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I didn't catch any typoes while I was reading. Great stuff, Roger! I misread "Because I'm a stupid sap" as "stupid asp" the first time I looked at it, and that absolutely killed me. - willows

I am glad you liked it. Did you find that the characters had distinct voices? One of my biggest worries was that Dellano and Mahi-Sura would sound too similar when they were giving their respective "why I think Jasper is a misguided goober" speeches.
I think I may also go back and put the whole dream sequence in italics. Do you think that would make it too hard to read?

Man, after reading the beginning I'm getting paranoid. I'm worried that I can't live up to it. Well, if it all comes out as complete jargon, I suppose it can be scrapped. Anyway...Here's to creative writings in all their forms! - EndlessChase

Don't feel like you have to "live up" to anything. The important thing is that you feel you've done your best (given the time constraints), not that you equal (or exceed) my best. The main goal here is to just have a good time, and maybe get some practice so that your best can be better.

I think I know why I felt so intimidated at first. It's because I thought of this as your story. Now I've finally gotten it into my head that it's our story. It took me a couple pages of creativity before I felt that way, but now my confidence is restored. This really is alot of fun. - EndlessChase

Nice work on the current incarnation of the cast page, by the way. Things look really sharp. -EC

If someone wants to update the cast and plot pages to reflect chapter 3, that would be super. I'd do it tonight, but I am both tired and mildly ill. In fact, I should be in bed right now.

I just wanted to clarify a few things before I start writing. Dust and Iron is now known as Dirt and Iron. Dirt and Iron works for this Leaves dude, and is a messenger boy for this Storms person (who is also this Chronicler of Thunders). Chronicler of Thunders has been killing all these stupidly powerful Exalts, including Jasper's previous incarnation. Am I right? -Dim

Whoa, thanks for catching that - Dirt and Iron is a typo. (But, a cool one?) Change it back if you like, keep it if you like. They are the same man. You're correct about everything, in other words. (Well, we can't prove that the Chronicler is killing all these Exalted, but she claims so.) This is what I call the Ambiguous Information Technique. - willows

Well, I was thinking; what does one do when their name is broken? Make a new one with the pieces of the old. -Dim

In explanation, I think it makes a lot of sense for Sidereals to have lots of names - it gives them more to hang on to when the Arcane Fate strips bits of their identities away. - willows

Well, just as a note, inspiration has struck me BIGTIME. Expect the next chapter to be filled with juicy explinations and neat twists. -Dim

Err....I was going to fill in the meeting part, but that's okay. You changed a few elements, but my core idea is intact. No biggie :) -Dim

Okay, boys and girls. Whether or not I sign up for the queue again soon (probably won't happen this coming week; I'm working overtime), I think it would be helpful to do some brainstorming about where the story can go next. In particular, I want to hear people's ideas on how to deal with Dim's cliffhanger. Our Heroes are facing a First Age survivor who has no really transparent reason for not killing them. How will Jasper and Mahi-Sura escape? Here are some fairly straightforward ideas:

  • The obvious one. Allandra recognizes Jasper, spares him 'cuz they were all lovey-dovey 2000 years ago. I think this is a terrible idea, since we already know that she killed his last incarnation. If she's got the moxie to kill the actual guy she's in love with, there's no rational justification for her balking at killing some random guy who may or may not have some of that guy's memories.
  • Some kind of combat scene, ending with the disarm move which Jasper dreamed about in part 3. It probably wouldn't be as much of a "OMG, without my spear I'm helpless, please spare me!" thing as it would be "that move triggers unsettling memories of my shrouded past! We will meet again! POOF!" Where "POOF" is the sound of a ninja smoke grenade.
  • Fight scene, conveniently interrupted by someone else, most likely Dellano and/or the Mystery Sidereal, the guy with the green jade hand (can't remember his name offhand) from Willows' part. Warden of Jade, that's the name. Anyways, he would probably make the most sense for a deus ex machina, since we already know that he isn't allied with Dirt and Iron (and by extension, not allied with D&I's anonymous superiors). Plus, he's mysteeeerious, so it's conceivable that he might have some tricks that could make CT think twice (unlike Dellano, who would in all likelihood be little more than a speedbump).
    • Speaking of which, I'm still curious about what exactly happened after WJ poked D&I's name. I mean, I can't imagine that it was like D was just sort of like, "whatever, man," and walked off.
  • I dunno, Kukla attacks or something.


Realizing I'm not an author, so I'm not as involved in the decision making, but Deus Ex Machina is generally a pretty weak way to resolve a cliffhanger, and as a fan of the series so far, I'd recommend going in another direction. Some pretty standard (read: approaching cliche) resolutions include having Mahi-Sura do the whole sacrifce-herself-for-the-man-she-loves thing, or the ole "villain makes the mistake of delaying her enemy's death and takes him to her secret lair where she reveals her secret plans." The section also seems to suggest a "I have come to issue a challenge, and will now disappear so that I may kill you later" approach. That last option seems to provide the most interesting jumping off points. Maybe Jasper can have some nifty flashbacks to his previous death and invoke ancient rites of challenge ("Fine, as the challenged, I have the right to choose the time, place, and weapons of choice, etc"). Seems especially promising considering that Jasper's an Eclipse (mmmmm nifty bargain sealing), IIRC.
If you go the Deus Ex-Machina approach, though, it'd best to just pull out all the stops, convulute the plot a whole boatload, and spend the next few chapters sorting the mess out. Maybe one of his other Circle-Mates shows up (reincarnated of course) or maybe you can draw on tedious Yu-Shan politics and have a Gold-Faction Sidereal show up to lend a hand. Maybe the Fair Folk show up and lend Jasper a hand so that he's in their debt. Maybe one of the Gods Jasper's aided step in. If you go with a Deus Ex Machina, the further up your ass you reach to pull something out, the better, IMO. -- EJGRgunner avid fan.

The squash-god from chapter 1 reveals her TRUE POWER!

Oddly enough, I tend to like this idea. I am not a fan of disposable characters. - willows

Just passing by, really not privileged to comment, but...if you're going to pull a deus ex machina, I'd say Celia is a better choice than the squash god. But then, I love Abyssals. --MF

What about this? Japser just said, "Allandra?" She's probably thinking, WTF? He knows my name? I didn't know my name until after my last job. I could kill him now and collect my reward.. Or I could pretend to recognize him, find out some memories for free, and then kill him. In which case, there's a chapter or two of love-triangle before Jasper remembers her killing him. (She could always pass off the "I killed you before" remark as being given misinformation, after all.) --Dissolvegirl

There's a signup for part five on the info page for CtS, but the WBM page doesn't show it, and I think it's been ~10 days. I'd hate to see the story suddenly screech to a halt. - EJGRgunner, avid fan

Shoot, I'd missed that. TheMyriadOfShades seems to have dropped, about a week ago. I'm thinking about signing up for a second part, but I encourage other people to pre-empt me. This is because Dim's part kind of threw me for a loop, and I'm afraid I might get into a "must fix broken story!" mindset, which is (paradoxically, and in my experience) one of the most destructive things you can do in round-robin fiction.

Well then... I might as well take a shot at it. EJGRgunner

I encourage you to do so. We're always looking for fresh mea--- er, promising new talent! Seriously, WBM can only thrive if fans contribute. Don't be shy.

Too late. Once I get a bit more done, would you mind reading it and telling me it doesn't blow chunks before I post it? I can snag your email from your main page. EJGRgunner
Sure, no problem. I'm pretty sure you could get others to do prereading for you, too, if you want a second opinion.
As SilverMeerKat might say "Smexcellent." Anyone else willing to preread for me? EJGRgunner
Yes, though I'd like to know exactly what you want to get out of my commentary before I provide it, like, "Do you think my characterizations are consistent with the previous chapters?" or, "did this particular scene make sense?" Roger's good with the general commentary, but I do better when I have goals. - willows
Don't worry. I'll email this out as a txt attachment, probably, and include specific information in the email. - EJGRgunner

Definitely. I need my CTS fix. ;) untaken (underscore) address (at) yahoo (dot) com.-- dissolvegirl

I'm thinking of signing up to write a part. However, I am really hindered by the fact, alluded to on my home page, that I have absolutely no idea of where the story is headed at this point, or even a notion of where it should head. Here's what I can state with a feeling of certainty:

  • There are enough characters. The characters we already have are fairly numerous, and aren't really tied together. I think the productive thing to do is to work on developing characters, and discourage the introduction of new ones.
  • The story has reached the point where I think it will be most productive to work on forging what plot twists and information we already have into a coherent whole. We have several groups of characters, who for various reasons don't seem to mesh awfully well. Jasper and Mahi are doing their thing; these Sidereal guys are up to some kind of intra-Heaven intrigue; Allandra is out to get Jasper but we can't actually put them into a direct confrontation because she'd squash him; Pepo is investigating; Dellano is sort of sitting on the sidelines. There has to be a way to come up with a focused storyline that doesn't let any of these guys fall by the wayside.

I feel that CtS and PotW are both moving out of "beginning phase" and into "middle phase"; PotW seems to be making the transition more smoothly, but both of them are at the point where Vishnu metaphorically body-checks Brahma out of the hot seat and says "Time to quit the undirected dynamic creation and make with the imposition of order and development of existing concepts. Howah!"

I think that some of the decisions which have been made in past CtS chapters have been unwise, but I don't think anything's been done which completely destroys the story's viability. I'm also unwilling to rescind my stance that stringent "quality control" is a bad idea in this setting. We don't have enough contributors to be rejecting or retconning parts because they do not measure up to my, or someone else's, estimation of what is "good for the story"; in addition, stifling creativity and individual vision undermines one of the foundations of this project, namely that anyone can become a valuable participant.

So, let's discuss this. Where should the story go? Ideas can be as vague, or as specific, as you like, but I am particularly looking for notions of what the story should focus on. What themes should be important? What should the characters' goals be? How can those goals be made to interact harmoniously? Please share your thoughts.

I, for one, was rather jarred by Jasper's sudden discovery of comfort and complacency; I'd like to see his quest for memory resumed. More lated. - willows

Well, he is kind of a mercurial guy. "Yay, I found this thing from my past, my life is complete! I'll celebrate with grandiose gestures and profligate spending!" Ten minutes later... "Crap, this didn't lead to true happiness after all. Gotta get moving!" Ikselam

Ah, Vishnu. He's a handy guy. Seriously though, I think there's got to be a way to balance Jasper's passion-without-conviction and the story's need for a serious goal. And also-- while I do think every one of the characters is cool and interesting-- I think the story would be better off by letting some of the smaller characters gracefully fall off the radar instead of nearly being finished with the next chapter and thinking, "Crap! 19K and no mention of (insert character here)!" They can always show up later as a new villain, a Deus Ex Machina who has been hoarding XP while the other characters did their thing, or in their own spinoff story. I think the best thing that could happen to this story is a narrowing of focus, and a large cast doesn't lend itself to that. --dissolvegirl

Yeah, drawing a clear distinction between supporting cast and main characters would probably be helpful.\\ _Ikselam

I added some (notes) that might help. EJGRgunner

Okay, here's something I think is key: figuring out what Warden of Jade's deal is. I still fail to get that scene between him and D&I. Why isn't WJ who D&I thinks he is? What's the point of the name-breaking finger-jab?

  • Is WJ secretly of the Gold Faction?
    • Maybe he's been surreptitiously gathering together the reincarnated Solars who formed Jasper's past-life Circle, for some (nefarious?) purpose?
  • He clearly is involved in this whole Chronicler of Thunders thing.
    • Maybe he's afraid that coming into contact with Jasper will awaken Allandra's memories, and allow her to shake off Sidereal control? In this case, he could actually be a member of the Bronze Faction. But that would beg the question of why this SMA twink wouldn't just off Jasper himself, once he's gotten him away from A.

Feel free to chime in with your interpretations/ideas. (Willows, I am looking at you!)

I like the idea of WJ being independant. Maybe he used to be a bronze faction member, got disillusioned by the whole "keeping the status quo" thing. He could have become bitter about doing what he pleases and aquiring power for himself in the name of the "greater good," and considers himself more virtuous for simply aquiring power because he wants it, instead of making some excuse. In this scenario, he would have risen to a decent amount of power with the BF before becoming independant, and therefore still retains a decent pull in the Celestial Bureau. I like the idea of him gathering Jasper's former circle-mates for some unknown, nefarious purpose. --dissolvegirl

I feel like I should make some of my non-Exalted-related writing available to people, to make it clearer how I operate. I do a lot of things because some formless muse tells me to, not because I understand them. The name-breaking was one of these. Usually, the information you can find in the text is exactly all the information that I wanted it to contain, and there is nothing that I assumed was the truth that doesn't come out textually, in one way or another.

But I see the Warden as someone who D&I thought was an ally, but maybe his situation is more complex than that - perhaps something in the Warden's past turned him against his old friend Dirt. That said, I'm not sure it's as illuminating to pin down his importance as it is to understand the significance of our cold-storage executioner, Chronicler of Thunders. The Sidereal and the Warden (whatever he may be) are, perhaps, supporting characters in her story. - willows

I agree with Willows. I think the three most important questions now are:

  1. What is Jasper going to do now that he's seen his dream-woman, and seen her kill him in a past life, and knows she's trying to execute him?
  2. How does CoT / Allandra affect Jasper and MS's relationship?
  3. What is CoT going to do now that her D&I is preoccupied for the next little bit?

My personal take on the Name-Breaking is this: the Charm Pattern-Spider Bite(?) allows the martial artist to recreate/remake a person, which I think is what WJ used on D&I. I think that the name-breaking was secondary to a subtle editing of D&I's Charm repetoire/abilities. I think WJ knew he was going to intervene to protect Jasper, but wanted to keep D&I from getting involved (who knows what D&I would do for his "Mistress?"). He can't just strike him down, so instead he uses Charcoal March of Spiders to strip D&I of his combat prowess. -EJGRgunner