Zena and Sheeno/Sheena/Sheen

I put these two together because, in the original story, they arrived together and were the two characters who I didn’t even attempt to develop. (Nora, Petto, Jhacks, Bob, the Tangas, and Cragg all got their share of minimal, badly written development.) This makes me kind of sad because I set them up with the most interesting backgrounds. Also, in the re-imagined version, Sheen is the only one who can stand Zena.

Zena is an Usomian. People call them “godlings” because of the polytheistic nature of their religion, and a creation myth that involves humans being descendants of the gods. Usome is part of a hate triangle of religions involving Usome, Laios, and Kenezai. Usome is what I’d call a sexist religion because it socially dictates women to certain roles and men to others. They view men and women as equal but separate. (I still think it’s sexist, but a step up from Kenezai.) Zena, who wants to pursue politics, a strictly masculine role, is somewhat of a joke on the Ledges. The adult drafting is a good thing for her because she is able to achieve this goal. Zena’s character is actually not altered all the much between versions as she is still a strong leader. The difference is how people react to her.

In the original story, Sheeno was introduced and then forgotten about except when she was needed militarily. She arrived with Zena, but was then bumped out as her best friend by Nora.

(About her name: I really hate Sheeno, so I reverted to Sheena ((the girl who inspired sheeno picked the name by stealing from another who’d dubbed herself Sheena. Sheena later became the inspiration for Onie the tanga, who I am not sure I will be transferring as of now.)) However, I didn’t want to have Zena and Sheena, ((Zena is pronounced ZEEna)) so I decided that Sheena calls herself Sheen in a act of rebellion against her stereotypical name. Sheen is the truest feminist of my strong-female-character story.)

Sheena is a member of group of people from the Hokfeal forest. At the moment I don’t think that they are, technically speaking, a different “race” from other people, apart from a tendency toward darker skin, and the snow mountains are such a melting pot of different cultures and, more importantly, the attitudes they have toward one another that I don’t think it matters. Due to their forms of hunting, they were discovered to make excellent army scouts by the time mainstream Kanians arrived near the forest. They were subsequently dubbed “sneak-elves” and massively recruited to the army. Sheena, who lives only with her mother, has inherited exceptional skills in this area, which she uses mostly for her own enjoyment. The religion of the sneak elves is very loose, and, in Sheena’s own spirituality especially, a certain kind of Mashomi. Sheen takes up the practice of praying directly to the woods of her childhood.

Zena and Sheen both want to be on the council, but while Zena has been persistently socially campaigning for months, Sheen has kept it to herself as she doesn’t face nearly the social opposition that Zena does. In some ways they are opposites, as Zena is  often described as loud and Sheen as a quiet negotiator, and Zena is far more optimistic, but they connect very well. Currently I like Sheen better, but I’m having a harder time figuring her out.

Jhacks/Jacques

Original Jhacks was comic relief. Purely. I mean, that’s all he did. He was descended from some original people who lived there generations ago, and the only interesting thing about him was that Nora hired him to baby-sit Petto, which is really stupid because a) what the heck is she so busy doing? and b) Jhacks is like the most incompetent person ever and Nora spends most of her time rescuing Petto from Perilous Situations and then yelling at Jhacks about it. He is the first character I knew I had to alter, starting with a good spelling of his name.

The essence of his character, (fairly light-hearted, slightly clueless) I kept, because I do know people like that (namely me) and I didn’t need a whole cast of depressed people (Nora, Atkin, Cragg, Sheen). Jacques is optimistic, which is good because he has the worst home life of  anyone, as he lives with his alcoholic father in the worst neighborhood (the Slope) and Laios missionaries come knocking on his door every other day.

I really am not nice to any of them, am I? I haven’t even posted about Zena, who is made fun of all the time by her sexist community, or Sheena, who is struggling with an identity crisis.

Religion

I’ve created several religions in the Snow Mountains world (which actually involves several other countries.) I wanted to use it as a conflict source between areas of the mountains because how much violence in our world is religion-caused? Lots. Something people care so much about will eventually cause conflict. Anyway, because the main characters all end up on the council and therefore from different areas, they are all from different religions. (With the exception of Jacques, who is from the non-religious area.) The areas are called by their slang names here.

Usome: This is what I’d call an evolved polytheism. There are six gods, and they all cover very broad areas. There are no little gods, just six. This is Zena’s religion, from the Ledges. Read more Here.

Mashomi: this is a spirit-based religion. The idea is that everything has a spirit. The actual form in Kana is called Kanosian, because it is slightly different. It is more ritualistic than other forms and has spirits which are more important than others. This is Nora’s religion, from Traveler’s Rest, (though Nora is fairly agnostic.)

Kenezai: This is a very order-based religion. There are thirteen gods, called holy ones, twelve lords and one lady. Members of this religion follow certain rules and rituals. They also believe in a fixed fate. This is Atkin’s religion, from the Pieshop. (So called because women are the most strictly defined by religious rules. Zena also faces much sexist prejudice, but that is more of a social tradition, as Usome has no written religious material.)

Sneak-elf: The sneak-elves are a separate race which originally inhabited the Hokfeal forest in western Kana, but they have since spread out. They do not actually have much of an organized religion, but as their skin tone and mannerisms are different, they face a lot of prejudice, often called “dirty sneak-elves.” They occupy the Dirty Hills.

Main Plot

The main plot of the original:

Nora and Petto live alone in their half of the Snow Mountains. Nora hears ominous sounds from the other half, belonging to the Irkas. Zena, Sheeno, Jhacks, and Bob the Scout all show up at some point. They spy on Irkas. Nora befriends one of the mysterious Tangas, who hide in a region right near hers, but the leader doesn’t trust her. Irkas attack. Petto speaks to one of them. Irkas are defeated. They attack again while everyone is sleeping and force a surrender due to holding Petto at spear-point. Nora surrenders. They are planning to kill Petto anyway when Bob, who has been working as a double agent for Nora’s group, jumps at the Irka to stop him and is killed. Horrified, the Irkas, who are, after all, middle-school age, start to retreat and have to go through a battle with the Tangas in the process. In the end, they sign a peace treaty and the one really evil Irka is kicked out after he protests. It ends with Petto preparing to move out because she wants to live in a tree on the nearby prairie and Nora still being sad about Bob but being hopeful about the future. (In a very cheesy ending line that I hated even as I wrote it.) Read the whole story Here.

I don’t quite know the ending of the re-imagined version yet, but I know the beginning. Kana, currently in a very long war, drafts all able adults from the ages of eighteen to fifty, leaving the young adults (ages fifteen to seventeen) of the household in charge. This seems like a big task, but all food is still supplied to the colony and being in charge of the household is really only keeping it running in terms of chores and such. The real problem, which all main characters will get involved with, is the running of the town council and keeping tension down between religious sects. (Each one occupies a different mini mountain, so town council members are almost always representing the religion of the area.) “Irkas” is a derogatory term for one group, which will be seduced into separating by the new version of the one really evil Irka. (An adult, not originally of the colony.)

Petto

Petto is one of two characters that really make me hate myself when I read the original draft. Nora’s six-year-old sister, she has virtually no faults and is one of those annoying adorable children in fantasy who “see clearly,” blissfully ignorant of the world yet completely wise. Petto saves the day because she’s able to trust everyone and “see the good in them.”

Most of my characters I’m trying to grow and evolve, but Petto I’m shrinking. She’s going to be minor. She can still be kind of smart, but no more plot-changing accidental friendships.

The other thing is the name. I’m attached to it, but I think it’s a nickname. Ivy, their mother, is going to have too much sense to name her daughter Petto. I’m toying with the idea of having her be Ivy jr. according to a family tradition.

Nora

Nora was me. My persona in the game the sparked the story. Originally she lived in the mountains with her little sister, having watched her parents die at about age six, lived in an orphanage for a while, and eventually brought herself and her sister (Petto) back home.

All by the age of eleven.

For Nora to pull that off, she was going to have to be either really gritty and closed or really messed up. (I’d already decided to make them all older.) She was acting like a strange combination of what I wished I could be and do in her place and what I would actually be and do in her place. (She was the only character with a crying scene and a weakness that didn’t make her stronger.) Either way, she was too close to me and had to be changed.

So now (keep in mind I am not very far into it) she is a pessimistic teenager who, having no idea what her purpose is or why they live where they do, gets pleasure out of life by thinking of smart-mouth answers constantly and cynically discussing life’s problems with her single friend. In other words, she’s lazy, arrogant, cynical, and equipped with a nice “whatever, it’s not like I can do anything to help” attitude.

Perfect.