there were others who protected the souls of those who wrongly believed in false gods.
Neferseshotep was one of those other guardians. Rather than loss of followers to his religion and his beast-headed pantheon causing him to fade away with the others, his faith was strong. It was even rumored he gained more power over time. The priest of Anubis was also no idler. He was seen frequently, slaying soul eaters and herding wandering souls in the correct direction, even if they did not share his beliefs.
Neferseshotep's abode was on the highest level of the astral plane itself. Ramiel did not consider an address to be proof of power or divinity. It was a blasphemous temple that should be pulled down and every stone used in its construction pulverized to dust. However, nothing could disturb the place without Nefereseshotep’s knowledge and his immediate return. He dealt harshly with any that violated his territory, and his power was magnified in the sacrilegious edifice.
The massive, colorfully painted, stone structure was an oasis of earthly hues, a disfigurement in the tedious, flat gray landscape. It was littered with false, bestial-headed idols. Smoking censers of fragrant incense and offering bowls filled with fresh flowers were laid at the statues’ feet, and the stone figures were adorned with linen vestments in shades of white, red, blue and green, besides being draped with jewelry and smeared with perfume and cosmetics.
Usually Ramiel avoided this place. He was repulsed to the depth of his hollow, yet surprisingly strong, bones by the obscenity all around him here. If eternal souls were not at risk, he would not have come.
After climbing the massive steps, Ramiel entered the structure since it had no door, only massive columns and more statues flanking the entrance. The interior was poorly lit, and although air did not exist on the astral plane, it felt cooler inside and liberally scented with the unheavenly spicy stink of cyprinum.
More massive columns were inside the building, ascending into darkness to support the unseen massive ceiling. They were covered with pictures painted in primary colors.
A raised platform was opposite the entrance, and Ramiel made the long march through the hall of columns to reach it. Upon the platform was an unadorned stone chair, flanked by two identical large, jet-colored, jackal-headed statues. The chair was currently occupied by the being Ramiel was here to see.
His progress into the foreign realm grayed wings, dimmed the gilt of his halo, and rendered his garb merely white, rather than its normal, unearthly brilliance.
Like Ramiel, Neferseshotep was barefoot. Unlike the angel though, he wore an abundance of jewelry, facial cosmetics, and an ornate wig of long, black, narrowly braided human hair. Each braid had silver charms, clips and pins, along with glass, somber-colored bead decorations. Physically, he was also the opposite of the archangel. His skin was not pale, he was not lean or wiry, nor were his nose or lips thin. Neferseshotep was thickly muscled, similar to the sculpted statues that kept him company.
Having met Neferseshotep before, Ramiel knew the downturned corners of the man's mouth were not due to his unexpected visit.
He bowed from the waist, and greeted him, “Neferseshotep.”
“Ramiel,” the seated figure replied in his deep, gravelly voice.
The archangel knew how beautiful the sound of one's voice could be, surrounded as he was by the Heavenly Host, yet Neferseshotep's voice contained a charismatic authority that was unknown in Heaven.
“I am here to ask your aid.”
“Mine?” was the reply, but not the word Neferseshotep actually uttered.
Ramiel spoke the same language of Gabriel so it was only in rare circumstances that he perceived someone else speaking in tongues. Neferseshotep spoke his own language, yet understood all spoken to him, and was able to be understood by any who heard him. Rather than thinking the infidel’s power miraculous, Ramiel suspected Neferseshotep was older than Babel and was exempted from God’s will if he was already dwelling on the astral plane.
The angel explained, “The plane has been flooded with souls all at one time. All with devoted followers are overwhelmed.”
“Yes, I saw. In the past others have suffered such when there is a massive catastrophe among their people.”
“Could you help? The soul eaters have limitless appetites.”
The dark eyes outlined with black kohl blinked slowly before there was a response. He simply said, “I can.”
“Will you?” Ramiel clarified. He was used to the other angels playing these word games.
“What difference will one make? Many of your winged brethren already herd your charges.”
“Not just you. I mean can you ask the others? Killing soul eaters would help all in the long run.”
“The Valkyrie have suggested the same. We found soul eaters are not without intelligence and they seem to breed as quickly as they are slain.”
“Right,” Ramiel agreed, even though he never listened to the meaningless, feminine ranting of the Norse warrior maidens. He needed to conclude this and return to his forces on the astral plane to redouble their efforts to save every soul destined for Heaven. “It’s the souls that are important. Will you help? Will you ask the others?” Reluctantly, with hardly any pause, he added, “Please.”
Neferseshotep tilted his head.
Awaiting an answer, Ramiel grew more uncomfortable as the abominable stone he stood upon alternated punishment to a heat that would blister mortal feet.
Neferseshotep stood, his black, pleated kilt falling perfectly. “I will. I cannot speak for the others. Your kind has spoken disrespectfully to them in the past.” He picked up his ivory-handled, bronze-bladed khopesh sword, stepped forward and disappeared.
Ramiel felt Neferseshotep's presence move past him and out of the foul building that was now assaulting the soles of his feet with harsh stabs. He was further insulted by being denied the power of flight, teleportation, and swift speed until his second foot was no longer in contact with the bottom step as Ramiel exited the accursed place.