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Author Topic: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - CH 2- Dominion's Rise - Ara - Scene I  (Read 5579 times)

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Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - An Autumn and Moonlit Land 4.0 Scene
« Reply #80 on: June 18, 2020, 02:53:17 PM »

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An Autumn and Moonlit Land 4.0
Autumn is just the name of a season, so 'an autumn' doesn't work. An autumnal and moonlit land would be correct

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   “Have you ever wished for you could behold the light of the sun, Ara?

This comes across as if you have rushed this update. I am interested in how something this obviously wrong made it through your granular examination  :)
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - An Autumn and Moonlit Land 4.0 Scene
« Reply #81 on: June 18, 2020, 03:04:16 PM »

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An Autumn and Moonlit Land 4.0
Autumn is just the name of a season, so 'an autumn' doesn't work. An autumnal and moonlit land would be correct

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“Have you ever wished for you could behold the light of the sun, Ara?

This comes across as if you have rushed this update. I am interested in how something this obviously wrong made it through your granular examination  :)

Thanks for that! Maybe I should purchase an actual dictionary instead of relying on the interwebs so much, haha ???.

As for the 2nd Line, LOL, I was experimenting with that line so much, I forgot to change it back after I didn't find a more suitable question for Hazan to begin the scene with.

Made some spelling corrections! It would seem that 40k online has a much stronger error detection system than Microsoft Word :P.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 03:10:10 PM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - An Autumn and Moonlit Land 4.0 Scene
« Reply #82 on: June 18, 2020, 04:22:57 PM »
An Autumnal and Moonlit Land 4.0

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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.

Encroach means to intrude on, or advance gradually. Neither of these describes the action of leaves falling.

You have established that Ara is in a clearing, and a clearing is something that most people can picture. Therefore there is no need to mention the clearing again. Also 'outskirts' describes the outer parts of something not the inner.

The leaves 'fell on' and not 'from'.


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

You have stated that Ara is in a clearing, and this is just repeating that fact.

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


Flutter in this context means to move up and down rapidly. I am not sure what you are trying to convey.


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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.”

Dawn has its own definition and doesn't need the addition of 'eastern'.

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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.

This paragraph doesn't seem to serve any purpose, or add any value to the overall scene.

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“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.”

It is not clear to me who is speaking.

An Autumnal and Moonlit Land 4.0 Continued

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An endless rain of leaves fell from the outskirts of an autumn wood encroaching upon the clearing from every direction.
   

The seasons are caused by different parts of the planet receiving  more solar energy than others as it travels around the sun. Without a sun there can be no seasons.

Be careful with powerful magic in a story. If there is magic powerful enough to keep a whole ecosystem alive without the sun then the bad guy in your story had better be awesome. I have read that magic is anathema to drama.


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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.

The word between implies ‘between two things’, so the noun that follows ‘between' should be plural. In your case that would be ‘sides’. As you can see this doesn’t quite work and hopefully you can see that because you have used the word ‘centre’ there is no reason for you to then describe that the centre of Ara’s scalp is between the sides of his skull.

'Once it began' should be 'where it cascaded'. 'Began is unnecessary.

Everyone knows what a back looks like so 'length' is an unnecessary modifier


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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?”

By using the word ‘from’ you have placed Ara in the fire pit. ‘Ara watched the flames in the fire pit flicker and dance’ would suffice.

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“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.”

Without sunlight there can be no gardens. Plant life cannot survive without light.

The biggest issue I have with this paragraph is that you have used benighted incorrectly. Benighted is an adverb, but you are appearing to be using it as a verb.


'Our benighted kingdom'/'benighted Old Myria' would be correct, but using the word correctly means it doesn't mean what you are trying to say.

Also this doesn’t really help explain how half a planet can be in perpetual darkness whilst presumably the other half is normal. If some part of the world is experiencing day and night how can the moon be seen constantly in Old Myria?


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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.


As per my previous feedback ‘incinerated and ‘sprung’ are the wrong tense. Also as per my previous feedback a howling wind is at odds with falling leaves.

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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.


‘He shifted himself by’ is not an expression I understand.

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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.

Paradisiacal/ Spiralling.

‘Shifting’ means changing all the time. It doesn’t equate to a gradual change.



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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.”

From my point of view this response is confusing because Hazan hasn’t spoken about the ways of Sirius. Also this would appear to be the third time that Ara has answered the question. As each answer is different there is no clear message.

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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.”

This is far too long winded and it doesn’t read smoothly. The ‘but only by those who would become them’ bit especially does not work.

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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…

Non-nonchalantly would be the opposite of nonchalantly. There is no hypen in nonchalantly.

   
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“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.

As per my previous feedback ‘Of’ and ‘disdain aren’t required/don’t work.

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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.


‘watched the fire in the hearth’ or just plain ‘watched the fire’. As before a hearth is associated with a brick fireplace.

   
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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.

‘Climbed to his feet. Onto his feet means something else. ‘Got to his feet’/stood to leave might be better.

   
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“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.”

Too much defence.

‘Your Queen’s steadfast defender’ is an incomplete sentence as it doesn’t contain a verb.

 
   
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“Either the Summer Sea succeeds and drives Carth’s armies back behind their borders and shatter their momentum.

‘Shatters’. The verb must match the subject ‘number’


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“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.”

You have repeated the phrase ‘never without her greatest guardian’ and this slows the tempo too much.

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Ara searched Hazan’s face for but a moment before he sighed with resignation.

As per my previous feedback the’ but’ in 'but a moment isn't required.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 02:19:45 PM by Alienscar »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - An Autumn and Moonlit Land 4.0 Scene
« Reply #83 on: June 24, 2020, 09:13:02 AM »
Sorry for the delayed response on this guys.

With your feedback in mind, Alienscar, the basis of the first scene may need to changed. So a rewrite of the scene will probably be in order. Thanks for pointing out those mistakes. Perhaps I did rush this update out lol.

I actually found a cool 'tree-graphic' software that I've found useful for converting into outline / storyboard stuff. I've been working away plotting out the details on Embers of the Past 2.0 and some unrelated projects 8).

I've been distracted with work and the fact that I may have a new job lined up sometime in July. We'll see how it goes!

« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 10:53:16 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

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - An Autumn and Moonlit Land 4.0 Scene
« Reply #84 on: June 25, 2020, 10:53:31 AM »
~***~

So, update time: I've been wanting to share what I'm working on currently and no it's another version of 'An Autumnal and Moonlit Land;). I've found a really great software for outline creation that I actually love using a lot! It's a tad bit expensive to pay the subscription, but whatever, I think it's worth it!

So back to the outline... it's a storyboard / outline hybrid that I am using to help create a general high level overview of the story in its entirety, and will include summaries from which each and every scene I'm planning will derive from.

Be forewarned... it's a little text heavy and the entire outline is like 'wall of text' heavy. But I'm cutting snippets out for you guys so you don't feel like you've entered the literary version of the matrix :P. I could break this down into an actual storyboard... but doing it this way I feel helps me personally a whole lot more than using snippets to create the general overview of the story arc.

Like I said, this is just a general overview of what's happening this specific chapter, which is the third in the story's current organization. It's not an actual scene and will feel more like a quick summary than an actual text.

I hope you guys like this type of update. It may actually help shine some context on things that I've failed to bring to light so far. So definitely let me know what you guys think about it.
~***~


Chapter III:

A Dominion of the Mind

Outline and Summary


Aslan has spent the entirety of the Dominion Forces' march back into the lands of Carth in solitude. Apothecaries come and go in an effort to tend to his wounds as their best efforts will allow. Once they leave, however, he can hear only the sound of the marching drums and the countless thousands of boots that hammer the desert roads in sync to their deep rhythm.

Each night that passes, Aslan becomes more self-aware until he can register the world around him again. For eight cycles of night and day, Aslan lies in his sick bed aboard a supply wagon following in the wake of the Dominion's armies. Until, on the ninth day, the caravan is halted and the apothecaries -attended by a handful of Eternity Guardians- test the extent of his recovery.

Blinded by daylight for the first time in several weeks, Aslan realizes that the Dominion's army has encamped outside the gates of a magnificent city beyond the likes of anything he has ever witnessed. Specifically, the army is encamped on the other side of a series of canals that stretch into and around the grand city.

Aslan is escorted in silence by the Eternity Guardians, who bring him before Erasyl's palanquin. Erasyl greets Aslan and asks him to have a seat beside him on a flattened chair with no back, fanned by several female attendants who seem to be slaves themselves.

Aslan reluctantly sits, but waves the attendants away. He realizes that he is at Erasyl's mercy, and hears him out only begrudgingly. His tone is rude and his temper short, but this does not seem to phase Erasyl in the slightest, who treats Aslan with dignity and honors.

Aslan asks Erasyl why he chose to spare his life and take him as a prisoner of war. A good question to him, for if Erasyl had left him on the field of battle, he may as well have killed Old Myria's finest commander outright. Stolen of their undefeated commander, who would know what would become of the Summer Sea Coalition and the defense of the western lands.

In truth, Erasyl is greatly impressed of the Lion of War's reputation and respects him as a Father who has mastered his craft comes to respect his son who has aspired to take up his trade. The God-King informs Aslan that he chose to spare him because he is curious about the Lion himself.

Erasyl announces that Aslan is indeed his prisoner of war for the foreseeable future and that both of them should take the opportunity to learn from one another and the cultures that they defend and to an extent for Aslan - rule. Erasyl has already passed a decree among the nobles and his military forces that Aslan is never to be shackled as a prisoner, and that the God-King's own Palace Residence is to become his home until further notice.

Erasyl ordains that Aslan may call upon not only his attendants for any need, but may request anything of the God-King himself if he so desired. Of course, within reason and considerate of Erasyl's own judgment.

Erasyl speaks to Aslan and reveals that his end game is to convert Aslan's loyalty to the Dominion and that he desires to adopt him as a true son and heir to his dynasty. He also reveals that he would also want to appoint Aslan as the commander of a new caste of warrior rising in the Dominion.

An army made from those enslaved from the Dominion's many conquest. Zar - The slave caste, uplifted into the vacuum being left in the Qin - warrior caste. This new breed of warrior would be called Zar'qin, and would form the bulwark of the new vanguard. Erasyl makes no attempt to deny or shy away from Aslan's questions, and states that the Dominion has lost far too many sons to civil strife and constant wars to continue to fuel its armies with Carthite blood. Erasyl would see every Carthite son ascend into nobility and glory by the hand of his swift reforms and realm shaping decrees.

Aslan refuses him outright and states 'I've no quarrel with any man, woman, or child forced into chains, but only their masters and the whips they crack at their backs. I'll not lead them to their early graves so that the Dominion's son may be spared the fires of war.'

Erasyl simply nods and states 'My son, never shall you become a true enemy of mine, whether you seek me out in the halls of my palace or on the battlefield. Neither am I the tyrannical force that is a scourge to every servant and attendant you find in the corridors and streets of my capital city. Time shall reveal unto you that I speak in truths and not guises.'

'I invite you to the Hall of the Sunlit Throne, before the entirety of my court. There I shall gather every former philosopher, merchant, and warrior from among the Zar. Warriors of the Sun never shirk from the light of truth. I hope to convince you of the righteousness of the dreams that I have envisioned for the Dominion of Carth and each of her citizens - no matter their castes.'

Aslan scoffs and chortles at Erasyl's words, then states 'I would sooner run myself through on my own sword than serve the Dominion. Carth would be better served with the severing of my head to parade about your streets... I'm not the hero you envision I am, God-King, especially for no man or woman of Carth.

'Can you be so certain? Would you be surprised if I told you that Carth is a Dominion of Minds? A domain for the philosopher, sage, and oracle. You need only search the horizon. Our citizens are not single minded. They recognize grandeur and greatness wherever it may manifest. An undefeated commander must be immaculate in mind, resolute of spirit, and strong in body. I see each of these qualities in you, Aslan. A keen mind gifted in the art of war must also be gifted in the art of statecraft and diplomacy.'

'What do you gaze upon when you stare farther east? Grand canals that connect the Seventh and Weeping River into one central nexus of trade and affluence in abundance. You see the wondrous paradise of a city that has sprung up from the dunes. You understand that such wealth becomes the foundations of civilizations and the bedrock upon which empires are created.'

'So too is my Dominion one that respects the strength of the sword. Countless thousands of Carthite sons sacrificed their lives during the Desolation of Gor'rum until the war was won and the endless hordes of Giants and Qi tribes were driven onto the brink of collapse...Thousand s who endured that anarchic violence and became the veterans of our decrepit Republic were put to the sword soon after during the Dominion's End Decree.

'Do not fool yourself, Aslan... any Carthite son you encounter inside the gates of Tu'shik is a survivor of many great wars. They understand and respect the reputation of the Lion of War. They admire the strength of his sword-arm, and the immaculate intellect of his mind. You're more a hero to them than the great Sages that once reigned in Carth.'

'You'll remain near to my side when the Dominion's armies march through the gates of Tu'shik. You may have some knowledge of warfare, Aslan, but you are ignorant of Carth and the peoples that form her Dominion. You shall need a steady hand and patient words from a mentor of note to learn all you should know about my empire. You shall find much of that in your father.'

Aslan bristles, but sighs with resignation. 'I see you shall not be dissuaded, but I too am difficult of persuasion. Your words have changed nothing between us, Erasyl. Do not mistake my begrudging respect for voluntary acceptance.'

Erasyl's smile broadens and he nods. 'You know my name and yet you do not spit it from your mouth. You know my intention and yet you choose not to mock it, but to listen. Already am I pleased with you, Aslan, my Lion of War. I make it my solemn oath that I shall convince you of the righteousness of our cause. I can see sunlight within your heart. You are of the Children of the Sun and make no mistake.'
« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 10:55:16 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

Offline Alienscar

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To be honest I have no idea what to make of this. It is neither a scene nor a complete overview, so it leaves me a bit nonplussed.

As an outline it seems very detailed and the overall impression I get from this summary is that you are trying to cram a lot of ideas into a small space.


I hope you guys like this type of update. It may actually help shine some context on things that I've failed to bring to light so far. So definitely let me know what you guys think about it.

Personally speaking I would prefer to read a story rather than the idea behind a story.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Hi Alienscar,

Sorry you're disappointed by this update. I don't have much of any scenes to share because I'm in the outlining process. So I thought I'd share something rather than nothing in this case. Also I just finished outlining Chapter III, which is why this is incomplete.

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As an outline it seems very detailed and the overall impression I get from this summary is that you are trying to cram a lot of ideas into a small space.

Somewhat disagree here. An outline is a creative outlet to simply get one's ideas on paper and makes organizing them easier. Does it really need to be a small space? That's kind of why I call it a storyboard / outline hybrid, it's a fancier version of a word processor, but it can do a lot of unrelated stuff too.

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Personally speaking I would prefer to read a story rather than the idea behind a story.


Understood, thanks for your honesty :). Just know that it maybe a little while before I can share something again. I'd like to make more progress to get ahead of the updates, which will take some time.

I also think some of the confusion we're having with feedback is that there is a subtle language barrier here. English in the USA, as I'm certain you know, is a bit different than that in the UK. Why its so different, cannot really tell you ;D, but some of the mistakes you've pointed out so far do seem to be correct in USA english.

There are still other things you're pointing out that are indeed wrong though, so I'm not complaining or anything. Just wanted to bring that up :).
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Alienscar

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Hi Alienscar,

Sorry you're disappointed by this update.

Hey now Myen'Tal I never said I was disappointed. I just don't know what to make of this kind of information is all.

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As an outline it seems very detailed and the overall impression I get from this summary is that you are trying to cram a lot of ideas into a small space.

Somewhat disagree here. An outline is a creative outlet to simply get one's ideas on paper and makes organizing them easier. Does it really need to be a small space? That's kind of why I call it a storyboard / outline hybrid, it's a fancier version of a word processor, but it can do a lot of unrelated stuff too.

The small space I was referring to was Chapter 3. Reading your outline for the chapter I just got the impression that there was a lot of information to be expanded on.

I also think some of the confusion we're having with feedback is that there is a subtle language barrier here. English in the USA, as I'm certain you know, is a bit different than that in the UK. Why its so different, cannot really tell you ;D, but some of the mistakes you've pointed out so far do seem to be correct in USA english.

Yeah the language barrier isn't that subtle at times and I can find it hard to ignore the spelling differences between the UK and the USA version of words.

So yeah spiraling/paradisaical are correct in the USA.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Hey now Myen'Tal I never said I was disappointed. I just don't know what to make of this kind of information is all.

Quote
The small space I was referring to was Chapter 3. Reading your outline for the chapter I just got the impression that there was a lot of information to be expanded on.

Sorry for the misunderstanding there. There is a bit of a paradox with this kind of update cause as you said it is quite detailed, but is still glancing over a lot of information that will definitely be expanded upon when actually writing it.

Keep in mind that I'm aiming for the average word count for fantasy, which is 100,000 - 120,000 words. So these chapters will naturally be more detailed / fleshed out than what I've previously done.

At the moment, I'm currently planning out the outline in phases. Plan out three chapters and discuss the ideas within my inner circle. Then I'll write out the three chapters, then repeat the process. It's a first draft, so once everything is completed I can always go back and make edits / additions / clarification changes, etc.

So I'm nearly finished with stage 1 of this new process and have almost entered that discussion phase!
“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 - Prologue: Dominion's Rise - 1st Scene
« Reply #89 on: June 29, 2020, 10:07:10 AM »
Well I've completed my outline / storyboard for the first three chapters. So I've begun the writing process earlier than I thought I would! Currently working on the first scene, which is detailed below. I consider this the prologue's beginning as these events take place before the main events of the story.

Hope you like it!

Dominion’s Rise


   
        “Tu’shik. The Grand City of Canals.” Voshki gazed out in the direction of the gargantuan cityscape in the distance.

The ancient city of the Sun-Caller Kings shined like a precious gem encrusted into a monarch’s crown. The light of the waning sun illuminated the paradisiacal labyrinth till it glimmered like a city of gold and alabaster. The Garden Districts spiraled high over the dense urban sprawl like the peak of a mountain crafted by the hand of the Gods. Fecund and exotic hanging gardens wreathed the inner walls that shielded the estates of the Qar nobility.

Anoush gave Voshki a sidelong look and forced herself to smirk. She lingered on Voshki's translation of the name 'Tu'shik'. "To most Carthites it is known as the City of the Sun. A font of endless wonders. A great shame for the fate of an entire city of such grandeur to be determined by the dread of an Elder Council. Imminent annihilation is all that anyone still behind those walls can hope for anymore. Or their king’s surrender.”

Lesser districts collected around those inner walls. They rose and fell in the pattern of much smaller hills spread around the foot of the Gods’ Labyrinth.

Voshki hawked a wade of saliva over the ornate marble railing into the canal. “Surrender? The Last of the Sun-Caller Kings would shame his ancestry to no end if he committed to such a craven act. If he were a man of wisdom, he would know that Tu’shik would not be spared in either case. The Great Sages have made their decree… the City of the Sun is to end in the flames of war.”

Voshki studied the crystalline canals that coursed through Tu'shik. The emerald waters created natural divisions in the city’s geographic topography. Alabaster marble flanked with inlaid brickwork of pure gold formed the opulent walkways of the maritime districts on either side of the waterway.

“A cruel summary execution.” Anoush sighed. “The Children of the Sun don’t deserve the dire fate they’ve been handed.”

An endless stretch of dockyards and seafaring vessels berthed in their harbors was all that remained between Voshki and her impending success. Somewhere behind the besieged and crumbling walls of Tu’shik, their quarry remained hidden. 

Voshki nodded. “I think the endless numbers of the slain would hasten to agree with your opinion on the matter. Dark have the times become, my Second. Make no mistake, this is no longer the honorable republic that we have always remembered. Infernal hellfire, our realm bears no resemblance to the one we fought for only four years ago.”

Voshki pried her gaze away from the Grand City of Canals to absorb her surroundings.

The dockyards were a maze of granite and lumber amalgamated into some semblance of the Carthite strongholds of old. Something more akin to the crude fortresses one could find on the eastern borders of the republic. Briefly, she counted a score of watch-spires spiral from out of squat barracks scattered throughout the docks. Each was fortified behind wooden palisades and death traps crafted from a maze of sharpened stakes.

Anoush nodded in agreement. “When men and women of the nobility become gifted with limitless power and begin to fear for that power and their lives… anarchy shall always reign.”

Voshki glanced once more in the direction of Tu’shik and considered the great contrast between either side of the canal. As she did so, a humid heat haze continued to bare down on the harbors even as the waning sun set the desert skies aflame. 

“Let them fear then.” Voshki sneered at the thought. “They have a good right to. The right to rule should lie with the true warlords that defended their realm from certain annihilation…” She pointed in the direction of Tu’shik. “I would tell this Sun-Caller King that his death is nothing personal. One must escape this anarchy and madness somehow lest they become consumed in the downward spiral. What better way than reaping untold riches to buy our passage to the distant west? Where you, our Black Bane Kindred, and I shall live like kings and queens for the rest of our days.”

Bustling crowds created from an endless deluge of citizens exiled from the ruin of their homes choked the harbor walkways till they seemed fit to burst. Foreign emissaries and their delegations. Affluent nobles of the Qar caste commandeering entire caravans to transport their amassed wealth and luxuries to distant lands. Warriors from across the realms of the Carth Republic amassed to storm the decrepit walls of the blazing city Voshki now sought entrance into.

 Infernos raged behind Tu’shik’s compromised fortifications. Together, they listened to the distant and anarchic cacophony of a battle approaching its zenith. 
Anoush considered the tragic scene playing out before them and grimaced. Her voice came in hushed and reverent tones. “Do you really believe we could escape all of this? All of Khios continent is ending in fire and violence, Voshki."

“No concern for the Black Bane Kindred.” Voshki watched the firestorms sweep across the breadth of Tu’shik’s foundation. “We shall make good on our contract and leave this forsaken continent behind. Our orders remain clear. Infiltrate Tu’shik, murder a disgraced king, and sever his head to mount onto the Dam’s Gate. Once seen on the breaking of the next dawn, our client will know that our work is done.”

“Easier spoken than executed.” Anoush pointed with her chin toward the myriad of siege engines arrayed against Tu’shik’s defenses. “The siege is reaching the zenith of violence.”

Voshki followed her Second’s gaze and took in the sight of warriors in their hundreds scaling Tu’shiks walls. Whether by ladder or siege tower, scores of the republic’s warriors were already on the battlements, locked in a brutal struggle to overcome the defenders. As sunset waned into dusk, the siege raged under a constant hail of flaming arrows, piercing ballista bolts, and explosions of flaming ammunition exchanged between trebuchets. 

‘I disagree, Anoush.” Voshki considered Anoush’s statement of doubt. “To slip into a city on the brink of collapse. A game for children. Have a little faith.”

A constant barrage of screams drifted on a cruel and nigh nonexistent breeze. Voshki felt the earth tremble beneath formations of tens of thousands. The choking odor of scorched flesh mingled with ashen smoke lingered about the dockyards like a spoiled perfume.

“I would, Voshki.” Anoush smiled, the gesture burdened with anxiety. “If our ferryman contact were anywhere in sight. Unless you plan on having us scale the walls and fighting our way through?”

“He will show soon enough.” Voshki assured her. “Doubt shall not reap our reward for us. Gather the Black Bane Kindred.” She commanded. “The hour has come to earn our pay. Otherwise, our headless corpses will end up crucified outside the gates of Tu’shik. Like all of those poor souls piled high in their shallow graves outside of Zar’bau - The Citadel of the Enslaved.”

Anoush’s words trailed off into the bustle of the dockyards as she slipped into the crowds. “Dire are the times we’re enduring… Let us succeed one more time, if only to regale our children that we somehow escaped with our lives and riches untold.”

Voshki shifted back toward the City of Canals and continued to observe its slide into ruin. She considered what would be waiting behind those crumbling walls. She suppressed a shiver of dread. 

She hoped to every god in the Carthite pantheon that the rumors of the king they hunted were untrue.

« Last Edit: July 8, 2020, 11:56:56 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

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - Prologue: Dominion's Rise - Scene II
« Reply #90 on: July 2, 2020, 07:13:55 AM »
Made some additional edits to scene one.

EDIT: Made another pass on scene II.

~***~



“Kin of the Black Bane!” Voshki’s clarion call blasted into the anarchic maelstrom of Tu’shik’s populace swarming the dockyards. “Attend your commander’s decree! Spare a moment from preparation and gather around me.”
 
  Voshki’s thunderous echoes rippled through the endless flood of dispossessed crashing onto every ship berthed in the harbors. Disheveled wretches had only to glance in her direction to create a natural path in whichever direction she chose.
   
     Voshki did not deign to conceal her swaggering stride. Raven black boots of boiled leather intentionally stamped the gold and alabaster walkways so that even those difficult of hearing shuffled from out of her path. Amethyst satin robes cushioned beneath her chainmail billowed in the wake of a sudden squall.
 
      Distasteful words followed in her wake. Southern Barbarian. Pit Viper. Sukhanite whore.
 
      Elegant reinforced leather -dyed black- shielded her thighs, shoulders, and the upper limits of her arms. She rested a wicked barbed long spear on her shoulder, whose bladed tip was combined with that of a reverse barbed hook. Emblazoned on the front of her cuirass was a Royal Cobra depicted with the shavings of precious stones created by the finest artisans great affluence could hire.
 
      “Out of my path, disowned wretches.”  Voshki paid the words of the craven horde no heed. She banished them from out of her path by vicious sneer alone. “Cast yourselves from out of my path or I’ll have you put down like the destitute dogs you are!”
 
   Voshki emerged from out of the endless masses and onto a lone pier of unadorned granite. She cast her gaze down its great length and noticed a solitary standard billowing in the gust. A silken standard emblazoned with the statuesque face of a young Sukhanite widow. Voshki peered into the hollowed sockets that wept crimson tears for her lost sons. The widow cradled her face in her own hands, a gesture of mournful despair among the daughters and wives of Sukhan.

The Wailing Widow Standard reminded Voshki of the solemn oaths that bound her always to the Sukhanite children and the Southern Wastes. She found her flaring temper soothed by its mere presence alone.

Anoush’s languid voice surged over the emerald waters of the canals, almost lost to the sound of the standard fluttering in the breeze. “Gather round, my brothers and sisters! Your commander would address the unit. Listen with intent!”
 
  Voshki’s amber-gold eyes drifted below the billowing standard and she counted a score-and-a-half of warriors armored and dressed for war in a bleak fashion similar to her own attire. As she had commanded, her Black Bane Kindred had ceased their idling and gathered their weapons.
 
   A chorus of rough and intimidating voices answered their commander. “Your kindred listen!”

    A dividing contrast in the warriors that created her band of sellswords became apparent with a sweep of her keen eyes. Amongst their ranks numbered a select few of the Sons of Kharan. The Half-Giants were easily marked from the rest of the unit by their exceptional height and incredibly gaunt physiques of scarred and whipcord musculature.

“Kin of the Black Bane!” Voshki addressed them once more. “Mark these words! Khios burns amidst the flames of unceasing war! Turn your eyes toward the eastern horizon and watch Tu’shik be reduced to cinders scattered on the wind. A dire fate shared by many civilizations on Khios.”

There were none among the Kharanites’ rare number that was not armed to the teeth. Quivers filled with vicious barbed javelins were slung over their shoulders. Wicked and ruthless blades dangled from the sheathes fixated around the great belts on their naked upper torsos. Gripped in their gnarled fists were brutal two handed battle axes capable of splitting stone in twain.

Voshki spared them a word of encouragement. “Kharanite wisdom dictates that the realms must endure by the strength of their sword-arms alone. One does not deserve to dwell within this harsh reality without strength enough to survive on their own two feet. Shall our Half-Giant friends show us their unrivaled strength on the field of battle?”

“Our sword-arms are our pride and Kharan our hearts!” Guttural roars of primal ferocity answered Voshki. She could feel the great pride in their voices crash over her like a tide breaking upon rock.

Voshki too counted several female figures integrated into the Black Bane’s unit. All of them dressed themselves in light and flexible armor when compared to their masculine comrades. Each armed themselves with an assortment of poisoned weapons - daggers, crossbows, and throwing knives. Others carried small glassine flasks, grenades, and a rare gunpowder weapon here and there on their person.
 
  Sukhan sons made up the rest of the unit. Voshki and her sisters also hailed from the harsh lands of the Southern Wastes. As was their custom, the Black Bane garbed themselves in the dreary colors of the night. Each Sukhanite tattooed calligraphic scrawl over the tarnished bronze skin of their chiseled, clean shaven, and scarred facial features. A detailed  history of their harrowing experiences in life.
 
  “Warriors of Sukhan,” Voshki gestured across all of her mustered warriors with the Crown Prince’s hooked and bladed tip. “And champions of the Serpent-in-Shadow are we all! These seven years have proven quite harrowing for the Black Bane Kindred, haven’t they? We’ve witnessed many great and noble kings become cast into slavery… their once resplendent civilizations crumbled stone by stone into the endless spiral of ruin. So many innocents endure endless miseries and sorrow.”
 
  Voshki rested the Crown Prince on her shoulder again and balled her free hand into a crushing fist. “The Republic of Carth burns and fades into ashes and embers. The cinders of all that remain gutters… Sukhanite wisdom does not dictate how to survive these anarchic times. Make no mistake, our continued survival hinges on our courage for one another and the kinship created by the proud lineage we share. It also depends on our ability alone to slay the last of the Sun-Caller Kings as our contract demands.”
 
   “Kin.” She addressed them solemnly. “Allow me the honor of commanding you one final time into the fires of battle. Our unit has survived many fierce conflicts. We’ve stormed many fortifications and left nothing more than ruin upon now abandoned and silent battlefields. The heads we have hunted for our employers? Beyond counting.”

Voshki’s voice continued to become more bleak and resolute. “Never have the Black Bane been requested to infiltrate a city under siege before… let alone to slay a king. Trust in the instruction of your commander to see us all through till the end. Once our mission is complete, we shall be rewarded so generously that our passage to the west shall become a trivial fee, where all of us shall live as queens and kings until we become so grey of hair, that we can simply grow no elder and take our leave of this world.

“Sound like a plan worthy of execution?” Voshki swept her gaze across her unit. She noted the grim determination inset in their faces to see their task through to the end. Silent, but eager nods answered her in turn.
 
           “Gather your weapons and equipment. Our Ferryman seems to have arrived on time.” She pointed further upstream of the canal at the massive platform of a raft drifting steadily toward the pier. “Remember, kindred of my own blood, one final time into the maelstrom of battle. Combat any foe as you never have before, for your survival shall be answered with endless reward!”


« Last Edit: July 8, 2020, 11:59:53 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: The Embers of the Past 2.0 - Prologue: Dominion's Rise - Scene II
« Reply #91 on: July 2, 2020, 08:08:39 PM »
Sorry I haven't responded, actually I did, just forgot to hit send. I have a 3 day weekend so will catch up on it then.
"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 - CH I - Dominion's Rise - Scene III
« Reply #92 on: July 6, 2020, 11:13:47 PM »
“Tell me, ferryman.” Voshki listened to the soothing sound of an oar cycling in and out of the canal’s waters. “Did you never think to fortify your raft? We’re headed into the heart of an ongoing siege. This is not one of your romantic tours through the waterways of Tu’shik.”

Voshki craned her head and took in the sight of the simple and unadorned raft beneath her feet.
It was large enough to ferry the Black Bane Kindred’s entire unit and their supplies without so much as even a slight submergence from the additional weight. She stamped onto the precisely hewn lumber that made up the floating platform. Such a raft could have easily undergone additional fortification in the form of reinforced palisades.

Hunkered behind the bulwark of the Black Bane sellswords, the ferryman offered Voshki an uncaring smile. He cycled his oar once more and the raft continued its steady drift from one side of the canal to the other.

“Should have hired an engineer instead of a simple ferryman.” The ferryman chortled. “Cease your fretting and let the placid waters soothe your impatience. You need not fear the perils of the night aboard this raft, my daughter.” 

Voshki gazed skyward toward a crescent moon anchored amidst a starlit horizon. She lowered her amber-gold eyes back toward the canal’s waters, now cloaked in darkness. Gentle rays of moonlight cast the resplendent harbors on the outskirts of Tu’shik in a stark silhouette. She considered the infernos ablaze behind Tu’shik’s conquered walls some leagues beyond the harbors.

“Sirius the Solar God would say otherwise, ferryman.” Voshki shrugged. “Your City of Wonders seems to have invoked his wrath. The night’s perils have never been so numerous. Are you not afraid?”

“Terrified.” The ferryman quipped. “Yet I find myself on these open waters for the same reason you hired me. Once I receive my due, I shall feel much safer once -like yourself and your kin- I purchase a ship to the farthest corners of the west. Somewhere that is at peace, like the coasts of the Black Shore.”

Voshki pitched her head back and rattled with laughter. She paid no heed to the several curious glances cast in her direction. “I hear the coasts of the Black Shore are wracked with storms and littered with ship graveyards. You would do better to find peace at the bottom of this canal than there, my friend.”

“Stories for children.” The ferryman clucked his tongue. “Great trade fleets from the western hemisphere often venture into those seas to trade with the kingdoms there.”

“That would only confirm my theories.” Voshki sobered and shook her head. “All of those ship graveyards remain in that sea because of all the pirate fleets constantly warring against those trade fleets.”

“Voshki.” Anoush approached gingerly within earshot of the conversation. “Forgive me for interrupting…”

“Think nothing of it, Anoush.” Voshki stepped away from the ferryman and clapped a leather gauntlet on Anoush’s shoulder. “How near have we come to making our beach head?”

“Imminent.” Anoush answered, her voice hushed. “We’re quickly approaching the first sentry checkpoints. I’ve studied the lighthouses in the harbors for a handful of hours now. There has been no activity from them, not even simple patrols. Something seems amiss, Voshki.”

“Ferryman.” Voshki craned her head in the elder man’s direction. “No matter what happens from this point onward, keep rowing if you value your meager life.” She gestured for Anoush to follow and forged a path to the front of the raft. “Black Bane, make room! Step aside, I said!”
Faris, another of Voshki’s Second-in-Commands, greeted her with the gritty steel of his voice the moment she shoved and pushed her way to the fore of the raft.

“Firstborn Voshki.” Faris sighed into the chill breeze besetting the raft. The scarred, but devilishly handsome sellsword pointed across the placid waters of the canal. “The Grand City of Canals would have proven a striking sight right about this hour were it not collapsing into ruin.

“Still.” Faris gestured toward the great peak at the heart of the city. Voshki followed his gaze toward the maze of endless lights that cast the entire Garden District aglow. Even the Hanging Gardens that wreathed Tu’shik’s inner walls bathed in the golden light. “The Garden Quarter glimmers in the light like a city of gold and alabaster onto itself. Wouldn’t you agree, commander?”

Voshki studied the districts of the Qar nobility. She looked to Faris and smiled wolfishly. “Never thought an age of strife and terror would make a romantic out of anyone. Yet I understand why anyone would cling to sights of beauty in a time when they become rare luxuries…”

Her voice took on a grave aspect after she trailed off briefly. “This is not the hour for appreciating the beauty of wonders, however, Faris. This is the hour that we risk all of our lives for the grand prize.

“So enough about the City of the Sun. Point out the sentry checkpoints!”

“Your command is my oath!” Faris answered. He shifted the point of his finger to indicate three lighthouses, each built upon the precipice of lonesome piers isolated from their respective harbor. “West, east, and north is where each of them guard entrance into the harbor respectively. There are many more scattered along the canals, but none of the rest are important to us. These three sentry posts are what stands between us and a successful beachhead.”

Voshki swept her hawk-eyes over the sentry posts and noted the garrison barracks each lighthouse stood vigil over. “Anoush mentioned there was no activity witnessed from any of these sentry posts? You could not spot even a guard or sentry?

“No chance in the infernal realms has the Sun-Caller King’s forces abandoned the maritime district entirely. If the Republic knew of such weakness, they would have passed through the Dam’s Gate and ended this siege several moons ago.”

“There is a saying among Tu’shik’s proud nobility.” Anoush chimed in as she made to join them at the fore of the raft. “Children of the Sun never turn their backs to a worthy foe, nor do they kneel in submission. Children of the Sun never shirk from the light of truth, nor the threat of death.”

“You’re saying that they await us in ambush. For surrendering the maritime district is to the Children of the Sun the same as turning your back to your enemy.” Faris pondered upon that truth briefly before replying. “A wise saying to live by in times of anarchy. A shame that only the Qar seem to know it. For most of this city has taken flight to more peaceful shores. Tu’shik may have had a chance if they had all stayed and fought.”

The raft continued its course until it passed under the shadow of the sentry checkpoints stationed both east and west of the harbor. Voshki continued to survey her surroundings alongside her Seconds even as she executed a silent command for the Black Bane to raise and interlock their shields in an impregnable wall.

   “Can you blame them, Faris?” Voshki knelt on one knee as she continued to listen and watch the harbor for any signs of hostile movement. “To endure a siege is to live every waking hour in uncertainty and terror. The paralyzing fear of never knowing when the walls of your home are breached and the warriors sworn to defend it, slaughtered. Not until it is far too late.

   “It is a dreadful terror of the mind as well as the heart. The death and dire fates of your loved ones are a constant burden on the mind. The repressed thought of taking your own life before a hated enemy steals it from you…”

   Faris and Anoush knelt beside her.

   Faris shook his head. “No, I would never blame any man or woman who would avoid such a fate for their families and themselves… We would all be of the same mind on the matter in fact. Once the grand prize is ours, we shall be following in their wake soon.

   “Still, it is a great shame that everything has culminated to this.”

   Anoush interrupted their argument with an urgent whisper. “Voshki! On the eastern pier, three dozen paces from the lighthouse!”

Voshki shifted to gaze in the direction of Anoush’s coordinates. She felt her heart skip a beat the moment her eyes clarified a lone figure from the dark that cloaked him. Alone stood a Tu’shik warrior dressed in robes of crimson cushioned beneath his chainmail and that of cream draped over his pristine armor.

He held a moderate buckler tight across his chest in one hand and kept the other snaked around the hilt of a sheathed scimitar. The warrior bore no helm on his shoulders. Voshki looked past the wild and lustrous hair that covered much of the warrior’s face and found the core of his hazel eyes boring straight into her own.

The Child of the Sun made no sudden movements. He did not let out any sharp rebuke or war cry. He did not even let loose a whistle to warn his comrades. He merely stood anchored to his spot on the pier until the raft finally began to pass him by.

The warrior’s gaze never wavered from Voshki’s even as he broke into a deliberate pace to keep stride with the raft.

Faris let loose an irritable growl. “Should I give the command to strike down this brazen cur, Firstborn?”

“No.” Voshki shook her head, her gaze still trained on the lone warrior stalking them. “Whoever commands him sent him out here so that we would see him. They could have answered us with a hail of arrows. His master must desire an exchange of words between him and I.”

Anoush shot Voshki a skeptical look. “Are you certain they aren’t simply tightening the noose around our necks?”

“We’ve already entered the serpent’s den, Anoush.” Voshki answered. “Our best chance of survival is to sing to the cobra now… music may yet soothe it.”

Faris chuckled aloud. “And if it deigns to spit acid in our eyes?”

“We shall strike first.” Voshki made no sudden movements before the warrior staring her down.
“Let us meet our illustrious enemies and see who is better prepared to weather a fight.”

« Last Edit: July 8, 2020, 12:04:26 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 - CH I - Dominion's Rise - Scene III
« Reply #93 on: July 8, 2020, 12:06:32 PM »
Did some additional passes across all three scenes and made quite a few subtle edits. Just announcing this in a new post as I'm sure no one would see it buried amidst the three scenes!
“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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The Embers of the Past 2.0 - CH 2- Dominion's Rise - Ara - Scene I
« Reply #94 on: Yesterday at 11:46:53 PM »
Dominion’s Rise - Ara

Beyond the ruined gates of Tu’shik - the Grand City of Canals, Ara witnessed the imminent end of the Children of the Sun. Just as the skies burned in the Solar God’s vanishing light, so too were the centuries of existence built upon this arid earth set alight till nothing remained. Nothing, but so many ashes and embers on the wind.
 
   Before the ruined gates of Tu’shik - the City of the Sun-Caller Kings, Ara found himself on the battlefield. He found himself locked in the brutality of total war. He was isolated amidst an arid plain populated only by the desiccated remains of those slain several months prior.
 
  Ara pushed the anarchic melee of hundreds interlocked around him in a constant struggle for survival from out of his mind. His raven black eyes focused until he could peer through the maelstrom of thrashing blades and thrusting spears. For a brief instance, clarity aligned with his perception and honed in on a grizzled warrior garbed in cream robes beneath his suit of chainmail and that of crimson draped over the exterior.
 
  Ara quickly grounded himself and heard the crunch of brittle bones crumbling beneath his boots. He readied his scimitar behind and overhead to cleave the great bear of a Carthite down in one imperceptible blow. He gripped his moderate buckler tight across his chest and prepared to receive the Tuamphetamine parrote’s charge.
 
  A hail of arrows rained down from the evening skies around them. Screams - far louder than those bellowed from the throats of defiant men - deafened him as steel-tipped arrowheads found purchase in callow flesh. A score of warriors fell to their knees around Ara, impaled everywhere from eye sockets to the core of their guts.
 
   The momentary distraction blinded him but for a moment. The grizzled Tuamphetamine parrote fell upon him like a great bear. The warrior whirled his spiked maul around his head before he brought it down in one momentous and crushing blow toward the base of Ara’s skull.
 
  Ara slid through the battlefield’s gore and grime and away from the blow. The Tuamphetamine parrote followed in pursuit, the momentum in his maul threatening to crush Ara’s skull still. The Annahir Immortal weaved beneath the blow. He deflected the fluid counterstrike with a flick of his shield-arm.
 
  Ara quickly slid into his challenger’s guard, who was briefly left defenseless with his arms reaching in the opposite direction. Obsidian, Ara’s scimitar, whispered in the wind as he answered his foe with one irresistibile cut.
 
   The Child of the Sun staggered where he stood. Blood sprayed from the vicious cut and onto Ara’s raven robes and tarnished scalemail armor. He respectfully stepped back from his kill. As the corpse fell onto its knees and began to sway, Ara watched impassively as the severed head toppled off of the stump of its neck.
 
  A Carthite’s ferocious screams roared in Ara’s ear from his right. “For the Twelve Tyrants of Carth!”
 
  Ara sprung back into a combat stance, already locked in a movement to avoid the oncoming assault. A luminescent arc sliced through the rapidly cooling desert air from the same flank. The war cries pouring out of the Tuamphetamine parrote’s mouth culminated into a shirek of desperate agony - cut brutally short.
 
   Ara halted mid-dodge and watched his assailant crumble to the blood-soaked earth with a sliced open torso from right shoulder to the left of his lower ribcage. A warrior of caramel skin and bushels of kempt and well-groomed raven black locks stepped between them. Gripped between his leather gloved fingers was an elegant longsword that glimmered in the fiery light like a deep vein of sapphire.
 
  Vahe of Grand Damira spared Ara a mirthless smile for the briefest instance. He turned back to the warrior writhing at his feet, every trace of his smile wiped from his grimace. He flipped his blade with practiced fluidity and plunged it straight through the stricken Tuamphetamine parrote’s heart chambers.
 
   Vahe spared Ara another glance, his features suddenly aglow with relief. “Ara, my friend. Remember always that an elegant blade may kill an opponent beautifully. Remember now that a ruthless and merciless blade may not only kill one opponent unceremoniously, but many more and in quick succession.”
 
   Vahe indicated the battlefield in an all-inclusive gesture. He sighed audibly. “This is not the duelist’s circle that we met in several years ago.”
 
   Another hail of arrows descended upon the melee. Vahe visibly flinched from an arrowhead embedding itself in the skull of an Old Myrian Knight, dressed for battle as Ara was. He shook his head once in regret as the corpse toppled over where it stood.     

Ara frowned as he watched the corpse spasm once, then become lifeless. He turned back to Vahe. “You need not remind me, Vahe. I desire to be here as much as you do, which is not at all, from the sorry state of your armor.” He gestured with a point of his chin toward Vahe’s battered, scarred, and partially scorched scale-mail.
 
   Ara managed a sliver of a smile. “How do you keep your hair so perfect and your armor so abused?”
 
  Vahe pitched his head back and laughed, and Ara could tell that he hated himself for doing so. “This is not the time for your foolish banter!” He half-chortled, half-bellowed at Ara. “I don’t know, perhaps my foes have come to respect it more than the rest of my person?

“Enough about that, though, Nishan summoned you and I, Ara. He thinks this will be the final push to storm…” Vahe spared a glance over his shoulder and pointed in the direction of Tu’shik’s western gate. Ara followed the point of his finger toward the dust shrouded pile of still crumbling debris where the breach had been created in the wall. “Into Tu’shik itself and claim the lower districts scattered around the Qar Garden District.”

Ara glanced around him and found the lingering traces of a battle in sharp decline. As corpse after corpse was struck down by the combined arms of the Old Myrian Knights and the Carth Republic’s forces, Ara confidently counted a couple hundred out of the thousands of men they had sent into the teeth of the enemy’s fortifications.
Most of the survivors ranked among the forces of Old Myria.

A ghastly and grizzled voice called out to them from someone who quickly approached. Ara turned on his heel to face the visage of a man irrevocably scarred by war. Great scars criss-crossed from one corner of his face to the next, those in turn deepened with lesser scars far after the original ones had healed over. A cavernous hole where his left eye once existed exposed the interior of his socket. 

Nishan the Scarred Child lifted his arms in a gesture of greeting. “Ara. Vahe. Victory at last belongs to the Republic and this hellish battlefield is ours to claim. The Children of the Sun are not long for this world. A generous reward for those who would support tyranny and deceit, and desire to collapse our proud republic from within.”

Ara frowned deeply at Nishan’s words. “Slay a tyrant, certainly… but this ceaseless flogging of innocents that do not share this Sun-Caller’s ambition irks me no end, Nishan. Every warlord we have toppled, their cities and their populaces are not spared the sword of the republic. Every siege is the same and it never changes. Why do the Sages that rule your republic fear their own citizens?”

Nishan scoffed, then grimaced. “If Old Myria even cares, then why doesn’t your Autumn Queen merely force my hand and command an end to all this? From what I remember, the Dominion’s End Decree was partially her idea.”

Ara shrugged. “This is your republic’s war, Nishan. Old Myria is only here to help you secure victory in whichever way you see fit… doesn’t mean we’ll respect your methods when it's all said and done. Truthfully, I find them as distasteful and hideous as your scars, old friend.”

Nishan pitched his head back and chortled. “Well, that doesn’t mean I cannot respect two warriors of legend. Ara of Annahir and Vahe of Grand Damira…” He searched the battlefield as the last traces of war cries fell silent. Something caught his eyes toward the western gate. “Look, Old Myria’s standards billow over Tu’shik’s walls. Her defenses have fallen.

“It is time.” Nishan affirmed them with a nod. “The final assault shall commence and soon. Come, let us retreat to the commander’s tent and share a reprieve… Tu’shik has nowhere else to go in the meantime.”

Before Ara could utter another retort, the Scarred Child took his leave of them and marched in the direction of the sprawling encampment built along the other side of the Seventh River’s banks.

Ara grimaced and folded his arms. He cast a quick glance in Vahe’s direction and lowered his voice. “Did you hear him speak of tyranny, Vahe? He boasts about the republic’s morals as he buries half of Carth’s entire realm in shallow graves and ruins that crumble to their foundations.”

Vahe sighed with a brief nod. “Only one thing is certain about this war, Ara. The Republic of Carth has entered her final days. I fear the collapse of these warlords shall only hasten her demise. But this is not the place for such talk. Let’s follow Nishan and recuperate a little with the men. Once we have revised our plans for the final assault… we shall make our move under the cover of nightfall.”
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 11:48:02 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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