No Kidding

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Nnylf and Azile, two characters featured in Malevir: Dragons Return, live in Fossarelick, a small village in the Veiled Valley. In many ways, the village resembles its medieval English counterpart, but has no manor house or overlord to impose rules, customs, and taxes. Nnylf and Azile may have played in Fossarelick’s dusty lanes when they were small, but as the adolescents we meet in the novel’s early chapters they have left behind their childish ways. It’s amazing that they have survived their childhood, given frequent threats of illness, injury, and attacks; but magic flows throughout their valley and counteracts what would have amounted to potentially lethal experiences for their medieval analogs.

In fourteenth-century England, boys went to work at age seven and could be punished as adults for their crimes. Men reached their prime in their twenties and grew old in their forties, while a woman was an adult at age seventeen (Chaucer referred to a thirty-year-old woman as “winter forage”). Life in Fossarelick, agrarian and cooperative, by contrast, is less harsh than in “Olde” England, although here, too, children grow up quickly. Their parents need help at home and in the fields. The village’s egalitarian culture has counted on everyone, regardless of gender, to contribute to the community’s survival through hard work and mutual aid.

However, the Malevir’s attacks on the Veiled Valley change that culture radically. Men become dragon-hunters while women and children remain in the village, surrounded by neglected fields and facing daily scarcities, anger, and resentment. In these circumstances, life in Fossarelick shares more of the miseries and inequities of a medieval English village; yet, a few inhabitants of Fossarelick, including the two adolescents, look for ways to restore peace and solidarity to their home. Nnylf and Azile’s search brings them to an unknown part of their region where they meet strange creatures and events that turn their expectations upside-down and alter their lives forever.

 

 

Backstory: Rocánonom the Giant

Rocánonom’s Manual of Magic

Before the Forest People settled in the Veiled Valley, before the Orferans, a powerful dragon clan, made their home in a Sunriseside Mountain cave, and well before Malevir threatened the valley, another sort of being lived there. Three very tall and colossally strong giants left their wanderings in the Beyond for the warm seasons and verdant plains of the Veiled Valley. They came from different points: the graying, stooped wood giant Haldoren entered the Coldside Desert from its farthest boundaries; sturdy rock giant Enderfon, a smile always rounding his jagged blue cheeks, trudged up from the shore beyond the Warmside; and rugged Rocánonom, the man giant, came by sea. Many Turnings of the World ago, they agreed to find each other and prepare the land for people they knew would come to build new homes there.  The giants would become guardians, Protectors of the Trace, the Forest, and the Mountains.

Only one giant would survive the journey. Haldoren skirted basilisk pits and nests that pocked the surface of the desert, but a two-headed aiglonax ambushed him. Swooping down from the mountains, it pulled him apart with its beaks, tore the giant in two, and devoured him. Enderfon faced a different menace—the heat. Stifling winds were drying lakes and rivers that crossed the Warmside. Grasses and flowers withered and trees became skeletal. Dust devils danced across the barren expanses and soon the half-rock giant collapsed under a mountain overhang. Before the next Moon-Rising, Enderfon moved no more. The Malevir had turned his heart to stone.

Rocánonom, however, pulled his boat onto the shore of the Coldside Sea, and trekked through mountain passes until he reached low, rolling hills and meadows that would become known as the Anonom Trace.  In his pack, he carried a vellum-paged book, bound in stiff leather—the grimoire he found hiding within a stone wall of the castle that rose from an island of the Coldside Sea.

Invocations filled the pages of the manual of magic, enchantments that gave Rocánonom the power to call on the Great Forces when he needed their help. The sea would have drowned him, but it froze at his command and he trudged across its icy surface to the shore. Mountains might have crushed him, but gusts of wind pushed him gently up the slopes and righted him when he stumbled. He arrived at the Trace and waited for the other giants.