Again, me mulling shit over in a public forum. Feel free to disregard...
I think once I have my antag's goals worked out for EXILED, I can continue writing. I could write--I've got a basic plot nailed down. I've learned well enough how to torture my antags--I do the opposite of my every instinct. I have the annoying compunction to write happy scenes. Not a useful device, unless the happiness is based in ignorance (Aidan) or if it's a ruse (Kaelin). But I've had enough of that. No, poor Ereq and Ashetan will find their god (me) will torture them no end.
For instance, I've flipflopped on whether Ereq is a Dokkaelfe (bad) or Ijokaelfe (good). I want to give Ereq and Ashetan each other as allies, but I've realized that becoming partners is their struggle. My first instinct was best. Ereq is a Dokkaelfen half-blood, and for Ashetan, Ereq humanizes the enemy. And yeah, if you're wondering, I've thought about their falling in love, a sort of Alexander/Patroclus tryst. You know by now I've got a thing for two guys, and really, can you fault me? The more the merrier, so long as they invite me to the party.
I'm studying the Vandals as a basis for the Dokkaelfes. They're barbarians in the latter era of the Roman Empire. They paid-soldiered their way through Europe and Iberia to finally be invited to North Africa as, again, mercenaries. What they found there was the remotest, weakest edge of the Roman Empire and they took full advantage. One could hardly blame them if you know their history, and once they had their basic needs met (Maslow's Hierarchy), plundering evolved into a holy war. The Vandals were Arian, who thought the diefication of Jesus and the Holy Ghost--well, at least lifting them to an equal level with God, was sacrilige. They hated the Trinitarians of Rome. I think this applies to our present day due to economics (we always war over that which binds us). The Vandals were poor and landless, they coveted the security and wealth that Rome withheld. Clearly, these barbarians were always a bridesmaid, never a bride. North Africa was their wedding night and Carthage was their first son. I'm also intrigued by Carthage, with its round port and invincible fleet. It's my model for Alvringer in EXILED.
Mostly, I like these slight differences in doctrine and how it applies to today's Crusade, and not the least, to EXILED. I like the idea of a long-standing holy war between the Dokkaelfes and Ijokaelfes based on doctrinal differences--two smaller countries battling it out and their war spilling over into the world at large. Of course, magic will slip in--I'd like to tie in its usage somehow (still working on that bit).
Don't even get me started on tackling sexual discrimination. That plays a role, too--the book starts with an uncomfortable rite of betrothal in which the man invites his friends to impregnate his wife-to-be) because I'm pretty sure that the Tosquin Prince for whom Ereq and Ashetan make an uneasy alliance will end up being a Princess.
Oooo, just thought of something. It DOES apply, after all, in quite a big way. All right, this whole exercise was worth it, to me, at least. Sorry if I'm boring. Go read this, instead.