With the set-up for this new web theme I had to reassess my posts and realized that the “Tribe of Liars” category didn’t much represent the Intellectual Property we’re creating. I sifted through my google docs and came across the beginning of an origin story for one of our four main characters, Gage. As I’ve looked at it and brainstormed how to move it forward I’ve realized I could potentially come up with enough material for a small novel. (Sigh.) An origin story would make a nice novel, certainly. I was just sorta kinda hoping to get off easy with a lengthy post rather than a complete piece of fiction.
Well, regardless, here’s the opening of Gage’s origin story that tempts me to write a big blob of work:
Two mountaintops, two monasteries, two religions.
The Western Brotherhood was built across an open meadow. Access to the open sky and plentiful grassland was critical for the animals who resided at the monastery.
The Eastern Brotherhood was built into a mountainside. Ramparts and high walls were the public face of the monastery. Hidden behind the castle was a natural cave that stretched back through the mountain and became a second, secret exit.
In the valley between the two mountains was the city of Saddleback. The constable of Saddleback was a hardened and fair-minded woman, Rachel. Outwardly, Rachel was a muscular, plain young lady, but if beauty were judged by heart and honor, Rachel would have been the most stunning woman in the country.
Duty called. Rachel would need to travel to the Western Brotherhood in her official capacity as constable. A man wearing the habit of a monk had murdered a shopkeeper. Witnesses had seen the monk head out on the road that later branched toward each of the monasteries. On random chance, Rachel had chosen to inquire first toward the West.
Rachel asked her good friend Gage to keep her company along the trip. Having him watch her back wasn’t such a bad idea, either. Gage was a deadly hand with deft weapons.
Gage, who’d never been to the monasteries, and who had a love of adventure, was happy to get out of town. Underneath his cheerful companionship, though, Gage looked for an opening to speak to Rachel of more romantic feelings. A handsome fellow, Gage normally would have felt confident. However, Rachel didn’t seem to list good looks as an asset in love.
As Gage and Rachel approached the Western Brotherhood their spirits lifted. The monastery, built of wood and brick, was welcoming. The grounds, with manicured lawn and beds of wildflowers, was home to all species of animal. Teeming with activity, the monastery had a happy air. A sheepdog trotted up to them and said, “May I help you?”
Rachel and Gage exchanged a surprised look. A talking dog, in theory, was perfectly commonplace in their world. In practice, though, the sentient animals pretended to be dumb beasts. Not everyone found a conversation with a dog to be an appealing prospect.
“We don’t see many Companions,” Gage said.
“People in the city are not open about their bonded relationships,” Rachel explained.
“And we,” said the sheepdog, “don’t see many armed brigands. I hope your intentions are peaceful?”
“Brigands!” said Rachel, offended.
“Human custom when meeting a welcome stranger is to shake hands,” said Gage. “It shows we carry no open weapons.”
“Are you asking me, a dog, to shake hands?” The sheepdog’s furry eyebrow lifted.
Gage laughed. “If it makes you feel better, you can ask me to roll over and play dead.”
“I’ll save that trick for a rainy day.” The sheepdog shook its coat and sat down. “Now, what can I do you for?”
“I’m looking for a murderer,” said Rachel. “Someone has used a monk’s habit to hide his identity.”
“If you think one of our monks is guilty,” said the sheepdog, “you’re crazy.” Rachel frowned and tapped her gauntlet against her shield, a sure sign she was agitated.
“Not one of your monks,” Gage intervened. “One of your monk outfits. We’d like to ask around and see if anyone here is missing something.”
“Oh,” said the sheepdog, cocking his head. “That seems logical. Father Anselm runs the house. Or you could start with Mistress Bronwen in the mews. Head on back.”
“Thanks,” said Gage. He and Rachel entered through the massive gate and found themselves in the courtyard.
“Cheeky dog,” said Rachel.
“They don’t seem to see many officers of the law up here. Think it’s really as peaceful as it looks?”
Rachel, who believed that even the blades of grass needed management, sniffed. “Unlikely.”