Our beautiful, beautiful Readers...!
The rumours of our demise and mysterious disappearance have been exaggerated! We are not dead, nay! And we haven't really disappeared either. We're just... sneaking around in the shadows and figuring out stuff in our lives for now. Life has been generally crazy recently, with a lot of changes (further more about that) but it is slowly getting steadier for us and we suddenly came to realize that almost a year has passed since we first gathered our courage and posted first chapter of Loyalty Unyielding! And woah, it feels quite unbelievable, doesn't it?
Past months have truly been a carousel of real-life events for us and so we lay low and kept silent pretty much everywhere on the Internet but we never forgot about you and we love you now as much as before! And we also remember that long time ago we promised to write a kind of an 'Authors' Note' for those who want to know more about the two of us, about who we are and what other stories we create together.
And thus we come here today to tell you a different kind of story, a story about Zlu and Luff. If it will be chaotic, forgive us – but we hope it will make you smile.
So if you want to know us better, if you want to know where we are headed next with our art and writing, and how to stay in touch with us even as we move away from Silmarillion and back to our original storytelling (from whence we came), we invite you to read it all. But if quite to the contrary you are interested only in the part regarding Silmarillion and Loyalty Unyielding, then we'll begin this note from it, so that you don't need to read the entire thing to find out.
We will divide this 'Word from the Authors' into 4 sections:
1. About writing of 'Loyalty Unyielding'
2. About Zlu and Luff
3. About our original stories
4. How to contact us
But to start with - we want to thank you all! For all the reviews and kind words, for staying with us from very begining and for joining in the middle and for coming out of shadows at the very end to just write a short comment and make your presence known! Thank you for all this! There's nothing more wonderful for a writer than to know somebody out there was reading this story and liking it and wasn't afraid to tell us! C:
Loyalty Unyielding has been a wonderful adventure for us; an adventure during which we made friends and met many lovely, incredibly clever people (Silmarillion fandom consists mostly of clever people, after all, they have all managed to read Silmarillion XD!).
It's because of you and the interest you've shown that Loyalty ever got past the first three chapters, and it's thanks to your interest that that it improved so dramatically on the way - turning from a silly private roleplay written for fun into an epic story true to the source material - and that we saw it all the way through the end and even into some bonus chapters.
ABOUT WRITING OF LOYALTY UNYIELDING
Why we chose to even begin writing Loyalty Unyielding is probably known to you all (we hinted it before the first chapter), but the technicalities of it we have shared only with a few people, so perhaps it might still be interesting to read!
As we said, Loyalty began as a... roleplay between us. We wrote the first three chapters of it just for fun, Zlu writing for Melkor, Luff for Sauron and it was never meant to see daylight. But then we looked at it again, squinted and decided to upload it on the Internet anyway, thinking that maybe even if it's terrible, it might make somebody out there happy to see a new fanfic about Sauron and Melkor, no matter how silly it would be – because there were literally maybe 5-7 fanfics about them on the Internet and most of them under 2000 words and all written years ago... We didn't expect anyone to even read it but then suddenly it was met with some interest and we quickly understood that we have actual living breathing people reading it - and that we can't disappoint them! And so we educated ourselves on the lore and we decided to make this story into something of epic proportions.
It probably really shows that that first three chapters are different, doesn't it? That they have a comical, lighthearted tone to them, even if we hid it a bit. Not to mention it pretty much begins with what can be called 'smut' (and we always laugh that fics that have smut in second chapter are bound to be horrible). We had many people tell us that they never expected such a wonderful story after they read the first few chapters. Some expected just humorous story, some slash without any plot. Because yes, these 'pilot' chapters are pretty bad. We even thought about changing them, editing them to fit the rest. But then we chose not. Let's not change history, let this visible change and improvement be a memento of what miracle a few words of encouragement can do to the authors' motivation! And if some people read only those first three chapters and decided that it's the shittiestt fic they've ever stumbled upon, then good riddance to them! XD
Funny thing is that Loyalty not only began as a roleplay but also... continued as one too! Zlu always wrote everything related to Melkor, and Luff wrote Sauron. We surprised each other with their dialogues, improvised, sometimes, though rarely, we went back to rewrite some scene because we didn't feel it played out well. Zlu, much like Melkor, always wrote with haste and malice, showering ideas upon this story and leaving wonderful imprints of Grond in the text behind her. Luff, like Sauron, methodically went over all chapters, adding things and smoothening the lines where Zlu's posts ended and Luff's began in order for this fic to flow better and to seem like a real, continuous story and not a roleplay consisting of turns/logs written by two different writers.
And from what we are aware of, we succeeded and not many of you expected that it wasn't written as one continuous story.
Of course such a division of characters resulted in each of us having to write her solo chapters. And so the ages after Melkor's capture that Sauron spent alone, plotting intrigues and rallying forces (and descending into madness) were Luff's own huge challenge, she was luckily unemployed at that time (good old days, eh) so she could sit whole days sunken in pillows and with sad music playing in her headphones and write, write, feel Sauron's anger and grief and write. Malicious chapters of Melkor imprisoned and breaking free upon the world were all the work of Zlu, thus they were according to the character, shorter, but more dynamic. Some of you pointed out the difference in writing was felt in some chapters, now you know why.
As for the writing process itself - we write stories in Google docs, which means we see what the other person is writing in real time and we can interject, for example 'wait, stop here, Sauron would react to that', this way we don't have timelines in 'roleplay logs' overlapping like it often happens when people just react to each other's posts already after they are complete.
We tried to combine all kinds of moods in Loyalty. We wanted it to be sad and funny, to be detailed and sketchy at the same time, 'zooming in' on some scenes, and just brushing over the others (though its partially laziness and lack of time too, let's admit that – expanding on all side characters and events in the history that Sauron and Melkor could have dabbled with would overwhelm us – so congratulations to Love Missile who took up the challenge of doing this in her own reconstruction of Silmarillion's dark lords story!). We wanted to make you laugh and cry and not be entirely sure what it will end like.
We basically wanted this fic to feel like a satisfying and complete story and be something you can always return to. We also attempted to illustrate it a bit and even though we are not amazing artists (yet :P) we tried our best to give Loyalty Unyielding some visual side.
Though art also served as a kind of escape from sad events that were happening for a long time in the story, so the funny 'Oppan Angband Style' parody pictures were kind of a way to give you (and ourselves) some comfort while Loyalty was all tears and pain.
And of course on top of all this we wanted this story to have bonus chapters at the end like decent stories should! (Speaking of which - in undefined future, we plan to post at least 1-2 more 'extras'. We do not know when it will be, so please don't get your hopes up high. We'd rather it was a pleasant surprise on some rainy day, someday in the future than some sure date. For now we drifted away from Silmarillion and are writing and illustrating our original novels again - but we just know from previous experience that we like to go back to stories and wherever the winds will toss us now, one day we will return to Melkor and Sauron.)
We had been writing Loyalty for as long as we could, before work, exams and our private lives began interferring so much we no longer could scramble any time or inspiration for writing. But even though we know some of you were (and maybe still are) waiting for Loyalty to be continued, we do not feel guilty for abandoning the story here - we do it with clear consciece knowing that we did our best to make it complete and thanks to you, we achieved our goal. Too many chapters is not always a good thing.
And now that Loyalty Unyielding is complete, we are drawn back into our own stories – stories that we would love you to read one day! c: But before we tell you about this, perhaps something about us and what series of cosmic accidents brought us together to write Loyalty Unyielding and other stories.
ABOUT ZLU AND LUFF
Who are we? Gods or mortals? How did we find each other in this vast world and by what magical means did we write Loyalty Unyielding together (also, in English) when one of us was living in Poland and the other in Russia at that time? It's a strange and funny story. It's a love story in fact... C: So if you're not scared to find out, read on!
Our friendship began a long while back. In February 2006, scouring the wastes of deviantart for Legacy of Kain fanart, Luff found a girl from Russia with funny username 'Zlukaka'. Zlukaka had great sense of humour, was writing funny poems and drawing cool pictures and so we exchanged a series of comments, one of them being prophetic 'Oh i guess we might become friends in some time!' after which we forgot about each other for almost a year, each having their own friends and our own lives at that time. For a long time we were nobody to one another, just passive observers, exchanging an occasional comment on a picture.
But then some things in our lives happened that made us both seek company among friends on Internet and so we remembere'd of each other's existence again and began talking more and more often and then after a while even contemplating writing a roleplay together. Zlu was the one to come up with that idea. Luff was somewhat scared to agree because she never roleplayed anything, she wrote her own stories and short novels, sure, but she wrote them alone and those that she managed to finish were always sad and ended with one lover dying and the other being left crippled for life. She never imagined that two people can 'play' a story and that there can be surprises while writing, that characters can 'belong' to different people and that situations can be improvised and not meticulously thought through first. Luff always had everything planned year in advance and was getting stuck for months not knowing how to fix plot holes and how get to some great events she planned for far off in the story - and idea of roleplaying was a shock to her.
Zlu on the other hand had never been writing her stories down but instead she spent half of her life roleplaying them in speech with her best friend over the phone and so she was a master of surprises and spontaneous new ideas and she assured Luff that it will be really fun and so... we gave it a try.
Our first rolepay was an original story that could be probably best described as urban fantasy with mortal world overlapping with underworld, featuring a nightmare and a partly skeletal demon king as main characters (villains, of course, we've always loved the bad guys XD). We began it in 2007 and nothing has ever been so exciting and wonderful. To write together, to invent characters, draw them, show to each other and speak about them, turned out to be extremely bonding and thrilling experience. Even though we had never heard each other's voice, and saw only a few photos of each other, we became best friends and soon after... we fell in love. For our anniversary each year we still go back to that chat log on gmail chat where we accidentally confessed love to each other XD
Ever since then it was a life of longing and obstacles. Zlu lived in Russia, Luff in Poland. To see each other was to undergo a 3-4 month long procedure of making official invitation document, sending it out to the other - pretty much into unknown - and then breathing a sigh of relief when the letter arrived and the process of making a visa could be started. We saw each other once a year, for few weeks during holidays. And then we missed each other for 11 months, it was literally heart-tearing.
Of course we didn't tell anyone except for our closest friends about us. In Russia being gay is a disease and to be exposed as homosexual is to bring shame on your entire family. In Poland, it's not much better, people are more relaxed about it and since we are a part of European Union it seems like the society should be more tolerant but in practice you can hardly go through the streets together holding hands without attracting mockery and coming out is a risk that is simply not worth taking.
Needless to say, we were scared to tell our parents. Scared like hell. We have just turned 18, Luff was still in highschool, Zlu was studying (education in Russia is 10 years of school + 5 years studies, in Poland 12 years school + 5 studies) and we were living so far away from each other that any move our parents could try making to prevent us seeing each other would be disastrous. And we didn't want to run away , we wanted to finish our education, and have a real life together, we wanted to grow up, and move in together, our plan was to first move to Poland and then, once in the future, to Canada where we read a gay couple can have a normal life (without speaking a strange scandinavian language for the rest of their life).
Years passed, Luff entered university and began studying finance and accounting, Zlu was progressing in her mathemathics and programming studies. We finished our story about nightmares and demons and began one about twin gods banished 'into the stars' and lost in a sci-fi world. We still saw each other once a year and we learnt not to weep for hours after leaving the airport. Then Zlu began working as a tester and started learning polish to make the prospect of moving out to Poland and finding a job there seem more real. Slowly, we were gathering guts to tell our parents. Zlu tried first but didn't go very well and for a very long time Luff was even more scared to tell her parents. But then she did, and it turned out that... they don't mind at all.
From that moment on, it was all growing more and more real. Zlu began studying Polish harder, we wrote an epic fantasy novel (more about it below!) and then got accidentally side-tracked into Silmarillion (which you're probably happy about? XD).
This summer Zlu found a job in Poland and moved to Luff and we hope to never be apart again. Those 6 years have been a torment but they were worth it, every minute of waiting was worth it. One day Zlu pointed out laughing that we are like villains ourselves, planning long in advance our happy life together. But recently a friend of ours corrected us saying that we are not villains because villains always get their plans foiled and their ass handed back to them and that we are anti-heroes rather, who quietly plan their thing, get it done, and nobody gives a damn about them. Either thing works XD
Anyway, as you see it has been a busy half a year with Zlu moving from Russia to Poland and settling down here, searching for new flat, moving in... and this is why you guys didn't see us around a lot.
Recently we found a flat and moved in together. Zlu's mom visited us in Poland and met Luff's parents, she is warming up to us. When we moved to our new flat Luff's dad bought us a microwave, hairdryer and iron and said it's Luff's dowry, which was real fun and sweet. Zlu works as a java programmer for quite a big firm now and Luff works in a bank – we both work full time. Moreover Luff studies on the weekends and still has one final year of her finance&accounting to go through and thesis to write and defend (and wishes she could just jump in time to that moment and be done with studying once and for all). We hardly have time to draw and no time to write. So it's going to be a rough year and time will be scarce and we might fail to be around the Internet much because we're trying to make our fantasy novel ready to see daylight and already working on another future original story-project.
But we are together at last and nothing can keep us apart (any formalities with visas and legalizing Zlu's stay for longer and then with moving out to Canada are nothing compared to what we've already been through so we are not scared!) and as our lives have always been intertwined with our stories, you will see many more stories and illustrations from us! Especially after Luff graduates in November 2014 C:! And now about those...
ABOUT OUR STORIES
Ever since we met, we are a dream team of original story writers (we only wrote 2 fanfics so far, Loyalty being one of them). Whenever one gets stuck, the other immediately comes up with a solution. With Zlu at her side, Luff no longer feels like writing tragic stories (though some tragedy is always good! XD). We write everything together and we always go forward like an avalanche.
The only thing stopping us is the lack of time to go back and turn those stories into something refined and illustrated that we could show to everyone else and gosh, do we want to show all this stuff to you! But writing stories and drawing sketches is like an erupting volcano, it's like a lava flow, it's raw art of passion and comes easy and quick but it is chaotic, unrefined. To show it to the world, a lot of refining is needed. And this perfecting and editing is like hours on hours of blacksmithing and meticulous jewelcrafting. And we usually don't have that time because there is work, studies, people we want to talk to, new ideas to sketch out...
But currently we have an original story that we are determined to refine and publish! Online and for free C:! It's a fantasy novel and for the past 2 years+ (with a long break to write Loyalty) we have been pouring our hearts and souls into it and we would love so damn much to show it to you once its ready!
It's a story full of humour, anguish and epicness and illustrations! Story about necromancers and mages, rogue paladins, demon lords, harpies and salamanders. And so much more. And it's a slash story of course (though not only) because we enjoy writing slash – but if you read Loyalty, this means you most likely don't mind gay romance all that much... ;)
In a year from now, probably beginning of 2015 (and if not then, then hopefully before 2016, because really, we'll all grow beards here soon XD it is reallly a lot of work though, so just keeo your fingers crossed guys, surely it will be there sooner or later) we are hoping to have the website with character art ready and to begin submitting chapters (with probably weekly or fortnightly update schedule) and if you would like to read it, we would be so happy and thrilled! It will be the very first time we will publish an original story online and we will cry tears of joy if someone actually wants to read it – we know people like fanfiction and that original stories are not so loved but we're quite confident that this story will bring just as much joy to the readers XDDD
For now we keep the art and characters secret because we don't want to spoil anything. But if you think you'll want to read our story when we publish it, we will announce the moment on our deviantart accounts and tumblr accounts when that day comes! C:
And if you want to see what other stories we've been creating, drop by digitalmyth . deviantart . com, where we gathered illustrations of our characters from previous stories. Sadly the stories themselves are not available to read but maybe that's for the better because we weren't writing half as good back then.
No matter how many years pass, we will always be happy to hear from you! If you leave us a review, we will always reply it (just either be signed into fanfiction net or leave some email for contact!) Besides, we're constantly floating around the internet, so if you want to keep in contact with us outside of Silmarillion-themed things, you can find us on deviantart and on tumblr on our private accounts all year long, until we die of old age probably, so for some 60 more years 8P
And these are the places to contact us:
flyingcarpets . deviantart . com
luffik . tumblr . com
song-treasures . tumblr . com (Luff's song blog)
zlukaka. deviantart . com
zlukaka . tumblr . com
And of course for those who still are not aware of it, there is our Sauron and Melkor blog:
angbandstyle . tumblr . com
Thank you all for reading and for everything guys! We love you C: