Ghost hunting - did I mention that? My intrepid investigator Portier questions a soldier about the dire events of the past. As the unfortunate fellow spills his guts, he mentions that he sees a dead man's face every hour of every day. "In your dreams?" asks Portier - a rhetorical question. But the answer is unsettling.
Dreaming, I see him. Waking, I see him. I see him in alleys, in courtyards, on the walls, in the trees, inside my eyelids. That bloodless, battered wreck of a face...
Even in a society where people believe their ancestors struggle through seven gates to reach heaven, Portier doesn't believe in ghosts. "Dead is dead," he says several times. But somehow as he is leaving the beleaguered fellow in the dark alley, he gets the creeps and runs back to lights and civilization.
So I write these things, and Portier tells the story to Dante, the mage, and Dante insists that they go back and investigate "what makes Calvino de Santo wail." And now I have to write the scene where they see what Calvino sees...which means I have to figure it out myself.
What is truth in the world I have created? It doesn't matter what I believe about ghosts in my own life, what matters is the truth in Portier's world. There are certain metaphysical boundaries that every fantasy writer must define for a fictional world...
These are the boundaries between
- religious practice
- divine truth
That is, we have to decide what is the divine truth for our world and what our characters believe. If these are different, as Seyonne discovers in Revelation or Aidan learns in Song of the Beast, it creates tension and story possibilities. Valen does not learn which of his world's great religions holds the truth of the god's/gods' identity, but he learns the truth behind a myth that makes up a part of each god story. In fact, both religions may hold some aspect of divine truth.
When we are designing magic as an integral part of a world, we have to know whether magic can intrude upon or impact divine truth. Is Calvino de Santo's ghost a refugee from beyond the Sabrian Veil, or is the Veil a myth and he but a spirit hanging around where he has no right to be, or is he but some odd refraction of light combined with a guilty conscience? Portier will have his opinion. Dante will have his opinion. But I'd better know the truth or the story falls apart. Work, work, work...