In Chosen of Azara, as Lucie is researching the history of the Madrinan Empire to try to decide if Sevry's story is true, she comes across a passing reference to a discredited Kriethi historian and his female Krunabashai bodyguard. These two stories tell the tale of the historian and the bodyguard. I'd been calling Latan "the Scholar," but he's really just a lowly clerk who dabbles in historical research in his spare time, and since he's such a modest fellow he insisted I change it to "clerk." But he still made it into at least one of the history books of his world. I don't know if he'd be more pleased or embarrassed about that.
In the titles, I also replaced "tale" with "path." "Path" is a little more different and interesting, plus a major theme in both stories is the paths life takes us on, both expected and unexpected. Both Haveshi and Latan think they know what they want out of life and exactly how their lives are going to go - they're happy, or at least content, with the paths their lives are following. Then unexpected events force them from those paths and require them to find new ways to live.
These two stories are a great example of how old ideas evolve into new ones. Haveshi's story originally started out as a novel set in Estelend [Edit: I have since changed the name of this world to Tehovir] (the same world as Chosen of Azara, with magical Sources playing an important role), with the events the same as in the story and then dragging on and on as Haveshi and her companion Daivashan went from one place to another without actually accomplishing much of anything. Back in those days (early 90s), you either wrote novels or you wrote for the short story market, and I was a novel writer. If I ever decided to dabble my toes again in publishing, I would need novel-length offerings to present to agents and editors. And so I took a story that didn't really have enough story in it to be a novel and tried to stretch it out into one.
Then, in the last year or so, when I was looking through my old story files and thinking about the new, expanded possibilities offered by self-publishing - no arbitrary word count or length guidelines set by publishers based on the economics of publishing paper books or magazines; stories could be as long or short as they needed to be - I realized that Haveshi's story would be perfect as a longish short story. She finds her answer without all that pointless wandering around, and sets off for her new life, the end.
The other seed of this pair of stories came from this fragment. (And I'm going to be really really brave and post it here exactly as I wrote it umpteen years ago.)
"You're the guard Bodric sent?" Sevry stared at the short, sturdy woman in front of him. He hoped there was a mistake.
Perar looked up from studying her fingernails. Lords above, she hated wizards. "This is the Seventeenth Tower of Wizardry, isn't it? Your Headmaster sent a message to Bodric requesting the services of his best guard?"
"Well, yes, but...."
"Here I am."
Sevry tugged at the hair on the top of his head. He knew Headmaster Radolf had a low opinion of his competence, but this was worse than he had expected. A woman to nursemaid him to the First Tower! Then something occurred to him. "Does Headmaster Radolf know you're a woman?"
Perar shrugged, barely trying to hide her irritation. Bodric was going to pay for this.
Eventually, Sevry the wizard morphed into Latan the Scholar (and then the Clerk), And then I made the connection - the female bodyguard is Haveshi, from that other abandoned project. This set Latan's story firmly in the world of Chosen of Azara. When I tried to figure out the point of the journey he was going on, I realized that he had made a momentous discovery related to the conspiracy that destroyed Savaru, and he's going to present this discovery to the High Priest of the Madrinan Empire. And, ta daa, I had my stories; it was just a matter of writing them.
Haveshi's story comes first in the duology. It tells how she got derailed from the path her life was on and came to be a mercenary in a conquered land that is now part of the Madrinan Empire. Then her story continues with Latan's story, when she's assigned to guard him on a journey that proves as disruptive to his life's path as the events in her story were to hers. I suggest reading Haveshi first, then Latan, but it could work the other way around, too.
"The Path of Latan the Scholar" contains a spoiler for an event early on in Chosen of Azara, but the way it's presented, and the fact that the event happens so early in Chosen, it won't spoil the whole novel - I like to think of it as a teaser. Chosen of Azara also contains a spoiler for "The Path of Latan the Scholar," but that spoiler doesn't take in nearly the whole of the story. So either way, there's information given. If you're wondering what to read first, I'd say it could go either way - consider "The Path of Latan the Scholar" a teaser for Chosen of Azara, or a supplement to it.
I've also posted an updated map of Estelend, showing Source Tiati, where Latan lives, in Krieth in the south part of the Madrinan Empire.
If you haven't read Chosen of Azara yet, you can get an introduction to that world in "The Path of Haveshi Yellowcrow" and "The Path of Latan the Clerk," and if you've read it, you can get the scoop on that discredited historian and his female bodyguard. I hope you'll take a look, and enjoy the stories!
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