mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So, way back when in this post, I outlined for a massive Archanea fic-project dubbed "Tales of the Unified Kingdom," a good-faith effort at showing a positive, if complicated, outcome for the continent after the War of Heroes.  The idea first arose from the 'fic "Homecomings," an Abel-centric story that takes place a whopping four decades after the gameplay conclusion of FE3 and which consequently required rather a lot of effort on the world-building front.

I rather liked that world.  So, inspired by [ profile] shimizu_hitomi 's series of interconnected Elibe stories, I decided it wasn't a unforgivable self-indulgence to write a series of 'fics in the same continuity-- though these were primarily post-game 'fics rather than "between the games" stories (though I wrote a couple of those as well).  Writing it was a blast, especially when Valencian elements from FE2 got into the mix-- and, ultimately, some cross-references to Jugdral once we had confirmation they were all on the same planet.  As far as the characterization went, it was a challenging and frustrating project of grafting two unevenly matched halves-- the characterization from FE11 with the plot of Book Two of FE3-- and I had to make my "best effort" at extrapolating what these characters were and what they ought to become.  [And, in light of FE12, apparently I was way off.  Oh well.]  

Anyway, Abel's misadventures started the ball rolling, but the character I was most interested in pretty quickly became Cain.  So while "Homecomings" was one key part of the series, "Another Piece of Blue," which featured Cain struggling to adapt to the post-war era and its realities, was its bookend.  I sketched out a whole character arc for him to span a series of three or possibly four stories, though my interest in the later multi-part stories has flagged thanks to OCs and FE12.  But APoB, which took more than a year to write, is finally done... and at about 26K words, is about four times the length it ought to have been.  Oops.

Fic notes and obvious references )
Well, that was fun.  Now what?

mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 Today wasn't terrible by any means but it did leave me drained and frustrated.  Basically, I spent the day immersed in corporate politics (the CEO came to visit), navigating rival cliques whilst trying not to offend any of them, naming guilty men, and fretting over how to save people who are their own worst enemies.  Also one of my former supervisors just got sidelined with Stage Two cancer, but I feel really weird and conflicted over it and not upset so much.  She's a complicated person to deal with and this, from my limited perspective, is one more complication.  

The final work-related phone call of the night was especially soul-crushing.  A friend of mine who is now in management is in an HR disaster up to her eyeballs and the best and most honest advice I could give her was something that runs against the grain of both her conscience and mine.  Unfortunately, when threats of legal action come into play, being nice and compassionate to the wounded party may only make things worse.

Anyway, here's the fifth and final chapter of "Another Piece of Blue."  I'll write notes later.  Right now, I'm just too tired.
mark_asphodel: (Adult Fin)
 I haven't written a word of 'fic since posting "Namesake" last week.  Part of it is that I've been crazybusy, part of it is that it's been HOT and sitting in front of a computer screen in this weather is no fun, and a big part of it is that FE12 and all its revelations has more or less short-circuited the fandom part of my brain.

FE12 musings wrt 'fic )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 I had a feeling that reading about Custer and Sitting Bull would unlock something in my brain, but I'd hoped it would be a 'fic involving actual in-depth battle scenes, like "To Freely Serve" (Norne 'Fic) or "Widening Gyre" (Peg Sis 'Fic).  Instead, I ended up flying through the second installment in my planned Caeda Trilogy, "The View From A Glass Kingdom" (Gundam Wing reference totally intentional).

Read the 'fic before you read the notes or it's not as much fun. )
BTW, the new Arcade Fire song sucks.  
mark_asphodel: (Manga Marth)
It's been two long, rough days at the negotiating table, and this one is going to drag out a while.  The company is saying "no" across the board (okay, they agreed to a couple of tiny symbolic proposals) on every major issue, monetary and non-monetary alike.  We're not asking for a whole hell of a lot-- is it THAT crazy to think that one week of paid vacation, ever, is on the low side?  Or that maybe the health care plan ought to be funded against anticipated annual rate hikes in the 12-14% range (this year's was 19%-- ouch) just to maintain our current level of benefits? Hell, I can't even get them to back a standardized process for when employees leave the company so that the people who do leave don't walk off with any more company property.  You'd think they'd be behind that one! (I was serious, too.  It ticks me off when people walk out the door with company stuff, especially the test equipment that is often worth more than a new midsize sedan).

They're playing games, apparently.  I guess it's fun.  Oh well... I don't plan to give in anytime soon.
As I am in a political mood, here is the fourth installment of "Another Piece of Blue."

Enter the Catria.... )
mark_asphodel: (FE3 OTP)
 I think I need a certain amount of external pressure to be productive.  The pressure is on now, and my brain is flowing over.

Here is an exploration of Caeda I wrote 80% of last year and have polished up for publication.  It's my attempt at depicting her between the wars, based on a curious glitch in the Archanean timeline.  It would appear that, in Year 607 when the War of Heroes is about to erupt, that Caeda has arrived in Altea fairly recently-- she and Marth are just on the verge of getting married when the whole Grust diversion unfolds.  Yet the War of Darkness wrapped up approximately two years prior, back in 605!  That's a rather lengthy engagement-- wouldn't there be a certain amount of hurry-up involved, what with Marth being the last of his bloodline and all?

I present the following excuses: 

1) One or both of them are deemed underage.  This is pretty feasible, given Marth isn't crowned king immediately.  Archanea, unlike primogeniture-happy European kingdoms, doesn't like child kings, and doesn't seem to go for child marriage, either.  We know he can't be any older than seventeen in 605, and I suspect Caeda to be a year or two younger than that, and perhaps that's just too young. ("Old enough for war, but not for voting," I guess.)

2) Altea is a mess and needs to be stabilized first.  OK-- but FE11 kind of indicates Caeda zips out there immediately, regardless.  And she kicks her heels for two long years doing what-- playing dolls with Elice?  Learning how to be a lady?  Your guess is as good as mine.

3) Talys is a piece of unfinished business.  Specifically, it's a recently unified "modern" kingdom, whose first king appears to have one (1) young daughter as his heir.  Seriously, if Caeda had a brother or three, wouldn't they have popped up somewhere in the plot?  Sending Caeda off to Altea to marry means that, in essence, Talys goes bye-bye in one generation.  Married heiresses in Archanea hand over all their authority to their husbands.  Witness Nyna.  Witness Artemis.  In the time it takes to say "I do," independent Talys becomes, in effect, an eastern province of Altea.  A neglected province of Altea, given they're at opposite ends of the archipelago.   

If I'd dedicated my life to making Talys one solid nation, I'd have second thoughts about that scenario.  Wouldn't you?
mark_asphodel: (FE3 OTP)
 No, it's not my [ profile] fe_contest  entry.  That's stalled out at 437 words because I got sidetracked by one of the minor characters and went off on a separate tangent entirely.  

This is 100% stress-relief on my part.  I don't even know if it's good; I do know that the music I listened to while writing it (big sweeping power ballads) was irredeemably awful, not to mention a far cry from my usual diet of Leonard Cohen, John Cale, and Elvis Costello.  I guess it's technically a part of the Unified Kingdom fic-verse, as I can't see any telltale signs that it's not.  But it's a "missing moments" kind of story, and you either go for that sort of thing or you massively hate it. 

OK.  Back to real work.
mark_asphodel: (Adult Fin)
 Holy hell, ffnet updated their site to include a "world" filter for Fire Emblem!  Um, yay?  Um, where does my crossover story go?

But hey, that makes it easy for me to locate a story like this without adding yet another character to the drop-down menu.  Anyone remember that drabble I wrote for the first [ profile] fe_contest  challenge?  This covers some of the same ground (it's all the same fic-universe) but from a very different point of view.  Anyway, "A Dark-Adapted Eye" features the Free Knights of Archanea doin' their thing in snowy, dreary Pales in the winter of 609-610.


mark_asphodel: (FE3 OTP)
 I hate having to deviate from a cherished master plan, but... foolish consistency, hobgoblins, et cetera.

Part Three.

In this installment, we have a wedding, some holidays, and a masquerade ball, but almost nobody appears to be enjoying themselves.  Other highlights: Cain cleans house among the Temple Knights, Princess Caeda finally makes her entrance, and various skeletons begin to tumble out of various closets.  Oh yeah, and ZOMBIES!  Sort of.  Originally this was part three of four and now, with retooling, it's part three of five so as to not inflict 7,000-word chapters on the readership.  I've always been partial to a five-act structure, though.    

mark_asphodel: (Dead Heero)
 Ugh.  It's March already?

February was pretty productive.  I still haven't retooled "Troublesome Insects" to my satisfaction, but at least I took a stab at it.  I blasted out four chapters of "No Saint to Follow" and feel some reduced pressure from that project.  I think I temporarily got the Tiki bug out of my system with "Eternal Spring," which works more or less as a bookend to "Rainbow Tears and Pink-Cloud Dresses," and I made major headway with "Another Piece of Blue," which is as important to the whole Unified Kingdom project as "Homecomings" was.  So I think I finally ended up in the black in terms of "new cool idea" versus "realized project," as up to now the ideas have been piling up faster than I ever can write them. 

And I have a great idea for an original-fic short story to play with!

[Also still doing fine in terms of job, volunteer work, home, car, spouse, and cat.  I feel very fortunate.]

Chapter Three of "Another Piece of Blue" was ninety-five percent done, but every time I read it over one part bugged me, and in my experience if something bugs you that badly, it'll be something readers zero in on.  Basically, one of the female characters was being introduced way too late and not given enough "screen time" for her role to quite work as planned so I'm working to correct that.  The replacement scene allows me to deal with some other issues I wanted to tackle, so it should be all to the good.  I just don't want to end up with 7,000-word chapters again!

OK.  I have been on the move for 16 hours straight and need to go to BED.  No writing for me today.
mark_asphodel: (Manga Marth)
 Chapter Two of "Another Piece of Blue" is posted here.

Highlights include:

Marth finds out Macedon will be even more trouble than he expected.  No surprise there.

Cain gets another slap in the face courtesy of Realpolitik.

Empress Nyna has an unpleasant surprise for everyone.  Or maybe that's not such a surprise, either....

I don't have a lot to say right now, but I'll mention here that my "template" for Macedon tends to be ancient Sparta rather than any medieval or Renaissance state.  There's some other stuff that may strike readers as dodgy, but one detail about Macedon is particularly bad.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 It has belatedly come to my attention that many of my recent 'fic projects have been... dark.  Darker than usual.  Infused with a great deal of bile, shall we say.  And the WIPs all contain a very bleak vision of humanity.  Basically, I'm ticked at the world and it shows.

So, to give myself a break, I dusted off an abandoned WIP and finished it.  Now, the finished 'fic happens to be, in part, from the POV of a character who canonically loathes humans, so it's not a total change of pace, but at least the Tiki parts are optimistic.

Yeah, "Eternal Spring" is a tentative Xane/Tiki thing set in the year 1102.  Things in Archanea are a bit different from how they were in say, 607.  But Tiki and Xane remain as they were, even if they're both living under aliases, pursuing separate paths.

[The aliases matter.  Tiki's is bleedingly obvious, but Xane's is worth a cross-reference.]

Oh, yes.  I complained a while back about fandom's woeful inattention to the fact that, in Xane, we have a gender-blending shape-shifter IN CANON.  Well, here are some references to cross-dressed human/dragon fooling around.  Not graphic in the least, but it's there.  Basically, anything dodgy in this 'fic that makes you go "hmm..." or "wha...?" is likely to be intentional.

Finally... this is sort of a far-future sequel to the Unified Kingdom stories.  I haven't decided as to whether it's an official part of the project yet.  Also, this continues my track record of weird artistic devices by giving us Nina and Camus: The Opera.

mark_asphodel: (Ephraim!)
I think I said a while back that Cain was supposed to be the main figure in the "Unified Kingdom" project, but I finished and published the Abel stories and some sidebar miscellany first, so my assertion probably didn't make much sense.

Here.  Proof I'm not making things up like a bad hand-waving author.

"Another Piece of Blue" (title inspired by the Boomtown Rats) was intended as a one-shot, but it got pretty lengthy so I'm breaking it into more manageable chunks.  Apparently people don't like reading 12K words in one go.  Anyway, it shows Cain immediately after the War of Heroes-- shaken up, disillusioned, and doing his best to live up to his own expectations of knighthood as life (and his lord) continually jerks the rug out from under him.  

Word about characterization.  Cain has a misogynistic slant in this-- not in an evil or vicious way, but more in a Sir-Bors-the-Younger philosophical way.  Archanea is not the land of women's lib, and anyone living in that world would pick up on that mentality.  Cain's own particular mental quirks should be apparent as the story progresses.  You may be bothered by it if you expect all your favorite characters to live up to twenty-first century Western ideals, so consider this fair warning.
mark_asphodel: (Ephraim!)
Fire Emblem fans have this impulse to cross over the game continents.  I've seen Elibe/Magvel, Elibe/Tellius, Archanea/Tellius, and so forth.  Now, there really are two game continents that exist on the same planet, in the same timeline, with canonical ties, but one of them is not terribly popular and the other is downright obscure.  While Archanea and Valencia appear to share the same language, they offer completely different mythologies, magic systems, and an entirely different "feel" all around.  It's a situation ripe for exploitation if you're so inclined.

FFnet is being a pain tonight, so I'll upload it here.  Spoilers for FE2, plus all kinds of cross-references between the games.  I don't think a reader needs to know either world intimately to get the story, but understanding the references adds a layer of meaning.

I do not own Fire Emblem or any of its characters. )

Yes, I did just spent three thousand words on an imaginary intercontinental trade dispute.  Some context: this is part of my series of interconnected FE2/3/DS stories, “Tales of the Unified Kingdom,” and ties in pretty closely to both “By Any Other Name” and “Homecomings,” both of which show post-war Archanea and its neato innovations like the siege engines, windmills, and so on.  The parallel between Rigel/Sofia and Archanea/Valencia was something I couldn’t keep away from... though you can read this as a metaphor for the popularity of the relevant games.  The whole Old World/New World dichotomy is my own spin on the continents. 
PS: For those of you who’ve read “Homecomings,” I’ll just say this-- Valencia also exports malaria to Archanea.  So there.

ETA: "Cellica" is not an available choice in the ffnet drop-down character list.  This must be corrected, post-haste.
mark_asphodel: (Manga Marth)
 Over on my DA journal I keep an archive of TL;DR "Author's Notes," but I literally do not have time for this at present so I'll just natter a bit instead.  "Homecomings" is probably my favorite story to date, and if it had come out in 2009 I might have earmarked it as "most satisfying thing to have bashed out" for the year.  Having it complete also IMO justifies the whole "Unified Kingdom" project, since it is the genesis of the whole project as well as one of the cornerstone episodes.

Anyway, "Homecomings" is set in 647-648, or exactly forty years after the "War of Heroes" in FE3.  An entire postwar generation has come of age and started their own families, and the events of the Great Wars have already taken on a mythical quality for the citizens of Archanea.  The surviving war heroes (and there don't seem to be many) are all around the age of retirement-- the young blood of FE3 has reached the Jagen-Lorenz-Wendell tier of decrepitude (except for Tiki, duh).  Some are still active in public life, but their age is nearly over.  

[I use the "novelization" ages posted on Serenes Forest as my guidebook when it comes to character ages, so year 647 would place Abel as 64, and Catria at 58.  That is essentially the upper limit for playable characters in the Archanea-verse.  Sixty is not the "new forty" in Archanea (unless you're a Light Mage).  These people are old.]    

The 'fic itself relays plenty of details about everyday life and the economy of Altea, which is the primary setting for "Homecomings," but I'd like to mention a few points wrt the "big picture" backdrop of the Unified Kingdom.  
1) The place of women.  Sorry, it's still not a gender-neutral society.  If anything, the disastrous reigns of Nyna and Minerva likely convinced a good chunk of the populace that there are some things women can't do.  This ties into the public opinion of Catria, one of the most visible women in the government.  That said, the role of Elice and Linde in higher education has created an "upper middle class" of educated and cultured ladies, and some other signposts say that gender perceptions are changing for the better.
2) Culture-mixing.  War and upheaval has led to some areas becoming a real "melting pot," and contact with the neighboring continent of Valencia has mixed it up further.
3) Technology.  With the Orbs restored, and Gotoh granting humans access to the fabulous "dragon technology" described in the FE3 designers' notes, life in Archanea is easier than ever.  "Homecomings" shows the beginnings of a system of mass-transit via warp magic, and other 'fics will show more innovations.  Life in 647 is perhaps as far removed from life in 607 as our 1947 was from 1907.  OK, they don't have nuclear weapons yet, but still.... 

Also, one last thing about Abel.  I realize that in our world, knights did not come from the bourgeoisie unless a wealthy merchant was knighted for his services to the economy (or bought himself a knighthood).  I can't see Abel as anything but bourgeois, frankly.  In between his stint as a shop proprietor and his apparent loyalty to Altea as a nation rather than to the royal dynasty (x-ref FEDS script), he seems to be coming from a different place entirely than Cain and the rest of the Temple Knights.  That's how I see him, and that's how I write him.   

That's it for now.  More later.

ETA: Oh, yeah.  I started writing this back in my original Altea-as-England phase and switched to the current Altea-as-Spain phase partway through writing it.  I think there's some traces of the Netherlands in there as well.
mark_asphodel: (Dead Heero)
Dear lord, I'm at it again.

WTF, Mark of the Asphodel?  You haven't even reviewed all your friends' new stuff yet!  Yeah, but I'm going on vacation in a week and expect to be busy thereafter, and I've been working on this since June.  Of 2009, mind you.

It's the story that ballooned into the whole "Tales of the Unified Kingdom" project.  It's also intended as the last in the narrative series-- though still meant as a stand-alone story.  Initially, I figured I'd quickly tire of writing for Fire Emblem, and that this would be my final contribution before signing off.  Well, that didn't happen.

Basically, after writing the dystopic one-shot "The Golden Age," I decided to write a positive projection of life on Archanea after FE3.  A story in which Marth and friends actually succeed in rebuilding their little continent instead of unintentionally causing further suffering to the people.  But this little utopia was merely the backdrop for the final reckoning of one of my very favorite, very screwed-up characters-- Abel, the traitorous Altean paladin.  I got so sucked into the world-building for this one that once I'd more or less finished with "Homecomings," I wanted to use that world-template again, and so the "Tales of the Unified Kingdom" was born.  Then I had to retcon "Homecomings" to accommodate its prequel ("Forsaken"), its side-stories (like "By Any Other Name") and everything else in the queue.

I filed this one under "Spiritual" for a reason, and have more emotional investment in it than possibly anything else I've written-- as much or more than the in would-be epics "To Freely Serve" and when "Mila Walked the Land."  So if people find it incomprehensible, or just plain "not FE anymore," it's entirely my own fault.

Anyway, this is Part One: Guilt.  And this is Part Two: Angel.  It's done!  It's done!

ETA to add that it's DONE!

mark_asphodel: (Manga Marth)
It was one of those days in which I looked at my WIP-pile and said, "Dammit, finish something."

So, here 'tis:

Well, then, what is it?

It's the love story of George and Minerva, of course. But, ah, I'm supposed to be a canon purist, so where the heck did this come from? Hey, it's post-game 'fic. I have leeway. See, a while back, [ profile] shimizu_hitomi noted that the dynamic between George and Minerva was one of the better things about the FE1 manga adaptation. I hadn't given much thought to George as a character before; he's not much use in FEDS, and he just struck me as another one of these Archanean ego-trippers (see: Astram). Then I went back and read his scenes in FE3. Nuh-uh-- George is awesome. He's smart. He does things. Useful things. And hey, he has a backstory in the designers' notes (he's kind of a "Levin" figure, as in he's the prototype for an FE character who comes from a noble/royal background and doesn't want to deal with it). And he's allowed to be all these things without ever really signing up for Marth's fanclub, which otherwise tends to be the dividing line between the sheep and the goats. George totally merited some exploration and exposure.

[No, I don't spell it "Jeorge." I'd also use "Niena" for Nyna if I could get away with it.]

And Minerva needed to get out of that convent. Her official character ending is one of the most craptacular in FE, up there with "Canas died in a snowstorm." Anyway, this is another post-war snippet of my "Tales of the Unified Kingdom" series; it actually originated as a spit-take scene in "Wandering Planets," this M-rated thing I wrote to see if I could actually depict Cain/Catria in a positive sense (jury's currently out on that one). As with too many ideas, it ultimately took off on its own.

Also, I have strong (negative) opinions about romance stories elsewhere in FE fandom, and I thought it worthwhile to demonstrate the kind of relationship I find interesting. I don't know how well this succeeds as romance, but it does star actual adults, which IMO is a nice starting point.
mark_asphodel: (FE3 OTP)
I'm easing back into the swing of things with my lovely new MacBook Pro; unfortunately, the iBook refuses to cooperate with file migration, so I don't have a lot of stuff on this one yet. I guess it'll take a few days to sort out, but in the meantime, I'm collecting things piecemeal.

Anyway, once I get my stuff back together, I have the following goals:

1) Read/reply to other interesting stuff that has popped up lately. I managed some of that this weekend, but only for shorter works.

2) Finish/post "Homecomings," the installment of "Tales of the Unified Kingdom" that comes chronologically last but should probably be read first.

3) Work on the following "Tales" segments: "Widening Gyre" (the fall of Minerva's government in Macedon) and "From a High Place" (Caeda-centric FE3 thing).

4) Work on the semi-"Tales" piece "The Education of Princess Maria," aka how the heck Maria engineered the whole Michalis-isn't-dead mess. Chapter One (Denial) is nearly done, Chapter Two (Misperception/Hysteria) sounded great in concept but is giving me major issues, Chapter Three (Oversight/Delusion of the Masses) is coming along nicely but is pretty graphic and morbid. And the finale (Deception/The Voice of Authority) is kind of waiting on the other three.

5) Get Chapter 3 of "To Freely Serve" up. I haven't forgotten about Norne and the gang.

6) Finish "Sleep of the Just" and maybe get some more FE8 'fic up.

OK. Time to sleep. Man cannot live on 'fic alone.
mark_asphodel: (Adult Fin)
 Well, I wanted to post something for Armistice Day.  This is not precisely what I had in mind, even if it does deal with war'n'peace.

Anyway, this is another installment in the "Tales of the Unified Kingdom," a piece that bridges the gap between the War of Darkness and the War of Heroes, neither of which are directly tackled in the "Tales" as it stands.  This will be preceded chronologically by "Song For A Fallen Kingdom," which deals with the battle of Menedy River (the betrayal/massacre at the beginning of FEDS), and will likely be followed by "Widening Gyre," a piece that details the fall of Minerva's government in Macedon.

But, basically, I wanted to write some Gaiden 'fic, and this is what I wrote, and it just so happened to not contradict my fanon or characterization as established in the rest of the "Tales."  If it did contradict the other 'fics in the series, I'd have posted it anyway.

This is dedicated to Hitomi, for translating FE2 anew and introducing me to the charms of Alm and Cellica.  I hope I did the pair of them justice.  
mark_asphodel: (Dead Heero)
 This is not my month to make a NaNoWriMo deadline, it seems.  On the other hand, "Sketches from Valencia" is almost done.  I can count the number of people likely to read it on one hand, but I don't care!


mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)

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