Adventures in NaNo-land – Super…Natural

November 14, 2012 at 1:21 am (fantasy, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

One of the main themes in The Trading of Skin, because of the animistic roots of the Sami mythology, is the importance of man’s connection with nature on a spiritual level. In line with this theme, present in the story are the Sami deities associated with nature (in particular Laib Olmai,) the natural sacred places where the noaidi (shamans) would worship, references to the bear cult ceremonies required before going on a bear hunt, and the Haldi, the animal spirits that play a central role to the tale. With an added dose of magic and mysticism, much of these elements of the story border on the supernatural and occasionally cross over.

The opposing factors to these natural elements I provide in the story are threefold. The first is the intolerance the characters encounter from the people in Anár, the village where my protagonist lives. The problems they encounter there represent the way civilization pits man against nature, and sometimes nature loses (pollution and climate change come to mind.) The second is the challenge of nature itself. The heroes of the tale must conquer the labyrinth of Laib Olmai and the giant, Stallon, symbols of nature. They represent the difficulty all living things face as a result of unforgiving environments and the cycle of life and death. The third is a strictly supernatural aspect and the most notable antagonist of the story. I didn’t feel right offering the goddess of death as a villain, because death is a part of nature, so I chose to use Mubpienålmaj, “the evil one,” and his servants, the spirit-hunters, as the prime nemesis instead. His unnatural evil contrasts the natural good of the Haldi.

Here’s a first draft sample from the chapter I’m currently working on, with reference to some of these things:

“I meant to ask you – how safe is she here? Those spirit-hunters, the ones who were responsible for her separation from her family, will they come after her here? Why are they hunting Haldi in the first place? Would they come after us if they knew about us too?” Oaván asked.

Jaská patted him gently on the cheek, a look of concern in her eyes. “So many questions, Oaván. I do hope you haven’t been worrying yourself over this. I can tell you this much; they won’t come looking for her in Anár. They’ll never pick up her scent with all of this human smell around. She’ll be safe here.”

“They track by scent?” Dáidu approached them. “Like an animal? What are they exactly? What do they want with Lieđđi and her family.”

Their mother suddenly became very animated, as if talking about the spirit-hunters carried with it a burst of adrenaline. “They are monsters…malignant spirits. They wear the form of men, but they are servants of Mubpienålmaj, the evil one. The Haldi are good spirits, with guardian magic. The purpose of the spirit-hunters is to destroy that magic, to make noaidi and nature more vulnerable to harm. They don’t care about the spirit-bound. We’ve already sacrificed that magic. They don’t care about half-bloods either, but free Haldi, like Lieđđi and her family? They hunt them down, they wait for that moment of transformation when that magic is at its most potent, and they kill them and take their skins. Lieđđi was right to have run the night you shot her. The hunters have a harder time targeting an individual rather than a group. They would have stopped chasing her family down too, once the sun had risen and the transformation was complete. They would have put off any attack until the next sunrise or sunset.”

Oaván glanced at Dáidu. “Maybe that explains what we found at the sieidi, suggestions of some kind of battle.”

“But sieidis are supposed to be sanctuaries. That was why Lieđđi’s family planned to meet back there in the first place,” Dáidu said.

“They are,” Jaská agreed. “They will protect all within its space, but step just outside the holy ground and you are vulnerable again. Plus spirits can use siedis as gateways, which means they serve as ready transportation for the spirit-hunters. They are not tied to this world or their physical form the way we Haldi usually are. If the hunters knew Lieđđi’s family were taking shelter at a particular sieidi, they might have waited on the other side for someone to stray outside its terrain, around sunrise or sunset, to seek food or water, or to relieve themselves. The hunters would have manifested and attacked. If you saw signs of a struggle, that may have happened, especially if the Haldi were lingering there, waiting for an absent Lieđđi’s arrival. She may no longer have a family to go back to.”

And here is the link I intended to include yesterday, but couldn’t because of server difficulties, for the first draft of Chapter 7:

More tomorrow J

1 Comment

  1. elisabethtilton said,

    And of course I read this all because I liked the cool outfit in the drawing. I’m so very deep. 😉 The story sounds intriguing. Keep going for that word count.

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