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Literature / On The Road To Elspar

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On the Road to Elspar is a fantasy quest, a long-form Interactive Fiction web novel where "questers" vote for a course of action at key moments of the story not unlike the Gamebook genre or a Choose Your Own Adventure book. It is meant to be the first book in a larger trilogy.

Neianne, a dryad village girl from the Confederacy of Caldrein, has enlisted as an apprentice at Faulkren Academy, one of the country's training grounds for the elite Caldran mercenaries, infamous for their skill at war across the continent of Iuryis. Her timing could not be better; her country has been engaged in the Huntress' War against the neighboring superpower, the Tenereian Union, and the region of Elspar is the flashpoint between the two conflicting powers. It is through the Caldran mercenaries that the modest confederacy has lasted against one of the two superpowers on the continent for ten long years, but Caldrein is still hopelessly outnumbered, and the vast Tenereian armies slowly but inexorably take Caldran territories bit-by-bit, one footstep at a time.

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Stepping out of idyllic village life and into a schooling environment where all races and classes are represented, from the dirty slums to the gilded halls of power, Neianne makes friends, rivals, and enemies as any schoolgirl should, even as she trains for the war she is meant to fight in. Yet the war is eroding the norms and traditions that the Caldran people have long considered part of their national mythos, and the tensions within the confederacy that have long simmered under the surface - race, class, community, identity - are slowly but surely dividing its people. And as she grows, Neianne slowly begins to learn that the Huntress' War is defying any neat categorization of good-versus-evil, and that her own country may not be as perfect as it seems...

The quest is based out of Sufficient Velocity, but can also be accessed in read-only form on Royal Road and SpaceBattles.com (link).

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This quest provides examples of:

  • Badass Adorable: Basically the entire primary cast.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The early part of Arc One is Slice of Life cute-girls-doing-cute-things. Then a wyvern showed up. Then the Squirrels showed up. Things haven't been the same since.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The instructors have names, but those names only come up in side materials, and are not named in mainline episodes from Neianne's perspective.
  • First-Episode Twist: The start of the story involves Neianne and the rest of the apprentices at Faulkren Academy graduating and preparing to join the war in Elspar. Then a messenger rushes in and announces that a peace treaty has been signed.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Squirrels are a Tenereian black ops unit meant to wreak havoc behind enemy lines by masquerading as civilians and unleashing dangerous monsters onto the civilian population. They show up midway into Arc 1 to attack Faulkren Academy.
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  • Little Bit Beastly: The aseri are basically kitsunemimi, or foxgirls.
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