[I also skipped quotation marks and dialog tags. They may or may not go back. I kind of like the ambiguity.]
[Barbara has collected stacks of notes and is reading from them as she and her Aunt Sheila sit on a log in a meadow an undetermined distance away from nearby houses. Several of the notes have been about books that Aunt Sheila hasn't written.]
Houseboat on the Styx. Another afterlife?
Yes. there are many rivers associated with Hades. I was linking them into a chaotic copy of the Lorenz Butterfly. The Houseboat goes around and around in a figure eight, but what it goes by shifts chaotically. Sometimes it’s on one river, going past one area of Hades, sometimes it’s on another.
Who’s on the houseboat.
Two main characters are attached to the houseboat, others come and go, although not quickly. There’s the boatman, who doesn’t talk much. He fishes sometimes. And there’s a beetle pushing a ball of dung up the railing of the boat. No matter how the boat turns, he’s always pushing upward as he goes around and around.
Yes. There’s a crow that used to be a living man, who doesn’t know where he is or why he’s there. He tried talking to the boatman, but the boatman got tired of the noise and knocked him into the water. the water was caustic at that point of the river and it ruined some of his feathers. Now he can’t fly and seems to be stuck on the boat.
Then a hanging body from the trees on the side of the river drops into the boat as its rope rots away. It’s a figure from Greek mythology. I forget his name, but he could see the future, he and his daughter. He hated it. It always ruined his life. So he opted to remain in Hades rather than reincarnating.
His daughter could see the future, too, and it always ruined her life. But she keeps going back. She’s going to get onto the boat soon, and she and her father, the body that dropped in, will argue. She loves him and will stay awhile, but she’ll eventually go back to life.
I’m not sure about anyone else. There may be other characters, but they’ll stay on the shore or in other boats.
That sounds cool.
Thank you. I want it to be deep and significant and I’m not sure if I can pull it off.
I’ll let you get to it later. Maybe you can spend time making notes.
Or researching. I got a lot of that from researching the names of the rivers through hell.
I know a few young men who have worked as tech support operators. This is a bunch of people in the afterlife who went, not to heaven or hell, but to prayer support.
Are they given the power to answer prayers.
No. It doesn’t take power. All they can do is answer. You know, communicate. They talk to people in their dreams. The people forget when they wake up. Oh, and they’re there because someone is praying for them. If that person ever stops, they’ll . . . well, they don’t know what.
Sometimes the shades of sleeping people show up in the food court. Usually not in the work areas.
Yeah. They get no real instruction. There are managers, but it’s obvious that they don’t know more, they just like being managers.
The Dragon’s Cook
Fantasy. Medieval, sword and sorcery, D&D style story. There’s a Scholar and a Rogue and a slave, who cooks. I’m starting somewhere in the middle, but her back-story revolves around this magic road. The road goes from the Eastern Kingdom to the Western Kingdom. It passes through all the grubby little kingdoms in between, without actually touching them.
There are places to contact the road, though. She was originally sold as a child to a caravan at one of those places. They put a spell on her to keep her bound to the road. When she was sold later, there was a spell to bind her to her new master. At that time, the new master gets to add a requirement to the spell.
She’s been through a series of masters and has, I’m guessing about six spells on her. Her last master was an ogre, who ate people. She was ‘rescued’ by the Rogue and Scholar, who somehow prodded a juvenile dragon into killing the ogre. They wanted to get the ogres pile when he was dead, and assumed that the little dragon would just fly off.
But it gathered in the cook, and the treasure, and sacrificed the treasure to gain maturity as a dragon. He’s now in a cocoon in a fissure, sleeping through his transformation. The Cook is enchanted by him. It’s just another master to her. When S&R take off with everything not nailed down at the ogres place, including her, whom they sell to a nearby farmer, she waits for a bit and then goes after them to get her master’s things back.
There’s also a king, who gets called to a judgment between them. He eventually uses all of them for his own purposes. The cook doesn’t care as long as she gets to cook and no one tries to claim her, when she’s already claimed.
Won’t the dragon eat her.
She doesn’t think so. I don’t know if she has any particular reason to think so, or if she just doesn’t care about the danger. She’s been abused a bit here and there.
The Scholar is honest and appalled when the cook starts talking and accusing them. He just hadn’t seen their actions in that light. The Rogue is looking out for himself.
The Cook has access to the road through the spell on her, and she can bring some of the kings knights through, which will let them set up a toll for the caravans that use the magic road. This is a dangerous opportunity.
Many arguments and dangers and excursions. much medieval cookery. The cook is hampered by not being able to lie, due to one of the spells on her. It makes her rather blunt. She’s learned that people don’t appreciate bald truth and tries to talk as little as possible.
I don’t remember that one. Did you find any pages.
Nope, just the folder.
Hmm. Enter it. Maybe I’ll start remembering.
Sadly, I mostly see that as a Discworld novel.
No. Fan writing?
It would be. Unless I tease it out. It’s based on one idea – or at least it was to start with.
You remember Rapunsel, right. There’s the maiden in the tower and then later the Prince comes and it’s the Witch, a crone who scratches his eyes out.
Well, I started thinking of the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. And I thought, what if the witch follows the phases of the moon. What it she’s a maiden for part of the month, a mother for part, and a crone for the rest. She’d tell the visiting Prince when not to come.
But, Princes being princes, he’d come at the wrong time of the month and she’d hate the way he reacted when he saw her. She’d scratch out his eyes. Once he couldn’t see her. She could talk to him and they could be together no matter what she looked like. Maybe she’d get a cold quite often, and it would make her throat scratchy.
That is a cool twist. I like that a lot.
Well, it expanded and disked up. I decided that Rapunzels were tied to their towers. That they had evolved from Assyrian wall and building guardians. I looked those up, they have a name.
Those things that look like winged bulls with men’s heads.
And there’s this young Rapunzel that hasn’t bonded to a tower yet. She travels to Ankh-Morepork to see the sights before she’s tethered to one place. And there are three princes following her. They get to marry her if they’re the one to climb up her hair.
After many excursions and run-ins with the watch, she climbs the Tower of Art.
The one that’s impossibly tall? And the princes can’t climb it?
Exactly. There are also some side excursions into the library. It seems she has a talent for redacting information into pamphlets, some of which are passed out as Sunday Supplements in the Times.
So now she’s up in the tower. And when she lets down her hair, which moves about on it’s own quite a bit, it had to get so thin to reach to bottom that it cuts the hands of anyone who tries to climb it.
But you don’t know how it ends.
Oh, I do. The Librarian, he’s an orangutan, you know, climbs up the outside of the tower to bring her some books that she had requested that he had been keeping from her. But he couldn’t bring himself to cut her off from reading if she was going to be stuck in the tower.
So he marries her.
Yes. And she can turn into an orangutan at the end, if she likes. And there are little carvings around the main door to the tower that represent possible children that she might have.
And the Librarian manages something with L-space that lets her into it from a small library of books and pamphlets set up in the top room of the tower.
So she gets to get out of the tower, but only into the library.
Only into ALL libraries. Which she considers to be heaven.
I can imagine. You have to write that, you know.
But it’s not my world. It fits Discworld so well. Tearing it away is going to be such work and so unsatisfying.
[Yes, the conversation will continue with more books that Aunt Sheila hasn't written.]