Long ago - back in January 2007 to be precise - I became fascinated by the character of the First Slayer. In 'Restless', she tells Buffy, "I have no speech. No name. I live in the action of death. The blood-cry, the penetrating wound. I am destruction. Absolute. Alone." And yet, she wasn't always like that; as Buffy herself says in 'Get It Done', "You're just men. Just the men who did this...to her. Whoever that girl was before she was the First Slayer."
So who was she, before? What was her life like before she was captured and forced to become the Slayer? What sort of person was she? I decided to write an account of her childhood, and more than that; the story outline I developed soon encompassed the identity of the Guardians, the origin of the Order of Aurelius, the creation of the Scythe and much more besides. And I decided to frame the story as being the First Slayer's autobiography, written in the first person, because above all I wanted to give back to her what the Shadowmen took away: her speech. And her name.
So that was the origin of Hiywan's Story, the most ambitious fiction-writing project I've ever undertaken. Unfortunately, it was too ambitious. The five chapters I wrote and posted totalled 15,000 words, still the longest single fic I've ever written, and yet it was far short of completion when my inspiration dried up. I moved on, wrote other things, but at the back of my mind it always preyed on my conscience that I'd left something unfinished. I occasionally received polite hints from a couple of members of my flist that they'd really like to see me continue the story, which was both extremely flattering and also piled even more guilt on me. The one lesson I did take away from this was to avoid posting any more WIPs. After Hiywan's Story, if I had an idea for a long fic I made sure to finish it completely before even posting the first chapter... or alternatively, I wrote the story to be stand-alone and complete, but left a hook for a possible sequel. Doing anything else didn't seem fair to the patience of my readers.
So Hiywan's Story sat in the fic folder of my hard drive. I did continue to add additional pages to the story from time to time, but I didn't want to post another chapter only to leave it hanging there like the last one, incomplete. It was at this point that I had a minor epiphany. Instead of forcing myself to finish the entire doorstop-novel-sized life story of the First Slayer, I could take my own advice; divide it into smaller self-contained sections and treat them as stand-alone (but still multi-chapter) fics. The realisation that I didn't have to finish the entire Hiywan's Story, but only Hiywan's Story - Book One, acted as a major motivation for me. And so I proceeded to write another 10,000 or so words, making up Chapters 6 to 8 of Book One and tying things off in a satisfying ending that reveals certain mysteries and marks a key development in her life.
Book One therefore deals with her childhood. Book Two - if I ever write it - will cover her life as an adult of her clan, and end with her becoming the Slayer. Book Three will cover her career as a Slayer, and Book Four her final battle and death (not that she died in the usual sense, given that she can still haunt people's dreams). Books Two to Four are, at this stage, completely hypothetical. :-)
And so, I'm shortly going to post Chapter Six of Hiywan's Story. This is possibly the first sign of the apocalypse and the beginning of the End Times, so please make any necessary preparations. Avoid being a passenger in any vehicle whose driver is likely to be taken up in the Rapture, and check your children's scalps for mysterious '666' birthmarks.
Following the advice given in my recent discussion thread, I'm also going to post an index page giving a link to each chapter. I'll also put together a list of characters, since I can understand if that gets confusing... apart from the First Slayer herself who's a borderline case, every single character in the story is an OC, after all. So this post will be a handy reference if you forget from one chapter to the next who Belaye or Esyete or Tilahun are...