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Author Topic: The Embers of the Past : A Promise Relinquished  (Read 11991 times)

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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past : End of Thread Announcement
« Reply #140 on: November 11, 2020, 12:28:24 PM »
However, I feel like the last several months, I've just been getting torn down repeatedly with little or no positive things to take away from it.

Well, as the person that has left the majority of the feedback, I have to say sorry that I have made you feel that way. I have said many a time I wish I that I could have helped you more and that is still true.

More of it's my fault than it is yours. I shouldn't have placed so much responsibility for bettering myself off of your feedback. I feel like that put you in a position you didn't necessarily want or have the time to be in. No hard feelings :), but I realize that Embers needs some more development time in the background as opposed to the spotlight.

Sorry I never said anything before, I didn't want to alienate anyone, which I suppose I ended up doing anyway. So apologies should be on my end, not yours.

I do hope to share some stuff closer to the manuscript's completion.

Appreciate you, Alienscar.   
“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 : Apology for Alienscar & Latest Version of Offering
« Reply #141 on: November 18, 2020, 09:28:32 PM »
@alienscar: Realized that I probably came off as a big jerk in the last few post and wanted to apologize for that. I think it may have been uncalled for the way I vented my frustrations like that - and I think I was being slightly irrational with how I was looking at the situation.

So, I want to formerly apologize to you. Because no one has put forth more effort to help in this thread than you (though Dread and all readers are appreciated!).

Also, it's my fault with definitely with not being consistent in the quality of the posts. I'm going to try to be better about that.

Just thought I'd leave this here, in case  you still wanted to review it. It's the latest version of what I have for Offering. Hoping you find it better than the last version I posted. Stay honest about your opinion, as you've always have :).

I'm actually prepping for a small beta readers test that'll feature the first three chapters in order pretty soon.

Alienscar, if you'd like to be a part of this beta reader test, let me know and I'll send you a pm.

Dread, same for you  :).

I've got about four or five readers enlisted at this point, so you guys are definitely welcome.



Offering - Complete

A fell wind howled from out of the depths beneath the Southern Wastes. Voshki caught the scent of spilt blood and decay upon its current. She heard underground rivers course through ancient caverns - choked by mankind’s refuse. Beneath the surface world in the Royal Den of Vipers, sunlight seemed nothing more than a distant dream.
 
She would often navigate the treacherous routes through notorious criminal dens. All for the chance to rest in the long-forgotten caves that channeled the underground rivers.
   
Time was an obscurity this far beneath the surface. Voshki would watch what precious sunlight crept into the caverns from what she imagined was dawn to dusk. The illumined rays refracted and reflected amidst the streams. It was exceedingly little, but the dancing light on the earthen walls brought some small measure of solace.

A time of reflection that had come to an end.

Voshki caught the dancing lights in the corner of her eye as she hurried by her favorite spot beside the underground river. She contemplated on how her day had began with such tranquility only to descend into urgent peril. She had played a henchman of the Obsidian

Vipers for a fool in a skewed game of dice.
Her reward was the offering of her first contract. To commit murder against an unfamiliar name from a rival den – by the lethality of a newly concocted poison.

Of course, she had not tampered with the dice. She did not need to seize triumph from defeat. Voshki had already received a counter-contract from said rival den. She had already tested the lethality of this new poison dubbed ‘the Black Rot’ on several pitchers of wine scattered around the Vipers’ Den.

The lackey she had played the odds against had wretched, vomited, and writhed from the midday bell and expired in precisely within the span of an hour. What Voshki had not planned for was the feast the Obsidian Vipers had hosted to celebrate another ‘Blood Debt’ – a notorious rite of passage for their new recruits.

Thirty more Vipers had died that very hour.

The Vipers thirsted for vengeance and marched out of their dens in force. Their numbers continued to swell until it seemed hundreds had taken on the task of scouring their territories in search of the vermin that had bitten them.

They hacked through their own flea-bitten serfs first. Uncaring of who was dragged out of their hovels, the criminal syndicate acted with brutal efficiency. The tortured screams of the dying scattered the meek and terrified like an inferno that uproots all life in a forest.

It was only a matter of time before they had sped ahead of her to spring their ambush…

~***~

‘Oh amphetamine parrot.’ Voshki wheezed, exhausted from the constant pursuit. ‘amphetamine parrot - amphetamine parrot - amphetamine parrot!’

She fled heedlessly, hurling herself through every cracked open door into impoverished homes. She tossed their dining tables and leveled decrepit bookcases to stall her pursuers for but only a moment. Then she leapt through the gaping holes in their walls, back into the twisted maze of the Royal Den of Vipers.

Voshki had no choices left. She had no leads, save only a direction. She had no solace of a definite safe card to draw and play. If she were shunned and turned away from the only refuge, she would be fed directly into the hands of the V-

A rickety wooden door not even several steps away from her burst open with such force, she had to slide under the slab of termite infested wood as it flew off its hinges.

A lean figure of dark caramel skin emerged - garbed in black leathers and fiery robes emblazoned with gold. He stormed down the stairs toward her even as she ground to a screeching halt in the muddy grime.

The Obsidian Viper rattled with furious laughter as he reached out to seize her.
She twisted in his reckless grip on the scuff of her collar, tearing the fabric of her rough spun clothes. A glimmer of steel cut across the damp and oppressive atmosphere. Rolling into her captor, the dagger hidden in her clothes tore a bloody slice across the Viper from cheek to the tip of his ear.

The street thug reeled from an explosion of pain; one hand cradled over his right eye. Voshki pounced and buried the blood slick dagger to the hilt in the Viper’s throat and twisted for good measure before resuming her flight.

Several voices ushered into earshot - so near their breathing echoed through the cavern as she hurtled into the depths. The sound of their footfalls giving urgent pursuit hastened her to the height of her limits.

Voshki descended farther into the oppressive darkness until it became impregnable like an abyss - void of any glimmer of sun or moon. She reached out with bloodied, grasping fingers for any purchase so that she could find her way forward.
The Vipers hounded her in their relentless chase and somehow gained on their prey. Her pursuers chortled and screamed constant, blood-curdling threats. How did they find their way in the dark so easily?

A spark ignited in the darkness. An intense fiery glow that caught nearby shadows aflame.
An incredibly brief flicker near enough that she could reach out and grasp its warmth. As swiftly as the candle of light burst into brilliant life was it snuffed by an invisible force. She tried to arrest her loping speed, instead she slipped and slid through the unstable mud flows coursing through the earthen caverns.The spark ignited once again, combusting into a flood of flame born light. She raised her hands in pitiful defense of being reduced to cinders as the flames crashed over her body.

An explosion without warmth to the fire whipped and lashed but could not scorch her. The surprised screams of her pursuers - born from sudden terror rather than actual death - became snuffed out of existence as quickly as the flame born explosion withered into nothing.

She did not realize that her eyes were shut until the roaring in her ears dissipated. Quivering hands removed themselves from where they latched onto her face as a makeshift shield.

Her eyes flicked open, then shut again from the acrid smoke wafting from braziers burning on an ancient vine coated wall of slick and weathered stone. Crystalline waters streamed through ornate drains near to overfull. The drains followed cobblestone paths that wound into the dark. Her eyes followed the dimly lit road straight to a great set of doors carved from onyx. Ancient calligraphy, drawn and crafted from pure silver, was inlaid across the polished stone.

A clattering of armored footfalls approached her hesitantly from behind. The confidence in their striding steps was challenged by fear of the unknown.

‘Encircle her.’ One of them commanded.  'Don’t stand so idly! Do your damn jobs!’
The Obsidian Vipers scurried to obey their master, but their eyes continued to steal glances around their enigmatic surroundings.

‘Don’t just gawk at her, fools!’ Their commander encouraged them. ‘Seize her!’

An armored boot kicked the girl across the temple and sent her clattering to the stonework with a sharp yelp. Another several kicks forced her to double over on her side in pain. Scarred, mutilated hands seized her by the arms and pinned them behind her back. She felt the heated burn of rough rope being pulled tight across her wrists.

A morose voice like that of a widow in mourning crept out of the dark behind the gang of thugs. ‘What’s happening out here?'

The Viper nearest the source of sound scrambled forward with an open palm raised.
‘Halt!’ He screamed, furious, but she detected a note of superstitious terror behind his bluster. ‘Return back the way you came, hag! This doesn’t involve you.’

‘Are you jesting?’ Another Viper arched his brow. ‘Skewer her and let us move on.’ He hawked and spat in the direction of the mysterious voice.

Their commander began to issue orders. ‘Faris, guard the girl! The rest of you, encircle our hero here. Silence her protests.’

The Obsidian Vipers unsheathed their weapons in unison, all manner of wicked blades laced with dark crimson venom. They stormed forward as one unit to corner the patch of outlying darkness where torchlight could not so easily reach.

‘Offerings for the Lady of Misery and Sorrow.’ The voice proclaimed in low undertones.
‘Join the Black Descent then, cowards.’

The mere mention of the Black Descent threatened to snuff the flame of the braziers for the briefest moment. Voshki jumped as any nearby traces of light wavered momentarily. To their credit, the Obsidian Vipers seemed resolute in their confidence.

‘Enough…’ The grizzled viper commanding the rabble pointed in the direction of a hazed outline of a woman eclipsed in the shadow. ‘Break her limb by limb. Bring me the head when you’re done.'

One thug charged in to cave the skull of the insubstantial figure. A brutal hack from his club withered the illusion into shades of wet mist. None of them had noticed their leader's severed head tumble from his shoulders until it smacked the ground with a wet thump.

The remaining vipers swiveled around and regarded the corpse with a begrudged disbelief. A frozen chill breezed into them as they readied their weapons for another assault.

A pair of the Vipers charged again, war cries on their lips as they closed distance with the shadow in their midst. The woman neatly lifted her slender blade and parried a reckless hack of a nicked, tarnished weapon. Her physical form seemed to meld into the
shadows as she stepped around the vicious swing of her other attacker.

The spiked club gripped in both hands cleaved harmlessly through the insubstantial mist. Instead, the reckless blow caved in the teeth of the comrade who had charged in with him.

The brutality of the blow obliterated the Viper’s jaw and knocked him out of consciousness the moment he collapsed onto the cobblestone path. One of his comrades mercifully ushered him from the mortal plane.

‘Thrice-cursed shall each of your deaths become.' The woman coalesced between the remaining assailants and answered with an effortless flurry of fatal cuts.

Another victim's weapon clattered to the ground, an urgent hand over the ruptured wound where his heart rested. The bruiser with the gore-slick club staggered and wheezed out a long, agonized scream as his torso began to fall apart.

‘Begone from this place.' The woman demanded of the three remaining souls frozen in place, seized by horror. ‘The Black Descent has claimed more than its share.''

The Vipers heard her command and scrambled to obey. The Obsidian Viper by the name of Faris considered the adolescent girl in his grasp. He relinquished her and vanished into the shadows after his brethren.

‘And what manner of stray has wandered into my domain?’ Her mysterious savior cooed from out of the gentle dark. ‘Another troublesome adolescent fleeing the venomous bite of the viper. You are fortunate that the Lady of Misery and Sorrow has her eye on you. The sacrifices made in your name are worthy of her dark blessing.

‘Tell me, who are you?’ A woman emerged from out of the shadow, garbed in quilted leather armor the color of dark storm clouds. Polished steel plates reinforced the quilted suit of armor in the form of gauntlets, greaves, and pauldrons.

Her braided hair was that of rose and chestnut entwined, shifting into hues of raven black where slim lockets fell over her temples. Four old scars - a form of ritual scarification was etched with precision over the left emerald eye. Her other eye shone a dark silver in the dim firelight.

Voshki slipped out of her hastily bound restraints. She quickly picked herself off the blood-slick stone, her rough spun clothes caked in grime and splattered gore. She bowed her head in submission and knelt amidst the dead offerings claimed by the Goddess of the Underworld.

‘I am nameless.’ She eked out as the adrenaline began to subside. ‘I am nothing more than a passing shadow. I would devote myself to the knowledge of the Black Descent and the ways of its guardians…’

‘An aspirant? Amusing…’ The enigmatic woman considered the young girl before her. ‘But truly? We shall see how bad you truly wish for that.’ She snapped her fingers once and the burning braziers on the stone walls had their flames snuffed in an instant. 

‘My name is Shoushan.’ The shadow melding woman called out from nearby. ‘Do you fear what dwells in the night? Does your heart shiver in terror at the thought of death? Does your mind become your enemy, when faced with a threat that you cannot trace with mortal eyes?’

Voshki felt her heart still within her chest. ‘Of course not.’

Shoushan filled the abyss with echoes of amused laughter. An oppressive silence filled the emptiness it left behind.

‘There may be potential within you. To what degree, we indeed shall see. Arise and I shall welcome you… my only rule for the time being is that you never betray hidden knowledge… and that you avoid death - no matter its guises.

Somewhere in the gloom, Shoushan snapped her fingers once again. The dormant braziers on the stone walls ignited once more. She stood patiently by the mysterious door blocking the path further into the depths. ‘So, arise and welcome, Voshki of the Ashen Circle. Come, step into these hallowed halls… we’ll see if the clandestine arts were always meant for you.’

~***~


« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 07:08:28 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 : Apology for Alienscar & Latest Version of Offering
« Reply #142 on: November 19, 2020, 10:22:54 AM »
@alienscar: Realized that I probably came off as a big jerk in the last few post and wanted to apologize for that. I think it may have been uncalled for the way I vented my frustrations like that - and I think I was being slightly irrational with how I was looking at the situation.

So, I want to formerly apologize to you. Because no one has put forth more effort to help in this thread than you (though Dread and all readers are appreciated!).

There is no need for you to apologise Myen'Tal, and you definitely have not come across as a jerk. If my feedback has caused you frustration then you are well within your rights to vent at me as much as you like.

My feedback is only my opinion based on 'feelings' I get reading your story, so it has no actual merit. As I have said before I have no editorial experience, so if you ever think that my feedback is crap then you must tell me (and that is true for anyone reading this)

Just thought I'd leave this here, in case  you still wanted to review it. It's the latest version of what I have for Offering. Hoping you find it better than the last version I posted. Stay honest about your opinion, as you've always have :).

I will certainly try to continue my feedback, but it won't be for some time.

I'm actually prepping for a small beta readers test that'll feature the first three chapters in order pretty soon.

Alienscar, if you'd like to be a part of this beta reader test, let me know and I'll send you a pm.

I will have to say no to that offer Myen'Tal as lately my works shift patterns don't leave me much free time at home.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 10:24:43 AM by Alienscar »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past : Apology for Alienscar & Latest Version of Offering
« Reply #143 on: November 19, 2020, 04:32:45 PM »
Quote
There is no need for you to apologise Myen'Tal, and you definitely have not come across as a jerk. If my feedback has caused you frustration then you are well within your rights to vent at me as much as you like.

My feedback is only my opinion based on 'feelings' I get reading your story, so it has no actual merit. As I have said before I have no editorial experience, so if you ever think that my feedback is crap then you must tell me (and that is true for anyone reading this)

Yeah I need to improve communication on my end, so I'll definitely give some thoughts on any feedback I may disagree with / have questions about.

Quote
I will certainly try to continue my feedback, but it won't be for some time.

No problem! It'll still be here when you get around to it.

Quote
I will have to say no to that offer Myen'Tal as lately my works shift patterns don't leave me much free time at home.

No worries, I know you're busy. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
“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 : Some Backstory and World Building
« Reply #144 on: November 23, 2020, 09:00:41 PM »
Working on the backstory behind the scenes. This first scene is something I've written up and might integrate into a prologue that introduces the first book's antagonist:

The Khiosian Pantheon has long abandoned the realms of Mankind on Khios Continent. On the dawn of man's first empires and civilizations - a Pact of Black Sin would forever seal the fate of each and every generation sired throughout the Eastern Realms. A Sun-Caller King - last of his proud lineage - had made an alliance with Alastrine - Lady of Hell and Queen of the Underworld. Immortal Life in exchange for the souls of every man, woman, and child cursed with life on Khios - a harsh realm of fickle and zealous gods where their children must already endure lives of constant struggle.

Once blessed by the Gods of Khios - they in turn shunned and abhorred the creation of this new God-King. When Eraysl of the Children of the Sun betrayed all the souls on the world of Ios onto the Demon Queen of the Underworld, so disgusted had the gods become that their presence on the mortal plane waned until only the slightest sliver of divinity remained within the hearts of mankind.

For generations have the children of Khios endured and dwelled in a world where their Gods remain nothing more than echoes of remembered glories. Almost four thousand years of unknowingly stumbling farther into damnation - nearly every soul that walks the world of Ios is branded with the mark of hell - fated for an eternity in the Palace of Misery and Sorrow.

As the third millennium begins to draw to a close - something seems amiss on Khios in these dark times. Centuries old Empires prepare for a continent spanning war. Entire civilizations are put to the sword and their great works crumbled to their foundations. No realm can escape the endless tides of destruction.

Only a handful of souls -bound for greatness- seem to stand between Khios and the dark fate that has ensnared it since the beginning of mankind's fledgling steps. As the entire world seems poised to tear itself apart, the Goddess of the Underworld seems to only grow more ambitious and wrathful.

In these dark times where the Palace of Misery and Sorrow should be overfull with the souls of the cursed - Alastrine strikes fear in the hearts of the Damned with screams of anguish.

In these dark times - the Palace of Misery and Sorrow is now emptied for reasons unknown. Alastrine unleashes her greatest champions - Zesiro and Amunet - into the mortal world to investigate not only where the souls within her palace are vanishing to - but to discover who is stealing out from under her in both the mortal plane and the divine realms.


This second piece is some backstory that I've created for a character soon to enter The Embers of the Past proper.

A Child of Sun and Moon

Born in the Province of Mist Hollow, Kendal is a unique individual - his father of the Qimbri Elves - Of the Genesis of Durwaith Clan - of the Celithorn Empire and his mother an immediate relative of the Autumn Queen of Old Myria. Both figures of royalty among their respective houses - having fled from the Isles of Remorse off the coast of the Old Myrian Empire - where the Celithorn Empire hosts its embassy on Khios. Having chose a life of minor nobility after situating themselves in the courts of the Kingdom of Hallorn, Kendal was raised as an only child.

Borne under the Light of the West - a star associated with the Goddess Nihali of the Ishalnan Elves and that of Jumanah in the Old Myrian Pantheon - Kendal has always been associated with wisdom, prophecy, and faith since the earliest days of his childhood. A child of scholarly pursuits - Kendal commenced his studies in arcane and religious lore, and also that of the histories.

His unnatural gifts - abilities to commune with the divine through visions and wield the Heavenly Flame - never became apparent until his adolescent years. Plagued by harrowing visions throughout his younger years, Kendal continued to grow into a hale young man. His affinity with fire magic -while a great contrast with his stoic and measured nature - continued to influence his desire to turn his talents to a more martial path.

On the eve of his eighteenth birthday and coming of age - Kendal beheld a sign of Divine Favor by the Royal Evergreen on the farmland his parents owned. During the midst of a winter storm was a single-tailed comet sailing across the atmosphere. The comet was borne aloft on wings of celestial fire, burning in a rainbow of shades. The flaming tip of the comet appeared as a Goddess' flaming sword, proceeded by the music of an angelic choir.
During the comet's passing, the winter storm began to break and not even an hour later had passed on. God rays cascaded through the gaping wounds in the ashen skies till sunlight suddenly cleared the clouds away.

Kendal took the vision as a sign of divine omen - and departed from his parent's farmland to travel to the city of Raven's Croft and pledged himself to the Grand Temple of Hanneth to become a Priest and Disciple of the Goddess of Heaven.

Kendal of Mist Hollow happened upon his mentor - who took an interest in the young man after the other Devoted Priests and Priestesses of the Temple shunned him for his twin-heritage.

His mentor introduced himself as Vindiaccos of the Titan's Hand - A Sworn Warrior of the Raven Veil Vigil - and Disciple of Hanneth. A grizzled veteran of many wars of faith - and one with a sense of humor - Vindiaccos took an interest in Kendal's unusually reserved and stoic nature.

Kendal studied and trained under Vindiaccos' leadership - thought not for the priestly role he initially expected or wanted. In the following years, Kendal found his calling as a warrior-priest and paladin of the Raven Veil. He quickly earned a reputation for the grace of his swordsmanship and his innate might when commanding the Heavenly Flame. After two years of constant arduous labor, Vindiaccos knighted him as a member of the Brotherhood.

Though Kendal earned a revered reputation as a Vigilant of the Raven Veil - many of his colleagues saw him as an enigma - someone they cannot relate to or the tenants of his personal faith - which mismatch theirs. Despite his more isolated role within the Temple of Hanneth, Kendal continued to gain fame and popularity with the local masses.

Kendal's story begins when messengers from a distant land arrive in the port of Raven's Croft. News of the foreign agents spreads like wildfire throughout the city, and naturally many of Kendal's faithful see an uncanny resemblance between him and these strange emissaries. Many of Kendal's peers within the Temple question Kendal's origins and if they're as humble as he believes they are. After several tensed or violent encounters with small groups of these emissaries, a handful of the more zealous clergy demand Kendal's resignation from the Raven Veil Vigil.

Vindiaccos, curious of these foreign emissaries, implores Kendal to return home to his farmstead and speak with his mother about a potential revelation about Kendal's past. Haunted by what these foreign emissaries are hunting for - Kendal attempts to depart from the Grand Temple of Hanneth - but is cut off by a band of zealots who covet his death - and also claim to know the truth about him.

Kendal draws his blade and cuts down his attackers - leaving them for dead. Unable to return to the Grand Temple once the deaths have been discovered, Kendal imposes self-exile upon himself and returns home. He returns to find his mother and father, and the emissaries from the distant land of Old Myria.

Kendal's mother, Ankine, reveals that she is a member of the Royal Family of the Old Myrian Empire - an immediate relative to the Autumn Queen Hazan. She has been commanded to return home, and she intends to do so with her son - who shares her heritage as royalty.

Kendal of Mist Hollow has journeyed from the distant shores of Western Ios - from the continent of Tambria et Nossos - to the eastern realms of Khios. His efforts to reach the Autumn Throne in capital city of Annahir is the culmination of a decade of labor.
“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 : Some Backstory and World Building
« Reply #145 on: November 25, 2020, 07:29:09 AM »
Offering - Complete

It is not everything, but here are a few of my thoughts on the Offering.

Quote
A fell wind howled from out of the depths beneath the Southern Wastes. Voshki caught the scent of spilt blood and decay upon its current. She heard underground rivers course through ancient caverns - choked by mankind’s refuse. Beneath the surface world in the Royal Den of Vipers, sunlight seemed nothing more than a distant dream.

Winds don't blow from out of caves.

'depths' & 'beneath' essentially mean the same thing, so I think it would be best to drop one of these words.

The word 'spilt' seems an unnecessary embellishment as well and I think the sentence would flow better without it.

The second sentence is too separate from the first and on its own doesn't work as a sentence.

'In the caverns beneath the Southern Wastes Voshki caught the scent of blood and decay on the air...' is a bit punchier I think.

Quote
She would often navigate the treacherous routes through notorious criminal dens. All for the chance to rest in the long-forgotten caves that channeled the underground rivers.

I can't determine where Voshki is standing. The first paragraph would seem to be describing Voshki standing outside listening to underground rivers, but the paragraph below descibes her being underground.

Quote
Time was an obscurity this far beneath the surface. Voshki would watch what precious sunlight crept into the caverns from what she imagined was dawn to dusk. The illumined rays refracted and reflected amidst the streams. It was exceedingly little, but the dancing light on the earthen walls brought some small measure of solace. A time of reflection that had come to an end.

Reading the whole scene I struggle to see how the first twelve paragraphs link with the rest of the story. Voshki goes from quite reflection by the side of a river to running for her life, and for me there is no link between them.

Quote
Voshki caught the dancing lights in the corner of her eye as she hurried by her favorite spot beside the underground river. She contemplated on how her day had began with such tranquility only to descend into urgent peril. She had played a henchman of the Obsidian Vipers for a fool in a skewed game of dice.

She murdered him rather than play him for a fool and the game wasn't skewed as far as I can tell.
 
I find the mindscape that you are trying to create very confusing. You mention underground rivers, so this gives a sense of being deep underground. On the other hand reflected light is still being seen, so this would indicate that Voshki is near an entrance and the surface. I feel that the romanticised use of underground rivers has led to most of this confusion.

Quote
Her reward was the offering of her first contract. To commit murder against an unfamiliar name from a rival den – by the lethality of a newly concocted poison.

To be honest I am finding this difficult to follow. Her reward for what?

Quote
Of course, she had not tampered with the dice. She did not need to seize triumph from defeat. Voshki had already received a counter-contract from said rival den. She had already tested the lethality of this new poison dubbed ‘the Black Rot’ on several pitchers of wine scattered around the Vipers’ Den.

'seize triumph from defeat'! In the context of its paragraph I do not understand this sentence.

A 'counter-contract' would imply that the Vipers knew what was going on and who was going to attack them.

If she has already tested the poison then the Den should have been littered with people writhing in agony before the dice game, unless no one was drinking. If that was the case then it wasn't much of a test.

Quote
The lackey she had played the odds against had wretched, vomited, and writhed from the midday bell and expired in precisely within the span of an hour. What Voshki had not planned for was the feast the Obsidian Vipers had hosted to celebrate another ‘Blood Debt’ – a notorious rite of passage for their new recruits.

Surely the feast was already in motion before she carried out her attack.

Quote
A lean figure of dark caramel skin emerged - garbed in black leathers and fiery robes emblazoned with gold. He stormed down the stairs toward her even as she ground to a screeching halt in the muddy grime.

I find this a bit cartoonish in its premise. It is hard to make a screeching sound in mud.
 
Quote
Rolling into her captor, the dagger hidden in her clothes tore a bloody slice across the Viper from cheek to the tip of his ear.

I am no knife fighter, but I find this hard to imagine. If someone is rolling over I would picture them  head down, so this then makes it  hard to picture someone with a knife held high enough to strike someone's cheek.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2020, 07:42:02 AM by Alienscar »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past : Some Backstory and World Building
« Reply #146 on: November 25, 2020, 01:12:21 PM »
Hey Alienscar.

So I've made some changes and clarifications to reflect your feedback (which are good points), but I haven't posted them yet. I'll wait till I receive your feedback for the whole chapter before I post anything up - that way I can make changes across the board if necessary.

I do agree with your point in particular about the first 12 paragraphs. I didn't remove them entirely but instead removed a good bit - did some rewriting to better the merge the scenes into a more seamless experience. 

“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 : A Promise Relinquished
« Reply #147 on: November 26, 2020, 10:56:11 PM »
‘My disciple. Pleased I am with your timeliness. Come, you may enter.’

Shoushan’s voice drifted through the sigil etched door Voshki found herself in front of. In the higher echelons of the Ashen Circle - she stood in the midst of an inconspicuous hall. Weathered onyx stone lined the ancient walls of the corridor. Braziers burned on colonnades that filled the spaces between door after door - what lied beyond  them all remained unknown.

Voshki spied no guardians hidden in the shadows. Neither could she detect any assassins in the dark. It was moments like these that Voshki had come to fear the most. To tread in a place of death where a threat may lay hidden where she could not see.

Voshki fought to calm her rapidly beating heart. She fluttered her eyes shut, then reached out toward the sigil emblazoned on the smooth oak surface.

‘Where there is no light, I find a haven.

‘Where there is darkness and shadow, I draw my strength.

‘Where there lies misery and all the sorrows therein, I am called to Faith.

‘May the Lady of the Palace open the way.’


Voshki flicked her eyes open. The calligraphic symbol etched upon the doorway blazed with violet flames before vanishing in a scatter of embers. The door slid backward from the subtle force of her palm on the faded runic etchings.

Voshki peeled her hawk eyes and gazed into the windswept room of granite beyond. Hesitantly, she took one step forward and entered. Her bare feet touched upon fine rugs - tanned from the hides of several different predators in particular - each of them feline in origin.

A bellow of flames from the hearth’s fire took her by surprise. A pleasant laughter reacted that sounded uncharacteristicall y amused.

Shoushan stood on the height of a dozen stone stairs. The elevation separated her personal office near the arched window from the rest of her bedroom. Voshki swiveled her head in the direction of her master, who gazed casually beyond the light of her window. She kept her back turned to Voshki - simply achieving the impossible by gazing out into… dazzling sunlight?

Shoushan snapped her fingers once, then gestured behind her back for Voshki to become seated at her office desk.

Compelled by her oath of obedience, Voshki wordlessly approached her desk and took a seat in the nicest leather chair she had ever seen.

Shoushan continued to watch the world through her window. ‘Curious, isn’t it? That a subterranean labyrinth can hold a view of the outside world? It is one of the many hidden routes that venture into the world beyond that of Suannir - the Den of Vipers.

‘It was ironic, your unintentional discovery all those many nights ago when you fled the Vipers. If you only knew the correct phrase, you could have opened the way before you and have been on the surface before the next sunrise.

‘You’d have starved or worse in the harsh deserts of the Southern Wastes. But you’d have died a free woman.’

Shoushan finally pivoted on her heel to face Voshki. Her endless veil of raven black hair whipped back behind her shoulder. A rare moment, when Voshki’s master unveiled herself in a way that seemed more human than shadow.’

‘Fortune always did have a way of favoring you.’ A faint smile appeared on her face. Shoushan seemed to glow in the light of the hearth’s fire. ‘Destiny never allows you to misstep, does it? Despite the odds, it brought you before me. Fate has elevated you from a homeless urchin into an Assassin of the Ashen Circle.’

Voshki inclined her head in gratitude. ‘My mother always did say that I was born with a lucky star over my cradle. Before she passed that is.’

‘Mhm.’ Shoushan agreed. ‘Fortune is a bitter-sweet notion, isn’t it? For someone to win by the Goddess of favor, there must always be many more who shall lose. It is simply one of life’s myriad little games, but a test none-the-less.

‘Take your role as an assassin as an example.' Shoushan pointed out. ‘Should you wish to even continue breathing, every contract is a matter of life and death. It requires a mastery over who shall live and die by the words written upon it. One mistake and you have sealed your own fate. Another mistake still and someone meant to perish on the end of a blade and have their soul collected… may yet live.

‘The factors that spring forth from these events are never-ending. No matter which way the game of fortune plays out. All one can do is continue to see to their own success… or to the way that they shall leave this world.’

Voshki arched her brow. ‘Is that why I’m here, Shoushan? Because I’ve made a mistake that’s sealed my fate?’

Shoushan shrugged. ‘Mistakes can be an issue of perspective, Voshki. Do you believe that I’ve called you here from the Dominion of Carth because you failed me in some way?’

Voshki considered Shoushan’s remark. ‘... I know that Zagir has always been your favorite. She earned your love as a daughter would from her mother. She earned my respect as a friend and comrade.

‘Zagir is dead.’ Voshki uttered with grim finality. ‘Because I could have done better. I believe that’s why you called me back.’

Shoushan studied Voshki’s blank expression with a studious glint in her eye. She cocked her head at her, then shook it in disagreement. ‘I do not confide in many of my pupils, as you often know, because of the nature of the business that we coordinate.

‘Zagir was like a daughter to me, that much is true.’ Shoushan answered. ‘She was fated to perish that night. Nothing you could have done would have delivered her from death. Her time had come long before I sent both of you into the Heartlands of Khios.

‘I do not grieve her death. In truth, I do not grieve over the loss of any of my disciples… not even you when you eventually fail and lose your game with Lady Fortune. It is simply the nature of the immortal cycle… It is the reason that we cling onto our faith in the Goddess of Misery and Sorrow.

‘All of the Ashen Circle is united in death in the end.’

Voshki arched her brow, surprised. ‘Then why call me back to Suannir at all? I could have continued and finished the contract.’

‘Because it is null, Voshki.’ Shoushan quipped. ‘Due to circumstances beyond your ken, there is no longer a need for the contract’s fulfillment. I called you back to Suannir so that I could employ your talents elsewhere.’

Voshki arched her brow. ‘Are you jesting? Zagir and I endured hell and back crawling through that crumbling empire! We had spilt our blood and those of countless others for over two years! Who nullified the contract?’

Shoushan shrugged. ‘Who do you think? And Zagir served her purpose in death. She would have done the same willingly, even if she had known. She would have always chosen death so long as it was by my command. I need you - not her - for the mission that lies ahead.’
Voshki deigned not to reply, shocked into silence.

‘Enough about what happened.’ Shoushan changed the subject. ‘You’ve been coming and going from the surface for several years now. How do you find it up there?’

‘Surreal.’ Voshki blinked, giving an honest answer without thought. ‘It’s beautiful, beyond anything that I’ve ever imagined as an urchin in the Royal Den. I’m surprised, you never asked me before in all of these years.’

There was that pleasant laughter again.

Shoushan nodded. ‘I figured as much. The surface world has a certain charm about it compared to the caverns of Suannir. In truth, the next contract that I have lined up for you is about a world and a half away. So distant that you have never heard of it, I would wager.

‘Your destination lies in the farthest reaches of western Khios, on the other end of the continent. Tell me, do you truly know nothing of the Old Myrian Empire?’

‘Nothing.’ Voshki stated, her expression blank. ‘As you said, I’ve never heard of it.’

Shoushan sighed, disappointed. ‘I’d hoped you would prove me wrong. You must journey to this far-flung place. The journey alone shall require a year's time to reach the border, let alone infiltrate it. I do not intend to recall you once you set forth.

‘You’re to act under the guise of a sell sword warband. There is much for you to learn, practice, and execute in this regard. Four hundred men and women - the most elite of the Ashen Circle - shall be yours to command.

‘I hope you understand, Voshki, that you must be more ruthless than ever before should you wish to succeed. You shall spend five years under my direct tutelage in all things related to this mission and the skill set you shall need to master to accomplish it.

‘Understand, that once I set you forth to the lands of Old Myria… never shall I expect you to return - whether in success or failure.’

Voshki cocked her head. ‘What is that supposed to mean? Are you exiling me?’

Shoushan laughed at her. ‘No. I simply mean that when you commence this mission… you shall know everything that I must teach you. You will be your own woman - with your own goals and dreams. Once you complete this contract, you will never be indebted to me again.

‘So be certain to never return - and go your own way.’

‘Shoushan...’ Voshki started but was interrupted.

Shoushan smiled. ‘No one can win against Lady Fortune forever… but you’ll continue to reap reward for many years yet. I know as much. So, Voshki of the Black Bane Kindred Mercenaries. Do you accept the offer of this contract?’

Voshki could not hide the predatory glint in her eye, focused on the sunlight beyond Shoushan’s chambers.

She knew the answer without having to think or hesitate. She spoke the words she had never thought she would be able to after all these years.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 11:00:43 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 : A Promise Relinquished
« Reply #148 on: November 27, 2020, 07:19:02 AM »
There are several issues with diction & syntax, but overall I have found this scene a much easier read than your previous scenes. I think the flow and pace are pretty good which helps the overall reading experience.

This might just be me, but when reading the Voshki scenes I am reminded about the Faceless Men from Game of Throne. The theme of a 'nameless' vagabond trained to be a lethal killer is just a bit too familiar for me. As I said this is probably just me though.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past : A Promise Relinquished
« Reply #149 on: November 27, 2020, 10:35:45 AM »
There are several issues with diction & syntax, but overall I have found this scene a much easier read than your previous scenes. I think the flow and pace are pretty good which helps the overall reading experience.

This might just be me, but when reading the Voshki scenes I am reminded about the Faceless Men from Game of Throne. The theme of a 'nameless' vagabond trained to be a lethal killer is just a bit too familiar for me. As I said this is probably just me though.

Hi Alienscar. Flow and Pace is definitely something I'm working on currently with the manuscript. I've made a *lot* of changes and revisions since I've posted a lot of these scenes, though I know it's probably far from perfect.

I do have some problem spots - Offering in particular is a bit of a thorn at the moment. I actually did do away with those 12 paragraphs as you suggested, as I realized it was just too disconnected from the rest of the chapter. So I'll need to make revisions to the beginning of the scene that happens afterward as well.

This might just be me, but when reading the Voshki scenes I am reminded about the Faceless Men from Game of Throne. The theme of a 'nameless' vagabond trained to be a lethal killer is just a bit too familiar for me. As I said this is probably just me though.

Your opinion about Voshki is understandable and I definitely see the points you've made. I do think, however, that any similar storyline about someone being taken off the street and trained to kill throughout their existence is going to have a similar storyline that can be considered cliché - in the beginning - at least it would depend on the author.

Voshki definitely does have that cliché beginning to her character arc. I do have plans for her to evolve out of that and become something far more unique. She is certainly in the anti-hero / antagonist field at the moment, but should she succeed in her mission and earn her freedom - she'll come to a crossroads as her life will become something more than to eke out a living murdering others. She'll still probably find a reason or two, of course  ;), but things will soon change for her very rapidly - until she becomes one of the protagonist.

So what I think I'm going to do is gradually post the first three chapters in chronological order and see how people feel about them. I'm sure not too many people will come providing feedback, but I have a few second opinions outside the forum and any criticism / advice is appreciated from anyone.

At the moment I'm focused on whether there is enough driving force in the first three chapters. Depending on feedback, I may need to make some adjustments on that front before moving forward.

To give a better idea of what to expect:

Offering - Voshki's POV

The Lantern's Flame - Ara's POV

A Child of Sun and Moon - Kendal's POV

Not many will probably be familiar with Kendal as the last time he was mentioned in any of this material, he was an infant child being sought out by Erasyl and his agents in The Tapestries of Faith. Quite a different storyline we've reached at this point ha-ha.

I thought The Embers of the Past could use some more unique perspectives and make the character cast stand out more with some interesting additions.

A pair of supporting characters will also eventually join the narrative, but I've decided that I cannot give them all origin chapters as I think I've already reached maximum capacity to fit in the first act - 25,000 words and still drive the narrative forward. 
« Last Edit: November 27, 2020, 12:18:09 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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