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Eliza’s Notes - 08: Age of Regression

Oddly enough, in a way the present day seems the most like Ildios to me. 

Not exactly like it, of course. We were more advanced than the way the world is right now through our more extensive use of magic. But in our day there were of course remnants of the Aughylian Empire around that nobody could use, ancient mystical technology that was simply collected and traded among the rich because it couldn't be activated. Whereas here it's everywhere, littered among ruined cities and thrown in gorges and rivers just to get it out of the way, but still otherwise just as mystical. And just as unusable. 

Society regressed once more. The wars of supplies led to much of the world's knowledge being destroyed in the crossfire, and as waves of people died out everything fell back to simple farming once more. So much lost, it hurts them to hear of it, as the eldest of the people alive tell stories to their youngest descendants, told to them by their eldest forefathers while they were at their youngest, of the way it was during the end days while the supplies were dwindling but the technology was still in use. 

I think what hurts this people more than anything else is that they can still see it all. They can see the road vehicles lying on the ruined streets, they can see the air vehicles lying in the fields where they fell from the sky and were too heavy to move. Scavengers search ruins of the cities for scrap metals and wood and tools that can be put to use in some way, and they all see all the wonderful conveniences of the past that can no longer be used anymore. For most of them, they don't even know how many of these things were even used, and their guesses can get interestingly wild. It hurts them that they know, they can see for themselves that the world used to be a better place, and there's nothing they can do about it. 

They live now in a simulacrum of what was lost, scrambling to be like how its told in the stories. Approximations of technologies of the past are used as best as they can. Animal drawn carts, both on free wheels and drawn along set path rails. Flame based lighting, either from candles or piped in gas where available. Where available, food is kept cool in boxes filled with ice, or in places where ice is not available in containers taking advantage of the evaporative cooling properties of water. To the people, though, it's seen as just an approximation, a reach toward the past that has been lost to them. Most don't realize that either they have either invented new technology to do the tasks without magic, or reinvented technology that already existed in the past that was then modified to work with magic when the crystals were created.  They could certainly do worse, as far as levels of technology are concerned. If only they would realize that they are looking toward the future, and not looking back to the past. 

Interestingly enough, the biggest advance has actually been the Evreux. With devastations to their underground systems, they had to go through and rebuild much of their infrastructure, giving them opportunity to overhaul and expand it. Using some of the technology we saved, combined with other technology they retained from the height of their civilization, they've created more advanced trains and other vehicles, increasing in speed and allowing for much faster travel between their settlements, as well as adding additional redundancy and alternate paths just in case something like before happens again. All of it based on more advanced technology and materials that require much less maintenance than before, allowing much easier use of the vast underground network.  

Along with expansion of their networks, they've also expanded their own underground towns and cities. With their belief that leaving the planet will lead them to disaster once again, they've adopted the idea since the time I first met them that expanding further into the underground will bring them more in tune with nature and the planet. They've developed new technologies to allow them to more easily grow food underground, which has allowed them to expand their population, and with it required them to build larger and more complex underground cities. Now complexes around key rail stations have expanded that can hold up to a thousand in them, or more as they expand further. Although, to their credit, they're not abandoning the surface, and have a policy of compulsory service among their people of living topside to grow and hunt for a time period so they better understand where they came from and where they are going.  

They've also taken the more advanced medical techniques and continued pushing them forward, again combined with their technology of the past. Implants and limb replacements have gone from clearly mechanical to indistinguishable from regular flesh, and requiring much less maintenance. Enhancements to supplement what has been lost by age are commonplace now. Age hasn't been kind to me myself, but thanks to several surgeries by highly skilled experts I've had knees and hips replaced, and enhancements to my musculature and nervous system to allow me the freedom of movement that I once had when I was much younger. I still look like an old woman, but in combat I would no longer move like one, something which would be sure to confuse anyone wishing to stand against me. 

As they've been expanding their technology, being the only human living among them has been... a little difficult. Their size compared to mine means some things are not well built for someone of my height, making things a little cramped for travel. Such as their rail cars, I have to more often sit on the ground to keep from bumping my head in the small trains traveling from city to the next. It's a good thing the trains are much faster than they used to be.

Date posted: 05 September, 2016
Tags: elizas_notes writing

2016 Book Blitz - June: Spiral Island 3

Oh yeah, I forgot to make this entry. I made the image for it and then forgot to do the rest. Not much to say here, really. Fell short of the goal, and spent the month back and forth falling ahead and behind par. Last few days of the month I had a ton of prep before going out of town for a business trip, so I fell behind then. I had hoped to catch up to reach par on the 30th during my five hour flights in the day, but I got sick partway through the flights and couldn't do any more writing from that point, so I only got that day's worth of words done by that point. 

I didn't end up finishing Spiral Island 2 in May, because I ended up further spending the beginning half of May still sick as I got a bad cold after my infection died away, and with all of the prep for the big Pokemon tournament that month and being sick I didn't have much time or energy. I got close, actually, with only two more chapters at the end left to write, and two I had skipped as well: one near the beginning that's mostly a public speech and I didn't want to take the time making that sound properly like a business speech, and another one that took place in Japan that I wanted to have access to Street View maps to get a better picture of what I was doing, but as I got to that point I wasn't in a place I had good internet access so I skipped it and moved on. So I finished the end of May not finished with Spiral Island 2, but needing to move on to start Spiral Island 3, so I decided to move on. 

If I hadn't gotten as far as I did, though, I wouldn't have moved on. Starting with Spiral Island 1, as I mentioned, I had to make changes in the plot to make it work with the lore. This continued snowballing more through the course of writing Spiral Island 2. Because of all of this, the entire course of the trilogy had changed. The story and the events are still the same, pretty much, but the reasons why everyting happened, to make it all make sense, changed. Because of that, because the way the third book progresses, if I hadn't figured out how the climax of book two was set once I hit June I wouldn't have been able to start the third one and would have had to continue writing it into June before I could start. Luckily, I was able to get it to a point I finally had an idea of the conclusion and everything was going with last minute writing on Memorial Day, so I was able to move on.

Beyond that, I still haven't finished book two. Because I still haven't finished book three. By chapter count, according to my outlines, Spiral Island 1 was 22 chapters, Spiral Island 2 was 30 chapters, and Spiral Island 3 is 40 chapters. The reason that worked out that way is mostly because there's more than one point of view being monitored in the second and third books, as opposed to the first book being almost solely from one character's view, as well as with the third book there's a lot of things happening. It's still a subset of the gameplay whenever I finally get to making the games, as all three only go into points actually important to moving along the story in a book and not points important to moving along the story as a game and other gameplay things, but there are more plot points important to the books as we move on so it naturally needed to be longer for each.

I've been kind of slacking since I got back from my business trip, and not writing as much as I should have (and you can partly blame that on the release of Pokemon Go), so I'm not quite done yet. With the word count at the end of June, I had finished up to chapter 26. As of this writing I've finished chapter 32, with a word count of 88775, so I'm getting close. I'm hoping to finish it up over the course of the next week, then swing back to catch the missing four chapters of book two after that so I can get my first pass editing done and have a first draft print done by the time I go out of town again mid-August. The end is in sight, culminating a total of fifteen years of work to bring this trilogy into the world (although I hand't really considered the print form to do it for nearly as long, honestly).

Date posted: 16 July, 2016
Tags: novels personal spiral_island writing

Eliza’s Notes - 07: Age of Enmity

The idyllic society we have been living in was bound to fall sooner or later. Human nature is far too dark to keep such a peaceful society forever, after all. As soon as conditions began to change everything spirals out of control until it falls apart. And this time, just the same, the fall was brought about by human nature and its selfishness.

As society grew ever more advanced from its use of crystal powered technology, more and more stress began being placed on the mothercrystals. Patches and repairs to their structures were being made, but they continued being taxed more and more until it could be done no more. First the Air mothercrystal shattered, exploding and firing shards all around. Its remote location meant it was mostly an ignored issue, people passing it off as lack of proper maintenance. Then the Water mothercrystal shattered. Then Fire, then Earth. Then Ice, Lightning, and Shadow. Faster and faster with each new mothercrystal that shattered when finally Mind and Vitae shattered almost simultaneously.

The people figured they could just rebuild new mothercrystals, the shattering simply an unavoidable result of the age of the structures. Nothing lasts forever, after all, was their guess after the third one was destroyed. Energy could still be harvested from the shattered pieces to supplement supply while the new ones were under construction. But as they set up the latticework for the new Air mothercrystal, even while others were still shattering around the world, they found that they couldn't. Records and notes from the time of their creation had been neglected over the years, as people in the past figured that they would last forever and so hadn't bothered keeping all the records straight. In the end, nobody knew how to recreate them. The knowledge of how the mothercrystals were created was lost, and now so too were they.

The fallout from this was swift. As supplies began to dwindle, people began to hoard them. Countries went to war with each other to capture stores of crystals. Armies quickly spent their own crystal supply in efforts to capture their enemies crystal supplies, which they were themselves spending to do the same. And the civilians - cut off from easy access to crystals as their governments hoarded them for their wars - didn't fare much better. Cities went dark. Regulated food stores spoiled. Friendships shattered just the same as the mothercrystals had. Neighbor became wary of neighbor as they hoarded and protected their own crystal stores. Households that didn't have storage of crystals quickly fell to having nothing and being despised beggars or hated theives.

The Evreux too suffered greatly. While they had integrated little of the crystal technology developed on the overworld into their own lifestyle - and what of it that they did could be easily converted back to running on electricity once more - their rail network was devastated by the armies of the surface as supply lines would be cut off or captures to gain crystal stores. To their credit, the Evreux for the most part don’t have hatred or contempt for the races of Aughylia, but simply pity. Pity that we're so quick to fall into such horrible behavior and not learn to be at peace. A pity that they couldn’t come together to solve the problem and instead let it drive a wedge between them.

With the world as volatile as it is right now I’ve had to retreat once more, hiding from public view. The Evreaux consider me a friend and freely let me travel around their tunnels and rails, and so I’m able to come and go around the world as best as I can with the damaged rail lines, but the surface world right now would be too suspicious of an old woman such as myself traveling around alone, and I’m liable to get attacked by people trying to rob me. Not that I can’t defend myself easily from basically everything they could throw at me, between my own magic and my staff and other weapons I carry around with me, but it is of course far simpler to just avoid trouble than it is to try to get out of it. I’m immortal, not invulnerable. I haven’t lived this long by being reckless. That’s James’s way of life, not mine.

One exception to my policy of avoiding, though, has been records. There’s been a lot of important technologies developed in the last while - medical technologies especially - since the advent of the crystals, and I’ve felt keeping certain key technologies would be important. The Evreux agree, and collectively we’ve been sneaking into museums, factories, and government offices and stealing the design and manufacturing documents for a number of key technologies. Some of them could be converted to run on their electrical systems with work, some of them are more or less specifically bound to magic energy to function. No matter that result, we’re saving them in case they manage to clean up their act and get the crystals working once more, so we can see it restored once society heals once more.

Normally, or rather, in the past, I suppose I would say ‘if’ society heals, but I’ve seen this happen enough times now that it’s pretty much inevitable. As long as the world isn’t wiped out completely, there will be a rebound sooner or later. More it’s a matter of what form development will take, and whether technology will go down this path again. It’s probably what Menos Cor and the people he worked for feared so much, if I had to guess. If they did not wipe out a society completely, then they could build up again to fight back later. As I look at the devastation on the frozen surface of Ildios, I just pray that we never have to see that enemy here again in the future.

Date posted: 07 July, 2016
Tags: elizas_notes writing

Eliza's Notes - 06: Age of Artifice

All our predictions were off. The future looks very different then we imagined it would be long ago.

I was betting on the crystal usage granting everyone access to all of the elements of magic once more. The Evreux was betting on the crystal usage leading to an understanding and control of electricity and the development of an electricity based societal system. What happened instead was people finding new ways to release that charged crystal energy from the mothercrystals, and placing the small powered crystals into mechanisms designed to use their power. Not one, nor the other, but both: the world’s evolved into a fusion of both of our concepts, a fusion of magic and machine.

A typical day for someone with this new technology, staying in a residence in one of the large cities, can be described as follows:

They wake up in the morning before dawn, and press a button built into a device on my nightstand. An array of Shadow magic shards and mirrors begin to glow and light up the room. I go to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, pulling a meal I prepared beforehand from an icebox kept chilled with Ice crystals into another box designed to heat up with Ice crystals, and soon their meal is hot and ready to eat. They leave their residence to head to their work, getting in a vehicle automatically driven by an engine, an engine which operates by a controlled explosion of a combustible medium by power from Fire crystals. Up overhead, small kites fly through the air powered by Wind crystals, carrying along packages to destinations they were set to.

If they happen to get injured, say fall and break a bone, they will go to a medical clinic, where a doctor will cut them open, set the injured bone and fuse it together with a joining device powered by Vitae crystals, then sew them back up and seal it with another machine powered by those same crystals to heal rapidly. If they have problems with their eyes that ordinary corrective lenses can't solve, either lenses or implants with small Shadow element crystals in them can bend the light in ways that allow them to see clearly.

With all of this technology enhancing peoples lives, there has been an amazing shift in the world. Populations have exploded. Supply chains have grown worldwide, and with the ability to preserve food in such more advanced ways it allows food to be grown anywhere in the world and be delivered anywhere else without perishing. People are now living in places they never would have previously due to relatively bad ability to grow food there, and the larger cities are growing into bustling metropolisi, sprawling all across the land, and even larger areas beginning to be defined as megapoli are appearing. The world's population has grown into the billions count, and the rate of growth continues increasing.

The world now resembles stories and legends of the great Aughylian Empire. Although, I imagine, we're probably far from the level of technology they had, to be able to travel the vastness of space, but as I've observed Vaudios over the years, and from both modern Aughylia and what I knew of its history, there seems to be certain peaks of technology levels where the whole of society and its living condition is based on an overall average of technology, rather than any specific thing. Based on this, I would put this as modern society, at the same level of the Aughylian Empire as far as social and lifestyle levels of the general population. We have a long ways to go as far as more technology that could be invented, but there's probably not much going upward that would cause a fundamental shift in  the way people live their lives compared to now. It's mostly down from here, really.

It's the opinion of the Evereux, though, that the technology level has more or less peaked. We're at the limits of what could be done with magic-based energy, they say, and without the advancement of directly electricity based technology we can't do any more. They won't elaborate with me on their secrets, technology which they still retain from the height of their own civilization, but simply tell me that magic energy is too imprecise and unstable for the fine kinds of advanced technology that would require electricity, but because magic energy is far too convenient with all of the crystals for any serious studies of electricity to go on. I suspect at least some of the things they are speaking of are embedded in my staff, as I tried disassembling it once and found a dazzling maze of metal and strange, tiny parts, but could make nothing further of it as I tried disassembling it further, and after it ceased functioning I had to take it back to them to repair and they chided me for messing with things I did not understand.

It's long been a concern of mine that these records, both my primary notes and the supplementary materials I've included, would be destroyed by time before they would ever make it to where they could be possibly found by James or someone who knew him. However, recently an invention of an artificial resin that can be made into a liquid that dries into a hard, clear substance has given me a new option than having to continually transcribe from one aged paper to another, I can seal the pages in this resin to keep them from being exposed to air so they last longer. Additionally, I'll be creating copies of the text engraved directly into this hardened resin, to make them easier to read. I've got permanent ownership of a few different places of land around the world that I can seal these records away in, so there should hopefully be at least one copy that's safe that will make it to the future.

Date posted: 04 June, 2016
Tags: elizas_notes writing

2016 Book Blitz - April: Spiral Island 2

Well, as it's clear to see here, I utterly failed. Didn't even make 50k, the NaNoWriMo goal for a month. But, as you can see, at the first half of the month I had a pretty good pace, so why did I fail so bad? Well, time to tell you a different story.

Let's start where the string of misses begin. April 14th. April 14th was a friend's wedding, and that was a great night. But that took up all my night, so I didn't have much time to do anything, and writing got pushed back that night by other business I had to deal with. There is one thing I did that night, though: I installed the application f.lux on my computer. It was a little painful to look at the altered screen color temperature at first, actually, but I just ignored that, and got accustomed to it that day.

So then the day moves on to the 15th. On that day, I began the worst migraine of my life. I've got a family history of migraines, and history of them myself, but usually they would last a day or two. This migraine lasted through the next week, until the 23rd, essentially, and over the time my symptoms from it varied: auras with floating blurriness in my vision at one point, feeling of intense pressure behind my right eye at another point, and the pain in my head wandering around my head slowly through the days and varying in intensity. I bascially directly attribute this to f.lux, which, I know, for most people I can understand the principle and benefits for it, but apparently for me it was the trigger for exactly the opposite. I ended up disabling f.lux on the 19th, and the 20th was the first day I woke up without the headache portion of the migraine, although it came later in the day. I got a little written during that time, but things were so much of a haze for me from the migraine that I couldn't focus very much. 

It didn't completely subside until the end of the week. The 24th was the first day that I felt fine-ish, except when it got to the end of the day I started getting tired and a headahce. This I simply attributed to cutting back on my caffeine intake that day, which I had started a few days before along with switching to Excederin Migraine for my migraine, so I ignored it. On the 25th, I was so completely tired later in the day that I just had nothing left, and went to bed four hours early. On the 26th, I lasted a little longer, but still went to bed several hours early. Now, I should add that, additionally, because of rapidly swinging temperatures over the last week I had been both extremely cold and warm and sweating with all my covers off, as well as my mattress failing, I hadn't been sleeping well, and woke up aching in my upper back and neck throughout the migraine, so I had chosen to replace my memory foam mattress and ordered a spring mattress. It arrived on the day of the 26th, I unpacked it and slept fine for the first time in several weeks, but I had still gone to bed a couple hours early that day. On the 27th, I had a doctors appointment for my migraine. While I was there, they asked me if I had been sick recently, because I was running a low fever (just a little over 100° F). Since that was kind of an odd statement, I got a new thermometer that day after getting home from work (couldn't find my old one), and, yeah, sure enough, I had a low grade fever. I didn't think much of it and went to bed after getting a little writing done.

Then we come to the morning of the 28th. I woke up at 3:30ish in the morning needing to use the bathroom, and while I was up, I figured I'd check my temperature to see if it had gone down. It had done the opposite, and it did it bad. My temperature was 103.8° F. That was getting into dangerous territory, and I needed to get it addressed. So I went to the emergency room. They checked me in and it was down to 102.7° F, so it had at least subsided slightly. Unfortunately, I still didn't actually have any symptoms of illness, with only a slight headache and my neck and back aching from still having not healed yet from sleeping well enough, so the only thing they had to suspect was, of course, menengitis. They were going to have to do an LP to test for menengitis, and admit me to the hospital if I did. 

At this point, it was pretty warm in the room, and with everything going on I had realized of course that my feeling hot over the last few days had probably been this fever. They hadn't had me take off my pants yet, so while I was sitting there on the bed I pulled up my pants legs so they would cool. At this point, I noticed something for the first time: my legs were covered with purple and red splotches. The ER doctor walked in, saw that, and said, right away, "that looks like cellulitis". They tried doing the LP on me, but they couldn't get it successfully, so they had to call someone in from radiology (who hadn't yet arrived for work yet that day, since it was early in the morning) to use the X-ray machine to guide the needle for the LP. So in the mean time, not wanting to wait if it was menengitis and let it progress, they started me on antibiotics. 

As my stay in the ER progressed, my temperature dropped more, into the 101 degree range. The radiologist arrived, did the LP very smoothly, and they ran their test. It was excellent news! I didn't have menengitis! So they let me go, writing me up a perscription for more antibiotics, and operating off the diagnosis of cellulitis. I went and dropped off the perscription, went back home and napped for a couple hours, because at this point it was 9 AM and I had been awake for nearly 6 hours. I woke up at 11, and checked my temperature. Completely gone at this point and back to normal. So I went and picked up the antibiotics and went into work. The splotches on my legs receeded, leaving just a sign of a rash or scracthes of some sort. 

And that's that. I spent two weeks nearly dead, including almost actually dying, and hardly got any writing done. After that, I had to rush and get a website launched that needed to go up on the 1st, and had work that would have been easily spread over those two weeks had I been able to think clearly enough to realize what all needed to be done, but I was in a haze for a couple weeks and didn't realize what all had to be done until the end, and I had to do it all in a hurry, so I got only a little done the last two weeks.

So I have to finish writing the book here in May, to be ready to start on the next one in June. And, presuming I don't almost die again, it shouild be easier to accomplish at that point. I'll never use f.lux again since it's a migraine trigger for me, and the biggest Pokemon-related stuff in Utah that I have to do a lot of coding work for is at the end of this month, so once that's passed my time is clear for a while.

Date posted: 03 May, 2016
Tags: novels personal spiral_island writing

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