Short Story: The Exile of Amphitryon

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This newest short story I’ve written, The Exile of Amphitryon, is taken from my interest and exploration of Greek myth and the first in a series I intend to do detailing the life and exploits of Heracles and trying to, where possible, to stick to the original stories (which in themselves are second-hand knowledge and folklore making this technically impossible). I won’t be running off on my own interpretation and will be trying to keep the stories educational, in mythological terms at least.

Of course I did a lot of researching to build up the finer details of the subject building on the knowledge I already have and consequently this first piece about Heracles doesn’t feature him at all, but is in fact about Amphitryon, Heracles’s father who surprisingly has some exploits of his own to share in the lead up to Heracles’s birth (Though he’s not the father shhhh… don’t tell anyone).

You can find the story in the menu left of here or simply click this link.

As I’ve already mentioned the myths are all folklore, passed on by oral tradition and scrabbled and scrapped together by historians and archaeologists from various different sources. Which means every story has different interpretations despite ultimately having the same results. As the writer of this story I’ve decided which versions to go with, usually based on what I consider the most interesting but for fun I’ve included below the other interpretations I haven’t included.

  • Instead of Anaxo, Electryon is also stated as being married to Lysidice or Eurydice, both daughters of Pelops. Regardless of who the wife is she gives birth to Alcmene and has little  more role in the myth, consequently this only affects whether Amphitryon eventually marries his niece or his cousin.

Short Story: The Trojan Legacy

This latest short story, on this page, is an amalgamation of three different mythological stories that also have historical elements to them. The end result is a bit of a mash up but I enjoyed the writing of it as it helped me to draw parallels between them.

The main inspirational draw comes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel, a romantised version of the Three Kingdoms Period in Chinese history. This should come as no surprise to anyone who read my earlier post. Strong elements of the Battle of Chi Bi, a significant fight where two forces allied against a third, are included to create a battle that parallels it heavily. I chose to do this for a reason I will explain in a moment. First though, one of the more fascinating elements of the military history, or storytelling method of the book, is the way in which commanders and emperors had advisors for domestic issues and advisors for military issues. There were those who are taken to war and who must come up with advice for tactics and diplomacy, supporting their higher ups rather concocting an implementing schemes on their own. I wanted to take this element for a war council, and the concept of an emperor and transplant it into a far more European culture.

Which brings me to the second myth, King Arthur. This element is small in the story and that is because I have designs on writing a much more extended piece to accommodate my ideas. In the mean time however Arthurian legend has similar elements of strong heroes combating enemies in war like scenarios, and there are always suggestions of historical elements with this fictional King of Camelot. I here merged the two characters of Zhuge Liang, a famous tactician, and Merlin, the wizard, who both set about assisting their Lords in ruling a kingdom.

The third element is The Fall of Troy from Greek myth, the existence of Troy itself being a question unravelled by archaeologists. The chief parallel here is between the Trojan horse ploy, in which the Greeks fooled the Trojans in accepting a wooden horse into their city that was in fact filled with Greek soldiers. And a defection told in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which Huang Gai falsely defects to Cao Cao in order to light his ships on fire. In both cases the the army is fooled by what appears to be a gift and ultimately becomes their downfall.

Enjoy the story, and share your opinions. Read it here: The Trojan Legacy

Fan Fiction: The River Skirmish

I’m calling this short story a fan fiction because I’ve based it on the Magic: the Gathering trading card game. I did it as a form of writing exercise, attempting to dramatise the game and describing everything that happens more as if it were an actual battle rather than a card game.

For any Magic fans out there they might be able to pick out the cards I was using, they’re all from the Kamigawa block. As this was something of an experiment I thought I would use my personal favourites and keep them thematically correct, i.e. all from the Kamigawa universe. Nothing happens that did not happen in the card game I recorded my notes from, though I did use some creative licence. For example; I chose not to include planeswalkers, as in the players, but felt it would be better to have the forces arrive on the battlefield rather than be summoned magically and follow orders without question or motivation. Consequently that meant whenever a creature attacked I described them as fighting another creature rather than hitting an invisible life total, so any fighting where a creature isn’t killed is an indication of a direct attack against the other player.

If you’d like to read it it’s right here, but be warned it is essentially just a large fight scene.

Short Story: Cecily’s Carnival Caper

I’ve written a brand new short story, as with all my short stories I’ve given it its own page. You can find it in the menu and by clicking this link here.

I was asked to write this story by a friend of mine, so that she’d have something to read on the train. The deal was to use three ‘ingredients’ and a theme she gave me to come up with the short story and she would do the same. The three things were cat, mask and snowdrop, all wrapped together with a carnival theme.

My immediate idea was to go with an Alice in Wonderland-ian adventure, which bled through to the final idea where the main character, Cecily, goes on an imagined journey with strange occurrences. The cat, Felix, took the place of the White Rabbit, being the one who leads Cecily to this other world and being more than he seemed once there. My original intention with the mask was to make it a single magical mask that each character wore and became a different person whilst wearing it. Felix was always intended to turn human when he wore it. However it didn’t lend itself well to the ‘was it imagined?’ idea and restricted the characters to only being present one at a time. Instead I settled on a Wizard of Oz-esque ‘and you were there, and you, and you,’ with each of the people Cecily’s sees at the carnival turning up in her imagined world, those wearing masks turning into the animals they represent and Felix doing the opposite.

If I was to make the story longer and more involved I would have stepped up the mystery element of it and been more subtle with the imaginary versions of the carnival workers. I might also retain the romance angled I had originally envisioned between Cecily’s father and the sideshow proprietress, and thus bother to highlight that he is a single parent. Her brother would also have taken on a far more developed villain role and Cecily would have travelled through a range of locales in the imagined world and not just traipsing through a forest for five minutes.

The snowdrops appear thrown into the story at the last minute. They are actually the first scene I came up with after doing some quick research on the meaning of the flower as a symbol of hope and the coming of Spring. There is also a story of the snowdrops growing out of snow-laden ground which is where I took the idea from.

I hope you enjoy reading the story.

Rewritten: The Tower

I’m sure I don’t need to tell the writers out there of the importance of rewriting. Whether fiction or non-fiction a rewrite can turn something mediocre into something great. I know a lot of people finish a piece of work and read through it only to think: ‘This is crap.’ Fortunately for me I usually finish and whilst I don’t think I’ve crafted the next Shakespearian masterpiece I  think: ‘This is okay.’ That doesn’t mean I don’t rewrite it. Everything I write will always get at least one rewrite once finished, which will include the usual spell check and punctuation corrections but also the rearranging of sentences to make them more pleasing or better to understand. Often entire paragraphs will appear and disappear during a rewrite and in particular if a plot point late in a story is changed I need to go back over the rest in order to maintain the continuity.

Sometimes though a complete rewrite is needed. The same idea, the same writer but a second go. The difference can be astonishing. My story The Tower, which was the first short story I wrote solely for this blog needed rewriting. I felt I had made a mistake by making it about the character, The Master Builder (The laziness of me not even naming him speaks for how unimportant he was.) I used him as a means to describe the world around him, the world of this tower on which all these people live. But I realised that the character that embodied the themes of the tarot card on which is was based was not The Master Builder, nor one of the actually named characters Nebuchadnezzar and Nimrod, not even of a human. The central character is the tower itself, a building and home that the inhabitants treat more like an idol and a god. So I rewrote the story to tell it from the tower’s point of view. Whether the story itself is better I can’t say, but I feel it now fits better with the theme of its tarot card and the theme of the short story collection Le Cirque Des Moirai in general.

If you’d like to read the rewrite it’s on this page here: The Tower

Weekly Story: The World

The last story has now been uploaded: The World. Again its title is after the tarot card of the same name, I went with a rather self-indulgent and literal translation of the card. As such the story is not so much a story, but like Wheel of Fortune before it, more of a description or encyclopaedia entry. It describes the world in which all of my Le Cirque Des Moirai short stories have been set, though some stories have vague settings and haven’t been placed. As a side note, the are too many stories to fit neatly in the menu so please either click a direct link or go to the Le Cirque Des Moirai page to find the list of stories.

You might have noticed I called this my last story, that is because I have made my way through the major arcana cards of the tarot from which I was drawing my story ideas. I’m going to take a break and return with a new idea, probably after Christmas, this time focusing on writing episodes following a character and single story, as I have been told that the problem with short stories for many people is that they end before they’ve really gotten to know the characters, is this the case for anyone else?

I am also toying with the idea of continuing story writing for the tarot, using the lesser arcana, but writing them much shorter as flash fiction. I am slightly wary of the medium however as I have never gotten a good grasp of how long, or indeed short, a flash fiction can be, whilst still being considered a flash fiction. Feel free to illuminate me on the subject.

For anyone who is curious as to the placement of my short stories in the countries mention in The World they are as follows:

The Tower, The Magician and Death all take place in The Plains of the Fallen, before they are called that.
The Empress is in the faerie lands, specifically The Land of the Flower Fairies.
The Hanged Man in Samsara.
Justice in Gekh
The Chariot in Vulia, and in the future The Lovers too.
The Hermit in Breton.
Strength and my flash fiction, Magic in the Kitchen, in Deutcheim.
The Devil, Rite to Live and the introduction to Le Cirque Des Moirai, take place in Oerlis.
The Fool in the untamed northern lands.
The Hierophant in the mystical east.
The Star, and my unpublished novel (A little sneak preview), take place in Pheone.
And finally Temperance takes place in Norgardt.

The short stories are staying up and I would be very greatful for any feedback any of my readers can give.

Weekly Story: Death

This week’s story is something of a sequel to an earlier one, The Tower, and also connected to The Magician. It follows what happens to Nebuchadnezzar after the disaster. The three stories work nicely together, I think, to tell the beginnings of different languages, magic and werewolves in this fantasy universe. You can find it on it’s own page here, and in the menu.

I enjoyed coming up with this story, I had already developed the idea when researching for The Tower, which had led me to the Tower of Babel story. There was a fair bit of mention of King Nebuchadnezzar II. I chose to make him a religious leader instead of a King, focusing on the stories of him building many of Babylon’s temples. He appears a fair bit in the Book of Daniel, where he has a dream that needs interpreting, this is where the gold, silver, brass and iron statue comes from.

For this story I took the chance to focus on another element of his story, the madness of King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s said that he went mad and acted like a beast, until he acknowledged the rule of Heaven. This seemed like the perfect start to a werewolf tale. You might also notice that I slipped in references to Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic nightmares of a felled tree.

Werewolves were persecuted throughout history in the same way as witches were and their are several theories for the widespread belief in them ranging from people with excessive body hair to diseases that cause animalistic lunacy. Rabies is one such possibility and I tried to slip in a few of the symptoms to represent Nebuchadnezzar’s madness including feeling hot, hydrophobia and a violent nature.