My Journey as an Author - 8
So, I was thinking about explain my other serial project, Pearl of the Cultivators. I have some developed arcs and lore, but thought it might be good to share an aspect of the first season, following a small team of explorers as they navigate an ancient tomb.
I did a brief mock-up of the outline.:
A. Introduce the two brothers, Li Wei and (Alex) Li Ming, estranged for years due to a family dispute.
B. Establish their individual lives, highlighting their contrasting personalities and lifestyles.
C. Set the stage by introducing a rich academic, Professor Zhang, who seeks their help to explore an ancient tomb in China.
A. Li Wei and Li Ming reluctantly agree to work together, setting aside their differences for the sake of the job.
B. They arrive at the temple hiding the tomb, observing its grandeur and mysterious atmosphere, with some hints as to what follows. Establish things might not be what they seem with Zhang, the Brothers, or the Pearl.
C. Professor Zhang briefs them about the tomb's legends, emphasizing the valuable golden pearl rumored to possess magical properties.
III. Descending into the Depths
A. The brothers, accompanied by Professor Zhang, enter the tomb structure, facing various traps and obstacles which test them, but serve to bring the Brothers closer.
B. As they explore deeper, they encounter an astonishing replica city, intended to serve the lord interred in the tomb. Secrets of the tomb are revealed, and the characters are tested in several elaborate traps
C. They marvel at the intricate craftsmanship and realize the significance of the golden pearl in the city's center.
D. Some things they encounter challenge their expectations and prove the pearl is more than a myth, but something otherworldly.
IV. The Danger Unleashed
A. While examining the city, the brothers and Professor Zhang unintentionally awaken a dormant, ferocious monster.
B. Panic ensues as the creature pursues them relentlessly, sensing the presence of the golden pearl.
C. The team encounter another group of explorers with links to the Professor.
D. Professor Zhang's behavior becomes suspicious, raising doubts about his true intentions.
V. Sacrifice and Heroism
A. Trapped within the tomb's depths, Li Ming, recognizing the danger, selflessly sacrifices himself to save his brother and destroy the monster.
B. Li Wei mourns his brother's loss but finds newfound strength to confront Professor Zhang whom he blames.
C. In a final confrontation, Li Wei discovers Professor Zhang's treachery, realizing that he intended to use the monster to eliminate the Brothers and claim the golden pearl for himself.
A. Li Wei, gravely injured from the battle, succumbs to his wounds, but not before securing the golden pearl and ensuring its safety.
B. The entrance to the tomb collapses, burying access to the city, the monster, and the Brothers within its depths.
C. The story concludes with a strange girl in the ruins stepping from a coffin in the city.
It is not a full outline, and there are many twists and turns and interesting ideas I want to work into the adventure. Some of them are as follows.
1. The Unexpected Ally: During their exploration of the tomb, the Brothers encounter a mysterious figure who initially seems to be a threat. However, it is revealed that this person is an ancient guardian spirit tasked with protecting the tomb. The spirit offers its assistance to the Brothers, aiding them in their quest and revealing crucial information about the tomb's secrets.
I envision this as one of three sisters, two of whom have a role in the story. She is a shadow in the dark of the city, and is seen in flashbacks within the illusion of the city, when Alex and Wei are transported into its dream. This will be their first real encounter, and they will wonder what is real and not.
2. Betrayal from Within: As the brothers and Professor Zhang face the dangers within the tomb, it becomes apparent that one of the Brothers has been secretly working with the academic all along. This revelation introduces a complex dynamic and raises questions about the true motives and loyalties of the characters involved.
Although it seems obvious that Zhang is an antagonist, a trope, I want it to remain unclear. It is possible, but it may be a consequence beyond his choice. He has no direct interest in killing anyone, and want to steal the Pearl before anyone else gets ahold of it.
At the same time, both Brothers should have some reason to be suspicious. I see this as Alex working with Zhang from the start, and Wei harboring a secret that he has not shared concerning their mother. It could be that Wei has told Alex their mother hated his father and came to reject Alex, but the truth is that she loved both.
3. The Enchanted Guardian: Inside the replica city, the Brothers come across a seemingly ordinary statue guarding the golden pearl. However, the statue suddenly comes to life, revealing itself to be a powerful guardian with the ability to control elements. The brothers must outsmart or appease the guardian to acquire the golden pearl. This should be separate from the Threat, and serve as a test of some deep philosophical question. It may be a representative of the dead lord.
4. The Illusionary Trap: While exploring the replica city, the brothers stumble upon a series of traps and challenges that seem insurmountable. However, they eventually realize that the entire city is an elaborate illusion created to test their determination and worthiness. Overcoming the illusions requires them to trust in their bond as brothers and rely on their shared strengths.
This might develop slow, and come as a final climax, where it is a question of what is and is not real. It may also reflect on the power of the Pearl and its ability to manipulate reality.
5. The Dual Nature of the Pearl: When the Brothers finally obtain the golden pearl, they discover that it possesses not just magical properties but also a malevolent force. The pearl's power can grant great wishes but at a high cost, corrupting those who succumb to its allure. This revelation adds a moral dilemma, as the Brothers must decide how to handle the pearl's power and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
I want to dig deep into the idea that weak people cannot handle the power, but willful people can. It only magnifies what is there, good for good, bad for bad. I do not like the idea of turning a back on power, but understanding it and using it properly, safely, and to purpose.
Some of the aspects of the Threat I am considering are as follow:
1. Shapeshifting Abilities: The monster possesses the ability to change its form, adapting to its surroundings and becoming an even greater threat. It can morph into various intimidating shapes, making it difficult for the brothers to anticipate its attacks and escape its clutches.
2. Elemental Affinity: The monster is attuned to a specific element, such as fire, water, or earth. It can summon and manipulate that element, unleashing devastating attacks and creating formidable obstacles for the brothers to overcome. Its elemental powers add an extra layer of danger and challenge to their encounters.
3. Sentience and Strategy: Rather than being a mindless creature, the monster displays a high level of intelligence and cunning. It can anticipate the brothers' movements, strategize its attacks, and set traps of its own. This makes it a formidable adversary, forcing the brothers to rely not only on their physical prowess but also on their wits to outsmart the monster.
4. Tragic Backstory: The monster's existence is tied to a tragic past, revealing that it was once a human or a noble creature before being cursed or corrupted. Unveiling its backstory adds depth and empathy, blurring the lines between good and evil. The Brothers may find themselves torn between wanting to defeat the monster and seeking a way to break its curse or restore its lost humanity.
I think what might be nice is that it is the loyal hound of the dead lord, and has stayed by the side of his master since his death. The power of the Pearl has worked on him to make him what he is. Although he is ferocious, has he killed anyone except in self-defense? Perhaps, he only is warding off thieves, and maybe then he is trying to help them from making a tragic mistake.
5. Emotional Connection: The monster, despite its terrifying nature, exhibits a sliver of vulnerability or a connection to the Brothers. It may display moments of hesitation or remorse during their encounters, hinting at a deeper emotional struggle. This emotional connection complicates the Brothers' decision to fight against or save the monster, adding moral complexity to their journey.
No good adventure is complete with some great traps. I am considering these:
1. The Hall of Illusions: The Brothers enter a grand hall filled with mirrors that create illusions, distorting their perception of reality. They must navigate through the hall, avoiding traps and false paths that lead to dead ends or dangerous areas. Only by deciphering the true reflections and using their instincts can they progress further.
2. The Guilt Chamber: In this chamber, the Brothers are confronted with their deepest regrets and unresolved conflicts from their past. The trap preys on their emotions, causing them to doubt each other and themselves. They must overcome their guilt and find forgiveness within themselves to break free from the chamber's grip.
Narratively, this is good as it allows them to confront some of their secrets, such as Wei and his potential lies.
3. The Labyrinthine Corridor: The Brothers find themselves in a seemingly endless maze of twisting corridors. The walls shift and change, making it difficult to find their way out. The trap tests their navigational skills and requires them to solve riddles or follow hidden clues to unveil the correct path leading to the next stage of their journey.
4. The Weighted Hallway: As the Brothers step onto a seemingly ordinary hallway, the floor tiles start to sink under their weight. They must quickly determine the safe path by avoiding specific tiles, each marked with ancient symbols or patterns. One wrong step could trigger a cascade of traps or lead to a deadly fall.
5. The Collapsing Ceiling: In a chamber filled with valuable artifacts, the Brothers trigger a trap that activates a mechanism causing the ceiling to slowly descend. They must race against time, solving puzzles or finding hidden switches to deactivate the trap before they are crushed beneath the weight of the collapsing ceiling.
6. The Poisonous Gas Chamber: The Brothers enter a chamber where deadly toxic gas starts to fill the room. They must locate and activate ventilation systems or find protective masks to survive. The trap tests their resourcefulness and ability to think quickly under pressure.
Though the Threat will be the main concern, there are other obstacles to face. You need a variety, and better to work in the way of serialized content. Remember, it is about cliffhangers.
1. Ancient Guardians: Throughout the tomb, the Brothers encounter small, animated statues or relics that come to life to protect the tomb's secrets. These guardians possess unique abilities or weapons and engage the Brothers in combat, challenging their fighting skills and teamwork.
There should be more to them, including dark secrets. I am thinking that they are not just statues, but dead servants which have been prepared and animated by the Pearl.
2. Venomous Serpents: Deep within the tomb's chambers, the Brothers stumble upon a nest of venomous serpents. These agile and aggressive creatures attack with deadly precision, forcing the Brothers to defend themselves while navigating treacherous terrain.
These should be otherworldly, hinting at the strange origins of the Pearl. Maybe more like worms, or lampreys, milk-white, with three sets of teeth.
3. Collapsing Pathways: As the Brothers traverse narrow walkways or crumbling bridges, the structural integrity of these pathways becomes compromised. The Brothers must carefully time their movements, avoiding falling debris and collapsing sections, to reach their destination safely.
Both Brothers should have their time to shine, with Alex using science and strength, and Wei using Taoist magic, wisdom, and knowledge.
4. Treacherous Pits: Certain chambers or corridors present deep pits filled with hazardous substances or unknown creatures lurking within. The Brothers must find a way to cross these pits, be it using makeshift bridges, swinging from ropes, or activating hidden mechanisms.
There should be a moment where one has to go into a pit to rescue someone or something, demonstrating bravery, taking on wounds, and leaving readers wondering what will happen. But who? Usually, a damsel would work best, as love is a great motivator, but that requires a love interest to be included.
5. Deadly Traps: In addition to the main traps previously mentioned, the tomb is littered with smaller, intricate traps designed to deter intruders. These traps could include dart-shooting mechanisms, hidden spikes, or pressure-sensitive plates that trigger spikes or arrows when stepped upon. The Brothers must exercise caution and utilize their observational skills to detect and disarm these traps.
It would be good to develop a proper theme of the tomb and build the traps off that theme. With the inclusions of illusion, they might lead back into what is real and not real. There could be fake traps, which may even prove the way out.
6. Unstable Structures: The temple and tomb's ancient architecture may have deteriorated over time, leading to unstable floors, collapsing walls, or crumbling ceilings. The Brothers must navigate these hazardous areas, making split-second decisions to avoid being crushed or trapped by falling debris.
These collapses may be intentional, triggered by the opposing explorers, or part of the traps. Entire building may be set up to take interlopers with them.
7. Mysterious Mists: Certain chambers or sections of the tomb are engulfed in dense, mystical mists that impair visibility and disorient the Brothers. They must rely on their instincts and senses to find their way through, all while being wary of potential dangers lurking within the fog.
These mists may even be alive, in some fashion. Is there more to them, or not?
And what about mysteries. We have the Pearl, but Zhang also needs to have something leading from him to hidden conspiracies.
1. The Ancient Order: The organization could be an ancient secret society that has existed for centuries, dedicated to acquiring and harnessing powerful artifacts for their own agenda. They believe that the golden Pearl possesses immense mystical energy and seek to control it for their own purposes. Is Zhang working for them, or his own interests. And if the Order knows about these relics, who else?
2. Hidden Influence: Throughout the story, subtle hints and clues can be dropped regarding the organization's existence. These hints could include symbols, cryptic messages, or references to their activities in historical texts or legends related to other powerful artifacts. These clues gradually build intrigue and foreshadow a larger, interconnected world beyond the immediate plot.
Are there dead explorers the Brothers encounter? They are not the first.
3. The Professor's Double Agenda: As the story progresses, it becomes evident that the professor's involvement with the Brothers goes beyond his academic pursuits. It is revealed that the professor is a member of the organization, using his position and knowledge to manipulate the Brothers into retrieving the golden Pearl for the organization's benefit. Or, so it would seem. What if that is all lies? Who is telling the truth?
4. Betrayal and Conflict: The organization's interest in the Pearl creates a rift between the professor and the Brothers. The Brothers, initially unaware of the professor's true motives, must confront the betrayal and decide whether to align themselves with the organization or stand against it to protect the Pearl and its power from falling into the wrong hands.
What are the stakes? Is the Pearl too dangerous to be owned? How far must they go to keep it safe? Is it worth their own lives?
5. Pursuit and Escalation: As the Brothers uncover the organization's involvement, they become targets of relentless pursuit. The organization dispatches its agents, skilled in various forms of combat and manipulation, to capture or eliminate the Brothers and claim the Pearl. This creates high-stakes action sequences and intensifies the sense of danger and urgency.
6. Reveal and Confrontation: Towards the climax of the story, the true nature and scope of the organization are fully revealed. The Brothers, armed with their newfound knowledge and allies, must confront the organization's leadership, engaging in a final battle of wits and strength to protect the Pearl and thwart the organization's plans.
A center of the story is the relationship of the Brothers. What is that, exactly? What are the themes, and general issues at play?
1. Cultural Exchange: The Brothers can engage in conversations where they share their respective knowledge and experiences. The half-German brother, with his Western education, can introduce scientific and academic perspectives, while the full Chinese brother can provide insights into Chinese history, traditions, and Taoist philosophy. They learn from each other, broadening their perspectives and deepening their understanding of different cultures.
It is a balance between ambition and preservation, about high-minded thought, and vulgar progress. It is about the pacifist that does not act, and the warrior that protects.
2. Conflict of Approaches: Due to their differing backgrounds, the Brothers may have different approaches to problem-solving and decision-making. The half-German brother, influenced by his Western education, may prioritize logical analysis and scientific methods, while the full Chinese brother, rooted in Taoist teachings, may rely more on intuition, spiritual guidance, and ancient wisdom. These differences can lead to debates and conflicts as they navigate challenges and make crucial choices.
I see this as being significant with the illusions. Alex figures out what is real and what is not, while Wei asks the illusions to answer. They may also go different ways depending on a choice, such as what they want, which is not the same. Think an exit, or the Pearl.
3. Complementary Skills: The Brothers' diverse backgrounds can also create a dynamic where they bring different skills to the table. The half-German brother's physical prowess and academic knowledge can be complemented by the full Chinese brother's spiritual insight, historical understanding, and proficiency in martial arts. They learn to leverage each other's strengths, combining their abilities to overcome obstacles and adversaries.
It is only together that they see Zhang for who he is, or come to understand what it happening.
4. Learning from Tradition and Innovation: The full Chinese brother can teach the half-German brother about the importance of tradition, respect for history, and the value of ancient wisdom. Meanwhile, the half-German brother can introduce the concept of innovation, critical thinking, and scientific advancements, encouraging the full Chinese brother to embrace new perspectives and modern approaches when necessary. This exchange of ideas fosters personal growth and adaptation.
5. Mutual Respect and Support: Despite their differences, the Brothers develop a deep bond built on mutual respect and support. They recognize and appreciate each other's unique strengths and perspectives, realizing that their individual backgrounds and expertise are valuable assets to their shared journey. They learn to collaborate, combining their knowledge and skills to achieve their common goal.