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Chapter 8: The Fish King
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Key



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
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Location: The Royal Palace

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:57 pm    Post subject: Chapter 8: The Fish King  

The Story So Far: You are Lewellyn, the son of the Merfolk King, though you have the legendary form of a Maker, with two arms and two legs, instead of a merman. With the help of the mermaid Lalomea and Lodevar the Ram King, another Maker like you, you have rebelled against your tyrant father. Your battle with him was interrupted by the legendary serpent Leviathan, who attacked both sides and left shortly after seeing you. You, Lodevar, and Lalomea went to the Ram King’s island, which is under attack by his enemies. Your people, the merfolk, surround the island but Leviathan is here too and is attacking them. The merfolk commander, Petrosian, challenged you to face Leviathan, and you accepted his challenge and boarded his sea-chariot.

You breathe in deep and the water enters your lungs, calming you. Petrosian keeps his hand on your shoulder. You know that he thinks he’s sending you to your death.

The chariot cuts through the currents, the undersea growing rougher as you go. Finally you see the cause: a great snake-like shape showing dimly through the murky sea – Leviathan. Its movement churns the ocean, its jaws snapping on merfolk, chariots, and sea-animals as it chooses, its maw sucking in whole what’s too small to bite. Broken harpoons, whale bones, and the debris of wrecked chariots float nearby: nothing has penetrated its armor, nothing so much as caused it a scratch.

Petrosian reins in the sailfish. “There’s your serpent,” he says. “If you faced him down once, do it again.”

You feel a lump in your throat. But you won’t let Petrosian see you afraid. “Can’t we get closer?” you ask.

Petrosian’s eyes narrow. “You can swim from here,” he says. “You do know how to swim, don’t you?”

You give Petrosian a cold look. For a merman it would be a short swim, but for you it could take minutes, and meanwhile the Bullroars are landing on Freehome. “Bring us closer,” you say. “Unless you’re afraid.”

Petrosian glares at you, but orders the chariot ahead. The serpent looms larger and soon the sailfish are squirming in its shadow and will go no further. You push off and swim straight ahead without looking back.

You’re happy to be away from Petrosian, but as soon as you start swimming toward Leviathan your fear begins to grow. It fills your view, vast and dark like the sea itself, far beyond your ability to influence or even comprehend. I’m swimming to my death, you think. But you don’t stop.

The serpent’s great eyes sweep the sea, and then it turns slowly toward you. The waters rush in its wake, and you find yourself tossed and thrown again, powerless as a piece of driftwood in a hurricane. When the spinning stops you find yourself once more facing its enormous yellow eye. It looks at you, unblinking.

You’re now beyond fear into awe. It will swallow me, you think, but that doesn’t seem such a terrible fate. You will become part of something as great and eternal as the ocean, and to end your tiny drop of a life seems a small price to pay. What will it be like, to be part of Leviathan? you wonder. Will I think? Will I dream?

Its head moves back and its great jaws open. You stare into the abyss of its maw. Will it hurt? Will I die? But then two words sound in your head, echoing through your skull.

NOT YET.

And Leviathan slowly turns and swims out to deeper water, leaving you tossed in its wake again. It’s gone.

You float along, looking up at the sunlight streaming down through the water. What just happened? You feel energy running through you all over.

You hear faraway voices as the merfolk close in. “Who is he?” “What is he?” “It’s Prince Lewellyn, the King’s secret son!” “He drove away Leviathan!” “He did it before, too, I heard.”

The merfolk grow quiet as they approach. You blink twice and look at them: your people, your beautiful merfolk people. They’re shining like the sun.

The merfolk make way for their commander, Petrosian. He swims up to you slowly, with his head down. When he reaches you, he bows and says softly, “We await your orders, Your Majesty.” He’s shaking.

We await your orders. Ten thousand merfolk are yours to command. You are a King now; even Petrosian is afraid of you.

“Stop the Bullroars,” you say. “Sink their ships.” Your voice sounds strange in your ears – more bold, stronger than you remember.

Petrosian looks relieved. “It shall be done,” he says, and turns to go.

“Wait,” you call. He stops.

“Of the ships that haven’t already landed on Freehome, how many can you stop?”

Petrosian looks surprised. “All of them, of course.”

“But their ships have metal hulls. They’re expecting merfolk attacks.”

He laughs. “The sea is ours, Your Majesty. Come and see.”

So you mount Petrosian’s chariot and ride with him. He drives from one side of the battle to the other, shouting orders to his generals, seemingly proud of the chance to show what a capable and loyal commander he is, and how strong the merfolk armies are.

And strong they are against the Bullroar fleet. The Bullroars have hulled their ships with metal to withstand the merfolk’s tridents. But your people have powers far beyond what the Bullroars know. You watch as sailfish chariots speed into the hulls with silver sea-lances, and even the great Bullroar armor buckles and gives way. You see whales breach the ocean under merfolk command, and smash into the sides of the Bullroar ships, turning them over and knocking the soldiers into the ocean. You watch your people’s “water-workers” turn the sea itself into a whirlpool, dragging down a dozen ships. Petrosian is right: the sea belongs to your people. The Bullroars’ home is the Earth, and to Earth they return, ten thousand armored soldiers sinking to the sea floor. Ten ships out of a hundred have landed at Freehome by the time you start the battle; every one of the remaining ninety is sunk.

With the sea battle won, you and Petrosian ride into the Freehome harbor backed by a company of soldiers, and hear sheephead cries of victory. Two of the Bullroar ships drift aimlessly in burnt and smoking ruin.

On the beach are signs of a great battle, with the bodies of dead Bullroar and sheephead piled high on land or washed in the shallow water, blood running into the harbor while the wounded cry for their doctors. But the Bullroar dying and wounded outnumber the Sheephead, and the Bullroar that are left have given up their arms and are marched dejected and beaten into a makeshift jail. The sheepheads have won.

You leave the chariot, diving into the water and swimming until you can wade. The sheepheads stare at you, but none stop you as you wade past them looking for their leader. Finally you see him, knee-deep in water himself, and talking to a mermaid – Lalomea!

“Lodevar!” you call. “Lalomea!”

They look up. Lodevar laughs and crashes through the surf over to you. For a moment you face each other: Lodevar, soaked in sweat and covered in ash, his left arm burned and his hair caked with blood; and you, unhurt but inwardly marked by the eye of the Serpent. Then he laughs again and you throw your arms around each other.

Lalomea is there and you hug her, too, and then you see Nelectitus looking at you from the beach, smiling as though he has something to say. You go to him and his smile widens. You laugh. “What?” you ask.

“What did it say to you?” he asks.

You remember Leviathan. “Not yet.”

He bursts out laughing, as though you’ve just told the funniest joke he’s ever heard. Then he grabs your shoulders. “Oh, you’ve got an interesting future, boy,” he cackles. “Some adventures to come, I’ll bet!”

You smile uncertainly, not sure what he means or whether it’s funny. But nothing can shake your mood now. You turn back to the Ram King. You’ve got plans to make.

*

Three days later, you formalize the alliance: you recognize Lodevar as the legitimate leader of the Sheepheads, he recognizes you as the rightful Fish King, and you pledge to ally against each other’s enemies. In practice, this means more for him than for you: you’ll keep up the blockade against Bullroar trade (but let Sheephead ships pass), but there’s not much that he can do for you in return.

But your kingdom will be based on justice, not purely self-interest. Lodevar is fighting for his people’s freedom from tyranny, even as you are, so you owe him whatever you can give.

And, anyway, who knows what he might do for you someday? With the destruction of the Bullroar fleet, the whole Outer Coast of Kria is open to him. His people are already leaving Freehome and taking back their lands, driving back the few Bullroar guards and freeing the the slaves. The Inner Cities are still under Bullroar control, but now Lodevar has a real kingdom, a land, instead of just an island in your realm.

Meanwhile, you have your own battles to fight. The news of your encounters with Leviathan have spread among the merfolk army. They regard you with awe, their loyalty is assured. But there are other armies, still under Father’s control. You’ve heard that Father has returned to Ulderea and begun to arm. By now he has no doubt heard of the battle of Freehome and he knows that Petrosian’s army is loyal to you. You don’t doubt that he will whip the rest of the merfolk into a frenzy and beat them forward with fear. You may be a King, but you still have your kingdom to win.

But tonight, when the Earth is shining and you’re sitting on the rocks looking out over the sea, you can’t help but feel optimistic. You are destined to be a great King if you live, so you’re going to either beat your father or die trying. And somehow either way seems all right.

You’ve said your good-byes to the sheepheads and to Lodevar. Your army is leaving tonight, swimming for the Outer Seas where Mirisian has gone to raise support for you. The only thing left is to say good-bye to Lalomea. She’s here now, her green hair wet against her pale skin, swimming in the shallows and smiling up at you like she did many times before on another island.

“Why don’t you come, Lalomea?” you say. “I know that we’re going into battle, but you’d be as safe with us as anywhere else these days.”

“You know that’s not it, Lewellyn.”

“You want to be with Lodevar.”

“Yes.”

“But he’ll be on land, leading the battle for Kria. When will you even see him?”

“We’ve talked about it. I’ll stay in the shallows, and he’ll come to the water when he can. He is so brave, so pure – every moment will be a treasure.” She smiles, lost in the thought.

“And that’s how you’ll live – in the shallows, on the surface? Won’t you miss the deep? I’ve only been underwater a few days, but already I couldn’t give it up.”

She smiles again, this time at you. “You are a great Fish King, Lewellyn,” she says. “But the surface has its charms. And my love.”

It doesn’t make sense to you, but you guess that if you’re going to lose Lalomea, you’d rather have it be to Lodevar than to anyone else. Maybe it’s for the best; you’ve got enough to worry about without a mermaid to look after.

“All right, Lalomea,” you say. You dive off the rocks, launching yourself into the sea next to her. “Good swimming.”

Lalomea puts her arms around you. “Good swimming, King Lewellyn,” she says. Then she pulls herself up onto the rocks, and you turn and dive under the waves.

The End (for now)

Thanks to everyone who played in “The Fish That Walked” through its nine months and eight chapters. The storygame is on hiatus and will not be back until a few more stories of the Wheel have been told.
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Muaddib



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
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Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 11:07 pm    Post subject:  

Awesome ending....I love happy endings :D .

If I may suggest something.When you start writing this into a book, please expand on every chapter, make it a thicker book than the last one.PLEEEEEASE.
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Hyperion
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Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 11:17 pm    Post subject:  

Me too. Same as my post in The Ram! I agree, thick books are good ones.
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Shady Stoat
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Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 12:08 am    Post subject:  

What a great ending! I wish I'd got to IF earlier, then I could have played in this story.

I wonder what's coming next... :D
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Smee
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Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 2:12 am    Post subject:  

Awesome Key, :shock: :D

Great story.

Before I run off to read it from the other perspective a quick technicality.

Quote: the the slaves.

I think this makes 2 now from me through out the whole story. :P


I look forward to what else comes from the Wheel. :)
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The Powers That Be
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Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 7:55 am    Post subject:  

Ah, Key, I finally understand! You were coming to the end of your stories and thought, how can I best take advantage of this? And that's when you came up with the idea of IF money and the generous reward for completing a storygame. I kneel in awe before your most devious intellect!

Great stories. Two kingdoms down (well, almost), ten to go...
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Mother Goose
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Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:45 pm    Post subject:  

Well, if we're counting human-shaped characters born into other races, it's a lot fewer than ten to go. The first was the Archer. already published, then there was a soldier (I forget the name) born into the Lion people. The White Queen - Scorpion - is still in the archives, and there may even be another I'm leaving out. So with these two, we've seen at least five. Only seven to go!

Just remembered the Leonid's name - Karzai. There was also another "maker" in his story, but I don't think we ever found out much about him, like which race he came from.

I don't have to tell you, Key, how much I look forward to all your stories. I'm just waiting to see how you bring them all together!
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Reiso
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Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 4:57 pm    Post subject:  

I have to admit that I thought this one would be around a bit longer. It seemed that by introducing him into The Ram that the goal was to provide a connection between the less daring king and the readers that would endure beyond the end of Lodevar's story - which would have been brilliant, but I am glad to see it was less of a tactic and that there is a more genuine connection behind the scenes of a much larger picture yet to be revealed. In fact, I now find his story more intriguing than Lodevar's, and now it is ended! Don't wait too long before coming back to this one.

Good stuff Key, can't wait to see what you come up with next.
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DukeReg
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Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 5:24 pm    Post subject:  

I thought it would continue on longer too...
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ethereal_fauna
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Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 4:08 am    Post subject:  

I doubt that this is the end, just a pause in the story. I liked the ending as well, very touching. :)
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 11:12 am    Post subject:  

Dman, I spotted a technical isue as well, but Smee preceded me! :D

Oh well, great ending Key, very emotive, I almst started crying. ;)

I've been following this story since its beggining ;) , even though it only has like four chapters, and I'm glad I did. I hope Lellewyn and Lodevar appear in another story as well, this time as powerful kings.

Anyway, good story, and keep it up.

(By the way, how were the sales for "the Archer")?
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Muaddib
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Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 8:07 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: (By the way, how were the sales for "the Archer")?

The question everyone wanted to ask but were to scared...
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Key
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Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 9:25 pm    Post subject:  

Thanks for the kind words, everybody. As I said in the Ram, your contributions have really made this story, both because you made the decision points and because your interest and feedback spurred me to keep writing.

Of all the characters in the Wheel, Lewellyn has a special place in my heart, as I'm a Fish myself. :)

Muaddib wrote: If I may suggest something.When you start writing this into a book, please expand on every chapter, make it a thicker book than the last one.PLEEEEEASE.
:lol: I'm having trouble just finding the time to write thin books. But if I did turn this one into a book, I would probably combine it with the Ram, and together they would be considerably bigger than the Archer, maybe even twice as big.

Ideally I would like to put out a thin book very often, like every few months, but that doesn't seem likely unless sales improve, or I become independently wealthy. ;)

D-Lotus wrote: (By the way, how were the sales for "the Archer")?
*sigh* Not too good, unfortunately. I've only sold around 20 copies, which you can imagine is far fewer than I'd hoped for.

I'm kind of torn. There's a lot I can do to promote the book, but it all takes time and money. So far I've decided to focus my energy on promoting the site instead. Back when I launched the book, I'd been hoping that I wouldn't have to choose between them - that driving traffic to the site would sell books. But it hasn't worked out that way. We've had lots of traffic, but almost no direct sales.

So I'm not sure what the next step is. I'd still like to write all of the Wheel storygames in book form, and it might help sales if people could buy several books instead of just one. But it takes a lot of money to publish each one. I may just have to do them more slowly.

We'll see how the featured storygame goes next month. If that draws enough traffic, maybe I'll sell a few books based off of that.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Wed Nov 16, 2005 8:51 pm    Post subject:  

Sorry to hear about that, Key. Maybe you should analyze the reason why people didn't buy. Like, what age group were you targeting, etc. Better luck next time. Remember that a lot of authors don't even get their book published on first try. They have to try many times before some editor will even accept it. Although the story wasn't cut out to be the next Harry Potter, I did expect some more sales. Oh well, don't give up. ;)
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Hyperion
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Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 7:32 am    Post subject:  

Mhm. I think that if it was easier to buy, then you'd have no trouble. If it wasn't Greek Mythology and it had, say, a... Forget it. Other people are more suited to this sort of thing.
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Random
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Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 8:37 am    Post subject:  

Great story again Key! Congrats on two excellently told and well polished story lines!
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Reiso
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Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:23 pm    Post subject:  

While I enjoyed Archer's Flight, I definitely think that there just isn't as much as a market for short stories as there is for longer novels and no matter how good a short story is, some people just won't read them. Many people think 'how many pages am I getting for my $6.50?', and no matter how good it looks, a short story just doesn't seem worth it unless it's priced cheap. This presents major difficulties with trying to change the genre when no one will really look at it - which must be incredibly frustrating for you Key, that really really sucks.

But here's an idea you can toss around; assuming you haven't already considered and rejected the concept for what must be good reasons, what if you tried a full length novel, that is not just any one story of The Wheel, but the entire story of The Wheel, summarized?

Think about it - you can say there is this fellow who through strange circumstances was a background figure who witnessed the different stories and events. Or there can be a handful of such men who meet somehow years later, or it can be told from the perspective of a historian who is bringing it all together from various reports some many years later.

So you justify a view of the whole large scale story in one book like that, but in order to fit it all in one book it would have to be only a slight glimpse of all the pieces which will leave people wanting more. This is where instead of releasing the next novel, you release a series of short stories as supplemental information.

Of course, you don't want to repeat material so the novel would need different enough perspectives of each story so that the novellas are fresh and new to the readers. Better yet, instead of the whole Epic in one book, maybe a good chunk of it, followed by the short stories relevant to it, and maybe one that hints at the next Big book, then more short stories... well, I'm just re-inventing now, but you get the point of new material to tie in the novellas.


Another option could be something that jumps from one story of the wheel to another (Chapters 1-4 of Lodevar equals Chapters 1, 4, 7 and 10. Chapters 1-4 of Fish that walked equals Chapters 2, 5, 8, and 11. Chapters 1-4 of X equals Chapters 3, 6, 9 and 12 - that sort of thing) to sort of mix things up and make for Epic-spanning transitions, but that could quickly get crowded.

Other than those routes, the only other thing I can think of is releasing them all in a collected edition, which will grab the interest of some of those page misers.

In any case, I know they all sound a bit gimmicky, but if the alternative is that no one reads them at all, there will be people who are glad they discovered the series for the excellent writing in them, and it just may change their opinion of short stories.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 7:31 pm    Post subject:  

What does Reiso Abi Galassa mean?
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Muaddib
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Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 8:14 pm    Post subject:  

You mixed it up, its Reiso Gali Abigassa.

Hmmmm... I do think the biggest problem with sales is the thinness of the book, I feel the story's good. If only this site could be reviewed on some famous site.
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Key
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Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 8:44 pm    Post subject:  

Well, I did always plan to release larger works, but I was thinking that they would be compilations of the individual stories. The five stories I've written so far, for example, I think combined would be about the length of an average novel.

But to make money on a larger book, I'd have to make it quite a bit pricier. One of the points of putting out the novellas was to allow people to get their feet wet and not have to spend too much to get involved in the story.

I think it could work better if there were more of them. If a new novella came out once every three months, for example, there would be a series to collect, and it might be easier to hook people into the story.

Anyway, thanks for the thoughts. We'll see how it goes.
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:15 am    Post subject:  

I like that last interlude with Lalomea and Lewellyn, it felt so heartfelt. Wonderful, now I need to stop reading and write my next chaper for Truthseeker. *goes off*
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