As it sometimes happens, there is no commonality between these two serials. Remarkably, this is also where you can see the difference between the two protagonists. Rutejìmo is introspective and somewhat passive, he makes a lot of mistakes and doubts himself. Kanéko, on the other hand, doesn't hesitate long before coming up with a plan, even if it ends up being a mistake. She may not have magic, but she's observant and bright.
Sand and Blood 11: Standing Alone
There is a point in most people's lives where they are at home getting ready for bed or making dinner when they realized they had just made a terrible mistake. They didn't think about it at the time, they just responded, but introspection forces them to reliving the experience and point out every flaw in their being.
This is Rutejìmo's chapter for that. He isn't a bad guy, per se. I see him as not trusting himself, terrified of making waves, or even speaking out for himself. The kernel of being a hero is there, just buried a bit. Obviously, there are some rather oppressive folks he's traveling with. Tsubàyo is right near the top of the people who are most likely to abuse Rutejìmo.
But, why would he go with his bully instead of staying behind? Why would someone willingly go into an abusive relationship? Well, there are a lot of reasons. Rutejìmo was guilty for what he did to Pidòhu or, more importantly, what he felt he was responsible for letting Pidòhu get hurt. There was also the unfamiliar situation where Tsubàyo was a known (the devil you know) but the others weren't. It is hard to break out of a relationship even when others say it is terrible for you.
I occasionally hear someone wondering why someone else would go back to abusive husband or a cruel boss. I think it is the same way. There is a known factor, a rut that has been worn down that gives someone a sense of being even though it is a painful route. There is more than “well, I would just leave.” No, not always. Sometimes, it is just as painful to leave as being verbally or physically abused. It takes a lot to pull away, either it be fear of the unknown, protectiveness of a child (how will I pay for them if I don't have…), or any other factors.
It is rarely as simple as “well, I would have left.”
More importantly, it is cruel to tell someone “you should just leave” as if it was that simple. If it is that important, the better question is, “what can I do for you?” or “how can I help?”
Read Sand and Blood 11: Separate Ways at https://fedran.com/sand-and-blood/chapter-11/.
Flight of the Scions 17: Nobody
For a four thousand word chapters, there is a lot in here.
I'll start with the easiest: racism. While I made Kanéko brown, it was only a small part of her character. I didn't want a story about the evils of racism, I wanted a story about a young girl who finds herself in the middle of nowhere and finds kinship where she didn't expect it. But, the color of her skin is there and people respond to it because I think that is how people would. Racism is there, it just isn't the point of this novel.
There is also Maris. I love her. She's adorable, sweet, and brutal. Even though she and Kanéko had a fight, here she is kicking the crap out of people and helping without hesitation. She has no grudges but she's also mercurial to say the least. Her innocence, in many ways, is a great foil to Ruben's seriousness and Kanéko's struggles of being different (racism, lack of magic, being the baron's daughter).
Mixed in there is economics. Ten thousand crowns is basically ten thousand dollars, a rather significant sum. However, given the distance this village is from the rest of the cities, I'm treating the average income of the farmers to be closer to subsidence farmers who are happy if they make a thousand a year beyond feeding themselves. A ten thousand reward for Kanéko, for them, is a lot of money. Probably on the order of someone giving someone in Cedar Rapids a hundred grand.
Even though Sarom Senior knows it is wrong, it is hard to turn down doubling everyone's income for an entire year for the price of one frightened young girl. Obviously, Sarom Junior wouldn't have a problem because he thinks she isn't really human, but there were some cut scenes that talk about the repercussions of their decisions.
This has a bit of spoilers:
The last point is Ruben power and Kanéko's lack of magic. This is important because Ruben is a telepath and he was looking for Kanéko. Even though she doesn't have magic, Kanéko is receptive to telepaths. Her receptivity isn't magic, it's a passive ability that ties into her creativity. In effect, she is open-minded (relatively speaking) to possibilities that it takes little effort to “plant” the idea in her head. She doesn't resist but she isn't capable of doing it herself. I still feel that fits with the basis that she has no magic.
This chapter has her beginning to pick up on Ruben's mental search for her. I thought it was a cool effect that tied into Ruben's father doing it on a far crueler manner at the end of the book. Sadly, that scene was also cut from this book. But, as a teaser, it has something in common with the demons from Disney's Hercules movie.
Ruben's way of speaking ties into that. She hears him clearly despite his soft voice because he projects telepathically as he speaks. Most people can't pick it up, but her receptivity to it means that he is always clear. His vocabulary is also important; as I see Ruben, he has a stale copy of Wikipedia in his head. He tries to use precise words for his situation, though they usually are longer than your average fare.
Read Sand and Blood 17: Nobody at https://fedran.com/flight-of-the-scions/chapter-17/ (subscribers)
Sand and Ash
And just a brief status update on Sand and Ash. I've gotten feedback from three of the four beta readers and integrated them with the current version on the website (version 0.7.0). As soon as I get the fourth, I'll be finishing up two more quick rounds and then sending it to the copy editor.
If all goes well, I'll have at least one copy for Wiscon, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
Not much left on those tasks: the edits and finalize the covers.
For my patrons, I also posted the another two chapters of Sand and Bone for their viewing pleasure.
My writing is supported by patrons and donations. There are multiple ways to help, but if you like what I write please consider subscribing. All the money is going into getting these edited and released as Creative Commons books.