It’s November first, and that means it’s National Novel Writing Month! Every November for the last nineteen years, hundreds of thousands of people across the world devote themselves to the goal of writing a 50,00 page story. I did this successfully in 2013 and 2014, though in the years that followed I’ve either failed or not started. This year I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been, with a story based on a scenario I designed for Heroes of Might and Magic II a…long time ago. We’re talking pre-9/11 here. I have an outline, a map, a dramatic climax, a horrifying plot twist….all I lack is an ending. One bridge at a time, though. Here’s the plot synopsis I posted on NaNoWriMO’s forums:
“A storm is brewing over the twisted mountains of Akkadia. In the north, the merchant-prince Ali has returned to find his clan’s camps destroyed, his farms and mills burned, and his young family dead. There are no survivors to expose who has done this, but Ali knows only man powerful and treacherous enough to attack the Brotherhood: Sargon.
To the far southwest, separated from the land by a great ocean, an ancient wizard has been awakened from his sleep to learn that his daughter was kidnapped. Though once an advisor to the ruler of men, the tragically slain and long-mourned-over Khan , the wizard retreated to his frozen island kingdom after a great war decades ago, despairing of mankind, and has long left the people of the mainland in peace, however much they fear his power. But now they have taken his daughter, envying her power and beauty, and they must pay. Who could it be? Rumor has it that one king on the mainland is anxious for an heir: the sonless Sargon. In the southeast, the murder of the king nearly destroyed the small kingdom of Okan, as brothers fought against one another to claim the crown. Now, the two survivors look with bitterness to the north, and prepare to avenge their dead father — for the man whose hands were red with blood wore the ring of that jealous northern neighbor…Sargon.
Decades ago, Sargon left his homeland and tried to find adventure in the north. He found a land riven in war against darkness, squabbling states beset by an army of foul beasts and sinister magic that would command even the dead. The war left much of the land wasted and barren, and many quit it in despair. But Sargon was ambitious and resilient, and from the ruins he built an empire for himself, his dominion limited only by the lifeless mountains in the north, the cursed swamps to the south, and the dragon-guarded ocean to the west. He has never known complete peace, but a lifetime of war has made Sargon its master. From his castle in the barrens, Sargon reigns happy — and unsuspecting.
Might, guile, and magic are soon to be arrayed against the warlord, but there are darker storms a-brewing, and evil waiting to be waked. “
As hinted from some of the names, I’m drawing on Earth’s history and landscapes for inspiration, using a range from the Mesopotamia to the Indus for the areas mentioned in the story. (I also recently read The Prince in part to give me ideas for Sargon’s ruthless performance as a ruler.) Just for laughs, here’s a couple of screenshots from Heroes of Might and Magic 2. These aren’t my own, and they aren’t from my scenario which was on a computer long lost to me. (It disappeared into a storage shed long before I had any inkling that data could be recovered…) The story is inspired only by the plot of my scenario, not by game mechanics. It’s been so long since I played HoMM2 I can’t even remember most of the units, beyond the usual suspects of dragons, genies, and sword-wielding skeletons.