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Author Topic: A Sanctum of Swords  (Read 24982 times)

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Offline Alienscar

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - 9 - Distant from the Lantern's Light - Scene II
« Reply #280 on: March 10, 2022, 08:10:07 AM »
Quote
A mechanical ticking filled the observatory of the Amber Gold Sanctum, letting Shoushan count away every passing second idling away the afternoon.

This is one disadvantage, I feel, of not having read the whole of your story. Reading your story in snippets hasn't allowed me to form any real idea as to the technological capability of your world. Based on the scenes you have shared you would appear to have set your story in the Middle Ages.

This being the case the sudden appearance of a small clock confuses me, as does the mention of seconds.

Instead of me pointing out why I think this is wrong I am going to ask you a few questions for a change.

How do you think the clockwork mechanism is powered?

What techniques have been used to manufacture the various components of the clock?


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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - 9 - Distant from the Lantern's Light - Scene II
« Reply #281 on: March 10, 2022, 12:37:32 PM »
Hi Alienscar,

That's a fair question and a good one to ask. I admit that I haven't thought all the details out about that specifically, but here is the answer I concluded on.

Looking into some initial research told me there were a lot of versions of the clock invented before the modern concept we know of today - that relies on electricity. That being said, you are right in that the way I described the clock doesn't match those earlier methods - which does make me think that I'll need to change that function.

However, I guess I thought of the parts coming together like how a medieval windmill might function with a break lever. Also keep in mind this clock is a protype - which I should have mentioned, a recent invention and probably one of the two or three ever produced.

In terms of time period, Khios and its sister continents across Thearus are kind of at different stages in their technological eras - much like earth has been throughout much of its history. My concept with Khios was creating a classical-era inspired world that just continued on to new heights, but it also has medieval influences as well, which is something that stems more from the western continent as an influencer I haven't covered in too much detail yet. I plan to delve into the western and southern continents a bit more with future novellas, but we will see how that goes :).

I think you're right though in saying the device is too small, as that indicates a really advanced technology to streamline something like that.

I might try something like the candle clock instead. Or probably that and the hourglass, as I often refer to the ladder method of keeping time as well.

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Chapter 10 Progress Update
« Reply #282 on: March 13, 2022, 10:31:15 PM »
A quick update here.

A Sanctum of Swords has officially crossed the 40,000 word mark, after multiple self-edit passes that obliterated the previous word count, which would be much higher than this at this point, but with a lot of bloat mixed in. I think I made a lot of good changes to streamline the text and turn around a lot of initial problems into something more nearer to strengths. It's not perfect, of course, and nothing ever is - but I'm happy with where the manuscript is sitting at the moment.

Website creation will be underway soon, more on that in the near future  ;).

Still working on getting another appointment with the editor, but am wanting to finish one thing at a time - so I will continue to work with my web designer & admin on the site creation.

I did have to cancel the illustration I had planned in June, since it looks going through the full edit process is a *bit* more expensive than I imagined it would be, but one day!  :)

Here is an overall look at the current Table of Contents - where you can see that the current chapters I'm focused on overall are complete versus which I'm still working on or have yet to begin work on. Currently - I am on Chapter 10 - A Moment's Peace, which will shift the perspective from Shoushan + some of the Ashen Blades, back onto Adofo's Bloodsworn, as they return back to the Royal Palace after a harrowing encounter against an entire patrol of their Qin'sar masters.

You might be wondering how anyone could have survived such an assault on realistic grounds - well, I can't reveal everything about the surprises  ;).


Offline Alienscar

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Chapter 10 Progress Update
« Reply #283 on: March 14, 2022, 06:19:53 AM »
Quote
Looking into some initial research told me there were a lot of versions of the clock invented before the modern concept we know of today

I suppose that is the crux of my issue. There were indeed lots of clocks (& clock like devices) produced before the mechanical clock we are all used to today.

In the Middle Ages though none of them had hands. Early clocks just chimed the hour.
 
It wasn't until nearly the end of the Middle Ages that clocks had hands, and even then they only had a hour hand after the fashion of water clocks and sundials.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Chapter 10 Progress Update
« Reply #284 on: March 14, 2022, 02:31:27 PM »
You are correct, Alienscar, that's an oversight on my part.

I will revisit that scene and make changes to that clock device and how it's functional design.

Thanks,

Offline Alienscar

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Chapter 10 Progress Update
« Reply #285 on: March 15, 2022, 06:15:56 AM »
Quote
I think I made a lot of good changes to streamline the text and turn around a lot of initial problems into something more nearer to strengths. It's not perfect, of course, and nothing ever is

I wholeheartedly agree with you here Myen'Tal. Since you started working with an editor last year there has definitely been a change in your writing. The last couple of scenes especially have been a lot easier to read than some of your earlier work. You must be chuffed that all your hard work is finally paying off.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Chapter 10 Progress Update
« Reply #286 on: March 15, 2022, 05:37:44 PM »
Thanks, Alienscar!

That means a lot! And yeah, really stoked to see this all coming together the way it is  8) ;D.

Working on a surprise over the next couple months or so - got a cool illustration coming down the pipeline by my cover artist!


Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Chapter 10, A Moment's Peace - Scene III
« Reply #287 on: March 22, 2022, 09:35:53 PM »
Approaching 50,000 word mark  8).

Also - new back cover blurb!



CH: 10, A Moment's Peace - Scene III

      Upon emerging from his room, Adofo noticed an unfamiliar change about Heaven’s Gate. He stepped through the open door into the greater wing beyond the guest room, shutting the entrance behind him. A plaguing silence lingered about the corridors, near abandoned, save for Elmas and himself.

      Without the usual fanfare created by the milling crowds, the animated debates made by tense nobility, or even Zar’qin patrols to extend order throughout the day, Heaven’s Gate appeared nothing more than a shell. An abandoned palace in its own right, cloaked in darkness with no one to tend the flames keeping the corridors burning bright.

      Adofo looked to Elmas, leaning back against the sandstone colonnade flanking the door on to his right. He said, “I suppose it doesn’t take a Wiseman to notice something different about this place. What could have happened during our absence for the Heaven’s Gate to appear so abandoned?”

      Elmas sighed, ill-at-ease amid the abandoned halls, haunted by an eerie hollowness. She spoke, “I don’t know, but once I heard the Qin’sar had assigned your quarters to here, I came at once. You’d literally would’ve awoken alone, eventually, stepping out into the quiet stillness puzzled and likely alarmed.”

      Adofo brushed aside her comment. He said, “Please, I’ve a calmer head and a heart more courageous than that. You’re not speaking about an innocent bystander, remember?”

      Elmas shrugged, “Honestly, Adofo? I wasn’t certain about your state of mind until our reunion just a moment ago. That being said, it’s a damned-good sight to find you, hale and well in thought. Even if your heart bleeds and a sickness festers in your spirit, I think time can heal both those wounds well enough.”

      Adofo made a grateful nod, but asked a question relevant to the greater Heaven’s Gate around them. He said, “A strange decision to assign my quarters to such an abandoned place. You must be located nearer to the Throne of the Sun Caller Kings, but what of our brethren in the Bloodsworn?”

      Elmas spoke, “The Amber Gold Sanctum. Our God King decreed that none may tend to our wounded save the Oracle-Priestesses who dwell there above the palace.”

      He sighed, puzzled beyond words. He said, “I don’t understand. Why would he place you away from the others, and then myself here amid all this silence?”

      A male’s unfamiliar voice echoed through the quiet emptiness, coming from a conjunction farther down, where the corridor met an adjacent counterpart some ways down.

      The male stood about the hall, nothing more than a looming shadow from this distance, created by his sheer height and physical presence. He said, “Maybe the Qin’sar aren’t aware that you’re here, Zar’qin. Or Bloodsworn maybe the better title. I suppose whichever one takes preference for you.”

      Adofo called back, annoyed by the stranger’s headstrong tone already. He spoke, “Your words lack the authority that comes with our masters and their tongues, but you’re clearly neither a warrior among the Zar or even a servant? What has brought you into this place? State your name and purpose, traveler.”

      He signaled Elmas with a nod, and together, both of them approached the stranger in their midst. After the first couple steps toward their quarry, Adofo realized the stranger mirrored their cautious approach with both hands hidden amid the silk fabrics used to tailor his warrior robes.

      The unknown warrior stepped out from the shadows, coming into a waning light produced by a couple of braziers, still lit. Gradually, Adofo made out the stranger’s features upon both groups closing the distance between them.

   A prince from a realm beyond the Dominion, possessed of cruel, brooding eyes, black like the raven’s. Coal black hair, once abundant on his head, appeared cut back into its combed, wavy state. A dark umber skin like Adofo’s marked the stranger as a countryman. He looked into the traveler’s statuesque features, noting each ill-mended scar’s severity, the most noticeable making the right eye squint. A subtle gaunt in the cheeks like Adofo, and of similar height and build, though a moment passed before realizing he stared into the face of an immediate kin.

      An Akopian prince, Adofo thought, his heart skipping a sudden beat to interrupt his thoughts. A snow white warrior’s robe cloaked the warrior noble from the neck down. It naturally parted at the chest, dancing around a leather brown saora fixed to his waist by a broad belt fashioned from tanned leather and intricately carved authentic gold.

      Underneath the brilliance white sheen emanating from the Akopian prince’s silk robes, he spied a familiar armor piece shielding the kin’s chest. An expensive leather armor, a ruddy mixture of red and brown hues, emblazoned with an infamous Siren of the Black Sea across his chest with a silver filigree.

      He shook his head, disbelieving the apparition standing before him. He said, “Ascended Gods, but this cannot be right. I watched you die on the Crimson Bluffs. A sun blazing spear struck you down, running through your chest. Are you going to tell me you are dead?”

      Elmas proved quick to interrupt, heading Adofo off before their acquaintance and he could come within striking distance of each other. “Adofo, it might not be the time for foolish aggression. Are you familiar with this Akopian?”

      “Calm down, Asharite. Well, who am I? Our kindred back home call me Nishan, Scarred Child of the Akopian Republic. Also, an elder sibling to my younger brother, Adofo Akopian, royal prince among House Akopian back in the western heartlands.”

      A quiet moment passed, making the dead silence plaguing Heaven’s Gate sound deafening. Hesitant, Elmas stepped out from between them, keeping a respectful distance enough that they both could speak face-to-face.

      Stunned, Adofo could only watch Nishan’s approach, taking in the Scarred Child’s image after all this time. His elder brother searched Adofo for anything, marking many changes with calculative eyes. Nishan patted his younger brother’s shoulders, almost toppling Adofo from the sheer force.

      His elder brother caught Adofo before he fell, gripping him with a lion’s hug that made it hard to breathe.

      Nishan said, “By all gods dead and buried, it is a grand occasion to find my brother alive and in good health, no less!” He broke the lion’s grip, stepping back to inspect him more. “I didn’t think this God King had the courage to keep you hale and alive, Zar’qin Guard or whatever manner of auxiliary warrior they’re seeking to deploy into the western lands.”

      Adofo blew off the shock, uncertain how to continue their conversation without turning the reunion into an interrogative onslaught. Instead, he played on the fact that his elder brother stood before him, alive and hale, but scarred a great manner further than their last time together.

      Adofo spoke, “It takes more than several grueling campaigns to take me down, brother. You’ve always known that yourself, when we competed against each other as children, in just about everything. I remember you often lost to soothe a younger brother’s voracious ego.”

      A chortling slipped Nishan’s throat. His rasping voice boomed throughout the quiet halls upon pitching his head back to unleash it. He said, “And as an elder brother, I couldn’t be prouder of all those soft scars on your face, Adofo. You’re a survivor, just like I’ve always said.

      “After all these many moons believing you fell, I’d have thought it impossible to discover such a truth upon arriving in the Golden Valley.”

      Adofo shrugged. “Now that you thought to mention that, what could possibly have brought you into your nemesis’ dominion? Tell me you haven’t come alone, Nishan.”

      The Scarred Child smiled, grim and callous, despite hope burning in both eyes. He said, “You haven’t heard? You’d think anyone would figure Children of the Sun ones for idle gossip beside every hearth and fountain. Stop fretting so much, brother. I journeyed here alongside a royal procession of Akopian elite, accompanied by our Sarunite allies. Grand warriors and monarchs to a man and woman, and our warriors... your masters will think twice before reaching for their weapons tonight.”

      Adofo narrowed both eyes at Nishan, puzzled. “What? Is this the reason that Heaven’s Gate has shut its doors and abandoned its halls? Such measures are exceedingly rare.. unless the Dominion’s diplomatic measures have failed.”

      His brother interrupted before Adofo inquired further. He said, “Why bother asking all these questions when you can discover everything for yourself? Our conclave with the Children of the Sun will begin at tomorrow’s daybreak. You should attend. We’ll need to secure your freedom in either case...

      Adofo balked, taken aback like Nishan had rammed a blade through his ribs. “Freedom? Wait, are you talking about-”

      “Yes, yes!” Nishan barked aloud, growing impatient. He said, “Just hand me a list of who you need bought from your masters and I’ll see their freedom gained alongside yours. Straightforward, then we all can ride for Akopia with the coming sun a few days ahead of this one.”

      The Scarred Child chuckled at Adofo’s shocked silence. He spoke, “Gods, brother, I understand all these revelations are sudden. By the Ascended quiet graves, you shirk like you’re appalled at even thinking about having these shackles cast off you! Should there be something I don’t know about?”

      Adofo scoffed aloud, waving a dismissive hand. “Enough, brother, a few minutes and I’m already reminded of how thick your skull is. No, there’s nothing. You should return to wherever the Qin’sar assigned you, before someone notices you barking and chortling aloud where no one should even be.”

      Chuckling in a low, guttural voice, Nishan shrugged Adofo off. He turned back the way he had come, marching back that way with no subtle disregard for urgency. He said, “It’s still good to see you, brother, but even after several years apart, a kindred spirit can see that something you’re unwilling to speak about might bind you to this place. I’m not the man to rush another soul to tend to their last tasks, but should you desire to leave back for Akopia, you finish whatever you need to before the night ends...”

      Elmas approached, coming to stand beside Adofo. Watching the Scarred Child depart, she said, “How could he have known you’re alive, just out of nowhere?”

      Adofo shrugged. “We’ve always had friends in high places, Elmas. I’m certain this maybe Lady Shoushan Sar Amun’s doing.”

      Elmas interrupted, quick to point out an unspoken fact. “She does the Bloodsworn the kindest deed and a great favor.”

      Adofo nodded, knowing Elmas noticed already how distracted he appeared upon answering. He said, “Of course, I understand that, but we still have an obligation and a task to see to completion, at her request, I might add.”

      Elmas scoffed, “An excuse to find Lady Siham, you mean?”

      Adofo paused, shutting his eyelids closed, but not disagreeing. After a moment’s silence, he answered. “You don’t have to accompany me, my Second. You’ve done too much already. I could hardly request you throw yourself into harm’s way a last time, especially when the Bloodsworn’s freedom has come this near within our grasp. You should head back...”

      Elmas said, “I won’t let you stand before the God King alone. You’re my First Blade, Adofo... I don’t know how that will change a couple nights from now, when we’re all leaving Tu’shik with our freedom in hand. But, for the time being...”

      Adofo smiled at her, appreciative. He spoke, “Then let’s not idle any longer, and hope my elder brother doesn’t come back to invite us to a chess game or anywhere he can talk us into our open graves. Let us meet the God King, Lord Erasyl Sar Amun, and pray that he might be the righteous soul Shoushan described him to be. It should take a half hour to get there.”

      Elmas spoke, “Our appointment to meet him is nearer to the Bell of Seasons’ toll.”

      Adofo cursed aloud, “To the Gates of Her Palace with an appointment, Elmas. There’s too little time and Siham isn’t anywhere in sight. Let’s just see if he’d be willing to speak with us. He’s likely worried about the Heiress of the Sun to begin with.”

      Elmas didn’t reply that time, just nodding her consent, before striding forth toward the Throne of the Sun Caller Kings.

      Adofo spared her a last nod of gratitude, before setting off to make the journey beside her…
« Last Edit: March 22, 2022, 09:42:41 PM by Myen'Tal »

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #288 on: March 31, 2022, 06:40:47 PM »





Update time - crossed the 50,000 word count mark.

Laid out the manuscript's final chapter additions - as you can see from the table of contents, I am currently working on 'Insidious Deliverance' - which I'm also sharing a scene from as well in this very post  :).

Website continues to progress.

Still moving ever onward  :).

Insidious Deliverance, Scene II

A black wound in reality spat Shoushan out into another dimensional plane, beyond the sanctuary’s cursed mist and shadow. Her world was nothing but a blur, toppling out from thin air. She tucked into herself, rolling to break her fall upon a hall's dark cobalt stonework.

A dead silence, shattered by an occasional burst of droning music, resounded into the abandoned space’s every nook and crevice. At a glance, she took in her surroundings, finding herself stranded alone amid a dungeon’s maze.

An obsidian stone created the utilitarian structure’s every aspect, pure rainwater soaking about every inch. Upon taking a step forward, more water sloshed around about her leather boots. A nearer inspection in the dim, cobalt lighting emanating through the crumbling cracks and holes in the ceiling told her the dungeon had flooded farther ahead. Or behind her, she couldn’t tell with any certainty.

Shoushan sighed, listening to that sudden musical droning, like a multitude joining their voices in a rapturous chorus. She wouldn’t deny this place kept an eeriness about it, but the music possessed beautiful undertones. It had little need for words to grant understanding.

It sounded like nothing more than a lullaby for the condemned, a curse meant to lure the tormented to an oblivious rest. Shoushan knew better than to fall into its lure.

A subtle sound, like silk-wrapped feet creeping up quickly behind her, came light above the sound of pouring waters. Her heart skipping a beat, she stepped back, turning around to drive back the aggressor.

Another pair of footfalls, uncaring in their hastened approach, darted around from behind her. A gleaming gladius’ shortened blade parried a coiling shadow’s essence, leaping out toward her. A cloud created from sentient shade, moulded into a jagged weapon’s shape. Wielding the living shadow weapon, a slender man garbed in the Ashen Blades’ midnight silk uniform sighed out his frustration.

Shoushan recoiled from the ailing assassin, noticing his black robes in tatters, splattered with crimson swathes. His spirit bore the same mortal scars that had killed him. His eyes, nothing remained but hollowed pits, somehow naturally open without eyes to fill them.

Distracted, her would-be assassin stepped back, parrying a quick thrust from her savior’s shortened blade. Shoushan noticed her enigmatic guardian for the first time. Another slender man, perhaps inhuman when compared to even his Ashen Blade compatriots, matched her assailant’s lightning assault, blow for blow. His coal black hair wavered around his head, growing unchecked into wavy locks that shrouded his eyes. His caramel skin bore scars, but nothing near to the fallen assassin he battled against–the latter appearing raised from the literal dead.

Where was she?

Her protector garbed himself in snow-white robes, midnight satin taking a sheen underneath that pallid, naturally parted fabric. Against all reason, the Su’khanite fought in sandals, but his grace came unmatched when compared to even that possessed by even his embattled opponent.

Shoushan watched their blades clash with matchless skill until both combatants became too quick for her to keep up with. A sound, like a blade cutting through flesh and bone, resounded throughout the hollowed emptiness.

The fallen assassin’s keening scream ripped through the silence, causing her heart to skip another time. She watched his ruined body take a knee, cradling the wound gouged into his chest with a trembling hand, before falling into the gods’ embrace another time.

Shoushan looked back to the white-robed Su’khanite, who merely cleaned his blade, before making a respectful bow toward his fallen opponent.

She spoke, “A timely intervention, spirit, if that’s what you are. Forgive my idleness. I can defend myself with little trouble, but my arrival here appears to have kept me off-balance.”

Her savior looked at her, swiveling his head to take in the stranger in his midst. He appeared to see without hindrance, despite all the hair coiling around his darkened stare. He nodded, a knowing smile his only offering.

He said, “A Child of the Sun? Here in this cursed labyrinth? Decades have come and gone since I last crossed paths with your kindred. A blessing in disguise, maybe? In truth, I could use the golden sun to light the path ahead."

Despite herself, Shoushan spared the assassin an amused smile. “You mean this somber dungeon doesn’t shine holy enough for you, Ashen Blade?”

His smile broadened, knowing Shoushan made the remark as a jest, and not a slight. “And a strange Child of the Sun, you seem to an inanimate blade. Your kindred’s temperaments are hot-blooded, made mirthless by their martial culture.”

Her brow arched. Shoushan said, “a devoted disciple to the Goddess of Death would strike me in similar ways, but I discourage such general remarks. You don’t seem like an ignorant man to me, Ashen Blade.”

He said, “Call me Korian, though my kindred in the Southern Wastes have always known me as Enigma. Use the two interchangeably should you wish. I’ve no preference for titles or names. Both remain my equal parts, in either case.”

Shoushan paused, considerate. “Enigma, then. Should I be honored to make friends with an Ashen Blade?”

Enigma shrugged. “few born into the Children of the Sun could hope to say such a thing. Take that for what you will, but…” He trailed off, wiping the mirthful smile from his features. “You didn’t come here through the Penitent’s Sanctuary. I watched a moonlit realm spit you out into this place–the black emptiness guiding souls to the Gates of Her Palace. There can be only one explanation. Amunet brought you into this place, but where did she enter?”

Shoushan shook her head, becoming impatient. “Amunet apparently has her own ambitions, despite the sacrifices required by others to see them fulfilled. She didn’t think to explain too much before taking her leave–”

Enigma interrupted, his tone taking on a soothing aspect. “Amunet’s ambitions are driven by a purpose that us mere mortals don’t understand. Not yet, at least, until she deigns to unveil them. She has a habit of explaining what her allies need to know, precisely when she believes our fates will align to make the most of her truth.”

Shoushan didn’t reply for a time, allowing an interlude between their conversation. She heard only that beautiful choir interrupting their silence. “Do you believe anything Amunet claims about herself? That her civilization warred against the Ascended Pantheon and won?”

Enigma said, “I know nothing about past or future, except that most deities are dead. Something nearer to the scale of Amunet’s tale about the ruined places buried deep into the broken world… it would make a certain sense if the mythical tales proved themselves true.”

A mortal soul’s furious war cry echoed through the dungeon’s emptied halls, carrying down the path from far ahead. Craning her head alongside Enigma, she found nothing more than the ominous cobalt luminescence giving light to this decrepit place.

Enigma ended their conversation. “Sounds like a battle is about to ensue.”

Shoushan spoke, “Allies of yours?”

Enigma didn’t shrug or nod, but merely said. “Maybe allies, if we can keep them out of death’s embrace.”

Shoushan said, “I suppose answers about all this will have to wait. Lead the way, Su’khanite.”

Enigma didn’t reply, breaking into a darting run that Shoushan matched, headed into a storm created by clashing swords and broken steel…

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #289 on: April 8, 2022, 10:49:06 AM »
Hi guys :)!

Just a quick, but pretty revolutionary update here - the website is now finished and has gone live!

Link in signature!

Thanks,
« Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 06:46:41 AM by Myen'Tal »

Offline Dread

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Website Live & Link!
« Reply #290 on: April 8, 2022, 04:32:08 PM »
Very cool! Congratulations. Ill get signed up soon.
"Burning thru the universe in search of peace only brings more war. Peace is an illusion, war is reality, that is the way of things"

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Offline Sir_Godspeed

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Website Live & Link!
« Reply #291 on: April 8, 2022, 09:12:09 PM »
Congrats, man! The website looks great, I'm really impressed.

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Website Live & Link!
« Reply #292 on: April 8, 2022, 09:21:14 PM »
Thanks guys!!

The website will continue to grow as future content is added!

Offline Dread

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Website Live & Link!
« Reply #293 on: April 8, 2022, 10:56:23 PM »
It does look great. Now to visit it.
"Burning thru the universe in search of peace only brings more war. Peace is an illusion, war is reality, that is the way of things"

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Offline Grizzlykin

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #294 on: April 12, 2022, 04:51:34 AM »
The website looks slick :D kinda feel like reading everything now. I will probably give it a shot when looking for some fantasy thing to read :D
The Grizzly's Arvandor Craftworld!

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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #295 on: April 12, 2022, 08:53:07 PM »
The website looks slick :D kinda feel like reading everything now. I will probably give it a shot when looking for some fantasy thing to read :D

Thanks Grizzly!

This thread is a bit aged by now, lots of evolution and pitfalls recorded here lol. My latest stuff is toward the end of this thread - but you're welcome to stop by and read what you like, anytime!

The book comes nearer to launch!

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #296 on: April 21, 2022, 06:16:11 PM »
Hey guys, another update.

Just about hitting the 60,000 word mark - my end goal is to hit somewhere between 90,000 - 95,000. That would leave me some room to make any additional content to shore up areas that the editor may think needs reinforcing. So about 30,000-ish words to go before working alongside my editor to strengthen it further.

Still on track to begin a second illustration - it likely won't be completed until early in the 3rd Quarter of 2022.

Going to be working on a second newsletter to send out around early May!

Also made a quick expansion to my website, first of multiple additions - focused on detailing the peoples of Thearus.

As far as how I'm feeling about all this - I'm feeling pretty good about things. Not getting much visibility yet, but that's normal at this stage since I'm basically living in the shadow-realm at the moment.

I will say though, that searching the name of my website in the description should bring it up in the top searches. That's a good sign at this stage.

I'm planning on working on the marketing side of things with a professional to help get those gears really turning - but I'm waiting on that until the manuscript has gone through the editing process and it's just ready to go whenever.

I'm going to start planning out potential content I can continue on with post-launch, and keep additional stories coming out afterward. Right now I'm about settled on ideas for short stories - each will take place in a different place and time on Khios - independent from each other.

That's the plan! Hope you guys continue to keep an eye out on the world of Thearus, and practice the Way of Great Peace.

Another update will come soon.




Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #297 on: April 24, 2022, 12:46:37 PM »
Manuscript progression update. Entering the third act.




Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #298 on: May 2, 2022, 08:41:45 AM »
A quick manuscript progression update - just about crossing the 70,000 word mark. On track to finish the third act and send this out to the editor in June.




Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords
« Reply #299 on: May 9, 2022, 12:06:27 AM »
A Sanctum of Swords: A Blade Severed from its Master's Hand - Final Pre-Edit Version

The Eastern U’ral outskirts burned around Mahir–the clamor of steel on steel resounding across the steppes. Mounted nomadic warriors in iron scale barding churned the rain-soaked earth. Their bows unleashed hails of arrows into the garrison defenders, dwindling their numbers further.

The Akarian Talons readied handheld crossbows, kneeling as one unit down in the mud. He watched them keep their gazes forward, training their sights on the nearing foe.

Mahir said, “We offer another tyrant’s head on Zahira’s altar tonight. Cut them down!”

Gadara shouted. “Open fire!”

The Ashen Blades unleashed a silent hail into the storm.

Death reaped a toll on the raided village–indiscriminate in who perished by the sword or by burning flames. His sister had trained her unit well, their cohesion honed to precision. Their marksmanship struck true, unhindered by wind or rain, striking the mounted raiders in their flesh.

Several Honor Guard in Dikran’s retinue sagged in their saddles. Choking on venom, their screams carried into the storm. One after another, U’skarite warriors toppled from their horses into the crimson mire. A second volley broke the skirmish apart, the nomadic raiders breaking away to avoid the poisoned hail coming down around them.

Black Rot. A necrotic venom invented in Suann Sanctuary by the Obsidian Viper Alchemists. A weapon capable of killing the blood in a human’s veins and their muscle sinew. A rapid decay spreads through the victim until only a decrepit hole remains in the withered husk. A mere kiss from any tool, weapon, or sacrificial flesh coated in a couple drops remained the proven bane of any living creature–Demi-god and mere mortal alike.

Gadara cried out into the storm. “I should have known better than to think we’d leave these primal steppes alive.”

Mahir knew their fate far before she had. He watched the mounted raiders rally in the backfield, regrouping for another charge at the Akarian Talons. “You should have heeded my warnings. We’ve crossed a point of no return some moons ago.”

His sister ignored him to bark another command. “Reload!”

The Ashen Blades plucked steel-tipped bolts from full quivers slung over their shoulders. Quick on the draw, her unit unleashed another hail into the oncoming retinue.

Mahir counted another dozen honor guard, cut down by the Black Rot. Though their numbers withered, the honor guard pushed through the endless hail. He braced beside the Ashen Blades; the steppes trembling beneath the cavalry charge.

He said, “For what it’s worth–our reunion here on the steppes isn’t lost on me. It’s been several years since you’ve last seen your wayward, altered brother. A predictable season of solitude with the last of my kin. Rare is the Sanctum Queen’s Severed Hand who could ask for an end so cherished.”

Gadara smiled, then the expression reverted to stone. She aimed her crossbow toward the oncoming lancers. “To die so near to winter’s end… it will not be as beautiful as I hoped. Should Zahira call us home, I’d rather perish by a sword than underneath an indiscriminate stampede. You have another trick up your sleeve to even the odds?”

Mahir said, “Are you prepared to vomit again?”

Gadara grimaced. “I will choose the greater evil to live a moment longer. Get us near enough to grant our enemies the kiss of Suhari Steel.”

The sodden soil quaked underneath them, beaten like a war drum by the horde. Mahir swept an arm out–conjuring shadows on a whim. Animated by sentience, an abyss yawned open into the physical world. It closed in around them, tearing the Akarian Talons and himself out of the mortal sphere.

Returning to the Sanctuary, Mahir perceived U’ral village through a moonlit shroud. The eastern outskirts took on a ghostly aspect, the battle appearing to be fought by specters and not the men and women fighting around Mahir a moment ago. Like an undead tide, Dikran’s retinue swept where they had last seen the Ashen Blades.

He braced, unable to feel anything upon the U’skarite nobles stampeding through his disembodied soul. Nothing but the same chilling cold found throughout every corner of this dark abyss.

Mahir dispelled the sanctuary with a thought-command. Its darkness dissipated, collapsing like fallout around the Ashen Blades. A frozen drizzle pelted him through his silk robes, wind whipping around him as the storm fought the skies for dominance.

Gadara shouted a command, ushering the Akarian Talons into combat. As one, the assassins charged, their midnight robes melding with the night.

The Ashen Blades reaped their fallen foes, swords cutting limbs free from their owners. Steppe horses toppled their faces into the mire, their sliced open throats festering with poison.

Mahir spotted the Steppe Lord, a brute of a man–all raw sinew and muscle. A lamellar armor crafted from iron scales and woven into a suit protected him from thighs to throat. Royal purple silk cushioned the armor from underneath, visible around the limbs and other vulnerable gaps in the lamellar. A plumed helmet topped with wild, white-dyed horsehair weighed down on his shoulders. Black leather boots came up to the warrior king’s knees, already sullied with the blood of slain foes.

Swift, Gadara closed upon her quarry–intent on claiming the killing blow.

Dikran noticed her approach from the back of a massive ebon steed–a beast more imposing than most warriors. He swept a wicked blade ahead of him to meet Gadara’s direct assault.  

Focused, Mahir summoned the sanctuary again, and entered the dark realm.. Upon entering again, an explosion of magic swept through him. An endless torrent created from the sanctuary’s morbid essence. The backlash obliterated his memories, breaking them into a faded and unchronological blur. Like tidal waves, the primal force crashed inside the mind’s boundaries, wiping his conscience until all semblance of himself ceased existing.

Forbidden magic stitched his soul back into its sentient state. The sanctuary spat him back out into the mortal sphere, between Dikran and Gadara before their blades could meet. An echo of steel blunted upon steel sang loudly upon intercepting the Steppe Lord’s fatal blow. Such a savage strike should have cut him down without effort. His physical ability had withered through the years after his Trial of Blades.

Zahira, Goddess of Sorrow, spared her child once again. A hand once severed from its mistress surged with sudden, inexplicable power. It channeled through him like adrenaline through the veins.

Surprised, Dikran retracted his blade before launching an immediate assault on Mahir. He weaved around the Black Tiger’s bone-breaking fists and sweeping cuts without effort. He retreated, stepping back beyond the warlord’s reach, when he tired. All at once, after death’s immediate threat had passed, the Sanctum Queen’s blessing emptied from his veins back into dormancy.

Gadara circled Dikran from behind–occasionally delving into the fray to attempt a mortal blow. The Black Tiger warded them both away from his person by a storm of sweeping strikes. Hesitant to commit with no clear advantage, Mahir attempted to goad the warlord instead.

Heart singing inside his chest, Mahir said, “a king seated so high on his horse proves a mastery over wind, maybe, but becomes blind with his head in the clouds. Will you keep raging at shadows you cannot appear to strike? Or is the Black Tiger of the U’skar Qi courageous enough to dismount? Would he test his skill against an assassin of the Ashen Blades?”

Dikran wheeled his brutal mount about to face him. Mahir tracked the U’skarite’s every movement, knowing his marked contract was a predator, oblivious to the fact it had become prey. Amusement glinted in the warlord’s burning gaze–confident in the face of his would-be slayer.

Dikran’s voice growled like the Lantern Beasts of the Steppes. He spoke, “Bold words for such a frail warrior–withered from some atrophic disease or some other ailment. Don’t let my words offend, when I say you appear more a cub than a challenger. You yelp with a courage born from ignorance. Not from a confidence born from strength. Stand aside, Ashen Blade, or maybe throw yourself on your sword. Both would have the same effect as you, striking at me with your weakling blade.”

He held the Steppe Lord’s apathetic stare–unphased. “A shame–I didn’t want such a noble horse’s blood on my hands. So be it then.”

Gadara leapt out of the storm, climbing up the gargantuan midnight mount’s hind legs onto its back. She pounced upon Dikran without warning, wrapping her limbs around his neck to keep balance. Clutched in her right hand, she positioned a venom laced dagger for a quick, lethal blow.

His sister possessed no god-like powers, but her combat ability rivaled Mahir without his dark powers, more than she even knew. Outsiders beyond the Southern Wastes often regarded a Su’khanites physical abilities inhuman. Something beyond the limitations of what ordinary souls could achieve with enough time, dedication, and courage to master one’s greatest fears. Children of Su’khan considered such strength of body a basic achievement, gained in adolescence to outlive imminent death.

Armored boots stamped the quagmire–approaching from behind. Mahir turned, cleaving a taut line across an U’skarite raider’s throat. Blood seeped from the wound, the Black Rot dooming the warrior to an ill-fated death.

He passed back through the gaping darkness between realities, returning to the sanctuary in a vanishing flash. Barbarous blades sliced through the empty air, harmless against his disembodied soul.

Mahir reappeared behind another pair of warriors, attempting to ambush him. He struck out; the gladius clutched between his fingers creating a two attack chain. Severed with an unnatural strength, both skulls toppled to the ruined land. Around him, he noticed a shuddering in the wind, wailing into the night.

Another half-dozen raiders attempted to surround him with fractured cohesion. Upon seeing their comrades slain with such little effort, each warrior backed up to disappear into the greater melee.

Animated, Mahir broke into a quick-paced sprint. He tore loose a sheathed dagger off an U’skarite corpse leaning back against his dead mount. In search of the Black Tiger again, the weapon flew from his hand upon finding the Steppe lord embattled with his younger sibling.

A clink of sound told him the weapon had struck true, pursued by a tiger’s ferocious roar. Mahir traced the dagger’s trajectory, finding it embedded between the warlord’s lamellar plating. Blood trickled down from the wound unsteadily.

Gadara straddled the Steppe Lord from behind, arms deadlocked around his broad throat. Dikran tried in vain to strike himself free, forcing the blade out of her hand with a savage reverse of the elbow. The warlord didn’t realize the envenomed dagger clutched like an iron vice in her other hand.

Gadara stabbed down into the Steppe Lord’s chest. Her blade thrust home, jammed beneath the iron scales, until the steel snapped clean off the hilt. She cursed. The silk underneath Dikran’s armor blunted the blow.

An arrow struck Gadara in her left shoulder, faltering her grip upon the warlord. Dikran spurred his mount into a quick gallop, freeing himself from Gadara when she could hold onto him no longer. Mahir watched her topple down the warlord’s back into the mud.

He burst into a loping run to retrieve another weapon, an elongated spear discarded on the battlefield. As Dikran maneuvered his warhorse to trample Mahir into the mud, the Ashen Blade stepped out from the warhorse’s path. He thrust the weapon from point blank range, the warhorse unable to build up to irresistible speed.

A sound born from sundered scale mail barding filled his ears, quickly followed by flesh tearing underneath the breached armor. The midnight demon staggered, galloping on until it separated clear enough from Mahir. The noble mount cried out a final time, before its collapse amid the ruined battlefield. He glimpsed the Black Tiger, pulled down into the quagmire alongside his precious mount.

He reassessed his surroundings.

Mahir breathed, smelling the scent of blackened wood and spilled blood, cleansed by the storm’s constant rainfall. He looked back to where Gadara had fallen from Dikran’s broad shoulders. She lingered in that spot still, struggling to stand out of the mud, somehow climbing back to her knees. A shaking hand clutched the feathered shaft embedded in her shoulder.

Like the Gadara he had always remembered, she refused to give voice to her pain. She left the arrow in place for someone trained in the mending art to remove it after the battle’s end.

Mahir called out to her. “Will you live!?”

Gadara noticed him shouting, craning her head toward the sound of his voice. She nodded, despite the pain of her wound clouding her eyes. She spoke, “I can still fight, but don’t count on me carrying us through this time.”

Mahir said, “Fight until the end! Another may deliver us out from our fate!”

Gadara snorted out of disbelief, but picked up a spear discarded in a steppe horse’s carcass. She twisted, rolling onto her back, ramming the spearhead through another U’skarite’s faceplate. The warrior staggered, stumbling past her before falling into the quagmire.

Mahir turned away from Gadara, sweeping the area where the Black Tiger fell with cautious eyes. Among the dead, a shadow stirred out of the gruesome sight. Animated, he pushed off the back of his heel, breaking into a loping run toward his marked target. Reaching his physical stamina’s zenith, he rushed the Black Tiger from behind, coming near enough to land a fatal thrust on his contract’s marked soul.

Without warning, Dikran’s strength returned, tearing himself free of his dead kin, piled around him in a sundered, bleeding mound. Their blades clashed once, twice, and then a third time before momentum pulled both opponents in the opposite direction. Mahir twisted around on the ball of his foot, coming to grips against his foe another time.  

Dikran widened his stance, saber sweeping down from overhead to turn aside the assassin’s blade. The Black Tiger followed through with a crushing fist, gnarled knuckles striking Mahir square in the teeth. His head pitching backward, an overwhelming force rattling him down to the spine’s core. Mahir tried to stabilize, boots sliding through the mud until he lost all balance.

The Black Tiger lunged for the Severed Hand’s throat, throwing Mahir back-first into the mud. Eager to claim the kill, the Steppe Lord fell upon him. Gladius clutched tight across his chest, the Ashen Blade thrust out. Cleansed amid constant rain, the envenomed blade appeared toothless. It bit deep into Dikran’s flesh beneath the ribs, warding the Steppe Lord back by sheer pain alone–not deadly venom.

Furious, the Black Tiger struck out with all the strength given to him, meant to cave the assassin’s skull into brittle bone.

Exhausted, Mahir called upon the Sanctuary with the last of his ebbing focus. A haven of moonlit darkness stole him out of the physical world, but brought him into an unfamiliar place. All the Sanctuary appeared familiar, a second home amid a quiet dark, but the moon’s light appeared dim from where he stood. Shadows festered around him, writhing like they desired to consume him whole at a moment’s notice.

Yet Dikran’s spiritual essence never appeared out of arm’s reach–even as Mahir repositioned himself behind the Black Tiger of the U’skar Qi. He dispelled the quiet realm in a fallout of shadow. He heard the northern storm howling, pelting rain turning his skin numb from its touch.

A tranquil silence marked the end of the raid on U’ral village. All the garrison defenders lay somewhere in these eastern fields, surrounded by an endless sea of dead raiders dragged into the grave with them. Of the Black Tiger’s scouting parties, the last remaining warriors still on horseback fled heedlessly back into the eastern Steppes.

Mahir considered where he stood amid hundreds slain alongside their steeds, their corpses packed into the burned-out remains of U’ral’s eastern outskirts. The defenders had taken their due, earning respite for those survivors fleeing into the western realms. Their foes would return with the coming sunrise and find nothing but death.

He turned back toward the Black Tiger before him, the warlord still on his knees in the mud. Mahir did not need to see the spot Dikran leaned over, knowing the Steppe Lord had punched an entire crater where he had been but a moment ago.

He said, “It appears the Black Tiger’s reign ends tonight.”

Dikran sagged deeper down toward the earth until Mahir thought the warlord would topple without another breath. Yet the U’skarite King pushed himself back up, erecting his posture, though still upon his knees. “So, the serpent disguises himself behind the guise of a cub, sickened by atrophy. Yet you draw a vile strength from the poison that courses in your veins. A clever ruse, Ashen Blade–most deceitful. A golden sun blazes inside my soul. It denies me the right to ask for mercy, but the sweet kiss of an honorable death given quickly. Our gods would have it no other way.”

Mahir nodded in agreement, though he knew the Steppe Lord wouldn’t notice the gesture. He said, “A warrior king should not die on his knees, should he have the strength to stand.”

Chortling, Dikran spoke, “No, Su’khanite, he should not.”

Dikran leaped without warning, falling upon Mahir like a Black Tiger pouncing upon oblivious prey. He came at the Severed Hand with a last sweep of the wicked blade he wielded. Mahir countered in the blink of an eye, turning Dikran’s savage blow aside in a brief rain of sparks. The Black Tiger of the U’skar Qi found only the slender edge of a Suhari Blade, rammed straight through the Steppe Lord’s bellowing mouth.

Mahir, Severed Hand of the Sanctum Queen, pushed into the thrust, punching the sword through Dikran’s spine and out the other end of his skull. Gadara appeared beside him, thrusting her own blade deep through the warlord’s right eye. A pair of remaining Akarian Talons appeared behind Dikran. Karyan cleaved the upper half of the Steppe Lord’s skull clean off the corpse. Severed, the skull toppled into the patient hands of the last Ashen Blade, standing in wait for their trophy.

Alone, the Akarian Talons found themselves huddled together on a silent battlefield. Dikran’s corpse sagged back into the ruined outskirts at their feet. In silence, the Ashen Blades bowed their heads in reverence for another contract fulfilled–unwilling to break the tranquility earned upon their triumph...

 


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