Last year, we began publishing a series of short stories called Blood Magic here on IGC Publishing. I’ve written extensively about why and how I chose to do this, and the benefits it has provided me from a writing perspective, but there are things that I would like to do better, and things that I would change about how the publishing was executed if I had to do it over again. Fortunately, as I discussed in our announcement for the second season, I’ve given myself the opportunity to do just that.
From a publishing perspective, the main thing that I wish I had done differently last year is to better advertise these stories. Our weekly posts and book reviews get consistent traffic, but I don’t always drive people well to the other pages of the site, including those where my own stories can be found. For some reason as I was working on the Blood Magic project, I decided that I shouldn’t post about it too often. That, I have come to think, was a serious mistake, and one that I intend to correct this year. Therefore, there will be a blog post for every re-release of a season one episode (on the fifteenth of each month), and a blog post for every new release of a season two episode (on the last day of every month).
Like this one, the posts will include a few paragraphs of me talking about the story and the writing process and the context behind how it got to publication, a preview of the titular episode, and links to the Blood Magic page and the story itself. Although I’m pleased that readers are finding value in the posts I write, I am hopeful that this will make it easier for readers to also enjoy IGC original content.
However, my goal with these re-releases of the first season’s episodes is not just to bring my attention, awareness and readership to these stories and the series as a whole. I knew when I started putting Blood Magic up on the site that I wouldn’t have time to do thorough revisions to the episodes before I needed to make them live, so they’ve all been going up as rough drafts, sometimes without even a read-through for grammar, punctuation, and typographical errors. Since this is as much an exercise for me as it is stories for you, I forced myself to be comfortable with that, but as Blood Magic has grown, I’ve become increasingly discontented with the state of some of the stories. That’s why each season one story that I re-release over the course of the year will be a newly updated, revised version.
Since they’re already live, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to change too much, but I can at least tighten up the language, clean up the errors made from hasty typing or my thoughts running faster than my fingers on the keyboard. I can also improve the continuity, patching up some holes that developed as the world evolved throughout the creation of the first season. For instance, somehow I accidentally changed the Prime’s name between the first two episodes and the later episodes from Weflering to Wezzix (in the new releases, the Prime should always be named Wezzix). Or another example: in the first ever draft of the first episode, Prime Wezzix was actually King Wezzix, and Sub-Prime Kiluron was actually Prince Kiluron, and there was a kingdom of Merolate instead of a Merolate Union.
I could go on with examples, but it’s mostly issues like that which I intend to clean up in these re-released versions. The narrative will also be tightened up, but what I will not do is change any of the core story. Since they have already been “published,” that seems the least that I can do. So if you don’t want to re-read the new and improved season one episodes, you shouldn’t be missing out on anything major. That being said, I highly encourage you to read along with these re-releases, because I think they are much stronger for the revisions they have undergone. There’s something to be said for some spit and polish (I would know – I still spit-shine my own shoes and boots).
The first episode has actually been through revisions before, so I didn’t change the narrative itself very much (though my writing has improved significantly (in my opinion) since I last revised, so I did make some changes, especially to the dialogue). Most of the changes I made to this episode were continuity related, making sure that there were no references to Prince Kiluron, the kingdom of Merolate, or Kiluron being the King’s son. I also smoothed out the relationship between Kiluron and Doil to make it more consistent with what it is in later episodes (in the original, he was much more servile). Without further ado, I present the very first Blood Magic episode, S1:E1: Pilot (Revised Edition):
TEN YEARS AGO
It was a dark night. All nights are dark, but there are some nights when the darkness takes on a substance of its own, when the blackened fabric of the nocturnal sky is knitted together into solid cloth once more, the holes of the stars and moon patched and repaired. This night was one of those, which did nothing to assuage the tribulations of the visitor who made his quiet way from the mainland to the Isle of Blood. It was not a trip that any made lightly, and even fewer returned. There was only one form of payment on the Isle of Blood.
The little rowboat bumped against the half rotten outcropping of wood that served as a dock for the Isle, and the cloaked and hooded visitor carefully moored the little craft before gathering his walking stick and stepping gingerly onto the platform, securing his oars. His eyes flicked guiltily to the bundled form at the bottom of the boat before he straightened. Seaweed-slicked planks creaked in mild warning as he walked onto the Isle. A mist swirled about, obscuring the temples and other outlying buildings that housed the little island’s reclusive population. It was better that way, the visitor thought, for it served also to obfuscate the horrors he might otherwise be made to perceive. The rule of law did not reach the Isle of Blood.
Mist stirred ahead, and the visitor stopped just before the gates of the temple and waited. There was no need for him to announce his presence: it would have been noted the moment he set foot from his boat. Indeed, a man-shaped figure in red robes soon stepped from the mist to stand just in front of the visitor. The visitor adjusted his grip on his walking stick as the man in red robes examined him. The red robed man’s head was bald and bare and glistened slightly in the mist, and the robe was fastened at his throat with obsidian clasps that appeared to bite slightly into his pearly white skin. Peeking out from beneath the robes, a broad, black sword was just visible.
“Welcome, Borivat, Advisor to the Prime of Merolate,” the red robed man said, in a voice that seemed a perpetual grumble. “For what reason do you presume upon the…hospitality of our sanctuary?”
The visitor, Borivat, bowed his head slightly. “I seek to lift a curse,” he said.
The red robed man smiled, but there was nothing joyous about the expression. “The Prime’s newly chosen successor has been cursed, so he turns now to the very magic he has prosecuted for his entire reign?”
“No,” Borivat said, “the Prime does not seek this. He seeks the death of the witch who cast the curse, believing that will lift it.”
“And you, Borivat, Advisor to the Prime of Merolate, have come to us, because you know that the mere death of a witch will not lift the curse.” The red robed man made it a statement, not a question.
“Will you lift the curse?” Borivat asked.
“You know the price of our magic,” the red robed man said. “If the price is paid, we will break the curse upon the new Sub-Prime.”
“In the boat,” Borivat said, gesturing with his walking stick.
The red robed man reached up to the clasp of his cloak and pressed slightly. The clasp bit into his neck, blood welling up around it, but almost all of the blood was absorbed by the clasp. His eyes flared red for a moment, then returned to their previous solid black. A gesture of one hand, and tendrils of mist extended outward to the rowboat, scooping up the man-shaped package and bearing it back to the red robed man, where the package stopped and hovered, firm in the misty grasp.
“This will do,” the red robed man determined. “The curse will be broken by morning.”
Borivat nodded. He did not thank the man in red as he turned to rejoin his fellow priests in the temple beyond, the man-shaped package floating along behind him. There would have been no point. Instead, the Prime’s advisor turned and slowly shuffled back to the little rowboat. Settling himself as best he could and storing his walking stick securely beneath the bench, Borivat took up the oars and began to slowly row himself back towards Merolate.
Click here to read the rest of Blood Magic S1:E1: Pilot (Revised Edition)
Click here to read the rest of Blood Magic Season One
Click here to read the most current Blood Magic episode: Old Blood, Part Two
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