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Part 5, Project 1: Exercise – Mapping a fantasy world

Fantasy Land

To the North is Hope Valley ruled by The King of Hope in Hope Castle, which is situated near Windy Falls.  This leads into the River Windy, which winds its way from East to West, through Hope Valley to the North and Noonie’s Land to the South.  It crosses at the foot of Talking Woods and past the Eyeless WonderPillars, the Guardians of Hope Valley.
Eventually, the river finds itself in the West, in the Land of Asterisks, a strange land where no-one really knows who or what is going on.
Between the North and South is the Wall of Division.  It takes great courage and fortitude to cross the Wall and many have died in the process; once crossed, one cannot go back.  It’s a one-shot deal.
To the South of the Wall is No-ones Land, not to be confused with Noonie’s Land.  No-one’s Land belongs to No-one, the harmless people of the Moving Mountains who live in Mountain Heights.  Simple folk, they live by the laws of the land and come and go about their lives quietly and harmlessly.  They are humans but possess special powers of premonition, hence they can live at the foot of Moving Mountains; they know when they will next move and prepare themselves accordingly.  They are held in such high regard that the King of Hope grants them special rights to cross the Wall at any time, to and fro, at no cost to their lives.
To the very South-West is a curious land.  Nearest to the Wall is the Flower Valley where huge, talking flowers grow in huge sized fields.  To the unwitting and unwise, they speak of great wisdom but they’re really great enemies of the King of Hope and the gentle folk of No-One’s Land.  They are not to be trusted and if one finds oneself in the Valley, you’d be as well to get out as soon as possible.  To the South of this valley, the Mushroom Field is a sight to behold.  Like the Flowers in the Valley, they are of ginormous proportion but unlike the flowers, they stay completely silent.  However, they detect the good and bad in people and if they feel that people passing through the Field poses a threat to Baron Black, they release spores into the air that kill you instantly upon inhalation.
If one survives the Valley and the Field, one continues further South to the Fork-Vale.  This is the last line of defence before reaching the Black Box, the accommodation of Baron Black and the centre of all things evil.  The Fork Vale contains field upon field of upright, over-sized table forks that stand on sentry duty.  An eerie sight, the wind whistles through the prongs at different frequencies and can be known to pierce stray wanderers’ ear-drums.  Great care should be taken to pass through the Vale; then again, if you’ve got this far, you face the perils of the homeland of Baron Black.  He lives alone in Black Box, a huge black building with four straight shiny black walls, no windows, no doors.  No-one has ever seen the Baron, but his reputation strikes fear into the heart of everyone North of the Black Box.  His dark magic is deadly.  He is fearless, ruthless and not to be messed with.  The King of Hope knows that his time will come.

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Part 5, Project 1: Exercise – Revisiting fairy tales

It’s interesting how the detail of a fairy tale escapes one’s brain when you try to remember it!  I could recall six fairy tales quite readily for this exercise but the actual detail of each story; I had to look them up!

1) Rapunzel
The features which stand out from this story are as follows:

  • Young girl
  • Witch
  • Spell
  • Kidnap
  • Prince
  • Tower in the woods
  • Long hair
  • Love

2) Goldilocks & The Three Bears

  • Wood
  • Young girl
  • Three bears; one small, one middle sized and one large
  • House in the woods
  • Talking bears
  • Food / porridge

3) Sleeping Beauty

  • Princess
  • Witch
  • Godmother
  • Spell
  • Spindle
  • Prince
  • Lots of sleep
  • Awakened with a kiss
  • Royalty

4) Snow White & Seven Dwarfs

  • Princess
  • Evil stepmother
  • Magic mirror who talks
  • Huntsman
  • House in woods – safe
  • Disguises (stepmother dresses as old hag)
  • Poisoned apple
  • Magical sleep
  • Awakened by “Love’s first kiss”
  • Prince

5) Little Red Riding Hood

  • Little girl
  • Grandmother (sick)
  • Food parcel (Red Riding Hood takes to her Grandmother)
  • Wolf
  • Disguise (wolf dresses as grandmother after eating her)
  • House in woods
  • Path to follow
  • Deception
  • Huntsman/lumberjack
  • Death (to the wolf)
  • Survival of Red Riding Hood and Grandmother

6) Cinderella

  • Young woman
  • Three ugly sisters
  • Mean stepmother
  • Prince
  • Ball
  • Fairy godmother
  • Magic (short-wearing)
  • Talking animals (mice, rats, horses)
  • Glass coach
  • Glass slipper
  • Strike of midnight
  • End of magic
  • Happy ending

There are a lot of common elements to these six stories.  The ones that stand out for me are:

Woods
Bad older woman character (witch or stepmother)
A young female (either normal girl or princess)
A trick (poisoned apple or spindle)
A saviour (huntsman)
A handsome prince
A kiss that awakens

Therefore, as a new plot using these elements, I would outline the following plot:

A young princess has taken herself off into the nearby woods.  She is bored of playing by herself in the palace grounds and wants to explore. People have told her not to go beyond the palace boundaries but she’s had enough of listening to rules.
She meets an old woman on a path in the woods.  The woman looks lost and carries a bag.  The princess offers to help carry the bag and the woman gladly agrees.  She leads them to her house in the middle of the woods, a long way from the safety of the palace walls.
At the house, the old woman locks the princess in the cellar, which has no windows.  She tells her that the only way she will release her is if the King, who has magical powers, gives her the gift of youth and the love of a Prince.
Before too long, the palace realises the princess is missing and the King charges all his huntsmen to search the surrounding land, including the woods.  Eventually, they reach the old woman’s house, and she tries desperately to cover up the noises of the princess below.  They soon find the princess locked away and the King finds out.  Before setting out his punishment, he asks the woman why she behaved as she did; she tells him of her desire for youth and the love of a Prince.  Whilst he doesn’t bequeath these upon her, he does trade her a lesser punishment for a life within the palace walls where she can live out the rest of her days in comfort and luxury.  The love of a Prince is something that she will have to watch the princess enjoy.

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Part 5, Project 1 – Exercise: Exploring mythology

For this exercise, I revisited a couple of Greek myths that I remembered enjoying as a child.  The three stories that I researched again were as follows:

1) Jason & The Argonauts
Jason led the Argonauts aboard their ship the Argo on a long and dangerous journey to find the Golden Fleece, so as to claim his right as ruler. He has the support and infatuation of a witch called Medea who he lives with in apparent wedlock.  The journey or quest is the part of the story that resonates the most with me; the many places that they visit, the many dangers they face, and all to find a fleece made of gold.

2) Theseus & The Minotaur
As a child, the Minotaur in this story always frightened me.  I held Theseus in very high regard believing he was an exceptionally brave person to go into a dark maze knowing that at any turn, he could come face to face with such a scary creature who was hellbent on eating him.  The story goes that Theseus volunteered to go in place of one of the 7 girls and 7 boys who were sent to Crete every year as food for the Minotaur.  Theseus had the help of one King Minos’s daughters called Ariadne; they work out the maze of the labyrinth and he manages to kill the beast once and for all.

3) Pandora’s Box
The legend goes that Pandora was the first woman before the human race was created.  She was created in heaven and all the Gods contributed something to perfecting her (beauty, grace, etc).  She was given to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus, one of the Titans (the race that existed before man was created).  Epimetheus had a jar in his house and Pandora’s curiosity got the better of her; she opened it.  Every ill and sin escaped, plaguing the world; envy, spite, revenge, it all escaped.  However, just as Pandora hastened to fix the lid back onto the jar, she was able to save one last thing in the bottom; hope.  That’s why even now, when all else is failed or lost, we cling onto hope, for that is all that we sometimes have left.

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Part 5, Project 1 – Exercise: Fantasy names

I have researched a selection of names that could be featured in a fantasy story. I looked within three spheres: herbs, medicine and place names:

Herbs:
Ajwan
Alkanet
Artemisia
Culantro
Galingale
Olida
Quassia
Sassafras

Medicine:
Absidia
Acromia
Calix

Towns in the UK:
Acle
Alnwick
Askern
Bingley
Bootle
Brigg
Broseley
Cheadle
Chickerell
Darwen
Earley
Fazeley
Garstang
Haltwhistle
Hessle
Jarrow
Loddon
Ongar
Penistone
Shifnal
Stotfold
Syston
Yarm

Names that I have enjoyed reading about in Philip Reeve’s “Fever Crumb”:
Bagman Creech
Fever Crumb
Wormtimber
Auric Godshawk
Dr Collihole
Dr Stayling
Kit Solent
Ted Swiney
Gilpin Wheen
Lily Dismas
Charley Shallow
Mistress Gloomstove
Bert @tkinson

He also wrote a couple of interesting place names in as well:
Nonesuch House
Godshawks Head
Cripplegate

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Part 5, Project 1 – Exercise: Making the real unreal

For this exercise, I studied my lunch flask:

My flask stands tall and proud, silver in colour with it’s “top hat” cup removed, revealing a black screw-on top, a white central pressure plunger sitting in the middle.  The outer shell is brushed metal and reflects light but doesn’t show any immediate surrounding detail.

Ribbons of darker silver stretch down the outside of it’s long outer shell.  A small rim forms roughly an inch from the bottom; whether this is the design or part of the design I am unsure.  The drinking cup screws onto the top, it’s sleek silver top curving at the top.  No sharp or hard corners.

Sections of white light bounce along its sides catching the surrounding scenery; a hand; a bottle; an envelope; a pink note.  It is as though parts of the flask stretches out towards things, as though wanting to be a part of its surroundings but not sure how to engage, how to belong.

A long, light, feathery scratch along its surface is the only war-wound, scuffed along a harsher surface, grazed in transit.  The cause is unknown yet the scar is worn proudly, like a medal from a campaign in some far-flung land.

Approximately 2 inches from the top, a lip stretches around its diameter and the top part of the flask indents from here; this is where the top of the cup sits when screwed on.   It is otherwise hidden from view, a secret only revealed when the cup is removed.

It looks moody.  It looks like it’s got a secret to tell but will never reveal it.  I wonder if it’s mood changes depending on what’s within it, what hot fluid is being stored.  Perhaps a soup makes it more angry and cross, whereas tea or coffee keeps it subdued and subordinate?

Does it speak in a special secret language? Flask-speak? Did it used to whisper to the other flasks on the shelf in the store?  I imagine it speaking in code, plotting attacks on the tupperware or condiments.  It would assume an authoritative tone and lead the other flasks into battle, seeking supremacy over forgotten lands that could only be dreamed about ruling.