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Author Topic: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene I, II, III, & IV Redux)  (Read 965 times)

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Offline Myen'Tal

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All critique welcomed and appreciated  :). Non-fan-fiction by the way. Am getting the urge to write some 40k fan-stuff though ;D.

EDIT: Made some changes based off of feedback!

Chapter I
Born of Dust and Barren Moon

The Storm Peaks, The Kingdom of Hallorn
41st Day of the Southern Rains


   A lone horn sounded over wagon wheels clattering on the mud and rock of the moutain pass. A clarion blast that echoed from from the higher slopes of the Storm Peaks and rolled its way back down toward the caravan strewn about the narrow passage. A heavy rain fell upon the scattered chain of supply and transport wagons as they made the painstaking climb up the muddy mountain trail. A fork of lightning bolted down from the heavens, punctuated with a resounding cry of thunder. An ill omen of the coming storm that would soon descend upon the mountains so aptly named for such weather.

   Erasyl tugged on the fold of a snow white cloak and fastened it more tightly around himself. Faint glimmers revealed traces of the golden scripture embroidered along the hem of the garment with every renewel of the heaven’s unleashed wrath. Tarnished metallic fingers uncoiled only to coil again around the haft of a great warhammer. A smooth cresent shaped hammerhead forged from the resplendent and unnatural bleached bone of an ancient creature gleamed in the erratic flickering light of nigh-spent torches. The head of the hammer curved in upon itself and terminated into the spike of a sharp sickle.

Upon a first glance, it was a primitive weapon fashioned for more men of the caves than any knight in this age of iron and steel, but the symbolic significance that it represented made it too vaulable of a treasure to easily part with.

Frozen droplets crashed upon an intricate silver mask polished in order to catch even the most miniscule traces of light in the dim of night. Inset into the forehead of the mask was a flawless ruby, possibly the only symbol of worth to grace Erasyl at all. An unadorned brigandine stiched through with raven black lacing clad him from waist to throat and half-covered the thick leather greaves that protected him from the waist down.

   “I cannot say that I am eager to meet the storm head on.” A languid voice grown hoarse from many years spent under the scorching sun greeted Erasyl from the other end of the wagon. Aslan, favored of the Zarquin Guard and Erasyl’s most esteemed warrior, made his opinion known. “Not in the wasteland of the Storm Peaks, where the weather forever broods like the jealousy of the gods. Have you heard, Anvilburg has already been swept away by the gale. Titan Fortress shall be next, mark my words.”

   An embittered laugh mocked the commander of the Zarquin Guard. Only Azat would be venomous and reckless enough to speak so out of turn. “You don’t understand much in the way of weather, do you, Aslan? Titan Fortress is where we shall be safest. Storms cannot climb mountains unless made from ice and snow. I would have expected a competent commander to know that much. You continue to surprise.”

   Aslan emitted a low growl like a feline confronting a potential challenger. “Blunt your gnarled teeth upon my superstitions if that is what pleases you. It will be all that you are known for, Azat. Fighting superstitions and myths without much to ever show for your struggle. I will continue to reap my many glories without complaint.”

   “Peace…” A becalmed voice washed over the wagon like the ebb and flow of the tide itself and soothed rising tempers. Aiman spoke but a word that forced her compatriots into an intense silence. “Will there ever be a journey that you two won’t squabble like petty children on?”

   Gentle laughter from the other Zarquin onboard the wagon turned back the tension by several degrees. Erasyl contented himself with hiding his expression behind the impassive visage of the mask he wore. But what he hid from his loyal retinue was merely proud satisfaction, similar to what a parent would feel at their child’s personal triumph. The Zarquin Guard had become Erasyl’s own sons and daughters, chanced upon in their infancy to be whisked away from a world that had forgotten them entirely.

   Each of the Zarquin hailed from a myriad of backgrounds, bound only by the mark of their heritage emblazoned on their own skin. A constant memory of who once ruled the great lands east of the Void Sea. Erasyl had tried to uphold his very best to conquer the great burden of caring for each of them. He granted them much in the way of academics, and forged them into scholars of combat and warfare as much as they were already ones of culture, trade, and history. All of them were more bound to him now by shared ancestry than direct bloodlines ever could.

    A peal of thunder cried out from the wrathful heavens that drowned out all other traces of sound for a brief moment. Ancient mountains quaked from the fury of nature made manifest. The wind tore the caravan with a shrill scream and lightning forked down over the mountains. A hundred brilliant bolts arced down from the blackened sky, each not unlike the cobalt hue of the Storm Peaks itself at the breaking of dawn.

   Somewhere in the distance, another horn answered the caravan with a lengthened burst of sound. Around the caravan, bands of Halish Mercenaries craned their heads toward the familiar sound and burst into hurried motions to push out ahead of the caravan. Travelers startled in their wagons and cried out in great waves of relief. Merchants barked commands to their obedient servants, who in turn scrambled around their treasure laden wagons.

   Erasyl could feel the sudden change in the air from fearful uncertainty to grateful worship of the Hallorn Gods. A brief moment after the shift the caravan’s mood did a mercenary march up from behind the Zarquin’s personal transport and fling back the fold of cloth that shielded them from the outside world.

   “Lord, you will be pleased to know that we have arrived before the gates of Titan Fortress. Would you like an escort, Lord?”

   Erasyl shook his head once, then acknowleded the mercenary with an appreciative nod. “That will not be necessary, Captain Tibalt of the Saar. Guide our caravan into the city proper. Then I shall see your brave company off with the pay that was promised.”

   “As you will, my lord.” Tibalt did not bother to argue and returned the nod before he departed.

   “Cannot say that I trust that man.” Aslan snorted after he believed the mercenary out of earshot. “He cares more for coin than himself. Pay him enough gold and silver and he would bend the knee and call you master, I feel.”

   Azat pondered to himself more than anyone else. “I have no qualm with the man, myself. Cannot say that I begrudge a man after his own fortune. Any warrior’s dream, I would think.”

   Aslan scoffed. “He reminds me of you, Azat. No wonder I cannot like him. A man bound by oath to his own self-preservation and fame. Have you not ever wanted to be part of something greater than yourself?”

   “I am here aren’t I?” Azat quizzically arched his brow. “Erasyl may drag me along on more days than not, but I am reaching for the same goal as you. Do not forget that in your haste to tear out my throat, next time we come to blows.”

   Aslan made to mutter a retort, but jammed the words down his throat as Erasyl rapped the end of his warhammer on the rickety floorboards of the wagon.

   “Zarquin Guard, attend your master.” Erasyl commanded. “The Titan lies before us and our wagon will soon be through the Southern Gate. I need not say anymore. Each of you knows your task. You understand what must be done in the name of the Zarquin.

   “I glance upon each of you, my children, and find the taint of fear struck clean from your souls. I have striven for many years to temper your unblemished hands to strike down worthy enemies, but trained your minds to understand nobility, compassion, and mercy. Remember, trust in your own judgement as you would mine and it shall see you through to the end of your mission.

   “None of you are the first nor the last to be born of the Old Gods. Be mindful of those you would take from, remember that each of us are given a choice in life. Don’t dishonor yourself without first having great need to do so. Keep your faith and the answer shall come to you precisely when you have need of one.”

   “Lord, we are through the gate!” Captain Tibalt’s voice cut through the howling wind and the bustle of a hundreds of men and women crowded around the Southern Gate. “A pleasure to serve you, I await payment once you are ready.”

   “Hmph.” Aslan snarled at the mere sound of Tibalt’s voice. He ignored Azat’s smug grin and folded arms. “What fate would you decide for Captain Tibalt of the Saar, Sworn Lord?”

   “Tibalt’s mercenaries have served our cause well.” Erasyl gestured Aslan out of the wagon. “Pay them their due, Aslan, then send them on their way. Zarquin Guard, attend your master, we venture into the Titan on foot.”

   Aslan nodded and muttered the command to disembark the wagon. The Zarquin gathered their belongings and shuffled to their feet, their movements stiff and jerky from many nights spent on the road.   He watched them exit the wagon one by one, until only Erasyl and him were left aboard. He fixed Erasyl with an anxious look. “As always, never stray far from my side, Sworn Lord. I would not trust this place with my coin purse, let alone my life or that of any of my warriors.”

   “As always, Aslan.” Erasyl agreed and climbed onto his feet to stride out into the greater city of Titan Fortress. “I would trust no other with my life. Not until you are too ancient to even lift a sword.”

   Aslan pitched his head back, hearty laughter pealing like a bell. “That day would long in coming, Erasyl. Of that I swear to you. Let us be about your work swiftly and put this place behind us before long. The storm will not last, of that I have a nagging feeling.”

   Erasyl nodded in agreement, but he considered Aslan’s words and knew that something grand was coming that would make the Zarquin Commander forget them without a second thought. Tonight, Erasyl would change the fate of everyone who had ever known him for long. Even Erasyl could scarcely imagine the glory that would come with such a culmination of his life’s work. Not even Azat would be disappointed, of that he knew full well.

« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 09:08:56 PM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II)
« Reply #1 on: April 4, 2018, 06:35:46 PM »
   An immeasurable span of time drifted across the breadth of Azat’s conscience. In the stormy streets of Titan Fortress, memories of the forgotten past cast their essence across great bastions of moss-patched granite and the skeletal remnants of wooden scaffolds. One glance into the translucent mirror of time, the aether-sight, sent ripples across his thoughts like a stepping stone cast over a lake’s surface. Each glimpse  spawned a sequence of ethereal visions in the places where reality had taken root.
   
Once upon a time, nothing remained on this forsaken mountain. Immaculate shrines and labyrinthine academies erected across the highest peaks of the Mountain Fortress crumbled into ethereal sand. The stuff that collected upon the riverbed of Time’s Passage, where from the Gate of Creation all life essence flowed, and from where the Great Ending all things were consumed into nothing. Azat tread across the barren wasteland in mind and spirit, for his physical form tethered him to reality much like the anchor of a great ship.
   
Azat made several steps into the immaterial wastes, a span of centuries playing out before for him with the speed of a God exhaling the heavens upon a barren earth. Azat blinked as dark corridors formed from out of oblivion to entomb him amongst the sarcophagi of a forgotten royal crypt. A strange mist shrouded the moonlit and moss-patched granite that buried the dead and for the briefest moment, a mournful scream and the innocence of a child-like cry drifted from distant and shadow-shrouded graves lost beneath the depths of the crypt.
   
Curious, Azat made to investigate further, but a burden clasped itself around his neck like a great iron collar. An iron collar chained to the ground beneath his feet. As any man bound in chains would want to do, he struggled to break free of his oppression and launch himself into the under-dark. He channeled his concentration and sharpened the aether-sight, but each renewal of focus was met with a greater, more mysterious force.

The emerald gloom of the aether-sight faded into the dim of night, scoured from Azat’s thoughts as if scattered upon a playful breeze of wind. Or nudged out of a nightmare in the arms of a concerned lover. The Zarquin Guard sighed and opened his eyes, ground to the wakeful world once more. The light of a hundred incensed pyres blazed in the Dawn’s Crest and brought the warmth of Star and Hearth to the chill of a rainy night. Countless Hanging Lanterns burned from the height of a hundred temples merged together to form the great urban center of worship and religion.
One did not need mystic-sight or the blessing of a divine power to feel Hinariath’s radiant touch. Here, the flame of the Sun Goddess licked greedily at the charred lump that passed for Azat’s own soul. The enchantments heaped upon the Solar Altar threatened to exorcize him from the temple grounds. The Priestesses who tended the radiant fires of the Temple slept the night away in their spartan dormitories. But he could feel the scourge of their prayers sear from within, the weight of their faith manifested as if a bastion that he did not quite dare step into.

    Arrogance and misplaced confidence empowered the rest of the Zarquin Guard to execute their master’s command. Upon the hour of midnight, Those-Born-of-the-Old-Gods entered Hinariath’s Sanctum and swept through entire ranks of the Devoted with scimitar and shotel whilst they slumbered the night away in their beds. The whispers of swords cutting fatal slivers into their foes was the only alarm, one that none would wake from.

   Azat searched the horizon with an indifferent glare. He shifted his gaze down the height of the temple stairs in the direction of Aiman. Together and in reverent silence, they watched wicked lightning arc across the skies amidst a great deluge of rain. He almost confused her for one of the inanimate monuments of burnished bronze that lounged upon the Dawn’s Crest stairs much as she did.

   Aiman craned her head a mere sliver to stare him in the eye.

   “Pray tell, what does that obsidian mind of yours whisper to you in the dim of night, Azat?” Aiman’s voice washed over Azat like the ebb and flow of a pleasant tide, preferably one enjoyed beneath the moonlight. “Does your sight strike you like a meteorite in a clear sky? Or does it lap against your thoughts as if a puzzle, if you would, like the cryptic visions of a prophecy?

   “It resembles more of a crestfallen dream…” Azat folded his arms and leaned heavily upon an unadorned column of marble, a grim smile on his lips. “One can see what the world once was from beginning to end in the span of a single breath… The beginnings of life spawned forth from the Passage of Time, to the end where all things that can wither, disintegrate to dust on the winds. It is at once beautiful and horrifying to behold…

“As a man of some superstition, I am overcome with a sense of impending dread that only grows in strength the more I expose myself to the aether… but as the Zarquin Guard know their task, I too know my own.”

“Honor?” A warm and languid voice, hoarse from too many mornings spent calling out to his comrades beneath the sun’s zenith, rebuked Azat without warning or subtlety,  Aslan rounded the corner and slapped Azat’s pauldron with a blow strong enough to make the metal sing out into the storm. The Commander of the Zarquin Guard fixated him with an incredulous look. “From the mouth of the Silent Viper? Cast it from your thoughts, for what would you have need of it?”

“I have no qualms with a man who calls himself honorable…” Azat chuckled, a hollow sound. “Let him meet his own gods with his head held high, should that please him. You misunderstand again, Aslan. Chained perhaps I am, but the iron links press light upon this scarred and battered hunk of flesh. My spirit props them up like a crown that I cannot wear quite correctly.

“But know that I wear the chains as a sign of freedom, for such burdens are no such oppression for me. Has Erasyl ever tightened a noose around your neck or mine, Aslan? Since when was Aiman ever threatened with the punishment of death or exile? Or anyone counted among our number?”
A knowing grin played across Aiman’s scarred lips. “Never since the days of my birth, kindred. Not since the lash and rod instructed me, but even then, our master was not the one who brought us harm.”

“Hmph,” Aslan grimaced, but acknowledged Azat with a begrudging dismissal of his own accusation. Despite himself, a hopeful smile overcame his severe demeanor. “Humbled by a merciless murderer… but the fault is mine for forgetting what you have taken great pains to remember. I am gladdened that you remember your task of all people, Azat.

“But while your brethren foul their heads in pools of innocent blood, you deafen your ears to the cries of your victims and that of the storm? Are you never concerned with the burden of others, but only your own?”

“Oh?” Azat shook fresh droplets of rain out of the shortened strands of his russet hair and fixed Aslan with a dismissive sneer. “Have you need of my sword? No? You repeat the same words again and again, but they amount to nothing much to a man too deafened from the clamors of conflict. Too much noise from worthier foes screaming in my ears to pay heed to the massacre behind me.
“Perhaps I am blinded too, because I cannot find the blood that streams from your sword, Aslan. Neither do you question—” Azat gestured with a point of his chin in Aiman’s direction. “Her, for doing the same thing as I. Is there a reason you continue to goad me with the task of menial work?”

Aslan mirrored Azat’s exasperated expression, but seemed more a great pride leader ready to pounce upon a rival compared to Azat’s untensed stance. “You should count yourself fortunate that you are so favored, Azat. You were never one for traversing through the ruins of Hallorn’s wastes, too good is the man that holds his sword for the highest bidder. You are neither loyal or devoted, unless only for yourself. Your hands are not meant for the creation of legacies, only the infamy of your heinous murders. Never in the entirety of your life shall you ever know the true kinship that Erasyl has offered you… but only because you are too hard-headed to make something of it.”

A wolfish grin flashed on one corner of Azat’s face. “Do you think any of the Zarquin who follow your command are any different?”

“Not even one of them.” Aslan rasped in defiance. “But when the time comes, they will become everything Erasyl promised they would be. Of that I am certain. As for yourself, well… you’ll eventually succumb to the embrace of history itself and fade into one of its many weathered pages.”

“You spend too many of your days imagining me dead.” Azat nodded to himself, the lopsided smile he wore faded by a fraction. “You know that what you speak of is neither simple or even close to becoming real…” Azat turned away to gaze out into the storm. A sudden thought struck him in that moment and he brightened from the revelation and turned back to Aslan. “Tell me, do you ever dream of that day? Not for the realization of the end, but… do you dream of the promises that Erasyl has heaped upon us since the days of our childhood?”

“Of course not.” Aslan grunted, surprised. ‘I have seen it myself. If you would only change your way, Azat, you would know before too long what I have known for many years.”

Aiman stepped between the pair of Zarquin Guard, though there was no sign that any of them would resort to blows. She lifted one hand in a peaceful gesture and halted the argument. “If neither of you will digress in your whining, then I shall come to a compromise for you.

“Erasyl has need of your sword elsewhere, Azat. And clearly somewhere else is where you would rather be. Aslan would be glad to have you out of sight for several hours and both of you could use a breather from the other. Before you ask, our master mentioned that you would find your task if you travelled both south and east to one of the corners of Titan. What he hopes for you to find there… well, only you could say, Azat."

“Of course,” Azat brooded from the sudden command, but the complaint withered in his throat from Aiman’s accusatory glare. “But what would the master require this time? It matters not. I’ll fetch it and be back before long.” He turned on his heel and marched down the temple stairs into the midst of the hundred pyres. “Upon one of these days, Aslan will have to do more than compromise. But I am a generous man tonight, and will leave the matter be for another time.” A gesture of farewell flicked over his hand and faded into the smoke of Dawn’s Crest’s pyres.


~**~
« Last Edit: August 21, 2018, 11:53:23 PM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II)
« Reply #2 on: April 5, 2018, 10:51:13 AM »
First off thanks for asking for feedback as it gives me the opportunity to point out that the rules of this Forum makes it difficult to leave feedback  if the writer of a story doesn’t ask for feedback of some description.

Recently when people have posted a story in this Forum, and not asked for feedback I have wondered if they realised that they had to ask.

Also apologies for not commenting on your WIP scenes post as I like to at least acknowledge the fact that someone has gone to the trouble of posting a story. Real life can be a bugger sometimes and that is my sorry excuse for not taking the time to show my appreciation.

On to this story and I must admit that my first impression is that there are a lot of words with not much of a pay off at the end.

I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh but personally I feel that this chapter would be better served if it started at the paragraph that begins “A horn sounded from the fore of the caravan,”

As the first chapter its job is to grab the attention of any reader and by starting the way that you have there is little substance to entice a reader to carry on.

By starting with the horn sounding paragraph I think it would add a bit of drama, intrigue and pace to the beginning of your story.

Your use of the name Aslan and also likening that character to a Lion has got to be breaking some kind of literary law I feel.

Your use of the adjectives brief, servile & barbarous as words in their own right I feel is a bit strange.

You essentially introduce Aslan & Aiman twice, which has the effect of the slowing the pace of the chapter.

Overall I liked this first chapter, and I find Erasyl is an interesting character.

I see you have already posted another chapter. I haven’t read this yet, but when I have I will try and let you know what I think.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II)
« Reply #3 on: April 5, 2018, 05:47:14 PM »
First off, thank you for the feedback, Alienscar :). I always appreciate honest feedback and you've helped me realize that there is more I can do to improve myself! I also realized that I didn't ask for feedback for The Nocturnal Phantasma, which I now am in you are interested.

Quote
Also apologies for not commenting on your WIP scenes post as I like to at least acknowledge the fact that someone has gone to the trouble of posting a story. Real life can be a bugger sometimes and that is my sorry excuse for not taking the time to show my appreciation.

No problem ;D, I understand that not everyone has time or might even be interested in providing feedback, for that matter. It's really cool that you do, though!

Quote
On to this story and I must admit that my first impression is that there are a lot of words with not much of a pay off at the end.

I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh but personally I feel that this chapter would be better served if it started at the paragraph that begins “A horn sounded from the fore of the caravan,”

No, it doesn't sound too harsh, you are correct that there is a lot of description of Erasyl's surroundings and not much of him doing anything except contemplating the fate of the Ali'rune. So I think there can be some stuff trimmed down as you suggest.

Quote
As the first chapter its job is to grab the attention of any reader and by starting the way that you have there is little substance to entice a reader to carry on.

By starting with the horn sounding paragraph I think it would add a bit of drama, intrigue and pace to the beginning of your story.

I see where you are coming from and will take your advice to heart. I'll try to cut down on some of the environment description too and only add in the more important bits.

Quote
Your use of the name Aslan and also likening that character to a Lion has got to be breaking some kind of literary law I feel.

I was attempting to show the meaning of the name 'Aslan', which does mean 'lion' if I remember correctly. I guess the broken literary law was that I was being too obvious? I also don't bother to reveal the meanings of any of the other Zarquin Guard's names, so I guess there's that.

Quote
Your use of the adjectives brief, servile & barbarous as words in their own right I feel is a bit strange.

Understood, will change this.

Quote
You essentially introduce Aslan & Aiman twice, which has the effect of the slowing the pace of the chapter.

I have noted that before, but I felt that if I kept their introductions cohesive, the description would be way too long ;D. I'll look into trimming those down though.

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Overall I liked this first chapter, and I find Erasyl is an interesting character.

Once again, thank you for the time you put into your thoughtful feedback. It does give me something to think upon and helps me further improve. Cannot remember the time I got such a critique, very useful :).

I see you have already posted another chapter. I haven’t read this yet, but when I have I will try and let you know what I think.

EDIT: Made the changes, tell me what you think!
« Last Edit: April 5, 2018, 06:37:40 PM by MyenTal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II)
« Reply #4 on: April 6, 2018, 10:59:53 AM »
I also realized that I didn't ask for feedback for The Nocturnal Phantasma, which I now am in you are interested.

I am interested in leaving feedback as I think that people that go to the trouble of sharing their creative work deserve some kind of acknowledgement.

I was attempting to show the meaning of the name 'Aslan', which does mean 'lion' if I remember correctly. I guess the broken literary law was that I was being too obvious?

Whilst Aslan might mean Lion in some language for me and I think 95% of the people that will read your story, Aslan is the name of the Lion in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe written by C. S. Lewis.
The broken literary law that I as referring to was just my tongue-in-cheek way of saying it looked like you had "borrowed" a famous name.

EDIT: Made the changes, tell me what you think!

I think the changes that you have made has made the first chapter a lot more interesting. It is also easier to read and the story has more of a grip on the reader now.

I also think that by trimming it the way that you have has let the three characters come to the fore. Because of this, for me, they now come across as three separate people whereas before they got a bit lost.   
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II)
« Reply #5 on: April 6, 2018, 02:23:22 PM »
Quote
Whilst Aslan might mean Lion in some language for me and I think 95% of the people that will read your story, Aslan is the name of the Lion in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe written by C. S. Lewis.
The broken literary law that I as referring to was just my tongue-in-cheek way of saying it looked like you had "borrowed" a famous name.

Gotcha', that was not my intention of borrowing that name ;D. I was actually searching through some Turkish / other names of Middle-Eastern origin when I discovered that one. Figured it fit the profile of the character in question and went with it.

Quote
I think the changes that you have made has made the first chapter a lot more interesting. It is also easier to read and the story has more of a grip on the reader now.

I also think that by trimming it the way that you have has let the three characters come to the fore. Because of this, for me, they now come across as three separate people whereas before they got a bit lost.
 

I am glad that you enjoyed the changes! I'll try to keep your suggestions in mind going forward :).
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II)
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2018, 01:18:23 AM »
Scene III Redux

~***~


A journey into the detritus of the Titan was a descent into the putrid maw of death itself. But Azat made the descent into the foul wasteland without complaint, a hand clutched onto the pommel of a sheathed blade. From the bleak skies above, a ferocious storm churned the noxious stench in the Titan’s bowels. Rain came crashing down, relentless and in great torrents, until a roiling tide of sewer filth surged from out of the lowest, flooded depths. Undeterred, Azat waded into the filthy streams that churned about him, the great rain crashing down upon him from above.

    Distant, urgent whispers nigh lost in the roar of the storm lingered about every footfall Azat planted forward. Indistinct shapes flickered and hovered just out of reach of any defining light. The malformed apparitions only withered and shrunk forward from the aether-sight, as if they could sense Azat through the biting wind. Souls destitute in body, mind, and spirit, even the gods would stamp out the overbearing misery in this wretched slum, should they ever bear witness to its tragedy.

   Whether the gods actually kept watch over such a forsaken lot of mankind’s malformed refuse, Azat may have had his suspicions, but certainly no foundation of wisdom. He was not above the thought that perhaps even the Old Ones touched the abyssal corners on the edge of mankind’s periphery. Did they too breathe the spark of life into the miasma of misery and suffering that not even their children could gaze upon without horror or disgust?

   A fell wind weaved thoughts of malice and omen upon the breath of its current. Azat paused for a brief moment to shudder from the numbness imprinted onto his sodden skin and wretch from the vile stench pooling around his armored boots. The Zarquin Guard pitched forward and emptied his stomach in one great heave.

   Azat covered his nose with a thick leather gauntlet in a vain attempt to shield it from the stench of sewer. He lifted his head toward the black sky and let the deluge clean his face. He smiled in that strange way he had whenever he could detect irony playing out before him and wondered aloud to the storm itself.

A grimace flashed over Azat’s becalmed features as realization dawned upon him. “One of the children of the Old Gods… led astray into the Kraken’s bowels?” He shrugged, but cursed the Zarquin Guard under his breath anyway. “What immeasurable wealth could lay buried beneath this heap of soiled stone? Damn him, I would wager my own hand that Aslan put Erasyl up to this idiocy… I waste nothing but my dignity in this hellish ruin.”

   Azat continued to gaze up into the storm for any glimmer of the moon, some sign of respite that would soon come of its own accord. Lightning forked from the heart of the storm, so nearby that Azat was momentarily blinded from the bolt’s descent. He flinched from the abrupt burst of light, two fingers pinching the bridge of his nose, and sighed with resignation. A rapid maelstrom of thoughts on how to best unravel Erasyl’s cryptic command raged in his mind. How could he even proceed in such dismal conditions? What time and earth had not removed from the lowest depths of the Titan already, seemed ready to be torn away in the winds of the storm before the night’s end.

   Never had Azat witnessed such a manifestation of wrath from the Heavens. He was never one to be fearful of nature or her indifferent cycle of destruction, but not even himself could deny that the Gods were about to strike Titan Fortress from the face of the Storm Peaks tonight. Azat willed himself to carry on without hesitation. He wanted eagerly to simply leave this place to the ceaseless decay that would prove its own demise.

   “Onward then.” Azat encouraged himself. Amber eyes drifted warily around the maze of ruin that crawled up into the sky to entomb him in a crypt built for both the living and the forgotten.

   Azat sighed once more and made to march further into the depths when a nearby sound, weakened from hunger and many nights spent without rest halted him.

   “You there, wanderer…” A feminine voice called from behind a veil of shadow. “Fear me not, wanderer, but come nearer to me.”

   “Be gone, vermin!” Azat flicked the hand upon the sheathed blade at his hip off of the pommel until his fingers coiled around the actual grip. “I would waste no more time to hear your pathetic begging. Ply your trade in the higher markets. Too many words I have already spared you.”

A derisive snort, followed by an embittered cackle erupted from the woman hidden in myth and shadows. “But why, Zarquin? Here you are in search of destiny itself, yet you would march blindly by your master’s prize and willingly into your own death? That is what awaits you should you march with such enthusiasm into the lowest depths of the Titan itself. I would wager that you could wield that blade like few ever could, but that will not save you once you crossed into the Catacombs of Saints. I implore you to turn back and come find me instead.”

“Hah.” Azat made the sound, but it could scarcely be called a laugh. “Why find you when you have already found me? I won’t crawl through the shadow or hovel to meet you, I am right here. Reveal yourself and bring with you your message. I promise not to remove your head too quickly, should your words have merit.”

A sound reminiscent of dry laughter, but possessed of something more enigmatic in its undertone, erupted from the woman yet again. “You would have a woman come out into the storm and rain simply to greet you? Arrogant and egocentric, aren’t we? Very well, if you must have our meeting on your terms…”

“Your name?” Azat casually requested, hand still planted on the grip of his blade. He spied the fragile form of a Halish woman on the brink of starvation gingerly emerge from behind a small barricade of discarded barrels and crates stacked on the porch of a decrepit hovel. Swirls of layered grime coated her worn dress of dark emerald linen cloth, of which Azat could still trace the faded pattern of sunflowers embroidered across her shoulder blades. Burnished bronze skin glimmered in each burst of lightning from the storm, then guttered back to a dim luminescence from the light of torches that somehow continued to defy the ill weather. “Do you know of us? Do you know who you disturb? Quickly speak or forever hold your tongue.”

   “Of course,” The woman snorted and marched off of the hovel’s porch and into the oppressive rain. Azat could now clearly define that she cradled a great bundle of cloth in either hand and held it up to her chest rather protectively. He understood that the woman was wisely uncertain about whether she should trust the man before her. She believed that she possessed a prize worth taking, something worth bartering for. But he knew that that remained to be seen. “Why would I bother anyone aside from you, when I am in search of no one but Azat?”

   “Enough.” Azat considered throttling the woman by the throat and rattling off demands, but it would not please him to do so. It would be quickest simply to hit straight for the mark with words alone. “No mind games from me and none from you. Speak your mind and spell out what it is that you desire. Or more importantly, why I should desire something that you have?”

   As if frightened by Azat’s becalmed demands, a childish squeal raged from beneath the bundle of cloth cradled in the woman’s arms and interrupted his train of thought. His thoughts seemed to drift into another world, somehow overcome with confusion and an unfamiliar sense of impending dread. In a brief instance, he shook off the strange sensation and fixated the strange woman with eyes of amber contempt.

   Azat folded his arms in an act of patience. “But first, you have not told me your name.”   

   The Halish woman shook the rain out of her eyes, an nigh imperceptible gesture of disagreement. She flicked away long and sodden strands of coal black hair and sighed in frustration as she tried in vain to shield her eyes from the storm. “What importance is my name to you? You do not seek me and already you want to distance yourself from my presence. You should merely content yourself about what I bring into your presence. He is what you have been searching, is he not?

   “I know my task.” The mysterious woman lifted her hands to present the bundle of cloth carried in them to the Zarquin Guard before her. “As you know your own. Your master would want him for his own, and I can barely care for myself now, not for him too.” Bright, emerald eyes glanced up into Azat’s own. “So, what say you, Zarquin Guard?”

   “What I say?” Azat nearly laughed at her, a mirthless and hollow sound that he heard without making it. He fixated her with a knowing look and softly inclined his head. The woman understood the gesture and leaned forward to transfer the child into the Zarquin’s arms. “No, not me. Say that he is of the Old Gods, and swear on the fate of your very life and the gods that you hold most dear. Kneel before me and say that what I demand is true.”

   “Of course,” The woman knelt upon the rain-slick stone and did not seem to mind what exactly that she knelt into. Azat gently removed the swaddle from out of the woman’s hands and began to unravel the cloth that hid the child. “By the fate of my very life and upon the honor of Hinariath herself, that to break my word and oath for you, Zarquin Guard, shall forfeit my body, mind, and spirit. I swear before your own gods, that this child is of the Old Blood himself. Cleave my head from my shoulders should I ever prove false!”

Azat unraveled the rest of the swaddle and met the curious stare of innocence with a calmed expression. Large eyes that shone like the infinite void, framed in soft concentric rings of lavender, ensnared Azat in their otherworldly trance. Unblemished russet skin shimmered in the storm light, reminiscent of the forgotten kingdoms that once marked the Desolation of Qarth. Azat gently weaved his leather-clad fingers through the unkempt clumps of coal-black hair on the child’s head and traced one finger down the discolored rune etched on the center of the child’s forehead.

A rare and genuine smile graced Azat’s features for the first time in what felt like millennia. For many years, Azat had undergone many ceremonies such as this and pried countless children from the hands of their families, both willing and not-so-willing. But he had never felt such a profound sense of triumph, joy, and martial pride that he felt in this very moment. There was something special about this one, he could practically envision it.

“Born of the Old Gods…” He forced himself to look away from the child back into the expecting gaze of the woman before him. “I mark him for my kindred and one of my own blood. And you, shall have our undying gratitude and the fulfillment of a promise that has long been denied you since the day of your birth. I shall see to it personally.”

An abrupt and exaggerated cleaning of someone’s throat somehow caught both Azat and the mysterious woman’s attention in spite of the storm raging around them. Azat understood the sound for the warning that it was and shifted himself to peer over the kneeling woman’s shoulder.

A broad and intimidating Halish man stood scant feet away from them, arms crossed over his chest. Quilted Leather armor of a deep sapphire clad him from head to toe, inlaid with a trim of radiant golden yellow. A kempt golden blonde beard covered much of his facial features and an ornate nasal helm polished steel covered much of the rest of his face. From out of the semi-open slits in the helmet, a single unblemished, crystal blue eye studied the child in Azat’s arm with undisguised fascination. Another eye, squinted and the color of fresh milk, studied Azat with cold and indifferent calculation.

“Begging your pardon, good woman,” The grizzled warrior sketched a surprisingly elegant bow belying for a man of such menacing stature. Azat detected some measure of grace in the small movement, and again in the bold words he spoke. “But I must have a word with our mutual acquaintance here. And rather urgently, might I add. Fear me not and follow my order, then perhaps you’ll live without the Zarquin Guard burying a dagger in your back. You’ll quickly find that I too can make quite a few luring promises, Chosen of the Old Gods, some of which maybe in her interest.”

Azat appraised the warrior with an acute intensity and sneered at the man’s broad grin. “You must forgive me my failing memory, traveler, I cannot seem to recall you from anywhere that I’ve roamed. I hope you do not mind that I deem you a traveler, for you do not seem of…” He gestured around the crumbling ruin. “This place by any stretch of my imagination.”

The warrior shrugged, but the broad grin on lips remained. “That point-of-view is quite shared between the two of us then. You would rather be somewhere else and so too would I. Catch my drift?”

Azat flashed pointed canines in a wolfish grin. “Good, you are not one for an extensive dialogue. A shame that we seem somewhat similar considering what shall befall one of us. Neither do I consider myself an honorable man, but you do yourself a great disservice with no introduction for yourself, road warrior. Seeing that you are already here challenging me, I assume that I require no such introduction?”

“Fair enough,” The warrior inclined his head in agreement. “Not that you would remember me from anywhere specifically. If you must know, however, my brethren know me as Vindiaccos. You too may know me such by such a name, Azat, should that satisfy your curiosity.”

“Vin-di-ac-cos…” Azat enunciated the name across several syllables. “Vindiaccos… turn around and leave the way you came. I can find no reason why you should perish on the edge of my sword, friend. Go back to the place that your master’s first bid you to come here and do not look back.”

Vindiaccos paused as if he considered the thought for a moment, but Azat knew that a warrior like him would only pretend to do so as a courtesy. The warrior contemplated for a brief moment, then snapped back into the waking world to peer through the rain and deep into the essence of Azat’s own soul.

Vindiaccos grimaced. “Afraid that I cannot do that. Do us both a favor and get the woman and her child out of the way. I am here only for the child, but you must first be removed from the board. You need me dead and buried to be on your way. As far as I see it, only you and I need to settle this score.”

Azat held the child in one arm now and gently pushed it back into the woman’s waiting hands. No sooner had the woman reclaimed her child did she rush back behind the cover of the stacked barrels and crates in front of the hovel. He did not watch her leave, but kept his eyes fixated on the challenger before him, even as he unsheathed the weapon hanging on his waist. The scimitar screamed a keening cry as the curved sword was ripped free of the scabbard. Azat unslung the buckler resting on his back and equipped it across his left hand.

Thunder crashed from the heights of the heavens, deafening in its great cacophony. Somehow the deluge from the storm seemed to intensify to the point that Azat could scarcely trace Vindiaccos’ outline through the dense sheets of falling droplets. But he could still see the challenger before him unloosen an unadorned bludgeon weapon from his belt with one hand. A larger kite shield emblazoned with the sapphire-golden yellow scheme of his armor was unslung off of the challenger’s back and into the warrior’s off-hand.

“Honor. I would rather fight with you to the end than surrender that child to the Zarquin Guard.” Vindiaccos punched the storm-wracked winds with a mailed fist and shouted the swift declaration.
“I think that you would say the same, Azat, but I have a feeling that you are not known for your honest word. So let me pretend that you said it, for my own peace of mind.”

“Said well enough!” Azat replied and followed up with a few practice strokes. “And well-versed too, as if you could read my intent as if it were some mighty tome of knowledge.” He fell into a combat stance and began a cautious advance toward his opponent. “Our Gods honor our blood sacrifice.”

Vindiaccos hunkered behind his shield and fell into his own stance. “May neither of us be found wanting.”

Unlike Azat, Vindiaccos held his ground as if pondering the best course of action. A boom of thunder deafened shook the Zarquin Guard down to his core and lightning forked overhead, but none of that could leave him shaken. A thought struck him in mid-stride and he halted for a brief moment. Azat ripped the plumed helmet hung on his belt free and threw it over his head in a hurry. Despite the interruption, Vindiaccos seemed content to allow the sudden break in the tension and remained planted firmly where he stood.
« Last Edit: September 5, 2018, 08:51:34 PM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene III In Progress)
« Reply #7 on: August 2, 2018, 11:23:47 AM »
I don't know if it is the pace of your story or if it's the setting and characters, but I am put in mind of Gene Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer when I am reading it.

By that I mean to say I think that you have the foundation of a really interesting story. So far you have set up a really intriguing background and created some interesting characters. I hope you can develop this further.

Here is a bit of feedback on Scene ii

Quote from: MyenTal
Millennia seemed to drift in-and-out of Azat’s consciousness even in the dimly lit streets of the Titan.

This sentence is a little confused I feel. Why would the lighting conditions affect Azat’s thoughts? The word ‘even’ adds a conflict to the sentence that does not gel with the rest of the sentence.

Quote from: MyenTal
He focused and bore witness to great creations spawned out of moss-patched granite, surrounded with stagnated waves of decrepit slums.

Tense issues within the sentence make it difficult to read. Bore, surrounded & stagnated are past tense, but the ‘he focused’ places the action in the present. Also ‘surrounded with’ should be ‘surrounded by’


Quote from: MyenTal
Submerged in the aether, he patrolled grandiose temples and labyrinthine academies in split second intervals.

A split second is already an interval of time so ‘split second intervals’ is a little confused.


Quote from: MyenTal
Naturally, the ether-sight sharpened as he channeled


You said that Azat was submerged in the aether above whilst here you use the word ether. I would suggest that the use of one spelling when referring to the same subject would be better.

Quote from: MyenTal
The dim of night faded with each labored foot

Step not foot. A foot is just a part of the body or a measurement so can’t labour at anything.

Quote from: MyenTal
Azat found himself in the neatened architecture of the Guardian Plaza,

Neatened is a strange word to use. Not only is it past tense, but as the word just refers to making something tidy your use of the word implies that someone has tidied up just before Azat entered the space.

Quote from: Myental
An hour of omens for the Priestesses who slumbered in their satin bunks.

This is the wrong use of the word omens. An omen is just a portent, sign or warning of things to come.

Quote from: MyenTal
spell an end for Azat’s sudden burdens and restore his ether-sight.

Aether or ether!

Quote from: MyenTal
But such methodical blood-shed

Blood-shed should be bloodshed. By hyphenating the word you have created a compound noun that describes a shed of blood.

Quote from: MyenTal
From where he stood upon the highest stair that led up into the temple, he shifted his gaze a fraction and notcied Aiman sat upon the lowest stair that led back into Guardian Plaza.


The whole highest stair, lowest stair stuff is unnecessary and a bit contrived. It would be much better to say that from his high vantage point Azat noticed Aiman sat outside the entrance to the Plaza.

Noticed instead of notcied.


Quote from: MyenTal
But Azat could not trace even a slight hint of emotion as Aiman craned her head to shoot him with an irritated twinkle in her hazel eyes.

Because of the way you have structured this sentence it reads as though Aiman has shot Azat. The irritated twinkle line just compounds this fault especially as you have included the word ‘with’.

Irritated and twinkle all imply emotions, so their use is confusing given that you have just said that Azat could not see any emotion.

I would try something simpler like this:-

But Azat could not detect even a hint of emotion in her expression as she turned to stare back at him.


Quote from: MyenTal
But she did sigh before her gaze was whisked away by the storm-wracked sky once, then several times.

This is another sentence confused by use of the wrong words & phrasing issues.

Whisked does not mean the same as attracted to, or returned to which I think is what you were trying to say.

Also even though I think you were attempting to write that Aiman sighed several times what you actually wrote was that her gaze was whisked (sic) away several times.


Quote from: MyenTal
He shifted onto Aiman, who fixed them with a watchful stare that smoldered into the night.

Simply speaking the word ‘into’ refers to the movement or action of someone/something that results in that someone/something becoming enclosed, surrounded by, or being in contact with something else. A stare that smoulders into the night therefore refers to a stare that is moving.

Quote from: MyenTal
You would have your most veteran warrior trudge through muck and detritus on his own? Why each of you do what?


'When each of you' instead of 'why each of you'

Quote from: MyenTal
Drink his wine and feast on his food while I am to do what? Wade down to my knees in amphetamine parrot.”

There is no need for you to do the work of this sites autocensor. You should always write the correct word and let the filter sort it out for the people that do not wish to read profane language.


Quote from: MyenTal
“Command was never suited for you,

 
‘To you’ and not ‘for you’


Quote from: MyenTal
You call yourself veteran?

‘A veteran’ instead of just ‘veteran’


Quote from: MyenTal
She fixated Azat with an intense look and shared a weak smile with Aslan.


Fixed instead of fixated. Fixated means unable to stop thinking about something.

Quote from: MyenTal
He could feel the ether-sight return in vivid burst that steered him toward the Titan slums.

‘In vivid bursts’ would be correct.

Quote from: MyenTal
He scanned the skeletal remnants of a hundred moldering hovels cramped over the path until all of them seemed to slump forward and touch toward the horizon.

This sentence has a few tense issues. ‘Cramped over’ should be ‘cramped together over’. ‘Touch forward’ should either be ‘reach forward’, or just ‘touch the horizon’. 

Quote from: MyenTal
Azat shook his head, reluctant, and marched into death’s rotten maw with a hand planted onto the sheathed blade upon his waist.


For me this one sentence shows how important it is to choose the correct word and tense for the subject at hand. First off the adjective ‘reluctant’ shouldn’t be used on its own as an adjectives job is to modify a noun or pronoun.

The word onto is usually used to indicate the direction or movement of something and is usually used with a verb that indicates movement. Your expression ‘planted onto’ breaks all of these rules so makes the sentence hard to read.


Quote from: MyenTal
Chitterlings voices

Chitterlings is a food made from the intestines of a pig. ‘Chittering’ is probably the word that you were after.

 
Quote from: MyenTal
haunted his footfalls

As previously explained the correct word is footsteps.

Quote from: MyenTal
He could scarcely blame them, even he would fear to sleep under such destroyed roofs something fierce.

The phrase ‘something fierce’ is too informal and too modern a phrase to use in this story.

Quote from: MyenTal
Azat pressed onward into the depths of ruin

 
‘the ruin’ instead of just ‘ruin’

Quote from: MyenTal
A sound disturbed the morbid serenity of death made manifest and snapped him out of his marveling.

The word ‘marvelling’ doesn’t suit what has been previously described. The word ‘marvel’ means to feel great surprise or wonder. 

Quote from: MyenTal
The fragile form of a Halish woman tucked behind a small fortress of crates and discarded wine barrels bore through Azat with a scattered stare that seemed to notice beyond Azat.


This is another sentence that has become slightly hard to read due to the use of words that don’t quite work. The words ‘bore’, ‘scattered’ & notice mean different things to the way you have tried to use them.

Bore is okay, but the way you have constructed the sentence means that it is the fragile form of the woman that bore through Azat. Also you can’t imply that a stare bore through someone and then go on to describe that same stare as scattered and seeing beyond Azat.

Scattered refers to objects that are spread untidily over an area.

Noticed means to become aware of, or pay attention to something so is the wrong tense for this sentence.


Quote from: MyenTal
The hand snaked over the hilt of the sword

The word snaked means to move with the motion of a snake, so what you have said is that ‘the hand moved’ whereas the rest of the sentence goes on to imply that Azat’s hand is stationary

Quote from: MyenTal
Azat drew upon the weapon.

‘Drew upon’ means that Azat has drawn something on to his sword

Quote from: MyenTal
A scream born from horror slammed him with an unseen force and staggered him as if a physical blow.

This is very confused and far too melodramatic. Slammed into him would be correct and ‘as if a physical blow’ is an incomplete thought.

Unless the scream has some undescribed supernatural force, unseen or not, it cannot produce a force that would cause someone to stagger.

Something like ‘A sudden scream battered him and caused him to pause his blow’ would suffice.
 

Quote from: MyenTal
A recoil of movement

The word ‘recoil’ already describes a certain type of movement so you can’t have a recoil of movement.

Quote from: MyenTal
Your fate shall be hallow

Hallow is the wrong tense as it just means to set apart for holy use. Hallowed would be correct.

Quote from: MyenTal
He could scarcely lift his enraptured gaze from the child, but he managed to shift back onto the woman

Wrong use of the word onto again

Quote from: MyenTal
Azat sheathed his weapon and offered either arm


Either arm is a little confusing and means he is giving the woman a choice of his arms. Do you mean he offered both arms? Whilst someone can sit either side of you meaning both sides you have to construct your sentence accordingly.

Quote from: MyenTal
Azat looked him over with an inspectful gaze,

In the context that you have used it there is no such word as inspectful. In this context the word ‘inspectional’ would be correct, but a bit clumsy.

Quote from: MyenTal
He erected himself and pointed his chin toward the Child of the Old Gods.

Erected is the wrong tense and the word has been used incorrectly in this context.

Quote from: MyenTal
You wade knee-deep in amphetamine parrot

Again, always let this sites filter mange your swear words.

Quote from: MyenTal
A quicksilver dagger


Quicksilver is another name for mercury which is a liquid at normal temperatures so I don’t see how anyone could make a dagger from it.

Quote from: MyenTal
Azat slunk out of reach to recover himself and charged back into the fray. He flicked Obsidian Cobra

Up to this point Azat’s sword has been called Ebon Cobra

Quote from: MyenTal
He weaved around several thrust

Thrust is the wrong number form when used with the word ‘several’ and should be thrusts.

Quote from: MyenTal
and shoulder-charged the nearest rouge

Rouge is a powder/cream used to colour skin.

Quote from: MyenTal
A sharp pain flared behind Azat’s flank

The word flank refers to the side of a person’s body. So describing something as behind someone’s side doesn’t make sense. If you mean he was stabbed in the back then say so clearly.


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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene III In Progress)
« Reply #8 on: August 2, 2018, 09:37:46 PM »
Hi Alienscar,

Sorry, I've somewhat fallen out of the wagon when it comes to writing. I've been meaning to catch up for awhile now, but things at my workplace have kind of exploded from too many changes implemented too quickly, and I've been too exhausted to write on the weekdays. And as you've no doubt noted, I've been trying to get into the Warhammer Hobby and build a new PC, so that's also taken my attention. But your critique really gives me some inspiration and the urge to take up the keyboard again! ;D

I'm going to sit down on Friday night / Saturday morning and start working on your feedback for both The Tapestries of Faith and the Nocturnal Phantasma. Thank you for the feedback and critique (and the compliment!).
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II Redux)
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2018, 11:58:56 PM »
Scene II Redux is now on the forum! I realized that I have kind of screwed up the scene numbering in the earlier stuff I posted. Scene II focuses on some of the characters in the Zarquin Guard interacting with one another. Two of the characters are still on the mysterious side, but I delve a bit deeper into the main character for this chapter (Don't worry, there's not going to be a bunch of characters for each chapter :P!), who would be Azat in this case.

I removed Scene III from the forum to make room for the changes in scene II, plus scene III is going to be the next scene I edit, so I guess that's convenient  ;D. Let me know what you guys think!
« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 12:13:36 PM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II Redux)
« Reply #10 on: September 5, 2018, 08:52:21 PM »
Scene III is now up!
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II & III Redux)
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2018, 07:30:23 AM »
Sorry for the delayed response, but RL has become really busy.
I am neither an editor nor a writer, but I honestly wish I knew how to help you and provide better, more constructive feedback.

I say this because I really believe that you have the beginning of something good with this story and if you could just hone your writing skills the story would be the better for it.
Erasyl and the little snippets of information you have provided are really intriguing and it is from this information I catch a glimmer of something brilliant.

I think that before you write anymore of this story you should map out the history/future of the Old Ones/Ancients. This aspect of your story is what makes me believe that you could make this a truly epic story. Maybe the Ancients need to arise to protect the east from coming disaster, or maybe if they are allowed to flourish they will destroy the world. Maybe the Ancients strength isn’t martial, but knowledge. Could it be that Erasyl’s reason for gathering all of the Old Ones isn’t in anyone’s interest but his own? Maybe his mask hides the fact that he is not what he claims to be.

Anyway that is I all I have time for today, but I just wanted you to know that I was still here and reading. Time allowing I will continue this next week. 
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene II & III Redux)
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2018, 11:21:53 AM »
Sorry for the delayed response, but RL has become really busy.
I am neither an editor nor a writer, but I honestly wish I knew how to help you and provide better, more constructive feedback.

I say this because I really believe that you have the beginning of something good with this story and if you could just hone your writing skills the story would be the better for it.
Erasyl and the little snippets of information you have provided are really intriguing and it is from this information I catch a glimmer of something brilliant.


Hi Alienscar, no worries, I know real life demands an absorbent amount of time sometimes ;D. I'm glad that you find the plot interesting so far. I know my writing style / technique could use a little work, I think it's time I started looking into some lessons or classes I think. I actually have a recent friend who was once in the publishing business, so hopefully I'll be able to catch some interesting tips and advice from him.

So, what exactly do you think needs more improvement right now? Is it still the grammar side of things, or do you think other aspects of the plot need to be fleshed out a little more?

Also, I forgot to mention this, but I've gone through the other scenes in the first chapter again and decided to give Scene I, and Scene IV the same treatment as Scene II and III. Haven't posted them up yet, but I'll do it tonight as I should have some free time.

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I think that before you write anymore of this story you should map out the history/future of the Old Ones/Ancients. This aspect of your story is what makes me believe that you could make this a truly epic story. Maybe the Ancients need to arise to protect the east from coming disaster, or maybe if they are allowed to flourish they will destroy the world. Maybe the Ancients strength isn’t martial, but knowledge. Could it be that Erasyl’s reason for gathering all of the Old Ones isn’t in anyone’s interest but his own? Maybe his mask hides the fact that he is not what he claims to be.

Too late, as I've finished this short story several months ago :P, buut, seeing as how I'm planning on giving everything the redux treatment, I'll be able to incorporate your advice still. Actually, the Eastern Lands that Erasyl comes from is something I've already fleshed out in my world building notes. Some of the Old Gods, I even detail a bit more toward the end of the story. But seeing your advice does make me think that I might have been too vague on the details in the beginning of the book.

I'll take a look into fleshing them out more and incorporate that into some of the earlier scenes.

Post Merge: September 28, 2018, 09:08:17 PM
In the future, please use the modify button. Double posting is against the forum rules, and for that reason, the system merged your posts.

   Azat rooted himself to the ground and hunkered behind the buckler fastened over the palm of his hand. With a casual flick of his wrist, the Zarquin flipped the blade clutched in his mainhand and caught it once more by the hilt. A grunt of effort punctuated Azat’s downward thrust into a small patch of mud of grime, where he left his blade buried. Calloused fingers unlooped the plumed helmet that hung from his belt. Both hands grasped the edges of the helmet and dragged the leather folds so that it curved over his head until the neckguards sat firm upon his shoulders.

Across the way, Vindiaccos’ one-eyed gaze mirrored the same, efficient intensity of his opponent. Azat could scarcely trace even a haphazard outline of the foe before him, so heavy was the downpour from the heavens. But somehow, against any notion of reason, the oceanic color of Vindiaccos’ eye peered through the storm as if wholly unobscured from Azat’s vision. Certain that his mind played a trick upon him, Azat blinked and dispelled the distracting sight.

Crashing thunder bellowed from dizzying heights. Lightning forked from the heavens and struck the peak of a great tower in the distance. Goaded into action by the gods’ unease, Vindiaccos hunkered behind the kite-shield clutched in his off-hand and fell into a combat stance. Azat lifted the buckler strapped onto his hand and fell into one of his own. The Gods’ lamented and their tears struck them both with an unceasing urgency, not for a moment lending either opponent any sense of relief.

Azat sketched a rough shadow of Vindiaccos through the wrathful storm, and resketched again and again until he could trace the forward advance of his foe through the storm. Onward, the shadow pushed with warhammer held high over head, poised for a brutal assault. A paradoxial grimace of a wolfish grin flashed onto Azat’s intense features, borne from senses of impending dread and overconfidence warring from within him. An offensive assault could catch Vindiaccos offguard and earn Azat some measure of advantage… Or was that something that Vindiaccos fully anticipated?

Armored footfalls echoed with a soft and faded thudding through the storm as Vindiaccos came nearer. Azat inclined his head to shield himself from the rain and kept both of his ears open. Leather fingers curled around the hilt of the imbedded scimitar beside him and pulled the sword free with a near silent whisper. The storm cleansed the scimitar of any impurities in a matter of seconds, until the sword gleamed in the flash of wicked lightning.
   
Caught up in the wind of the storm, a prayer whisked away from Vindiaccos’ bearded lips seemed to resonate with the clash of thunder and the shriek of the wind. As if some wraith borne of the storm or the mere shadow of the divine himself, the Halish Warrior emerged from out of the night, armored in the shadow of night.

“Suffer no creature who thrives beyond the cyclical cycle death and rebirth,

“Hinariath, scourge their field with the flames of the scorching sun,

“Bless your sworn brother, so that he may harvest the seeds of their wickedness before they can take root,

“Honor your champion, so that he may know always what is truest,

“Let the storm take his foe, and break him upon the bedrock of your glorious kingdom.”


Azat darted forward in a sliver of movement, his footfalls a strange patter of disturbed rainwater that betrayed him seconds before he could strike. Ashen Viper uncoiled in a rapid blur of movement and struck the warhammer brought down upon him with a sound of metal grinding upon metal. Azat planted one foot firmly back, the buckler in his off-hand whipping around to clash off of the polished steel of Vindiaccos’ helmet. He cut the buckler back in a reverse strike that slammed Vindiaccos in the shoulder of his offhand, the small dagger embedded pommel-first onto the bottom of the shield cutting a neat grove across the pauldron there.

A deafening cry punctuated the sudden force of Vindiaccos’ counter-assault. The Kite Shield slammed into Azat’s chest and hurtled him backward, but Azat managed to skirt himself off of the shield and weave around the swing of the warhammer without even a scratch. The Halish warrior struck out with an armored elbow that caught Azat once more in the chest and halted him in mid-swing. The hammer hurtled toward Azat, followed by the fluid swing of the kite shield.

Azat staggered out of reach of the warhammer, but stumbled back onto one knee from the irrestible force of a shield smacking him sideways in the flank. Vindiaccos pounced forward and crashed a knee upon the brigandine of his foe, the power of the blow transferred square into Azat’s exposed gut. Winded, but not dazed, he rolled with the blow through mud and undrained water and away from his opponent.

The warhammer came down again on Azat’s attempt to find his feet, but the Ashen Cobra knocked the weapon out of threat distance for but a moment. Azat thrust the dagger beneath his shield up and around the kite shield that protected Vindiaccos’ midriff and snagged itself upon the Quilted Leather armor of his opponent. Vindiaccos brought his elbow down upon the offhand and forced the dagger loose, but not before Azat cut a ragged line into the midriff armor. Azat raced up to his feet and charged Vindiaccos, the bladed buckler coming down upon his foe in a flurry of blows.
Vindiaccos moved in the direction of each of Azat’s diagonal strokes, the kite shield absorbing much of the impact of each attack. It was then that Azat caught a smug grin forming on Vindiaccos’ features in a bright flash of lightning. Lightning struck twice and the smile had vanished, replaced with a determined fury.

“You’re not at all what I expected!” Vindiaccos shouted over the roar of the storm. “I honestly thought you would back down and run!”

Vindiaccos caught Azat’s sudden blow with an uppercut of his shield. A dull thud, reminiscent of wood being hacked apart by a lumberjack, echoed in the brief lull of silence that followed. Azat glanced into the eye of his opponent, face scrunched up with the effort of the attack, and managed a shrug with a sudden exhalation of breath.

“You have not fought any of the Zarquin Guard then.” Azat tensed for a brief moment, then slammed his helm forward in a vicious headbutt that caught his opponent full in the face. “Neither are you sound of judgement!”

Azat ducked beneath Vindiaccos’ haphazard reply and caught him with a neat, diagonal cut across the ragged line already etched into his armor. He earned himself a sharp cry from the Halish warrior’s mouth and the tiniest trickle of blood coated on the edge of his blade. Encouraged from the sight of first blood, Azat retracted the Ashen Viper so that it poised itself beside his head and lanced forward in a rapid thrust.

“Hah, your Gods would be proud!” Vindiaccos half-leaned, half-scrambled away from the blow, only to catch the Ashen Viper with a sudden swing that forced it out of threat range. Azat found himself forced backward toward his mainhand from the momentum and Vindiaccos at first seemed content to push his advantage. But the Halish Warrior flicked the hammer downward and left Azat to reel away on his own.

A rapid blur of movement behind him, visible only a small length of shadow in the dark, tackled Azat from behind, or came as near as possible without overbearing him. The pinpoint hack of the hammer pick swept into the back of Azat’s exposed kneecap and before he could realize what had happened, a burst of incredible and intense pain flared in his right leg. Vindiaccos placed more of his strength into the blow and ripped the warhammer upward. Azat felt his leg thrown out from under him in the brieft moment of agony and confusion.

“None could fault you for a worthy effort.” Vindiaccos shouted into the storm, but the words greeted Azat’s ears as distant and muffled. “Far be it from me to ever say something that I am about to say… but you honored your brothers and sisters tonight.”

A blood-curdling groan slipped from Azat’s mouth even as he began to stir. He shuddered with fresh jolts of pain and snapped open an eye to the storm and rain that never ceased. He realized that his other eye, along with half of his face, was buried in the soiled mud in the road. A surge of revulsion deadened the pain behind his ruined knee. Azat fought himself out of the murky waters and brushed off the detritus of the Titan’s slums.

Clarity of both sight and hearing rushed back to him in one deafening wave.

“Do you hear that, Azat?” Vindiaccos was forced to practically scream into the worsening maelstrom whirling around them. “I think your Gods call, but I do not think you are in much of a position to answer them!”

“Damned hound!” Azat screamed back at his foe and a brief clamor of wild laughter escaped his throat. “Do you think my death even matters? You have not even beaten me!”

“Beaten you?” Vindiaccos gestured toward Azat’s wounded knee with the head of his warhammer. “But haven’t I? You have no need to beg for death! You’re no longer much of any threat to me. What you do from now on is your own affair. Climb your way out or call for help, it matters little to me now.”

Azat’s featured twisted in an involuntary expression of agony, the buckler still clutched in the palm of his hand rested upon his weeping leg. Somehow, against the intense pain, he staggered and stumbled until he managed to fight himself back onto remaining good leg. Vindiaccos had wounded him, but Azat could still stand. Vindiaccos had not done the damage he thought he had done.
Vindiaccos made no effort to place Azat back onto the ground, but contented himself to observe Azat struggle with an impressed look in his eye.

Vindiaccos nodded with grim approval. “By the gods, I think a lesser man would be hard-pressed to climb back onto his feet after a blow like that. You Zarquin must be hard to truly put down, as I have heard. But I’ll admit that you are not as I feared you might be.”

“Honor,” Azat panted like a canine beaten too much by the summer heat. He held up the buckler in his hand in defense. “Hold that hammer of yours and I shall show you something beyond your comprehension.”

“I had a feeling,” Vindiaccos considered the brief ceasefire for a moment, then shook his head with a grimace. “That you would say something like that. Here is my answer!”
« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 09:08:17 PM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Tapestries of Faith (Chapter I, Scene I, II, III, & IV Redux)
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2018, 11:53:52 PM »
A guttural cry escaped from Vindiaccos’ lungs as he lunged forward. He hurled the warhammer caught in his grip with the strength that belied even his densely knotted frame. Heavily wounded, Azat knew he could not dodge, even as he shook his head with resignation. Just before the warhammer could obliterate his skull, Azat spun around on his heel as if meant to stride away from the entire battle.

The hammer struck him the back of the head with such force that the plumed helmet flew off of Azat’s shoulders like a piece of an arrow ricocheting full force off of a shield. A thick smear of blood and grime followed the discarded piece of armor, but something too that Vindiaccos never anticipated. Before Azat’s corpse could crumple upon itself, it combusted into a great gout of liquid fire that scoured away all trace of flesh or left the armor upon it a blackened, melted husk. Even the cobblestones on the road were reduced to ashes from wherever the flame touched.

Vindiaccos considered the inferno that blazed on despite the storm with a gaping expression of shock. He conisdered Azat’s corpse as the flames guttered out all at once and pondered the hidden meaning behind what appeared to be a ritual sacrifice. But try as he might, Vindiaccos could not conceive of any comforting answer.

Vindiaccos simply stared at the corpse for long minutes, until small creaking footsteps snapped him back into the waking world. He remembered where he was and, more importantly, why he was here. As if a sudden stiffness and pain plagued his joints, he craned his head toward the hovel that the mysterious, child-laden woman had taken shelter behind. The woman stood before him, frightened beyond measure by the prospect of her own death. But one glance into her eyes and he understood that she knew more than anyone that she could not run from him so easily.

No word was spoken between them in a lengthy pause, as either individual considered what precisely to say and how to go about it. Vindiaccos recollected himself with a breathing exercise and a handful of prayers despite the woman’s growing anxiety. Eventually, she collapsed onto her knees in defeat, bereft of any hope. Vindiaccos smiled to himself at the pure irony of the situation.

“You would have marked yourself for someone to be hunted had you given into Azat’s demands. Do you know that? But none of that matters to you, I understand? You’ve been hunted for your entire life and none of that has changed since you gave birth to the enigma you cradle in your arms. If you had kept your pace, you would have freed yourself from the Zarquin Guard and placed a price upon your head from men like me…

“You have been hunted by those who understand neither mercy or compassion for so long, that you cannot even comprehend it even as it gazes down upon you. Truly, if you were prepared to hand him over to the Zarquin Guard, then you should have no fear of me doing wrong by you.

“Let me take the boy and gift him with something far brighter than you could imagine. By the Triumvirate that reigns in Heaven, I shall temper him in both lessons of faith and enlightenment. Upon the day he becomes a man, he will embark upon a path not-often traveled by mortal men. A shield he shall be against ignorance and darkness. A mailed fist he shall become against tyranny and despair. He will be an offered palm for those who would have justice and embrace the light of the sun.

“Child of the Old Gods? I hereby name him a Child of the Sun and of the blood of the Raven’s Veil Knights. He shall serve the realm as I will serve him: with honor and distinction. From Nemossos-and-Tambria in the east to Numeria in the west, and Hallorn in the heart of the Southern World, none shall not know of his blood or his name. I hereby swear upon the Altar of the Vercingetorix, Alastrine, and Hinariath that I promise is nothing more than simple truth.”

The woman seemed to shrink further into herself as Vindiaccos pledged himself to the child in her arms. No words did she speak, but only offered him her raised hands and the swaddle that they carried. Vindiaccos nodded to himself, pleased with the reaction, as the downpour showed no sign of abating. With one hand, he discarded the kite shield upon the ground to place the fingers of his gauntlet gently upon the crown of the woman’s head. The other hand discarded the warhammer still clutched between whitened knuckles, to take up the child offered to him.

“An enigmar surrounds you, boy.” Vindiaccos whispered to the unraveled bundle of cloth tucked away in his arm. “Together, I think we will solve the mystery behind your wayward kin. But that is another event on the horizon, one that I fear will not come to pass for years yet. Even so, my brothers and sisters will want to know what to call you. No need to let them fuss over it, eh?

“I hereby name thee… Kendal. Kendal Cirian Einnis. Your home reimains in the hills-over-yonder, in the forest of Mist Thorn. Soon, we shall claim the road and journey onward. But there are many more mysterious to unravel here in the meantime. So let us be off, and be about it quickly.”
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

 


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