So there will be snark and worldbuilding and lots of spoilers and the process of rebuilding a novel from the bones of its former corpse.
50,000+ words (eventually) of Fun!
Daily Wordcount: 2788
Total Wordcount: 4956
“Long time no see,” Jon didn’t bother to get up from the couch as his Writer came sneaking in guiltily. He’d expanded it since she’d seen it last, mostly to make enough room for the two ghost dogs that were sprawled next to him. The rest of the pack was conked out on the floor napping, apparently uninterested in whatever it was Jon was watching on his newly imagined TV.
“I was sick!” She stepped over one of the napping semi-transparent Hounds and settled into her comfy chair. “Besides, it was only Day 2, everyone is suppose to lose steam a little in the first week.” She whipped out her novel notebook and setup her trusty laptop desk.
“Pretty sure that’s the second week, but I suppose I should be glad we’re only two-thirds of a day behind.” He turned off the TV with a reluctant sigh. “So what have you got for me today? A way to fix your Life-Death imbalance from last time?”
“The world you came up with yesterday is a mix of Life, Veil, and Death, but things are weighed really heavily towards Death. In this rock-paper-scissors either side wins against the Veil, but Death wins out over Life. So either you have a crazy number of dead people or something is making them, err– un-dead?”
“Ah, yeah, hadn’t thought of that.” The Writer frowned and doodled in her notebook. “Death can’t have everyone that ever died, that’s just unwieldy, but how do you cycle them back out– reincarnation maybe?”
“Or just dissolution,” pointed out Akela with a yawn that showed way too many teeth. The Hound looked over at her Writer, slightly akimbo as Akela was upside-down and backwards as sprawled couch dogs are want to be. “Just have them fall apart after a while, that gets rid of all the extra people in Death as well as all the folks who are trapped in the Veil.”
“Efficient,” Akela grinned a giant wolf-y grin that was all predator and very little dog.
“Why not both,” tempered Jon. “If they stay too long in Death they fade away, but they can get reincarnated as well. Veil-trapped just fade.”
“Wait, wait,” said the Writer, scribbling furiously in her notebook. “Look, let’s go with the reincarnation, give them a solid overpowering anchor to a newborn that yanks a random unlinked person out of Death and into the shared body. It’s the same thing as the possessions we were doing earlier, thus the only the reason people age at all is because everyone is a little Dead to start with. Plus we get to use that as a plot point, somewhere–”
“That is crazily morbid,” objected Jon, slightly alarmed. “So everyone who is born–”
“—is just a combination of themselves and a Dead person, which means every Dead person is layers and layers of people all squished together,” the Writer was caught up in drawing the new flowchart of life, “or really the same person over and over–”
“–we’ve gone a little beyond morbid here.” Jon looked a bit queasy.
“No, no, it’s all good, no one remembers, at least not while they are alive.” The Writer waved a hand dismissively. “Not if it happens the right way, but if you take one of the Dead folks over the way we were before and you have them there when someone is born, the ‘verse will just grab them instead. But this time they’ll remember because they’ve got the existing Life and Veil links– Boom, perfect Evil Plot.”
“I don’t see how it’s Evil,” objected Akela. “The kid would have pulled someone from Death anyways, what does it matter if it chooses them? This is supposed to upset me and drive the plot and I am not upset.”
“Because that’s not how it’s supposed to work?” the Writer offered weakly.
The Hound gave her a Look.
“Are you sure you aren’t a cat?” The Writer grumped but went back to her keyboard. “Fine, fine, time for some Hound world-building I guess.”
Hounds and their Huntsmen are the guardians of the Veil. They walk the boundary between Life and Death in an unending patrol, making sure the laws of the Veil are kept. Or at least the Hounds do, the living Huntsmen are a little vague on the whole concept beyond ‘we need to stop the ghost deer and dead people from invading the earth.’
The Laws of the Veil are thusly:
1. The Living and Dead should stay on their own sides of the car and stop poking their sibling or so help me I will turn this universe around right now.
2. The Dead shall wait their turn to become Living again because no cuts, no butts, no coconuts.
3. The Veil critters shall not meddle in the affairs outside the Veil unless it’s to keep folks from breaking rules 1 and 2.
3a. This is important because Living things aren’t meant to realize there is a Veil or that they are really just reincarnated Dead people because that will run everything. No, literally everything. No one will care if they die anymore and will in general stop being nice to each other when they realize that there is for sure an afterlife and no Hell.
“I think in that case Hell really would be other people,” Jon pointed out. “Think about it, you run around killing people– die, and then end up facing down several dozen people who are more than happy to spend their part of eternity making your life, err death, as miserable as possible.”
“Either way, it’s a Law,” said the Writer stubbornly. “I’m going to invoke the ‘because I said so’ on these, I don’t think I really have to define them beyond the fact that they are the Laws and have always been the Laws.”
“I am flexible on the Laws,” said Akela with a sniff, “but I do like a having a Purpose. I am a God of the Veil–”
“Not really,” the Writer started, but was cut off.
“–and I rule my kingdom with an iron will.” She growled overly dramatically. “As it was, so shall it ever be. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered–”
“No quoting the Labyrinth!” The Writer lobbed a tennis ball at Akela who caught it upsides-down expertly and paused to gnaw.
“I don’t think they will sue over six words in a free eBook,” pointed out Jon.
“Besides, you’ve already named me after a copyrighted character,” Akela pointed out, looking up from her new toy. “I need a new name, if we’re playing this game.” She sneezed and rolled over so she was sitting more or less upright on the sofa, half in Jon’s lap. “Plus I’m a genderswap and that’s only going confuse people who’ve run into the Jungle Book before.”
“…Naming things is not my strong point,” objected the Writer. “Seriously, I normally just type a adjective into the baby name webpages and run with it. Heck, I even just named all the characters after colors in In Dreams of Trees.”
“Yeah, might want to try a little harder this time.” Jon rolled his eyes. “As much as I’d love a new last time, I’m willing to let the dogs have the first go.”
“Find, I dub thee… Winjya, because I just made it up and Google is pretty sure that’s not a word.” The Writer poked at the name a bit. “I am not quite sure how to pronounce it though. Per the internet, which never lies, jaya is Sanskrit and means ‘to conquer’, that’s good right?”
“Well, I suppose it’s better than ‘Spot’,” the Hound said, finally. “Win-jai-yah? Jay-a? There is a downside to randomly combining sounds you know. Like remembering how to spell my name a week from now.”
“Sure, sure, I dub thee Winnie, until I come up with something better then.”
Winnie was not impressed.
“So, out of curiosity, why are there so many dogs?” Jon asked, waving a mostly empty beer can at the assembled masses. “I’ve got, what, five?”
“Four, I think? I honestly don’t remember.” The Writer frowned down at the pack. “There was Winnie and her mate, then an opposing mate pair, and I think one extra, but maybe not.”
“Don’t suppose we can just combine them down to three? Four, or five, it’s a lot of dogs to keep up with. Winnie drives most of the plot, at least from what I remember.”
“Eh, fine, for now we go back down to three until I come up with more subplot than ‘not all the dogs agree with Winnie’s brilliant plan’. Which isn’t the best subplot ever, come to think of it.”
“Speaking of which,” Jon gave the noveling notebook a meaningful beer wave. “Onwards?”
“Yes, okay, plot time. Right.” the Writer tried not to look at the blank pages with complete panic. “I’ve got this, I think? Let’s see how much I remember…”
So once upon a time there was a Jon, who was just hanging out, being chill, and not really worrying about life overly much. His parents were not overly enthused about his lack of drive but figured he’d grow out of it. His sister, who had enough drive for six people and change thought he needed more help than passive-aggressive notes about raising the rent on his above-the-garage pseudo-apartment.
Then one day at a construction site he runs into a dog that no one else can see. Which actually takes him a bit to figure out no one else can see. Which freaks him out a little. He goes home, tells his friends about it and they are geeks and get a little overexcited about ghost hunting.
But nothing else happens, so he goes to work. The next day he’s attacked on his way from from work by a Dead Guy Mafia drive by, panics, runs home and then is attacked and bonded to the dog pack that night.
The dogs drag him out and have him fight a Hind and sort-of accidentally kill one of the Mafia. Which causes him to freak out more and…
At which point I don’t remember most of the rest of the plot other than he joins the proper Huntsman organization which works day jobs as Dog trainers. And he ends up breaking into an Evil Lair for some reason. There’s a Dead Hunter and her hound, which are also important for reasons I’ve forgotten.
“That is… not at all useful.” Jon eyed the Writer, “Yeah, just start over please.”
So once upon a time there was the same Jon with the same problems in life. He is attacked by a pack of ghost dogs and gets turned into a Huntsman without a please or thank you.
Then– something. He’s now the anchor for the dogs, but they are still divided over if they want to try and recreate a full bond, partially because they don’t remember what it does either.
But they are attacked by the Dead Guy Mafia, for some reason. Maybe ‘take them out while they still have no idea what’s going on?’ — not a horrible strategy I suppose. But they are 100% trying to kill him, no games.
Then the Hunstmen show up and save him, because that’s a lot easier than having them show up at the door in black suits like S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Plus that makes for a better fight scene that shows the power of the Hounds and the Hinds than the one small scuffle I had before.
They take him off for training and during one of the field exercises is when he runs into Hunter and her ghost dog for— reasons. I have no idea why she is useful to the plot, so I’ll circle back to that later.
So now Jon’s sort of settled in and getting his bearings, only he’s got a ghost Hunter and her dog to hide from everyone else and that’s not so easy. The Hind activity in the area is spiking because they are getting really close to figuring out how to cut folks to the front of the reincarnation line.
And Jon and his dogs need to end up by themselves somehow, a raid gone wrong maybe. A trap of some sort, setup to take out as much of the Huntsman organization as they can so they have safety to run the final set of experiments on the reincarnation thing.
They accidentally catch/are caught by a Hindsman and they sort of arrest each other at the same time, but are trying to survive for some reason so they call a truce which annoys the hell out of all the Veil critters involved. Eh, something to make the other side seem more human and maybe not completely evil after the first attack.
They end up somehow getting to the experiment when the person is going to get reborn, but then maybe Hunter gets stuck in the kid instead? Or something? Or the kid doesn’t end up with anyone at all which would be a plot point I was going to use at some point. Hrm.
Either way, something has to happen so everyone involved but Jon and the dogs think that it failed so they don’t try it again. Only Jon knows it did work and now Hunter really REALLY wants that because it will get her out of the Veil.
And Hunter lost her Dog, somehow, which means the only anchor she has now is Jon so unless they find her an alternative, she’s going to fade away or kill Jon by trying not to fade. But that also means she’s going to be an infant, so it’ll be a while before she’s at a point where she can work with Jon again.
“Wait, so if newborns need to grab a Dead person, do folks who have died and then were resuscitated need one too?” The Writer frowned at her notes. “What if braindead people, ones who flatlined and then sort of came back are actually dead and gone. That means you have a body that’s alive, but with no one attached– so if you can heal the body you could bring a Dead person back over. Which means they can get a body for Hunter because– um, Magic?”
“Back up, back up, main plot please, with some sort of sanity to it,” Jon said.
The Dead Man Mafia is going to bring someone back (one of their old members maybe?) from the dead using the birth of a baby and Jon and the Dogs have to stop this from happening because it’s against the Law.
“Well, I could use more dramatic words, but that’s basically what we have so far.”
The Hound pack is split over whether it’s a good idea to reform one of the old bonds because they don’t know what sort of power it will give Jon and how he will use it.
Hunter is trapped in the Veil and is starting to fade. She needs to find a way out before it’s too late.
Jon needs to find a way to hide his new profession from his family, especially his sister who is on the warpath to help him find his ‘True Calling’ and move out of his parents’ house.
“Not too horrible,” Jon looked a little less than happy at the last one. “I’m still a little Meh over the main plot though, I really don’t see how bringing someone back from the dead a little early is an earth shattering kaboom.”
The Writer shrugged, “Maybe they are bringing back someone really horrible?”
“Maybe it’s not a Dead person they’re trying to bring back,” Winnie said thoughtfully licking a paw. “Maybe it’s a Veil creature.” She looked up. “I would get very very cross about that.”
“That would be… creepy.” said Jon finally.
“So then the Veil creature would be alive and then they would die and…” the Writer paused thoughtfully. “I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing, but I can’t think of why right now.”
“Obviously time for a cookie break then,” said Jon cheerfully, “go forth, eat dinner and then come back tomorrow and we’ll finish hashing out a proper plot.” He turned the TV back on and fished out another in a long line of endless beers.
“It’s not that bad now,” objected the Writer, but her tummy rumbled. “Fine, fine, but I reserve the right to throw this all out and start over!”
“Pantsers,” Winnie said with a sigh and went back to chewing on her tennis ball.