Fractal Myth

The Moth's Footprints: Episode One.

[Michelle Whitehead ©2004]

'The Moth's Footprints' is a classic fantasy adventure in the style of David Eddings. These monthly episodes were written between May and September, 2004. They include comments and suggestions from my sister, who is helping me in the creation of this story.

Comments by Michelle (me).

Comments by Stephanie (my sister).

26 May 2004.

Noticing that I was floundering in a fictional flurry, a little bird offered some sisterly assistance:

Moth got burned? Oh well - want me to help? how about I ask you questions about her and her world? Then once you have all that information you may have somewhere to go :) how bout it? I could give you a question a day. Let's start with our hero's world - what is the climate like?

Mist billowed around the cottage in a damp blanket, deadening all sounds except the ceaselessly dripping trees. Moth wished that it would rain properly for once. She vaguely remembered terrifying storms from her childhood. Fierce winds that tore through the forest in a raging surf of air, blinding arrows of lightning striking trees with savage intensity, thunder so loud that it sent her scurrying for the relative safety of the straw pallet she shared with her soundly-sleeping sister. The next morning the world would be washed clean and fresh, the sunshine raising clouds of steam from the compost piles on the edge of the farmyard. Moth sighed. It had been ages since she had seen proper sunshine. She didn't think she would ever feel warm again. Not in this strange valley where the perpetual mist never lifted, where everything smelled of mould, where the sun was only a dim memory, left behind at the mountain pass.

27 May 2004.

What does her cottage look like... How many rooms? Is it tidy, messy, old? What does it smell like? Sound like? What do you notice most when you walk in the front door? Where do most people congregate?

I haven't answered all your questions - I ran out of time and energy! I liked them all though, just as I liked the other list you sent me. I hope to answer all of them before we're done. I know it's terribly slow, but for now let's stick to one question a day - that way I can just follow wherever it leads without feeling I should pull myself back to deal with the next point!

Moth turned away from the depressing scene to study the cottage once more. Her new home. It was tiny compared to the rambling farmhouse she had left behind, but it was clean, and the thick vines entwined around the doorposts promised masses of perfumed wisteria in summer - providing summer knew how to find its way to this hidden valley - a provision she highly doubted.

In the two months since her wedding, she had hardly seen her husband. He had gallantly escorted her to the doorway of the cottage, introduced her briefly to his mother, and then ridden off into the pouring rain, going who knows where and returning who knows when. Moth was rather grateful, really. It was hard enough adjusting to her new position without another stranger around to add to her difficulties. Ma Blissen was a kind, gentle old lady, now nodding over her knitting in the cosiest corner by the fire. She had soon made Moth feel welcome in the tiny four-room cottage. They spent most of their time in the kitchen, huddled close to the fire place. The other room on the bottom floor, the parlour as Ma called it, was kept closed to maintain the warmth in the kitchen. Ma had opened the door briefly, giving Moth a glimpse of heavy damask and shining crystal more at home in a noble's house or castle. Then she had firmly pulled the door shut, locking it with a long iron key. "Ye'll not see in there again until me son returns," she confided. "Then we'll throw it open and gi' ye the grand wedding party ye deserve. Till then it's just ye and me, and we don't need to freeze for the joy o' some old finery!" Upstairs, splintery wooden boards had been nailed between two supports to give a modicum of privacy. "T'used t' be just a curtain," Ma wheezed, breathless from climbing the narrow stairs. "I thought ye newlyweds should have the chance to be alone, come summer. In winter I sleep on a pallet by the hearth, and ye be welcome to share that in the meantime. 'Tain't much but it's warmer than shivering up here by yeself."

28-29 May 2004.

Just forget those other questions - we will get to them. I think one question a day is good - don't feel you have to answer each question as an adjunct to the last - let's just get things on paper/screen and then you can piece them together in a story...I'm not sure if you wanted to finish the last question or you wanted a new one...But since it's a weekend and you won't be hearing from me for the next two days I thought I'd give you 1 more to go on with if you have the time... What does her world smell like...(If I'm standing it the cottage what can I smell? If I am standing out the front what can I smell? Are there any noxious smelling areas? etc).

Scatter your daily question around as much as you like - in other words, it doesn't have to follow what went before in any logical order. I'm happy to drop in on any aspect of Moth's life, environment and personality at any moment. I don't want to impose any kind of flow on the story at this stage. We'll discover it as we go along. Oh, and I wanted to know what you thought of Ma Blissen's dialect. Good idea or doesn't work?

"Me one 'n' only vice," Ma Blissen apologized, tapping the evil-smelling, blackened pipe on the hearthstone. "Ye needn't pretend ye like the smell, me girrl. I turned up me nose at me ol' granny too, when I were youngish. Whyn't ye go'n pick us some 'erbs f'r t' pot?" Moth nodded and went, trying not to breathe the thick, pungent smoke that curled from the pipe as Ma touched it with a coal. In truth, the smell wasn't that unpleasant, but after so many weeks cramped up in the cottage, Moth was glad for any excuse to get outside. "Wait!" Moth halted, hand on the latch. "That's f'r ye." Ma gestured towards a bundle in the corner. "Us'd t' be mine when I still 'ad a figger to speak 'f." There was no denying Ma's roly-poly figure wouldn't attract much conversation these days. Moth thanked her and picked the package up, curious to know what it contained. Shaking it out she discovered a thick waterproof cape with a hood. It smelled faintly of mildew. Moth wasn't surprised. Everything was damp from the constant drizzling mist outside. She had spent the first week of her stay here shaking out every item of her trousseau, airing it carefully in the warm kitchen and repacking it with sachets of lavender and lemon verbena mixed with orris root, under Ma's expert direction.

"T'won't halt the mildew entirely," Ma explained, "but 'twill slow it down 'n' keep yer stuff smellin' sweet. Come summer ye'll 'ave use for all these pretty clothes. 'Till then, well tain't nobudy but me to see ye noways."

31 May 2004.

I like the accent better in the second post; the first time she talked she lost her accent 1/2 way through. Ok Describe her world - Is it earth? Is it a different planet? What year is it? What is the land to water ratio? Is there a big continent or lots of small continents? Will she travel much or just kinda stay near home? Those sort of things...

I was thinking about this very question last night and came up with an answer that was short and sweet. I think I'll leave it at that for tonight. (I know, it's a cop-out, but it's better than nothing!)

An alternate reality earth... somewhere... somewhen...

Moth's childhood home was an isolated farming community. They traversed one mountain range, three forests and seven rivers (or the same, winding river seven times) on the journey from her home to her current location. That is the furthest distance she has ever travelled.

Moth cannot answer the other questions, as she has never seen a map of her world and has not been trained to read the future. Ma Blissen might know, but Moth doesn't feel like asking. She enjoys the peaceful atmosphere of the cottage and is content to complete the minor tasks assigned to her. They're easy compared to the farmyard work she is used to, and she has lots of time to daydream, which is her favourite occupation. She thinks maybe she might ask her husband, when and if he returns.

~ The Moth's Footprints: Episode One
The Moth's Footprints: Episode Two
The Moth's Footprints: Episode Three
The Moth's Footprints: Episode Four

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