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This is a WIP, NaNoWriMo 2015, Forest Wed. A small town in the rain forest is protected by two gods, represented by married avatars, each chosen by their god. When one of the pair dies, the gods choose a new couple from the unmarried young people.


On a warm spring day, the flowers and leaves still wet from rain that the sun hadn’t yet dried away, the town of Beikife discovered their forest groom cold and dead. The sun passed its midpoint before anyone realized they hadn’t seen him pottering around the river, or weaving baskets in the shade of a tree, or sleeping in that same shade, work set aside for a time.

A healer climbed the winding stairs to the forest wed’s tree house, expecting to find the groom sleeping off a late night drinking under the stars, and instead, brought back the news of loss that swept through the town like a river flooding its banks.

The groom’s death threw Beikife into turmoil, the town abuzz with speculation about who the new forest wed couple would be.

Those closest to the recently lost prepared him for his funeral pyre, following old rituals that offered some comfort in times of need. He would be given to the earth and sky, and reborn again in time, when the gods willed it. People came one by one, or huddled in groups against the specter of death, to leave flowers and small tokens of their affection on his bier before it was lit. Some rushed at their task, and some lingered, weeping. If they wept for the dead, or for the living, no one but they and the gods knew.

*    *    *

(This story is giving me fits, so any feedback would be appreciated!)

Beikife is a small town in something like the Amazon rain forest, protected by a pair of married gods. The gods are represented by human avatars, two young people chosen and married by divine power. The strength of the marriage represents the bond between the gods’ blessing, so the new forest wed must find a way to connect to each other, or the crops will fail, the rivers will flood, and the cursed monsters that live in the forest will claim many lives.


About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

28 responses »

  1. Cara Bristol says:

    Interesting fantasy concept. What is going to be the conflict in the story?

    • This story and “Bluebeard” and two branches of the same idea–what could cause a magical marriage? What would that marriage be like?
      The conflict is the new couple struggling to form a bond, because the strength of their marriage directly affects how well the village is protected.

  2. Kim Magennis says:

    Definitely got me wanting to know more! Interesting storyline, Caitlin.

  3. Such a beautifully sad excerpt.

  4. This world seems very idyllic- almost fairy-tale-like. I have a feeling it won’t stay that way for long unless a new couple is found? Love this concept!

  5. Cara has the key. I do think there’s too much right at the beginning. Trim it and get to the conflict of the fantasy. Then you’ll have a beauty of a story.
    So where’s the other story? What the heck happened there? Take care of your fans, Caitlin.

    • Oh, yes. This is my NaNo draft, which, like the two before it, I haven’t written to “The End.” I plan to do that, and then let it sit a bit before I edit.
      While I’m doing that, I’ll get back to “I Need to Call it Something other than Bluebeard.”

  6. You come up with THE most interesting story premises. I thought I was going to be missing the previous story re the wizard and his bride but no, I’m totally caught up in this one already – well done.

  7. Alexis Duran says:

    Very lovely opening. It did leave me wondering where his spouse was. Does she just disappear? I definitely relate to having too many story ideas- and each more shiny and sparkly than the last.

  8. Daryl Devore says:

    I felt like snuggling right into this scene – sad yes – but idyllic and peaceful.

  9. Jenna Jaxon says:

    I was also wondering about the wife/bride. Does she get married to the next groom or is it a new couple? Fascinating world building.

    • Sometimes I get overzealous with trimming my WIPs for snippets–the bride & groom are middle aged, with well-established routines.
      It will be a new couple, which is why neither old groom nor bride are named.

  10. Oooh, I really love the concept of this story!! I figure the next couple might not get along, or get along too well and she finds out he’s up to something with ulterior motives (or vice versa). Can’t wait to see where this goes!

  11. Ed Hoornaert says:

    You’ve got me wondering what his mate is doing throughout all of this, as well as what powers and/or burdens the chosen pair possess. Interesting setup.

  12. This is a very interesting premise. I can’t wait to read more.

  13. chellecordero says:

    I like. I see the story shaping and I imagine that some of the conflict would be a couple trying to make the marriage work under the spectre of death – you don’t seem to indicate the cause of death and possibly foul play will come into it as well? You’ve got me intrigued.

  14. jessicahanna says:

    Fascinating concept, Caitlin. I love the line about the loss sweeping through the town like a river flooding its banks. Really nice.

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