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McKinley not!fic
SSar's Beast
I am currently stuck on a Purimgifts ficlet. So instead of scowling at it, I am going to write up the plot of a Robin McKinley sequel crossover fic thing that I am never going to really write, so that I can let go of that.



If I were writing a really indulgent sequel to Pegasus, that book that ends miserably with crying and doom and separation and Fthoom being very smug, here's how it would go.

First: many McKinley canons have a Significant Lake. There's the Lake of Dreams in Damar (bodies of water also show up Significantly in Knot in the Grain), there's the Plot-Significant Lake in Sunshine, there's the importance of streams in Chalice, which is named for a vessel of water, and there is possibly something else in the book about water elementals, but I didn't get through that. Pegasus has its own Significant Lake in pegasus country.

I'm going to hypothesise that an accomplished magician can transit worlds through this lake - the way that transit is indeed achieved in Knot in the Grain.

She can also travel through time.

Yes, I'm talking about Redfora.

Okay, okay, here's what actually happens in the fic.

In Damar, Luthe hears ominous splashes from the Lake of Dreams - the kind of splashes you hear when something hits the surface but does not actually displace the water below, because it no longer is in the water below. One medium splash, one very large splash.

[That's Redfora and Oraan pursued by a roc, but the reader does not know that yet.]

Luthe seals the lake.

Sylvi runs away. Obviously. There was all the crying and stuff. I mean, she's a practical and loyal person, but I think it's 50/50 that she does something drastic, and she's lost some faith in her parents for giving in to Fthoom, and anyway, it's useful for my plot that she does so.

Before she gets very far outside the city walls, she meets Redfora and Oraan, who're all, "Hey. Glad you showed up. Time to get this war on the road."

Sylvi: "War?"

And then she gets introduced to Sunshine and Mel, and the Master from Chalice, and a token original character, and possibly the protagonist from Dragonhaven whose name I forgot because he was so annoying, because Redfora and Oraan have been dashing through worlds, recruiting various high-powered people who happen to be close to large bodies of water…

See, I think it would be fun if rocs are a species who possess magical talents far beyond that of humans - they can warp reality with casual statements - and a long time ago, on a different world, they created pegasii (incredibly beautiful, helpless and un-war-like, winged) to be their pets and slaves. The thing the roc said about the humans not truly belonging in Balsinland is a lie that wraps around a truth, because the pegasii don't belong there either. At some point, a group of the pegasii managed to stage an escape. Balsinland was where they went, through a gap in worlds.

There they hid for a while - until the humans came. Somehow, whenever pegasii communicate telepathically with another species, it's as if it's on a radio channel that the rocs can tune in on. So when humans and pegasii met up, the rocs followed swiftly after. It was the first time in a long time that the rocs had caught wind of the pegasii, so the first battle only involved a few scouts, but the battles got worse and worse.

Hence, an order of human magicians was founded that sought to confound human-and-pegasus communication - blanket it, blur it, drown it out in static. This was intrinsically fraught.

Why didn't humans and pegasii just swear off each other completely? One reason might be that some pairs were already bonded. Particularly, Redfora and Oraan, who were exceptionally talented in magic, and exceptionally stubborn, and had their own idea of how to foil the rocs.

Because of certain factors about the attacking rocs, Oraan realises that their ability to 'hear' things happening in other worlds also extends to an ability to 'hear' things happening at different points in time. Redfora and Oraan decide to use this power against the rocs by beginning a long series of jumps through time, leading the rocs on a deliberately taunting chase - while leaving clues behind them for both human and pegasus societies.

Wherever they stop, there's a war. Whenever it's clear that this war won't be won by the humans and pegasii, they jump forward in time again, drawing the roc army after them. The idea is that humans and pegasii will have enough clues to gradually build up their capabilities against the rocs, and eventually will be their equals - but the rocs won't realise centuries are passing in between skirmishes (and to the rocs, the battles are barely skirmishes).

So the story that Fthoom finds about Tilbad and Erex is actually one of Redfora's clues.

Anyway, back to Sylvi's timeline - Redfora has shown up, because Sylvi and Ebon's bond has of course summoned the rocs down on everyone. This time, she's recruited some helpers from other worlds (and promised to return them to the exact same moment they left, should they survive).

Then there's lots of fighting, which is one reason I'm not writing this fic, because I don't even know where to start with early medieval combat against rocs, troop movements, strategy, whatever. I guess I need trebuchets and stuff.

Also, Mel brought a small fighter plane through the lake with him.

Sunshine gets a crush on Liapnir/the Master right in front of Mel and everyone has to deal with that, because I thought it would be fun to bring some of her simmering potential relationship issues into main!plot instead of side! and under!plot.

Sylvi watches adults deal with war and crushes and eternal tragic time quests, and grows up a bit.

Sylvi has a Significant Scene in which she talks plainly to Fthoom, based on Redfora's information, and uses her diplomatic skills to soothe the fury and pride of a chief magician who's been thwarted at every turn, and who was right about how dangerous Sylvi and Ebon are. (Yes, he's still an arrogant jerk. But I far prefer him as an arrogant jerk who has reasons for his actions that extend far beyond his personal standing.) (This is also the best way I can see to get Sylvi to Do Something Really Useful, given that "diplomacy" is probably her highest stat, and I'm not having anyone reason with the rocs.)

There is plot.

There is some significant breakthrough that will change the course of the war from here on. But: they're not going to win the war. So Redfora organizes the next jump - along with part of the army of the time - and Sylvi and Ebon jump with them.

All the crossover characters get returned to their worlds, probably.

The End.

*dusts off hands* OK, done with that idea.

This entry is also posted at http://morbane.dreamwidth.org/12618.html. There are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment either here or there.

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Thank you! I'm impressed that that made any sense if you have not read Pegasus (commendable decision; let's see if Pegasus II improves things, first). There is much more to be had in the Sunshine universe. I was pleased that Rae's romantic situation was left so ambiguous - it goes against the trend of much YA/paranormal lit in which the ends must be tied up, triangles must be resolved, etc. But slightly more acknowledgement of the tension might have been interesting. And I want to see what would have happened with the Goddess of Pain.

Do you use not!fics in the same way? This is me saying goodbye to an idea that will never be anything but a daydream. I'd like to write it, but I want to write other things far more.

I have a love/hate thing with McKinley. And I so understand why she is against fanfic - I think she knows her writing is incomplete. :( Her novels are not!fics!!!! HAHAHAHAHA.


The problem, for me, with Sunshine was the pages and pages and pages of worldbuilding that needed to be left as a folder on her computer and not printed into word form as to belabour the freakin' short story of a vampire rescued by a witch. That short story is brilliant, tho'.

I've not ever written a not!fic but it appeals. I suppose I do something similar when I write experimental-style ficlets....all vignettes and emotion. It helps assuage the Muse.

Ha! It's fascinating that we both enjoy her work but in such different ways. I loved her Sunshine worldbuilding. It made the world feel rich and real to me. With many stories, especially in this genre, the world feels as though it just might not exist except when our protagonist is looking at it, or strolling through it, or is hurt by it. It exists in opposition to them. Solipsistic writing. In Sunshine, I could easily believe that the stories of Mrs Bialosky, or Sadie, or Sunshine's grandmother all had changed the world far more.

But: you are right in that it did not advance the story. Or complete it. If the story is about a vampire rescued by a witch, then "what next" is not at all answered by "and they defeated his old enemy together", because that story's so clearly in its middle act. If the story is about a baker who's forced to work past her denial of magical abilities... then yes, that satisfied me.

I suppose a not!fic isn't anything particularly new, though it's a term I've learned recently. A sketch. A storyboard. A story whose genre conventions permit saying "and then stuff happened". That can be freeing. I imagine vignettes and emotional pieces can feel similarly freeing.

Your brain makes me smile.

Heh, so right about our different interps. I loved your little ramble there about the two (or more) storylines. I find that more and more young women today want to read about strong, smart, deep-feeling can-do female characters and if one reads "Sunshine" as a "baker who is forced to work past her denial of magical abilities" then the story succeeds very nicely! I've grown past my personal need for the story of the individual and am searching for unique and deep wells about "connectedness" and dipping into those hoping to draw up something that will satisfy that thirst. Sunshine rescuing Connie more than once really worked in that way for me. It was delectable.

And I am NOT saying here that my growing past something is in any way growing up or growing out of - not at all! I'm referencing my own individuating, my own psychology of the things I've needed and need and no longer need.

I'm itching to go write a handful of not!fics. I am simply charmed by the idea of it now.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by connectedness here: perhaps expand on that? I'm getting the idea of connections between individuals rather than how an individual relates to him or herself, but that's nebulous.

Absolutely - we bring so many things to a text and affect the experience that way. And it's cyclic. I know I went through a phase of at least a year of bringing questions about personal integrity, what it means, how you survive damage to it, to everything I read.


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