Category Archives: The Creative Process

Messages to myself about how to navigate impediments which hinder the creative flow in hopes my answers may be a beacon to others.

Jasmine Snippet #91

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

When their commander’s massive head was split in two with one cleave of that dwarf’s battle-axe, none of the Witchleins knew what to do. Was this magic, or a mighty warrior? Their second thought was of eating a warrior as mighty as this. They would feast on his strength and fortitude. What a great and honored feast he would make. But until that time, the dwarf still dangerously possessed his warrior’s spirit.

Most Witchleins were only familiar with raids carried out at night, when their victims were asleep. Subduing awake victims during the day seemed to be ill-advised. Most were reassured that as long as Ikvokeg was there to lead and guide the attack, everything would go as smoothly as planned. But Ikvokeg can no longer give them a signal. How do they know when it is the right time to strike?

How did that dwarf warrior know to attack lkvokeg’s spot? Suspicious and overanxious, once they saw and recognized Ahearn as he rode in, one of them cried, “Dock-far person meat!” They all then prematurely left their hiding places in the rocks above. They were not in any hurry but by the time they reached level ground, there was another group to fight.

*  *  *

Jasmine remained on her horse, still stunned by her encounter with the dragon-lizard. Ahearn quickly rode up from behind, and grabbed Jasmine’s arm to pull her attention back to the here and now. His touch shook her out of her dazed state and Jasmine realized the danger all around them. She realized Thorne was cursing her.

“Ride ahead, princess…” Ahearn said with an air of authrity, “ride until you see a bridge to the right and take it!”

“What?” was all Jasmine could muster as a reply.

Ahearn grabbed the Staff of Erlkyng,”Trust me!” he said, “I’ll, ah … we’ll join you later. Now GO!”

He slapped the rear of Jasmine’s horse and the animal gladly distanced itself from the fray. Having witnessed Jasmine heal the winged creature, the Wichtleins allowed her to ride past unharmed. She was magical. But Ahearn was another matter. They closed in on him.

Knowing he’d be caught up in the fighting, Ahearn held Jasmine’s staff aloft for all to see. “Magic! Magic!” he kept repeating.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Become a PATRON to Continue the story.

Jasmine Snippet #90

The Mounted Warriors Faction Card and the Attack Event card from “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

New notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Uncharacteristically, Lt. Cartwell arrived at the clearing before his men and witnessed Thorne’s brutal kick and Glynn’s resolve to kill it. Although the wounded dragon lizard was hurting, it wiggled away quite expertly. With an already bloodied battle axe, Glynn was prepared to take this opportunity to strike it down once and for all. But a couple heart beats or more before Glynn raised his mighty battle axe, Ieithoedd, to cleave the creature in two, Lt. Cartwell clearly heard the wounded dragon speak to him. “Save me now…!”

No longer than it took him to hear the command, Lt. Cartwell acted in one swift motion. He dove from his horse, rolled his body mid-air, scooped up the bleeding dragon-lizard and ran with him, out of the fray, blood streaming. The Lieutenant was already gone when Glynn’s axe hit the ground.

The Lieutenant’s horse quickly followed his master, back in the direction they came, but was nervous around the pitiful creature. Lt. Cartwell took off his jacket, wrapped Gryth within it, and managed to remount his reluctant horse. As he rode away, with his arms wrapped tightly around the wounded creature, the Lieutenant called to his men, “Our orders are to apprehend them. Do the best you can. I’m told we have back-up on the way.”

His men were momentarily puzzled.Why would any leader leave in the midst of a fight? Why was protecting that creature so important to the Lieutenant? These and questions like it popped into their brains. Save for the Lieutenant, most of these men were well-trained, seasoned mercenaries, whom Bardulf had picked up for his army. They well understood what was expected of them. They were loyal to those who paid them. So they were loyal to Bardulf. Each wondered why they agreed to such a low fee, and secretly wondered if they had not been magically induced to lower their prices.

Most of the trip had been so boring and uneventful, Lt. Cartwell’s men were itching for action. They knew what to do. Would they reach a wide enough space to maneuver their horses into their customary wedge attack formation? At least, they knew who to look for. Their primary target was a young blonde maiden. And there she was, riding a horse away from the clearing in the other direction. They also saw a dwarf on the ground with a battle-axe and two male riders. They initially thought their numbers could easily take three fighters and one woman.

When they rolled as a group into the clearing to attack, they noticed large, ugly things crawling down from the rocks, like giant clumsy spiders with clubs. Once on level ground, these ugly giants swarmed with frenzy and ferocity. With the Lieutenant absent from the fight, they were going to have some big problems posed by the new threat. No longer did they possess superior numbers. When did Lt. Cartwell say back-up would arrive?

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Become a Patron to Continue the story.

 

Jasmine Snippet #89

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Thorne’s eyes never left Gavin. She was aware of the battle, and knew her hawk was in the midst of being victorious against the foul creature. Her combat-trained hawk was about to finish off the evil-looking black lizard when that damned girl healed it!  Why did she do that? Thorne saw it all happen. Gavin broke off his attack when it landed on the head of Jasmine’s horse. And, for but an instant, she saw the staff glow, just as Jasmine touched the creature’s heart with her hand. The ring glowed too!

Thorne had made it to the clearing when she saw that horrible black, evil creature suddenly spring away from Jasmine. In a flash, he was already in mid-attack, when Thorne called a warning to her retreating bird. The dragon-lizard struck such a powerful blow, the bird instantly fell from the sky, pursued by Gryth.

Thorne heard no cries from her hawk when he landed on the ground with a thud. Gryth pinned Gavin, concentrated his breath and breathed into Gavin’s nose. Momentarily stunned, the hawk still had plenty of fight left in him. But he was no match for Gryth’s poisoned breath. As the hawk took its last breath of air, Thorne dismounted and ran to her bird. With all her might, she kicked the creature away from her pet. The lizard-dragon shrieked in pain and writhed away. While he rolled, Thorne swung at it with her sword, but missed.

*  *  *

Lt. Cartwell arrived more quickly than his troup. He had witnessed Thorne’s brutal kick and Glynn’s impending action. Although the wounded dragon lizard was hurting, it wiggled away quite expertly. With an already bloodied battle axe, Glynn was prepared to take this opportunity to strike it down, once and for all. But a heart beat or two before Glynn raised Ieithoedd, his mighty battle axe, to cleave the creature in two, Lt. Cartwell clearly heard the dragon speak to him. “Help me out of here, quickly…!”

No longer than it took him to hear the command, he acted in one swift motion. Lt. Cartwell dove from his horse, rolled his body mid-air, scooped up the bleeding dragon-lizard and ran with him, blood streaming, out of the fray, leaving in the direction he had arrived. Glynn’s axe hit the ground.

The Lieutenant’s horse followed its master, but was nervous around the creature. Lt. Cartwell took off his jacket, wrapped Gryth within it, and managed to remount his reluctant horse. As he rode away with the wounded creature, the Lieutenant called to his men, “Our orders are to apprehend them. Do the best you can, we have back-up on the way.”

His men were momentarily puzzled. Why was protecting the creature so important to the Lieutenant? Why would their leader leave in the midst of a fight? These and questions like it popped into their minds. Most of these men were well-trained mercenaries that Bardulf had picked up for his army and they well understood their job. They were loyal to the one who paid them. So they were loyal to Bardulf. Each wondered why they agreed to such a low fee, and secretly wondered if they had not been magically induced to lower their price.

Most of the trip had been boring and they were ready for action. They knew what to do, and usually attacked in a wedge formation. Would they reach a wide enough space to maneuver their horses like this? They knew to look for and head towards their primary target, a blonde maiden. They originally thought their numbers could easily take three fighters and two women.

But then, they noticed large, ugly things emerging from the rocks. Quickly re-assessing the situation, with the Lieutenant’s absence, they were going to have big problems. They no longer possessed superior numbers.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Become a Patron to Continue the story.

Jasmine Snippet #88

Another snippet for “The Story of Jasmine,”

Bardulf’s men, lead by Lt. Cartwell, were stirred by the sounds of aerial combat. At first, they were only focused on the sky upward. Then the Lieutenant was the first to notice some commotion further up ahead. After calling upon his men to be keen, he shouted, “target ahead, Prepare to engage.” He thought victory was easily within their grasp. They picked up speed and quickly closed in on the five. It was only a matter of minutes.

*  *  *

In the meanwhile, Glynn quickly dismounted and got his horse off to the side. If the others could follow his example, in the minutes before they’d be overtaken, they might gain a slight advantage against their pursuers.  If they could but take the offensive… Glynn was barking orders to that effect as he headed towards an outcropping of boulders to conceal himself. Glynn heard a noise and instantly readied his weapon.

With adrenaline coursing through the dwarf’s system, he charged whatever was behind that rock. Turned out, a large man-like thing with a nasty-looking club glared back at him menacingly, ready to strike him dead with a foul blow. For being so large, this warrior was amazingly capable of blending into his surroundings. Glynn finished off his enemy with one, well aimed cleave. As he noticed more of these hideous people peeking from their hiding places, Glynn instantly realized their grim situation, “Aho,” he cried, “A trap!”

*  *  *

Two flying creatures were locked in mortal combat, clawing and biting each other mid-air. When Jasmine appeared out in the open, the leathery creature flew to her, and rasped out a piteous call. It seemed to bow to her.Jasmine was startled. The poor creature was clawed, bitten up, very bloody and badly scratched. Was this his appeal to seek her protection?  This was not what she expected. He’s a loving creature. In an act of compassion, Jasmine stroked the bloodied beast with her ringed hand, getting its blood on her. She forgot she had her staff in the other hand. Jasmine’s grace offered the creature solace. This momentary interaction had the effect of reinvigorating Gryth.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #87

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Ahearn was uneasy. All morning Rogan had monopolized Jasmine’s attention, thwarting his intentions on several counts. First, he wanted to ride closer to Jasmine, more towards the front of the caravan. He had not expected the group to act so jovial. It made it harder on his conscience to carry out his devious plan. Jasmine was usually walled up inside that cloak of hers. It was going to be so easy. Just grab the reins of her horse and they’d be out of there before the ambush commenced. He smirked at the thought that their last memories of him would be in gratitude that he successfully rescued Jasmine from their fate.

The hawk spotted something. They had not yet arrived at the ambush site, which was nearby. Ahearn felt excitement. The trap was nearly ready to be sprung, but for that damned bird.

The hawk’s piercing screams were answered by another more disturbing call, which sounded like a cross between a crocodile and a lion’s roar. Everyone surged ahead to try to see what was happening.

When he caught a glimpse of it, Glynn shouted an alarm. It was Gryth, the creature Jasmine spoke about only last night. “Beware!” He shouted, “Bardulf’s soldiers are nearby! Ride ahead to the opening in the trees. Well make our stand there.” At Glynn’s urging, everyone charged ahead.

Ahearn was stunned. This was a possibility he had not planned for. They were riding at top speed towards the ambush site. This was all wrong. The cannibals are apt to believe he double-crossed them. At first, he just intended to slow things down by getting in front of everyone. Then, damned if he didn’t sense the vibration of earth being pounded by hooves behind them! He charged past Rogan, almost knocking Rogan and his horse into the brush.

Glynn arrived at the point where the road opened up into an incredible vista with a blue sky. The sun nearly blinded everyone who emerged from the thicket. When Glynn reached this place, he was dismounting to find a place among the rocks and shouted instructions for Jasmine to find a hiding place as well.

Before Jasmine could respond, they heard the blood-curdling cries of two creatures locked in mortal combat and Thorne screaming from behind, the name of her pet.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #86

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Bardulf was now ready. He took the restraints off of Gryth’s leg. He looked Gryth straight in the eye and visualized the Ring of Emeth, very clearing in his head. “Go find.” Bardulf bid as he launched Gryth up in the air. Through the Crystal Ball, Bardulf reassured Gryth that he was to finally go search for the ring.

Earlier, Bardulf dispatched some troops to the White Throne mountain, hoping to garner more information. When his men discovered two of the best horses missing, he’d ordered a few men to follow the road to catch up with and punish the horse thieves. At this late hour, he enlisted the aid of more nearby troops to follow behind.

Swartzborg was east and south of UR. It would take some time for Gryth to reach UR, and longer yet to reach Oxted. He did not know the creature’s endurance. He let Gryth stop to take rests if he couldn’t find an updraft to float upon. If Gryth followed the ring, it was in a general north westernly direction. Bardulf did not let him take the straightest course.

He wanted his men to follow Gryth as his backup. So he steered Gryth to stay near the main roads, and close to areas and land marks familiar to Bardulf or on the maps he was consulting. Gryth followed the usual westward route. Bardulf aimed to intercept his handful of men who had been ordered to apprehend some thieves. Those men were the closest in proximity to his ultimate target.

His men had traveled most of the way through the stretch of the great plains when Gryth caught up with them. A young Lieutenant Bondfeld was in charge of those men. It was a point of pride for Lt. Bondfeld to notice everything around him, at all times. On this day, his keen observations were rewarded. He recognized Bardulf’s pet and stayed his men from raising their weapons.

The Lieutenant looked up and addressed the creature. “G-G-Grit, you are called?” he asked. As Bardulf directed Gryth to move toward the Lieutenant, a gurgling sound came from the throat of the beast. Gryth dropped a weighted parchment down to him.

To unroll the parchment, the Lieutenant had to break the thick wax seal of Bardulf, the High Reigning Lord King himself! His orders were to abandon their present pursuit and simply follow the dragon-lizard until it stopped — no matter where it lead them.”

The Lieutenant nodded as he read further, “When the little dragon stops by certain people and does not move on, immediately apprehend those people, keep the one with the ring alive.” When the Lieutenant completed the message, he saluted the dragon, then made ready to carry out his new orders.

Bardulf’s message also informed the Lieutenant that Gryth was his eyes. Bardulf could see everything through the eyes of the little dragon and now he looked directly upon the Lieutenant as he read that very message and could also see his men. The Lieutenant was bright, inquisitive, practical, and very rattled.

Following a dragon-lizard was at least different. His men easily fell into the change of routine. They were encouraged through good humor. Lt. Bondfeld wore his most serious face and his mannerisms became more formal. Given his seriousness, his men became doubly amused to have witnessed the absurdity of their superior saluting a lizard.

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #85

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

In the wee hours of the morning, Ahearn had been first to arrive back at the forest camp. After a few words with Glynn, Ahearn settled in with his horse, using his saddle for a backrest. Rogan arrived just before dawn and pretty much did the same. Glynn did not see any need to break camp before the return of the warrior maiden. He was sure she would show up, eventually. He was prepared to wait the whole next day, if necessary. He felt better if they did not move.

Glynn decided not to worry about the sudden appearance of any flying dragon lizard. Like many creatures, the louder someone is, the more they are bluffing. Unless it could spit fire or sting, the most it could do was to bite and claw. Glynn was positive a well-aimed arrow could stop it mid-flight.

When Thorne finally arrived in the early morning, she brought with her a loud surprise. The camp was treated to the piercing sounds of a hawk. Woken from the deep slumber, confused, Glynn allowed himself, he immediately fumbled for his weapon. He looked for a small dragon but only saw a large bird. When he was finally able to collect his wits about him, Glynn saw Thorne in the company of a large hawk.

“I helped to raise this proud, beautiful majestic bird.” she said, petting the bird’s breast feathers with the side of her index finger, “Gavin will help us navigate what’s ahead in the deep dark forest, won’t you, Gavin?” Jasmine was delighted, Glynn, interested. Rogan showed mild surprise and Ahearn, consternation.

However, by the time everyone was underway, they left more jovial. That’s because Thorne had another surprise up her sleeve. She remembered to replenish food stuffs for the group and, uncharacteristically, did something Rogan thought was impossible. She made breakfast of her own accord. Nobody, save Rogan, had tasted anything like the unexpected treat of Armildian cooking.

The dishes used sharp spices cooked with exotic-tasting, colorful fruits, nuts and bread. It was also nourishing, completely satisfying and delicious. Suddenly the morning’s usual start changed into a more optimistic adventure. Thorne was amazed at how well food always contributed so quickly towards feelings of comradrie. Using food was a trick Thorne learned to use if she wanted to gain control and advantage in small group situations.

For the first forty minutes, Rogan spoke exclusively to Jasmine, giving her a taste of his full court treatment. Glynn rolled his eyes, but Jasmine seemed to enjoy the talk. Thorne felt a chill as she watched Rogan lavish such courtly language and admiring attention upon the lass. Thorne became so intent on listening to his conversation, she nearly forgot to launch Gavin.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

The Energy Leads to JASMINE

“Follow The Energy,” and “Pay Attention from where the Energy Flows”

This week, I followed that advice and I received a surprise. It’s a surprise because its so obvious when you think about it, but totally invisible to me on the level I was working.

I followed the energy to another vantage point, a part of my past — to a 38-year old saga called “The Story of Jasmine.”  I recently discovered a box I had long neglected. When I opened the box, I discovered it was filled with notes for the continuation of my Jasmine story originally published in 1980. The box contained a pile of hand-written notes and scraps of writing, some loose and some in notebooks — everything that did not see the light of day from long before.

The Story of Jasmine is about the young Princess of UR who jumped headlong into her destiny. She is accompanied by a dwarf, her devoted protector. The plot revolves around a ring that the dark prince Bardulf, her father’s enemy from a neighboring territory, managed to place on her finger, hoping to keep the princess spell bound. Through magical means, Bardulf succeeded in taking down the Kingdom of UR, but the princess escapes his clutches.

J is for JASMINE

A fugitive, the Princess of UR willingly leaves her prior life behind and accepts her destiny as a Lady in White, thus becoming Jasmine. The title refers to the highest and most revered one within the ancient Order of the White Flower. However, that Order has not existed for hundreds of years. Jasmine wonders if her new identity is beyond her depths.

Jasmine needs to fully integrate the new concentration of power she feels growing within her entire being while also being present to the daily dangers that seek to destroy her. Jasmine needs to fully integrate the new power she feels growing within her being and also be present to the daily dangers that seek to destroy her.

Besides the dwarf, her other traveling companions — a battle-maiden, a royal dark elf, and a spy for the deadly Fire Queen — have vowed to protect Jasmine, for secret reasons of their own.

Beginnings

At the end of January of this year (2018), I decided to publish each little scrap of writing I found within the old box, one snippet a day. As of May 6th, I’m up to my 85th Snippet. At the moment, it’s becoming more of a collaboration between myself and my younger self. It’s necessary, because there are a lot of holes, like missing dialog / action / explanations needing to be filled in. So Jasmine is both old and new.

I could have sworn that I was going after a market that appreciates my Powerful Women’s Coloring book. That may still be the case, but a desired connection was unexpectedly paused and I found myself returning to the Jasmine story, again and again. Since I had to actually input in text daily, I became more and more focused on the story. I was giving it the energy of my attention.

Fans

So it was in the back of my mind when I was learning the technical aspects behind the various methods there are to collect friendly e-mail addresses. I decided to experiment with Jasmine. Now, after I publish each snippet, I have a place where people can become “A Fan of Jasmine.” It not that difficult to do and I was curious if a passive opt-In would work.

And damned if I didn’t get some responses! I have fans! Who knew? And my fans are willing to help me put Jasmine out there in the public eye! Wow! There is energy here! They’re pointing out to me how close to a ready-made book product I actually have! Why did this never occur to me before? That’s so astounding. I was so close to it, I could not see. Ohhhhh, that’s what they mean when they say, one “cannot see the forest for the trees…!”

[Ha ha ha…So now, I should start thinking in terms of offering some JASMINE swag.]

Why?

Would it be putting on the brakes to examine this a little more — or do I just enjoy the energy while it lasts? Or is concentration and focusing the entire point? Energy begets energy. If I stop myself to ask questions, will I lessen the energy in the act of doing so? If movement slows, one apt to believe “it was just not meant to be.” This reminds me that we are always in control. We are the authors of our own life.

Why Jasmine? Is Jasmine relevant today? Who knows? Maybe there’s something in there for someone who needs to hear a story with a younger voice. Maybe the archetypes will resonate with a newer generation. Maybe the story needed to season in order to flourish.

This older / younger collaboration with myself is a tad strange, but fascinating. It’s like personal archaeology, uncovering treasures through the eyes, perspective, and writing of a young woman. The plot and basic story line already originated in the 1980s. I’m adding depth to the characters and adding description where suitable. The energy is definitely there!

History

Once upon a time, 12 Installments of The Story of Jasmine Illustrated Fantasy Adventure were published in The Dragon magazine, once a month for a year, beginning in May of 1980.

When the contract was not renewed, the story continued in my mind and it morphed into an interactive card game. I divided the characters into four factions and “JASMINE: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game, became the result of that. It actually gave me the excuse to create 112-miniature paintings. My card game won a Strategists Award in 1982 for the Best New Game.

From my many moves hinder and yon, I held onto many things. Some may say, too many things. But I think the box I found of Jasmine writing might end up being a great and rare treasure.

I still retain some of my original stock of card games… I also have a manuscript, fans, art and the creative desire. So everything is looking good and I’m feeling pretty good too!

Jasmine is like a care package gifted to me by my younger self.

Become a Fan of Jasmine

Become a Patron of Jasmine

For anyone who wants to read the story from the beginning of the snippets, they are archived under the Categories of “Jasmine and Role-Playing Games” and “The Creative Process.” 

Just Look to the column on the right, you can find them in the CATEGORIES drop down menu. 

Jasmine Snippet #84

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Solshigtr turned his attention to two older people and a woman his age and conferred with them. Solshigtr resumed his composure and walked towards Ahearn. Ahearn was considered tall, but the Witchleins were more than a foot taller. The chieftain towered above him. Looking down upon Ahearn, Solshigtr spoke, “How will you save our lives?”

Ahearn said one word, and so very softly so that only the chieftain could hear him. He spoke that word gingerly, as if uttering it revealed a great and awe-encompassing truth. “Magic.” He said as he let the word linger on his lips.

Ahearn followed his hushed utterance with a louder pronouncement, “It is your own fault if you get hurt by the dwarf or anyone else with weapons. But you have no defense against the magic of the maiden.” He lingered on the word, “magic.” The Witchleins stirred uneasily. They did not like what they heard and disagreed. They did not belief the maiden was capable of magic.

Ahearn quieted them after he reminded them the maiden carried a powerful staff. No one could argue the truth of that statement. Since a female held it, they had not focused upon the possible purpose behind her control of the staff. It seemed to them, Ahearn might have a point.

“Alright, what is your bargain? Solshigtr asked at last.

“Yes!” Ahearn congratulated himself, letting out a small sigh of relief. In that moment, Ahearn achieved success. He became a person to these tribesmen. For all that, he merely bargained safe passage for himself and the “magic  maiden” while the rest were left to fend for themselves.

“So we feast on the bones of your companions, while you and the female go free?”

Ahearn nodded grimly. “They are not persons to me.”

Satisfied, a time and place for the ambush was set. Not surprizingly, they chose their usual ambush place, a large cleared, inviting spot, near the location of sacred land on the other side of a gully connected by an old bridge. The main road continued onward past the bridge. The site happened to be a little more than an hour further up the road from where they stopped for the night. In fact, the Witchleins expected the party of travelers to have made it all the way to their ambush site that night.

The cannibals carefully kept the road trimmed with thorny bushes and brambles. They were massively disappointed when Jasmine’s party decided to travel no further and set up camp where they stood. This was unexpected. The Wichtleins could not conceive of anyone camping in the middle of the road. Attacking during the day was never their preference. Mid-night attacks were so much more effective to carry out, and much easier — especially when their victims were asleep.   

After striking his bargain, the Dark Elf returned to where Jasmine and Glynn rested for the night. Once he settled in, he slept so soundly, he scarcely heard Rogan arrive.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #83

Notes continue for The Story of Jasmine:

As soon as Ahearn excused himself from camp, he headed straight toward the Lair of the Wichtleins, a disturbing tribe of people who were not above cannibalism. Ahearn had encountered tribes like this before in this primordial forest, when he traveled with his brother, Aiden (it seemed) ages ago. Through Aiden, he knew a lot about what to expect. His brother told him the Wichtlein tribes exercised a strict code of conduct and were comprised of three or four extended families.

Ahearn was fortunate to remember what those tribes loved and what they feared. Wichtleins loved to trade. Deep down, they were all mercenaries. Ahearn needed to think of something they were willing to trade for. If he had something they wanted, they’d fall in and act as any other merchants would and barter.

His brother Aiden was the first to negotiate a deal with the Wichtlein clans on behalf of the Dockalfarians. It happened in the northern part of this dark forest. In exchange for sacks of thick wine fermented from the fruit of a koaklula tree, Aiden bade them collect information. Essentially, the ever-curious Witchleins were recruited as spies. That’s how The Dockalfarians received every scrap of news, including what was happening in neighboring lands.

Once Ahearn was shuffled in front of the chieftain, the chieftain spoke, “I do not have a contract with you. You are not a person to me.” The Wichtlein code had a litany of phrases and formal declarations they would go through, always ending with “… You are not a person…” Aiden advised never to wait until after the recitation ended.

So Ahearn jumped right in, interrupting them immediately, “But oh, I AM a person AND a friend to you, Chief Solshigtr.” Ahearn was just as masterful at word inflection as Rogan. The chieftain was startled that his personal name had been spoken, and involunarily backed away. Ahearn looked at him cooly and without emotion. He excelled at this. Fortunately, he knew enough of the Wichtlein’s language to catch the chieftain’s name. Knowing and using the Chieftain’s name properly was imperative for Ahearn’s success.

Deciding to take things one step further, Ahearn repeated his words again, only this time, more slowly, and in their coded language. He only knew this important greeting phrase because his brother made him memorize it. For years, the phrase served as the brothers’ secret password. It was a password still, of sorts. Ahearn recited it beautifully in combination with the name of  Solshigtr.

Ahearn remembered something Aiden always bragged, “Only persons of wit and cleverness will survive their first meeting.” Ahearn shuddered to recall another thing his brother warned, “there are never any hostages.” Since Aiden’s success, the Dockalfarians discovered that lawyers and merchants had the best instincts to deal successfully with these ritualistic cannibalistic tribes.

Success would be his only if they asked him to bargain. To survive the meeting, it was vital Ahearn use their codes to his advantage. To them, only Wichtleins were persons. They could never eat a person. The only ones outside their tribe who could achieve person status were negotiators/traders. To receive recognition to negotiate meant one was a person. Hence, Ahearn meant to win person status, determined to be categorized as “not meat” to these savages.

The Chief informed Ahearn they had been aware of them long before they entered the woods. “Friend, Solshigtr,” Ahearn answered, “I know you believe that I have nothing to bargain because my life is already yours.” Chief Solshigtr nodded and smiled.

“But,” Ahearn continued, “my bargain is to save your lives not mine…”

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”