I messed up – this post was supposed to go live on December 15th, which is when I scheduled it for…except that I accidentally scheduled it to go live on December 15th, 2023. Oops. Fortunately, I realized my mistake, and it is here now. Sorry for the delay.
Ah, the revision loop. It felt especially nagging at me during this episode’s revision. With all of my conscious work on improving my endings, and how much effort I put into refining the season three finale, even knowing that the first episode of season three is essentially the denouement for the Pifecha story arc I felt that this episode’s ending was weak. It has a lot of good storytelling, but it has too much going on in too few words (despite being, I think, the longest main series episode I wrote), and it ends far too abruptly. I also worry that the solution Doil finds is not as convincing as it could be, but I did my best to foreshadow it.
So, did I therefore change a lot about this episode when I revised it? Well, no. If I hadn’t needed to finish Balancing Act and revisions for A Spiritual Journey, maybe I would have given this revision more of my time and attention, but honestly most of what I did was correcting minor continuity errors and cleaning up the text, without altering the story itself. The problem which I am facing is that as my writing improves, I can always go back and write stories like this one better, because I have more experience, more practice, from which to draw, but that won’t help me continue to improve or write better stories in the future.
It might sound from those two paragraphs like I don’t think this story is any good, which is not true – it is quite enjoyable, for all my above griping and critiquing. Despite the compressed timeline and limited wordcount in which to conduct an entire war, it does a convincing job. It’s very plot driven, unlike some other Blood Magic episodes that are more powered by character dynamics, but that’s not a bad thing – there’s a lot of plot. Considering that the entire idea for this episode came from what was originally going to be the third episode of the first season before a tragic hard drive failure in which I lost most of that original draft, I think this came out far stronger than that (really, I don’t know what I was thinking with that original idea – this is much better).
Because I didn’t change very much, if you have already read the story you probably don’t need to read this one again, but if you haven’t already read it, I hope you read Pifecha, Part Two soon. Also, don’t forget that the Blood Magic finale is going live in just a few days, on December 31st (of 2022, not 2023).
A pot of water sat over a low fire, the pale blue smoke curling up through a thin shaft drilled into the ceiling before being released to the west. That was set up so that someone approaching from the east would be less likely to realize the island was inhabited, though that didn’t matter now. In fact, Guardcaptain Vere had ordered a fire kept burning at all times on the signal platform, explaining that he both wanted to ensure that a signal got through to Merolate on the off-chance that anyone was still watching for it, and that the Pifechan vessel still grounded on the reefs knew that the men and women inside Outpost East were still alive.
“Trust me,” Anil insisted. “I worked with the camp cooks before joining the guards. I knew a woman who knew a man in another unit who knew another woman who knew a man who survived in the wilderness in the dead of winter by boiling his boots and eating the softened leather. It’ll work.”
Twiol sighed. “We have a very limited supply of freshwater, and I really don’t think that we should be wasting it on a harebrained experiment involving boiled boots. I can’t imagine that such a stew would be very sustaining, and personally, I’d rather starve to death than die of dehydration.” The small pot of water sitting on the fire was the result of an apparatus he had managed to create to transform steam back into water, letting them create freshwater from seawater. In that place, it was better than alchemy, and it made him rather proprietary of what happened with the water.
Sighing, Anil tugged her boots back on. “I say we ask the Guardcaptain.”
As if the guardcaptain needed to be bothered by such inane questions. “Fine, if that’s what you think is best. I’m going to go check on the tree.”
The tree was what they called the water-creating device, and while Twiol wished it had a more exciting name, he admitted it was appropriate. Built from cables from the giant crossbows, long-since corroded beyond usefulness for their original purpose, it could be set above a pot of boiling seawater. If it was cold enough – and they mostly had the opposite problem – the steam condensed on the cables and dripped down into additional vessels placed around the boiling one. The water that collected was fresh, not salty, and it was probably why they survived as long as they had.
Twiol had barely checked on the angles of the tree’s cables when a bell began clanging, and a runner dashed into the room, almost spilling an urn full of precious freshwater. “Guardcaptain’s summoned a meeting! Everyone to the battlements!” the man yelled. Twiol wondered how he had enough energy for that kind of action; none of them had eaten more than a bite of hardtack in two days.
Hopefully, though, a meeting with Guardcaptain Vere meant something was going to change. Twiol knew that Vere and Captain Pulot had been deep in conference, almost uninterrupted since Twiol had gotten the tree to work. It gave even Twiol, who thought the situation close to doomed, a modicum of hope that they would find their way off the island.
Click here to read the rest of Pifecha, Part Two
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: Balancing Act, Part One
Click here to learn more about Blood Magic
Click here to join the discussion on the Blood Magic forum