FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
Murder Between Realms, a dark fantasy, is a new take on the whodunit. With all the tension of a closed in murder mystery setting, but in a fantasy world, a young eremite must solve an unprecedented death that may cause two neighboring kingdoms to go to war.
The true villain of this piece, (the murders), are not revealed until the end of the story. Throughout the case there are people hampering the MC’s progress, threatening him, lying to him. There is a killer, hell bent on revenge in the name of their species after they were exiled from both kingdoms. They are moving freely among everybody, without detection. A Living God, and her Bondsguard who will do anything to defend their true identity, no matter the cost. Finally a Caucus of Prefects, who elected the MC, Gnaut (pronounced Nought), to solve this case, but are preoccupied with protecting their own secrets and corrupt affairs.
Murder Between Realms
The Unrest of Murder
Divide and Conquer
FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: -
Comparables to Murder Between Realms. A Dark Fantasy, Thriller, Whodunit.
The two stories I chose encompass the key plot elements of Murder Between Realms.
Theft of Swords; by Michael J Sullivan
Features a young hero being out of their depth and learning to grow in order to cope with the adversity around them. A story in which a small crime explodes into conflict of epic proportions.
Knives Out by Rian Johnson The claustrophobia of a closed environment mystery. Interviewing suspects, discovering liars, truth speakers and some whose reliability can change in an instant. A protagonist who is trying to solve a crime but is surrounded by people he cannot trust.
A boy of faith has to grow up fast, while investigating a city’s first murder, trying to protect a Living God and calm two neighboring kingdoms who are mobilizing for battle over this crime.
Gnaut is a likeable, but complex character. He is an underdog you root for but he is also capable of surprising the reader and other characters around him in the story.
His primary conflict in this tale is his desire to solve this case and prove his worth. He is constantly downtrodden and under-estimated. Despite being chosen to solve the investigation he is a target of intimidation and exploitation. Once a powerful ally is lost, Gnaut is vulnerable and needs to find his inner, stronger, self or this case, and he, are lost. He must stand up to his bullies, navigate through the politics of The Zenith to his own advantage and position himself as the savior who solves two murders, rescues the Living God and prevents war, simultaneously.
His secondary conflicts come in various forms. Despite the fact the Caucus of Prefects selected him to find the truth in this case, they are not much help and are more inclined to control Gnaut rather than work with him. A few of them have their own skeletons in their closets and prefer to look out for themselves rather than the people they serve. An example; they give him an amulet as a gift, which Gnaut is unaware contains seeing stones. Basically Gnaut is wearing a bodycam and doesn’t know it.
One of his best friends in The Zenith, Daggten, a half man/half ogre, barman, likes to impose some superiority over Gnaut, implying being bigger makes him better. While he is Gnaut’s friend, and contributes to his growth during the story, they are at ends all the time due to their being a classic mismatched pair.
Gnaut must also contend with Tauradh, a Bondsguard, the highest form of soldier. He protects Zinssa, his travelling companion and the last descendant of the Living Gods. Tauradh’s motivation is to protect Zinssa, but with Gnaut wanting to lock The Zenith down, keeping everybody inside, he has made prisoners, and therefore enemies, of the two. Gnaut also wants to defend Zinssa at all costs, his plan is not on the same page as the man who has kept her safe for centuries.
He also meets the reigning monarchs of both kingdoms and a Keeper Wyvern on the highest mountain in the land. All relationships are rocky, for one reason or another, and once news gets to his home, The Lamasery, the Sacrist becomes involved in his Eremite’s welfare.
Basically, the poor kid cops it from all sides. It’s quite a week.
Gnaut’s inner conflict is unique for a protagonist. He must navigate through a murder investigation with the knowledge he is complicit with the crime. Gnaut knows he had a part to play with the victim’s death (an act of self-defense, keeping him true to character of being a good soul, not evil). Gnaut accidentally inflicted the fatal wound, but there are other atrocities performed on the victim he did not do. He wades through a case where he knows there are truths he needs to discover while trying to conceal his involvement in it all. The second murder, his friend Qiric, a high ranking Prefect, is a brand new crime. Gnaut does have pieces of the puzzle he still needs to put together. For the entire case he needs to keep his own truth a well-guarded secret while pursuing what other answers are still out there.
Gnaut is oblivious that there are four characters who know exactly where his place in all of this is.
The main location for Murder Between Realms is The Zenith, an old fortress originally built into the mountains for the purposes of war. With peace reigning over the land for centuries, the vast citadel is now home to a small colony of permanent and short term residents, along with visitors. They use The Zenith as the gateway between the kingdoms of Hauvnath and Dimyrr. Most of the story, and its scenes, takes place within The Zenith’s walls.
Key Locations in The Zenith
There are two levels in The Zenith, and Upper and Lower Level, with four stone spiral staircase to get from one level to the other. The Upper Level is in the open air, while the Lower Level is below the surface, within the mountain. It’s dark, with only fire assisted lighting for people who work or live there.
The Upper Level holds key locations not only to The Zenith, but the story. The Caucus Chamber where the “Caucus of Prefects” meet, to discuss Zenith matters and any issues or rules. There is no law enforcement, The Prefects govern as a committee with the Caucus Chamber functioning similarly to a Town Hall. It is humble looking from the outside, but inside it is opulent, to the point of overbearing, with its’ marble floors and onyx columns. Here; Gnaut reports to them, providing them with his progress during the case. It is also where all suspects are gathered for the big reveal and showdown.
There are other places Gnaut visits to gain further information and interview potential suspects. The Tavern is the go to place where most people can relax and unwind. Despite being a shy boy from the nearby Lamasery, Gnaut spends a lot of time here. It’s a claustrophobic place, with no windows, ventilation is high up on its tall walls, to accommodate the tallest species if need be. There’s an ominous lack of lighting and the stinging waft of blended body odor that is so invasive it’s almost tangible.
The Tavern is noisy, something not detectable from the outside. The place is a constant bustle of merriment and conversation. Gnaut’s main source of information, or even truth, is from Daggten, the proprietor and barman. Half ogre, half man, Daggten is a different breed for Gnaut to handle. He also learns valuable information from varying patrons such as Tauradh, Kord and even high ranking Prefect, Qiric, who calls in toward the end of Day Two for a drink. While The Zenith is the gateway between the two kingdoms, The Tavern is often the gateway from one critical scene in The Zenith to the next. It holds many secrets from citizenry gossip to folklore tales. It’s the tourist information center for a visitor/investigator like Gnaut, even if he has to check in his dignity at the door. It’s no surprise this is where Gnaut ascends to manhood. His odd couple relationship with Daggten is a driving force in this story and how Gnaut personally evolves from shy pushover to investigator and savior. If Gnaut wants to learn how to cope on his own there is no greater baptism of fire than the citadel’s most imposing figure, who can sometimes be a gentle giant and (tor)mentor, helping Gnaut discover his hero within.
Another source of information is The Market, and the Trade Galleria or The Grid. The Market is dingy, and in poor condition. There are a number of wooden stalls where people can trade and sell their possessions and wares. The Trade Galleria, is different, housing The Zenith’s most talented, where services and tradespeople operate. Gnaut interviews Torvau the Alchemist, regarding a golden potato (strangely relevant) and Merubelle the Jeweler, regarding the victim’s character and lack of honesty. Gnaut’s questioning does lead him back to talk to the Tailor, regarding a mysterious cloth (a clue) and to the Brewan, discussing poisons and their effects.
The Upper Level also contains sites for other minor, but story propelling scenes. The Southern Gate, where the victim, Silete, was found. The Remedial Shelter where she was taken to and examined by Gnaut and Qiric. The Growth Huts where The Zenith’s plants and produce grow, the Omni Temple, the site of worshipping the deities of both kingdoms. It is also the focal point of the “Moonrise Vigil” ceremony (there are two in the story). There are also Sanitation Hovels for personal hygiene and the Cleaneries for washing possessions and laundry. There are watch towers at both ends above their respective gates. On top of the Northern Watchtower an important negotiation takes place between the rulers of both kingdoms, as their mobilized armies face each other, ready to fight on their command. All permanent residents live on the Upper Level, with some key scenes occurring in the lodgings of some residents. The Southern Watchtower features when Auburneru, the Queen of Dimyrr, seeks entry in The Zenith during a mandatory lockdown.
The Lower Level does have windows along the front wall, but to be in most other areas people need fire to light the way. The Short Term Resident Quarters and Overnight Billets are all down here. Gnaut’s lodgings are a busy place, with it receiving a healthy number of visitors during his time at The Zenith, most of them uninvited. The Lower Level also has Sanitation Hovels and Cleaneries as the lack of visibility makes using them a bit of a lottery.
Next to the Northern Gate and Registry, for the Lower Level are the two hotspots in The Zenith. The Furnace where essentially the fires of The Zenith are always burning. It is also the site where the charred remains of a missing suspect’s backpack are found. People fear the body may have gone in with it. It is a popular place for characters to dispose what they feel are incriminating evidence. Beside The Furnace is The Bakery, where Makkei, the father of the victim, works. It is here he is initially informed of his daughter’s murder by Gnaut and Qiric. There is also a Library, Hospital, Pharmacy and Property Office on the Lower Levels, but these are mentioned during the story, with no scenes in the book set there. While these locations lend to belonging on the Upper Level, the elements can be cruel in the open air, with intermittent high winds, rain and a brutal winter forcing many key establishments to be underground.
The Kingdom of Hauvnath
Hauvnath is the kingdom to the north of The Zenith. It is primarily a kingdom of men and women, with the exception of Glymarok, an orc village to the west of the capital, Feryngard, home of the reigning monarch, King Boijanidas. His residence, Castle Asteraak, is the focal point for early action in the story. The King is informed that a Lydithian, a descendant of the Living Gods, is currently staying at The Zenith. With it’s gates closed, she is a prisoner and there for the taking. The King holds an important meeting with his court, deciding to mobilize the Hauvnathy army and march on The Zenith for the first time in nearly 700 years.
North to the capital is Stalker’s Camp, home to The Bounty Stalkers, a village of mercenaries, thieves, and cutthroats who offer their services for hire. The King travels here to recruit for a mission on his behalf. Three Bounty Stalkers are chosen to ride to The Zenith, with plans to kidnap Boijanidas’ requested target, unaware The Zenith is about to close and lock the doors.
A key location, near the eastern coast of Hauvnath is The Lamasery, Gnaut’s home. It plays little part in the first Act of the story but a visit to the monastery bears significance for Gnaut learning more about a poison used in one of the murders as well as tangible assistance his Sacrist provides him with so he can go toe to toe with people who bully him through muscle, magic, or spiritual intimidation. When Gnaut returns to The Zenith, a day after visiting a number of locations outside it’s walls, a different investigator, and a more confident man. A lot can happen in 24 hours.
The Plains of Valor is a vast wasteland stretching to the Kosolm Mountains, and The Zenith. It is hallowed ground, where many battles were fought, with no life living or growing on the plains since. At the western edge of the plains are The Battlecombs, home to the standing, entombed remains of every soldier from Hauvnath who died in battle. The corpses are encased in a thin layer of sandstone, honoring each of the fallen. The Queen of Dimyrr threatens to use a necromancer to raise every single entombed soldier, to fight for her against, their own kingdom.
The highest mountain in the world, Keeper’s Peak offers majestic views of both kingdoms, but it’s a hard life at this altitude. It receives no visitors as the peak is impossible to traverse on foot. The great mountain is inhabited by a race called the Graheg, a race of short, stocky people who not only adapt and survive the conditions, they have a bond with the three wyverns who live there. One of them, Laga is a legendary Keeper Wyvern and an important character in the case.
Gnaut is brought to Keeper’s Peak by Kord, one of the loyal Graheg and one of Laga’s best friends. Laga observed the murder from the skies and Gnaut was brought home so he could discuss the case with it’s only eyewitness. Despite it’s remote location, from everything, significant pieces of the case are uncovered. For a place that offers little, it’s residents provide Gnaut with an abundance of information to keep him moving along, putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
The Kingdom of Dimyrr
Dimyrr is the kingdom south of The Zenith. As the fortress was built by the Dimyrrians it is technically under their sovereign. It is a mystical kingdom, founded on magic, people and monsters. It is a kingdom rich in resources, ruled by The Divine Monarch, Queen Auberneru. Her castle, The Monarch’s Tower, an audacious pillar of crystal and gold (which the Queen hates), is located in the capital city of Athelisi. While at home, The Queen is informed of Gnaut travelling on her lands. She is also a vaporition, a being that can walk through walls.
The nearest location to The Zenith is the ancient city of Medina. Here, is where the Dimyrrian army converges, before marching toward The Zenith to defend it from a Hauvnathy take-over. At the southern end of Medina is the fabled Rune Cliff. This is a sacred place, where the entire history of the land (both kingdoms) is burned into the cliff face, in tales told in old runic symbols. It sits on an acid lake, but Gnaut visits here, aboard one of the Wyverns from Keeper’s Peak (Durlak), who dangles him in front of the cliff face, several hundred feet above the lake. Gnaut makes significant discoveries at the Rune Cliff which shape the rest of the story, who he considers allies/enemies and explanations for the motives others.
Other locations in Dimyrr include; Trafirndyn, a forest home to elves, cyclops and many other creatures. Lydithia, home to Lydithians, Living Gods and their Descendants. Nyodorrun, the dwarf colony, nestled in near the Kosolm Mountains, (the dwarves feature in the story, but not so much the location). Nyodorrun plays a much bigger part in the sequel – Murder Beyond Lives.
Map, (provided with MS) is Attached