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Author Topic: A Sanctum of Swords: Art of Death - Excerpt  (Read 28992 times)

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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #300 on: May 11, 2022, 08:51:26 AM »
Manuscript Update:

The whole manuscript is sitting around 77,000 words as of current. That leaves me 13,000 words before hitting my main goal of 90,000 words in total. Considering how the chapters are flowing for me at the moment, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the completed draft goes a few thousand words over 90,000. That would be fine in either case.

Three chapters and the epilogue remain. I'm on course to meet my deadline.



« Last Edit: July 22, 2022, 05:17:40 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #301 on: May 19, 2022, 03:21:35 PM »




Quick progress update:
Passed the 80,000 word mark yesterday
I've an estimated 6,500 words before hitting my minimal word count of 90,000.
I'm on track to hand the manuscript off to the editor early next month.
These final three chapters are going to be action-heavy, with intermittent quiet scenes to help wrap up the character arcs to continue into the next installment.

I am super content that I'm going to make my deadline this time, haha!

Thanks guys for stopping by as always!
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #302 on: May 23, 2022, 08:56:19 AM »
Approximately 1,400 word count to reach the 90,000 word mark. Estimation that the manuscript will reach about 95,000 upon being completed. I'm aiming to finish this draft sometime this week in time to meet with the editor.

Will keep you guys updated!






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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #303 on: May 30, 2022, 04:45:03 PM »
Just a brief update!

Completed my manuscript this afternoon! It clocks in at about 102,000 words!

Just in time for the appointment with the editor  :).





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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords & The Embers of the Past
« Reply #304 on: June 8, 2022, 08:49:33 AM »
Still in the rough planning stages...


The Embers of the Past Narrative Summary

The year is 889 A.H. nearing the end of an era, The Ascension of Kings. Unbeknownst to the realms of Khios continent, a war rages amid the shadows, fought between the Children of the Sun and hidden blades in the dark¬–the enigmatic assassin Kabal, the Ashen Blades of Su’khan Kingdom. A battle waged throughout the buried remains of the broken world of Thearus and beyond the boundaries of the mortal sphere.

A Golden Valley lay besieged, a goddess of a broken pantheon resurrected, and the fractured aspect of the Goddess of Death slain by her greatest disciples turned penitent.
Fifteen years have passed since the battle at the Golden Valley, a fragile peace settling upon the heartland and the Southern Wastes. Shattered by long defeat and fractured after the Sanctum Queen’s death–the diminished Ashen Blades collapse from power. Their tattered remnants disperse amid the Southern Wastes, choosing their death as a geopolitical presence to counteract tyranny instead of warring over the embers of what once was.

Still wounded from the Ashen Blades’ surprise assault throughout the Golden Valley, the Children of the Sun greet another era to blaze like the coming dawn. Their God King having survived the attempt to overthrow his civilization, Erasyl, the Last of the Sun Caller Kings, has cemented an alliance between the Steppe hordes of the U’skar Qi and the Carth Dominion. Their armies quickly approach legion without number. The Children of the Sun and the Qi Confederation launch their first spearheads into the neighboring lands.

As the Alliance of the Golden Sun continues to mount victory upon victory, amounting to conquests on a scale rarely seen before, unknown champions again rise to combat the threat to greater Khios. Children of the lesser kingdoms, obscured by their humble origins.

Sworn enemies of the Carth Dominion since its ancient inception, the Architect Kings of Akopia reinstate Adofo’s place in the royal family. A veteran of many wars and survivor of the battle at the Golden Valley, Adofo finds himself promoted to the rank of Guardian Consul. A rank only second to that held by the kindred he had long thought dead over the passing decade. His elder brother, Nishan, the Scarred Child of Akshera, and the grim, unyielding defender of the Akopian Republic.

Their blades reunited beneath the banners of their homeland a second time, the Akopian brothers prepare to not only whether the approaching storm from the Golden East, but to seek its ultimate defeat.
They must forge another alliance to stand a chance of gaining the upper hand. A brotherhood sworn by the blood of the Dominion’s unyielding enemies, unwilling to bow their knee before the Children of the Sun.

The great and powerful send call to arms out across the continent, honored by the courageous, idyllic, and steadfast scattered throughout the continent’s four corners.
Yet upon one such missive being returned to Akopia to announce an ally of unknown origins, far across the Alabaster River to the north, hope stirs for the coalition. For the Children of Irothis have never kept boundless numbers, but only the blood of heroes, seeking to create legacies yet to be tested.

As the Ascension of Kings crumbles into anarchy and total war, does the continent resound to another era, a Sanctum of Swords…


Dramatis Personae

Children of Irothis & Old Myria:
Aiman, the Light of the West
Azat Zakarian – the Black Wolf of Irothis
Hazan Sadoyan – Queen of the Old Myrian Empire
Krikor of the Veiled Mountain
Vahe of Grand Damiyra

Children of the Carth Dominion:
Erasyl Sar Amun
Tabia Sar Amun
Siham Sar Amun
Shoushan Sar Amun
Voshki Sar Amun

Children of the U’skar Qi:
Sarkis, the Black Tiger of the U’skar Qi

Children of the Southern Wastes:
Gadara of Suann
Zagir of the Withered Fang
Faris
Anoush

Children of Akopia:
Nishan Akopian, the Scarred Child of Akshera
Adofo Akopian, Guardian Consul of Akopia
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords & The Embers of the Past (Status Update!)
« Reply #305 on: July 5, 2022, 11:27:30 PM »
A quick update!

- I've completed the Manuscript Evaluation with my editor and received the assessment last week (Good news, not a long list of problems - though the issues that are there will require passes across the whole manuscript).
- I've mulled over the feedback and have laid out a strategic plan to tackle the issues.
       - This includes:
       - Ornate and overwritten language (Descriptions, dialogue, scene setting)
       - Clarification on some stakes / character motivations
       - Dialing down an overbalance of world building & scene setting on a scene by scene basis
- I believe those are the main issues - which are all tied together in a way. Revising in one area will mean revising in other issue related areas as well. I think this process will be straight forward, basically I'm going to start cutting away all the excess on the rough draft to reveal what I hope to be the refinement underneath!

- I've made a little progress into Embers of the Past with the creation of two chapters!

- I'm redirecting focus back A Sanctum of Swords again, however, to make the revisions. I've gotten through the first two scenes of Chapter One and am making progress through the final scene at the moment.

In other news - the illustration that I've long promised to coordinate with my cover artist on is set to start this month!

Curious about what region or aspect of Thearus will be depicted? You'll find out soon enough  ;D!

« Last Edit: July 5, 2022, 11:30:01 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords & The Embers of the Past CH 1 - Excerpt
« Reply #306 on: July 7, 2022, 08:53:34 AM »
Hi everyone,

I'm currently making a legion of revisions on chapter one and as a consequence, some more nuanced narrative changes and other passes on the material will mean that the website excerpt will need to be updated  :). Just wanted to share a brief excerpt from what I've been working on.

Hope you guys like it!

############

Hidden beyond Akara’s gates, Enigma descended upon a lonely path into the buried realms underneath the Southern Wastes. As the lengthened minutes passed into an hour of wandering–daylight’s radiance appeared nothing more than a pinpoint of light the way he had come.

Adapted to the claustrophobic conditions often found in the underground, Enigma navigated himself through an impregnable darkness by natural intuition and memory. Such a rare ability he had always regarded with no subtle amount of pride. An Ashen Blade could spend their entire lives treading the broken world beneath the surface without mastering such a complex technique. 

The Banished Blade’s voice resounded inside the cavernous road, speaking for the first time since encountering Amunet beside his disciple. “Advance with caution. Here in the black shroud beneath the Southern Wastes does radiant life bloom and shine once more.”

An ethereal luminescence emanated from farther up ahead, painting the caverns with a dim sapphire glow. At the path's end, a door carved from obsidian and onyx stone barred the way forward.

A blooming grove of cerulean petals draped a craggy stone passage¬. Each came attached to an emerald and ruby leafed fauna, somehow prospering around the forgotten tombs known only as the Mausoleum of Shades. Earthen walls narrowed sharply ahead along the branching path between the Mausoleum gates and the tunnel Enigma stood inside of.

Enigma halted around the burial tomb’s outskirts where the blooming flowers formed a natural perimeter. “Lantern Stalks, always shining in the most morbid places. A ray of moonlight found amid the graves of the honored dead.”

His master called out to him. “And here you stand. A child of the Goddess of Death and her most devoted disciple. And you appear hesitant to come any nearer to her revered house.”

Could the Banished Blade have spoken the truth? A rhythmic pulse inside of his wrists betrayed as much. An unfamiliar sensation that made him curious more than anything behind the source of his growing dread.

Irrational minds born from emotions of fear and terror were only human nature. An inability to comprehend the inexplicable and understand the mysteries behind what often caused such phenomena had always haunted mortal kind. And Enigma stood as no different in that regard.

He realized that maybe the source of his terror stemmed not from uncertainty, but his possession of foresight enough to know that Zahira sought to test him inside the Mausoleum.

He breathed in the hanging mist creeping around the burial grounds, approaching the Mausoleum of Shades through the overgrown pathway. Cerulean petals sprouted into full bloom with every patient step taken through the narrow passage. He heard fauna petals crumpling back upon themselves in the wake of his passing.

Enigma approached the mausoleum gate, entering through the dark shroud, waiting for him within the shadow it cast. A natural barrier created from lustrous volcanic stone, black like charred earth after a magma river’s passing. An unnatural scarring created by human hands appeared all that marked the weathered stone for anything of importance.

An illustration carved deep upon the obsidian, Enigma uncovered with a second thorough look. A familiar symbol, masterfully worked upon the soot-black stone, maybe when the whole of the gate appeared smooth long ago–swirled across the length of the gate like a grand sigil.

It depicted an unadorned gladius, a short blade of simple design, but beautiful in that form and grim function. The blade appeared reversed, the pommel nearly reaching the cavern ceiling, and the blade pointed toward the earth beneath Enigma’s feet. A serpent coiled its length around the blade’s hilt, tail ending near the blade tip, while bearing a fanged maw above the weapon’s pommel.

A sigil of the Ashen Blades.

He didn’t need to speak a command or find some hidden lever amid the Lantern Stalks' glowing groves. A loud sound of ancient mechanisms grinding against one another deafened him. And the earth beneath his feet quaked from unrelenting force. The claustrophobic passage behind him collapsed, the walls crushed into each other, sounding like calamity.

And the mausoleum gate sundered open before him, splitting neatly apart into two doors. Enigma braced amid the tectonic force, peering into the widening gap between the gate, opening just enough to permit a single file entrance into the ancient burial ground.

A tremulous breath came shuddering out of the dark beyond the gate. A sound made by something inhuman and driven with undisguised aggression. He assumed a combat stance, removing his gladius from the scabbard on his waist with a flick of the wrist.

Dominion's End. A blade made famous not by immaculate craftsmanship, but a storied legacy woven by its wielder’s own hand.

He listened, each unfamiliar breath rattling the bones beneath his skin. His heartbeat quickened inside the chest. Yet Enigma ignored the warning sign of another perilous encounter. A hand clutched around the leather-wrapped hilt of his blade. He waited, until realizing the mausoleum guardian awaited Enigma inside.

The Banished Blade spoke. “Your gauntlet begins. It’s been some years since you’ve met such a tough challenge. Show me what you remember of your training during my physical absence.”

Enigma sprang into motion, charging headlong into the black shroud beyond the mausoleum gate. All turned to deepest night, until the dark receded before what appeared to be torchlight, burning inside the burial tomb. Flaming brightness clawed up fractured and unadorned stone tiles, revealing sarcophagi fashioned from rough ebony stone. Each casket came with a gilded serpentine filigree, surrounded by grand bouquets of Lavender-leafed flora related to the beloved family of roses.

Lavender night, Enigma remembered, surrounding each casket on the risen daises like an ocean of undying remembrance. He counted a score of unburied graves at a glance, finding the same venomous fauna left in offering around the base of each one.

A select handful of Ashen Blades had already entered the Mausoleum of Shades before he had achieved the feat. Just recently too, judging from the Lavender Night bouquets embellishing the graves inside the burial tomb.

From just ahead, Enigma heard urgent shouting between a handful of voices. The telltale sound of steel tested against steel followed them, heading toward Enigma by either chance or fate. Their shouts coordinated a cohesive struggle against that creature breathing hard enough to make the bones around his inner core tremble from within.

EXCERPT END
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Offline Myen'Tal

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A Sanctum of Swords: Status Update!
« Reply #307 on: July 22, 2022, 05:23:23 PM »
Quick status update:

Work continues apace on the revisions for the manuscript - still early into the manuscript itself, but have devoted time to revising each chapter until I'm convinced enough improvements have been made in that section until the coming copyedit.

I am aiming for Q2 2023 launch for A Sanctum of Swords!

As for the website - a few more additions have been made and more are underway.

Firstly - there is now an entirely excerpt from the revised chapter one on the website! It is an action-oriented scene that will introduce you to Enigma and a little bit about the Ashen Blades. You can look at my signature and find out where you can read that  :).

Also - the illustration is underway.

I won't be spoiling anymore until it is completed and added to the website - but it's coming together in the early stages!
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Current Revision pre-copy edit:

Chapter 3: A Dominion of the Mind - Excerpt

A hearth fire’s light illuminated the chamber, forming shadows that played upon the sandstone walls. Siham tracked the darkness between the alabaster pillars jutting from the room’s four corners. She studied the hanging vines creeping through the ceiling’s minuscule cracks.

Another quiet night in the fabled Heaven’s Gate, the Children of the Sun’s guest wing, housed inside the royal palace. Outside her chamber door, everything seemed tranquil amid the silence.

An impulsive flame sparked inside Siham Sar Amun’s mind. A dark temptation luring her toward unfamiliar thoughts. Hands coiled in anticipation, searching for a sharpened blade to hold on to. Her mind raced, glimpsing herself falling on the blade.

Her fading dreams were so lucid, they almost seemed like actual memories. And when her mind ushered her back into the mundane world, the warm chamber she sat in appeared bereft.

She languished here, an apparition bound to the place of her torment. Agitated, she breathed. A successful dispelling of the tension wound up inside of her chest. She relaxed upon her opulent palanquin, draped in silk sheets of various shades and several fleece-stuffed pillows.

Siham breathed again, looking up to watch her newly betrothed. A royal prince born from foreign blood-ties. An ascendant warlord’s firstborn son on the U’skar Qi steppes, by the name of Sarkis. Dikran, the Black Tiger of the U’skar Qi’s appointed heir.

He leaned back in a sturdy leather chair, head rested in an open palm and elbow braced against the seat’s extended arm. Hazel eyes burned inside a chiseled face, flawed like blemished granite.

A deep scarring streaked across Sarkis’ face like a fractured lightning bolt. The healed over wound spread down from the right ear to the jawbone. Any surrounding skin and muscle nearest to the bone had healed like cracked earth. Matte black hair bundled into a lengthened ponytail came to rest between his shoulder-blades.
He found little solace in the guest chamber’s comforts.

Sarkis looked up without warning, finding Siham watching him. Her breath became caught in her lungs, her chest burning from within by that unwavering gaze.

He smiled, a ferocious aspect to the expression, but nothing like the violent kind. The royal prince seemed a primal and un-tameable soul, like the harsh lands that had forged him. And yet, Siham found something else in that roguish smile.

An undisguised empathy bordering on caring, enough to guilt her quiet protest of their marriage.

Sarkis mirrored her method of relaxed breathing, speaking over the crackling of burning wood. “You’ve nothing to speak with me about, Siham?”

“Should there be much to speak about between unacquainted souls, paired without thought for marriage?”

He shrugged, heaving broad shoulders. “Well, you summoned me behind closed doors, remember? And I’m here by your request alone. We’ve spent hours watching the evening fade into dusk and again into night, standing still while time continues outside our chamber door.”

Siham considered deceiving the royal prince with a blatant lie. Or maybe a barbed tirade would make him relent? After a moment’s thought, she settled on sharing the simple truth instead.

Her hushed answer seemed to resound inside the quiet room, loud enough that maybe the entirety of Heaven’s Gate heard her confession.

“I would refuse your hand.” She admitted. “You’re an honorable man, royal prince, and a noble-minded soul, but I would refuse your hand…”

The U’skarite prince tilted his head at an angle. He leaned forward in his chair, assuming the appearance of living artwork posing to be replicated on a canvas.

He didn’t respond immediately, considerate about many factors from the way he appeared irritated at himself or the unfamiliar foreign tongue he spoke with.

“You’ve made no grievous error, prince Sarkis. You’ve spoken nothing to turn me against you, but I won’t deceive you about how I feel in my heart about our betrothal.”

Another smile, possessed of warmth enough to banish the fear and anxiety Sarkis must’ve noticed in her eyes.

“My burning heart,” the prince said. “We’re behind closed doors, alone in the chamber prepared just for us. Your parents aren’t here to deny your voice or your kindred, the Children of the Sun, here to misjudge you. Is there something that maybe I never thought to offer?

“You appear to be seeking something through our meetings together. You only need to tell me what a prince must do to be worthy of your offered hand. I can see you’re not a woman to buy with wealth and power, like your immediate family appears to be interested in by no unnoticeable margin.”

Laughter slipped from her mouth, breaking her façade of stone countenance. A feeling of being relieved surged from within her chest, inexplicable like the sudden contentment it brought.

“Isn’t that the one currency available to a warrior prince?”

Sarkis matched her amused laughter at a barking volume, but didn’t disagree. As their mirth died together, another moment’s silence sobered their minds.

“And what of devotion, given time enough to learn about each other? Maybe a commitment to fulfill something you wish about? I was born with a warrior’s heritage, but the trust of kin, oath-bound brothers, and significant others cannot be demanded.”

Siham arched her brow at him. “You truly believe that trust cannot be demanded?”

He shrugged again. “Something that sacred not given freely is just an illusion of being trusted or loved… a lie the weak tell themselves for a fleeting contentment, never fated to last beyond the next reunion.”

“And what if the truth behind my rejection was that… there was nothing you could do? What would be your answer then, Sarkis?”

Sarkis contemplated for a lengthened period. He seemed prepared to admit his own suspicions. “Your heart beats for another. I’ve heard a thousand women pass on weaker men before. I’m familiar with that old excuse, but that explains your kindred wanting to sell your hand to me–if your soulmate might not reach their standard of honor and nobility. Is that the truth of it?”

Siham’s heart skipped a beat, and she paused, her thoughts uncertain of how the prince seemed so confident behind his guessing.

He interrupted before she said anything else. “It doesn’t matter though, does it? I won’t trouble you for personal matters of the heart you’ve been keeping before I even thought to offer my hand. Leave the truth behind your soulmate unspoken.”

Her breath became locked within her chest again. She said nothing.

Sarkis climbed out of the ornate chair, appearing more a bear than an ordinary man, even among royal warrior stock. He cast an eclipsing shadow over her, tall like a giant, an unconquerable warrior. Maybe indefatigable too, she wondered in the back of her mind.

“A royal prince doesn’t need to stop the world for just a betrothed. Not for the finest beauty said to be in all of this Golden Valley. I’ve little need to complain when a thousand other ladies and heiresses wait to compete for the hand of the Black Tiger Prince… yet before I must make that crucial decision, I hope that Lady Siham Sar Amun may change her mind not too far from now.”

He cradled their engagement ring between the fingers of his other hand, freeing the sapphire gem encrusted jewel from his finger. He cast the gem into the burning hearth, appearing calmed when the action was done. She knew the true reason behind his relief, that the uncertainty behind his proposal had reached a decisive conclusion.

He approached the guest chamber entrance, an oaken door that creaked loudly whenever anyone opened it. When he stepped out into the greater corridor beyond, he said. “I hope you don’t despise me for pleading my offer. Another prince or king would have burned cities and conquered kingdoms worthy enough for you to reign over. I guessed correctly that none of that would impress you.

“Yet I can tell every time our eyes meet, Siham, that you would come to love life on the open steppes of the U’skar. Should you ever become curious, it would honor me to receive your visit at Xura.”

He shut the door closed behind him, leaving Siham alone in the guest chamber with just her own thoughts…

*Scene End*
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Offline Myen'Tal

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A Sanctum of Swords: The Golden Valley Illustration Update
« Reply #309 on: August 9, 2022, 11:49:10 AM »
Just a small update:

Finished a collaboration with my illustrator to depict Gorum: The Golden Valley. You can find the updated artwork added to the website in my signature  :).

I am looking to acquire another illustration in November. I will pitch three or four battles I've depicted in the past and see which one the illustrator and I land on.

All that aside, please enjoy these 1080p resolution versions of the illustration!



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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: The Golden Valley Illustration Update
« Reply #310 on: August 20, 2022, 02:30:17 PM »
Just a small update - read my profile signature!  ;D

I am knee-deep in revisions to meet the deadline of another manuscript evaluation, and things are going well. Taking the opportunity to make the suggested changes, and also shore up some narrative elements and the connection between story marks to make the chapter and scene transitions more seamless.

I am also planning on acquiring another cover art illustration soon - but it's too soon to declare the specifics yet!

I've updated the summaries in the 'Realms of Khios' section on the website as well with new material and my web admin's help to update the site. There should be only one more post to make for Khios, detailing the western kingdoms of the continent. That is still in the works.

To summarize, things are progressing!
« Last Edit: August 24, 2022, 06:37:49 AM by Myen'Tal »
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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Chapter 9 - Last of His Blood Excerpt
« Reply #311 on: September 6, 2022, 08:05:12 AM »
Reorganization, re-visioning, and re-imaginging of the rough draft thus far. Still making good progress toward my next appointment!

Chapter 9 - Last of His Blood Excerpt


Kalb spoke into the brooding storm, his voice deafened by constant thunder and rain. “A thought occurred to me just now, little Magar. You’ve never mentioned your homeland to either me or the other Bloodsworn. Adofo and I have been remiss to tell you in earlier years, but it’s an ancient tradition among the palace guards of Heaven’s Gate.”

Standing beside the scarred brute of a man, Magar braced behind a round shield. Gaze locked forward alongside his brothers and sisters, their unit maintained a vigilant guard against the impregnable dark ahead.

“You’re wanting an answer to that right now?” He spared a glance up over his shoulder at the Bloodsworn’s infamous champion. “We’re about to be beset upon from the shadows. And I’ve a feeling our blood will be what stains the cobblestones for another several years.”

Kalb nodded. “A commendable reason to think of home and kindred from the lives we’ve sacrificed many moons ago. You know what, don’t tell me. I’d wager you’re a Sarunite, born amid the weeping realms of the Crescent Moon. It would explain why you never appear to mind the rain. Tell me I don’t have the truth of it.”

A pealing thunder quaked the Ardent Spire around him, but Magar took little notice through the torrential downpour. And lightning burst from morbid skies, unveiling half-flooded boulevards littered with both the ancient and recent dead.

A cautious smile graced his lips, despite the perilous situation they had become mired in. A team of ten courageous men and women, drawn from the ranks of the Zar’qin Guard’s most storied veterans.

“You’ve missed the mark a little,” he admitted. “You came near to the truth, though. I am born of Sarunite blood, the ancient kind known for retaining influential esteem enough to dictate a civilization’s uncertain path. Sarunthar kingdom has always been my pride and Sarune, the City of the Crescent Moon, my beating heart.”

A burning torch kept in hand, Magar warded off the black shroud ahead with an erratic firelight. The Bloodsworn fell in around their appointed commanders. A tight-knit formation of interlocked shields, brandishing spearheads and scimitar blades gleaming beneath the torchlight.

“I didn’t miss the mark by too wide a margin.” Kalb said. “You’re a survivor, like the myriad of peoples that inhabit the Khiosian heartland.”

Kalb just pointed up ahead with his chin, picking out insubstantial figures of human shape, creeping out of the darkness. At last, the foe appeared confident enough to assault them amid the ruins of the Ardent Spire’s abandoned sprawl.

A whistling hail of steel-tipped bolts came raining down around the Bloodsworn, punching through round shields and rattling armor with deceptive strength. A pair of their number fell, struck down in the hail.

An oncoming tide of apparitions, near to falling upon them in a matter of moments.

Kalb addressed the retired Zar’qin with an uplifting voice. “And know that you spill your blood and exhaust your lives beside true brothers and sisters. We are bound by our caste and the oath of blood we’ve sworn to one another. I won’t idle in the face of death, break through their ranks or die fighting, my kindred!”

A sound like thunder roaring into hills over yonder deafened the ears, the furious cries of the Bloodsworn upon their breaking of ranks. And the bludgeoning cacophony of sundered armor and steel hammered against steel had Magar’s heart singing inside the chest.

He swept his spear out in front of him with a scything motion. The wooden haft cracked upon making contact with a black apparition. It’s half-realized shape staggered, reeling back into the abyss.

Yet the black-robed warrior rebounded on a moment’s notice, lunging again for Magar’s throat. The spearhead punched home, rattling the foe’s spine. He had struck the assassin hard enough to lift the body out of the air for but a moment, before letting it slide back into the rainwater. Yet another misbegotten soul fallen inside the Ardent Spire.

Hastening to tear the weapon free, Magar pounded the cobblestone underfoot. Rainwater soaked the leather through, but he kept a guiding firelight in hand, bringing deliverance where he could to embattled comrades.

Another spearhead cleaved an assassin’s skull, sending the black robed warrior falling to the stone. A kindred not of blood emerged out of the night, falling in around the burning torchlight to fight beside him.

He spied other fires burning in the night, scattered amid the abandoned district at the Old Ruin’s entrance. War cries echoed about the darkness, the sound of death dogging their footsteps, meted out by the violence of the sword.

“My Second,” her warning betrayed an encroaching foe, sweeping to assault Magar from behind.

Leaping ahead, she caught the attacking glaive on a quick parry. Reactive, the female Bloodsworn feinted, stepping around the dead to keep her shield presented at all times. She lunged, quicker than her foe expected, punching her shield out toward the Ashen Blade.

Magar scrabbled around his kindred’s right flank. A feathered bolt hit the female Zar, kicking a leg out from underneath her stance, like a ragdoll, ruddy blood spraying from the wound.

And the quiet glaive, wielded between leather gloved fingers of midnight, sliced through storm and rain. Magar watched the Zar’qin that had saved him topple to the rain-soaked cobblestone, bleeding and dead.

A duck underneath an arced sweep, brought Magar behind the foe. A flurry of blows blunted the coming counters, rapid reverse strikes he blocked in quick succession. The midnight clad assassin stepped past, meeting his opponent again with a turn on his heel. Magar drew first-blood, slamming the narrow spike embossed on the round shield, through the Sukhanite’s chest.

Hunkered down, Magar smashed his shoulder into the defensive weapon, ramming the spike out of the assassin’s back. He jarred the shield free, stepping back, the spearhead clutched in the his other hand thrust clean through the Sukhanite’s neck on both flanks.

A pained cry echoed out of the dark. He turned, spying another Bloodsworn emerge into the torch’s flickering light. He staggered, an unerring feathered bolt embedded in the Zar’qin’s chest. His brethren’s remains spun away, out of reach, hitting the flooded cobblestone path with an audible impact.

A sound like footfalls pattering upon stone crept up behind him. Magar retreated, sweeping back on one foot, dodging a Sukhanite leaping to ambush her marked prey.

A furious limb, tucked behind a cream silk sleeve at the elbow, intercepted the female Sukhanite. Appearing out of the gloom, Kalb committed, breaking bone to splinter-fragments beneath his crushing fist. The scarred brute pounced again, splitting the skull in twain beneath the weighted blow of his scimitar.

Animated, Magar slid behind Kalb, warding off another pair of Ashen Blades from his rearguard. He deflected a stabbing blade on the broad turn of his shield. A rapid bite from the spearhead gouged another Ashen Blade’s left eye. Blood seeped from the wound, even as his compatriot parried another strike aimed in his direction.

The southern warrior staggered on the backfoot, a third strike through the throat bringing the assassin onto both knees. A thick tide of blood lashed Magar’s weapon arm upon the spear’s exit through the spinal cord.

Turned around on a heel, Kalb back-handed the remaining Ashen Blade with his round shield’s broad face. Its embossed spike breaking the sternum, the fading corpse snared upon the jutting steel. Kalb removed the remains with a dismissive flick of the wrist, letting the body plummet into ruddy rainwater.

A woman’s unfamiliar voice spoke commands above the heightened sounds of a furious skirmish. A quiet sound, an allure deepening every note, burrowing dark tendrils of temptation deeper inside the mind.

A female Ashen Blade garbed in the midnight black robes of her syndicate order. It did little to conceal the muscle compacted inside her slender frame. Her physical shape appeared at odds with the assassin’s lithe build. A physicality forged amid unforgiving climates, but packed into a frame that hadn’t naturally evolved quite enough to bear it.

A pair of wicked scars, born from twin blades, crossed either of her eyes. Neat diagonal cuts streaking from opposing directions, meeting at the bridge of her nose. It appeared to be the only blemish to mark her caramel skin. A simple braid of lustrous hair, black like a raven’s feathers, arched up and down the length of her back.

A midnight black wooden haft, the woman gripped between leather-gloved fingers. The spiked pommel rested at the polearm’s end, giving the weapon a height almost capable of rivaling its wielder. A curving blade head of Suhari steel seated upon the weaponhaft loomed above her like a reaper wielding a scythe.

A glaive forged in the image of a waning crescent moon, except a jagged teeth pattern ran along the blade's back-end. The weapon emanated that tarnished jade hue wielded by the Children of the Southern Wastes since time immemorial.

“Leave the pair of Zar men where they are, my kindred blades.” The woman spoke quietly, but Magar could’ve been deceived that her presence didn’t resound within the Ardent Spire’s depths. “See to the other warriors of the Zar and put an end to their misery…”

A pair of dark jade-green eyes looked up at them, taking a moment’s appraising of both Magar, then Kalb. Through the natural squint of her gaze from the pair of neat scars running over both eyelids, the Sukhanite female appeared a little impressed.

“Your blades make clean kills,” she admitted, “despite the little worth of the ‘indentured’ warriors wielding them. However, I can give credit where credit is due.”

Kalb shrugged, hawking a thick wade of saliva into the ruddy rain coming up to their boots. “I wouldn’t be that bold to play at arrogance, Sukhanite. You’ve maybe had more warriors die leaping out of the shadows than you would have by making a direct assault.”

Zagir shrugged, “the dead aren’t listening to our challenge. You Zar’qin bar our destined path. Stand aside and I’ll put an end to our contest of blades. Go ahead if not, pit your steel against mine if you think that fate will favor either of you. A duel of words won’t spare the lives of our kin battling each other even as we speak.”

Magar said, “humor me just once, assassin. Do you Ashen Blades keep names for yourselves? A simple Zar’qin would like to know.”

The woman tilted her head a fraction higher to meet his curious eyes. She studied him back, finding both Kalb and himself unbowed and unbroken. A mischievous smile played upon pursed lips, but an unbridled malice glinting in her gaze betrayed an anticipation for a contest of blades fought without honor and remorse.

“I am Zagir,” the Ashen Blade admitted. “A disciple of the Withered Fang and a champion of its notorious kabal.”

A moment passed between the three warriors, the tension heightening like a storm reaching a peak of destruction. A burden of anxiety made the heart quicken inside the chest. Scarred fingers tightened around the spear haft with a vice-grip.

And the endless rain continued pouring down into the Ardent Spire, buried deep inside Tushik’s bowels. It became difficult enough to look ahead that Zagir appeared to fade back into the light-less depths.

Zagir called out. “Honor my blade with your skill.”

With a cock of the head, Magar looked up at Kalb. A communication made through quiet, knowing expressions. He couldn’t guess at the abhorrent look worn on the bearish warrior’s marred features. An unwavering disgust, maybe? Or just a grim acceptance of their own demise?

Kalb approached their foe with an overbearing presence of strength. Magar readied the weapons in either hand and did likewise, warding away a potential assault on his brother’s left flank. A pair of battle-hardened eyes tracked Zagir of the Withered Fang’s casual retreat away from both opponents.

He counted internally against his own volition, battle instincts noting each step the Ashen Blade took for every several made by the Bloodsworn. And each footfall brought Zagir a little more into a threatening stance. Standing proudly in retreat, her physical frame curled and coiled like a wound-up tool until she prowled ahead of them like a feline.

An alpha predator prepared to end her hunt.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Quick Update
« Reply #312 on: September 23, 2022, 09:25:30 AM »
Quick Update here - post-manuscript evaluation revisions have reached 50%.

I’ve reached Chapter 12 for my current revisions, and am planning to finish the chapter before too long.

Word count is constant flux between 100,000 - and 110,000 during the process so far. I've streamlined and replaced a lot of the content in older chapters. I've chosen to entirely replace a few chapters as well in some cases and have made additional ones too.

I am adhering as close to the current overall narrative arc where possible. My focus isn't on creating new plot devices, but fleshing out the depth, context, stakes, and character narratives already established in the rough draft. Basically, my focus is on creating a more expansive narrative off the - skeletal bones of the rough draft.

Dialogue and dialogue tags, scene-by-scene streamlining of descriptions, and a revamp of sentence structure line by line are other efforts I am focused on from my part. And then the editor can go on what I've learned and implemented when the rest of the editing process is underway.

I am also placing a much larger emphasis on character narrative and interaction. This includes an expansion on the perspectives, narratives, and roles of both support and secondary characters to strengthen their overall presence and mark on the manuscript as a whole.

Also - keep watch on this thread between mid-October and November - another illustration is soon to get underway!

That is all for now!
« Last Edit: September 23, 2022, 09:42:21 AM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Another Update *Drumroll*
« Reply #313 on: October 14, 2022, 05:36:19 PM »
Another website update - near to the final round of additions to the Khios continent kingdom summaries.

Illustration #2 is set to begin next week - so get ready!

The focus will be on the Battle at Reaper's Lantern!

There will be a few more additional updates to the website coming too - a gallery in the works, and some changes in the World of Thearus section in general.

As for the current revision milestone - I have progressed from Chapter 12 to Chapter 14.

And have definitely crossed the halfway point at this junction.

There is a minor issue of the Crimson Bluffs not being given its name in bold above the summary, but will soon be fixed.

Will need one more addition to the Khios summaries for Rynithia.
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Offline Sir_Godspeed

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  • "Bees. My God" was an obscure Batman quote.
Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Quick Update
« Reply #314 on: October 15, 2022, 02:20:20 PM »
Just saw the world map, really cool!

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Quick Update
« Reply #315 on: October 15, 2022, 06:11:34 PM »
Thank you, Sir_Godspeed! The artist I worked with did wonders with the information and sketch I made  :) .
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Status and Website Update
« Reply #316 on: November 15, 2022, 04:14:11 PM »
Another status update on A Sanctum of Swords' production cycle:

- The revision process has advanced from Chapter 14 into Chapter 16 (new addition to the manuscript!). Everything continues apace, but requires a large amount of time investment. Continuing to make progress one step at a time!

- There are about 9 remaining chapters to be revised before completion.

- Manuscript is currently sitting at a 111,000 word count.

- Illustration #2 is completed! This is now live on my website (signature) that has received a large update that is now live as well. You will find a revamping of artwork throughout the lore section and a brand new gallery as well.

Marching onward toward completion!

« Last Edit: November 15, 2022, 04:19:37 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Art of Death - Excerpt
« Reply #317 on: November 18, 2022, 09:27:08 PM »
Just thought I'd share a brief teaser to show where revisions are currently. Here you go!

6
Art of Death - Excerpt


A metaphysical pulse rippled through the deep places beneath Akara Sanctuary. A stirring of something beyond realities, borne out of nothingness. Enigma approached the Gates of Dusk buried in the roots of the Southern Wastes.

He became a passing shadow along the cobblestone road snaking through Akara’s heart. An endless procession of torches burning along either side of the path guided his descent.

He had entered the sanctuary as an invader. An inanimate blade guided by Zahira’s hand to reap the sands of another mortal life. A blade long severed from its master’s hand.

A pivot of the heel turned him onto the route leading farther into the subterranean depths. Another push off the back foot diverted Enigma from the roadway ascending into the royal district above Akara’s terraced design. A collection of compact palace-citadels, their foundations carved out of the earth like gargantuan slabs, woven through with granite and other natural stone.

He turned about, facing the path ahead into the unfathomable depths. A cautious feeling came with the act of turning his back against the natural sunlight pouring through the gaping wounds in the subterranean ceiling. An unapproachable gate back into the Southern Wastes, the dunes searing beneath the Golden Sun.

And Enigma spiraled deeper into the black descent, distant from the lantern’s light.
He made the rapid descent appear natural, reaching the zenith of physical acceleration into Akara’s bazaar warrens. An amalgamation of market districts compacted along the forefront of the shantytown giving the warrens its namesake. Hanging lanterns swayed from large posts between the back-alleys and snaking dirt paths running between the impoverished sprawl.

An emptiness haunted the district, an absence of souls navigating the winding bazaars. Neither did any families or roguish figures haunt the hearth and homes arrayed along the higher Warrens.

A darkness sprang out from the alley, approaching quickly on his left flank. A hazed outline of coiling shade, dancing beneath the hanging lanterns ahead of him. Enigma ground himself to an abrupt halt, sliding back beyond the reach of the Ashen Blade’s gleaming blade. A lengthened one handed sword adorned with an extended hilt, an emerald tassel dangling from the pommel.

He caught the Sukhanite’s fluid thrust on the back of his wrist. The silver blade fell away from him, pushed aside with an uncaring sweep. She flitted back across the cobblestones for space, answered with but a change of stance to bring himself inside of her guard.

Dominion’s End slid free of the scabbard when Enigma reinforced the weight on the Ashen Blade’s sword arm. He lunged, punching straight toward her right lung.

Daring above most the usual kindred in the penitent order, the female Ashen Blade leaned into Enigma’s thrust. Another push against his momentum turned his sword arm at the elbow. He tracked the blade parting through empty air where her freed arm had rested a moment before.

Enigma detected more footfalls pounding the cobblestone toward the combat. He counted a pair, three, and then five kindred warriors by hearing alone.

He tucked and rolled beneath the Reaper’s Scythe, the serpentine shaped glaive sweeping overhead. Spinning Dominion’s End around his fingers to catch the weapon in a reverse grip, Enigma came back to his feet. A barked shout of pain resounded throughout the quiet underground. The gladius punched down through the joint behind the kneecap, splitting the flesh and bone beneath. 
Faltering, the young male staggered back, still caught on the embedded blade. Another spring off the back foot pushed him past the glaive’s pendulum-like fall. Leather boots shuffled across the cobblestones to block any escape route. Enigma bolted between another pair of Ashen Blades defending the rear guard, colliding into their blockade.

Dominion’s End parried a couple lightning thrust for the eyes, its wielder driving a savage knee into the other assassin. Another female Ashen Blade folded in twain upon their collision, hitting the road with an audible impact.

A keening sound, like a blade swept through stagnant air, hurtled toward him. Enigma weaved beneath the blow, tracking the Reaper’s Scythe, cleaving the head of the male stabbing at him cleanly from the body. He didn’t pause, scrambling back and around the stiffened corpse, still swaying upright. A shortened blade came off of his belt with a flick of the wrist.

The scythe-bearing warrior buckled from the dagger thrown from Enigma’s hand, straight through the beating heart inside the chest. A clinking sound, like a bolt loosed from a crossbow’s housing, pursued him through the dim lighting.

Reality blurred when closing both eyes, navigating the Crescent Haven’s obscuring shroud by the mind alone. He burst out of the moonlit darkness, darting forward at full-tilt. Dominion’s End swept in an arc ahead of him, cutting straight through the flesh and bone beneath the midnight silk of a kindred assassin’s robes.

Enigma pushed past without seeing the blow land, just blood splattering the cobblestones another couple of feet ahead. A softened thump punctuated the silk garbed assassin’s graceful fall to the cobblestones.

Still, Enigma didn’t arrest his momentum, racing alongside the Sukhanite female wielding the tasseled silver sword just mere paces beside him. Sliding back again, he turned Dominion’s End around to hold in reverse. A thick splattering of blood splashed the midnight black of his uniform.

An untarnished blade clattered to the roadside, the foe creeping up for the mortal blow, staggered past. He parried another strike from the tasseled sword over the head of the Sukhanite seeping blood from a wounded throat. A trembling hand pressed against the pouring cut, the injured assassin collapsed to his knees to stem the bleeding.

He stepped back and reaped the fallen kin with a downward thrust, clean through the spinal cord. 

A merciful blow to end another soul's needless suffering.

A leaping kick cracked against Enigma’s jawbone with dazing force. A strike landed hard enough to pitch his head at an awkward angle. Yet he glimpsed the tasseled silver blade coming up over the falling kick, a quick thought from cutting through a vulnerable throat.

He didn’t crane his head into a correct angle, but cracked an elbow hard into the Ashen Blade’s sternum. He corrected his posture upon seeing her tumble backward onto the roadside.

Dominion’s End swept back behind him, cutting deep into the fingers clutched around the blade striking up toward the gullet. Crimson droplets rained down at Enigma’s feet, the disarmed short blade tumbling from the wounded hand to the corpse-strewn earth.

Wounded, the Ashen Blade’s yielded with a kneeling gesture. Poised to strike again, Enigma halted before landing the mortal blow. He paused, considerate of the reckless youth before him. A grateful sound emanated through the pained notes of the warrior’s voice when he turned to disappear at Enigma’s dismissive gesture.

Another subtle clink of a bolt loosed from a crossbow resonated throughout the underground. The shrill cry that followed sounded deafening by comparison. He turned about, finding the woman with the tasseled blade staggering back. She clutched the heavy steel-tipped bolt, punched straight through her beating heart, protruding out the other end of her back in what could only be a welter of blood.

His opponent managed a graceful fall to her knees. He detected the subtle but intentional inclination of her head in acknowledgement of the legend standing before her. Her head lulled for the last time. A sputtering sigh escaped her lips as the corpse became still.

He cleaned Dominion’s End with a flick of the wrist and a piece of white cloth hanging from the silk belt around his waist. Upon sheathing the blade, Enigma bowed deeply to the fallen kindred, still seated upright in the warrior’s fashion.

An oppressive silence followed the struggle’s aftermath.

A familiar voice crept out of the darkness back the way he had entered.

“Honorable kills, brave traveler,” Anoush said, “I’m certain Zahira will hand them a guiding light through the Gates of Her Palace.”

She stepped out of the dark into the light of a hanging lantern. He didn’t respond, waiting until the moment her companion, the Ferryman, emerged out from behind her shadow. He whistled sharply over her shoulder, taking in the battle with disbelieving eyes, awe-struck.

“And you reaped their lives with little effort.” He calmed, timing his breathing despite not having fought. “The battle happened quick enough to give an experienced blade like myself anxiety. An hourglass game I hope you’ll remember, Enigma, dwindled down to the last grain.”
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