Darkborn Dreams - Dark Fantasy

Logline

Paladin Wynnefreja of the Church of Eternal Light, must risk her soul by working with a woman who has heretical powers in order to defeat the vampiric coven that is draining the common folk of their lifeforce.

Details

  • Adult, Dark Fantasy
  • estimated: 90-100k
  • Market: women and queer identities 18-30 with an interest in Bloodborne and dark multilayered fantasy
  • Themes: The interplay of personal morals vs Institutional Religious demands & The duty vs corruption of having power
  • Not yet written. Comparable work: Hungry Skies 95k, complete.
  • Mood: Interplay of surrealist and eldritch dreaming worlds and a dark waking world

Summary

Paladin Wynnefreya is sent to investigate a village plagued with a sleeping sickness. Upon arrival, she finds the village empty save for a strange web in the fields that covers the missing villagers. In the centre, Wynn finds a sleeping man and kills him, causing the villagers all die except one woman cocooned in webbing. Wynn frees her and discovers that the woman has no memory of her identity.

Disturbed, Wynn sets out to the nearest monastery to report her discovery and bring the survivor somewhere safe. Along the way, the woman chooses the name Primula after the flowers that grow along the roadside. Wynn is granted a vision from the Living God, Mother Brightest, that directs her to another village with the sleeping plague.

With Primula’s help, Wynn learns that the webs are created by vampiric mages called Vagarists that feed off living things using their web. Primula surprises both Wynn and herself by using similar magic to now-dead Vagarist to save the trapped villagers. Wynn know magic like this is heresy.

Wynn is torn between arresting Primula and hiding her magic from the Church until they know more about the Vagarists. Her decision is made when she realizes Primula can help save others trapped in webs.

Primula discovers the location of the leaders of the Vagarists. In exchange for Prim’s help, Wynn will allow her to leave once the work is done, knowing this choice risks Wynn’s very soul. The Church sends more visions, growing impatient with Wynn’s delays, until Wynn learns other Paladins have been sent to retrieve her. The next morning, Wynn wakes to find the blessings that protected her are gone.

Wynn abandons the trappings of a Paladin and they continue toward the Vagarist’s nest. The closer they get, the more nightmares affect Wynn, no longer protected by the Eternal Light. Prim helps, using a web to protect Wynn at night from the Vagarist’s influence. As she does, Prim and Wynn slowly piece together Prim’s memories in her dreams.

Prim was a protégé, meant to be converted to a full Vagarist, however Wynn interrupted the ritual, leaving Prim somewhere in between. The Vagarists seek an elevated state of existence, similar to Mother Brightest, the lich behind the Church and its blessings.

Wynn can’t decide if she should expose the Church or allow it to continue, as its blessings offer a better life to its flock. After discussion with Prim, and thought, they turn toward the Holy capital. There, they confront the Mother Brightest and confirm she is a lich. Both refuse the Mother’s offer of power and together Primula and Wynn kill her after a fierce struggle.

Wynn is mortally injured and the women notice the world around them is starting to crumble without the Mother’s magic. Primula wraps Wynn in the Mother’s web and takes her place as God, sacrificing her happiness to save Wynn and her world. When Wynn wakes, she is healed, but alone. She vows to protect Prim, becoming her guardian.

3 Likes

First off, I think the idea behind this is awesome - both the world and Wynn’s character. I’m so excited for this!

I have a few questions about parts, some or all of which I know might be because of the 500-word limit, but maybe they’ll be useful to consider anyway.

What happens if the Paladins retrieve her - what are the stakes of her capture? What is the nature of the nightmares that the church is blessings protect her from? Does everyone without the church’s blessing get them?

What were Prim’s motivations in becoming a protégé? Does the return of her memories have any impact on her personality? She was willing to do some dark stuff, but now she’s committed to taking down her old mentors and abandoning her search for this elevated state?

This part confused me a little bit when I first read it. Are you saying that the church has also killed people with this sleeping sickness to get its power? Because it isn’t outright stated, and that seems to be the main problem with lichs. Also, the previous paragraph gave me the impression that they already knew the Mother was a lich, though maybe that was me misreading it.

Okay, this is a really cool ending. Final question (sorry - I hope these are useful): so was the Mother’s magic intrinsic to the world or gained through the same kind of process the Vargarists were using? If it’s the same, what has happened to connect it to the fabric of the world - and if it’s different and the mother wasn’t leeching off people, why did she need to be taken down?

Basically, I think you could possibly be clearer about Prim’s arc and the nature of the church and the mother. But as for the whole idea of Vargarists, the central female relationship, and the protagonist falling out of faith with her religion and literally fighting her god at the end - sign me up!

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This is all really helpful! Thank you so much♡ I’ll be rewriting it this evening to clear up things and add in how the Mother feeds. (As for price of heresy, I was leaning toward burning at the stake, or something similarly horrific but based in history of what Churches have done in the real world.)

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I’m so glad it’s helpful! I’ll have another read if you change anything.

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updated, draft 2!
note: Changed Vagarist to the general term for the dream-makers/liches. Aspirant is now the term for those seeking godhood. @LadyofthePond


Paladin Wynnefreya is investigating a village plagued with a sleeping sickness. The village is empty save for a strange web in the fields that covers the missing villagers. At the centre, Wynn finds a sleeping man and kills him. The villagers die except a woman cocooned in the webbing. Wynn frees her and discovers that the woman has no memory of her identity.

Wynn sets out to the nearest monastery to report the strange magic and deliver the survivor somewhere safe. Along the way, the woman chooses the name Primula after flowers growing along the road.

Wynn is granted a vision from the Living God, Mother Brightest, that directs her to another village with the sleeping plague. There, they learn the webs are created by vampiric mages called Aspirants who feed off living things using their web. The victims are suspended within the Aspirant’s dream world, unable to free themselves on their own. Primula surprises both Wynn and herself by using similar magic to the webs to save the trapped villagers. Wynn knows magic like this is heresy and heretics must be burnt at the stake.

Torn between hiding Primula and arresting her for heresy, Wynn decides to defy the Church so Primula can help save those trapped in Aspirant webs.

Primula discovers the location of the leaders of the Aspirants. In exchange for Prim’s help, Wynn will allow her to leave once the work is done, knowing this choice risks Wynn’s salvation. The Church sends more visions, growing impatient with Wynn’s delays, until Wynn learns other Paladins have been sent to retrieve her. The next morning, Wynn wakes to find the blessings that protected her are gone.

Wynn abandons the trappings of a Paladin and they continue toward the Aspirant’s nest. The closer they get, the more nightmares affect Wynn, no longer protected by the Eternal Light. Prim helps, using a web to protect Wynn at night from the Aspirant’s influence. As she does, Prim and Wynn slowly piece together Prim’s memories in her dreams. Prim was a protégé, however Wynn interrupted the conversion ritual, leaving Prim somewhere in between Aspirant and mortal.

Aspirants seek an elevated state of existence, similar to Mother Brightest, the Aspirant behind the Church and its blessings. But after seeing the effect the dreams have on the victims, rejects the idea of feeding off another person.

Wynn is unsure if she should expose the Church or allow it to continue, since its blessings offer a better life to its flock. Ultimately, Wynn and Prim turn toward the Holy capital to confront the Mother Brightest. Both refuse the Mother’s offer of power and together they kill the Mother after a fierce struggle.

Wynn is mortally injured and their world begins to crumble without the Mother’s magic. Primula wraps Wynn in the Mother’s web and takes her place as God, sacrificing her happiness to save Wynn and her world. When Wynn wakes, she is healed but alone. She vows to protect Prim, becoming her guardian.

1 Like

I’m gonna reply properly tomorrow because it’s getting late.

In many, many ways, this is Claymore. So I’ll treat it as such.

What makes Claymore so compelling comes from a very specific sequence of storytelling.

It opens with an extremely stoic and seemingly overpowered person, Claire, who arrives to kill the local demon in a town. Upon arrival, she instantly meets a young boy who doesn’t know who she is or what she represents and asks a bunch of questions, giving us insight into this character. She recommends not knowing her, for she will disappear and is basically nameless. He disagrees and tries to befriend her. She kills the demon, the boy’s brother, and moves on.

This opening helps give us a really good starting point for the plotline. Claire is just a ward of the state. She has no personality or goals, she just executes in this mysterious world of demons and claymores. But her existence is quickly painted as lonely and pained by the young boy’s curiosity. He acts as a way for the audience to get information and they can connect with him since he’s just a normal dude.

The plot then becomes her, with him following, as they wander along. Claire has to kill another claymore who is turning into a demon, which she does with ease, and again the boy explores her lonely, painful existence. The story becomes about how he wants to open up her heart and how she is a pained figure who won’t admit to anything.

Later, Claire herself almost becomes a demon but the boy’s affection helps her calm down and stop, something she thought was impossible. Given the new information, she’s sent on a new journey, and the boy actually disappears from the story, going his own way, as Claire’s story now shifts to understanding herself and this world, which is something the audience can connect to, as opposed to previously when she was just a steadfast policepersonthing. Now we understand the world, and we see her motivation, so we no longer need the other character to provide all of it.

I say all of this because this summary seems to have some of these components but not quite all of them. I assume the opening two paragraphs are basically chapter one, which kicks off this sort of “why is this mystery person here?” Or, this could be a strange example where you shift the story backwards and showcase why Wynne is particularly driven to solve the sleeping sickness (she’s really into the paladin’s code, for example, so that later when that code turns out to be meaningless, she loses something?) and the opening couple chapters is her investigating and making clear that’s her reasoning (which isn’t in the summary).

There’s also something missing in here to make clear exactly why Wynn chooses Primula when she learns she’s a heretic. Is this because she’s not really that attached to the church? Did the two share a moment at some point?

Otherwise, it seems like there’s a lot of stuff going on here all packed into one. There’s a dream world, there’s spider magic snares, there’s a god behind the church, there’s blessings, there’s nightmares, and all these different factors aren’t really consistent threats throughout the plot, they tend to just sort of pop up once per paragraph and move along. If there’s more complexity to it, that’s fine, but it should be consistently throughout, as opposed to each component of the complexity applying itself differently each time.

And the ending kind of confuses me because I think some words are missing. The Aspirants are the enemy, but then the Mother Brightest is also an Aspirant, and is she the leader or not or what’s going on there, it’s not super clear.

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