Alright, so as I promised... I've been working away on the reconstruction of Chapter One.
I wanted to implement a few things with this chapter:
More creative, specific language in the form of terms and phrases for each culture/civilization that I created for the Embers of the Past.
I've decided to start with the first chapter as that seemed a good a place as any. Here is a short list of what I've changed:
Kendal's horse had a name change to Atlas, as opposed to the former name Qenroth, which was just too similar to Kendal's name lol.
Kendal Giram Qallin --> Kendal Ciluran Qallin
Lani Elves --> Lai'nurai Ishal
Elf --> Ishal
Elven Gods --> Ishalnan
Lani Elf Antagonists for CH I --> Siren Wraiths Clan
Lai'nurai Druid --> Dur'waith
Qenroth, Kendal's Ishal war horse --> Atlas
Qin'sar --> Noble-blooded Children of the Sun
Zar'qin --> Slave Warrior
Tu'shik --> Grand City of Canals
That's all I can think of for the moment, but this list will inevitably expand as I make the final pre-manuscript critique pass.
Second, recreating Chapter One has proven a very fruitful endeavor. I've had to split the original chapter into two, since there is so much new material.
This time, I've been aiming to create a really suspenseful, almost otherworldly event that will start Kendal's narrative. Of course, the consequence to this is that I must now take a look at all his dialogue and chapters, since now I think I've finally found this character's voice. I've noticed that the Kendal I want to write about is still in the other parts of the text, but his narrative arc as a whole just needs to be brought in line so that it's consistent.
Swifter than wind, Kendal rode into the heart of the morbid winter. Sunlight dwindled the farther his steed, Atlas, raced into the primordial wilds of the Mist Hollow. The winter conspired with time itself, strengthening until the horizon became a deep, colorless gray. A shrieking wind cut through his armor, lashing against his bones. A heavy snowfall clouded the path forward, until he had only his memories to guide him onward.
From the dark heart of the Mist Hollow, sirens wailed into the bitter wind. Kendal first thought them howling predators on the hunt, until he noticed hazed, slender figures emerging out of the white shroud. Wherever Kendal heard the eerie wailing, he noticed only more of these strange, bipedal creatures appearing through the snow.
Each time he heard their cries, the closer in proximity they seemed to come with every reappearance. Kendal spurred Atlas to the height of his limits, gliding like they had never done, but still the spindly shadows seemed to be closing an invisible noose around his neck.
Kendal realized, when the first arrows struck the foliage around him, that the disturbing shadows were of the Lai’nurai Ishal, the Druidic and enigmatic race tormenting the Mist Hollow.
His heart almost burst within his chest, when the first Lai’nurai lying in wait behind a roadblock of hewn down trees, unveiled themselves with ear-piercing screams. His warhorse reacted on instinct, before Kendal even thought to take control of the reigns. Atlas diverted from the glinting tips of moonlit spearheads, weaving into the untamed forests of the Mist Hollow.
The Lai’nurai were everywhere, Kendal realized, spotting the gloomy shadows by the score in any direction he searched for them. These Ishal were deathly pallid, so brilliant a white that their skin almost matched the snow blanketing the forest. Their shapes were whipcord thin, lithe enough that an ordinary man like himself appeared twice their girth.
These Ishal were incredibly gifted of height, their males two heads over the tallest of men. Their hair was a deep contrast of dark and pallid shades, often dyed into soft, but bright hues of color. Their eyes unnerved Kendal most, piercing stares of lavender, cerulean, and vermillion piercing the winter gloom even when the Lai’nurai were all but invisible.
Kendal could not shake the feeling that hundreds were watching him flee for his life. They studied him for every perceptive detail of horror and unease, many of them displaying a not—so—subtle mirth behind their cold, pitiless gazes.
Inexorable, the Ishal strode through the winter woods toward him. Yet their aggression was subtle. The Druidic creatures refrained from closing the last few leagues between them and their quarry. Their archers, however, loosed entire volleys at him while they shrieked into the fell wind.
A constant rain of luminescent, cerulean—white tipped shafts came raining down around him. Atlas weaving behind the protective bulk of teetering trees, Kendal was convinced the Ishal considered him sport rather than a threat to be neutralized.
By Hanath’s deliverance herself, Atlas burst out of the labyrinthine realms of the Mist Hollow. Kendal found himself riding through a field of violet roses, where leafy white stalks, crowned with gold, bent unceasingly with the wind’s direction. Of the towering trees, the countless varieties in the Mist Hollow faded in numbers, until only several of the Anorian Guardians dominated all the fields beyond the forest.
The Guardians were so world defying, that their branches and leaves formed an endless domed canopy over the entirety of the Mist Hollow’s heart. Their hulking trunks rivalled the girth of entire valleys, and their height rivaled those of the mountains. Their created canopy contained every kaleidoscopic color, so translucent that Kendal at first thought he had entered a world hidden under a sky of stained glass.
Kendal remembered his pursuers, and snapped back into focus. He remembered where he was now; only a stone’s throw away from the farmstead of his childhood memories. He glanced over his shoulder more than once in search for the Ishal, but after the seventh time, Kendal wagered they had ended their pursuit.
Nestled in the gargantuan flank of an Anorian Guardian, the Unknown Valley’s entrance loomed where the fields of violet roses came to an end at a massive cliff face. Kendal spied a natural, off—beaten path that would lead him safely down the cliff and into the foothills surrounding the miles’ long valley.
Hope kindled, then blazed within his chest as Atlas galloped the last few miles around half of the most southward Anorian Guardian. When he approached the lowlands where his homestead was isolated, his hope withered into despair at the first signs of pillaging.
Atlas twisted down winding roads, guided toward the smoke billowing into the bleak night where his homestead should be. The ashen pillars were only visible by the great orange glow appearing to bathe all the secluded valley.
Kendal refused to surrender to temptation, and throw himself headlong into danger again. Atlas descended into the lowland farther still, until the heart of the Mist Hollow vanished from sight. All that remained was the valley carved into the flank of a mountainous Guardian, swallowing him whole.
Once in the valley proper, Atlas raced across the last few leagues between his master and his home. He dared to hope that his parents were still alive. He dared to hope that somehow this was all a nightmare he could not awake from.
When Atlas stumbled across a familiar path, and rode through the toppled gates leading through walls strong enough to rival a fortress’, Kendal no longer dared hope for anything. He rode swifter than wind itself through the shattered gates, trampling its dead guardians underfoot, and came into the lush, fertile fields of the Qallin Farmstead.
The Lai’nurai Ishal were strange beings. Kendal would have thought them lustful for Seanna’s Wishes, the enchanted substance grown and harvested on Qallin farmstead. Even a purse full of the stuff was worth entire strongholds and the armies that garrisoned them. Yet the Ishal left several acres ripe with the enchanted pearls untouched.
Laboring for breath, Atlas finally slowed when crossing through the last acres separating him from his farmstead. Kendal lightened his demands on the Ishal warhorse, knowing that if Atlas collapsed, then his efforts to rescue his parents were for nothing…
The fires of hope faded within Kendal’s chest, scattered like dead ash, when he laid his eyes upon Qallin farmstead. His home was already engulfed by a raging inferno, all eight tiers of the grand work charred so badly that the entire house had collapsed in upon itself. Shocked into inaction, Kendal could only behold the sight of his entire life fading away amid the dancing embers.
Of the Lai’nurai, there was no sign. All they had left in their wake, Kendal noticed after a brief pause, was a field of their slain foes left at the foot of the blazing destruction. Kendal steeled himself, and slipped out of Atlas’ saddle. He quickly took his horse by the reigns, and walked the last remaining paces to where the dead lay in their open graves.
The heat from his burning manor became so intense, that his skin started to sweat profusely after a minute or two near its remains. Kendal pressed onward, however, until he stood on the perimeter of the massacre site. He studied the unblemished faces of each, and every poor soul heaped over the snow. Many were Qallin Manor’s farmhands and armed garrison, many of which he remembered in the days before his sixteenth summer.
There were others. Distant kin of his Cenlori father, Rynath Ciluran Qallin, of which Kendal could not bear to see what they had plainly suffered before their demise. Of the scores that were heaped in the manor courtyard, Kendal could not seem to find the faces of his parents amid the death and ruin.
Relinquishing Atlas’ reigns, Kendal patted the wearied warhorse, instructing him to stay nearby. Almost irreverently, he began to sift through the ranks of the dead. He tried with some semblance of ceremony to wade through the fallen for any sign of his father and mother, until he finally cast such notions aside. He picked up any corpse that looked to be burying another, throwing it aside with abandon when it did not uncover what he searched for.
A voice unfamiliar by its spoken words, but vaguely familiar by the pure sound of its hushed breathing, called out to him.
“None of the kin you’re searching for are here, half—blood.”
Kendal picked himself up out of the bloody mire surrounding him, and turned back toward Seanna’s fields. He blinked, but could not dispel the illusion before him. The lioness he had encountered on the Emerald Road stood before him. She held no weapon at the ready, but kept her arms folded in patience.
Kendal searched her stormy blue eyes, and found, to his surprise, a great empathy behind what he remembered a cold, calculative gaze.
She spoke again, “There’s nothing left for you here. You should not have hoped that the gods would be merciful to you…”
Kendal studied her, perplexed. He asked, “Who are you? You’re not one of the Lai’nurai?”
She frowned, the expression brimming with distaste. “I am of the Ishal, but of another clan. The Siren Wraiths are no kin of mine. That is the reason why I am here in the first place. Doing the same thing that you are. Hunting our enemies.”
Kendal shook his head in deliberate motions. “I did not race all this way to defeat an army on my own.” He gestured to the mansion, a despairing laugh slipping his lips, absent of anything good. “I cam—”
“Search all you want, little Qallin,” She interrupted, “Your parents aren’t here any longer…”
Kendal felt the dying flame of hope gutter within him.
The Ishal’s words sparked his dying spirit, until it blazed once again. “Your parents still live, Kendal. I saw them make their escape back the way whence you came from. You should know that they do not have much time.”
Kendal shrugged, and pushed any thought of her out of his mind. He whistled, calling for Atlas, and mounted back into his saddle when the horse came racing for him. He paused, before he spurred Atlas toward the exit.
Kendal looked toward the Ishal warrior maiden in his midst. “You have my eternal gratitude—”
“Ishali,” She proclaimed, “My name is Ishali Winterwood… Do you think you’ll rescue your parents from that Lai’nurai horde on your own?”
Kendal arched his brow, “I don’t understand why you care, Ishali.” Speaking her name was like a revitalizing breath. “Why are you here, telling me what I need to know?”
Ishali shrugged, winking up at Kendal, her eyes fierce with interest. “I’ve a qualm with these brainless barbarians… let me ride with you, Kendal. I can guide you to your parents far sooner than you can find them on your own. Let me fight with you. I swear on my life that you’ll never regret it.”
Kendal almost became insistent, wanting to demand more information from her. But after some thought, he relented, and gestured for her to hop on Atlas’ back. Ishali chortled at him, and then whistled through the snow. Her own mare came trotting out of the fields, a pure ebony warhorse with a mane so lustrous, it sparkled in the firelight with an incredible sheen.
Ishali gracefully mounted her mare, patting its mane. “Come, Naila, we must ride swift for our new friends here.” She looked to Kendal. “Come, let’s ride!”
Kendal spurred Atlas into a full gallop, and still found himself trailing behind Ishali when she commanded Naila with only a spoken word.