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Saga - Legends The Book of Gand (mostly OCs)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman , Apr 23, 2014.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    No need at all apologize. I am thrilled that this thread of mine now contains such a fantastically astute and detailed set of EP reviews, because the amount of respect I have for your reviews is immense. @};-

    Fengor was originally modeled on my late father-in-law, who had a cantankerous streak and loved to grumble about his children a lot (often to his other children) but who at the end of the day was a decent, mostly likable person. I originally intended for Fengor to be the same way—just a harmless grumbler, like a chitinous version of Grumpy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves—but he ended up growing more and more villainous the more I wrote him, to the point that he grew into one of the main adversarial figures of the story. (Would you believe that Zuckuss's brother originally was intended to be the main adversary? I think part of what brought about the change was that I generally feel more confident writing about parent-child relationships than sibling ones, since I'm an only child. There will be at least one other main adversarial figure as well, to be expanded on later.)

    And yes, I'm sure I've fallen into multiple trope traps with Fengor. But I guess tropes and motifs like that exist for a reason.

    Thanks. :) She grew and changed a lot since my very early conceptions of the story, and I think that has to do in part with my own motherhood. Way back when I first created her in my pre-Findsboy days, she wasn't much more than a stereotypical mother avian. I guess part of is, now that I am a mother myself, I have become extra keen on showing that mothers can be cool, full people too! (For example, she hadn't been the chief archivist of the Great Temple until after I returned to this story last year.)

    Incidentally, given the acuity you have shown for such things in the past, I would be curious to know if you have any thoughts on the provenance and significance of her name. ;) (I’ll begin by asking how much Goethe you have read. ;) )

    Thank you. :) For all that I am indebted more than I can say to my correspondence years back with my very good friend and first beta reader, Beedo (who isn't on these boards even though I wish he were). He really encouraged—pushed—me not only to keep things as alien as possible, but also to do so in as consistent a way as possible. To that end he basically taught me all the Earth insect biology I know, and with that as a starting point we brainstormed a whole bunch of details on anatomy, expressions, gestures, etc. I still go back to my old e-mails from him regularly. Because of him, no one in this story will "smile" or "frown" or any such thing.

    You're very kind to make that comparison, because I really love what he does with descriptions, too! Again, a lot of is due to the fact that I have these worldscapes in my mind but lack the talent to represent them visually—verbally is the best I can do. :)

    Thanks. :) It seemed a particular necessity in this story, given that I'm basically aiming to create or at least develop a worldscape (a very useful word that I'll have to remember now) based only on scattered references from EU lore.

    Thanks for the link, that's very cool! Given that that secret is most certainly a recurring theme in Bluffers, it makes sense that they would have it mentioned right there in the opening crawl. And here, too, it will be a recurring theme, so I felt I should bring it in right at the beginning (and Trynfor too, since everyone keeps mentioning him).

    Does the secret in Bluffers ever get revealed, out of curiosity?

    Thanks—I guess it's one of Otila's mother avian characteristics that ended up staying in. But I figured it kind of summed up some of the essential characteristics motherly care and concern, or at least a certain brand thereof. :p

    I hadn't come up with anything specific on that point, but cheapskatism (and no, that's not really a proper English word :p ) would certainly be consistent with what we know of Fengor's character. :p

    You did indeed answer this question yourself later on when you wrote:

    Which indeed is exactly what I was going for. (And compare the neutral-colored clothing of the nameless citizens in N’xid in chapter 9.)

    Indeed, being used to things and liking them are two different things. These Seculars have certainly seen children on mock Hunts before, especially at well-populated places like the market. But that in no wise means they actually like the ways such play can get in the way of their everyday Secular business.

    (Outtake moment: in an earlier draft, Rnnok said, “Young one, Rnnok promises you that if he ever catches you in his cargo hold again he will send all the Findsmen in the Capital after your sorry little abdomen.” I changed it because that particular use of “sorry” didn’t seem quite Gandish.)

    Oh my, that is a huge compliment coming from you, especially given how much I love what you're doing with your own alien epic. @};- I had never thought of it before, but you're absolutely right that our respective "dreamer boy" protagonists really kind of do have a lot in common. (And it just occurred to me why I love the "dreamer boy" type too: because I am the mother of one. [face_love] )

    And I like "starchild"—I'll remember that. (Echoes of 2001: A Space Odyssey!)

    And the thing is, as far as he's concerned, none of it is "mock"—he takes it all with the utmost seriousness, and that seriousness as important as his prodigious, raw talent in making him who he is.

    Thanks! I always figured that the Gand must have some kind of official, ceremonial document attached to things like bestowing names and self-reference status, given what a big deal that is for them.

    And I see now that you have quoted two, possibly three, examples of my Gand "officialese." I don't claim to write anything well, but I guess high-flung, semi-archaic ceremonialspeak is something I now know I can nail! :D (Actually, this has me thinking I should maybe put some of those formulas in my Gand fanon post, along with saa and uur.)

    Chapter 2

    "Then all the reindeer loved him..." ;)

    Remember, it's not just tough love for the sake of tough love. He's got the whole weight of his Guardianship informing this attitude of denial—because, yes, that's what it is. He's really kind of more in love with his status as Guardian than he is with his own child.

    Indeed, dahlink!

    This is one thing your writing and mine have in common: we both seem to really like the expressive use of color. :cool: Fengor's dark blue is supposed to be über-formal, business-like, and representative of his mood, and indeed all of the clothing colors in this story probably do end up being representative of the characters' dispositions or moods in some way or another—but I didn't have in mind that those colors are specifically representative of rank à la martial arts belt color.

    (That said—apprentices' clothing is supposed to be simpler in design than that of more advanced Findsmen. Also the thing with the neutral-colored clothing of the nameless—at least in the one colony—in chapter 9. And Trynfor wore black all the time.)

    Ooh, I like that interpretation of the sculpture: the idea of this renowned hunter and warrior showing himself in such a completely vulnerable posture to his most trusted friend. :cool: Because yes, that's exactly who they are: Trynfor and the original guardian of his treasure. I appreciate your picking up on that and singling this out—not only because this is a description that I feel pretty proud of as a writer, but also because of the important shadow that these two historical figures cast over the story. When I wrote this I was partly thinking of those tomb sculptures of saints and kings and the like (except of course that Trynfor's not dead yet, and there's the extra figure of Zukfel) combined with the drapery detail you often see in baroque sculpture.

    Oh, he does indeed have some of that in him, too. And he'll struggle between the two, of course, as we see he does in the later chapters.

    Ah, now, how he got that epithet is going to be a story in itself, or at least a fanon post in itself. I haven't worked out 100% of the details, but the short version is that Trynfor had many struggles and sorrows in his own time that affected him and may have driven him to a certain kind of desperation and distraction. Put another way, if he had lived on Earth in the 17th century, he might have been classified as "melancholy." (And indeed at some point I am thinking of delving into Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy for inspiration.) I imagine him as one of those visionary historical figures who may have been actually mentally ill or may not have been, with no one nowadays being able to tell for sure.

    Is this statue something you happen to have pictures of? I'd be curious to see, because *I* want to see the place too, and so far I am only capable of describing it verbally. :p

    Hey, sometimes a rock formation is just a rock formation! :p

    If he doesn't get it, it's purely because he doesn't want to, of course! And you probably can see why.

    Oh, you are in for a huge treat in chapter 10, then! :D

    And why not? Gorruss has no reason not to trust and support his younger brother. In their younger years he probably had ample opportunities to see his little bro's prodigious talent at work and probably developed some feelings of protectiveness because to it. (Maybe that will be material for a vignette later or some such.)

    Incidentally, you probably noticed that the elder Findsman with the hunched shoulders who first notices that the young Ng'xvi-Ta'al-Lhúd is having a vision is none other than [hl=black]the very same Volokoss Ratokk to whom he's apprenticed later[/hl].

    And this is where I broke. The second time a story you wrote made me break, but this time it's all for the best. I am cheering for this boy, the same way I would cheer for a friend.

    Aww, d'awwwww. And [:D] . That's a big compliment, too, and I must say it is an effect I never thought in a million years my silly "Gand officialese" would produce! (See above. :p )

    It's all of them, of course! :D

    OK, continuing on—I’m going to see how much I can cram in to a single post:

    Essentially, in this story, whenever you see Fengor using “tough love” on his younger son, it’s influenced by his fears about the prophecy issue. If he (Fengor) is the Guardian and his younger son is the Uncanny One, then his younger son has the power to unseat him and make the whole tradition of the Guardians moot—see below on the conversation with Gorruss.

    Oh, believe me, it is making him bitter—right then and there in the same vehicle—and it will have definite consequences in father-son relations later.

    I know I've heard you mention the Tesla museum and urn before here, so I can't help but wonder if there's more of a story to this comparison. ;) But yes, of course that's a lame excuse on Fengor's part.

    In crafting these high-ranking Findsman ceremonies, yes, I did indeed incorporate a few elements of traditional Christian ritual from both Eastern and Western churches. (You may have caught the snippet of mangled Church Slavonic in chapter 1, for example.) But Christians don't have a monopoly on either ornate ceremonial robes or blessing people, of course. ;)

    He does. Originally he had two brothers, one supportive and one snarky, with the snarky one eventually betraying him, but that became too unwieldy, and so I decided to go with a single brother who was mostly supportive but with a few moments of snark (like about wearing nightshirts with a few runes).

    And just in case you or any other reader out there at any point in this story ever need a recap of the whole prophecy / Guardian / Uncanny One business, this conversation is the place to look.

    (It’s also the only place in the story so far where I intentionally play with a trope: “As you know, your father, the king…”)

    Wow, that is absolutely bizarre! :eek: I remember at one point in high school swimming class having to wait naked for the locker room lady to dole out swimsuits (fortunately just girls, but I was still glad when they finally let us bring our own swim clothes),
    but adding the medical dimension just makes it all the more creepy somehow. And indeed, some of my own feelings about past medical experiences are summed up in this passage. The oversized gown thing in particular is one thing that always bugs the heck out of me whenever I'm in any kind of medical context, which is why I made sure to wear my own stuff for the birth of my child.

    A very cool interpretation indeed—I hadn't thought about that parallel before, but yes, it works, it certainly works. :cool: Though as exact details go, I can currently only say, "[face_whistling]."

    Thank you. :) Here too I'm indebted to Beedo, because he came up with at least a couple of them.

    Oh, [face_whistling]! ;) I was kind of serious a page or two back when I said that the readers' answers to this riddle were as important, if not more so, than the one (those) I originally had in mind.

    Yes, indeed it does, probably in all species! :D And that's a good and valid question. I guess maybe they get germs or fungus or bacteria instead? :p

    It does indeed. And I want him to struggle a bit for his "chosen one" status. Just a bit, anyway.

    Thanks. I did want to at least try to get at least one mention of a canon Gand in before chapter 6, just so part 1 of the story wouldn't be completely disconnected from official lore. (Actually, the name Vrixx'tt in chapter 1 is from an official source too: I see the green-eyed boy from that chapter as growing up to become this RPG-guide NPC bounty hunter.)

    Glad that came off all right—I'm never quite sure what I'm doing with Force techniques. :p

    That is always how it seemed to me, too. :) At one point Beedo asked me if I was going to use capital-H "He" for Trynfor, given what a revered figure he is. I told him no—Trynfor would be the first to protest that he's not the Mists, he's only one of Their servants, and does not deserve the true worship due only to Them.

    More to come soon!
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  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Continuing with replies to Ewok Poet, as promised. I too am going to have to do this in multiple posts, as you see, just to keep things semi-kind-of-sort-of manageable. (When I first pasted all the text from your replies into Word to start working on my responses, it came out to something like 18 pages, so there was just no other way.)

    Father’s and son’s fears kind of meld together in this chapter by way of the vision they both experience. Fengor, on one hand, is fearful of being unseated as Guardian by his younger son, since that is one of the things the prophecy says the Uncanny One will do—his vision of being overpowered by the mysterious younger Findsman is born of that fear. Zuckuss, on the other hand, got this horrifying accidental glimpse onto his father’s fear-born vision, and it spooks him too for a related reason: does being the Uncanny One mean he has to use force against his own father? That’s a scary thought for a youngster, and that’s why he embraces his father suddenly—but by then Fengor has snapped back to his normal boo self and pushes him off. If all that makes sense.

    Spot. On. (See Kahara ’s comment right after chapter 6.)

    Oh, I just thought the method of healing should be something very Gand-specific, given that what happened to him was so very Gand-specific. Again, Beedo helped me come up with the healing field (I originally had his body clamped down with actual clamps).

    I am glad to hear you feel this turned out well. This kind of solitary, motionless introspection can be hard for me to write, especially given how the scene was originally—in my early drafts this recovery was a totally different and much less contemplative experience from him. He was at home rather than in the temple, his chatty older brother came visited him and yapped for a while about ritual baths and the like, and then they eavesdropped through a wall vent on their parents, who were gabbing away in the library. In short, lots of yapping and gabbing. One of my original objective in redoing this scene was to make the whole story less chatty, but if an added bonus of that was to make it more like actually part of the purification ritual, then I’m especially glad I did. :)

    Chapter 6

    Well, shucks, thanks. @};- I’m very glad and honored to hear that this story of mine has had that effect. And again, I just love that our two “dreamer boy” protagonists wound up having so much in common. [face_love] It’s something I may have to do something with sometime.

    Thank you so much. And yes, in this story, he is all those things, sometimes alternately, sometimes all at once. :cool: (The Bat for Lashes song I’m listening to on your recommendation reminds me that the prophet Daniel is somewhere in there too.)

    OK, listening now to a few of things of theirs: “Daniel” and “Two Suns,” and yes, they fit. :cool:

    On the topic of possible theme songs for this story, one of them would have to be Dead Can Dance’s “Rakim.” And guess who introduced me to it—none other than Beedo, of course, on a mix CD he made me once. (Miss you, O Big Brother! :_| )

    This is one of those things that I imagine as being common to all (or at least most) mystical traditions in the Galaxy: the key lessons for those starting out in the mystical tradition are those of discipline, control, and humility, and those things have to be reflected in their appearance as well as in their behavior.

    I hadn’t noticed this before, and hadn’t planned it that way, but wow, you’re right! I love it when my readers point out stuff like this. :D

    I salute him too, constantly. It was something he introduced in one of his stories, and it was just such a perfect and essential concept that I just couldn’t not bring it into mine.

    Hear that, everyone? I’ve made Ewok Poet squee with a total of 21 e’s. I’m pretty sure my work here is done! :p

    Oh, thank you—what a compliment from a Poet! ;) Yes, I do like images like that too. Maybe it dates back to singing “Would you like to swing on a star, / Carry moonbeams home in a jar…” in elementary school.

    I’d forgotten I’d asked that there, but thanks! I won’t! :)

    It will, along with several other things, but for now at least he has the chance at gaining the kind of supportive, caring father figure that he has been lacking and sorely needing for so long, and that might be one thing that will help that fall be not as harsh as it otherwise might be. (And it helps me as a writer not fall into the trap of making all the paternal figures tough and crusty and mean. It came close to that in early drafts.)

    The business of having to leave his homeworld is not connected per se to the Uncanny One prophecy, but since it is something that will be in Zuckuss’s future eventually, I figured I might as well try to start addressing it.

    And even an adult Gand is supposed to be aware constantly of his or her relative smallness in comparison to the Mists and the homeworld.

    Agreed. The two dimensions can coexist, and they can do so harmoniously.

    And one more to come after this…
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  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Heh. I read the new chapter on the day you posted it and thought I'd come back later for a review, but of course by the time I came back two magical reviewers were here and now I should take the time to read all their comments and your answers, because I'm sure they picked up on things I failed to notice. Well, that will happen at some point, hopefully... *sighs*

    Now for my own comments.

    This new chapter started with a [face_rofl] moment for me. I don't know where in the unfathomable depths of your mind you find phrases like "that tiresome old overkreetle of a Findsmaster" but that's definitely a place I want to visit.

    The description of this new, poor pocket colony was even better than what I could hope for from a Findswoman offering. I've said this before and I'm saying it again, your attention to detail is astounding. Not only that, but you manage to convey a lot about the place with tiny details, e.g. the fact that it has a high proportion of nameless citizens or that they all wear neutral colours. That such snippets make so much sense is a testament to the quality of your world-building.

    There's something slightly spooky about the colony, however. One bit that really stood out for me was the fact that it's a market with no haggling -- that doesn't really add up, does it? Combining that with the final scene with the children, it gives the impression that there's something going on behind the scenes, and no doubt Zuckuss will find it.

    Before I get to the scene with the girl though, I also want to comment on how you drop hints about Zuckuss's personality. Between the fact that he wishes his master for the day would be Okkfel Taagu and the fact that he fails to mention to the children that he's merely an apprentice, it's fair to say that the Gand lessons in humility aren't really making their way into that thick skull of his. He often gives the impression of going through the motions of being a proper, humble Gand, but deep down there's a streak of arrogance that he can't quite control.

    Coming to the final scene now. I was happy to see that this upper-class bully bit off more than he could chew -- or was he really upper-class? Because being the son of the governor of N'xid sounds a little like being a one-eyed man among the blind. Anyway, I was happy that Zuckuss intervened, but also that the girl showed him.

    But most importantly in that scene, the girl herself sent my brain in overdrive. [hl=black]I scooted off to the Fanon Thread of course to see what I could gather from there about what she actually did[/hl], and I want to know more about her -- which I have no doubt we will find out in the next chapters -- but most importantly I want to know who she thought Zuckuss was: himself? or his father? or his ancestor? or a combination thereof?

    Lastly (and this might be a throwaway line, but knowing you it probably isn't) what in the Galaxy is the Grenn-Mygra market bubble? I went through both of your Fanon posts and didn't find it.

    Last words: just =D= I know you have more stuff to work on from the word race, so I'm confident we're getting a new update soon.
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow, the wonderful reviews that keep rolling in! OK, this post will finish up my responses to Ewok Poet ’s comments and begin on those by Chyntuck.

    Thanks! I didn’t actually really know anything about the third-eye chakra when I was crafting this story, apart from a few isolated mentions in yoga classes—this was more playing with the expression “the mind’s eye.” But there’s no reason why it couldn’t be a specific concept in Findsman mysticism, I suppose… [face_thinking]

    Certainly could be interpreted that way. But then Zuckuss has an active and volatile imagination that’s liable to spin the tiniest suggestions into huge premonitions (not that such premonitions are wrong, of course). Besides, even if they are pushing him a bit here—this being an examination and all—I really couldn’t see any of these three Findsmasters except Okkfel doing that kind of “tough love” teaching approach (and he takes the opportunity to do so a little further down, as you see).

    It might, and it might not—it might be him speaking through Volokoss or some such. ;) Same thing here as with that chapter-4 riddle: what was originally in my mind is not necessarily the only plausible possibility.

    Addressing these three together since they’re closely related. Yes, this is where Okkfel has an opportunity to get all tough on Zuckuss with impunity, just for the sake of toughening him up. With the first, though, it almost doesn’t matter whether he really believes in the Uncanny One prophecy or not—that’s just another thing he can use to apply “tough love” in this case. But in the case of the second, it could actually be one glimmer of actual respect for the young fellow, too. Kind of “stopped clock is right twice a day.” And perhaps it does work, at least partly, now that Zuckuss is a little more mature.

    An interesting thought, but again, I don’t really see them being in cahoots to do that—that’s the sort of thing only Okkfel would do, and in this particular case given that he’s directly conferring with his superior (Luyen), I don’t think he would dare to. (Now, if she weren’t around, or if it were just him talking directly to Zuckuss, as earlier, he might well try).

    And if Okkfel really did know about Zuckuss’s mental eavesdropping, I doubt he would react with quite as much surprise when Zuckuss jumps in with the found portrait. If that makes sense.

    I’m putting these together since they’re so closely related. Yes, this is getting to be an issue for him, isn’t it? See also my response to Kahara ’s most recent comment. [hl=black]This indeed is just the sort of thing that will contribute to his downward spiral.[/hl] But that’s still a ways away!

    Balance the two is indeed what’s at issue, because the humility—when it happens—is nevertheless not fake. At those moments when Zuckuss is going through the motions of being a proper, humble Gand, he is really trying his hardest to actually be that proper, humble Gand, to attain to that ideal. But that zeal tends to be only temporary, and he lapses into the other a lot more than is probably good for him.

    Argent, tridactyl clawed hand fesswise sable, grasping orb or surmounted by a dagger and toothed key in saltire sable. :D The Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd crest first comes up in chapter 2, on Fengor’s pocketwatch. There’s not really much to the symbolism: the hand, dagger, and key all represent aspects of the guardianship of Trynfor’s treasure.

    I may have a drawing of it somewhere—let me see if I can dig it up.

    That they are, and that is the very point. I’ll admit that the second green-eyed child was accidental, but how about that, it kind of does make a nice little parallel! (This is supposed to be a much younger green-eyed child than the one Zuckuss was hunting back in chapter 1, of course.)

    Indeed, you will—in the very next chapter, in fact!

    I had to look up Matilda, and yes, there are some parallels there for what I’m going for with this character (variations on the “magical girl” trope, of course), but I’m going to need a reminder about what it was that triggered Carrie. I saw Carrie a very long time ago as a kid and then was too freaked out to watch much of it, so I don’t remember much of it at all.

    First squeeing, then melting—wow, now I really know my work here is done! :D [face_love]

    [hl=black]Not to worry, she’s not a malafemmena. Bad things may happen on account of things she says or does, but not by any fault of her own whatsoever. If that makes sense.[/hl]

    At this point, all I can say is, “[face_whistling].”

    All in a good way, I hope! :p Again, you shall see.

    And Findswoman is officially glad to have EP among her readers and commenters! [:D]

    Aww, thanks. [face_blush] :) My friend Beedo was the one who introduced me to kreetles when I was first writing about Okkfel, and they just seemed like a good match. I would be glad to arrange what you request, though I only fear that the Tron- or Being John Malkovich-type arrangement necessary would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. :p

    Ευχαριστώ. @};- That is an immense compliment coming from such a talented and detail-oriented worldbuilder and fanon creator as you.

    For some reason, I am not totally surprised that that bit was noticed by someone of Mediterranean origin. ;) One thing that’s going on, at least in my mind, is that lower-status Gands who have not earned their identities might just not be as assertive as those who are higher up on the self-reference ladder. (Of course, in theory, even those high up on the self-reference ladder are supposed to be humble—but maybe in practice they’re allowed more moments of not having to be. Perhaps that’s even what’s happening to our young hero…)

    “One-eyed man among the blind” is an excellent way of putting it! [face_laugh] Yes, it’s kind of rich of this governor’s son to put on airs about his status in a place where no one has much status, isn’t it? Especially in light of [hl=black]a little extra something you’ll learn about in chapter 10.[/hl] But he definitely got what he deserved. Of course, isn’t this the kind of retribution all of us who endured one kind of bullying or another in our younger years wish we could have exacted on those who bullied us? (There’s probably a trope in this somewhere…)

    You will indeed find out more about [hl=black]her, what she did, and who she saw—the very next chapter should shed some light on those things.[/hl]

    One reason it’s not in the fanon posts is because I’m ashamed to admit that it really is kind of a throwaway detail. [face_blush] Grenn-Mygra is just supposed to be some company or other in which Semfodd Sylon, governor of the pocket colony of N’xid, has invested a whole lot of money (and apparently lots of other have too for there to be a bubble). What do they make? I hadn’t decided, but maybe I will now… let’s say they make equipment for mining certain kinds of gases from the mists of the Gand atmosphere—sort of like what’s done with tibanna gas on Bespin.

    As to what’s in my fanon posts and what’s not: In general, my policy with Book of Gand fanon elements is not to add them to my fanon posts before they have appeared in a story chapter posted here. (I’ll occasionally make exceptions for little things like those Gand foodstuffs, for example.) So don’t worry, the relevant things will be added—when the time is right. ;)

    Oh, thanks again! [:D] @};- There will indeed a new update soon—probably tomorrow if all goes well (all available appendages crossed).
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  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    And now, 'tis time for the next chapter. As always, many thanks to the lovely Kahara for beta-reading! @};-

    Chapter X

    Zuckuss and the golden-eyed girl walked together in silence through the market. They went out the east gate of the marketplace and down the cobbled streets of N’xid. They passed drab-looking tenements, sleepy shops, and even a small, run-down temple that looked as though it had seen no use since the days of Trynfor the Mad. The girl stopped at a transit shelter near the temple and Zuckuss stopped with her, taking the opportunity to get a closer look at the waifish creature he had rescued at the market.

    Or had he really? She, after all, was the one that had fended off the bully by raising that strange vortex of the street’s dirt and grime. She was a pretty child, with a dainty face, and her golden-brown chitin seemed to have a pinkish tinge. From the shape and position of her mandibles, palps, and antennae, it was clear that she was a member of the Breather subspecies, as Zuckuss was himself. And of course he had already noticed her golden eyes—a less common Gand eye color than most, but by no means unheard of (one of his family’s shoemakers back in Rhaguin had been golden-eyed).

    But he had not noticed before how patched and threadbare her clothing was, nor how the cloth bindings on her feet—she wore no proper shoes—were riddled with holes and tears. And he was just now realizing how truly small she was for her age—or at least for the age he had guessed when he had heard her exchange with the black-eyed boy. He wondered if her growth had been stunted somehow, how well fed she was at home. As they stood and waited, she took occasional nervous glances around, as if she feared the black-eyed boy or the other children might return.

    Presently a rudimentary, single-level, open-topped hoverbus—apparently driven by droid brain, since none of the few Gand citizens it carried seemed to be in the position of driver—stopped at the shelter. The girl began to board, and Zuckuss followed her, dropping a credit slip in the fare acceptance unit to cover both of them. They sat together on the passenger bench along the rear wall of the vehicle.

    “Now if you will pardon Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd,” Zuckuss said as he rummaged in his pocket, “he must very quickly send a message to his Findsmaster.”

    He took out his comlink, set it to Volokoss’s frequency, and tapped out a verbal message with the thumb-claws of both hands:


    Two points of light flashed alternately on the screen of the comlink, indicating that Volokoss was preparing a response. After a few seconds it appeared:


    Zuckuss’s claws tapped busily on the comlink interface. AT MARKET SAW CHILD MAKE DUST FLY FROM STREET AT OTHER CHILD


    NO WAS WITHOUT HANDS, countered his apprentice.



    The two points of light flashed again, this time for several seconds: five, ten . . . Volokoss apparently had much to say about this, though he was taking his dear time to say it. Meanwhile, Zuckuss could feel the girl’s eyes on him. Perhaps she had never seen a communications device like his before.

    The screen went suddenly blank. Zuckuss clacked in frustration. FMR VOLOKOSS IF NG’XVI-TA’AL-LHÚD HAS ASKED WHAT IS NOT FOR HIM TO

    He was cut short by his teacher’s response. ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE WAS CHILD

    “It really is you.”

    The girl had spoken. Zuckuss pocketed his comlink and turned to her. She was eyeing him intently, gripping her basket tightly in front of her. He noticed for the first time that the chitin of her knuckles was brutally scratched where she had struck the pavement.

    “May Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd ask what you mean by that, young one?”

    “It is you,” she repeated. “You are the one Viurraanvi saw.”

    Viurraanvi. That was the strange word that the black-eyed boy had uttered—and it dawned on Zuckuss that it was none other than this child’s name. Yes, this timid, raggedy youngling had a name. And that she was using it meant she was sure of herself. Indeed, now that he looked at her again, Zuckuss noticed a tiny edge of green material peeking up from the collar of her tunic—apparently a scarf or shawl that she (or someone else?) had pushed all the way inside her tunic to hide from view.

    Of course, Zuckuss thought to himself, he too had acquired the first of his two names around the same age, so it was not unheard of . . .

    “All right, then. When did you see Zuckuss, and where?”

    “Well, Gand was . . . sitting by herself and thinking, and then . . . ”

    “And then what?”

    “And then . . . Viurraanvi saw you. Or . . . at least it looked like you.”

    Zuckuss pondered a moment. What she said reminded him of the times he used to pretend to meditate as a child, and of the flashes of rudimentary intuition that occasionally came upon him even in those days—as in that one mock hunt long ago, when it dawned on him that his fugitive friend might be hiding in full view in the marketplace. He had been fortunate enough to be surrounded by parents and elders well-versed in the Sacred Trade, and they had immediately recognized those tiny flashes of insight as a sign of mystical talent. And now here he was, just over a year later, recognizing something similar in this lonely girl from the market.

    But it occurred to him that he had not been the first to do so. She had already had one name bestowed, and the ruetsavii-tí’kaa that had done so—for only full-ranking ruetsavii had the authority to bestow names—certainly would have noticed if she possessed any of the talent of the Mists.

    The comlink in his pocket pulsed. “Apologies, young one. Just a moment.”

    He withdrew it quickly and opened it. A new message from Volokoss shone on the screen.


    Zuckuss tapped furiously, the girl watching him as he did so. SINCEREST APOLOGIES FMR VOLOKOSS YES WAS CHILD VERY SMALL POSSIBLY STUNTED HARD TO TELL

    Again the two blinking lights appeared, but Zuckuss thrust the device back into his pocket. His tiresome old Findsmaster could wait—for now he was determined to find out all he could from the mysterious child sitting beside him.

    “Do you often . . . sit and think to yourself?” he asked her.

    “Just . . . sometimes.”

    “And do you usually see things when you do?”


    “And if Zuckuss may ask . . . back at the market, when you . . . made the dust fly at that boy who was—”

    The girl’s mandibles popped open in horror. “What does Your Mystical Honor mean?”

    “Nothing, nothing, young one . . . just that he has never seen anyone do that before, and was wondering—”

    “Please, please, Your Mystical Honor—” She erupted in a violent fit of trembling. “Gand does not know—it’s never happened before—do not be angry—”

    “There, now, young one! Zuckuss is not angry. Why in the name of the Mists do you think Zuckuss would be—”

    Once again the comlink pulsed. Zuckuss reflexively muttered a curse under his breath, which he immediately followed with “Please pardon Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd.”


    Zuckuss racked his brains. He had never heard of any such technique, though he was of course still in the early stages in his apprenticeship. He was on the point of tapping out a message to Volokoss to ask what a Rhak’zel dust vortex attack was when the hoverbus slowed to approach a stop. The girl stood up to disembark. Zuckuss pocketed his comlink and followed her.

    They had arrived at what seemed to be the outskirts of town—or even, as Zuckuss surmised from the rolling gray-green mists overhead, the very edge of the colony of N’xid. In any case, they had left the cobblestones and tenements of the city center far behind. The only buildings here were scattered cottages. A vast, flat expanse of windswept grassland extended into the distance; it and the turbid sky seemed to dissolve one into another.

    After a short walk Zuckuss and the golden-eyed girl arrived at a cottage adjoined by sizable walled garden much larger than itself. The girl approached the door and knocked.

    “Is this your home?” asked Zuckuss.


    “Do you not have a key?”

    “No,” came the quiet reply. “But Mother should be home by now.”

    And indeed, seconds later, a tall, sturdy Gand female opened the door. She wore a heavy work tunic and patched fatigues of the same neutral-colored material worn by all the citizens of N’xid, though stained in several places with the brown-green of soil and the dark purple of plant matter. Her arms were twined with the same purple leaves that her daughter was wearing, and a purple shawl covered her shoulders. As the golden-eyed youngster ran up to her, she responded with a hasty embrace. Then she pushed the girl from her to scrutinize her soiled clothing through cold, silver-white compound eyes.

    “By the Holy Madman’s boot buckles, young one! How did you get your tunic so dirty?” She took the girl’s basket and riffled through it, a grimace of disgust contorting her mouthparts. “And your fruit is all ruined. What is this all about?”

    “Greetings, esteemed citizen . . . if Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd may be so bold . . .”

    The mother shot a glance at the young Findsman. “Is there a way Lekli may be of service to Your Mystical Honor?”

    “Well, if you please, esteemed Citizen Lekli . . .” He began telling her what had happened at the market, how the black-eyed boy (“he said his father’s name was Sy . . . Syonn—” “Sylonn,” the mother interrupted) had taunted young Viurraanvi, and what she had said to him. He had just described how the boy had pushed her into the puddle and thrown her fruit on the ground when the mother interjected.

    “Is this true, young one?” She turned to her daughter, who had been standing the whole time with her eyes downturned, fidgeting with her hands.

    “Yes, Mother.”

    “Mother and Father have told you before that the other children don’t want to hear your mystical nonsense, little Gand. Especially not the governor’s son.”

    “But, Mother, he asked—”

    “This is why you have no friends.” She turned her gaze to Zuckuss again. “Is there anything else Your Mystical Honor wished to say?”

    “Yes, if you please, Citizen Lekli. Zuckuss was about to intervene when your daughter did something that . . . that Zuckuss has never seen before.”

    “And what was that?”

    “Well, it was a . . . a . . .” He paused for a moment to remember what Volokoss had called it in his message. “A Rhak’zel dust vortex attack.”

    “Dust vortex . . . what?!” Lekli’s mouthparts snapped open in incredulity. “What is this, little Gand?!”

    “Mother, please—” The child was trembling again. “Gand doesn’t know what happened—she’s never done it before—”

    Zuckuss interposed as quickly as he could; he was near trembling himself. “Citizen Lekli, if you do not mind Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd’s saying so . . . if your daughter is correct about Governor Sylonn, and if she can do things like this . . . this dust vortex attack, then she is likely to possess the talent of the—”

    “Yes, Lekli knows.” Lekli’s mouthparts clacked querulously even as she spoke slowly and exaggeratedly, as if to a child. “Lekli has heard it all before. Your Mystical Honor has come here like all the rest of them to tell Lekli that she should turn her child over to be trained in the Sacred Trade. Haven’t you?”

    “Citizen Lekli, if you please—”

    “Well, then. Lekli’s answer is the same as it was the last time one of your kind came to call. Lekli and her husband cannot afford to be without their daughter’s help in the garden and at the market. If you whisk her off to some temple to study mystical tricks, you will deprive them of the only livelihood they have on all of Gand. That is the answer Lekli has for Your Mystical—” She broke off and gave a hiss of exasperation. “Lekli doesn’t even know why she is calling you that. You’re clearly just an apprentice.”

    “Yes, Citizen Lekli.” Zuckuss bristled inwardly. How dare this unrefined Secular speak so of him, and indeed of all Findsmen! But he did his best to remain calm, for it was his duty on this patrol mission to keep the peace, not to escalate conflict. It was a shame that the girl’s mother was being so stubborn, but there was only so much he could do. After all, he was just an apprentice.

    “And you.” Lekli addressed her daughter again. “You and your silly fortune telling and . . . dust attacks. It’s no wonder the other children won’t play with you. Go turn the compost heap.”

    “But, Mother, please—”


    The daughter left the room, trembling all over. Zuckuss made a curt salute to the mistress of the house and turned to leave.

    “Farewell, citizen,” he said. “Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd has intruded long enough on your hospitality.”

    No sooner had he put his hand to the door handle than a heavyset male Gand in coveralls, mud-caked boots, and a dark blue coat burst into the room, almost bowling the young Findsman over. The newcomer’s arms were laden with a large flat of purple-leaved orchidaceous plants, which he deposited on a table with a loud thud before hunkering down on a bench. Lekli ran over to him.

    “Viurraanvi! What in the name of the Mists is the matter?”

    “Oh, Lekli, it’s pure madness in the Credit District right now,” her husband groaned as he shuffled out of his coat. “Traders and brokers running everywhere like madmen. Some old kreetle in a bright yellow coat plowed right into Viurraanvi and he nearly lost all the moonbows there.” He gestured to the flat of plants on the table. “Oh, holy Mists, what Viurraanvi wouldn’t give for a cup of djelatha right now.”

    “There, now.” Lekli poured some steaming red liquid from a large round metal pot into a stoneware mug. “Tell Lekli what’s happened.”

    “The market has crashed.”

    Lekli started; the liquid in the mug sloshed. “Crashed?”

    “Yes, crashed. But what’s more . . .”


    “It was the Grenn-Mygra bubble. And you know what they say about Governor Semfod Sylonn and Grenn-Mygra. If it’s true, he’s going to be poorer than you and Viurraanvi and young . . . Lekli, dearest, what’s wrong?”

    There was a crash as the mug shattered on the floor, then the frenzied sounds of sweeping and mopping, and then finally the words, “Nothing, Viurraanvi. Nothing at all.”

    * * *

    Zuckuss, meanwhile, who all this time had been secreted in a shadowy alcove by the door, clicked his inner mandibles and slipped outside. So the golden-eyed girl had been right about the black-eyed boy’s father and his investments. What her mother had called her “silly fortune telling” had in fact been—at least from what he could see—genuine intuition bestowed by the Mists. The market, Grenn-Mygra, Semfod Sylonn: all of those things, combined with the dust attack and the girl’s mysterious recognition of him, came together too perfectly to have been mere freak coincidence. Zuckuss hoped the stubborn mother had finally realized as much.

    But what about the daughter? Even if her prediction had not come to pass, would it still have been right for her to be punished with heavy chores? Zuckuss felt he should at least check on her. His pocket chronometer was telling him he would soon have to rendezvous with Volokoss back at the marketplace, but this wouldn’t take long. The garden wall was cracked and dilapidated; he scaled it easily.

    The garden was almost twice as large as the cottage. It was filled from wall to wall with flowering and fruit-bearing plants of all shapes, sizes, and growth habits. All of the foliage was some shade of purple, ranging from the reddish cordiform leaves of the ighll to the slender purple-blue fronds of the pteridophytic triik-rho. Everything was planted in even, orderly rows but very closely together, with only barely enough room for a gardener to walk between; space was clearly at a premium. Of the three walls, one was lined with trees and shrubs bearing the various fruits Zuckuss had seen in the girl’s basket, and another with rickety wooden trellises so laden with tendrilly vines they threatened to collapse. Along part of the third stood a small glasshouse, filled past capacity with the same orchidaceous plants the girl’s father had been carrying. One small planter hung on a hook beside its entrance.

    The turbid green-gray mists hung close overhead. From his vantage point atop the wall Zuckuss reached up to them, channeling their energy through himself as he scanned the garden for the whereabouts of the young Viurraanvi. After a few moments he spotted her. She was in the corner of the garden farthest from him, between the tangle of vines and the back of the glasshouse. With a heavy and dangerous-looking spade that was almost twice as long as she was tall, she was struggling to dig through the contents of a heap of dirt, slime, and assorted plant debris. The tool was clearly too heavy for her, and her attempts to maneuver it often resulted in her dropping it (at least once on her own foot), falling backward, or both. Occasionally she would manage to scoop up a small quantity of compost, only to stagger and drop it back onto the heap where it had been.

    After a few minutes she put down the spade and went over to the planter that hung beside the glasshouse door, which seemed to contain nothing besides a few dry, lonely-looking gray-purple leaves. She placed her hands on the leaves, then stood still for several seconds with her eyes closed and her mandibles clenched—to what purpose Zuckuss could not tell. At last she opened her eyes and returned to her work on the compost. Again and again she tried to dig through it; again and again she would fall or lose her grip.

    Zuckuss’s antennae and palps bristled in disgust. How anyone could foist such arduous labor on such a frail child! It simply was not right, and he was resolved not to stand idly by. He leapt from the wall, ran over to the golden-eyed girl as quickly as he could without disturbing the carefully planted rows, and saluted her graciously, cupping his hands before him. She jumped backward, dropping the spade as her mouthparts popped open.

    “Why are you here?! Mother will see!”

    “Please pardon Zuckuss for startling you. He merely thought he might be able to offer you some assistance.” He gestured toward the spade. “If he may?”

    Before she could answer, Zuckuss hefted the spade and set to work. The mingled browns, purples, and red-greens of the compost flew busily about, splatting and squelching. At last, when the heap was thoroughly mixed and aerated, Zuckuss leaned the spade against the back wall of the glasshouse and bowed to the astonished girl with one hand cupped on his chest.

    “May the Mists show you the way, young Viurraanvi.”

    Leaving her standing there, he made his way briskly through the plants back toward the wall he had originally climbed down. As he clambered back up the wall, his eye happened to fall on the planter beside the glasshouse door. The leaves in it were now a fresh purple-blue, curling lushly upward.

    Zuckuss jumped down from the wall and ran as quickly as he could back to the hoverbus shelter.

    The Rhak'zel dust vortex attack, Grenn-Mygra and its market bubble, and all the plants are my own creations—none of them are in my Gand fanon post yet, but they'll end up there eventually. :p Djelatha, however, is described in my fanon post on Gand food and beverages.

    The purple leaf color is something Beedo and I worked out long ago; we figured that a dominant leaf color other than green might be one effect of Gand's ammoniac atmosphere. That's also why I use the term "glasshouse" instead "greenhouse."
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    What a beautiful name: Viurraanvi. I like very much how you bring out the fact that it's not everyone's fondest dream to go to the Temple. For "ordinary" worka-day folks like Lekli's family, those with Viu's talents are needed in a pragmatic sense at home, although that puts them in a bind. They have these gifts and skills that could serve the community but kept from proper training, etc., they're more like outcasts and have to squelch them. Usually, when that happens, they explode in unexpected and unwanted fashions. :eek: [face_thinking] I got amused at the exchange between Zuckuss and Volokkoss ;) the youthful frustration and the older one's tone of what have you wandered into? [face_laugh] =D=
    Kahara, Chyntuck and Findswoman like this.
  7. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    First of all - I am sorry that it took me a bit of time to reply. We're going to a thing today and I needed to sort out my sleeping issues. Can't beat Ny in terms of being the first...[face_chicken]

    For the purpose of this review, I will be using the term "caste", even if it's not the best word.

    So, there it is - a clash of two separate worlds. And, how meaningful (?), the secular family the little or not-so-little girl belongs to is poor and the parents may be well-meaning or not, may be using her or not, depending on the reader's own experience and the point of view. And Zuckuss happened to find himself in the middle of it and, eventually, despite which caste he belongs to, get hilariously ignored, to the point where he can stand in the doorway and the girl's parents won't even see him anymore.

    All of this makes both the whole contrast between Zuckuss and Viurraanvi more intriguing - they do have things in common, but those things will inevitably be perceived differently by both them and people surrounding them; so - at the end of the day - even the similarites between them are contrasts. This said, I knew her prediction would be right because she is...well, who she is.

    Either way, whatever is the reason for a child in rags being subjected to so much dangerous, intense labour, I feel for her. And I loved it when Zuckuss showed her the basic respect that she had obviously never encountered before.

    The run-down temple is an interesting place. Gives way to so many theories and the extent to which the people of N'xid may hate Findsmen, but at this point, I guess I'll shut up and be patient.

    The text messaging with Volokoss had me LOL a couple of times. I am a sucker for weird takes on language in general, and I consider text messaging to be precisely that.

    Three things I have been wondering about:

    - Why the black-eyed boy family lives in such a beat-down, anti-Emerald City place prior to the market crash? I assume they exploit the poor...?!

    - What kind of plans are these and if some of them may be...[hl=black]spice[/hl]...the colour change was VERY intriguing.

    - How did this girl gain the right to use her last name. OK, everybody wonders this.
  8. Kahara

    Kahara Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    I need to locate my brain (it's around here somewhere ;)), but in the meantime: really liked the interaction of Zuckuss and Volokoss in this chapter. The text-messaging is a really interesting reminder of how technological things are, along with the automated bus and so on! Still loving the blended fantasy/science fiction feel of the Gand world. [face_dancing] And I'm very intrigued by what future events may relate to this meeting with Viurranvi -- she's clearly had some important premonition about Zuckuss being in her future, and her abilities in that area are proven.
    Chyntuck, Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    We-e-ell, that was a very gallant thing to do... although after his blunder with the mother that earned the girl this abusive punishment, it's the least Zuckuss could do for her.

    Of course, as EP said, I'd like to know how Viurraanvi earned the use of her last name, but also what she did to revive the dried leaves and most importantly why she did it... There's a vague Harry Potter feel about her, with her mother trying to pretend that her talents don't really exist -- I assume it was her mother you insisted she hides the coloured scarf, and not giving her a key to the house? what was that about, to make sure she would spend the day in the market? But her talents are there, and apparently they are many and unusual, if Volokoss has to ask if the Gand who caused the dust vortex was indeed a child.

    Coming to her gift of foresight, like Kahara I wonder about her premonition that Zuckuss will be in her future, but also about the implications of her predicting the market crash. If the governor and his arrogant son are to become poorer than this family of farmers, I imagine that it will have immediate consequences.

    (I may or may not be back when I find my brain too. There are many brains at the lost and found, and they're having trouble identifying mine 8-} )
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  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much for the replies, as always. @};- Though my gosh, what is this with so many of my readers losing their brains all at the same time? :eek: Well, I suppose if nothing turns up at the lost and found, we can do a good old-fashioned hunt in the Mists. :p

    Exactly. And the dust vortex is an example of that very thing: it came from a combination of her own raw, repressed gifts and her own anger at the boy, which of course is a dangerous combination. And which the mother doesn't seem to understand, though the practical need for her daughter's help at home is indeed real. It's not a black-and-white situation—yes, she's harsh, but her point is a valid one, and a stopped clock is right twice a day and all.

    That said, [face_whistling].

    Thank you all! The whole "texting" sequence was kind of a wacky, semi-last-minute idea, and it was immensely fun to play around with the concept of "text talk" in such a staid, regimented alien culture. And yes, balancing out the fantasy elements with some more sci-fi-ish elements was part of the idea too (ditto with the hoverbus, which is a preexisting GFFA term). That mix is something I find really cool about the entire SW universe in general, and it's been fun trying to get the proportions just right for this small, esoteric corner of that universe.

    To EP: I answered some of your questions via PM, but I'll give a brief recap here:

    Among other things, this whole incident is teaching Zuckuss that his caste (not at all a bad way of putting it) doesn't always give him precedence. Kind of a harsh object lesson for him, but perhaps one his mentors had in the back of their minds when they planned this assignment for him to begin with (as was commented on before by at least a few folks). Of course, they couldn't necessarily have predicted that it would take quite the form of being told off by one peasant and nearly bowled over by another! The next chapter will reflect briefly on this phenomenon too.

    The counterpart/contrast dynamic between Zuckuss and Viuraanvi and between their worlds wasn't originally a major theme in the story, but things kind of began to work out that way in the course of revising, and I've been running with it because it will add emphasis to other important things later on. ;)

    For all his foibles, he really is meant to have a good heart—as corny as that sounds. This is a moment where his impulsive streak is at work for good. (Though see below on Chyntuck's observation about the conversation with Lekli, which is an interesting and astute one.)

    The idea of the rundown temple isn't so much that the people of N'xid hate Findsmen; it's more meant to give the idea that there haven't been any Findsmen around N'xid for a while for one reason or another, and that as a result the people there are not used to them and thus are likely to react with morbid curiosity (in the case of the green-eyed child who kicks Zuckuss) or distrust (in the case of Lekli). Another hard lesson for our hero.

    1. They certainly could be doing that; I kind of imagine Governor Sylonn as a bit of a slumlord. But Sylonn's son really is puffing himself up more than he should, too—like Chyntuck so aptly said, being related to the governor of a place like N'xid is tantamount to being "the one-eyed man among the blind." (Zuckuss isn't the only Gand in this story with ego trouble!)

    As for anti-Emerald City, on a totally unrelated topic, this PC game is rather fun. ;)

    2. The plants are just plain old regular garden plants. Regular garden plants for Gand, that is. If the ammoniac atmosphere of this extremely alien world has such a huge effect on the physiology of the planet's main sentient species, why not on the plant life, too? Hence a dominant plant color other than green (among other things)—it's all just part of trying to keep things as alien as possible.

    3. Well, probably the same way Zuckuss did: she did something remarkable that happened to be noticed by the right people (e.g., a group of ruetsavii) at the right time. I actually have a few early chapter drafts and vignettes that describe such incidents from her early years, some of which may eventually appear here if things go well. ;)

    Yes, indeed she has, and [face_whistling].

    Now, I never quite thought of it that way, but you're absolutely right—Zuckuss did kind of bungle his conversation with the mother, didn't he? He's really out of his depth with this whole diplomacy thing at this point.

    Oh, this one is definite [face_whistling] at this point. But given [hl=black]what her family does for a living[/hl], you can perhaps imagine that [hl=black]this ability might be part of the reason her parents are so keen to keep her close at hand[/hl].

    Both the business with the housekey and the hiding of the colored scarf are that kind of obnoxious detail that I'm leaving up to the reader. The lack of the key certainly could be an example of parental micromanagement, but it could be out of necessity, too—perhaps there only are two keys, one for each parent, and it's too expensive or otherwise difficult to have a third made for the daughter. As for the scarf, the mother certainly could have insisted that her daughter hide for the very reasons you mention, but then the daughter could have chosen to hide it herself, given how much grief she gets about her gifts and status from her fellow children. (And the next chapter will indeed elaborate at least a bit on the usualness or unusualness of those gifts.)

    Oh gosh absolutely yes. Without a doubt. Though again, I can't say more than [face_whistling]. For now, though, I can at very least refer you all back to my response to Ewok Poet 's malafemmena observation in her chapter 9 review above.

    Thanks again, all, and may the Mists show you the way to your missing brains! :D
    Chyntuck and Kahara like this.
  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Edit: And how on earth did I manage to forget to thank Kahara for her wonderful beta-reading? My maximal bad! [face_blush]

    Chapter XI

    Silver-blue evening mists were beginning to roll in as Volokoss and Zuckuss walked together toward the spaceport of N'xid. The Findsmaster listened intently as his student told him all that had happened between the golden-eyed girl and the black-eyed boy at the marketplace. He continued by describing how he had escorted her home, his exchange with the mother, how the girl had been sent outside to dig the compost pile as punishment, and how the father had hurried in with the news of the market crash.

    “And is this all you have to report from your patrol, Apprentice Zuckuss?”

    “Yes, Findsmaster Volokoss. Zuckuss witnessed nothing else out of the ordinary in the northeastern quadrant of the marketplace.” It was perfectly true: he had deliberately omitted any mention of what the girl had done to the plant outside the glasshouse—for no other reason that he was not quite sure himself what she had done. And that, of course, had not been in any quadrant of the marketplace.

    Volokoss gave a clack with his middle mandibles that sounded half disappointed, half thoughtful. “Perhaps it is to be expected. N’xid is small and sparsely populated, and the warm season here will soon be coming to an end.”

    “But what about the child, Findsmaster Volokoss?”

    “What about her, Apprentice Zuckuss?”

    “Well, what do you make of her? So young, and yet she has a name . . .”

    “Oh, she is hardly the first child on Gand whose early intuitive talent has earned her a name.” He clicked cheerfully as he tapped his apprentice on the shoulder with one claw. “Certainly you of all people know that.”

    “But this—what did you say it was—this Rhak’zel vortex . . .”

    “Rhak’zel dust vortex attack,” Volokoss corrected him. “Well, yes, that is extremely unusual. It is not known to have been practiced by any Findsman sect for at least a thousand years.”

    “A thousand years!” All three layers of Zuckuss’s mandibles snapped open. “Then how in the Holy Madman’s name—”

    “In backrocket colonies like N’xid, ancient abilities like this one can sometimes be found lying dormant among the populace. That is how Bilocation was rediscovered, for example—which you will learn before your Second Evaluation. But if, as you say, ruetsavii have already visited the family and if the parents have already refused to let her be apprenticed, then there is little to be done about it. Yes, Volokoss knows what you are going to say.” He leaned close to Zuckuss and clacked. “It is indeed a shame. But the girl’s parents have the final say in this matter, and you must respect their decision. Especially if, as you say, they are poor and require her help in their garden.”

    “But such heavy work for such a small child—Zuckuss saw it all himself!” And he told Volokoss about how he had watched the girl from the garden wall and come down to help her with her task.

    “Oh, what a good and noble heart you have, Apprentice Zuckuss!” Volokoss exclaimed, rapping his knuckles on his student’s shoulder. “Yes, it is indeed sad to see parents treating their children so. But if the girl’s parents saw fit to discipline her in that way, then that is their own affair. You should not have intervened.”

    “Not have intervened! But Findsmaster Volokoss, is it not the duty of a Findsman to—”

    “Not when it contradicts a superior authority,” Volokoss countered.

    “But these are Seculars! Does not the authority of a Findsman—”

    “It does not,” Volokoss hissed. “They are still her parents, who bore her and raised her. Yes, you are a Findsman, but you are also merely some apprentice from a few colonies over who has never encountered them or their daughter before today. At the market you had been right to step in, since there had been none else with the authority to do so. But this child was working in the garden specifically on the instructions of her mother. Now, if she had suffered some kind of serious bodily harm in performing her work, you might have intervened in good conscience. But”—and here he tapped Zuckuss’s shoulder again—“Volokoss is not so sure that falling on one’s abdominal segment while lifting a garden spade qualifies as serious bodily harm.”

    “Yes, Findsmaster Volokoss. Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd offers apologies.” Zuckuss’s inner mandibles ground together in frustration even as he uttered these contrite words. Did not the girl’s apparently stunted growth—no doubt brought on by years of similar thankless garden chores—also qualify as bodily harm? But another part of him could not dispute the wisdom of what his teacher had said. What right had a lowly apprentice Findsman like himself, who had presented himself unbidden at the gardener family’s door, to meddle in their affairs? Certainly his concern for their daughter’s well-being could not be greater than theirs. And yet how could he not be concerned for the strange, fragile child who, after all, had recognized him from a vision in the Mists? These were the conflicting emotions that swirled in his mind like the evening fogs, which were growing thicker and thicker as Te’el-Viire-Gand crept closer to the horizon.

    But perhaps, he reflected, when finally the airspeeder carrying him and Volokoss pierced those mists—perhaps none of this mattered after all, for he was not likely to see any of them again.

    * * *

    Months passed as Zuckuss continued his training in the Lhúdanswani temple. His days, like those of the other fifteen or so apprentices training there, were filled with meditative exercises, study of ancient mystical texts and lore, martial arts training in small groups, and the morning and evening sanctuary devotions. Every few days the evening devotions concluded with a comprehensive inspection of all apprentices by the dean of the temple, the Findslady Luyen Dzi’kel. At night, like all the apprentices, Zuckuss occupied himself with his personal meditations and devotions, took a single light meal (but only if he felt actively hungry), and rested just long enough to regain his energy for the next day’s activities. At this rate, it would not be long—only a few more months—before he would be ready to undergo his First Evaluation in the Sacred Trade.

    From time to time this routine was interspersed with away missions of one sort or another, invariably supervised by Volokoss. These could be patrol missions, reconnaissance excursions, or supply runs, and were usually within R’Kalýma or to one of the closely neighboring colonies. One day he might be sent to the village on the colony’s southern edge to replenish the temple’s supply of lamp-incense or ritual ointments; another day his assignment might be to observe the migration patterns of the wildlife in the foothills of Mount Ryssh’kuun. He was even sent on another patrol to N’xid, but he did not end up doing much there: only complete his intuitive map of the town center, help a few citizens recover lost objects (though that chronomaker had certainly not needed a Findsman to recover his long-tipped pliers from his waste-flimsi receptacle, for fog’s sake), and settle a few minor squabbles among play-Hunting children. He saw various black-eyed younglings any of whom could have been the governor’s son, but he encountered none that could have been the golden-eyed gardener-girl. But it was not as though he had expected to see her in any case, since it was not a market day.

    One evening, about a week from the harvest-season holiday period, Zuckuss noticed that Findslady Luyen’s place was vacant at the evening devotion. Figuring that she was probably merely indisposed, he thought nothing of it until he entered his customary training room the next morning to see no sign of Volokoss either. It was only a moment later that he found himself thrown against the stone wall, his arms restrained by rough claws. The familiar, foul-smelling face of Findsmaster Okkfel Taagu hovered inches from his own.

    “Apprentice Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd,” Okkfel snarled, his outer mandibles grinding into a scowl. “You are late.”

    Zuckuss struggled in Okkfel’s grip, his antennae curling away from Okkfel’s face in disgust. He managed a hurried glance around the room: Volokoss was nowhere in sight. But as unpleasant as Okkfel was, Zuckuss knew better by now than to be cowed by him. With one graceful blocking motion he freed one arm.

    “Begging Your Mystical Honor’s pardon, but Zuckuss is not late.”

    Then, taking advantage of Okkfel’s closeness and inability to counter, Zuckuss struck him with full force in the lower thorax, knocking him backward onto the round meditation couch.

    “Not bad, Apprentice Zuckuss, not bad,” growled Okkfel as he lifted himself to his feet. “But once you have taken the Waters of Defense and grown your natural weaponry, do not even think of trying such a stunt. You may find yourself hauled before the Zigaatsavii for unpremeditated slaughter.”

    “Understood, Master Okkfel.” If anyone is to have the honor of being Zuckuss’s first kill, he thought to himself, it most certainly won’t be you, you scurvy old son of a trs’kak.

    “Good. Now begin.”

    Zuckuss bowed, seated himself, and began his customary opening Stillness of the Fog ritual. It was more difficult than usual to still his Inner Mists with Okkfel grumbling about his posture or straightening his back every few moments, but he managed at last, even earning a grunted “Fine, fine.” A lengthy series of routine meditative exercises followed, also interspersed liberally with hems, harrumphs, and posture adjustments. It was no small relief when Okkfel finally ordered him to stand up and perform the series of stretches that typically preceded combat training.

    Once Zuckuss had finished pulling on every joint of his arms and legs to loosen and condition them, he clasped his hands on his breast, coughed slightly, and asked the question that had been plaguing him since he had entered the room.

    “Findsmaster Okkfel,” he began. “If Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd might beg leave to ask where Findslady Luyen and Findsmaster Volokoss—”

    “What makes you think that is any concern of yours, apprentice?” came the snarled reply.

    “Apologies, Findsmaster Okkfel . . .” Zuckuss lowered his head. “Gand merely hopes that no harm or illness has befallen them.”

    “And if it has?” Okkfel snapped. “It is unseemly for an apprentice to meddle in the affairs of his masters. Now, Second Victorious Light.”

    “Yes, Findsmaster Okkfel.”

    “At your own pace. Begin.”

    Swallowing his frustration, Zuckuss inhaled and made the typical combat salute, bowing to Okkfel with his fists crossed over his breast. Then he began the familiar combat form. It lifted his spirits somewhat when he managed to make it through the opening sequence with only one adjustment from Okkfel (“Antennae up! Shoulders down!”). On he went through the stylized motions, now striking, now blocking, now maneuvering gracefully from one fighting pose to the next, coordinating every technique with an equally stylized pattern of breaths. But Second Victorious Light was a long form, requiring a great deal of energy. Zuckuss was not surprised to find his concentration dwindling by the time he had reached the thirtieth of fifty distinct movements, nor to see Okkfel’s bulky form, watching him from the meditation couch, blurring into an indistinct lump.

    What did surprise him was the tingling sensation he began to notice in his left hand, like tiny prickles under his chitin. He tried to ignore it, dismissing it as a momentary nerve crimp brought on by the elaborate motions of the form. But it grew in intensity with each move he made, creeping gradually upward to encompass his lower arm, then his arm, then his shoulder, then his entire left side, then his entire body. It became difficult to feel his own motions: he saw his limbs alternately lolling and thrashing in ways that had nothing to do with Second Victorious Light, and he was powerless to stop them.

    And Okkfel had clearly seen the same. He had leapt to his feet and was now restraining Zuckuss firmly by both arms, his claws digging into the cloth of his apprentice’s sleeves.

    “What in the name of fog and filth do you think you’re doing, Gand?!” he bellowed in Zuckuss’s face. “In what renegade outland sect is that Second Victorious Light?!”

    “Gand apologizes most humbly, Findsmaster Okkfel . . .” Zuckuss was trembling despite himself. “Gand suddenly went all . . . all tingly . . .”

    Tingly? What is this?!”

    “Gand does not know . . . his nerves, maybe . . .”

    “Nerves? Could it be . . .” Okkfel paused a moment and loosened his grip. His antennae curled inward as he glanced quickly up and down his student’s body. But just as quickly he grabbed him again.

    “Now no more of this,” he barked. “A true Lhúdanswani Findsman is not hindered by such things. Start again from the double Shielding Stroke.”

    “But Findsmaster Okkfel . . . please . . .” Zuckuss was shocked to hear himself utter such pleading words. It was as though the horrid tingling—which was still growing faster, fiercer, and more knifelike than pinlike with each passing moment—was speaking for him. Something was wrong in his body—he knew not what, but there had to be some way to get it across to Okkfel.

    And he had an idea how he might do so. It was crazy, but perhaps it would work . . .

    He reached forward and gripped Okkfel’s face with both hands, pinning the Findsmaster’s stubby palps beneath them. With a sudden, copious breath, before Okkfel could react, he channeled his Inner Mists through the tips of his fingers and released them in a single burst of energy. Okkfel flew backward against a bookcase.

    “By the—” It surprised Zuckuss to hear that Okkfel’s exclamation was more perplexed than angry. “So it is . . . Sit, Apprentice Zuckuss, and let Taagu examine you for a moment.”

    Wordlessly Zuckuss staggered to the meditation couch and slumped onto it, feeling weak and sapped but not knowing why. Okkfel came over to him and touched each of his palps and antennae.

    “Right or left side?” he asked.


    Okkfel took Zuckuss’s left hand in his, slid a finger between the plates of his wrist, and held it there for several seconds.

    “Apprentice Zuckuss,” he grunted at last as he released his student’s hand. “Someone has placed a Findsman’s Mark on you.”

    On Te’el-Viire-Gand, the Waters of Defense, natural weaponry, and the Zigaatsavii, see my main fanon post on Gand Findsman techniques and terminology.

    I make reference to Bilocation, which was a brainchild of my friend Beedo, in this fanon thread response and hope to add it to my main list of Gand techniques soon.

    The combat form Second Victorious Light and the trs’kak (which was first conceptualized by the Findshusband and named by Beedo) are my own creations but are not in my fanon post yet. In particular, trs’kak will be added as soon as [hl=black]one actually appears in the story[/hl]. ;)

    Findsman’s Mark is the creation of the inimitable Gamiel and is described in this fanon post. I thank him kindly for giving me his permission to include it in this story.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating =D= =D= First the talk about the incident with the youong would/should be apprentice [face_thinking] and then the whole thing with Ockfel - and the tingling. And where did the two Masters disappear to?
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  13. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    I was feeling uneasy upon reading this chapter. One can just see that trouble is lurking somewhere in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to strike. And it seems that everybody involved is aware of it, too. Since they're Force-sensitives, it hardly comes as a surprise.

    he had deliberately omitted any mention of what the girl had done to the plant outside the glasshouse—for no other reason that that he was not quite sure himself what she had done.

    Since I didn't figure it out either...brb, banging my head against the wall. :p If Zuckuss doesn't know, who knows?

    With the abilities such as Rhak’zel dust vortex attack having been dormant among the populace, my first thought is that this girl was trained in Findsmen skills already, somewhere, somehow.

    The ways of the Findsmen are interesting - on one side, there is the status quo approach to somebody else's decision, in this case the girl's parents', and on the other, there is the idea of not taking the child to be trained, which is the complete opposite of what the old Jedi order was doing. It doesn't end up...

    [hl=black]So, at this point, I wonder if this girl is a part of the prophecy about The Uncanny One![/hl]


    And then there is Okkfel again and once again, he's being all sorts of threatening, aggressive and annoying. He should hang out with the Head elder Kazak. Once again, it's hard to draw the line, since we all side with Zuckuss; but there has got to be something fishy going on with Volokoss and Luyen not being the same time when it has been discovered that somebody has placed a mark on Zuckuss. This is serious. And scary.

    I would like to know more about these combat forms, because I am having a hard time picturing them in my head.
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  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you both for the comments. @};-

    Thanks! This is an example of a spot where I tried to make things as different from the Old Jedi Order as possible, and I'm not quite sure how successful I was. The ideal of absolute, unconditional deference to a higher authority figure—whosoever that may be in the particular context, and it can of course vary from context to context—seemed appropriate for the highly strictured and hierarchical Gand society.

    That said, I also see Volokoss as being somewhat conflicted here. As an essentially caring sort of person at heart, he admits that Zuckuss has a point in being concerned for the girl and for the development of her abilities. But he also has to instill in his student the proper respect for authority. (This is, of course, not the sort of thing an uncaring teacher like Okkfel would be concerned about.)

    Ah, now, that will be answered in just a few more chapters. :D

    Wow, I never thought about it before, but you're right—those two are really and truly birds of a feather, aren't they! I could totally see them being crusty together over some kind of stiff, old-school cocktail at one of those stiff, old-school social clubs. [face_laugh] Interestingly, Volokoss and Logray kind of ended up as birds of a feather in the same way.

    Here, too, more will be revealed in the next few chapters. :D

    That will be revealed too, though a good bit later on in the story.

    At the risk of being a Johnny One-Note, my response to this and what you highlighted in black is "[face_whistling]."

    They're basically kata: ordered sequences of movements, each of which or each shorter sequence of which has some kind of martial application. In fact, the word kata in the SW universe to mean this very thing in Jedi milieux; it doesn't seem to have its own Wook entry, but if you search it there you will see it coming up in several articles. In another example of my constant angsting over the right words to use in the GFFA, I've deliberately avoided using the term kata in this story, since in the GFFA it seems to be associated particularly with the Jedi.

    Thanks once again! :)
  15. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Nice showing more about the teaching but what is happening to Zuckuss[face_praying]
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  16. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Jun 30, 2015
    Chapter I...

    The necessarily unique use of pronouns and names must take a lot of discipline on your part, but it paid off. This was a fascinating read overall, even for someone (like me) who started with little real interest in the Gand species or culture.

    The son of Fengor and Otila displayed believable cleverness in his scheme, and his intuition is to be admired. That group of his Gand peers were dumb, or gullible at best.

    You know, a game of capture-the-quarry or hide-and-seek in that location would be fun for most adult humans. And it was fun to read here, even if it was damn short. It makes me look forward to when we see true Findsmen at their work later.

    Also, that must be one heck of a porn stash in Trynfor's Vault. Seriously, though, what's in there? Must not skip ahead.
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  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    earlybird-obi-wan, good to see you back. :) What's happened to him is simply [hl=black]what Okkfel said: he's had this mark placed on him[/hl]. But you'll find out more about what's behind it in the next few chapters.

    metophlus, welcome, and it's good to see you here! :) The whole names and pronouns business definitely is a unique challenge of writing this particular species, and I'm doing my best to follow the established conventions (of which you can see a summary under "Society and Culture" in the Wokieepedia Gand article. It makes a lot of basic writing tasks harder and puts several very ordinary turns of phrase are off-limits, but it's been a fun challenge so far all the same. One of my music teachers long ago used to emphasize the value of being creative even under strict limits and rules, and maybe is this is one place where that rubbed off on me a bit. :p

    Yes, I agree it would be rather fun to go out hunting with and for one's friends in a nice, bustling urban marketplace. If us TFN fanfic folks are ever all together in one place, I suppose we could give it a try. :p And of course there will be many opportunities throughout the story to see true Findsmen at work.

    The contents of Trynfor's Vault won't be revealed for quite a while in the story (though there are other very good reasons at this point not to read ahead ;) ). I can tell you right now, though, that there's definitely nothing of that kind in there. :p

    Thanks again for reading and commenting. @};-
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  18. Kahara

    Kahara Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    On re-reading, I'm now wondering whether Volokoss expected him to notice something else out of place. [face_thinking] All these open-ended tests! :p

    Indeed, and I think that may not be all that these two have in common. It will be interesting to see how Viurranvi is involved in all of this.

    Although Viurranvi's use of this power seems purely instinctive -- it does make one wonder whether she saw/heard/sensed something at one point that could have inspired her use of the Dust Vortex. [face_thinking] Sometimes things get into your subconscious. In any case, it certainly seems to indicate a power that isn't going to go away. Her remaining untrained and unsupervised except for her mother's bullying sounds like a recipe for disaster -- but I can sort of see where Volokoss is coming from, having seen the other extreme with the Old Republic Jedi. Valuing the claims of family is not necessarily a bad thing. But in cases like this, I worry that that too will lead to tragedy. I guess it's one of those "all things in moderation" things.

    As much as I'm not sure he's entirely right here (Zuckuss has a point about long-term harm, both physical and mental), Volokoss is a very effective mentor in this scene. I like that he cares about teaching his apprentice to respect all levels of their society -- something that has to be fundamental if that society is to function at all, given how important the Findsmen seem to be in keeping things together. They have to be bound by their own rules or there's a big potential for corruption.
    And of course, I think that Zuckuss will be seeing the girl again at some point. Though we'll have to wait and see whether it will be any time soon.
    The description of Zuckuss's further training has a nice, "authentic" (well, you know, for this fictional culture!) feel, and it was interesting to see how intensely meditative and reflective the apprentice's activities are at the later stages of training, even while they're also doing martial arts training and tests. The meditation and fasting with minimal sleep seems to recall a lot of Earth traditions that mesh really well with the Findsmen.
    [face_laugh] Loved the lost pliers -- reminds me of how tech support always has you check that things are plugged in first.

    And the later part is very mysterious. We still don't know where Volokoss and Luyen have gotten to. And while Okkfel seems almost to be using the situation to his own ends at the beginning, he's also genuinely perplexed when Zuckuss turns up with a Findsman's Mark. Now who would or could place that on Zuckuss (I doubt that it can just be done to an apprentice on a whim!) and why on Gand would they do so? And what does it mean? [face_thinking]

  19. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks, as always, Kahara! And I've said it before, but I'll say it again—thanks for being such a fantastic beta, too. @};-

    Well, perhaps. :D But that kind of open-ended teaching is also extremely effective teaching to make sure the student is absolutely and 100% sure of him- or herself when he or she says things like "that's all I have to report," since that helps the student have confidence in him- or herself and not always have to look to the teacher to tell if they were "right or wrong." (Of course, I'm sure you see where that can be a very difficult balance to maintain in a culture like that of the Gand that places such stress on humility and authority.)

    Indeed, I think [hl=black]you are right[/hl]. You shall see... :D

    I hope Ewok Poet doesn't mind if I requote this part of her review and put it into dialogue with yours, since you've both picked up on something similar, and it's a good sign to me as a writer when my readers pick up on similar things! :D I can't say a lot about the exact details of this at the moment, but you're right that the power isn't going to go away—what it mainly needs at the moment is to be refined, controlled, cultivated.

    It's a difficult case, isn't it? Because, as Nyota's Heart said a chapter or so back, this kind of raw talent is likely to explode in unexpected ways if not channeled properly. Yet as crusty as Viurraanvi's mother is, my intention is that she's completely sincere about the need for her daughter's help in the garden. She's not just being selfish there—she really does see her daughter's continued garden work as the best thing for her and for the family. Of course, it could be said that there's something blinkered in that attitude too. [face_thinking] But just wait and see how it turns out. ;)

    Oh, absolutely. I always saw the Findsmen as being not just some little peripheral sect but rather as playing the leading role in keeping order planetwide and in keeping Gand society together on both physical and spiritual levels. As I've said before, they're both police and clergy. A society that's so complex and strictly organized needs such a ordering force, and it stands to reason that a Findsmaster would inculcate such values of order in his student from a fairly early stage.

    Now that, of course, doesn't alter the fact that Volokoss is not entirely right here, because I agree that leaving a talent like this one untrained could be a disaster later (and certainly he realizes that too, but feels like perhaps he's not the one to fix it). Again, see how it works out. ;)

    Do wait and see, indeed. ;) [/Johnny One-Note]

    Ah, now, much of that is also to do with the differences in basic physiology between Gands and most oxygen-breathing citizens of the Galaxy. It's established in official sources that the Gand need much less sleep than Humans and can even "store sleep" to keep themselves from losing consciousness later (see the Wook article under "Biology and Appearance"), so the minimal sleep the apprentices get is in the interest of honing that ability. Also, part of the fanon about Gands that I developed with Beedo, based on the biology of Earth insects, is that they have a very efficient metabolism and don't need to eat as much or as often as Humans do to begin with. (Beedo even suggested at one point that they metabolize about ninety-something percent of the nutrients from what they ingest.)

    Actually, this is leading me to realize that it's their very biology that makes them such a good fit for these intensely meditative pursuits! This is why I just love my readers. Thank you. :cool:

    Thanks! Like the "txt talk" in the previous chapter, this was just something I added as a fun afterthought, perhaps with an eye to inspiring a crack!vignette later. Though I will say, however, that the last time I lost my own jeweler's pliers, I wish I had had the help of a Findsman, because that way I might not have ended up buying a whole new second pair before finding the pair I'd originally lost. :oops: If that makes sense.

    Ah, now, [face_whistling]. But you're right that we are indeed meant to see a bit of Okkfel's "better self" coming through here, precisely because it's such an unusual situation. It's not usually apprentices who get Marks of this sort placed on them. The next few chapters will reveal more about what's happened and at the hands of whom. (Dunh dunh DUNNNNHH!)
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  20. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Jun 30, 2015
    II & III:

    Fengor has serious anger issues. He's probably acting a cross old thing because he fears for his "nameless infant", but damn. I hope the young one spends a lot of time away from his father while training with the Findsmen so he can gain some self-esteem.

    The youngin's vision of Intuition's Hand was an exciting turn. The descriptions of the Great Temple were intoxicating, and the reader feels a sense of magnitude and power there at the end.

    *salutes and bows*
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  21. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks again for reading and commenting. :)

    Oh yes, Fengor's cup runneth over with issues. And indeed part of him does fear for his younger son, but a larger part fears for himself—and you will see that fear manifest itself in spades in chapter five.

    His son will definitely end up getting some much-needed time apart from him during his training, as you'll see. It will be a good thing for him, but it of course won't mean the end of his own issues.

    Aw, shucks, thanks (salutes and bows back). :) I had a ball writing the descriptions of the temples and outfits and rituals and things of that sort in this story—it's the sort of thing that I can easily get carried away with if I don't keep myself in check. :D Given that the protagonist is a child at this point, almost overwhelming magnitude is indeed what I'm going for, because that's so often exactly how a child will react to a place and a situation like this. And there will be more—it kind of ended up being a theme pervading all of my part one.
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  22. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Let me start by saying that "for fog's sake" is an expression I might consider using in RL from now on [face_laugh]

    What I particularly enjoyed about this last chapter is the contrast between Volokoss and Okkfel's approach to teaching. I doubt that Zuckuss's gallantry would have earned him any compliments from the latter...

    Also interesting is the fact that Zuckuss didn't mention the reviving of the dry leaves on the trip back to the temple. It's a small detail but I suspect it will somehow matter at some point.

    And then, the two masters disappear, and then yay, Fanon Thread! The side-effects of the Findsman's Mark sound quite unpleasant, but of course what I really want to know is 1. who cast the spell and why, and 2. if it has anything to do with the masters being absent. Waiting for the next instalment now! [face_nail_biting]

    PS: As you can see, the Mists haven't been very helpful in assisting Gand recover her brain. She left this disjointed review for now but she is hoping to be back soon.
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  23. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Jun 30, 2015
    IV. . .

    Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd must have a lot of mental stamina to endure so many riddles followed by the extra-sensory test. He pushed through the tension to the end and provided strong evidence in support of him being the Uncanny One. He summoned the long-hidden musical tune from the Mists, which would impress the likes of any Jedi Master. Thooough. . . a skeptic might ask how much information he subconsciously gleaned from Stavrien and Ussar's real-time thoughts.

    You raised even more questions yet still kept me hooked! I speculate that the Gand interact with the mystical energy field(s) of the galaxy in ways unique to their species, or else rarely seen elsewhere.


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  24. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you both for reading and commenting. @};-

    An interesting point; that's one of those things I'm kind of leaving up to the reader to decide. But perhaps the very ability to glean such information from his examiners' thoughts is yet another aspect of the talent of the Mists. [face_thinking] Also, even if Stavrien and Ussar knew the background of the ancient tune and the facts about it, they don't necessarily know how to sing it or whistle it right off the bat, as Ussar's attempt shows.

    Thanks! I admit that I have never actually tried to work out the exact mechanics of how the Gand are able to sense what they sense, but I could certainly imagine such things being species-specific and very dependent upon their rather unique physiology.

    Oops, good catch! I've just gone and fixed that so that the second one is "He clenched his eyes tighter." Thanks for catching that. :)

    I would be most honored! :D And let me say how thrilled I am to see you back. [:D]

    Indeed not. But remember that Volokoss's "noble heart" comment is slightly backhanded in its way, too: he says that right before telling Zuckuss he shouldn't have intervened and helped the girl dig the compost pile.

    That ability is indeed something that will matter much later on. It could also be argued that part of why Zuckuss doesn't mention it to Volokoss is precisely because he has some small inkling that it's something that will matter—indeed, perhaps that it must matter somehow more than the dust vortex attack that he did tell his master about. But he also is just plain bewildered about it, too.

    And how could I not? What an incredible resource, and I know I have you to thank for a large part of its existence. @};-

    At least some of that will be cleared up, or start to be cleared up, in the next chapter. Watch this space—I hope to have it up in a few days, barring all catastrophe.

    No worries at all. Again, just seeing you here again is a huge joy for me. :)
  25. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    And here is the next chapter, which hopefully will begin to answer some of the questions raised about the previous chapter. Thanks, as always, to Kahara for beta-reading. @};-

    Chapter XII

    The strange tingling of the Findsman’s Mark returned to Zuckuss off and on in the days that followed. Sometimes he would go almost an entire day without feeling it. At other times it was so severe that it hampered his concentration and hindered his movement. If it caught him by surprise in the middle of a meditation or form, it invariably knocked him into the same strange fit of twitching and flailing as before. To Zuckuss’s chagrin, this had already happened more than once during his daily training sessions, which were still administered by the irascible Okkfel. Volokoss was still inexplicably absent, and Luyen’s place at the sanctuary devotions remained empty. And Okkfel said no more about the Mark beyond asking in a perfunctory manner after his student’s health at the beginning of lessons, invariably cutting him off before he could give anything more than a brief response.

    It was not as though Zuckuss had never heard of the Findsman’s Mark before. The placing of a Mist-traceable mark on a being or thing one wished to find later was a well-known and time-honored technique in the Sacred Trade—one that Zuckuss would eventually learn closer to the time of his First Evaluation. Naturally he wondered who might have placed this mark on him, and why. Such Marks were always transmitted by physical contact, but the only beings with whom he regularly had such contact were Okkfel and the apprentices who trained with him in the combat arts. None of the latter had learned the technique yet, since none of them had yet had a First Evaluation. And why would Okkfel need to trace his student’s location in the Mists when he saw him every day as a matter of course? Volokoss, too, would have had ample opportunities to place such a mark on Zuckuss before making his mysterious departure. Yet even that seemed unnecessary. Even away from the temple, Volokoss would certainly have no doubt of his student’s whereabouts: he would be either pursuing his studies at the temple or at home in Rhaguin during holiday periods.

    Who, then, could it have been? With each passing day, and with each irksome tingling twinge, Zuckuss’s curiosity grew.

    It was well known, of course, that there were ways of tracing a Findsman’s Mark back through the Mists to the being who had placed it. Those skills were typically not taught until much later in a Findsman’s apprenticeship, around the time of the Second Evaluation, and they were rumored to be quite difficult. But Zuckuss did not care. He took to spending his evening rest intervals in the temple library, where he pored through tome after tome, holocube after holocube, reading all he could about the advanced techniques required for tracing a Mark and taking extensive notes on his datapad. Then he would return to his room and try them out for himself for as long as he could without completely neglecting his prescribed readings and exercises.

    So far his efforts had earned him nothing but fatigue and frustration. Because the luminous thread traced by the Mark through the Mists was so thin as to be nearly imperceptible, the new methods obliged him to move the Mists through his consciousness at a much more minutely controlled rate than he was currently accustomed: “more like meal through a sieve than water through a funnel,” as one source put it. He could not keep them up for long before becoming quite tired, with little energy left for his daytime studies. Nor did it help that the only library sources accessible to apprentices—none of which were more than a few decades old—were often vague or contradictory in their descriptions. Naturally he dared say nothing of his researches to Okkfel, though he suspected the cantankerous Findsmaster could sense his fatigue.

    But in just a few days the harvest-season holiday period would begin, and he would return home to Rhaguin. There he would have his parents’ thousand-year-old library at his disposal, and time to ponder and practice undisturbed. Nothing—at least for those few days—would stop him from doing all he could to trace his mysterious Mark.

    And if his father presumed to scold his son poking around in his ancient books—which of course he would—Zuckuss would merely say he was supplementing his studies of the Sacred Trade. It was perfectly true.

    * * *

    Evening was falling when the transport shuttle deposited Zuckuss outside his family’s residence in Rhaguin. The tall, domed house was completely dark save for a few red plasmogen security lamps placed here and there along its perimeter. Zuckuss peered into the attached hangar bay; neither the airspeeder nor Guardian’s Glory was there. Twitching his travel satchel on his shoulders, Zuckuss ascended the circular stone steps to the front door, which he unlocked with a keycard from his pocket.

    Inside, as well, all was dark. No one was there except a housekeeping droid that occasionally whirred past to dust or sweep. Zuckuss could find no indication of his parents’ whereabouts, either in the house or on his comlink. No doubt they, like Volokoss, had been called away on assignments of some kind; that was simply the a reality of a Findsman’s life, after all. At least this meant more time for Zuckuss to devote to his researches on the Findsman’s Mark. The more of that research he could accomplish in his father’s absence, the better.

    After depositing his travel satchel in his old room and retrieving his datapad, Zuckuss headed to the library. He browsed through the tall shelves, pulling down as many likely-looking volumes and holocubes as he could. These he took to the large desk at one end of the room that was one of Fengor Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd’s favorite haunts, adding them to the precarious piles of books and parchments that were already there. Then he seated himself in the capacious desk chair, kicked off his boots, opened his robes and tunic, placed his clawed feet up on the desk, and continued the intense study of the Findsman’s Mark that he had begun back in the Lhúdanswani temple.

    For the next two days Zuckuss barely left the library. He would sit for hours at a time at his father’s desk studying the ancient texts and taking notes. Then he would move to the richly cushioned and curtained meditation couch in the corner of the room to try out his new techniques, sometimes with a book beside him. After that he would return to the desk and study some more, then move to the couch and meditate some more, and so on. Now and then the tingling sensation recurred, and the constant meditative exertions continued to exhaust him physically and mentally. But it hardly seemed to matter, for he felt he was finally beginning to make some progress. The old sources had described the Mark as a fine, glowing thread leading through the Mists from the marked one to the marker, and Zuckuss was beginning to see that thread at last in his meditations, bound around his left hand and leading off into a turbid, foggy distance. Occasionally the mists would part for a moment, and the thread would blossom into some luminous but indistinct shape that could be a being, a building, or an object. But whatever it was, it was always speedily engulfed again before Zuckuss could identify it. All the while, the house remained quiet; Zuckuss saw and heard no other being besides the housekeeping droid.

    On the third day, while Zuckuss was leaning back in his father’s desk chair, his feet up on a pile of parchment notebooks and a five-hundred-year-old holocube open in his lap, he heard the library door open. A figure in Findsman’s attire entered the room—his brother, Gorruss, who jumped in surprise when he noticed that the desk was occupied.

    “Father! You’re back already?!”

    “Use your eyes, Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd!” Zuckuss clicked his mandibles open and closed in amusement as he clapped the holocube shut. “This isn’t Father—this is your little brother, Zuckuss!”

    “So it is,” remarked Gorruss, coming closer. “Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd indeed for not noticing. It is good to see you again, little brother. But you should watch yourself.” He flicked his claws good-naturedly against the brown chitin of his brother’s bare feet. “Father would exoskeletonize you if he caught you here poking around in his first-edition Mirror of the Mist-Born Light with your big dirty feet up on his field journals.”

    “He has no right to complain,” retorted Zuckuss, thrusting the holocube back among the documents and tomes on the desk. “Zuckuss is doing nothing that Father has not done himself many times before. But it is good to see you again as well, brother Findsman Gorruss.”

    He rose. The two brothers exchanged a brief embrace, brushing their antennae together. Then Zuckuss seated himself back in the desk chair, and Gorruss on an upholstered footstool near the desk.

    “So,” he began, “what brings the young Trynfor of the Lhúdanswani temple back to his ancestral home?”

    “The harvest-season period, of course,” came the reply. “What else?”

    “Well, obviously. But Gorruss would be telling a falsehood if he said he didn’t wonder why in the name of the Holy Madman’s boot buckles you are spending your holiday curled up with Father’s old books.”

    Zuckuss gave a few clacks of hesitation. His left hand was tingling again; he tried to ignore it. “He is merely . . . trying to get an early start on his First Evaluation studies.” Quickly he changed the subject. “Where are Mother and Father?”

    “Mother was just called away as a ruetsa’iiv to one of those tiny little northern colonies; Gorruss can’t remember which one. She commed him on his way over here and asked him to tell you if he saw you.” He paused and inhaled. “As for Father, he’s at the Great Temple again.”

    “What do you mean, again?”

    “He has been spending most of his time there since you began your apprenticeship, little brother. Anyway, he commed Gorruss a few days ago to tell him he would be there this entire week.”

    Zuckuss lowered his head and tapped his claws together thoughtfully. Of course it did not surprise him that his father would inform only his older son of his whereabouts, or that he would deliberately avoid his younger son during the holiday period. As one of the chief ruetsavii, Fengor went often to the Great Temple, either to meditate in the mystically charged environment of the Guardian’s Quarters or to confer with the Council of Elders or his fellow ruetsavii. But it usually had never been for more than a day at a time.

    “What does he do there?”

    “Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd has no idea,” sighed Gorruss. “He probably locks himself in the Guardian’s Quarters and broods on this and that.”

    Zuckuss’s voice became defensive. “‘This and that’ nothing. It is Zuckuss”—he tapped his own chest—“that he broods on, isn’t it?”

    “Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd supposes it could be, but—”

    “Because Zuckuss is the Uncanny One, right?”

    “Now, brother, really—”

    “So why in the name of fog and blood does Father keep getting his cerci in a knot about the Uncanny One?!” Zuckuss clenched his fists in frustration. It made the tingling worse, but he didn’t care. “It is part of Trynfor’s prophecy, for fog’s sake. It always has been. All of the Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd have known that since the time of Zukfel. Really, what does Father think will happen to him if the Uncanny One turns out to be his own son?!

    “Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd keeps forgetting that Father never explained all this to you,” Gorruss clacked apologetically. “That’s exactly it, brother. The Uncanny One will reveal Trynfor’s Treasure to all of Gand. Once he does, the Treasure will be bonded to him alone. Which means”—he leaned forward and punctuated each his words with a tap on his brother’s arm—“there will be no more need for a Guardian of the Vault, now or ever. Certainly you can see why that would not please Father.”

    “But what about you, brother Findsman Gorruss?” The name and title were uttered in almost a sneer. “Does it not trouble you to think that you will never be the Guardian yourself, all because of this upstart little brother of yours?”

    Gorruss erupted in cheerful clicks. “Not in the least! Gorruss has never cared about that. Doesn’t a Findsman have enough to do without guarding trinkets in rusty old vaults? It’s probably nothing but an old pocket chronometer. Or perhaps a pair of cuff clips.” He paused. “Say, brother, if you’re the Uncanny One, aren’t you supposed to—”

    “NO! HE DOES NOT!” Zuckuss sprang from the chair, clattering his mandibles angrily. Then just as suddenly, he suddenly sank back into the chair and exhaled. “Some Uncanny One this Gand is.”

    They sat in silence for a few moments, Gorruss looking at Zuckuss and Zuckuss looking down at his hands as he fidgeted with them, trying unsuccessfully to quell the stubborn residual prickles of the Mark. At last he shuffled back into his boots and stood up.

    “Perhaps Gand had better go make himself a nice samovar of djelatha. Would you like any, brother?”

    “No, gracious thanks. Gorruss is more a Madman’s Tears type. Perhaps, if you feel so inclined, you could fetch him a small bottle of Triaanvi while you’re down in the cellar getting the djelatha things. You’ll need the key to the cold-cave, of course.” He pulled a small metal key from one of his inner pockets and reached it over to his brother.

    Zuckuss snatched up the key. “Of course, brother Findsman Gorruss,” he replied, stepping back and bowing to his brother in an exaggerated manner. “Just as Father so often says: ‘let youth and fire submit themselves to age and accomplishment.’”

    * * *

    Zuckuss thrust Gorruss’s key into a pocket as he descended to the cellar. It felt almost strange to be going there merely to fetch djelatha and Madman’s Tears. Almost every time he had been to the basement as a child had been as punishment. His father used to send him and his brother there to clean the trash-compactor filter or scrub the mineral deposits from the sewage processor if he caught them sneaking quaag from the kitchen or hunting gear from the supply closets. Gorruss used to half regale, half spook his younger brother with stories of the tentacled, child-eating monsters that lurked in the musty shadows—monsters that would grab him and suck the very flesh from under his exoskeleton plates if he cried or complained. Zuckuss could not help but pause on the step and feel for his utility blade as he remembered these tall tales from the past. Then he reminded himself that he was now an adult and a Findsman, and continued on his way.

    A wooden door opposite the stairs led him to the herb storage and preparation room. Dried herbs, flowers, and roots of all colors and descriptions hung from the ceiling above a stone counter. Others were piled in cabinets alongside an assortment of phials, bowls, infusers, strainers, tongs, and various other accessories, and those that needed to stay moist were stored in the hydroponic refrigeration unit along one wall. Zuckuss unhooked a bundle of reddish leaves from the ceiling, then fetched a mesh bag of white-pink flowers from the refrigeration unit. From a covered tray on the shelf above the work surface, he took the cylindrical metal samovar that belonged to his mother’s ceremonial djelatha service, which his family had used as long as he could remember to prepare what was known as “the brew of peace and serenity.”

    Rolling his three layers of sleeves up to his elbows, he filled the samovar from two spigots on the wall and ignited its chemoelectric heating element. Then he scraped off a few of the dried red leaves and ground them in a small stone mortar. Zuckuss added a few of the white-pink flowers to the mortar and pressed them gently into the mixture of ground leaves, then emptied the whole into a spherical wire-mesh infuser. Once tiny gurgles from the samovar announced that it was boiling, he dropped in the infuser, then lowered the heating element to the minimum setting. It would take several minutes for the flavors of the djel leaves and flowers to interpenetrate and infuse into the ammonia-water mixture.

    In the meantime, Zuckuss rolled down his sleeves and descended a short flight of stairs to a metal door. He unlocked it with Gorruss’s key. This was the first time he had ever been to his family’s cold-cave—he and his brother had never been allowed in there as children, and it was always kept locked. Not only were all medicines and intoxicants stored there, but it was also rumored (by Gorruss, of course) to be home to the nastiest and slimiest tentacled monsters in the entire cellar.

    Of course there were no such things there at all. The cold-cave was a small, circular, and perfectly silent room of black stone, its walls lined with bottles, flasks, and phials of every imaginable kind. One of the middle shelves contained several round, long-necked bottles containing light aqua liquid. Zuckuss was about to take one of them down when his eyes fell on a different bottle, sitting in the back corner of the shelf, that was much larger and older-looking than the others and bore several old-fashioned wax seals around its neck.

    Zuckuss lifted it down and looked at it. He was not sure why, for it was not what Gorruss had asked for—he had wanted one of the smaller bottles of Triaanvi, and this was Rhak’táan Ancient Reserve. Rhak’táan was one of Gand’s oldest and most prestigious distilleries, and it was said—though no one knew how rightly—that their Ancient Reserve blend of Madman’s Tears contained real tears from the all-seeing golden eyes of Trynfor the Mad. The glass was coated with a thin layer of mixed condensation and dust. It was cold to the touch and made the sensory setae of Zuckuss’s fingers bristle.

    Just then the Mark began to tingle in Zuckuss’s left hand, causing it to tremble and twitch. As it did, the bottle shook, and countless flakes of filmy dark-indigo sediment danced in the light of equally countless tiny bubbles. Zuckuss tried to steady himself with his other hand, but the tingling only grew stronger, the shaking more uncontrollable.

    He doubled over, clinging to the bottle with both arms to keep it from falling and breaking. But just then some unseen force wrenched his left hand from the bottle and twisted it violently, forcing him downward. A shrieked curse escaped him as his knees hit the stone floor full force. And the curse metamorphosed into a yelp of fear.

    The bottle was safe, but it now glowed blue-golden with the glittering of millions of furiously swirling bubbles. In their light Zuckuss could see the luminous bond of the Mark on his left hand. But it was not the fine thread of which the ancient writings had spoken. It was thick cords of golden light that bound his entire lower arm—thick cords that crackled with angry electricity against his struggling . . .

    . . . before pulling him against his will into the rushing, crashing, and whirling of the blue-golden vortex.

    Then, as suddenly as it had engulfed him, the vortex calmed and solidified into shapes. They were not the glowing, indeterminate shapes that had so often frustrated his earlier attempts to track the Mark, but rather the clear, recognizable shapes of places he had been before.

    And the bright trace of the Mark wound its way through them: from a hoverbus shelter to a humble cottage . . . around the side of the cottage . . . through the chinks of a garden wall . . . weaving and coiling amid curling foliage . . . all before flaring upward into a golden blaze—

    —in the palm of a small, outstretched hand.

    And then all went dark: the bottle, the room, Zuckuss’s own eyes.

    * * *

    “What’s the matter with you, brother?! In the name of the Mists, speak!”

    Zuckuss opened his eyes. He was sprawled on his side, and Gorruss was crouched over him, gripping his shoulders and shaking him. The bottle of Rhak’táan Ancient Reserve lay on its side, unbroken, its contents clear and blue once again. Gorruss started to help his brother up, but Zuckuss shook himself free of his grip and sprang to his feet.

    “Gorruss. Did you bring your airspeeder here?”

    “Yes, but why—”

    “Zuckuss must borrow it.”

    Borrow it? Why in the—”

    “Zuckuss will explain later. He may not tarry now. Please let Zuckuss borrow your airspeeder.”

    “But at least go pour your djelatha before it turns—”

    Zuckuss lunged at his brother, grabbing the collar of his robes as his triple-layered mandibles ground angrily.

    “Give Zuckuss your airspeeder keycard now!

    “Fine, fine!” Gorruss pulled free of his brother’s grip and drew a small metallic keycard from an inner pocket with a trembling hand. “Here! But woe betide you if Gorruss finds the smallest scratch on his new enamelplate!”

    Zuckuss snatched the keycard, hurried out of the cold-cave, and clumped up the stairs with a hasty “Thank you graciously, brother Findsman Gorruss!” and nary a look back at the brother addressed.

    Gorruss ran up after, only to find his brother already gone. He positioned himself by the front window and stood watching. After several minutes, he saw a sleek bronze airspeeder shoot past and disappear into the misty night.

    Young Trynfor the Mad indeed, he thought to himself. With an emphasis on “mad.”

    Once again, I am indebted to Gamiel for Findsman's Mark; the post in which he describes it is here (under the heading "Fanon regarding canon traditions").

    On quaag, djelatha, and Madman's Tears, which are my creations, see my fanon post on Gand food and beverages.