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Author Topic: The Embers of the Past 3.0 - Nishan: Scene I  (Read 8771 times)

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Offline Dread

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Re: World Building 1 - on - 1: (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2020, 11:13:22 PM »
I was having a bit of trouble keeping up with this part as well but with the few explanations has fixed that in my head. I am really getting evolved with the story.

I do need to ask, I need a description of their race, human, orkish, sub human, dwarvish? Skin tone?

When I read, I visualize. So this would deepen my experience not to see visions of Conan in Azat's place. Thanks and keep it coming.
"Burning thru the universe in search of peace only brings more war. Peace is an illusion, war is reality, that is the way of things"

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Online Myen'Tal

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Re: World Building 1 - on - 1: (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2020, 11:34:23 PM »
Edits made!

I was having a bit of trouble keeping up with this part as well but with the few explanations has fixed that in my head. I am really getting evolved with the story.

I do need to ask, I need a description of their race, human, orkish, sub human, dwarvish? Skin tone?

When I read, I visualize. So this would deepen my experience not to see visions of Conan in Azat's place. Thanks and keep it coming.

You want a description of the Qarthites? Or the Slaves? I haven't detailed that yet because we haven't seen *too* many of the different ethnicities in Qarth.

So basically, there are twelve different kingdoms on Khios. The dominion is established over each of them, with the Qi being the last kingdom to fall. The only free lands that we know of are the lands of Kharan, the Half-Giants.

Twelve Tyrants of Qarth are the puppet kings, tyrants, and scholar-priests that rule each kingdom. From all of these kingdoms, slaves are acquired constantly from a myriad of reasons.

All of these slaves are then processed within 'Zar'Bau' the Citadel of the Enslaved, and either labor endlessly in the caverns beneath the bulwark, or, if they're fortunate, sent off to the other realms of the Empire to replenish stock.

Qarthites: Black, auburn, gray, or brunette of hair. Bronze, Caramel, or tan of skin-tone. Raven, black, grey, or amber of eyes. Also they are regular humans inspired by persian / other middle-eastern aspects.

Thanks ;D.

Also the first Portent of the Wanderer Scene, should not have been posted, since it is not the actual scene that made it into the story, ha-ha ;).
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 11:40:17 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

Online Myen'Tal

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Re: A Kingdom of Ravens (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2020, 07:33:40 AM »
I'm kind of thinking that I should reorganize this thread. I feel like the random scenes might be confusing people. Not certain how to proceed about it though.

@Alienscar and @Dread, I sent both of you a PM for some advice :). If you guys are into the idea of some chronological reorganization, let me know!

This scene is the prologue of the entire story. I thought I'd reverse the clock a bit and introduce another important character :).


Black Pacts

Leagues beneath the Garden Palaces of Tu’shik, underneath the subterranean crypts of the Royal Tombs, Tabia felt an unsettling sense of uncertainty. An oppressive darkness cloaked the tunnel walls and the sand beneath her feet. Only a dozen torches scattered further down the caravan’s length, now smoldering from extended use, could hold back the darkness with their flickering flames.

   “Tabia,” Adofo waved his torch from several leagues ahead, a dim light in the darkness. “Come quick, I’ve found something!”

   “Out of the way,” Tabia hurried to his side and shouldered the burly warrior from out of her path. “Don’t touch anything.”

   “Seven hells,” Adofo shrugged, Tabia could sense his sneer aimed at her back. “What is this?”

   Tabia inspected the great stone slab of a door blocking the path forward. She quickly ran her torch over the dusty surface, unveiling ancient scripture and symbols chiseled into the stone until they became recesses in a greater framework.
Tabia did not spare Adofo a glance. “Warriors of the Zarquin Guard do not ask such questions. Just keep your sword ready.”

   “You’re expecting something behind this door?” Adofo stared at the scripture in amazement. “What could possibly be living down here, giant rats?”

   “Found it!” Tabia placed her gloved fingers on a hidden lever and forced it down until it clicked softly into place. “I would advise, Adofo, that you keep your torches nearby. The God-King has commanded us to enter, but not even he has entered this place for many decades.”

   The grinding noise of stone ground upon stone deafened Tabia’s ears. Adofo planted one step back and readied his hand on the hilt of his sheathed sword. A quiet chorus of hesitant murmurs and disagreements rumbled from the caravan behind them.

   “Silence!” Adofo commanded. “Zarquin, attend your charge!”

   “Yes, yes,” Faki, one of Adofo’s lieutenants, spurred his warriors on. “Make sure these archaeologists don’t fall on their scrolls and ink feathers!”

   A dozen men garbed in robes of cream and crimson, chainmail glistening softly in the flickering light, approached the schism opening between the stone slabs barring the path. They held their bucklers tight across their chests. They readied their swords so that they could cleave through even passing shadows.

   Adofo nodded approvingly as they formed a wall of flesh and steel before the chasm yawning open before them.

   “You first,” Adofo gestured to Tabia as the granite slabs jarred to a sudden halt. “I don’t think we’ll be using our blades, but we remain ever at your back.”

   “Step carefully,” Tabia sneered at Adofo’s confident grin before she stepped into the abyss beyond. “Gods know what’s become of this sacred sanctum.”

   “Crumbling artifacts,” Faki hawked and spat, quickly dogging Tabia’s footsteps. “Toppled ruins. That is all that remains here.”

   Tabia waved her torch back and forth across the widening chamber that they had entered into. Faki had spoken the truth, she realized, as the remnants of a great reliquary became unveiled before the cautious caravan.

   Thousands of Qarthite warriors, hewn from stone, bronze, and clay, lined many of the open spaces beneath half-collapsed arch-ways. They stood in silent vigil over the stranger monuments that loomed over them. Tabia attempted to near them, but could only make out the tell-tale signs of the many limbs that decorated each statue before Adofo tugged her back toward the safety of the caravan.

   “Can you read any of this?” Adofo flicked his torch over scripture-etched walls of dusty obsidian. “This is not Qarthite. It almost hurts my eyes to read it.”

   “A dead language, Adofo.” Tabia dismissed. “Nothing more.”

   Adofo’s irritable sighing betrayed his mounting impatience. “Will you tell me at least what you’re searching for?”

“Something forbidden,” Tabia confessed. “Trust me, Adofo, you’d be best not remembering a thing about what you’ve seen here today. For I shall remember.”

“Corpses often fall short on memories.” Adofo forced through clenched teeth.
Tabia whirled around on him, torch leveled directly in front of his eyes. “I carry the manifestation of the Tyrants’ will with me. Strike me down, and the seven hells you keep speaking of shall swallow you whole!”

“Seven… eh, enough,” Adofo cursed. “Find what you’re searching for and let’s be done with this crumbling heap of stone! The blasphemies hidden in these depths make my skin crawl.”

“Adofo…” Faki cautioned. “Let’s just see this through. Then we can toast to the God King’s generous reward, eh?”

Tabia’s laughter lilted from several meters ahead. “Your friend has the right mind for this sort of thing. Turn back if you’re frightened, Adofo, and give your friend the commander’s badge.”

“Don’t just shy there, Zarquin!” Adofo snapped. “After her. If something happens to Tabia, we’ll be swaying from our necks outside the gates of Tu’shik!”

The Zarquin Guard quickly jostled forward, a caravan of scribes and scholars scrambling not to fall out of their shadow. Tabia glanced behind her, but pressed on all the same. She tread a path interrupted with toppled over statues, all of them of ancient Qarthite origin, and waded through the thick of their ruin.

A spark of light in the near distance made Tabia jump with fright the moment she realized its presence. Hesitant, she drew nearer to the light source until she realized that the light of her torch reflected off something glassine in material.

   A soft disturbance crept from further down the chamber halls as Tabia caught her own reflection in a mirror the color of red wine. Gentler than the most imperceptible sighing, within the silent chambers of the reliquary, there was no warrior of the Zarquin Guard or Palace Attendant who did not freeze at the luring sound.

   “Weapons ready,” Adofo whistled sharply, suddenly beside Tabia once again. “Approach with caution. Remember, stay together and fight as one.”

   “Are you certain this is a danger?” Tabia’s murmur felt like it resonated off the reliquary’s walls. “There’s no cause for alarm, yet.”

   “I am not paid to take chances.” Adofo gestured for Tabia to fall back into his shadow. “Faki, let us combine our eyes and ears, brother. We lead from the front.”

   “Your command is my oath.” Faki acknowledged and made to stand beside his superior. “I’ll keep my torch primed for you, better that you hand yours to a scribe.”

   “Here,” Adofo spun round and shoved the torch in his hand into Tabia’s embrace. “Keep your scribes in line, Tabia. No one flees, on the God-King’s command.”

   “Stop stalling and move out already!” Tabia made a brief whistle.

   Adofo gestured with a point of his chin for Faki to take the lead. Adofo dogged his footsteps, eyes peeled in any direction that Faki did not directly focus on. The other members of the Zarquin Guard formed a tight phalanx around the caravan and marched in the shadows of their superiors.

   Tabia marched behind the safety of the phalanx, surrounded by a gaggle of superstitious and fearful scribes. As the caravan pressed forward in ominous silence, the artifacts and relics crafted by Qarthite artisans seemed to wane in number and scale, until all that remained before them was only the way forward. Statues of strange beasts of mythology gazed upon their progress with lustful eyes, spaced between seemingly endless archways that delved off into the reliquary’s most decrepit corners.

   “amphetamine parrot,” Faki’s voice shattered the suffocating silence ensnaring the caravan. A forceful impact punctuated his distasteful language. “Another doorway, Tabia! This… this one is scrawled with some diabolic scribbling… I cannot read it.”

The phalanx parted to allow Tabia closer inspection. She stepped forward to join Adofo and Faki before a massive slab of alabaster marble inset with the same glassine, wine red material that she had glimpsed in the mirror before. Painstakingly chiseled into the mirror’s surface, were hollowed recesses in the form of more sinister hieroglyphics and scripture.

Tabia gently lifted her torch to better see in the light, but found her hand quickly seized in Adofo’s own snare.

“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Adofo cautioned, but slackened his grip so that Tabia could achieve her work.

“This door is sealed by rite of blood.” Tabia scrolled her fingers across dimly-lit hieroglyphs.

“It cannot be opened without sacrifice. I-I do not understand. I am not certain how to proceed.”

“No soul was ever meant to understand how, Tabia.” A disembodied voice crept through the under-dark like a gentle breeze. It was a sinistrous amalgamation of several feminine voices speaking roughly in chorus. “This world is too brief already without prying eyes gleaming such, treasured knowledge..

“Woeful, have the times grown, that your master now sends gaggles of slavering attendants in his stead. Has he grown so vain? Does his courageous heart wither with fear? Or is it desperation that drives him into the shadows?”

“Your blasphemy shall reap his wrath,” Tabia shouted, torch held out for any sign of the creature. “He would certainly cast you back into the shadow of the Seven Hells!”

“Enough,” Adofo interrupted. “Find it and bring me the severed wretch’s head!”

“You need not look far, little man.” The enigmatic voice surged over them like a wind from the passage behind them. “I shall not shirk from your gaze.”

A thin sliver of tongue the color of dark blood lolled from out of the shadows and into the flickering warmth of the torchlight. A maw of teeth that curved like the perfect points of a ram’s horns followed suite. The grounded roots of each tooth gleamed in the darkness, fading into burnished browns toward the center and then to oily blacks at the very tips.

They were small enough not to alter the creature’s facial features, a blend reminiscent of elf and human as if she been borne from such a crossing.

Yet, an other-worldliness bled into those pristine features, that Tabia would have otherwise thought divine. Oppressive eyes of oily crimson and viper’s slits seemed to bubble and writhe from within as if blood boiled from underneath. Lengthy streams of raven hair cascaded down her crown of four curving horns that could rival a Minotaur's.

Beneath her arms were another set of limbs lined with whipcord muscle. She held them cupped in a way that sketched a strange symbol with the intricate positioning of her fingers.

A simple colchis of deep sapphire laced with filigree of ruby garbed the creature’s deceptively towering height. Tabia figured it stood four heads over the tallest man in the caravan.
The caravan looked on in horror for the briefest moment, before the first terrified scream sent most of attendants flying in a panic.

The Forbidden One fixated her gaze upon Tabia, a coy smile on her lips, before it laid into the discordant horde attempting to fly past it. The creature scarcely seemed to move either of her four arms, but she caught two scribes by the crown of their heads.

She tracked her upper arms back and forth, an effort that seemed near effortless to Tabia. Bodies flew through the dusty passage. Dull, sickening crunches echoed through the lonesome cavern as corpses impacted against the monuments gazing ever onward.

The Forbidden One tore the two attendants still in her snare messily into halves with a violent pull of her arms.

In the span of a shallow breath, the caravan in Tabia’s charge had been gruesomely murdered.

“Seven hells,” Adofo cursed from out a mouth too slackened with shock to be considered intimidating.

Tabia craned her head to stare Adofo directly in the eyes. “What are you doing?” She insisted.
“Defend us!”

Adofo considered Tabia for a long moment, his skepticism slowly eradicated by an expression of grim determination.

“Brothers,” Adofo addressed the thirteen warriors huddled in front of him like a bulwark of flesh and steel. “Our very lives depend on the severing of this blasphemy’s head. Fight well, and may the sun rise for you tomorrow! Charge!”

The Zarquin thundered their war cries and broke ranks in unison. Tabia watched the first and bravest amongst them make a vicious cut at the Forbidden One’s midriff. The creature flicked her wrist at the grizzled warrior and slit his throat with the same gesture.

A second Qarthite leapt over the back of his wounded comrade, but Tabia blinked and in the next moment, his arms were hewed from his body.

“Together, you imbeciles!” Adofo encouraged them. “Encircle her! Strike from every angle!”
From the right flank, three of the Zarquin guard charged forward together, their shields held out before them with their swords readied for a sure thrust. On the left, Adofo, Faki, and another warrior pushed their advantage at the same time.

The Forbidden One backpedaled, the ghosting image of swords manifesting between her fingers vanishing and reappearing as she tracked her arms back and forth. A fountain of blood arced from the formation on the left flank, a skull cleaved from someone’s shoulders.

On the right, Adofo parried one of the ghosting blades with a mighty clamor of steel on ethereal steel. Faki sprinted at full tilt, sliding into the Forbidden One’s guard and making a vicious cut behind the creature’s kneecap.

A keening howl of agony tore through the Zarquin ranks like a sudden gust of wind, but they held firm. More war cries burst from out of the shadows as other Zarquin emerged behind the Forbidden One.

The Forbidden One whirled backward, her movements more akin to a dance than any battle maneuver. Her arms cut across one another like a labyrinth of blades, some finding their mark and hewing down more of the guard. Others were successfully parried by the trained and practiced eyes of Adofo’s most experienced warriors. 

The clamor of battle reverberated through the reliquary. The screams of the dying punctuated every several clashes of steel on steel. Diabolic screams were torn from the Forbidden One’s throat as the Zarquin steadily landed a true blow here and there.

Tabia quickly realized that she stood alone by the doorway blocking the clearest route to safety. Only a sprawl of dead warriors and scribes and thick slathers of blood left in the sand between them was her only protection.

“Faki!” Adofo shouted over the cries of the last Zarquin Guard to fall on the forbidden one’s blades. “Save yourself, brothe--” Adofo’s sudden gasp of surprise was torn out of his lungs, impaled on the length of two blades.

Defiant, Adofo could scarcely lift his hand, as if he made to strike the Forbidden One one last time. Unceremoniously, the Forbidden One cast his corpse into the shadows with a ferocious kick.
Tabia froze in horror, Faki’s shadow receding as he fled back toward the surface as quickly as he could manage. She wanted to call out to him, but whatever desire she had to was quickly robbed by the Forbidden One’s unsettling gaze fixated on her.

The creature, credit to the Zarquin Guard’s martial prowess, knelt unsteadily upon one mightily wounded knee. A thousand cuts marred her once unblemished skin, a few large bruises the tell-tale signs of shields leaving their mark on her.

Beads of sweat and blood dripped down her unnatural body, her hair matted and sticky with blood and viscera of her foes.

In spite of her condition, the Forbidden One lifted her head skyward and laughed in skeptical disbelief.

“That, was not how I was expecting this fight to go.” The Forbidden One shifted around to gaze at Tabia once more. “But I’d rather them defiant, than meek and soft. Which one would you be, Tabia?”

“Who are you?” Tabia eked out a murmur under her breath. “How do you know of me?”

“Such trivial questions,” The Forbidden One answered. “What need of you of their answers? What need of you of concern, when you’re nothing more than meat strung up on strings, like a puppet? You’ll dance to my tune, won’t you, Tabia? You’ve searched my eyes, and found your own soul wailing back in them.

“What need of you such incorporeal beauty? Better that it belongs to me in the end.”

   Tabia could avert her gaze from the Forbidden One no longer. Lost in the creature’s eyes, she felt her spiritual defenses crumbling in great heaps. Her defiance guttered. Her faith withered enough to fall from her mind like a rotting fruit from a dead tree.

   Tabia glimpsed the Forbidden One’s eyes and felt content in her sudden, new enthrallment. A faint spark in the darkest corner of her mind, instantly recognized that only this creature could ever undo the curse she had woven over her.

   “Are you listening, Tabia?” The Forbidden One turned away from her to gaze in the direction that Faki had departed.

   “What?” Tabia quipped impulsively, her sentience returning in foggy, gradual waves. “Gods, but what is your will?”

   “I said that I have need of you.” The Forbidden One beckoned her forward with a curl of her talon-like finger. She spared a intentful glance and haunting smile in Tabia’s direction. “It shall be a monumental one. Are you still listening in that thick skull of yours?”

   Tabia sank to her knees in the blood slick sand and prostrated herself, knowing that anything less would spell her demise.

   Tabia did not attempt to hide the shame in her words. “I-I swear, nothing but death would keep me from it.”

   “Very well,” The creature cooed. “Then listen intently…”.
“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: A Kingdom of Ravens (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2020, 10:21:09 AM »
@Alienscar and @Dread, I sent both of you a PM for some advice :). If you guys are into the idea of some chronological reorganization, let me know!

Well I have got a PM that is addressed to Dread, so I guess you mean that one.  :D

I would agree that some sort of order to your story is required as the scenes by themselves do not tell a story.

Settling on a title would help.  ;D


Black Pacts

Leagues beneath the Garden Palaces of Tu’shik, underneath the subterranean crypts of the Royal Tombs,

“Tabia,” Adofo waved his torch from several leagues ahead, a dim light in the darkness. “Come quick, I’ve found something!”


A land league is three miles long. Adofo must have a really loud voice if he can be heard over six miles away.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 10:50:47 AM by Alienscar »
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Online Myen'Tal

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Re: Ashes and Embers (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2020, 11:54:33 AM »
You are correct here, Alienscar, but Adofo is not yelling ;D. He is waving his torch, still what you say is still true!
“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: Ashes and Embers (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2020, 12:19:17 PM »
You are correct here, Alienscar, but Adofo is not yelling ;D. He is waving his torch, still what you say is still true!

Not yelling! Well now I am confused.

“Tabia,” Adofo waved his torch from several leagues ahead, a dim light in the darkness. “Come quick, I’ve found something!”[/font]

Don't the speech marks indicate that Adofo is calling out to Tabia?
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Re: Ashes and Embers (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2020, 12:29:11 PM »
Never mind, I'm stupid :P ;)
“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 Sir_Godspeed

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Re: Ashes and Embers (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2020, 07:24:41 PM »
I've read up a bit, so here's some feedback on the following texts (labelled as best I could). Hopefully more will follow at some point, but you know how it is with finding time to read (or write, for that matter).

Out-of-Chronology Passage

Quote
Tabia gleamed enough of the conversation without trying.


It seems a bit pointless to tell the reader that Tabia hears the convo without telling the reader what it is she's gleaning (not gleaming - but I have not gone through with with the intent to correct minor grammar or spelling mistakes so this will probably be the only instance of such a correction - not that there are many to begin with).

Quote
The other Zarquin Guard did not lift their swords. Tabia still heard foreign screams as hidden archers shot the Khanites into the crystal cyan waters of the canal. She heard swords being drawn in the distance and a command to storm the ship before she slipped out of sight.

"The other Zarquin Guard" sounds immediately to be singular to me, then the reader is given the plural possessive "their", so I assume it refers to a group. May I suggest saying something like "The other guardsmen"?

Quote
A stranger’s voice greeted Tabia from scant feet away.

“Jumanah’s light on your path, stranger.” A youthful woman’s cheery voice struck Tabia like a lightning bolt. Tabia gently turned her head toward a wooden bench, where a woman with hair of both rosy red and burnished chestnut watched her with a broad smile.

We've got three instances of "Tabia" in fairly rapid succession, it would be good to vary it.

Quote
      “Adofo is dead.” Shoushan reminded. “Because of this dumb be-atch, if she’s spoken the truth. How could you ask for calm when a dozen of your brothers are dead in the caverns?”

        “Enough, enough!” Faki stepped between Shoushan and Tabia, a torch blazing in his hand. “You should slake that sword of yours on some Kharanites, if you’ve such an impulse to murder.”

        “The Kharanites are our friend now,” Shoushan smiled grimly. “After they learn to submit to our laws, of course. In either case, I won’t stand here and let this woman step a foot inside of Tu’shik. Not over my corpse, she shall not pass!”

I was a bit confused over why this escalated to so quickly to where apparently mortal combat was inevitable and neither party attempted to deescalate. It doesn't come off as clear in the text.


Portent of the Wanderer, Ver. I

Quote
        An eerie cawing of crows carried over the thunderous surging of waves. Veridia’s crystalline blue eyes snapped open to the brilliance of wicked lightning falling from heaven to earth. The skies that bristled with the clamor of Tarithinon’s wrath, were the all-consuming black of raven’s feathers.

I assumed Tarithinon's wrath is a poetic term for thunder or lightning, but this is not presented clearly in the text. I can't tell what you've told the reader prior to this since this is an excerpt, but it would be good to clarify.

Quote
   An ethereal voice made distinct by a mother’s gentle love, a siren’s luring lullaby, and the enigmatic instruction of a divine touched soul, answered Veridia.

There's a danger to over-describe with overly specific yet vague descriptor. This sentence is poetic and flows nicely - but what on earth does a voice like this actually sound like? I doubt a reader would be able to actually imagine it, at least I can't.

Quote
Veridia exhaled an ancient mantra surfacing from the back of her mind. She shut her eyes and her heart skipped one, then several beats.

It would probably be better to say "She shut her eyes, and her eye skipped a one beat, then several." - but others might disagree.

Chains that Break


Quote
“Autumn Queen,” Azat thought aloud. “I’ve not heard the name Hazan in many moons. The Autumn Queen that exists now must be some sheltered daughter of hers. No chance that the one I served so many moons ago is still alive.”

A moon is a poetic term for a month. He is essentially saying that he served someone many months ago, which in my mind basically equates to a few years. So my mind immediately asked "why does he assume someone he served a few years ago is dead - was she THAT old?"


Quote
   Aiman studied Azat for an incredibly long time. “Are you so eager to bare such a weight on your shoulders? You are strong of heart and resilient of mind, Azat, but it'll wear you down over the course of time. It will grind you mercilessly, until you’re nothing more than embers blown upon the hot desert wind.”

"incredibly" sounds a bit misplaced here. It conjures the image of her looking at him silently for several minutes, which is a bit odd. While replacing it with some other term works, dropping it and just saying "Aiman studied Azat for a long time" works just fine too.

Quote
“Before the God-King crushed it?” Azat quipped. “Erasyl cast Hazan into that grave, and all of my dreams with it. He shattered me like no man could ever hope for, not even Baal would argue against it, if he had known. What brotherhood do I know now since he waltzed through the Hundred Temples, except that of the only one he deigned to spare?”

So in this passge the reader finds out that Hazan is definitely dead, and Azat knows so - so the whole wondering about about Hazan being alive in the earlier paragraph seems very odd in retrospect.

-----

Overall I want to say I enjoyed the Chains that Break chapter the most, as it was interesting to get some more in-depth character development of Azat. The dialogue also flowed very well here, with natural-feeling back and forth banter which adds a lot of flow and ease to reading. The revelations of the background and natural introductions of new characters - specifically Aiman - was also interesting. The others aren't bad either, but naturally this has more meat on it for someone who is only following this thread. :)

Looking forward to read more!

(Also, as always, these are just my opinions.)

Online Myen'Tal

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Re: Ashes and Embers (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2020, 07:58:09 PM »
Thank you for the critique and feedback, Godspeed! I'm stoked that you guys like Chains that Break. I was really uncertain about that one, I thought I may have went overboard with it.

I shall take an in-dept look at your suggestions. The feedback will be reflected when I post the scenes up again in the chronological timeline thread.

Speaking of that, we have a chapter that we've only delved one scene into so far... can you guess ;)?
“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 Sir_Godspeed

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Re: Ashes and Embers (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2020, 11:38:48 AM »
So, I read more, and have some more feedback if you're interested. The first I struggled somewhat to follow, although it was tense, but the second interlude I felt flowed very well and I greatly enjoyed reading.

I want to make it clear that these are my subjective impressions and suggestions, not some kind of objective writing clues. I've also focused on trying to not get bogged down in too minor details (misspelling, etc.), but instead focus on issues of narration and sentence structure - as I think this is the most valuable feedback to give from a reader.

Interlude 1

Quote
Tendrils of shadow snaked acros the obsidian brickwork. Azat danced betwixt the crumbling arches, fading in and out of corporeal vision as he did so. Shadows fought to consume him wholly, but he moved too quickly for the all-consuming dark to take its hold on him. Obsidian, his wicked-edged sword, lashed out like slivers of brilliance too bright to repress.
So, there are a few things here that touch on the issue of wordiness I mentioned i a previous feedback post:
- I feel like the word "corporeal" is superfluous here, since vision is by default, well, relating to corporeal things. I understand wanting to do poetic descriptions, but they can get in the way of clear narration if overdone or done at the wrong time, in my opinion.
- The whole deal about shadows fighting to consume Azat, and him being too quick is a bit too much for me. Partly because it's giving too much space to what is essentially just a metaphor (I think?), but also, since this is a fantasy story, you might trick readers into thinking that the shadows are literally fighting to consume him - which was my first impression. If the term shadows are just another term for the assassins, then it's not made clear, at least not to me.

Quote
Azat slid around the pinpoint thrust of a dagger meant to cut open his throat. Obsidian cleaved through a blue-white shimmer of steel held aloft in front of him with a keen cry.
This sentence makes it seem like the steel was held aloft in front of him with a keen cry. I assume that it's rather the cleave that's making the keen cry. I'd suggest something like "With a keen cry, Obsidian cleaved through a blue-white shimmer held aloft in front of him." This is less ambiguous, imho.

Quote
From the ashen clouds roiling across the evening sky, barbs of forked-tongue lightning made their rapid descent to earth. Echoes of thunder crashed over the limestone dunes of Myria. It impacted the earth with such force that the earth beneath his boots trembled in violent protest.
This paragraph uses the term earth three times. Varying with, for example "ground" or what have you, at least once, makes it flow better.

Quote
The winter rain crept into the gaps of Azat’s chainmail and soaked his clothes through. It made his movements somewhat more cumbersome. But if his movements had become more impaired, then these wretches before him moved with all the grace of slaves chained by their ankles with iron shackles.
A bit more about the wordiness thing. These long descriptions can clash with the intent of creating a tense, fast-paced action scene. In my experience, shorter sentences with less flourish can help get across speed better. This is just a general point. Putting in a few longer, descriptive sentences every now and then can help punctuate that, adding more weight to them.
More specifically for this paragraph, I don't think there's any need to specify that they move like slaves chained by their ankles with iron shackles. Saying that they move like chained slaves, or iron-shackled slaves is a more succinct way of getting the point across and fits the tenseness of the scene more, in my opinion. Others might disagree.

Quote
The assassin clamped a quivering hand onto the open wound, vainly attempting to stem the blood. Azat violently seized the figure by said hand and commandeered the assassin as a living shield. A flurry of poisoned knives slunk into the dying man’s back. The shield spasmed and foamed and gasped his last in choked, guttered inhalations.
"Said hand" is a bit of a dry phrase I'm not sure fits in an epic narrative style, but is more of a letter or essay style thing, I think. Perhaps saying "seized the figure by the covering hand" or something feels more natural, others might disagree.
This is followed by a run-on sentence: "spasmed and foamed and gasped". I'd suggest cutting at least one of those, especially since readers are informed later on said inhalations were "choked, guttered" as well, so it's really covered twice.

Quote
“My, my,” A woman with a serpentine wisdom to her voice greeted Azat. She stood poised over the corpses of her dead compatriots. “Aren’t we skilled for a lowborn nobody? I’m almost afeared to try my hand next at killing you.”
Another one of those things that sound good when writing, but might not make a lot of sense when reading: how does one identify "serpentine wisdom" in someone's voice? I'd suggest using the term "hissing" or "sibilant" if you are trying to get across an auditory quality, and replacing "wisdom" with something that's more interpretable from tone, like "confidence", "smugness", "playfulness" or something else you can think of.

Quote
Azat tumbled face-first onto the obsidian brickwork of the Myrian Palace.
I believe the term "Myrian Palace" is used three or four times in the passage. I suggest dropping the qualifiers after the second time, and just write "palace floor" or "ruined palace brickwork" or something like that. By now the readers should know where they are.

Interlude 2.

Quote
Cast the thought of vengeance aside, Azat thought, he would drag Aslan from out death’s clutches by his skin of his ankles, if he must.

"his skin of his ankles" should probably be *the* skin of his ankles. This is a very minor mistake. I've probably made worse in my own reply post right here.

Interlude 2 works a lot better for me. Azat is given a static observational role, so the descriptive sentences feel a lot more natural, whereas in Interlude 1 they feel more confusing and intrusive to me. Interlude 2 also has more character information, which I always like and which ground the character. We get some in Interlude 1 as well, but that's pretty late. It does improve once the dialogue starts though, in my opinion.

I hope this was valuable.







Online Myen'Tal

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Re: Ashes and Embers (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2020, 11:49:47 AM »
EDIT: Edited this post! Lol!

Quote
I hope this was valuable.

Always is :), thank you for the feedback, Godspeed!!!

Quote
I want to make it clear that these are my subjective impressions and suggestions, not some kind of objective writing clues. I've also focused on trying to not get bogged down in too minor details (misspelling, etc.), but instead focus on issues of narration and sentence structure - as I think this is the most valuable feedback to give from a reader.

That is perfectly fine, Godspeed. I tend to give an in-depth look into constructive criticisms, though I might accidentally come off as over-analyzing a bit. In the end though, I know that there's a reason that readers bring feedback up, because there was something I wrote that made them want to voice their concerns they want to speak about.

So I always think it's worth it to consider everyone's opinions and critiques, and attempt to address these concerns.

I'm not taking them as 'writing clues' per se, but as readers, your guys opinions definitely help me improve and better myself as a writer. So I'm always eager to look through the lenses of the reader and their feedback and learn something :).

By the way, the Chronological Version of this thread follows how all these scenes are intended flow together. There's quite a bit of new stuff jammed into the Portents of the Wanderer and more stuff coming for Chains That Break in the near future ;).
« Last Edit: January 31, 2020, 02:53:54 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

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Re: Ashes and Embers (Interlude IV - Remembrances of Autumn)
« Reply #31 on: February 1, 2020, 08:45:05 PM »
Interlude IV - Remembrances of Autumn

   Azat flicked open his eyes for the first time in what felt like a century. His hawked-eyed gaze already searched for contextual clues even as they did so. Lavender curtains billowed from a fell wind coming in through the open doors of a marble balcony. Suffocated in silence and isolated in the abyssal dark of night, Azat searched and searched the resplendent chamber someone had entombed him in.

   He caught glimmers of moonlight through the roiling clouds journeying across the night sky. His instinctual sense of panic relented at the mere sight of Old Myria’s holy symbol. His exasperated lungs calmed until he struggled no more to breathe. His aching limbs still refused to move much at all, but he no longer fought to dominate his will upon them.

   “Still yourself, my love.” A smooth, placid voice reminiscent of a gentle tide surged over Azat. “Your struggle will only worsen the night-bane's damage on your physical health.”

   Azat somehow managed to crane his head toward the chamber doorway. He could scarcely make out the hazed shadow leaning upon one of the colonnades.

   “You almost died by the hands of an assassin.” The shadow detached itself from the colonnade and melded into the night. “Do you remember? Once you are able to feel your scars again, I’m certain that you’ll recall everything.”

   “Autumn Queen,” The words tumbled from out of Azat’s mouth in an awkward manner. “Where are we? Have we truly stepped through the Gates of Myr? Everything is unfamiliar… this is not the Palace of Ruin and Blood that I remember.”

   “Our forces abandoned Myria, Azat.” Hazan emerged from out of the dark, her beauteous – nigh immaculate features were cast in the moon’s light.

        Her fair skin shone like the coastal sands of the shore. Fiery crimson dyed locks danced in the wind’s current and became polished onyx the nearer they came to the crown of her head. Her raven eyes were cold and aloof, and seemed to stare into and through the core of Azat’s immortal soul.

   Azat noticed above all, that melancholy and lamentation seemed to have taken their tole on the Queen of Old Myria.

   “Voshki and Vahe commanded our armies at the Pinnacle Gate against Qarth’s inexorable advance. We held the Gate for seven days and nights until a glimmer of victory seemed to be within our grasp. But Erasyl’s carrion birds have infested even our fairest land.

   “Seven nights of ravaging plagues. Seven nights of chaos and bloodletting when long-hidden traitors unveiled themselves in the streets of my great city. Seven nights of defiance that have heralded the beginning of long defeat.”

   “Hmm,” Azat considered Hazan’s words even as the Autumn Queen came and sat down upon his bed. Her fingers weaved gracefully through Azat’s raven strands, matted with sweat and still some flakes of coagulated blood. “Voshki and Vahe… what were their fates? Where are we?”

   “They’re alive and with us still.” Hazan took up Azat’s hand into both of her own. “Our armies are trapped within the One Hundred Temples of Sh’myr. A citadel in their own right, but only garrisoned by armies of Priests, Sages, and Scholars before we arrived.”

   “Seven Hells,” Azat suddenly felt his muscles stir once again from adrenaline. “How could they have pushed our lines so far back? Our kingdom practically rests in the Dominion’s hands!”

   “My Kingdom,” Hazan corrected. “You would not enjoy the burden of Old Myria’s conquest and demise. Of that, I can assure you. Lay that burden upon my shoulders and think of a better life after this all blows over.”

   “Autumn Queen,” Azat suddenly forced himself to sit up with a new found strength, though his body heavily protested. “Loss of land is never as important as maintaining loyal hearts and minds for the Kingdom’s cause. The Wailing Widow may billow over our cities and fields, but the fires of our defiance shall never settle while the Autumn Throne remains stolen.”

   Hazan watched him struggle with a distant look on her face. A pleased smile graced her lips when Azat forced himself to sit upright.

   “Always have I trusted in your judgment, Azat.” A faint reminiscence claimed her for a moment. “Even though Sahak threatened and many would-be suitors rebelled against your presence outright within the Myrian Court. ‘Cast him into the fire,’ Sahak demanded before all of the court more than once. If only any man had the courage to face my legendary guardian.”

   “Aslan would crush me without effort,” Azat wheezed with laughter. “If we were not brothers and he actually cared for politics. Any of those preening cravens that call themselves members of the Hundred Families?” He contemplated, and then shrugged. “One or two of them could give me actual competition, but I silenced them on the day I silenced all three of the assassins that dared a coup against the Autumn Throne.”

   Hazan echoed his laughter. “And many of them have paid us the great fortune of already being dead… It is you, Voshki, Vahe, and myself, and all the Knights of Old Myria that we could gather from the remnants of a score of battles.

   “If this is how things must end for us… I would have it no other way. Commanders of proven loyalty should be able to fight without the threat of betrayal from every entitled head of nobility for a few promises and a cache of silver.”

   “Hmm,” Azat nodded, and for a moment he thought he would faint back into unconsciousness. “I’d rather spend the rest of my days by your side, my Queen. And if I must cross through the Gates of Myr to do so, then I shall volunteer myself to be thrown on the length of my foes’ swords.”

   “An unfamiliar sensation, isn’t it?” Hazan managed to wipe the distant stare off of her features and replace them with a curious arch of her brow and expectant stare. “To not know if your tomorrow maybe the end of everything? I would spend my last days in this land of long night, unaware of when I must uncork this bottle of night-bane. Any moment now…”

   Azat gently graced Hazan’s shoulder with the back of his knuckles.

   “Don’t uncork it,” Azat cautioned. “Until you have no other choice. The situation maybe dire, but I am holding out on hope that Rum or Kharan may intervene before long.”

   That distant look came over Hazan once more as she turned to watch the moonlight through the balcony window.

   “No one shall come.” Hazan’s answer found its mark straight into Azat’s heart. “All fear the Wailing Widow Banner and Qarth now that it has come into ascendancy. As the ruler of Old Myria, and her chief defender in times of war, my own advisers and myself merely play our parts. For it is the way of things.”

   “The Royal Game,” Azat inclined his head. “Only a fool would come up with so much amphetamine parrot.” He lifted a hand and grazed the scars etched onto his cheek with half-numb fingers. “Seven Hells, that assassin struck me like a banshee…”

   Realization suddenly dawned upon Azat. “Where in all the hells is Aiman?”

   “Young Aiman?” Hazan arched her brow. “She is not present. Sahak and her travel back to Myria.”

   “Into the teeth of our enemy?” Azat scoffed. “A bold method of suicide.”

   “Diplomatic negotiations between Qarth’s ambassadors and my own.” Hazan replied. “Old Myria shall surrender in the wake of my death. Our kingdom shall take on the name of the One Hundred Temples, Sh’myr. Any further details,  I have entrusted with Sahak. He shall keep my own interest in mind for Old Myria… even after I’ve long fled this world.”

   To that, Azat found nothing worthwhile to say. Instead, he made to climb out of his bed on shaky limbs. Hazan stood, but did not intervene. She fixated him with that distant stare that made his heart run cold.

   Azat planted his feet upon the polished tiled floor of the Temple Chamber. No sooner did he attempt to stand did Hazan reach out and steady him in an effort to keep him from falling.

   “Azat,” Hazan leaned in and whispered in his ear. “You do not have share this cruel fate of mine. Take our finest horse and ride ever east, into the free lands. You are no man of nobility… our fate does not have to be your own.”

   “Always have I served the Autumn Queen.” Azat suddenly erected his posture and gestured for Hazan to cease her coddling. “I need not straighten to make it obvious. I need not bend to show my loyalty. But a warrior cannot flee from what binds him into service. Or else he may as well be dead already. No Lord, Tyrant, or King, be they free of will and independent in thought, would accept such an exile.

   “There is no place I’d rather be than here, my Queen. When the end comes, you’ll understand that I speak in truths.”

   “Are you one of my Sages now?” Hazan chuckled in spite of herself. “Truly, an envy for even Qarth’s Disciples of Heaven. What would I do without my greatest treasure to stow away with me into the afterlife?”

   Azat grinned in turn. “For you, my Queen, may I remain ever so till the end of time.”

« Last Edit: February 1, 2020, 08:46:23 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: Ashes and Embers (Interlude - Scene I)
« Reply #32 on: February 3, 2020, 10:17:07 AM »
Interlude 2.
Quote
Cast the thought of vengeance aside, Azat thought, he would drag Aslan from out death’s clutches by his skin of his ankles, if he must.

"his skin of his ankles" should probably be *the* skin of his ankles.


Sir_Godspeed's feedback makes me feel a bit better about leaving feedback as he has highlighted everything that I was going to mention. And, to be honest, he has written it in a better way than I would have.

One thing he touched on that I have a different view about is the line 'the skin of his ankles'.

Whilst he is right that your original version of the line contains a solecism I would go further and say that the phrase does not really work.

Why by the ankles? Are we to presume Aslan is lying on the floor. Why by the skin and not a whole limb?

'Cast the thought of vengeance aside, Azat thought, he would drag Aslan from out death’s clutches by his skin of his ankles, if he must.'

I think this would work better if you simply wrote '...death's clutches whatever the cost.'

I think part of the issue is that your line is very close to the common idiom 'by the skin of your teeth' and for me this confuses the meaning of your line.
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Re: Ashes and Embers (Interlude IV - Remembrances of Autumn)
« Reply #33 on: February 3, 2020, 10:47:22 AM »
Thank you for the feedback, both of you. I am now aware that Interlude 1 requires many changes, which have now been translated into the chronological thread.

While I didn't realize the mistakes scattered through this scene, I did feel like there was something off about it. I should have taken a harder look.

Also I will change that sentence.
« Last Edit: February 3, 2020, 10:49:17 AM 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

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Re: Ashes and Embers (Plans for the Future!)
« Reply #34 on: February 19, 2020, 11:23:06 AM »
So I thought I'd provide an update on this.

-I've completed the first draft for this story. I initially was aiming for quite a large word count target. However, the more I progressed in the story itself, I realized that it was unnecessary. The story has come to a natural conclusion at around 60,000 words and I am fine with this.

-I've began the slow and arduous process of editing: sentence refinement, word choice, *some* grammar mistakes. Not many of you will know this, but I'm scheming to work with a well-renowned editor to iron out all the kinks this manuscript has so far. NOTE: It'll take a good amount of time before the gears finish moving on this  :).

-I'm already coming up with ideas for a continuation in a proper sequel :).

Hopefully after everything is properly edited, etc. I can post a sample of one of the scenes already in this thread and we can discuss the differences. It'll be a learning experience for me and hopefully others as well!
“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: Ashes and Embers (Plans for the Future!)
« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2020, 10:45:40 AM »
Well that all sounds very promising especially the bit about getting a renowned editor to have a look at your work.

I look forward to comparing one of your previously posted scenes to one that has been scrutinised by an editor.
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Re: Ashes and Embers (Plans for the Future!)
« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2020, 09:58:24 AM »
I can't wait to read it myself. Good look with the author.
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Re: Chains That Break (Plans for the Future!)
« Reply #37 on: March 6, 2020, 09:18:45 PM »
So, I have finished the first chapter of the Soul Spires of Osphinx... and was not able to find a way to naturally add in some intense action sequences. It's funny because I think I've crafted another 'Chains That Break' chapter. There isn't much in the way of swords, famine, and war in this chapter. Yet there is a lot of character interaction going on between the main cast.

The only exception is that instead of Azat, this Chapter focuses on Aslan and his retinue.

Just wanted some opinions on what you guys would think about a chapter like that becoming the first chapter. Of course, there'll be plenty of action in the prologue, but I haven't quite gotten around to it  ;).
“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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Re: Chains That Break (Plans for the Future!)
« Reply #38 on: March 11, 2020, 11:45:25 PM »
I think it could be a good idea but get Azat in somewhere in the end to make it whole. That's just me. 8)
"Burning thru the universe in search of peace only brings more war. Peace is an illusion, war is reality, that is the way of things"

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Re: Chains That Break (Plans for the Future!)
« Reply #39 on: March 12, 2020, 02:03:19 AM »
I think it could be a good idea but get Azat in somewhere in the end to make it whole. That's just me. 8)

Azat and what he's been up to after the end events of Chains That Break will be covered in the prologue :). Him and Aslan are actually in two different locations at the moment!

I'm much into the idea of cycling the focus of different chapters onto different characters, so long as they play a large role in the overall story arc.  It's not just about Azat's own redemption, all of the characters in the story are equally chained to Erasyl for reasons of their own. Some of them, will come to the conclusions that Azat has gone through and seek to break their chains. Others will also choose the opposing antagonist for what they perceive as a better destiny for either themselves or the world that they live in.

Still waiting to work within the editor's schedule. Patience is a virtue :).
“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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