Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Story Inspirations: The Traveler's Game

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"The Traveler bent down to look upon he wide, sad grin of a whitened skull.  He shook his head solemnly and placed his hand over his heart.  'Don' worry, old chap.  Only one more must join your number, then you may rest in peace.'
So saying, the Traveler stood up and walked boldly to the gate, and rapped loudly three times.
Then he stepped back and waited politely, without looking up at the battlements to see if anyone had heard..."

And now we come to the final story in The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Fairy Tales.....  The Traveler's Game.

Something of a last-minute addition to the collection, Traveler's Game replaced another tale that I had originally intended to include called Patchcoat.  I had encountered some difficulty with Patchcoat and I had no wish to postpone the release of the whole book because of it.  Fortunately, as I tried to solve the delema, inspiration for another story came while I was hunting through good artists on DeviantArt.  I was looking through different illustrations of fairy-tale-esque pictures when all of a sudden, this dark, grim picture came up.

(WARNING:  Image depicts a dead body and multiple bones.  If you're one of my more sensitive readers, well, you've been warned.  ;)

Image property of Gaius31Duke of DeviantArt.

Look at that!!  Isn't that just.... gripping?  

The artist included a short snippet of story for the picture, but I was already off on my own line of thought.  An evil monarch who murders without guilt, an oppressed, snow-bound kingdom, and one lone hero who takes justice in their own hands.  

Originally, I intended for the Traveler to be female, but as I started planning the climactic sequence in which the Traveler's game is initiated and she and the Wicked King place their bets against one another, I couldn't escape some undesirable subtexts resulting from her gender.  

I quickly nixed the idea of the female traveler.  A male protagonist made for a much more satisfying story with this particular plot.   

It took me a while to decide on how the titular game was actually played.  I eventually decided on a simple dice game, highest score wins.  But even that turned out more complicated than I'd expected when I had to research dice and their construction.  Before writing this story, I had no idea that the little dots on dice actually had names.  (They're called pips, by the way.)

While I wrote the last half of the story, after the Traveler has entered the Wicked King's castle, the song "In the Hall of the Mountain King" kept playing on repeat in my head.  And also over my speakers.  My family probably got sick of it by the end...  XD  

Tonally, this story was heavily inspired by Jim Henson's The Storyteller, a charming miniseries which I love.  Here's the opening sequence to give you an idea of what it feels like-

If I had the means to do it, I would LOVE to produce Traveler's Game as an episode of the Storyteller.  Though, considering my resources, maybe I'd be better off adapting it for the stage.  :)  We'll see if either of those dreams ever actually comes to pass.  

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-Emmarayn Redding

(Hand-drawn image copyright Emmarayn Redding, all rights reserved.  
DISCLAIMER:  Painting copyright Gaius31Duke of DeviantArt.  Clip from The Storyteller  copyright Jim Henson.)

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