Stories are told of adventurers four,
But what of the warrior's big brother?
He hung back and chose not to go,
But that doesn't mean he isn't a hero.
Today he tells some stories of his own,
Not just of adventurers four renowned,
Not just of his normal life at home.
What he tells won't fit in a poem.
Wisdom, honor and fortitude,
Decisions, dreams and brotherhood.
They've seen them all and will see more
In brothers' stories of journeys galore.
I dunno why you're here, but it must have something to do with the A Hero's Journey/Another Hero's Journey stories I write for the Neopian Times, based on the game NeoQuest II.
What is AHJ/AnHJ, you ask? The story - you should know by now - is set in the NQII universe, which I have managed to fit into the rest of Neopian canon, because I'm...ah, shall we say, InSaNe that way. I disregard the cutscenes and totally rely on the game proper.
That aside, the main story revolves mostly around Reuben, a white Blumaroo weapon smith who just happens to be Rohane's big brother. Uh, if you don't know who Rohane is, mosey on over to NQII and you'll see. Besides brotherly love and brotherly worrying, there are some bits of action and adventure, I suppose, but since this is me we're talking about, there's more drama and emotion and character development and me insisting that Rohane is more yellow than white. That, and it sorta helps me distinguish between him and Reuben more. This is my universe, so DEAL WITH IT. =D Actually, Rohane is white in the cutscenes, but Kat doesn't follow the cutscenes, so there. ^_^ Maybe in a different storyline I'll do that.
Reuben is my character. Some other characters are mine, while others have been taken from NQII and other parts of Neopia.
Once upon a time, some friends dragged me into the world of NeoQuest II. I played the game, but when I finished all three modes, I felt that...well, the story was all right, but there were so many questions left unanswered. Now seriously, who was Rohane? What was his life like before he ran off to pursue adventure and ran into his friends? What if he had an older brother? What if the cutscenes didn't exist (won't elaborate on that, there would be loads of spoilers)?
So I decided to answer them on my own by writing. Strangely, it didn't take me long to come up with Reuben's character next and work on their parents. It would become my longest series (until I published twelve-part series), and one of the stories I'm most known for - A Hero's Journey.
At first, I thought things would stop there, until readers asked if I could write a sequel. I didn't know what to put in said sequel, until I decided to focus on Reuben. Another Hero's Journey was born, and became the catch-all title for any stories in the collection focusing on Rohane's older brother. From there, one thing led to another until...today.
These are the primary stories that follow the basic NeoQuest II plot - and possibly beyond that. I believe they are also the products of a deranged, obsessed mind such as mine, heh.
A Hero's Journey
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The story that started it all, starting all the way from Rohane's birth and ending with his departure. However, despite the title (which denotes the focus on Rohane), it does indeed feel like much of the story is told from Reuben's point of view, how he deals with having a little brother. They both compete to see who can truly follow in their father's footsteps, but as they grow, so do their relationship. I loved writing this story, not just because it's my first NQII story (and possibly the first NQII series in the entire NT), but also because I enjoyed exploring the character development not just of Reuben and Rohane, but of everyone dealing with their problems in the series.
In the 2007 NT Awards, A Hero's Journey was nominated for Favorite Protagonist (Reuben), Favorite Non-Comedic Series and Favorite Work Overall. It won 1st runner-up for Favorite Supporting Character (Melissa).
Another Hero's Journey
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The sequel to AHJ, this series totally focuses on Reuben as he debates with himself whether or not to follow his younger brother, be it to have a share in the fame or simply because he's worried about Rohane. In his quest, he runs into a band of travelers who show him that perhaps he has a different destiny ahead of him. I delve deeper into Reuben's character even more, and realize how much fun it is to write about a hero's older brother. xD I have to admit, this was very well-received among the readers who wanted it in the first place. Thanks, guys!
Another Hero's Journey was nominated for Favorite Protagonist (Reuben), Favorite Supporting Character (Melissa), and Favorite Non-Comedic Series in the 2008 NT Awards.
In, Through and By Brotherhood
This short story picks up some time after AnHJ, and mostly documents an exchange of letters between Rohane and Reuben. The former advances in his quest to save Meridell, and has managed to run into a wizard named Mipsy. Personally, I love how I ended this (I'm not very good with endings, usually) after so much correspondence. Here, I return to the interaction between the brothers that I missed in AnHJ and in a couple of side stories. I believe this would also be my first letter-only story - but definitely not the last, as it sets the pace for the other short stories that are like interludes between series. I was able to practice with switching voices from Reuben to Rohane and back again, setting them apart from each other, admitting that they can be similar, and just as different.
In, Through and By Brotherhood was nominated for Favorite Non-Comedic Short Story in the 2008 NT Awards.
Another Hero's Journey: Dreams
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News of Reuben's own heroic deeds reach King Skarl, who then wants to make Reuben a knight. Meanwhile, Reuben decides to do some sleuthing of his own as he enters Meridell Castle - figuring out what has become of Rohane and Mipsy after their victory over Ramtor. So why "dreams"? Reuben has a lot of internal monologue moments, in which he tries to figure out what to do with the rest of his life (do his childhood dreams still stand?), if his younger brother has chosen a life of adventure.
I have to admit, this has less of the action and adventure than the previous series, and it focuses more on drama and character development. I kind of thought that after what Reuben did in AnHJ, he deserved some kind of reward, and so I wrote this.
Another correspondence, another somewhat "filler" story between series. Rohane finally writes again, this time from Terror Mountain, up to the point where he and Mipsy run into Talinia. This also marks the beginning of Reuben's weapon business. It kind of ends on a melancholic note, but with hope, as Reuben continues to have faith in his brother's courage, strength and charisma. As to why it is entitled "Unwritten" despite the plethora of letters you'll find in it...well, you'll have to read through to find out.
I also began experimenting more with Reuben's relationship with Andrea, a friend he met back in AnHJ. Perhaps I couldn't resist just inserting her into the story because I like her a lot. Or perhaps I'm starting to think that maybe something more could blossom between them besides a great friendship. Mwahaha. Kat am scheming again.
Writing this particular letter story was quite a challenge! For one thing, instead of a constant exchange between two characters, this is only one very long, very detailed letter from Reuben to Rohane, written at the same time as the later part of the Terror Mountain chapter of NQII. I also had to really make this sound like a truly lengthy letter that flows on and on as Reuben keeps on writing, constantly adding to it. But I'm really glad it went well, especially in terms of reader feedback.
Unsent was nominated for Favorite Non-Comedic Short Story in the 2009 NT Awards. It also has the same pic as In, Through and By Brotherhood, which was nominated for the same category. Interesting. Rohane is good luck. XD
Another Hero's Journey: Decisions
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The series begins just like always - Reuben hears of his younger brother's escapades in a different land, in this case, the Lost Desert. He misses him (as usual) and finds that he may be losing hope again when Rohane suddenly stops writing to him. But Reuben makes up his mind - together with Andrea, he decides to embark on a trip to the Lost Desert just to see for himself if his sibling is doing well. Wow, this one is exceedingly long. As in, really, really long. Longer than AnHJ. I also get the chance to work on the characterization of the other NQII heroes (because of course, being one of the two focuses of the saga, Rohane has been hogging the attention), and have them interact with the characters long established in the A(n)HJ universe.
Another Hero's Journey: Decisions was nominated for Favorite Supporting Character (Andrea) in the 2009 NT Awards.
Wow, the major plot line was undisturbed for a long time. XD Like, for nearly a YEAR. I ran into some major writer's block then, and this story underwent several revisions (from a 12-part series down to this; I cut out a lot from the original plot before settling for the usual correspondence interlude). However, it is different in the sense that this time, the story is a compilation of Rohane's letters to Reuben while in the Haunted Woods.
Some of the stories I write aren't exactly part of the saga itself, but are supplementary stories that either focus on other characters or different time frames. However, you don't have to be well-versed in the A(n)HJ universe (or even the NQII universe, for that matter) to appreciate them.
Pre-AHJ - so far back that it takes place even before Rohane's birth. When I got this idea, I didn't know how to fit him in it, so I decided to set it earlier. It's a really simple story, really, when I decided to revisit the AHJ universe. Did I mention that I absolutely love the custom pic I got for this? =D Absolutely spiffy. I never really described the blankets, but they're awesome. And in a Meridellian color scheme too!
In this rather short tale, young Reuben can't sleep at night, so his mother, having run out of bedtime stories, sings him a lullaby that helps. Now, you don't think it's that straightforward, right? Well, it's not. There's something more, but I can't tell you what it is for fear of spoiling the plot. Oh - apparently Reuben is young enough to not have heard of a lullaby until then.
Watching the Sunset
Takes place right after AHJ, but it's not included up there under "The Saga" because it's more of a side story, somewhat like the bonus eleventh chapter of sorts. It's also not as related to the NQII proper.
Reuben reminisces about the moments he used to spend with Rohane, especially when they watch the sunset together, and he feels it's kind of...well, lonely without his younger brother. In this story, I had fun describing the skies and the color changes, and the stars at the end. And upon reviewing the story, I realized that the custom pic artist didn't forget "that slightly raised spot in the grass". Thank you, artist!
Tears of an Apprentice
In an attempt to connect the Meridell plots with NQII, I wrote this story, also to answer another question - "Who trained Jeran to become the knight he is today?" Then, for some odd reason, I cast Sir Reynold, Reuben and Rohane's father, into the role, and thought it felt right - and it could even turn into a fascinating plot device for future pieces, haha. Another question I answered was, "Where were Jeran and Lisha when Ramtor rose to power?
I've always fangirled Jeran (oh, don't look at me like that. XD), and I thought it would be fun to include him in the A(n)HJ saga after figuring out how to fit the Meridell chapter of NQII into the rest of Neopian history. In this story, I also explore a different side of Jeran - a more dramatic side masked by his popular heroic image.
Rise and Fall
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Written for the Great Gypsy Collaboration. I was thinking of gypsy stories, but then I decided to incorporate one into a story I was weaving about Terask, and a glimpse into his life before he took over Faerieland and became the twisted sorcerer we know him to be.
I thought the title was very apropos for this, considering how the story was divided. It was supposed to be one short piece, but when I went over the word limit, I knew I had to turn it into a mini-series. Thus, Terask finds himself in a prophecy that threatens his bid for power, and attempts to destroy the problem before it reaches him. Since this was but a brief foray into Terask's character and the circumstances surrounding him, I obviously want to do more and explore the side of the villain.
Foreseen and Unforeseen
In a bid to deviate completely from NQII but not from the A(n)HJ saga itself, I created a story for Olivia, the nature seer who often has a few tidbits of good advice for the other characters, most notably Reuben.
However, I was under time pressure, for I wanted this to get into the Illusen Day issue (and yes, I did mean for Illusen to get involved), so many aspects about Olivia and her Sight still remain vague. One thing's for sure - Illusen was there to give the young Olivia advice on dealing with her newfound power, and became more than just a mentor especially as Olivia grew up and grew into the role she would step into later in life.
The Cost of Loyalty
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Another short story-turned-mini-series, this was written for Fyora Day - and to get a feel of the first-person POV again. Lyra, Fyora's personal attendant, is part of the Wingshadows, a group of clairvoyant dark faeries who foresee the prophecy concerning Terask and his fall from power. Lyra ponders the choice she made a long time ago to follow Queen Fyora instead of staying with her more sinister sisters, and accepts the role she must play in the war of Faerieland despite the hardships that come with it.
Random fact: I mention a main character's age in this series. Oh yeah, and Lyra is one of the NPCs of NQII.
Twice Upon a Christmas
Set many years after the events of the main saga, an aging Melissa tells her little grandson a story one particularly hostile Christmas Eve. The "story within a story", on the other hand, dates back to the AHJ time frame, when Reuben and Rohane were children, possibly even before they learned how to really get along. While Darel longs to see his father before Christmas, Melissa narrates the events of another Christmas Eve a long time ago, when two young Blumaroos also longed to see their father.
A couple I have been dropping hints for becomes canon in my Neo-universe after this story has been told. XD I was supposed to submit this last year, but Another Hero's Journey: Decisions already ran through the Christmas issue, so it underwent some editing before I submitted it again.
Another Hero's Journey: Destinies [submitted] - in which the NQII troupe enter Faerieland and Reuben embarks on a new adventure, complete with ancient magic, history lessons, and a legendary sword.
A Hero's Journey: Knight [in progress] - in which Rohane returns to Meridell to be knighted.