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Author Topic: The Embers of the Past : Some Backstory and World Building  (Read 11806 times)

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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past (Clarity & World Cohesion Edit - Pre Editor)
« Reply #60 on: May 11, 2020, 09:16:46 PM »
The Embers of The Past is officially submitted to my editor! The official manuscript critique begins two weeks from today!

Once it's over, I'll give you guys an update on how things will progress moving forward.

I also have a proofread scheduled in July, after which I'll be sharing some of the finalized scenes that I've labored over and edited on my behalf by my talented editor.

Excited!
“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 Dread

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Re: The Embers of the Past (Clarity & World Cohesion Edit - Pre Editor)
« Reply #61 on: May 11, 2020, 11:48:16 PM »
This is great! Glad to hear,  can't wait to see how it all turns out. Good luck!
"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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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past (Clarity & World Cohesion Edit - Pre Editor)
« Reply #62 on: May 12, 2020, 09:40:39 AM »
This is great! Glad to hear,  can't wait to see how it all turns out. Good luck!

Thank you for the good wishes, Dread, and your continued support!

It means a lot!
“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 Embers of the Past (Clarity & World Cohesion Edit - Pre Editor)
« Reply #63 on: May 13, 2020, 10:02:27 AM »
The Embers of The Past is officially submitted to my editor! The official manuscript critique begins two weeks from today!

That is fantastic news Myen'Tal, and I look forward to your update
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past (Clarity & World Cohesion Edit - Pre Editor)
« Reply #64 on: May 13, 2020, 02:02:55 PM »
Thanks, Alienscar! And thank you for your continued support and guidance 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 Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past (Clarity & World Cohesion Edit - Pre Editor)
« Reply #65 on: May 19, 2020, 09:03:40 AM »
"Contract is signed! I'm excited to announce that I've just booked author John Malone for a proofread on his novel "The Embers of the Past" in August. 🙌🏻

I'm set to begin the manuscript critique on his book next Monday, and he's already on my schedule for a secondary follow-up service. Fabulous! I love how new clients have such faith in me. 🥰"

-Kristen Corrects Inc. on her facebook page

I am stoked!

So, I'll be sharing a general overview of any changes that may need to happen to the manuscript and how Kristen feels about the manuscript as a whole. I may speak about some initial threads in the story arc that have yet to be discussed and how they may change. Or I may not, I wouldn't want to spoil you guys anymore on the story details!

The proofread will happen a month later than I anticipated, but that was my fault for not scheduling that ahead of time. Oh well, gives me more time to get this coverart thing situated.

I'll keep you guys updated! Everything kicks off in less than a week! It's going to be a hell of a ride from here on out I feel!
“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 Embers of the Past (Clarity & World Cohesion Edit - Pre Editor)
« Reply #66 on: May 21, 2020, 08:16:10 AM »
I am stoked!

And so you should be. I can't imagine what it must feel like to be on course to getting a book published.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past (Clarity & World Cohesion Edit - Pre Editor)
« Reply #67 on: May 21, 2020, 08:44:13 AM »
For me, personally, it's a good amount of excitement tempered with no small amount of anticipation, nervousness, and anxiety lol ;). But I'm still confident the end result will be worth all of the toil! Got to say that a lot of the feedback I've received here has really aided me in the progression of this whole process.

A lot of the lessons I've learned here, although many came with harsh realizations, have really given me the confidence to commit and give this whole thing 100% all of my creativity and passion.

Thanks guys 8) ;D, wouldn't know where I'd be right now without your guys support!
“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 Embers of the Past - Manuscript Critique Returned!!!
« Reply #68 on: June 6, 2020, 04:29:33 PM »
Well, update time everyone.

I have received my manuscript critique back from the editor!

In short: the manuscript is going to need much more love than I anticipated. But you know what, that is perfectly fine and actually a good thing ;D. Having a professional editor analyze and pick out everything that's wrong with the manuscript has shown me that I have rushed through some areas, that it'll need more time investment to correct, and that the second draft should be much stronger if I decide to heed all of my editor's advice (which I will!)

Manuscript's strength highlighted by the editor:

Dialogue
Point of View (POV)
Writing Style - "Voice"

Got praised a lot in these three categories, which I'm proud of ;D.

Manuscript's weaknesses highlighted by the editor:
Characters
Settings and Locales
Plot / Story Structure

In short, characters, settings, and locales are considered underdeveloped. Which in turn affects everything related to the plot and story structure.

So... changes!

I'm starting with the more easily digestible stuff first. I'm going to read over the entire manuscript and the feedback left throughout it, then make any corrections / additions if that section will not involve a good amount of reorganization or revisions.

Next, there will have to be a much greater focus on the character arcs. I realized that I mismanaged this, because I've been trying to scatter these details throughout what I'm planning to be a trilogy and really need to condense all of that into the first book!

This will likely translate into a much greater word count in the form of additional chapters. I'm not certain where I'm going to begin on this... there's a lot to plan out and organize, but I'm confident that I'll be able to get this arranged into something I can progress with soon.

Next, settings and locales. I've already begun working on this issue. My editor found much of the setting really vague and unexplained, and I realized that my mindset caused that definitely. I am combing over my chapters for any reference to locations and names that will likely need to be elaborated on in further detail. I also need to expand on helping the reader understand the setting and the world building material, so I will be investing in making further additions to that as well.

There's quite a bit more, but I think you guys get the gist of it. This will be a long term investment, definitely! And of course, I'll still be here sharing updates and changes!

In fact, I've been chipping away at the prologue first and will likely share some of the changes I made within it. Look forward to your opinions on that, guys :).
 
“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 Embers of the Past 2.0 - Home & Hearth
« Reply #69 on: June 9, 2020, 09:33:10 AM »
The Embers of the Past 2.0 Revision

Chapter I: Home and Hearth

   “Azat, have you ever wished that you could see the light of the sun?”

   Azat watched the hearth fire’s flames crackle and smolder against an ocean of stars scattered across the midnight horizon. Embers scattered on the cold desert wind stung him as they danced around the bright light of the hearth. An endless rain of leaves drifted and danced about the flames from the heightened sprawl of an autumn woodland. 

       Azat perched himself on a lone palanquin beside the hearth. Amidst the clearing hidden somewhere in the heart of the woods, the firmament’s guiding light extended him some semblance of comfort.

   Azat watched the hearth burn with hesitance but found that he could not turn his gaze away. Each crack and fizzling pop of incinerated firewood and the gouts of flame sprung from its combustion became reminiscent of bones being broken and flesh burnt beyond recognition. As the wind continued to howl, remembrances of the fallen who had given their lives on the field of battle too wailed within his mind.

   Azat blinked once and dispelled his own nightmarish illusion. In wordless silence, he felt himself become petrified until his entire body seemed chained to the warmth of the hearth fire. He managed to shift himself by the merest fraction so that he could gaze upon the only perfection he had ever sought in life.

   Hazan’s unblemished skin shone like the beige crystalline dune-sea on the coast of the Opal and Crystalline Sea -a paradisiacal wilderness created from the hands of mythical gods – if one could believe in such childish legends. Spiraling locks of her crimson dyed hair breezed in the gust, shifting into lustrous hues of onyx the nearer they approached the crown of her head. Her eyes were that of the raven, cold and aloof to about any man longing to find more within them.

   Azat had only to merely glance upon Hazan to see those same obsidian spheres sparkle with mirth and warmth.

   Azat banished his nightmares and felt himself smile genuinely for the dozenth time since Hazan had met him in secret in the Autumn Gardens – Hazan’s personal reclusive haven beyond the palace grounds.

   He considered his Queen’s question in silence.

   Azat feigned disinterest with a careless shrug. “What need does our benighted kingdom of Old Myria have of the sun? Sirius is only a star, my Queen. Countless thousands exist in the firmament.” He chuckled at his own wittiness. “The Children of the Sun may keep her if they’ve become so enthralled with the blinding light of dawn.”

   Hazan arched her brow increasingly from where she lounged upon a palanquin draped in semi-translucent bundles of lavender silk. Her amused smile broadened with every syllable Azat cast out of his mouth.

   Hazan clucked her tongue, her bubbling chuckles like the soft music of nature’s song. “Are you so content with your bright hearth fires and gentle starlight to guide your way? Use your intellect and think upon the matter, Azat… Somewhere beyond our enchanted lands, a mythical sphere shall always crest the eastern horizon and ignite every nook and crevice of our continent Khios in the flaming light of dawn.

   She goaded him playfully. “You remain ever the fool to dwell in darkness forever.”

   Azat desired to share Hazan’s amused laughter, but within his heart he found an embittered somberness too steep to overcome.

   Despite himself, he spared Hazan his most charming smile. “Perhaps you speak in truths, my Queen. I’ve borne witness to the light of Sirius before… it is nothing more than a strange paradox to myself. Us Myrites, we were always borne of moon and shadow… and so we worship the beauty of the firmament in gloom and solitude.

   “Sirius is no more beautiful than our moon Jumanah’s light… and yet every corner of the world becomes transformed by his blinding glare. As if an inevitable doom never haunted every home and hearth from one end of Khios to the next. As if this world of ours was always a place of enlightenment and prosperity, and not the grave of innocence itself.  As if the gods were truly tangible beings that once tread this earth or the firmament.”

   Hazan’s amusement faded like a candle snuffed of its comforting light. Her elegant smile withered into a frown of sharp concern. “What made you change your mind on all of this, my love?”

   Azat sighed with a slight smirk of resignation. “Because I blinked and dispelled my own illusion. I gazed ever onward and witnessed what had become of the Children of the Sun. Ancient legends of an age long forgotten in the annals of history… corrupted by their own lusts for limitless power.”

   Azat scoffed in bitter distaste. “All-conquerors and enlightened saviors now reduced to barbaric zealotry, fanaticism, and mass enslavement… who is this deluded King that has conquered our Carthite cousins in mind, body, and soul so thoroughly that they cannot even consider the thought of overthrowing him?”

   Hazan lifted her chin a mere fraction to acknowledge Azat’s question. “Sages say that he is the Firstborn of Mankind. That he can call upon the fires of the sun and harness its celestial force. These Sages also proclaim him the God-King of the newly established Dominion of Carth and that his dominance cannot be resisted or conquered.”

   Hazan observed Azat’s increasingly irritated expression and tense kneading of his own fingers. She banished his wrathful thoughts with a shrill of pleasant laughter.

   His Queen shrugged. “Mere fariy tales to be certain my love. I’ll be the first to confess that perhaps this God-King of the Dominion of Carth remains undefeated after the conquest of Rum…

“Yet he has never battled the Knights of Old Myria. He has never fought your elder brother and our Lion of War, Aslan, who is an undefeated commander in his own right. Emissaries from our nearest neighbors have already rode forth to declare their alliance with Old Myria…
 
« Last Edit: June 9, 2020, 01:17:06 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 Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire - Completed Scene
« Reply #70 on: June 11, 2020, 08:56:57 AM »
 So - changes!

Azat -> Ara. Azat's name has been officially converted over to Ara.
Scene 1: Hearthfire -> WIP -> roughly complete, probably still some kinks to iron out.

Enjoy!
     
~***~

        “Ara, have you ever wished that you could see the light of the sun?”

   Ara watched the hearth flames crackle and smolder against an ocean of stars scattered across the midnight horizon. Embers scattered on the cold desert wind stung him as they danced around the bright light of the hearth. An endless rain of leaves drifted and danced about the flames from the heightened sprawl of an autumn woodland. 

   He perched himself on a lone palanquin beside the fire. Amidst the clearing hidden somewhere in the heart of the woods, the firmament’s guiding light extended him some semblance of comfort.

   Moonlight cascaded from the heights of heaven in shimmering rays that reflected off of his silken raven black robe with a bright sheen. An unadorned crimson sash fell from over his left shoulder blade and wrapped itself snuggly around his midriff like a comfortable belt. Comfortable storm gray breeches crafted from fine silks graced the lower half of his torso.

   Beneath the billowing shroud of his garments, a masculine physique sculpted into a whipcord and beguilingly lithe frame rested casually. He was of a soft caramel skin tone, blemished only by the scars he had earned throughout the course of several campaigns. His raven hair cascaded down the temples of his skull and rested around his jawline in short bundles of lustrous strands. 

   Ara watched the hearth burn with hesitant eyes of amber-gold, but found that he could not pry his gaze away. Each crack and fizzling pop of incinerated firewood and the gouts of flame sprung from its combustion became reminiscent of bones being broken and flesh burnt beyond recognition. As the wind continued to howl, remembrances of the fallen who had given their lives on the field of battle too wailed within his mind.

   Ara blinked once and dispelled his own nightmarish illusion. In wordless silence, he felt himself become petrified until his entire body seemed chained to the warmth of the hearth fire. He managed to shift himself by the merest fraction so that he could gaze upon the only perfection he had ever sought in life.

   Hazan’s unblemished skin shone like the beige crystalline dune-sea on the coast of the Opal and Crystalline Sea -a paradisiacal wilderness created from the hands of mythical gods – if one could believe in such childish legends. Spiraling locks of her crimson dyed hair breezed in the gust, shifting into lustrous hues of onyx the nearer they approached the crown of her head. Her eyes were that of the raven, cold and aloof to about any man longing to find more within them.

   Ara had only to merely glance upon Hazan to see those same obsidian spheres sparkle with mirth and warmth.

   Ara banished his nightmares and felt himself smile genuinely for the dozenth time since Hazan had met him in secret in the Autumn Gardens – Hazan’s personal reclusive haven beyond the Palace of Ember Hearth.

   He considered his Queen’s question in silence.

   Ara feigned disinterest with a careless shrug. “What need does our benighted kingdom of Old Myria have of the sun? Sirius is only a star, my Queen. Countless thousands exist in the firmament.” He chuckled at his own wittiness. “The Children of the Sun may keep her if they’ve become so enthralled with the blinding light of dawn.”

   Hazan arched her brow increasingly from where she lounged upon a palanquin draped in semi-translucent bundles of lavender silk. Her amused smile broadened with every syllable Ara cast out of his mouth.

   Hazan clucked her tongue, her bubbling chuckles like the soft music of nature’s song. “Are you so content with your bright hearth fires and gentle starlight to guide your way? Use your intellect and think upon the matter, Ara… Somewhere beyond our enchanted lands, a mythical sphere shall always crest the eastern horizon and ignite every nook and crevice of our continent Khios in the flaming light of dawn.

   She goaded him playfully. “You remain ever the fool to dwell in darkness forever.”

   Ara desired to share Hazan’s amused laughter, but within his heart he found an embittered somberness too steep to overcome.

   Despite himself, he spared Hazan his most charming smile. “Perhaps you speak in truths, my Queen. I’ve borne witness to the light of Sirius before… it is nothing more than a strange paradox to myself. Us Myrites, we were always borne of moon and shadow… and so we worship the beauty of the firmament in gloom and solitude.

   “Sirius is no more beautiful than our moon Jumanah’s light… and yet every corner of the world becomes transformed by his blinding glare. As if an inevitable doom never haunted every home and hearth. As if this world of ours was always a place of enlightenment and prosperity, and not the grave of innocence itself.  As if the gods were truly tangible beings that once tread this earth or the firmament.”

   Hazan’s amusement faded like a candle snuffed of its comforting light. Her elegant smile withered into a frown of sharp concern. “What made you change your mind on all of this, my love?”

   Ara sighed with a slight smirk of resignation. “Because I blinked and dispelled my own illusion. I gazed ever onward and witnessed what had become of the Children of the Sun. Descendants of ancient heroes of an age long forgotten in the annals of history… corrupted by their own lusts for limitless power.”

   Ara scoffed in bitter distaste. “All-conquerors and enlightened saviors now reduced to barbaric zealotry, fanaticism, and mass enslavement… who is this deluded King that has conquered our Carthite cousins in mind, body, and soul so thoroughly that they cannot even consider the thought of overthrowing him?”

   Hazan lifted her chin a mere fraction to acknowledge Ara’s question. “Sages say that he is the Firstborn of Mankind. That he can call upon the fires of the sun and harness the celestial. They proclaim him the God-King of the newly established Dominion of Carth and that his dominance cannot be resisted or conquered.”

   Hazan observed Ara’s increasingly irritated expression and tense kneading of his own fingers. She banished his wrathful thoughts with a pleasant laughter.

   His Queen shrugged. “Mere fariy tales to be certain. I’ll be the first to confess that perhaps this God-King of the Dominion of Carth remains undefeated after the conquest of Rum…

“Yet he has never battled the Knights of Old Myria. He has never fought your elder brother and our Lion of War, Aslan, who is an undefeated commander in his own right. Emissaries from our nearest neighbors have already rode forth to declare their participation in the Summer Sea Coalition.

“Kalandar has pledged entire Circles of the Grand Convocation. Learned scholars of Celestial magics who have devastated entire battlefields with their forbidden knowledge. Zarna has dedicated hundreds of regiments of their Shield Bearers of the Ashen Torch to the protection of our grand noble houses of the One Hundred Families of Old Myria.

“Barbarian hordes from the Greater Qi Steppes have also sworn several great tribes in their entirety until the war against the Dominion of Carth is won. Only the Half-Giants of the Kharan Clans have expressed their reluctance to flock into our coalition.”

“Hazan.” Ara silenced her with a mere whispering of her name. He smiled when her speech withered in her throat. “Is this what you came out into the Autumn Gardens to speak with me about?”

“Of course not.” Hazan studied him with the eyes of a curious raven, enraptured by his sudden assertion. “You know the reasons that I’m here. I thought a casual conversation would take your mind away from your harrowing concerns for but a moment… you were so enthralled with the flames of the hearth only a moment ago that you could hardly spare a glance for Your Eminence.”

   His amber eyes lingered on Hazan for a moment longer, though he knew how flustered he must have seemed in that moment. He did not bother to hide his uneasiness.

   Ara shifted around to face the hearth fire. “Can you blame me for my distraction? Khios continent is on the brink of open war. Can you blame me for being unable to think of love in this moment?”

   “You need not remind me of my responsibilities.” Hazan shot Ara an irritable glare and shook her head. “Of the defense of Old Myria and the kingdoms that have sworn oaths to serve beneath our banners.” Disdain simmered on her features for a moment. “Tens of thousands shall perish in the conflict. Cities shall burn until they come toppling down upon their foundations. If there is no decisive victor, then there can be no triumph for anyone.

   “So, please make some casual conversation with me to take our minds away from the monumental task that lies before us.”

   Ara watched the hearth fire and considered his Queen’s rebuke before making to speak again. A smile of pleasant surprise graced his lips in spite of her chastisement.

   “Your answer is welcome in these uncertain times.” His amber eyes wandered back in the direction of a lounging Hazan. “It is good that you are confident of the Summer Sea Coalition’s triumph over the Dominion of Carth. As a grand queen of your caliber always ought to be. Apologies, if you mistake my concerns for doubt of your command and judgment.”

   Hazan’s haughty expression relaxed back into something akin to calm and collected. Ara recognized that he had overstayed his welcome in the Queen’s personal garden and climbed onto his feet. He brushed the autumn leaves from out of his clothes and made to execute an elegant bow to signal his exit.

   His Queen snapped her fingers in his direction before he made his silent departure.

   “Before you leave.” Hazan cooed. “You should know that Aslan asked after you. Vahe of Grand Damira asked after you. Voshki the Ashen Cobra asked after you as well…”

   “Gods.” Ara barked out a rough laugh. “Could you name any more famous commanders in the Old Myrian Court? For what purpose would any of them ask after me? Each of them knows my stance when it comes to commanding men in the prosecutions of warfare.”

   Hazan answered him with an undeniable truth. “Our coalition shall require every able swordsmen scattered across our distant lands. Each veteran recruited into our cause spells the doom of ten Carthite warriors. Each Knight sworn into our service is worth a hundred lesser men. You meet either qualification and with victories and laurels to spare.

   “Are you so surprised that someone thought your reputation and experience could be of use? Many conversations have surfaced in the war council. Some are interested in grooming you for command upon a day.” She considered Ara’s expression of pure skepticism. “I thought you’d be honored to hear such news.”

   Ara scoffed in the face of her temptations. “Aslan has always known that I never cared for commanding anyone in the face of death. You understand more than most, Hazan, that I have enough ‘concerns’ on my mind than the fate of thousands. Let them bare that burden, but I am not some pawn to be maneuvered on a chessboard.”

   “Too late for such references.” Hazan’s bubbling laughter returned in spades. “You’ve become my knight. Your Queen’s steadfast defender. For I have already maneuvered you into place for my own defense.

“You shall accompany my Honor Guard and myself when we journey with the coalition forces to meet the armies of the Dominion on the Crescent Fields.” She dismissed him with a snap of her fingers before he could announce his disapproval. “You have my leave to depart and my undying love.” She smiled coyly. “You have my heart and my cherished devotion. So please don’t question your queen’s command, for certainly one should never be without her greatest guardian and treasure.”

Ara searched Hazan’s face for but a moment before he sighed with resignation. He executed an elegant bow and turned on his heel to venture into the labyrinth of the Autumn Wood in the direction of the Ember Hearth.


~***~


“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 Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire - Completed Scene
« Reply #71 on: June 14, 2020, 06:11:58 PM »
Hearthfire 3.0
 
     “Ara, have you ever wished that you could see the light of the sun?”

   Ara watched the hearth flames crackle and smolder against an ocean of stars scattered across the midnight horizon. Embers scattered on the cold desert wind stung him as they danced around the bright light of the hearth. An endless rain of leaves drifted and danced about the flames from the heightened sprawl of an autumn woodland. 

   He perched himself on a lone palanquin beside the fire. Amidst the clearing hidden somewhere in the heart of the woods, the firmament’s guiding light extended him some semblance of comfort.

   Moonlight cascaded from the heights of heaven in shimmering rays that reflected off of his silken raven black robe with a bright sheen. An unadorned crimson sash fell from over his left shoulder blade and wrapped itself snuggly around his midriff like a comfortable belt. Comfortable storm gray breeches crafted from fine silks graced the lower half of his torso.

   Beneath the billowing shroud of his garments, a masculine physique sculpted into a whipcord and beguilingly lithe frame rested casually. He was of a soft caramel skin tone, blemished only by the scars he had earned throughout the course of several campaigns. His raven hair cascaded down the temples of his skull and rested around his jawline in short bundles of lustrous strands. 

   Ara watched the hearth burn with hesitant eyes of amber-gold, but found that he could not pry his gaze away. Each crack and fizzling pop of incinerated firewood and the gouts of flame sprung from its combustion became reminiscent of bones being broken and flesh burnt beyond recognition. As the wind continued to howl, remembrances of the fallen who had given their lives on the field of battle too wailed within his mind.

   Ara blinked once and dispelled his own nightmarish illusion. In wordless silence, he felt himself become petrified until his entire body seemed chained to the warmth of the hearth fire. He managed to shift himself by the merest fraction so that he could gaze upon the only perfection he had ever sought in life.

   Hazan’s unblemished skin shone like the beige crystalline dune-sea on the coast of the Opal and Crystalline Sea -a paradisiacal wilderness created from the hands of mythical gods – if one could believe in such childish legends. Spiraling locks of her crimson dyed hair breezed in the gust, shifting into lustrous hues of onyx the nearer they approached the crown of her head. Her eyes were that of the raven, cold and aloof to about any man longing to find more within them.

   Ara had only to merely glance upon Hazan to see those same obsidian spheres sparkle with mirth and warmth.

   Ara banished his nightmares and felt himself smile genuinely for the dozenth time since Hazan had met him in secret in the Autumn Gardens – Hazan’s personal reclusive haven beyond the Palace of Ember Hearth.

   He considered his Queen’s question in silence.

   Ara feigned disinterest with a careless shrug. “What need does our benighted kingdom of Old Myria have of the sun? Sirius is only a star, my Queen. Countless thousands exist in the firmament.” He chuckled at his own wittiness. “The Children of the Sun may keep her if they’ve become so enthralled with the blinding light of dawn.”

   Hazan arched her brow increasingly from where she lounged upon a palanquin draped in semi-translucent bundles of lavender silk. Her amused smile broadened with every syllable Ara cast out of his mouth.

   Hazan clucked her tongue, her bubbling chuckles like the soft music of nature’s song. “Are you so content with your bright hearth fires and gentle starlight to guide your way? Use your intellect and think upon the matter, Ara… Somewhere beyond our enchanted lands, a mythical sphere shall always crest the eastern horizon and ignite every nook and crevice of our continent Khios in the flaming light of dawn.

   She goaded him playfully. “You remain ever the fool to dwell in darkness forever.”

   Ara desired to share Hazan’s amused laughter, but within his heart he found an embittered somberness too steep to overcome.

   Hazan’s amusement faded like a candle snuffed of its comforting light. Her elegant smile withered into a frown of sharp concern. “What has you so sullen, Ara?”

   Ara scoffed in bitter distaste. “All-conquerors and enlightened saviors now reduced to barbaric zealotry, fanaticism, and mass enslavement… who is this deluded King that has conquered our Carthite cousins in mind, body, and soul so thoroughly that they cannot even consider the thought of overthrowing him?”

   Hazan lifted her chin a mere fraction to acknowledge Ara’s question. “Sages say that he is the Firstborn of Mankind. That he can call upon the fires of the sun and harness the celestial. They proclaim him the God-King of the newly established Dominion of Carth and that his dominance cannot be resisted or conquered.”

   Hazan observed Ara’s increasingly irritated expression and tense kneading of his own fingers. She banished his wrathful thoughts with a pleasant laughter.

   She shrugged, non-chalant. “He seems touched by the divine does he not? His achievements are the stuff of mythic fables made reality. I’ll confess that perhaps this God-King of the Dominion of Carth remains undefeated after the conquest of Rum…

   “Yet he has never challenged Old Myria – my kingdom – or any of our neighbors on the western coast of the Khios continent. Emissaries from nearby Kalandar have pledged entire conclaves of their mages to our mission. Nomads from the Greater Qi Steppes have sworn entire tribes to our cause.

   “He has never challenged your brother, Aslan, who remains an undefeated commander himself. Our coalition goes from strength to strength enough to outmatch the Dominion on the field of battle.

“Only the eastern kingdoms hesitate to answer my invitation. A predicted loss, yet an important loss none-the-less.”

“Hazan.” Ara silenced her with a mere whispering of her name. He smiled when her speech withered in her throat. “Is this what you came out into the Autumn Gardens to speak with me about?”

“Of course not.” Hazan studied him with the eyes of a curious raven, enraptured by his sudden assertion. “You know the reasons that I’m here. I thought a casual conversation would take your mind away from your harrowing concerns for but a moment… you were so enthralled with the flames of the hearth only a moment ago that you could hardly spare a glance for Your Eminence.”

   His amber eyes lingered on Hazan for a moment longer, though he knew how flustered he must have seemed in that moment. He did not bother to hide his uneasiness.

   Ara shifted around to face the hearth fire. “Can you blame me for my distraction? Khios continent is on the brink of open war. Can you blame me for being unable to think of love in this moment?”

   “You need not remind me of my responsibilities.” Hazan shot Ara an irritable glare and shook her head. “Of the defense of Old Myria and the kingdoms that have sworn oaths to serve beneath our banners.” Disdain simmered on her features for a moment. “Tens of thousands shall perish in the conflict. Cities shall burn until they come toppling down upon their foundations. If there is no decisive victor then there can be no triumph for anyone.

   “So, please make some casual conversation with me to take our minds away from the monumental task that lies before us.”

   Ara watched the hearth fire and considered his Queen’s rebuke before making to speak again. A smile of pleasant surprise graced his lips in spite of her chastisement.

   “Your answer is welcome in these uncertain times.” His amber eyes wandered back in the direction of a lounging Hazan. “It is good that you are confident of the Summer Sea Coalition’s triumph over the Dominion of Carth. As a grand queen of your caliber always ought to be. Apologies, if you mistake my concerns for doubt of your command and judgment.”

   Hazan’s haughty expression relaxed back into something akin to calm and collected. Ara recognized that he had overstayed his welcome in the Queen’s personal garden and climbed onto his feet. He brushed the autumn leaves from out of his clothes and made to execute an elegant bow to signal his exit.

   His Queen snapped her fingers in his direction before he made his silent departure.

   “Before you leave.” Hazan cooed. “You should know that Aslan asked after you. Vahe of Grand Damira asked after you. Voshki the Ashen Cobra asked after you as well…”

   “Gods.” Ara barked out a rough laugh. “Could you name any more famous commanders in the Old Myrian Court? For what purpose would any of them ask after me? Each of them know my stance when it comes to commanding men in the persecutions of warfare.”

   Hazan answered him with an undeniable truth. “Our coalition shall require every able swordsman scattered across our distant lands. Each veteran recruited into our cause spells the doom of ten Carthite warriors. Each Knight sworn into our service is worth a hundred lesser men. You meet either qualification and with victories and laurels to spare.

   “Are you so surprised that someone thought your reputation and experience could be of use? Many conversations have surfaced in the war council. Some are interested in grooming you for command upon a day.” She considered Ara’s expression of pure skepticism. “I thought you’d be honored to hear such news.”

   Ara scoffed in the face of her temptations. “Aslan has always known that I never cared for commanding anyone in the face of death. You understand more than most, Hazan, that I have enough ‘concerns’ on my mind than the fate of thousands. Let them bare that burden, but I am not some pawn to be maneuvered on a chessboard.”

   “Too late for such references.” Hazan’s bubbling laughter returned in spades. “You’ve become my knight. Your Queen’s steadfast defender. For I have already maneuvered you into place for my own defense.”

   Ara arched his brow in askance. “Your decree stated your intent to remain behind here in Annahir, my Queen. Your commanders can obtain a decisive victory without your presence. All you must do is trust in their judgment.”

   “I understand the words of my own decree and their intent. When the armies of the Summer Sea Coalition march on the Crescent Fields to battle the Dominion, none shall dispute that it shall be the battle of our time.

   “Either the Summer Sea succeeds and drives Carth’s armies back behind their borders and shatter their momentum. Or the coalition forces become shattered and Carth’s entry into Old Myria and Kalandar become unbarred. That route leads to defeat and total surrender… the known world shall collapse and become slaves to tyranny.

   “Summer Sea’s mission is not only to force the God-King’s hand to surrender. Our complete conquest of Carth shall force his removal from the throne and restore our chance to reinstate the Council of Sages and rebuild Carth in the image of the Republic it had once been.”

“You’re a member of my own Honor Guard, Ara. It would be unbecoming of a Queen to attend any battle without her most treasured guardian.” Hazan snapped her fingers, a signal for Ara’s silent dismissal. She softened the harsh blow of his banishment with thoughtful words of intimacy. “You have my leave to depart and my undying love.” She smiled coyly. “You have my heart and my cherished devotion. So please don’t question your queen’s command, for certainly one should never be without her greatest guardian and treasure.”

Ara searched Hazan’s face for but a moment before he sighed with resignation. He executed an elegant bow and turned on his heel to venture into the Autumn Wood in the direction of the Ember Hearth.

~***~
“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 Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire - Completed Scene
« Reply #72 on: June 15, 2020, 08:59:32 AM »
Hearthfire 3.0


Ara watched the hearth flames crackle and smolder against an ocean of stars scattered across the midnight horizon. Embers scattered on the cold desert wind stung him as they danced around the bright light of the hearth. An endless rain of leaves drifted and danced about the flames from the heightened sprawl of an autumn woodland.   

A hearth refers specifically to the paved floor and extended area of a fixed fireplace. I was confused for a bit reading this passage as your use of the word hearth made me think Ara was sitting in a building. It took me awhile to realise that he was actually sitting outside.

I am also confused by your use of the word heightened. Heightened means more intense than normal, but I get the feeling you are using it incorrectly to refer to the height of the surrounding trees.


Embers scattered on the cold desert wind stung him as they danced around the bright light of the hearth. An endless rain of leaves drifted and danced about the flames from the heightened sprawl of an autumn woodland. 
Amidst the clearing hidden somewhere in the heart of the woods,

I find these sentences to be confusing as well. Woods, autumn woodland and desert wind don't gel together well in my mind.


“Ara, have you ever wished that you could see the light of the sun?”

This might be a bit pedantic of me, but moonlight is just reflected sunlight, so Ara has already seen the light of the sun. If you mean does Ara wish to see the Sun then it is better to keep it simple and say so.


Quote
He perched himself on a lone palanquin beside the fire. Amidst the clearing hidden somewhere in the heart of the woods, the firmament’s guiding light extended him some semblance of comfort.

These two sentences don't seem to be connected and it is not clear why Ara needs to be comforted..

Ara watched the hearth burn with hesitant eyes of amber-gold,

The job of a hearth is to contain a burning fire. If the hearth is burning it isn't doing its job.

I am not sure what you mean by 'hesitant eyes'.

Ara arched his brow in askance.

As before 'askance' does not mean 'to ask'. Askance means to look at or think about someone/something with doubt, or no trust.


Quote

Beneath the billowing shroud of his garments, a masculine physique sculpted into a whipcord and beguilingly lithe frame rested casually.

Beguiling means agreeably or charmingly attractive is that what you meant to say?

Quote
An unadorned crimson sash fell from over his left shoulder blade and wrapped itself snuggly around his midriff like a comfortable belt.
.

The word 'blade' is an unnecessary adornment and its use confuses the visual effect you are trying to create.
 
Quote
“Ara, have you ever wished that you could see the light of the sun?”


This is new! Is Myria supposed to be in perpetual darkness? How is this possible!

Quote
Ara watched the hearth flames crackle and smolder against an ocean of stars scattered across the midnight horizon. Embers scattered on the cold desert wind stung him as they danced around the bright light of the hearth. An endless rain of leaves drifted and danced about the flames from the heightened sprawl of an autumn woodland.


Flames in the hearth, not hearth flames.

Is Ara surrounded by trees in a woodland or not. If he can see the horizon the ‘endless rain of leaves, sprawl of woodland’ and ‘hidden clearing’ don’t add up.

If they have never seen the Sun how can a woodland survive?


Quote
He perched himself on a lone palanquin beside the fire. Amidst the clearing hidden somewhere in the heart of the woods, the firmament’s guiding light extended him some semblance of comfort.


Do you mean empty palanquin? As Hazan is also using a palanquin, Ara’s should not be describes as ‘lone’

‘A clearing’ and not ‘the clearing’

The firmament is just the arc of the sky above you, so I am not sure what guiding light you are referring to.

   
Quote
Ara watched the hearth burn with hesitant eyes of amber-gold, but found that he could not pry his gaze away. Each crack and fizzling pop of incinerated firewood and the gouts of flame sprung from its combustion became reminiscent of bones being broken and flesh burnt beyond recognition. As the wind continued to howl, remembrances of the fallen who had given their lives on the field of battle too wailed within his mind.

‘Incinerating’ and ‘springing’ as the words you have used are past tense.

Howling wind is at odds with the previously mentioned rain of drifting leaves.


Quote
Ara blinked once and dispelled his own nightmarish illusion. In wordless silence, he felt himself become petrified until his entire body seemed chained to the warmth of the hearth fire. He managed to shift himself by the merest fraction so that he could gaze upon the only perfection he had ever sought in life.

‘Silence’ is enough on its own.

‘Warmth of the fire’ would suffice hearth fire isn’t a thing.

Overall this paragraph is too melodramatic for its content.


Quote
Hazan’s unblemished skin shone like the beige crystalline dune-sea on the coast of the Opal and Crystalline Sea -a paradisiacal wilderness created from the hands of mythical gods – if one could believe in such childish legends. Spiraling locks of her crimson dyed hair breezed in the gust, shifting into lustrous hues of onyx the nearer they approached the crown of her head. Her eyes were that of the raven, cold and aloof to about any man longing to find more within them.

‘By the hands’ and not ‘from the hands’

'to about any man' doesn't make any sense.

The line about childish legends is unnecessary in a paragraph that is describing Hazan.


Quote
Ara banished his nightmares and felt himself smile genuinely for the dozenth time since Hazan had met him in secret in the Autumn Gardens

Twelfth maybe, but not dozenth as there is no such denomination.

Quote
He considered his Queen’s question in silence.

Ara feigned disinterest with a careless shrug. “What need does our benighted kingdom of Old Myria have of the sun? Sirius is only a star, my Queen. Countless thousands exist in the firmament.” He chuckled at his own wittiness. “The Children of the Sun may keep her if they’ve become so enthralled with the blinding light of dawn.”

Why is Ara pretending to be disinterested?

Ara seems to have answered a question he hasn’t been asked. He was asked if he missed seeing the Sun, but his reply includes reference to the Children of the Sun. From a reader’s perspective this is confusing as the answer doesn’t suit the question.

Wit, not wittiness. I can’t see the humour in the sentence though.


Quote
Hazan arched her brow increasingly from where she lounged upon a palanquin draped in semi-translucent bundles of lavender silk. Her amused smile broadened with every syllable Ara cast out of his mouth.

There is no need to describe the process of someone arching their brow

Previously you have described Ara’s palanquin as ‘lone’, but now it is apparent that there is more than one.


Quote
Ara… Somewhere beyond our enchanted lands, a mythical sphere shall always crest the eastern horizon and ignite every nook and crevice of our continent Khios in the flaming light of dawn.

Why is the sun mythical when she has already asked if Ara misses it? This implies that it has been seen in the past.

Quote
Ara desired to share Hazan’s amused laughter, but within his heart he found an embittered somberness too steep to overcome.

Sombreness

Quote
Hazan observed Ara’s increasingly irritated expression and tense kneading of his own fingers. She banished his wrathful thoughts with a pleasant laughter.

‘With a pleasant laugh’, or ‘with pleasant laughter (no ‘a’ required)

Quote
She shrugged, non-chalant.

‘Nonchalantly’


Quote
His raven hair cascaded down the temples of his skull and rested around his jawline in short bundles of lustrous strands.

A bundle is a collection of things wrapped together and a strand of hair is usually thought of as a thin thread. So you seem to have described Ara's hair as having lots of really short bunches. Is this your intent?

I read somewhere that a character's hair description should be used to describe the person 'inside'. I think describing Ara's hair as lustrous (shiny) clashes with the warrior/masculine aura I think you are trying to create.

Additionally as you have already described that Ara's hair reaches his jawline then there is no need to describe its length again with the addition of the word 'short'.



Quote
“You need not remind me of my responsibilities.” Hazan shot Ara an irritable glare and shook her head. “Of the defense of Old Myria and the kingdoms that have sworn oaths to serve beneath our banners.” Disdain simmered on her features for a moment.


I feel that the third sentence is too seperate from the first and as such leaves the whole paragraph a little disjointed. The third sentence to my mind reads like an incomplete thought.

I think something like this would work.

Hazan shook her head and an irritable glare flashed across her face. 'You need not remind me of my responsibilities to Old Myria, or her oathsworn allies'.

I don't think the sentence about disdain is required either. Hazan already has an irritable look, so she doesn't need a disdainful one as well. I think irritation suits the situation better than contemptuous.



Quote
Ara searched Hazan’s face for but a moment before he sighed with resignation. He executed an elegant bow and turned on his heel to venture into the Autumn Wood in the direction of the Ember Hearth.


The but in 'but a moment isn't required.

Someone turning on their heel is an idiom that means to suddenly leave. Because Ara has bowed before leaving the use of the idiom is out of place.

Ara searched Hazan’s face for a moment before sighing in resignation. He executed a bow and set off to the Ember Hearth.



This isn't everything, but unfortunately it is all I have time for. There seems to have been  change in your writing since you had your manuscript looked at by a professional, and overall I found this scene easier to read.

Have you read Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey? If you haven't I think you should try reading it. Not for the story (which is good), but for the writing style. I have never read a book that uses so few words to get its message across.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 09:09:30 AM by Alienscar »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire 3.0 Scene
« Reply #73 on: June 15, 2020, 10:54:31 AM »
Hi Alienscar! Long time, no see!

Thank you for the feedback. Your suggestions are very helpful so far! I will wait for you to finish your feedback and then apply all the necessary changes afterward.

Thanks!
“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 Dread

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire 3.0 Scene
« Reply #74 on: June 15, 2020, 10:28:29 PM »
I can still see it in my head's theatre so that's great.

Did you mean to spell fairy "fariy"? I'm not much on spelling and such but caught that.

It's great to me. As alienscar said, I caught the shoulder blade thing and believe just shoulder would work better.

I can't pin point it but some of the emotion explanation seems a bit unneeded, a few lines can be condensed I think but not sure exactly where.
"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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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire 3.0 Scene
« Reply #75 on: June 15, 2020, 11:43:04 PM »
I can still see it in my head's theatre so that's great.

Did you mean to spell fairy "fariy"? I'm not much on spelling and such but caught that.

It's great to me. As alienscar said, I caught the shoulder blade thing and believe just shoulder would work better.

I can't pin point it but some of the emotion explanation seems a bit unneeded, a few lines can be condensed I think but not sure exactly where.

Hey, Dread, thanks for the input!

Make sure you're reading 3.0 of the Hearthfire scene as I've made a lot of changes from 1.0 and 2.0.

I'm going to post up 4.0 to reflect your guys' feedback.

Don't know if you guys can tell, I'm totally going to take the scene edits much slower and give them a more granular examination and edit process.
“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 Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire 3.0 Scene
« Reply #76 on: June 16, 2020, 04:41:21 AM »
I can't pin point it but some of the emotion explanation seems a bit unneeded, a few lines can be condensed I think but not sure exactly where.

I haven't got around to it yet in my own feedback, but this was something I was going to mention as well. Specifically it shouldn't take ten paragraphs for a question from one of your characters to be answered. If the question is important and has some bearing on the story it should be answered quickly.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire 3.0 Scene
« Reply #77 on: June 17, 2020, 09:00:03 PM »
Thank you both for the feedback, it'll all be going into the Hearthfire 4.0 (which will need to be renamed lol). Have you done any editorial work. Alienscar? I feel like you have done so. You have a really strong grasp of the english language, which is why I am curious.
“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 Embers of the Past 2.0 - Hearthfire 3.0 Scene
« Reply #78 on: June 18, 2020, 04:43:06 AM »
Hey Myen'Tal, no I have never carried out any editorial work, and to be honest I don't think I could. I believe part of an editors role is to offer ideas for improvement which is not something I am very good at.

I have read for as long as I can remember and I find I can read all sorts things. Technical manuals, autobiographies, cook books, comics. You name it and I will read it. The only two books I have ever failed to finish after starting them are the Bible and the Silmarillion. When I was younger I used to read with a dictionary by my side, so that I could immediately look up any words that I didn't understand.

At the moment I am reading Have You Eaten Grandma?, The Dark Between The Stars, The Witcher, Gardeners' World, Web User, What Hi-Fi?, and I am slowly reading all of the Walking Dead trade paperbacks.

A lot of the time when I read things if there is anything wrong it justs stands out and I put this down to reading a lot.

What are you reading at the moment Myen'Tal because I am sure I have read somewhere that it is important for writers to read.

Oh one last thing. I probably don't have any more of an understanding of the English language than anyone else that is reading this, but the difference is that I don't mind offering my opinion. I imagine Wyddr has a far better grasp of language than I have, and I can imagine him twitching and muttering to himself over things I have written.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 05:02:25 AM by Alienscar »
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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - An Autumn and Moonlit Land 4.0 Scene
« Reply #79 on: June 18, 2020, 01:16:07 PM »
An Autumnal and Moonlit Land 4.0

   “Have you ever wished you could see the sun, Ara?

   Ara watched the flames rising from the fire pit crackle and smolder against an ocean of stars scattered over a small, hidden clearing. Embers on the chill wind stung him as they danced around the blaze of the pit. An endless rain of leaves fell from the outskirts of an autumn wood encroaching upon the clearing from every direction.   

   Amidst the heart of the wood, he perched himself on a palanquin beside the fire.

   Ara fluttered his eyes shut and considered his queen’s question in silence.

His laughter came in soft currents. “Perhaps I’ve imagined the midnight waters of the Black Shore struck by the eastern dawn till the waters glimmered turquoise and sapphire. Or an Opal and Crystalline Sea transformed by the radiance of sunlight and the wonders it would reveal unto us mere mortals.”

   Moonlight cascaded from the heights of heaven in shimmering rays that reflected off his silken raven black robe with a bright sheen. An unadorned crimson sash fell from over his left shoulder and wrapped itself snugly around his midriff like a comfortable belt. Comfortable storm gray breeches crafted from fine silks graced the lower half of his torso.

   “Goddess Jumunah has benighted our kingdom of Old Myria to shroud the Hanging Gardens of Myr, the entrance into the heavens itself, from mortal eyes. Always shall the midnight skies bleed from the celestial realm into the mundane world. There is only the light of the evening dusk waging an eternal war against the night here.”

   Beneath the billowing shroud of his garments, a masculine physique sculpted into a lithely compact frame rested casually. He was of a soft caramel skin tone, blemished only by the scars he had earned throughout the course of several campaigns. A plain braid of raven hair ran along the center of his scalp between either side of his shaven skull. Bone colored laces contained the braid once it began to cascade down the length of his back.

   Ara watched the flames flicker from out of the fire pit with amber-gold eyes. He considered Hazan’s question again and shook his head. “Have you ever thought about how inhospitable this benighted land should be?”

   Hazan quipped. “Celestial winds from the fabled Hanging Gardens and a distant sun seems enough of an answer for the Gods to spare their mortal children.” Hazan’s contemplative sigh was audible. “Maybe the Gods show us merciful bounties because of the blood we have spilled on our sacred ground in their names?”

   Each crack and fizzling pop of incinerated firewood and the gout of flames sprung from its combustion became reminiscent of bones being broken and flesh burnt beyond recognition. As the wind continued to howl, remembrances of the fallen who had given their lives on the field of battle too wailed within his mind.

   Ara blinked once and dispelled his own nightmarish illusion. He shifted himself by so that he could gaze upon the only perfection he had ever sought in life.

   Hazan’s unblemished skin shone like the beige crystalline dune-sea on the coast of the Opal and Crystalline Sea -a paradisaical wilderness created from the hands of mythical gods. Spiraling locks of her crimson dyed hair breezed in the gust, shifting into lustrous hues of onyx the nearer they approached the crown of her head. Her eyes were cold and aloof like that of the raven.

   Ara had only to merely glance upon Hazan to see those same obsidian spheres sparkle with mirth and warmth.

   Ara banished his nightmares and felt himself smile genuinely for the twelfth time since Hazan had met him in secret in the Autumn Gardens – Hazan’s personal reclusive haven beyond the Palace of Ember Hearth.

   Ara scoffed, then shrugged. “You speak of the ways of Sirius—God of the Sun—who remains only a distant star. Countless thousands shine from the heavens. The Children of the Sun may keep him and his endless need for self-sacrifice if they’ve become so enthralled with the blinding light of dawn.”

   Hazan’s brow arched from where she lounged upon a palanquin draped in semi-translucent bundles of lavender silk. Her amused smile broadened with every syllable Ara cast out of his mouth.

   Hazan clucked her tongue, her bubbling chuckles like the soft music of nature’s song. “You don’t seem so content with bright fires and gentle starlight to guide your way either, Ara? I think whoever does would be ever the fool to dwell in darkness forever. Empires are not built off myths and legends, but only by those who would become them for the great deeds they achieved as average mortals.”

   Ara desired to share Hazan’s amused laughter, but within his heart he found an embittered sombreness too steep to overcome.

   Hazan’s amusement faded like a candle snuffed of its comforting light. Her elegant smile withered into a frown of sharp concern. “What has you so sullen, Ara?”

   Ara scoffed in bitter distaste. “All-conquerors and enlightened saviors now reduced to barbaric zealotry, fanaticism, and mass enslavement… who is this deluded King that has conquered our Carthite cousins in mind, body, and soul so thoroughly that they cannot even consider the thought of overthrowing him?”

   Hazan lifted her chin a mere fraction to acknowledge Ara’s question. “Sages say that he is the Firstborn of Mankind. That he can call upon the fires of the sun and harness the celestial. They proclaim him the God-King of the newly established Dominion of Carth and that his dominance cannot be resisted or conquered.”

   Hazan observed Ara’s increasingly irritated expression and tense kneading of his hand. She banished his wrathful thoughts with pleasant laughter.

   She shrugged non-nonchalantly. “He seems touched by the divine, does he not? His achievements are the stuff of mythic fables made reality. I’ll confess that perhaps this God-King of the Dominion of Carth remains undefeated after the conquest of Rum…

   “Yet he has never challenged Old Myria – my kingdom – or any of our neighbors on the western coast of the Khios continent. Emissaries from nearby Kalandar have pledged entire conclaves of their mages to our mission. Nomads from the Greater Qi Steppes have sworn entire tribes to our cause.

   “He has never challenged your brother, Aslan, who remains an undefeated commander himself. Our coalition goes from strength to strength enough to outmatch the Dominion on the field of battle.

“Only the eastern kingdoms hesitate to answer my invitation. A predicted loss, yet an important loss none-the-less.”

“Hazan.” Ara silenced her with a mere whispering of her name. He smiled when her speech withered in her throat. “Is this what you came out into the Autumn Gardens to speak with me about?”

“Of course not.” Hazan studied him with the eyes of a curious raven, enraptured by his sudden assertion. “You know the reasons that I’m here. I thought a casual conversation would take your mind away from your harrowing concerns for but a moment… you were so enthralled with the flames of the hearth only a moment ago that you could hardly spare a glance for Your Eminence.”
   
        His amber eyes lingered on Hazan for a moment longer, though he knew how flustered he must have seemed in that moment. He did not bother to hide his uneasiness.

   Ara shifted around to face the warmth of the blaze. “Can you blame me for my distraction? Khios continent is on the brink of open war. Can you blame me for being unable to think of love in this moment?”

   “You need not remind me of my responsibilities.” Hazan shot Ara an irritable glare and shook her head. “Of the defense of Old Myria and the kingdoms that have sworn oaths to serve beneath our banners.” Disdain simmered on her features for a moment. “Tens of thousands shall perish in the conflict. Cities shall burn until they come toppling down upon their foundations. If there is no decisive victor, then there can be no triumph for anyone.

   “So, please make some casual conversation with me to take our minds away from the monumental task that lies before us.”

   Ara watched the hearth fire and considered his Queen’s rebuke before making to speak again. A smile of pleasant surprise graced his lips in spite of her chastisement.

   “Your answer is welcome in these uncertain times.” His amber eyes wandered back in the direction of a lounging Hazan. “It is good that you are confident of the Summer Sea Coalition’s triumph over the Dominion of Carth. As a grand queen of your caliber always ought to be. Apologies, if you mistake my concerns for doubt of your command and judgment.”

   Hazan’s haughty expression relaxed back into something akin to calm and collected. Ara recognized that he had overstayed his welcome in the Queen’s personal garden and climbed onto his feet. He brushed the autumn leaves from out of his clothes and made to execute an elegant bow to signal his exit.

   His Queen snapped her fingers in his direction before he made his silent departure.

   “Before you leave.” Hazan cooed. “You should know that Aslan asked after you. Vahe of Grand Damira asked after you. Voshki the Ashen Cobra asked after you as well…”

   “Gods.” Ara barked out a rough laugh. “Could you name any more famous commanders in the Old Myrian Court? For what purpose would any of them ask after me? Each of them knows my stance when it comes to commanding men in the persecutions of warfare.”

   Hazan answered him with an undeniable truth. “Our coalition shall require every able swordsman scattered across our distant lands. Each veteran recruited into our cause spells the doom of ten Carthite warriors. Each Knight sworn into our service is worth a hundred lesser men. You meet either qualification and with victories and laurels to spare.

   “Are you so surprised that someone thought your reputation and experience could be of use? Many conversations have surfaced in the war council. Some are interested in grooming you for command upon a day.” She considered Ara’s expression of pure skepticism. “I thought you’d be honored to hear such news.”

   Ara scoffed in the face of her temptations. “Aslan has always known that I never cared for commanding anyone in the face of death. You understand more than most, Hazan, that I have enough ‘concerns’ on my mind than the fate of thousands. Let them bare that burden, but I am not some pawn to be maneuvered on a chessboard.”

   “Too late for such references.” Hazan’s bubbling laughter returned in spades. “You’ve become my knight. Your Queen’s steadfast defender. For I have already maneuvered you into place for my own defense.”

   Ara quizzically arched his brow. “Your decree stated your intent to remain behind here in Annahir, my Queen. Your commanders can obtain a decisive victory without your presence. All you must do is trust in their judgment.”

   Hazan’s ire flared briefly from behind her aloof eyes. “I understand the words of my own decree and their intent. When the armies of the Summer Sea Coalition march on the Crescent Fields to battle the Dominion, none shall dispute that it shall be the battle of our time.

   “Either the Summer Sea succeeds and drives Carth’s armies back behind their borders and shatter their momentum. Or the coalition forces become shattered and Carth’s entry into Old Myria and Kalandar become unbarred. That route leads to defeat and total surrender… the known world shall collapse and become slaves to tyranny.

   “Summer Sea’s mission is not only to force the God-King’s hand to surrender. Our complete conquest of Carth shall force his removal from the throne and restore our chance to reinstate the Council of Sages. Carth shall be rebuilt in the image of the Republic it had once been.”

“You’re a member of my own Honor Guard, Ara. It would be unbecoming of a Queen to attend any battle without her most treasured guardian.” Hazan snapped her fingers, a signal for Ara’s silent dismissal. She softened the harsh blow of his banishment with thoughtful words of intimacy. “You have my leave to depart and my undying love.” She smiled. “You have my heart and my cherished devotion. So please don’t question your queen’s command, for certainly one should never be without her greatest guardian and treasure.”

Ara searched Hazan’s face for but a moment before he sighed with resignation. He executed an elegant bow and turned on his heel to venture into the Autumn Wood in the direction of the Palace of Ember Hearth Palace.


~***~



« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 03:16:47 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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