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Possible Prologue... need comments

#1 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 02:44 PM

I have been working on something that may work as a prologue to a longer story I have thought up.While trying to actually write this I found that articulating all the stuff I had in my brain wa a bit more difficult that I had thought it would be. Anyway the finished product seems a bit clunky to me. I am posting it here and would welcome comments and criticism



Thunder rumbled across the Cindarian mountains. Dorten cast a worried look over his shoulder. The clouds looked nasty. The storm had blown up rather suddenly, but Dorten would still have safely been in shelter if it wasn’t for that damned goat. Of all the times to wander off! Not for the first time Dorten wistfully thought of Petrya who had to herd the village cows. What a peaceful occupation! The cows just went where they were driven unlike the bloody goats… Lightning flashed and thunder crashed down, and Dorten flinched. That one had been too close for comfort. He knew better than to think he would be safe up here in the storm. The spring storms in the Cindarian Mountains were notorious for their ferocity. Last year three people had turned up dead. A high wind struck up and its raw cold chilled him to the bone. Lightning flashed and he saw absolutely clearly as a tree up the slope burst into flame. That did it. He might get caned if he returned without the goat, but he would take a caning over lightning any day.


But as he turned around to retrace his steps he realized that he had left it too late. The storm was directly upon him and the high ridge that he would need to cross was hit by lightning thrice in a row. The roiling clouds were blotting out the sunlight and the world was turning inky black. Then the sky opened up and the first fat drops began to fall. Dorten didn't panic. A childhood spent in the mountains ensured that he knew exactly what to do at a time like this. When in doubt seek shelter. And the Cindarian mountains were famous for their multitude of crevasses, caves and overhangs. Now if only he hadn't ventured so far off the beaten track to find that goat... Dorten ran towards the rock face and began following it down, keeping a sharp eye out for any openings. He was pretty certain he would find something pretty soon. There was no reason to panic and... Something struck him hard in the shoulder almost causing him to lose his footing. Clutching his shoulder he whirled around and immediately got struck again on his knee. There was no one around, but then his blood chilled as he recognised his assailants. Hail. Huge balls of hail at least as big as his fist. Maybe now was the time to panic. Turning, Dorten began sprinting along the rock-face searching desperately for something, anything to shelter him. All it would would be one of those balls to get him in the head and that would be it. Dorten knew exactly how dangerous hail could be. Year before last a particularly bad storm had struck the village and a gigantic hailstone had smashed clear through Old Man Wrynger's roof and killed him. They had all gone over. The hailstone had smashed through the wooden roof and brained him in bed. Dorten suppressed a shudder as he remembered the blood spattered all over the pillow. That was what was going to happen to him if he couldn't find... Dorten's feet skidded out from under him as the rock he had stepped on suddenly moved. He fell forward into a bush and then suddenly the world gave way.


Dorten had a sensation of falling and then he crashed to a stop. His entire body was a mass of aches. Cautiously he opened his eyes. He was lying on what felt like a rough surface of earth and rocks. He tried to move his arms and found that he could. That was a good sign. Then he tried to sit up. His ribs protested, but he managed to sit up without any excruciating pain. Good. That meant no bones broken so far. Then he experimentally flexed his legs. His muscles felt like they had been pounded upon by a cave bear, but his legs obeyed him. Even better. Thoughts of cave bears made him look around. The only light came through a hole a few feet above his head. That must have been what he fell through. The light was too feeble to see properly by but he got the impression that he was sitting in some kind of underground cave. He tried to get up and immediately a hundred needles seemed to prick his legs. It was then he remembered the bush that he had fallen on. His legs seemed to be resting on its remnants. He looked closer and then he understood. It was a gorse bush and the thorns were piercing his flesh in at least a dozen places. Cursing fluently Dorten began to pull them out. When he finally managed to stand up, his head brushed the ceiling and his legs bled freely. Dorten assessed himself. His entire body hurt and in a dozen places the skin had scraped off. His legs were like pincushions where blood welled out of tiny holes but he knew those would stop soon. Only his left had had a nasty gash across it where it had scraped along the rock when he fell. Blood was flowing from the gash and it spattered the floor. Dorten was about to tear a strip from his shirt to bind it when suddenly he heard a scrabbling noise outside. Then something careened through the hole and smacked into his stomach, sending him to the floor. He flailed in a blind panic, thinking of everything from cave-bears to panthers to wolves when suddenly the dark shape let out a plaintive bleat. It was the goat. Dorten stood up abruptly and pushed the goat off him.


The hole seemed to have crumbled around the edges a bit when the goat fell through and now the rain came flooding in. Dorten backed away a bit and then his leg struck something. It was a slab of rock, about a couple of feet higher than the floor. Dorten clambered onto it and huddled near the corner where it met the wall. At least he wouldn't have to sit on the wet floor with the rain. The goat had scampered off somewhere again. Dorten concentrated on binding his hand as best as he could in the near-darkness, but the blood continued to fall. It welled over his hasty binding and spattered on the stone. Dorten began to get nervous. Had the cut been much more serious than he thought? Last year Petrya's uncle had cut his leg on a scythe and the blood wouldn't stop. It nearly killed him. He clutched his hand tightly and started to pray when the goat appeared out of absolutely nowhere and butted him in the side. He lashed out with his leg and the temporarily chastened goat ran off again. Dorten went back to clutching his hand which he had scraped again and cursing viciously as he saw the renewed blood flow. Some of the curses were a bit more explicit than a shepherd boy of a mountain village would have been expected to know but Dorten was an attentive boy who paid careful attention whenever the traveling tinkers and traders came to his village and he had picked up a few things. As he sat there Dorten began to get more and more angry. Why was he running around the hills chasing goats? Why was he huddling in this stupid cave, bleeding out of his hand? He was a hardworking boy and he was honest which was more than could be said for a bunch of his neighbours. Why was he so poor, when the headman of their village lived in a big stone house? Why had he never known his mother? All his friends had mothers but Dorten had never had one. His father told him that his mother had died giving birth to him. All these questions ran through Dorten's head. Usually he just accepted these things as the way the world was. But now they raged through him and he got angrier and angrier and his curses got fiercer and fiercer. His blood flowed more freely, now washing the stone liberally. He crawled over it, right to the edge, cursing like a madman and then the goat appeared out of nowhere and gave him a vengeful butt sending him sprawling headlong of the stone slab.


As soon as he hit the ground, his anger vanished like a waking dream and he was left clutching his bleeding hand in horror. He scrabbled back from the stone until his back hit the opposite wall, where he sank down to the dirt. Binding his hand more tightly he stared at the slab as he tried to remember what had happened. All he could recall was blinding anger, anger so fierce it threatened to burn everything it came in contact with. There was no meaning, no direction, no reason, just all consuming anger and hatred towards the entire world. Dorten shivered uncontrollably. Suddenly there was a soft bleating and the goat came to him. Dorten did not remember what had happened to him on the rock but he did think the goat had had something to do with him not being on it. He reached out and patted its head. The goat settled down beside him with a contented sigh. He remained huddled there for hours until finally he realised the storm had passed. A bright shaft of sunlight came in through the hole. Dorten limped over to it and found that the storm had brought down more rock and earth from one side and this had created some sort of ramp. The goat scampered over to him bleating softly. He clambered up the ramp, carrying the goat, lifted it up and the goat scrambled up and was out. Dorten then began to grab and climb, his lacerated hand giving him absolute hell. But somehow he managed to reach the surface. He pulled himself over the edge, and then lay on the ground panting uncontrollably. Then he staggered to his feet and led the goat away, back to the known trail. Back in the cave, the slanting rays of the morning sun lit up the stone slab. It was completely pristine, not a trace of blood anywhere on it. As the sun rays moved over the stone, just for a second its image seemed to shimmer and hundreds of lines, drawn in intricate patterns seemed to appear. Just as quickly it faded from view, leaving only the pristine stone sitting in the cave.
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#2 User is offline   Nevyn 

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 05:13 PM

As an idea I think its a good set up for a story. Most of the issues are technical.

Some quick observations:

1) I think in general you need more paragraph breaks.

2) There are some other minor grammatical quibbles, such as using "wasn't" in a place where it should be "weren't".

3) In some places you get a little bit adjective happy, and in some places you pick different adjectives than I would have.

4) The "didn't panic" thing is a bit counterintuitive. He has just decided that he'd rather be caned than face lightning, but he knows it will be easy to find a cave, so too late or not why would he ever go back and face a caning? I'd either cut the part of planning to go back and realizing its too late, or rewrite the search for a cave.

5) I think the entire storm sequence might be a tad too long. It is just the setup for what happens next. For instance, can't we just assume fist sized ice rocks from the sky are dangerous, without a back story of someone being killed by one? I'd do a bit of trimming. The place he falls into is the payoff. You want the reader getting to that fast and furious.

6) By the same token, you might want more description of the cave he finds himself in, and of the action that follows.

6) Other that that, I'd say just go over it a few more times, maybe reading to yourself aloud. A few things could use rewording (to avoid repetition, improve flow, etc).
Tatts early in SH game: Hmm, so if I'm liberal I should have voted Nein to make sure I'm president? I'm not that selfish

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When Venge's turn comes, he will get a yes from Mess, Dolmen, Nevyn and Venge but a no from the 3 fascists and me. **** with my Government, and i'll **** with yours
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#3 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:55 PM

I though it was very good. Better than anything I've ever done? Probably. Didn't mind any adjective happiness (Didn't actually notice any, but I'm doing a re-read of WOT at the moment so it might have something to do with me not noticing extensive description). Didn't panic is a legit point by Nevyn. Personally I didn't find the storm sequence to be too long, and found the backstory for the guy who got a hail in the head fairly hilarious. Also, the beginning with "bloody goat" had me grinning like an idiot (I like humor in books so don't get rid of it). Nevyn's point 6 is pretty good too. I have my own picture of the cave, but I don't think it's at all similar with yours.

You said it's a part of a longer story? What are you aiming at? Epic fantasy similar to ASOIAF/WOT/MBOTF or a smaller series like Kingkiller Chronicles / First Law? Or a standalone book?

This post has been edited by Esa1996: 25 June 2015 - 08:57 PM

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#4 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 02:16 AM

View PostNevyn, on 25 June 2015 - 05:13 PM, said:

As an idea I think its a good set up for a story. Most of the issues are technical.

Some quick observations:

1) I think in general you need more paragraph breaks.

2) There are some other minor grammatical quibbles, such as using "wasn't" in a place where it should be "weren't".

3) In some places you get a little bit adjective happy, and in some places you pick different adjectives than I would have.

4) The "didn't panic" thing is a bit counterintuitive. He has just decided that he'd rather be caned than face lightning, but he knows it will be easy to find a cave, so too late or not why would he ever go back and face a caning? I'd either cut the part of planning to go back and realizing its too late, or rewrite the search for a cave.

5) I think the entire storm sequence might be a tad too long. It is just the setup for what happens next. For instance, can't we just assume fist sized ice rocks from the sky are dangerous, without a back story of someone being killed by one? I'd do a bit of trimming. The place he falls into is the payoff. You want the reader getting to that fast and furious.

6) By the same token, you might want more description of the cave he finds himself in, and of the action that follows.

6) Other that that, I'd say just go over it a few more times, maybe reading to yourself aloud. A few things could use rewording (to avoid repetition, improve flow, etc).


More paragraphs. point taken. I thought the text looke da bit blocky.

I will revise the grammar and word-use. Adjective and adverb overuse has been a bit of a problem with me.

The storm scene - should I rewrite it? Maybe combine the hail with the lightning to make the decision to search for a cave more immediate.

The cave description thing is a problem. From the PoV of the reader obviously more description would be a good thing. But for the protagonist, its illogical. There is very little light. He can't really see much. That is why I have made the cave description tactile. So his head brushes the low ceiling, he feels the ground below him, he trips over the stone etc. He can't properly see anything what with only a small opening in one corner with a storm blotting out the sun. So I tried to make it sensorily plausible if that makes any sense?

I could draw out the stone sequence, make it more detailed and gradual.

Thanks for taking the time to read and make suggestions. Really appreciate it.
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#5 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 02:21 AM

View PostEsa1996, on 25 June 2015 - 08:55 PM, said:

I though it was very good. Better than anything I've ever done? Probably. Didn't mind any adjective happiness (Didn't actually notice any, but I'm doing a re-read of WOT at the moment so it might have something to do with me not noticing extensive description). Didn't panic is a legit point by Nevyn. Personally I didn't find the storm sequence to be too long, and found the backstory for the guy who got a hail in the head fairly hilarious. Also, the beginning with "bloody goat" had me grinning like an idiot (I like humor in books so don't get rid of it). Nevyn's point 6 is pretty good too. I have my own picture of the cave, but I don't think it's at all similar with yours.

You said it's a part of a longer story? What are you aiming at? Epic fantasy similar to ASOIAF/WOT/MBOTF or a smaller series like Kingkiller Chronicles / First Law? Or a standalone book?


Thanks for all the comments.

I am trying to balance a bit of humour with more serious overtones. Continuous darkness can be a bit monotonous for me.

What I have envisioned is a standalone book set in a larger universe. I have a lot of thing sin my head, but its a bit diffiult to translate them into coherent stories.

I have a Chapter 1 going but its bogged down a bit at the moment
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#6 User is offline   Felisin Fatter 

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 01:09 PM

I noted you used the word 'seemed' a bit much, perhaps remove it in some places? And to take a cue from the master (SE): your 'themes' here clearly are blood and rage, I'd do a bit more with that. Work in in words like red, anger (the caning?), heart, pulse, etc. That might improve the flow. Also, I'd add a little more description at the start - just a sentence or two about the environment, the protagonist, how long he's been searching- I had to reread a few sentences to 'place myself' in the story. Not so much the cave, that didn't bother me, it was supposed to be dark and confusing. But I kept wondering whether the main character was a child or a young man, how safe his other goats are (are there many? if it's just a few, you should name the lost goat) - you mention a 'shelter' but that's very vague.
What took me out of the story: I thought it was very unlikely that the goat stumbled into the exact same hole, but perhaps there is an in-story reason and it's supposed to be a mystery? Still, it was odd that the protagonist didn't wonder about it (or offer any explanation).
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#7 User is offline   Nevyn 

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 01:21 PM

View PostAndorion, on 26 June 2015 - 02:16 AM, said:



The cave description thing is a problem. From the PoV of the reader obviously more description would be a good thing. But for the protagonist, its illogical. There is very little light. He can't really see much. That is why I have made the cave description tactile. So his head brushes the low ceiling, he feels the ground below him, he trips over the stone etc. He can't properly see anything what with only a small opening in one corner with a storm blotting out the sun. So I tried to make it sensorily plausible if that makes any sense?





You can still describe from his point of view. A person draws any number of conclusions even when visibility is limited. How much light is coming in through the opening he fell through? How high is that? How large does the space feel. This seems like a good idea because you set the cave up as important for later, and because describing the character's perception of the surroundings sets the mood.
Tatts early in SH game: Hmm, so if I'm liberal I should have voted Nein to make sure I'm president? I'm not that selfish

Tatts later in SAME game: I'm going to be a corrupt official. I have turned from my liberal ways, and now will vote against the pesky liberals. Viva la Fascism.
When Venge's turn comes, he will get a yes from Mess, Dolmen, Nevyn and Venge but a no from the 3 fascists and me. **** with my Government, and i'll **** with yours
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#8 User is offline   Ashes 

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 01:56 PM

I'm in no way a writer so...I will try to keep my point from interfering with more experienced points of view..


Good start! I want to know what happens to him. If I had just picked the story up, I would of wanted to keep reading.

These are the only things I wondered about as I read-

I'd like to know what he looks like even if it's just one line somewhere in the beginning of the text. I don't mind a writer leaving a character kind of vague but I would still like a couple of visual details..

What did he bind his hand with? his clothes? or did he have an emergency satchel with him?


So seriously, what happens next? Posted Image
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#9 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 04:50 PM

OK...So

1. Rewrite to emphasize and contextualize protagonist and main scene, also background.
2. Revise word-usage. I am painfully aware how necessary this is. I just wasn't sure how to go about it. But the tips here helped.
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#10 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 04:55 PM

View PostAshes, on 26 June 2015 - 01:56 PM, said:

I'm in no way a writer so...I will try to keep my point from interfering with more experienced points of view..


Good start! I want to know what happens to him. If I had just picked the story up, I would of wanted to keep reading.

These are the only things I wondered about as I read-

I'd like to know what he looks like even if it's just one line somewhere in the beginning of the text. I don't mind a writer leaving a character kind of vague but I would still like a couple of visual details..

What did he bind his hand with? his clothes? or did he have an emergency satchel with him?


So seriously, what happens next? Posted Image


I really don't know/not sure yet.

There's the painful death-uncomprehending horror scenario, the painful death-horrifying realisation scenario, alternatively I could not kill him off, and make him one of multiple protagonists - but this will likely involve pretty heavy trauma.

I have a section of a chapter completed, only its from a different PoV and its got a whole host of different problems

As you can understand to call this a work in progress is to pay it too much honour.
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#11 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 09:49 PM

View PostAndorion, on 26 June 2015 - 04:55 PM, said:

View PostAshes, on 26 June 2015 - 01:56 PM, said:

I'm in no way a writer so...I will try to keep my point from interfering with more experienced points of view..


Good start! I want to know what happens to him. If I had just picked the story up, I would of wanted to keep reading.

These are the only things I wondered about as I read-

I'd like to know what he looks like even if it's just one line somewhere in the beginning of the text. I don't mind a writer leaving a character kind of vague but I would still like a couple of visual details..

What did he bind his hand with? his clothes? or did he have an emergency satchel with him?


So seriously, what happens next? Posted Image


I really don't know/not sure yet.

There's the painful death-uncomprehending horror scenario, the painful death-horrifying realisation scenario, alternatively I could not kill him off, and make him one of multiple protagonists - but this will likely involve pretty heavy trauma.

I have a section of a chapter completed, only its from a different PoV and its got a whole host of different problems

As you can understand to call this a work in progress is to pay it too much honour.


Don't kill him, I already like him! :p
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#12 User is offline   Felisin Fatter 

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 06:57 PM

Don't kill him, make him the villain Posted Image(Yes that is the trauma heavy option I guess... but I love tragedy :p )

But seriously, if the rage is there to stay - an unreasonably angry child can be a pretty challenging opponent and cause major damage. (I know, I have two kids :p )
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#13 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 01:54 AM

Possible...all is possible... Damn I need some time to sit down and think more about this.
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#14 User is offline   BfuckinK 

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 03:07 AM

Is Dorten Indian? I pictured him so cause it's you writing or am I off?
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#15 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 03:36 AM

View PostBriar King, on 08 July 2015 - 03:07 AM, said:

Is Dorten Indian? I pictured him so cause it's you writing or am I off?


To be honest I hadn't thought about ethnicity yet. My thought process is sort of conceptualizing the big picture, zooming down on specific areas and working out the details later.

The setting and socio-political structure I have imagined has no historical parallel. Closest in Indian terms is the 2000+ year old Mauryan Empire, or the Roman Empire in European terms, but I aim for the tech to be more late medieval, with a very heavy magical presence. I want to invent some of the culture rather than taking it from Indian lines
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Posted 08 July 2015 - 04:36 AM

Cool. I'm thinking of putting something of mine up I fiddled with a few yrs ago.
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#17 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 03:37 AM

What I am going to post here is a scene from the overarching story arc of which the prologue above was the beginning.

This is a very very rough draft. Essentially this scene was circulating in my brain for a week and absolutely refused to leave. So I decided to set it down in writing. I have only given about 2-3 hours to the writing and revised it once.

This is my first large-scale combat scene. I am unsure of the descriptions though the major themes are stuff I have imagined for some time now. All names are placeholders and can/will be replaced in the future.

The scene starts rather abruptly. There is a second section that goes before to explain and contextualize but I found I couldn't articulate it until i had set this down first.

All comments, advice, criticism are extremely welcome.



Story starts here:

The behemoths marched. Huge,ponderous and unstoppable, they smashed their way through every barrier and left a wake of destruction behind. Shields shattered, hardened regiments fled. Sorcery bloomed from a hundred points and lashed out against the giants. But they shrugged it off and kept coming.

"That won't do!" An angry 3rd rapped out.

Sloanek nodded thoughtfully. He lifted his jeweled gauntlet to his mouth and whispered. Around the battlefield sorcery bloomed again. But differently from last time. Not a hundred ragged points but focused centers. The 3rds and the 4ths were rallying their squads. Sloanek nodded again. The five 3rds in front of them raised their own power and their underlings joined them.

Sloanek looked once around the battlefield and spoke one word. This time Beric heard it. "Ifthanak ahur!"

Bright magenta beams blastedout from the centers, all concentrating on the leading behemoth. The air around the behemoth turned crimson as its shields struggled. Then with a cracking like glass shattering the shield failed. The behemoth vanished in blue fire, the enormous creature immolated in a heartbeat.

Black sorcery crackled out from the remaining behemoths. Around the field, of the dozen or so locations from which the battlemages had struck at least four exploded in fountaining earth and roiling flame. Sorcery vanished from the other locations immediately.

Sloanek licked his lips. It was the first anxious gesture Beric had seen from him since the battle began. He turned to the Empress and bowed.

"My apologies, your Majesty.They are too strong and too many. Concentrating our forces could defeat them but also present them too vulnerable targets. At present," he gestured over the battlefield "all we can hope to do is to slow them down. We cannot attack properly and defend ourselves at the same time. In fact it's all my company can do to hold off their attack-"

An almighty crack jolted the hillock. Black and green flames gnawed at the suddenly translucent shield. Three of the forward mages keeled over.

Sloanek spun.

"Hold the shield!" he shouted. "Hold it and-"

The follow up attack blasted soil and rocks into the air. The shield shook and Beric saw cracks upon it, cracks from which hungry green flame was bleeding in.

More mages fell. Sloanek raised his arms and power rolled out in streams, branching and dividing, touching the cracks and trying to seal them.

The green flames brightened and it seemed to Beric that the shield was shrinking as if some vast pressure was compressing it from outside. Sloanek slumped to his knees. Blood flowed from his nose. He turned his head and snarled at Beric

"Get the Empress out of here!"

Beric nodded. Things had gone far enough. He raised his arms. And then he froze.

The Empress had finally stirred.She stepped down from her position and strode to Sloanek. Gently she put onehand on his shoulder. He stared up at her, astonishment on his face. The bloodflow stopped. He got up slowly, hesitantly.

Beric felt something change in the air. He glanced up. The cracks in the shield were gone. The shield no longer looked pressed down. He looked at the Empress. Was this the fabled Imperial magic? He had not felt anything remotely like it before.

At that moment another plume of magic blasted out from the behemoths. Black and green, it curled its way across the sky like a gigantic serpent. Beric immediately began to open a portal. He had to be ready if the shield failed.

The Empress glanced up. Her eyes narrowed. Beric felt something change again and then suddenly the plume was slowing, slowing till it was almost stationary, a giant arc of raw power suspended in the sky.

The Empress raised a hand. A tiny golden globe hovered in her palm. She breathed on it and up it floated, faster and faster till it reached the arc and vanished inside it. Power bled out from the paralyzed arc, in ever greater streams, coiling and circling. Then she spoke. Her voice was soft, yet there was something behind the words that sent a chill down Beric's spine.

"Rage"

The coiling power seemed to solidify into a vortex and within it something stirred.

Beric's jaw dropped as he felt the portal. It was immense, dwarfing anything in his experience.

"How is she doing this? That'snot proper magic. Rage isn't even a recognised command.." His thoughts were abruptly interrupted as the portal opened and golden flames spilled out.And from the flames flew something monstrous.

A crimson scaled body larger than a behemoth, wings that covered the sky, a pointed head on a long neck.

A dragon cruised the skies of Doradea.

Beric could see it clearly. The moment it had appeared he had invoked farsight in defiance of his orders.

The dragon turned its head lazily, surveying the slaughter beneath. Then tilting its wings with an ease that defied its bulk, it dived. Down it soared and legs unfolded beneath it.Immense claws reached out and grasped a behemoth. With seemingly no effort the dragon lifted the behemoth into the sky. The beast thrashed and flailed, roared and screamed but the dragon ignored it, flying higher and higher, until it had reached the height of the portal. Then with languid ease that long neck snaked down and the dragon bit the behemoths head of its shoulders. the claws released and the body dropped like a stone.

But Beric never saw the impact.Black and green sorcery hammered out in waves, from the behemoths and from the hills behind them. The dragon flew through it all, roaring its defiance as the magic seemed to cause no visible harm. But then five waves coincided and the dragons head was whipped back as its body jerked with sorcerous impact. It writhed in a spiderweb of green flame, struggling and screaming. In a heartbeat it was free, flying clear of the conflagration and Beric could sense something had changed. Gone was the lazy arrogance. The dragon now flew fast and purposefully. It circled the field once, then turned, coming in low. Sorcery rose to meet it.

The dragon opened its jaws. An inferno rained down.

Sheets of flame came vomiting out and wherever it met the magic, the waves and beams themselves seemed to catch fire. Flame cascaded down now and the behemoths became living torches,stampeding blindly in their agony. Flame wreathed the guarded hills and it seemed for a moment those obsidian shields would hold. But the flames rose higher and the dragon passed over the hills and more flame came pouring down.The shields fell. The hills burned.

Beside Beric, the empress nodded."That will do" she heard her mutter. She raised her hand. Across the battlefield the dragon's head snapped around and Beric felt its vision, the ferocity and hunger of its regard. And he knew that if the dragon wanted him he was as good as dead. But the dragons attention was fixed on the Empress. Beric saw that the Empress was no longer as calm as before. Her lips were pursed and her hand was curling into a fist. She muttered something else.


With a whip of its tail the dragon turned and then flew towards the vortex.Flames curled around it as it disappeared. The vortex closed and the power began to dissipate.


The Empress looked around the battlefield. Firestorms raged around the enemy positions. Smoke billowed into the sky. The behemoths were gone. Some could be seen lying dead, burning like bonfires. No units advanced. For the first time in hours the Imperial positions were unassailed.

"I believe the generals can now take care of the rest", she said and glanced at Beric. "If you would be so kind..."

Beric snapped to attention. He raised his arms. A portal opened. The Paladins formed around the Empress and they marched through.

Beric was about to close it, when Sloanek limped up to him.

"You are coming with me. We follow her."

Beric glanced at him in surprise.With the Empress gone, he had figured that his duty was done.

"Don't just stand and stare at me boy! Hurry up!"

Beric followed Sloanek into the portal. They emerged into a huge space, filled with Paladins. Beric glanced around, mouth agape. It was a gigantic hall. The arched ceiling was held up by carved pillars thick as tree trunks.

"No time to sightsee boy!Follow me!"

Beric's eyes followed Sloanek. The Paladins were parting and in front the Empress was walking towards a huge door. Sloanek was almost running, trying to catch up. Beric ran himself and ashe caught up with Sloanek the door opened and the Empress vanished inside.Muttering to himself Sloanek pushed the door himself and Beric followed.

He found himself in a smaller room. Slender couches covered with soft cushions lined the walls. But the Empress had not stopped. She strode on purposefully to the opposite door and pushed on it. To Beric it seemed just for a moment that she staggered.

He followed Sloanek through the second set of doors as well. They opened upon a large chamber. Beric had no idea what it looked like for its most dominant feature took up all his attention. A huge pool, lined with gleaming marble took up more than three-quarters of the floor space. At its side stood the Empress. She turned to them as they entered. She opened her mouth as if to speak, when her expression changed. It seemed to twist in agony. The Empress fell forward on to her hands and knees. Great hacking coughs wracked her slender body. Blood spilled out, in great gouts, bright red, too red it seemed against the pristine white floor.

With an angry curse, Sloanek jumped forwards.

"Flaming skies boy! Don't just stand there! Help me with her armour!"

Beric now ran forward as well and he saw Sloanek was undoing the fastenings of the Empress' light armour. Beric stooped to help. The armour seemed to him to be warm. In fact too warm. It was not warm, it was hot. It took Beric a few moments to understand that the armour was heating up under his hands. Working feverishly he managed to get most of it off. The Empress heaved again and vomited more blood. To Beric's horror the blood seemed to steam, like water about to boil.

The Empress was clad now only in a padded long shirt and leggings both of which were smoking. Suddenly her body tensed and she tried to stand. She grasped for support and Beric offered his hand. He almost screamed.Heat radiated from her bare flesh, so intense he could feel it burn through his leather glove. She straightened with a jerk and staggered forward a step.Then, as if getting extra strength she jumped forward. Beric let her hand go.She plunged headfirst into the pool

With a great hissing, steam began to rise from the water. Beric just stood there staring in horror as the water began to froth and bubble. Great clouds of steam began to obscure his view.

"You can do basic transference, can't you lad?

Sloanek was standing with his arms extended, the jewels on his gauntlets glowing. Beric nodded once, slowly.

"Good. We need to keep the water cool or it will all boil away." he pointed to the right where a lineof huge iron braziers stood, stocked with fuel but unlit. "That's your dump point boy. Get to it!"

Beric raised his arms trying to ignore the stinging burn on his left wrist. He focused and felt the heat, the raging heat that was boiling away the water. Now he focused inward, finding his magic, the great river like flow which he was always aware of to some extent. Channeling the flow through his gauntlet he touched the heat. At the same time he felt the cold of the iron braziers and the potential for heat that lay there. Then he linked the two. Heat began to rise and then to flow. The link wavered and he pulled on his magic to hold it steady. Then he began to relax. In his experience once a link had been established and stabilised it virtually took care of itself. The heat increased suddenly. Beric gaped in astonishment. It was as if a volcano was exploding in the pool. Beric widened the link and pulled on more magic to hold it steady. The braziers burst into flame.

"Steady boy" rasped Sloanek. "It's going to get worse before it gets better."

The braziers were burning furiously. Beric could feel the flames from across the room. Yet the heat in the pool did not waver. He pushed more power into the link. Sweat poured down his face. he found himself wandering how long he could hold the link. The magic was infinite in its great river, but if he poured any more through himself he could be swept away in the current.

"Ah, we are almost past it!Hold hard! This last bit is the worst!

The last wave of heat almost broke the link. With a supreme effort Beric held it. His head was almost tearing itself apart in agony. His eyes burned and tears flowed freely. There was an odd noise from the braziers and a hurried glance showed him that they were now glowing red-hot. The tips seemed to be melting. His horrified eyes followed a drop of iron as it fell from the top and pooled on the ground.

Then abruptly it stopped. The heat vanished. The steam began to dissipate.

Beric sank to his knees his whole body trembling. Sloanek he saw, was also slumped forward and his nosebleed had started again. He was about to say something when the old man glanced up.

"We did it boy. It was close. Damn I should have realised that a portal mage like you would have a hard time with the transfer. But no choice, there's never any choice with the hard ones..." muttering to himself Sloanek fished out a cloth from his coat pocket and began wiping off his nosebleed. He tossed another rag to Beric. "There you go. Now stop bleeding on the good marble. "

With a start Beric realised that he was bleeding as well. He clamped the rag to his nose.

"But, I don't understand.What did we do? The Empress is dead, isn't she? She was burning up and... and nothing could have lived through that-"

A figure rose on the far side ofthe pool. Ascending, by what Beric could only assume were underwater steps, it walked out. Beric blinked. The figure was feminine and familiar. Then it turned and began to walk towards them. It was the Empress. Her hair was gone and her skin was pink and shiny, mottled with red. But the eyes, the face, the walk were the same.

At that moment a second door burst open. Two Paladins ran in with swords drawn. They were trailed by two people, a man and a woman. The one in the lead, a heavily built man in his middle years pointed accusingly at Sloanek.

"You fool! What have you done! The Empress-"

"Is perfectly fine. Did no one teach you to knock, Chancellor?"

The clear cold voice cut through the room. The Chancellor turned, saw the Empress and gaped. The two Paladins broke stride, turned in one smooth motion, and knelt, heads bowed, swords point-down in front.

Sloanek ignored this completely. His gaze was fixed on the second person to come through.

Hair white as snow framed a soft face that spoke of youth. Long eye-lashes partially covered the largest and softest eyes Beric had ever seen. Her sky blue and silver robes framed her figure and suddenly, absurdly Beric felt a surge of desire. She moved with an effortless grace. Her legs-

"Archmage Riviera."Sloanek bowed low.

All of Beric's desire vanished,as if it had never been. A shudder ran through his body. This was the reclusive Archmage, who was never seen by the junior mages!

The Archmage nodded slightly at Sloanek and then glanced at Beric with a raised eyebrow. Suddenly conscious that he was still standing straight Beric bent into a bow.

Meanwhile the Chancellor had found his voice again.

"Empress! You - you..." Beric looked up to see that he was now trying frantically and failing not to look at the Empress' nude body. One of the Paladins, a woman who Beric now saw bore the insignia of a captain was looking at him coldly.

"Empress! You need your robes! And a healer! Immediately" the Chancellor finally managed to stammer out.

"I am afraid not Chancellor. I find I am still a bit too... sensitive for any clothing. I shall now retire to my chambers. As for healing, I believe the Archmage will take care ofit"

An interrogative glance at theArchmage was returned with another small nod. The Empress began walking for thedoor.

"If you want something to do, I suggest you find suitable accommodations for those two." she pointed towards Sloanek and Beric. "And Healers. They did well. I will want to speak with them later."

She reached the door and suddenlylooked back. Her voice was now colder than ice and sharper than astiletto. "And then I will want a talk with you. About why you felt it necessary to barge unannounced into a Bath Chamber when all I had asked for was the Archmage"

The door closed.

This post has been edited by Andorion: 10 October 2015 - 03:48 AM

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#18 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:29 AM

Really good. I would definitely continue reading if it were longer. Especially liked the battle and you have an interesting magic system with a little of Malazan, Wheel of Time, Kingkiller Chroncicles and The Second Apocalypse all mixed in with some stuff of your own too. Works great with how you use it.

This post has been edited by Esa1996: 13 October 2015 - 08:29 AM

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#19 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 11:49 AM

View PostEsa1996, on 13 October 2015 - 08:29 AM, said:

Really good. I would definitely continue reading if it were longer. Especially liked the battle and you have an interesting magic system with a little of Malazan, Wheel of Time, Kingkiller Chroncicles and The Second Apocalypse all mixed in with some stuff of your own too. Works great with how you use it.


Thanks!


The idea of using mage squads is inspired by Malazan. Funnily enough I didn't think of Kingkiller at all when I wrote it and I haven't read Second Apocalypse.

I am going to try and develop the system further. The 'heating' for example will be explained later.

Glad you liked the battle. I love dynamic magic-filled battle sequences and tried to do something like that of my own.

As you probably understood, this is still at a very rough stage. I am currently trying to write the build up to this scene to help better contextualise and explain things

What is troubling me is writing the transition bits between tow big episodes. For example the tiny bit of walking through the portal and the hall to the bathchamber gave me more trouble than either of the two main scenes.
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#20 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:10 PM

View PostAndorion, on 13 October 2015 - 11:49 AM, said:

View PostEsa1996, on 13 October 2015 - 08:29 AM, said:

Really good. I would definitely continue reading if it were longer. Especially liked the battle and you have an interesting magic system with a little of Malazan, Wheel of Time, Kingkiller Chroncicles and The Second Apocalypse all mixed in with some stuff of your own too. Works great with how you use it.


Thanks!


The idea of using mage squads is inspired by Malazan. Funnily enough I didn't think of Kingkiller at all when I wrote it and I haven't read Second Apocalypse.

I am going to try and develop the system further. The 'heating' for example will be explained later.

Glad you liked the battle. I love dynamic magic-filled battle sequences and tried to do something like that of my own.

As you probably understood, this is still at a very rough stage. I am currently trying to write the build up to this scene to help better contextualise and explain things

What is troubling me is writing the transition bits between tow big episodes. For example the tiny bit of walking through the portal and the hall to the bathchamber gave me more trouble than either of the two main scenes.


Second Apocalypse (Prince of Nothing and The Aspect Emperor) has loads of magical shields and using them in battles is mostly what reminded me of it. The part where Beric was transferring heat from the pool to the braziers was what reminded me of Kingkiller (Mostly of the part where Kvothe burns that one guy's leg).

I'm trying to write my own book too, and I find I have the same problem as you. :) I have certain scenes in my head that I know well (As in how they will play out etc.) but the stuff in between those scenes is really hard to write. A book where you jump from "The Civil War Begins" to "The Battle" to "Journey Back Home" just doesn't work. You need something in between. :)
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