I didn’t have many changes to make when I sat down and did revisions on Pifecha‘s first part, which is mostly a good thing – it means that I wrote a good story in the first place, one that I still like now that I’m a year removed from it and therefore (theoretically) more objective. In fact, it is only a bad thing in that I’m not sure what I should write about for this re-release post that I didn’t already write about in the original release post.
My main worry, but what I did not do too much to correct in revisions, is that this episode will come across as somewhat melodramatic, especially the dialogue, and especially Kiluron’s speeches. I didn’t change it (much) because that’s kind of the point. He’s trying to sound inspirational, but he’s young, and doesn’t exactly have a lot of examples to follow, and nobody is writing his speeches for him, so it can sound overly dramatic, like he’s trying too hard (which he is). Hopefully that does not detract from the rest of the story, which should, if you’ve been reading along with these characters for almost two whole seasons, be emotionally impactful.
Unlike last year, I did not find myself worrying that readers would think I dropped plot threads. I wonder a little still about including another scene with Vere at Outpost East, but as before, I don’t think that would work as well for the pacing. If I were going to add another scene to this story (which I’m not), it would be of Doil having to fulfil the role of Prime while Kiluron is off rescuing the Blood Priests.
Rather than wasting your time while I search for something more to say about this episode that I haven’t already said, I will instead keep this post short, and instead encourage you to go read Pifecha, Part One. It’s a tight story, and I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.
Stormy weather swept across the tiny island and its tinier battlements, but that was expected for autumn. At least, it was autumn back in Merolate. On a speck of rock known only as “Outpost East,” it was just entering the storm season. Despite that, Guardsman Twiol was outside, his waxed raincloak doing little to keep him dry as he struggled with his two companions, Fulet and Grames, to unload the heavy, sealed packages from the ship docked behind the island, where there was some scant shelter from the raging storm. Even so, the captain was looking around with obvious apprehension and continually urging the guardsmen to hurry with the supplies.
“Seems like there’s more than usual, this time,” Fulet remarked, hugging another crate to his chest and staggering back down the gangplank with it.
“Oof, and this one’s heavy,” Grames grunted, staggering after Fulet and disappearing into the structure that served as their home on the island, half cave and half fortress. Its stone were still newly hewn, though the stormy season would change that quickly.
Captain Dwimber shrugged. Normally, the ships would stay a night and take a meal or two with the guardsmen before going on their way, but the storm had almost been too severe for the captain to make his landing at all. Twiol suspected that if the supplies hadn’t already been delayed twice, the man would have tried to wave off and approach under better conditions – it was always easier to ride out a storm at sea if there were no well-secured harbors in range. “Don’t ask me what’s in there, but I will tell you that the Guardcaptain seemed mighty excited about something. Personally came and oversaw the loading.”
“Huh.” Twiol, returning for another load, peered more closely at the crate he had lifted. “Well, maybe it’ll be enough to keep us entertained out here. Sure won’t be swimming for a while, I figure.”
During the summer, the area around the tiny outcropping where they lived was a veritable paradise, with crystalline waters, warm, tranquil breezes, and reefs all around to swim over. Those reefs were murderous to any ship approaching without a detailed map, but they were perfect for swimming. Still, Twiol wished that he were leaving with the captain to return to Merolate. It was alright for the other two youngsters on the island with him; they didn’t have families waiting for them back home.
“Looks like that’s the last one,” Fulet observed, pointing to Grames lugging a crate almost as large as he was down the gangplank and into the fort. “Thanks for the supplies, Captain. Say hello to the folks back home for us.”
“Yes, thank you,” Twiol agreed, clasping the captain’s weathered hand. “And if you could see that this makes it back to my family…” he pressed a letter, sealed and waxed, into the same hand.
A flash of lightning illuminated the captain’s wet smile. “I’ll see it done. Safe harbors and fair seas, boys.”
“Travel well, Captain,” Twiol replied. Together, the three guardsmen walked down the gangplank. The captain’s crew withdrew the plank, and with long poles shoved their way clear of the island, nosing out into the sea. Those poles would be used again and again to navigate them around the reefs until they reached the open waters of the Aprina Sea. With the rain washing down like a second ocean dumping out of the sky, the ship was soon lost from sight, and the three guardsmen at Outpost East were again alone at the edge of the world.
Fulet grumbled. “Why are we all still standing out here in the rain? Aren’t we drenched enough? Come on, I’m going in and getting warm and dry.”
“I like the rain,” Grames retorted, but he followed Fulet inside readily enough. Twiol stayed outside for a little longer before he too retreated to the relative sanctuary of their hastily constructed fort.
Morning brought grey, sunless light, but the storm was reduced to a light drizzle. Awakening before the other two, Twiol stoked the hearth in what constituted their kitchen, and made himself an omelet. Fresh food was a rare thing on their outpost, and would only last a few days even if they didn’t eat it all, so there was little point in saving it. Once his breakfast was gone, he took himself up to the battlements with a steaming mug of tea, and looked out to the east. In theory, there was always supposed to be at least one of them on watch, but no ship would dare approach the island in a storm like last night’s, so there had seemed no point.
Sure enough, there were no ships sitting out in the waters on the eastern side of the island, and if any had passed by, they wouldn’t have been able to see them, anyway. It was enough to make Twiol wonder if their presence on the easternmost extreme was worthwhile, but he dismissed the thought quickly. That was for people like Guardcaptain Vere to decide, not him. He would do his duty as best he could, and that would be enough.
Click here to read the rest of Pifecha, Part One
Click here to read the rest of Blood Magic Season Two
Click here to read Blood Magic Season One
Click here to read the most current Blood Magic episode: Principles
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