The Divinator’s Tools

Today I worked on the divinator’s tools, which allow Riika and Heli to safely cross the roads in Malvada.

Riika moved to the back of the cave. He knelt before the chest which contained the tools of divination and lifted off its wooden lid. Riika removed the purple velvet divinating cloth. Four symbols were stitched on the cloth, one in each corner. Riika felt the metallic threads. In the top left corner was stitched the copper frond of a trahalose fern, the symbol of Arlat. Moving his hand to the top right corner, Riika felt the circle that was the silver timepiece of Flave. In the corner below the symbol of Birrigat was a curved line of gold, the symbol of matter and Los Lewr. In the fourth corner was a strange maze of platinum thread, the symbol of Chalcis and the connection of all things. Between the four symbols, scattered across the center of the purple cloth, were tiny stitched spots of metal. Although Riika couldn’t look up into the night sky and see the stars, he knew that the stitches mirrored their pattern as it was seen from the island at the center of the amphitheater of time.

Beneath the velvet cloth, returned again and again to the same places until the shapes of them were forever set within their bed of straw, were a stoppered jug, heavy with liquid, and a transparant tube as thick as an axe handle. Riika lifted the tube and held it close before his eyes, tilting it, watching the iron filings cling and clump to one another, shifting like sand as they flowed from one end to the other. Between the clay jug and the glass tube lay the egg shaped censer, larger than Riika’s fist. The egg was one of the most valuable artifacts in Birrigat. Both the egg and the chain attached to it were made of solid gold.

The inspiration for “magical implements” as well as the detailed use of them, which I will get to later, came from Katherine Kurtz and her Deryni novels, which I gobbled up in middle school. I remember reading her author’s notes and a couple of things that she said in particular, one being that the idea for the novels came to her in a dream, a second part being that she was a writer for Star Trek and that taught her how to write chapters, because they had to write in commercial breaks with exciting endings and beginnings that would keep the audience into the flow of the TV show.

The thing that relates most to this book is the use of magical implements and the rituals that go along with them. Ms. Kurtz apologized for repeatedly going over the same rituals with the Deryni artifacts of magic, in efffect repeating the same scenes over and over again as her Deryni characters practiced their craft. As an author, she felt that it was gratuitous, but she continued to do it because correspondance she recieved about the books demonstrated how much people liked to read about the ritual, even repeated over and over again.

I use that to remind me that it’s not necessarily what I want to write that is important. It’s what my audience wants to read. It also highlights the importance of continuity in details, that is, when I have Riika use the divinator’s tools, they must look the same and be used in the same ritual way or I lose believeablility.


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