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One Who Masters Magic (End of First Draft)


Travis
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Title: One Who Masters Magic

Rating: PG-13

Rated for: violence, language, sexuality

Critique level: Critique Requested

 

This is my third serious attempt at producing a novel. Instead of science fiction, I have decided to go with fantasy. This is something I have been developing for well over a year now and have many, many ideas as to how it will play out. Unlike previous attempts, I have a far more defined plot developed and know far better where things are going. Characters have been planned out more and the plot itself is far more complex.

 

A little of the world. This is a fantasy universe, but it does not have the traditional elves, dwarves, or orcs/goblins. Humans are the primary self aware species here. There are fantasy creatures as well.

 

Magic is most definitely present, but divided by practitioners. That means a mage is different in skills than a wizard or a sorcerer or conjurer. Gender also plays a part in it, too. More will be explained as the story progresses.

 

I built up a map for this (of which I am most proud as I think it looks awesome). I would post a direct link, but the file itself is 15 MB and is far, far too large for photobucket, so I must direct people to my DeviantArt account.

(Old) Teladia v.2

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Prologue

 

"Prophecy is both a gift and a curse. It can gift a man with insight into the future that can benefit all of mankind, but it can also curse him with knowledge that others will kill to obtain or to silence."

 

””Terrand of Malorez, Master Prophet

 

 

 

The sound of iron shod hoofs clanged against cobblestones as three dozen men rode hard toward a drab monastery before them. The men ignored the cold winter wind that bit at their cheeks and the looming darkness from the shortened days. They knew the way to their destination well and the simple road guided them even in the dim light. All of these men were dressed in shining plate armor with mail beneath and carried spears in their hand and a sword on their belt. Each wore the crest of their emperor on their chest plate which seemed to faintly glow from some internal source. The leader had no spear, but instead carried a red and gold standard that fluttered behind him as they rode. Their horses had armor of their own that was a combination of small plates on the head and chest and polished black leather on the flanks. Even without ample light, these men all but shone in prim and proper form from the meticulous care spent to every detail of their armor and mounts. Both man and beast were grim, determined, and driven to the task at hand.

 

Their destination seemed a mockery of their dress and manner. The monastery was already lit with torches and a large lamp at the highest bell tower, but the light showed only the dull brown and tan surfaces made from stone. There were no bright colors or fancy standards to be seen, only a line of laundry drying to the side. A few cloaked figures milled around accomplishing various tasks or simply meditating. The monastery itself was not impressive to the eyes, either. Its highest point, the lit bell tower, was only twelve feet high and the rest of the buildings were simple structures meant to house those who lived inside. There was a perimeter fence, but it was designed to keep the chickens in rather than as a defensive barrier.

 

As soon as the riders approached, the cloaked figures looked up to identify who it was. When they did, they ran inside to alert the others there. By the time the riders came to the front door, a dozen of the inhabitants had assembled outside.

 

One stepped forward and said with a strong but non-aggressive voice, "You are not permitted upon these grounds."

 

The leader of the riders handed the standard to another rider and dismounted. He took two steps forward and replied, "By the authority of the emperor, I command you to bring forth the prophet Terrand."

The cloaked man who had first spoken stood firm and repeated, "You are not permitted on these grounds."

 

The rider set his jaw and said in a harsh voice, "Stand aside, acolyte, or we will cut you down where you stand."

 

With a glance to his brothers on either side, the cloaked man freed his hands from within his cloak and said resolutely for the last time, "You are not permitted on these grounds."

 

True to his word, the rider pulled out his sword and ran the acolyte through. The other riders sprang into action and either threw their spears or dismounted in complete silence. That many of the thrown spears found their marks in the chests of the acolytes was a testament that their shining armor was not merely for show, but that its wearers were skilled warriors.

 

The dozen men who had gone out to meet the riders fell in seconds, their blood staining the cobblestone road or repainting the walls behind them. The riders now all dismounted and spread out into the monastery leaving four of their number to watch the horses. There were no cries of pain or fear from the squat buildings even as its inhabitants were slaughtered. The riders offered no sounds of their own, but just went forth with their grim task in silence.

 

In minutes, only one cloaked man remained alive. He stood calmly in the central courtyard while his brethren were slaughtered around him. The man was of middle age, clean shaven, and wore a simple dark blue robe. The riders killed all else, but none touched him until the massacre was complete.

 

When all was done, the leader of the riders stepped into the courtyard carrying a torch taken from the monastery. "Prophet Terrand, you are commanded by Emperor Caterin of Angvard to return to Angvard and to reveal to him your latest prophecy in its entirety, omitting nothing. The penalty for not doing this is the most painful death and the destruction of your Order."

 

Terrand looked at the seasoned warrior in front of him and took note of the blood dripping from his sword and armor. He did not shrink back as the man approached, but stood his ground with a calm, almost serene expression. "You are a most interesting man, Captain Wasitpan," he said in a melodic voice. "Your fate is known to me, and it is not one you expect. Your death will be long in coming, but you will wish for it to come far sooner. Do you wish to know the manner in which you will die?"

 

Captain Wasitpan growled and slapped the prophet across the face with his gauntleted hand. "I will not hear of your lies!" he spat out.

 

From the ground, Terrand smiled and made no effort to get back up. "Very well, young Captain Wasitpan, your fate shall remain known only to me." He paused and looked upward to the twilight sky. "The prophecy your master wishes is a complex one indeed, dependent on many factors all falling into place. Should any of those factors not come true, all shall collapse in on itself into meaningless." He paused and raised a single finger. "But should the Elements properly conspire to bring forth the needed factors, your emperor has much to be concerned about."

 

With a small chuckle””the first emotion the man had displayed during the entire massacre””he continued, "A time will come when one will come into being that will change the world. He will command armies mightier than any Teladia has seen before, all will answer to him wherever he goes. He will unite the lands in true harmony and rule over them all.

 

"Beware, dear captain, for he shall be known by the following. War will not be his choice, but it will dominate his life. He will be a leader of men but will not seek to lead. He will give up that which he holds most dear, but will gain that which is necessary in exchange. He will fall before he rises. He will have no children, but all will call him father. He will be a stranger in many lands, but be welcomed in them. He will be strong and fierce against those who oppose him, but gentle and kind to those who join him. When he is needed, he will arise to carry out his purpose of saving us all from the Coming Darkness. All will bow before his strength, for he is the one who masters magic."

 

The captain was not satisfied, but kicked the prophet. "We know this to be true, it has been confirmed by others. What has not been confirmed is who this man is, where is he from. You alone have seen this and that is what the emperor demands!"

 

"My poor captain, I would not tell you that for all the wealth in the world," Terrand said with another chuckle. "Not all prophecy is meant for all ears. Your emperor will never know my prophecy, neither will his heirs for generations on end. Not until it is too late will his line know that their end is at hand."

 

Wasitpan kicked the man again and replied with confidence, "We will see about that. A few weeks in the torture chambers will loosen your lips."

 

Again, he was greeted with a chuckle, this one a little louder. "No, for you forget that I am a prophet. I have known this day would come for years. Indeed, my end is nigh, but you shall not lay another finger upon me."

 

As if to disprove the prophet's claims, the captain reached down for the bruised man. Before he could reach him, a strange sound like the popping of a large bubble erupted from the intended victim. Wasitpan was thrown back across the courtyard. His torch was blown out from a mighty rushing wind that caused the worn robes on the laundry line to flap violently.

 

The light from the torch was no longer needed, though, because Prophet Terrand was consumed in flames that lit the entire monastery like a bonfire. Wasitpan's men shielded their eyes from both the wind and the sudden light, but they could not shield their ears from the sound of the prophet's laughter as his own body was consumed by the fire. After a handful of seconds, the wind, fire, and laughter died out leaving only a small pile of ash where the prophet once was.

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Welcome back to Library Travis.

 

First of all, that map is very well created. It has the same sort of details and the general appearance as that I would expect to see in a Tolkien book. Not having that sort of skill in digital art, I'm thoroughly impressed.

 

For the opening post, overall, I really enjoyed the visuals you created, they were nice and rich and allowed a full image to be created in the mind. It feels just like a prologue should, detailing something massively important, and I expect that Chapter 1 will now go to the protagonist in his natural setting.

 

You gave the Prophet a very believable air of belief in himself and his own visions.

 

There were a couple of minor errors however, the first sentence, the visual it's creating is great, but structurally the sentence feels wrong:

The sound of iron shod hoofs clanged against cobblestones as three dozen men rode hard toward a drab monastery before them

 

Can I suggest:

Iron-shod hooves clanged against the cobblestones as three dozen men rode hard toward the drab monastery before them, ignoring the cold winter wind that bit at their cheeks and the looming darkness from the shortened days.

 

To me this flows a bit more smoothly, and introduces the riders in a, I want to say more consistent way, but I'm not sure if that's *quite* right. Also hooves is the word I would use, not hoofs, but that could be American vs British spelling as well, I'm not sure.

 

I would have liked to read more of the initial fight, but thats just personal preference, and one I will likely level at you regularly...I like details.

 

Overall though, I enjoyed this and I look forward to reading more.

Member of Jnet Addict Club 12/05

Order of the Nocturnal

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First of all, that map is very well created. It has the same sort of details and the general appearance as that I would expect to see in a Tolkien book. Not having that sort of skill in digital art, I'm thoroughly impressed.

Thank you, the final map there is the accumulation of about 30 hours of work and I am extremely proud of it. And yes, it is modeled off a very Tolkeinish approach (not that the novel itself is, just the map which is awesome).

 

It feels just like a prologue should, detailing something massively important, and I expect that Chapter 1 will now go to the protagonist in his natural setting.

Yes indeed. I just posted the first part of the first chapter on DA and will wait a bit to post it here (don't want to overwhelm people just yet). The story jumps 620 years (what good is prophecy if it isn't old?) and will introduce the main character. I am still working on the concept of character development as I am far better at plot and action, but hopefully I will get it.

 

You gave the Prophet a very believable air of belief in himself and his own visions.

While he may be long dead, he will continue to pop up in the rest of the novel.

 

Also hooves is the word I would use, not hoofs, but that could be American vs British spelling as well, I'm not sure.

Hoofs is indeed a variation of it, maybe it is American. I too like "hooves" though, and will change it. Let me ponder upon the suggestion for sentence structure. It has been rather hectic and that is just a draft subject to change.

 

I would have liked to read more of the initial fight, but thats just personal preference, and one I will likely level at you regularly...I like details.

It was a massacre, not really a fight. Anyway, the emphasis wasn't so much on the fight but the massacre, showdown, and its later repercussions. Don't worry, there will be plenty of action in the novel.

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Hey, Travis, excellent start! First off, the map is really impressive! Congrats on not only the artistic achievement but also the very detailed world you have created.

 

I really liked the feel of this piece. There is lots of rich visual detail, and the prologue is packed with action and tension to setup what sounds like a classic, epic fantasy saga. I also liked the quote you use to open it - it foreshadows what happens to Terrand, helps validate the importance of his character and influence in the world, and helps emphasize the time-spanning and cost-to-coast arching impact this prophecy (and storyline) will have to the world.

 

It will be interesting to see how this transitions to Chapter 1 and the protagonist!

 

I honestly didn't catch much to critique here, although granted my week has started out really exhausting and stressful, so I didn't read it with quite the same eye for critique as I normally have. Glad Brendo is offering you some help with that. Looking forward to what comes!

"It's always these little worlds that get you in trouble. Like Tatooine. I'm still living that one down." - Han Solo

Your barnacle has carnivorous salamanders the size of whales.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the faith we profess, for he who promised is faithful." -Heb. 10:23

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Wow, what a great start! I always feel like the beginning of a story is always the hardest to write, and yet the most important, because you have to grab and snag the readers' attention. You certainly did this for me! My interest was really caught, especially by the prophecy. I love a good prophecy-driven story. How will the main character respond? Will he accept it, or try to go against it? I'm very interested to find out!

 

Amazing map...I have no idea how you would even start going about making something like that. It looks beautiful, though, and you should be very proud. I always like making maps for my fantasy writing settings, but they're like child's scribbles compared with that.

 

Definitely looking forward to more.

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SHE MEANS TO END US ALL!!! DOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!11eleventyone!
There goes Ami's reputation of being a peaceful, nice person.
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Thank you for the feedback. One of the biggest reasons why I am so hesitant to write is because I fear people wouldn't be interested in it. JM Gimpy, I know you don't know me from Adam, I am very glad you took the time to not just read this, but respond. That means more to me than my best friends who read this.

 

To both of you, making the map wasn't very difficult, truly. It was extremely time consuming, but not very difficult at all. If I ever find time, I will make a quick tutorial on how to do it. The key is the brushes used for the terrain and those were free stock. Same with the parchment background.

 

 

Well, here is the start of Chapter 1. It is set a bit ahead (all good prophecies need to be old) and introduces the protagonist and a few others who may or may not survive the next few chapters (I know the answer, but won't tell you guys). This is where I really need help and feedback. I will admit that the nitty gritty of character development is hard for me. I can do plots and battles and whatnot, but the rest is hard. Let me know how I went. I still am wondering about some of it and may rearrange it depending on feedback. There is a lot to put in and yet, I don't want to overwhelm readers just yet.

 

____________________________

 

Chapter 1

 

"When we first heard the Angvardi had destroyed the Kuti, we rejoiced for we had not the foresight to comprehend that we would be next."

 

””Magistrate Forten of the Sei

 

 

1049, Second Age

 

"Syler Penion," the voice called out. It continued without pause, "Geran Farztois, Alen Klastor, Mathes Feral”¦"

 

Throughout the square, cries of dismay, bravado, or anger could be heard as name after name was announced. The roll was long and the village of Sandrin in the northwestern reaches of the Kingdom of the Sei was but a small one. So many men would be called upon to offer their services and likely their lives this sunny afternoon. Wives, parents, children, or other friends and family joined in the event, mostly with fear and trepidation.

 

Each man reacted differently when his name was called. Syler did not cry out either in excitement or fear, but merely nodded in acceptance. What was done was done, there was nothing he or anyone could do about it.

 

His sister, on the other hand, was not so accepting. In a panicked and stressed whisper, she said, "It's okay, you can talk to them. Something can be done and you won't have to go." They stood in the village square with hundreds of others, almost the entire village. When his name had been called, she grabbed him tightly and held him as though the Elements themselves would snatch him away.

 

In a sad but determined voice, Syler replied, "No, Karusa. I will go, it is my duty."

 

With wide eyes beginning to brim with tears, Karusa tried to persuade him otherwise, "But you are a blacksmith's apprentice! If you need to go with the men, surely you can remain back at camp to service the weapons and armor and not go out to fight!"

 

He had already considered that and dismissed it even before coming to the village square. He had vowed that if his name had been selected, he would serve and fight just like the others. "I will not cower behind while the others fight. There are plenty of arms and blacksmiths with greater skill than I possess, I will not be needed."

 

"It is so dangerous, there are so many this time, these aren't just the Sua raiders, they will destroy everything," Karusa rambled on in her vain attempts to persuade her brother.

 

With a set jaw and firm voice, Syler responded, "Then I will die trying to stop them. It is better to fight and die than to submit to enslavement without a struggle."

 

"Let someone else who is more skilled fight, you are so young."

 

"If everyone thinks that, we will have lost before the battle even begins. I am twenty years old, I am of perfect age to fight," Syler responded calmly in a low voice.

 

Seeing that her current line of attacks were not going to persuade him, she turned to another venue, one that played on his emotions and sense of responsibility. "Then who will look after me? How will I make a living? You are the only one who I have."

 

For the first time, Syler hesitated, but not for long. "If we are overrun like the Kuti were, then I will not be able to watch over you anyway. I will become a slave and be taken away." He took a deep breath and exhaled before continuing. "Look at all these other men," he said with a wave of his hand to the others gathered. "They will be marching off to fight and will not be cowering behind their jobs or families. What of those women and children who watch as their husbands and fathers and sons go off to war? How can I look at any of them in the eyes again if I fight this conscription while the others accept their fates? I don't want to do this, but I have no choice. None of us do."

 

Tears had already streaked their way down Karusa's cheeks as she realized her protests were hopeless. She had feared that this would happen when news of the Angvardi army's march had reached them, they all had. Conscription was the common answer to threats for the Sei and had been for hundreds of years, but most knew it was not going to suffice for this. They had not faced a threat this dire in two hundred years since the Kosh and Sua allied and invaded as one force that had ravaged the lands for three years. Because of that elevated threat, more men than normal were being summoned to war.

 

Syler placed his forehead against that of his sister and prayed to the Elements for protection. Karusa wasn't wrong when she said he was the only one she had left. Their mother had gone to be with the Spirits twelve years ago and it had been three years since their father died. Syler had been unable to maintain their father's shop and had been forced to sell it. Since that time, Syler had been working as an apprentice to sympathetic blacksmith named Fitno who had agreed to take him into their home in exchange for his services. It meant working from before the sun came up until hours after the sun went down six days a week, but that was what was needed to provide food, shelter, and clothing as well as teaching him a trade.

 

Karusa had been married to a young man named Jarem when their father died and lived in his small farm outside the village. The two of them were in love and happy, but that was not to last for long. While plowing their fields, Jarem tripped and landed on an upturned root that was just strong enough to penetrate his liver. He died in extreme agony two days later just an hour before a mage arrived to heal him. Losing her husband had been devastating for Karusa, especially since they had not had time to have any children. Jarem's uncle took over the farm and paid her only a fraction of what it was worth.

 

With nowhere else to go and little money to her name, Syler had managed to convince Fitno to take her in as well. She helped Fitno's wife with sewing, tending the garden, and whatever else was needed. It was a hard life with little true joy, but Fitno and his wife were kind people who had accepted them as their own since they could have no children of their own.

 

The reading of the names had stopped and it was now time for the selected men to meet at the front so they could be assembled into the company. Syler wrapped his arms around his sister in a tight embrace. "Karusa, my dear sister," Syler whispered next to her ear, "I must go. Know that whatever happens, I love you and will fight to return as soon as I can." He kissed Karusa's forehead and, with one last look, left her to begin his way to the front with the other men who had been conscripted. She stood there in among the other women, elderly, and children with tears streaming down her face begging him not to go. Every step he took away from her tore at his heart, but he resolved himself to what must be done and continued anyway.

 

Conscription among the Sei was a long standing tradition involving a lottery system including all eligible men. Each put a small piece of paper with their name in a large bowl and the required number of names to fill the ranks were pulled out. Usually, it was no more than a quarter of the men, but this time, less than a quarter were left standing. A small number of those men left took pity upon those with large families and volunteered to go in that man's stead, but most were forced to go. Few wished to march off to what they knew was likely their certain doom, but it was their duty to their lands to at least try. Perhaps the Elements would smile upon their bravery and allow them to win against the odds.

 

As he left his older sister weeping in the crowd, Syler's cheek dampened from tears of his own. He didn't want to hurt her like this, but it was his duty to the village and the kingdom. He had been chosen and so he would go like the dozens of others this day and the thousands around the kingdom. He wouldn't let her see the fear that caused his heart to race, or the sorrow he had at having to leave her here alone.

 

He was a young man, strong and hardy from three years as a blacksmith's apprentice. In his twenty years, he had not been called to war, but like all men of the village, he had practiced and trained. They were not as well trained or armed as the Seinari, the professional army of the Kingdom of the Sei, but they and other conscript units from other villages and towns formed the bulk of the kingdom's defenses. They had succeeded in maintaining their sovereignty and defending the king for centuries.

 

A strong arm grabbed Syler's shoulder as he walked through the crowd. He turned around to see the burly figure of Fitno looking at him with sympathy. "Don't worry my boy, I will do my best to watch over Miss Karusa. She will have a place with us for as long as she needs it."

 

That news helped lift a burden gripping the young man's heart. He had feared that without him there to serve as an apprentice, Fitno wouldn't be able to allow his sister to stay. He was a good man and Syler was ferociously grateful to him for this. If he came back from the war, he would have to find some way to properly thank the blacksmith. "Thank you, sir," he managed to choke out.

 

"May the Elements guide you and set your path through low hills," said Fitno giving a common blessing for those about to depart. He grabbed Syler's hand and gave it a firm shake before releasing him to continue on his journey.

 

It took some time for all of the men to say their goodbyes and disentangle themselves from their families. Seventy men had been chosen that night to join the others in reinforcing those already in the field. Hardly a cheek was not wet from tears as they formed into ranks and marched to the small village armory while some of the older men of the village remained in the square to prevent the others from following.

 

When they arrived at the armory, they were given weapons and armor according to their individual skills or experience. Since he had not been to war or experienced battle, Syler was not one of the few who were given a sword and plate armor. Instead, he was given simple mail armor and a light helmet like all of the others. Because he was adept at striking with swings due to his time in the smithy, so he was one of the few who was given an axe and shield to fight, the rest received spears. In practice sessions, he was renowned for the strength of his swings that could hew the clustered grass target stacks in a single blow or sometimes even crack solid rock. Sometimes, he was able to practice with a sword, but there were too few of them here for all to receive them, so only those who had actual experience were issued them.

 

"Hey there Syler!" one of the others called out. The voice belonged to Havert Jakaras, a young man only slightly older than Syler himself. The lanky redhead lived several houses down and sometimes drove the carts that brought in Blacksmith Fitno's supplies or carried the finished goods out. He was a good friend though Syler had missed his name being called and kicked himself for not paying attention.

 

"Havert, so you were conscripted too, I see," he replied. It would be good to have his friend along for this as he was a good man.

 

"Naw," the other replied, "I volunteered. Couldn't let Mr. Castrin leave his four little ones alone, could I? Besides, someone has to watch out for you."

 

Syler was surprised at that news. He wasn't entirely sure if Havert wanted to help or if he wanted the action. He had chafed at not being conscripted last year to fend off a small Sua raiding party but was not brave enough to volunteer himself. Though he ran his own transport business, he still had to watch out for his ailing parents.

 

"What about your pa?"

 

Havert shook his head and shrugged. "Nothin' I can do about it. We are all in some serious trouble, if I don't go now, I would have been left here to be captured when they invade. Pa can live with that, or maybe we will all die and he won't."

 

With an arched eyebrow, Syler replied, "So you don't think we have much a chance, do you?"

 

One of the other men nearby grunted and interrupted, "Of course we do, lad. The Elements haven't let the Sei fall yet, these Angvardi grunts won't be the ones to do it."

 

"But rumors have it that they have a hundred thousand men marching on Kasas Sei," said Havert.

 

"Maybe, but they are far from their supply lines and in strange lands," the man said before spitting on the ground in disgust. "Those Easterners are too used to nice green pastures and tall forests, they won't like it here where men have to actually be strong to survive. We will beat them back, mark my words. It may take a few battles, but we will. The Seinari will prevail with the help of the Elements."

 

"I don't know," said Syler. "That is a lot of men, they wouldn't have conscripted so many of us if it weren't something bad."

 

With a snort, the man waved his hand in dismissal and left the two of them to get his own gear. "I agree," Havert said, "but there is nothing we can do but trust in the Elements. If we are going to be overrun by the Easterners, then I would rather die fighting than live as a slave."

 

He would find no argument in Syler or probably most of these men. The Sei were a prideful people who did not like to bow to anyone. They prided themselves as the most advanced and powerful of the Western Kingdoms and were constantly fighting off incursions and raiding parties from the Kut, Sua, and Kosh that surrounded them.

 

They didn't have long to catch up, though. Sergeant Keil, their commanding officer and a veteran of four campaigns, drove them to begin marching as rapidly as possible. He didn't want to risk desertions and was eager to connect with other companies and get into the battle. As they marched through the town, the women and men being left behind gave food for the road and charms or blessings for protection. Along the way, Syler was able to see Karusa one last time as she handed him bread and strips of dried meat. She had tears in her eyes, but was able to tell him she loved him before he was forced to continue onward.

 

After stopping at the stream on the edge of town to fill their water skins, all seventy of the men began the long march southeast to Kasas Sei, their capital and rallying point. It was a day long march and many were eager to get on with it.

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Did you recover the original small version of the map?

 

Good job with the novel. As always, I enjoy reading your work, and appreciate all the careful "details" you include!

 

I am stoked, and can't wait for the finished product.

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unless you're married you're never "stuck". Now, if you're married you can get divorced but,my friends, it's cheaper to keep her.
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Did you recover the original small version of the map?

The original small version? Do you mean the original large version of the compass image? If so, yes, I did. It took a while, but I got it.

 

 

I hate losing things on the computer. Just this morning I was working on reconciling bank statement and all of a sudden the lights went out. I lost what I was working on and needless to say I am back to square one.

 

I digressed...but glad you did recover your map!

4q1r2v.png

Sig courtesy of Sasori!

 

 

unless you're married you're never "stuck". Now, if you're married you can get divorced but,my friends, it's cheaper to keep her.
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I only picked up on one thing grammar wise:

In the armory, weapons, armor, and supplies were handed out according to skill.

This doesn't feel right. I can hear what you're trying to achieve, but I think the comma after armoury should be a semi-colon?

 

Otherwise, this was solid. Introduces the protagonist, and who I can only assume will be his best friend and foil, and setting up some more of what is to come.

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Nice update! You'll get the full critiquing swing this time, hopefully it's not too much. You seem to really want all the feedback you can get. Again, I like using the quotes to foreshadow and add both history and culture. Also, I have to admit I was kind of expecting to jump to some idyllic pasture scene where the protagonist was cheerfully living without any knowledge of what approached, a la Tolkien. I was hoping you would jump us right into some "current" action instead, and I'm glad it's more of the route you took.

 

You did a good job of jumping into the action, introducing some characters and slowly expounding on detail (without an obvious brain-dump), and leaving others who weren't quite as an important more abstract so as not to bog the reader down. You are clearly know where you're headed in the story, and you are keeping track of the details that I would probably have not thought through as well as you have. Haha, I kind of feel as though for every time I've read Tolkien or something similar with the epic wars, you have probably read 3x as many books, at least twice as many times! It helps a lot to know what style you're going for!

 

That said, I'll offer a few general suggestions. You have a great beginning, plot, and descriptions, but (as always with writing ) I can see a few more minor areas where you can help tighten things up and keep working on.

 

1. Read through a section aloud when you've finished it, preferably after you haven't looked at it for a few hours at least. Make sure to put in the pause for each comma, it's a good practice in general to catch any strangely worded sentences or awkward rhythms. It's a little different with this style of writing which is heavy on description and formal speech, but I think it would still help. For example, take: "Throughout the square, cries of dismay, bravado, or anger could be heard as name after name was announced." I would remove the first comma, as there are too many pauses and that one creates a fragment... just my opinion. I think for the most part you were good with this, but there are a small handful of places where that would help.

 

2. I think you mentioned somewhere earlier that you are really trying to improve your characterization? I really feel you there - I really struggle with that for original characters, I feel like mine all come out sounding a bit of the same. Give me an established character I'm just "borrowing" and it goes much better! You could probably do a little more with defining them, but I didn't notice anything obviously apparent that felt awkward or stilted and I liked that you didn't just default to physically describing them in detail. I guess just continuing to solidify in your own mind the feelings or attitudes that go along with the backstories you've given them would help.

 

What really came off so far is that Syler is very calm and pragmatic, Karusa is afraid now but not necessarily a flighty or dramatic girl when faced by more normal circumstances, Fitno and his wife are kind but still require it to benefit them at least a little, and Havert is much more go-lucky (and probably prone to getting in trouble) than any of the other characters. That is a great start to defining them all! In particular, the way Havert talks (as much as what he says) really helps define him: "Naw," "Nothin'", etc... it's all much more informal than what we hear from anyone else. You could further emphasize this by having him "lounge" or "lean" against a wall or sword in the armory, for example, where the rest of men are standing straight and ready. Little things like that go a long way!

 

3. I think the last general area I could suggest to focus on is describing what people say. For example:

His sister, on the other hand, was not so accepting. "It's okay, you can talk to them. Something can be done and you won't have to go," she said in a panicked and stressed whisper. They stood in the village square with hundreds of others, almost the entire village. When his name had been called, she grabbed him tightly and held him as though the Elements themselves would snatch him away.

You have a lot of good stuff there, but the description of her actions and how she said the words came after she said them, so it was harder to imagine them in the quick, whispered tone they came in. By moving some of the description in front of the words or using different punctuation, you can help emphasize that more. You could try rearranging to something like this:

 

His sister, on the other hand, was not so accepting. Though they were packed into the village square with hundreds of others, almost the entire village, she clutched his arm tightly when his name was called as thought the Elements themselves would snatch him away. "It's okay," she whispered, the words falling out of her mouth in a panicked tumble. "You can talk to them. Something can be done - you won't have to go!"

 

That said, the only specific things I found were:

It was a hard life, but Fitno and his wife were kind people who had accepted them as their own them since they could have no children of their own.

 

"Karusa, my dear sister," Syler whispered next to her hear, "I must go.

 

Since he had not been to war or experienced battle, Syler was not one of the few who were given a sword and plate armor. Instead, he was given simple mail armor and a light helmet like all of the others. Except the archers.Because he was adept at striking with swings due to his time in the smithy, so he was one of the few who was given an axe and shield to fight, the rest received spears.

 

He was a good man and Syler was ferociously grateful to him for this. If he came back from the war, he would have to find some way to properly thank the blacksmith. "Thank you, sir," he managed to choke out.

In the second to last sentence the phrase about the archers stands out as awkward. The last one is a good thing - I really liked the adjective 'ferociously' that you used there. It's not a place I would expect to see it (I always think of a predator eating something for some reason), which just emphasizes the strength and boldness of the feeling in contrast to the sorrow and numbness that is prevalent elsewhere in the passage.

 

"Syler Penion," the voice called out. Without pause, it continued to drone out several others just as it had before calling that one.

Just my opinion, I would consider starting with Syler but adding another one or two made up names. It gives more of the feel of hearing names called before having to explain it, and let you sharpen up the second sentence a little since you've shown some of what is happening already.

 

Anywho - back to general stuff. It's a good, strong update. You're jumping us right into the story now and have introduced a couple of characters. I'm already expecting a fast-paced story! I like how you gave a big picture of change, grief, and the upcoming struggles of war hitting the nation... and the village... and a few specific people all at once.

"It's always these little worlds that get you in trouble. Like Tatooine. I'm still living that one down." - Han Solo

Your barnacle has carnivorous salamanders the size of whales.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the faith we profess, for he who promised is faithful." -Heb. 10:23

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Very nice! I agree with pretty much everything Gimpy said, so I won't repeat it all, but I will repeat her pointing out the line about "Except the archers." That is a fragment, and that paragraph in general was a little sloppy grammatically. Other than that, I didn't really see much.

 

Your characterization is fine so far...too early to really comment on development. But I consider that my strength, so I'll make sure to keep an eye on it for you!

 

One other thing...maybe it was just me, but I got confused at the end which side they were on. I guess I thought from your descriptions earlier in the chapter that the Sei were the "bad guys". So then at the end when I realized that Syler and company were Sei, I had to go back and reread the history of the war, etc. Maybe I just wasn't reading it carefully enough. But you might want to call Syler a Sei earlier in the chapter or something, just to make that crystal clear.

 

I'll definitely be watching for more!

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SHE MEANS TO END US ALL!!! DOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!11eleventyone!
There goes Ami's reputation of being a peaceful, nice person.
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Yes, I really do want the feedback, even if it is not good. That doesn't mean I want a bashing, but I do want to know if I screwed up on something, especially this early into it.

 

Haha, I kind of feel as though for every time I've read Tolkien or something similar with the epic wars, you have probably read 3x as many books, at least twice as many times!

Yes, I have. I am also a historian with a degree in History, so I read stuff on epic battles and wars for fun, so that also helps. I don't think I will have much to worry about when it comes to describing battles (except I may go into too much technical detail on the strategies).

 

Read through a section aloud when you've finished it, preferably after you haven't looked at it for a few hours at least.

Excellent idea. I try to do that sometimes, but I really should do it more often.

 

I think the last general area I could suggest to focus on is describing what people say.

Good point. I will work on doing that more often and will probably go through some of the stuff I already have and edit.

 

And, to note: the "Except the archers." was actually something that shouldn't have been in there. I changed that entire paragraph around a bunch and that must have been left in there somehow. I am most embarrassed at it, actually. Same with the wrong word usage there, my mistake again.

 

It was a hard life, but Fitno and his wife were kind people who had accepted them as their own them since they could have no children of their own.

Regarding this, I changed a few things around after reading it and apparently missed some stuff. That was likely another remnant that I missed. I probably should have waited longer to publish that, but I wanted to have something else for readers to see sort of how the story would start. I will go through and fix those errors immediately and possibly republish it all.

 

Just my opinion, I would consider starting with Syler but adding another one or two made up names.

I considered that but am not sure. The reason being is because I wanted it to almost be like that was the only name they heard. I was concerned that by throwing up other names, it would distract readers more than it helps them.

 

One other thing...maybe it was just me, but I got confused at the end which side they were on.

Definitely. One thing I noticed after publishing that is that I didn't even give the name of the village. I chalk that up to me having too much planned out in my head and in notes and forgetting that the readers don't yet have that information.

 

I will be doing some restructuring of that part (and likely other parts after getting feedback). I hope to incorporate most of your specific examples and work on the general advice. I will get back with everyone soon with the changes and the second part of the chapter.

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Yes, I have. I am also a historian with a degree in History, so I read stuff on epic battles and wars for fun, so that also helps. I don't think I will have much to worry about when it comes to describing battles (except I may go into too much technical detail on the strategies).

Cool! That doesn't surprise me, considering the level of detail you have added to the culture and habits of the people. My husband has a degree in history as well, only in his case it means that he much prefers non-fiction books and rarely cracks open the ones on my part of the bookshelf. I have a terrible time with battle tactics and strategy, so I'm glad to know who to hit up for ideas or editing if I hit a snag in that area in my own writing!

 

Good point. I will work on doing that more often and will probably go through some of the stuff I already have and edit.

Sure, if you edit you last chapter feel free to ask us to go back and look it over, I doubt any of us would mind.

 

And, to note: the "Except the archers." was actually something that shouldn't have been in there. I changed that entire paragraph around a bunch and that must have been left in there somehow. I am most embarrassed at it, actually. ... I will go through and fix those errors immediately and possibly republish it all.

Seriously, no worries, and don't feel embarrassed. We've all been there, and one of the things I like best about this forum is that we're all trying to improve. I can't count how many times I've done that kind of editing and left a few random partial sentences hanging in the middle!

 

I considered that but am not sure. The reason being is because I wanted it to almost be like that was the only name they heard. I was concerned that by throwing up other names, it would distract readers more than it helps them.

Ah, I see your reasoning, and as you are focusing on Syler and his sister within the larger community it makes sense. You could easily keep it as is. Or...hmm... you could also consider trying to hit some middle ground:

 

"Syler Penion," the voice called out. The name hung in the air, loud and inescapable as it turned the world upside down. "Trosk Marick. Pill Halbert..." The voice droned on without pause, reading the list that seemed to stretch on forever.

 

That still might be too complex for what you're focusing on, though, as it does add more names to confuse things. Definitely keep with the focus on Syler that you're trying to convey.

 

Your characterization is fine so far...too early to really comment on development. But I consider that my strength, so I'll make sure to keep an eye on it for you!

Yay! I don't know how strong I am with that. Ami, I am definitely hitting you up for help with that in the future.

"It's always these little worlds that get you in trouble. Like Tatooine. I'm still living that one down." - Han Solo

Your barnacle has carnivorous salamanders the size of whales.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the faith we profess, for he who promised is faithful." -Heb. 10:23

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is the second half of Chapter 1. The company of men has began marching out and the buildup for battle begins. As with the other two parts I posted, I am very open to feedback and critique, even if it is negative. I spent a bit longer on this due to some writer's block and being so blasted busy. I know exactly what I want to do and where to go, but getting to those points requires some setup.

 

Oh, I made a few small edits to the first part of the chapter and introduced a dating system rather than just randomly saying "X years later." That will help when I start mentioning events and happenings, especially concerning the prophecies. Though the reader doesn't know it yet, the dating system is actually centered off the first line of the prophecy completely by Terrand in the Prologue. The First Age was based off the founding of a long fallen empire that one spanned the entirety of the East. The Second Age started with the prophecy of the one who would save all of the lands from the Coming Darkness. It will be explained "in character" at a later point, when Syler begins getting some answers from various people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1, Pt 2.

 

As the sun was beginning to go down, their company saw another standard surrounded by hundreds of glittering figures in the distance marching toward them. The group of men wasn't another conscript company on their way to the capital because they were heading the wrong way and numbered far more than any company would. Of greater concern was the fact that they couldn't make out exactly what the standard was or who the men are. Sergeant Keil ordered their horn to be blown to signal the other body of men and to determine whether they were friend or foe. A deep bellowing sound blasted out from their ranks followed by a much higher note that trilled off. It was a standard sounding for all of the Sei just as the short triple blast was the standard for the Sua.

 

A few moments later, the same sound, though more distant this time, rang out from those ahead of them and echoed back from the hills. Keil breathed a sigh of relief, they were indeed fellow Sei. For a moment, he had been concerned that they were a Suati or Koshi raiding party taking advantage of the chaos or even an advance force for the Angvardi, but nobody, not even the despised Kuti would falsely identify themselves in such a manner.

 

A small cloud of dust streaked toward them from the other company as a rider on horseback approached. He pulled up in front of their line and saluted them with a raised fist. His chest plate and mount were emblazoned with the crest of the Seinari. "All hail!" he said. "What company is this and who is your officer?"

 

Keil stepped forward and returned the salute before replying, "I am Sergeant Keil, officer of this company from the village of Sandrin. We have orders to march to Kasas Sei with all available haste."

 

The rider shook his head. "I am Sergeant Dorantis of the Third Wing. We are the rearguard for General Yazer's entire division marching to battle. We have been encountering scattered conscript companies for the last two days and rallying them to the cause. Your company is to fall into line and join us in our march to meet up with the general."

 

"I have orders to march to the capital. They came straight from General Montane of the Second Wing," Keil said with a frown.

 

"General Montane is dead, as are most of his wing," said Dorantis. "Kasas Sei has fallen to the Angvardi."

 

Murmurs began to spread throughout the company at the dire announcement. Even Keil looked pale as he soaked the news in. After a few moments, he asked, "What of the king?"

 

"As far as we know, he made it out on the swiftest mounts escorted by an entire cavalry battalion and numerous magic wielders. We all have orders to rally at Fazei Crossing to defend See Sei while the king gets reinforcements."

 

There was a sigh of relief that the king was still alive, but the men were concerned. For a brief moment, Dorantis looked out over the men with a look of impatience and possibly disgust. For one who was used to the disciplined regular armies of the Seinari, being around such open display of emotion was not something he was used to tolerating. If he noticed the look, Keil didn't show any indication of it and responded without emotion. "Very well, Sergeant. I will order our men to fall in with your column."

 

With one last salute, the mounted sergeant wheeled his horse around and galloped back to his men. They had been heading south by southeast, but now they would need to turn to the northeast to get between the invading army and See Sei, the second largest city in the kingdom. Fazei Crossing was a crossroads between the road that went north and south from Kasas Sei and See Sei and another road that went from the eastern border of the kingdom to the western one. It was a strategically important place as both roads were the largest and most level in the kingdom. Both roads were paved with flat stones and were wide enough for three wagons to travel abreast. Almost all the others were small and generally only serviced the occasional wagon, none were truly suitable for quick transportation of a sizeable army. Their width and relative flatness allowed armies to greatly increase their travelling speed, especially during the wet seasons. Small companies that traveled light could traverse the smaller roads, but a full army with a large camp and many supplies needed those roads. It was a very logical place to rally if the capital was lost as reinforcements could quickly reach them and it was between Kasas Sei and the northern kingdom.

 

Even as the other company began marching toward them, many of the men were murmuring among themselves. The news had hit them hard and helped to sink in just how real of a threat they were marching toward. Some of the men tried to be optimistic, but most were expressing doubts or anger. Keil was quick to silence the most vocal of pessimists, but even he couldn't keep a solemn look off his face.

 

Some looked like they might protest Keil's actions, but they didn't have time to because the others had arrived. First and foremost among them were fierce looking men in glittering, matching armor and precise steps. Each of their weapons was of top quality and held precisely at the right angle. They were true warriors, the Seinari, trained every day for battle and fighting. As they approached, the entire conscript company fell silent and backed off the road to give them the right of way. A few of the officers on horseback eyed them as they marched on, but none of the rank and file spared them a glance. They kept their eyes forward and continued to march in their perfect rhythm. Behind them were several other companies of conscripts that looked more or less like their own mismatched unit.

 

When they had passed, Sergeant Keil quickly got them into ranks and followed. None of the men gave him any more problems for no one wished to look foolish around the other companies and especially not the Seinari. It wasn't long before they were on their way again heading back the way they came. It would be another three miles before they took a side road they had previously passed up and were once again marching into new territory.

 

Along the march, Havert managed to work his way up until he was marching next to his friend. At first he was silent with only the sound of marching boots and clinking metal to be heard, but that didn't last for long. He whispered to Syler, "This is not good at all. Kasas Sei hasn't fallen in two hundred years."

 

"I know, but not all is lost yet. The king survived and he will lead us. We can still meet with the other armies and strike back at them just like in the stories of old you used to like to listen to," Syler replied. He had taken the news in stride. It was disheartening, but he had suspected that it would happen. Even the early reports had been grim but the fact that so many were conscripted spoke just how bad it was. He had gone into this knowing that and stayed because it was his duty.

 

Havert huffed in amusement before responding, "Yea, but those were heroes who vanquished our enemies and saved the kingdom. We are just a couple of men from nowhere who were conscripted."

 

"Hey! You volunteered, remember?" Syler shot back.

 

"Don't remind me."

 

"Cheer up, we may not be destined for greatness, but at least we can help our king and do our part. After all, those heroes of old didn't save the kingdom on their own. I am sure they had plenty of conscripts fighting beside them."

 

With a touch of excitement, Havert replied, "You are right! The great wizard Xaretines relied on the conscripted villagers from Praten to scare the Koshi into thinking he had an entire company of battlemages with him. Even when the Koshi were forced to face him after getting caught in a canyon and realizing that they were all just conscripts, Xaretines was able to summon a spell that gave them near supernatural strength and stamina to win the battle. They were outnumbered four to one yet they let not a single one of their enemies escape their grasp."

 

Syler let out a grunt of amusement. "I didn't know you were such a fan of the legends."

 

"They aren't just legends, my young friend," Havert shot back. "They are our history. I am surprised you didn't learn more about them when you were a boy. I could hardly wait each night for my father to tell me those stories."

 

Syler frowned at the comment as well as the mention of his dead father. At 21 years old, Havert was only a year older than he was, but his head sometimes grew enough to make him think he was one of the village elders. "My father told me some, but mostly he told me how to find materials in the hills so he could make potions and poultices to sell in the shop."

 

"Yea, but that was during the day, didn't he tell you stories at night?" pressed Havert.

 

With a shrug, Syler said, "Not really. I wasn't really interested in those stories."

 

"My poor friend, I must tell you of these stories," Havert said as he put his arm over Syler's shoulders. "Now that we are marching to battle together, you need to know some of the great deeds our ancestors took part in."

 

Syler wasn't excited about the prospect as he was far more interested in hearing of what was happening now rather than stories of the distant past. Despite that, he knew that his easily excitable friend well enough to know that no matter what he said, he was going to hear those stories. "Sure, it isn't like we have anything else to do while we march," he said with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.

 

Havert didn't need any more encouragement. As they marched along the dusty road, the redhead told stories of great warriors, clever mages, wizened wizards, crafty witches, and valiant youth and their great deeds done in the service of the Kingdom. He told tales of great battles and daring rescues, narrow escapes and brave sacrifices. Some of the other men around them listened in and even asked questions or for clarifications. If Syler was any judge, his friend would be an excellent replacement for old Elder Rale the village storyteller. While he was a kind old man and an expert on all of the village records, Rale was able to put the most energetic of children to sleep when he spoke at length. After a while, it all began to flow together and Syler could no longer keep the names, places, and events apart. Still, it was better than marching in silence.

 

When it was time to break camp and eat dinner, the men were able to get some news from the others. The Seinari company kept to themselves, but the other conscripts were quick to spread news and gossip. They were all from villages south of Sandrin and had joined up with the withdrawing Seinari just as they had. A few had seen the great battle at Kasas Sei and were not eager to fight in another one. Others were angry at leaving their homes undefended and were eager to join in battle so they could drive out the invaders. There were rumors of unspeakable crimes being committed by the invading Angvardi as well as great generosity and mercy toward the conquered villages. Few could say for sure what was really happening and Syler dismissed most of the talk as idle gossip and conjecture. Sergeant Keil was quick to herd his men to bed with reminders of how early they would be getting up in the morning and of the long march and possible battle tomorrow.

 

They had only been in their bedrolls under the glittering stars for a few hours when it began.

 

At first, only the sentinels on watch noticed the soft rumbles coming over the plains. Slowly, the noise grew in intensity until it woke some of the men. Within minutes, few were left asleep as the horizon began glow with flashes of light. Syler, always a light sleeper, woke before Havert did and surveyed the scene. Knowing his friend would want to see it, he kicked him gently to wake him.

 

"Huh?" Havert mumbled, "What is it?"

 

In a low, solemn voice, Syler pointed over to the horizon northeast of them. "Look, that is where we are headed."

 

Havert rubbed his eyes to clear them and stood up to get a better look. "What is it? A storm?"

 

Syler only wished it was. Despite his lack of interest in fanciful stories of old, he knew what was unfolding miles from them, and it was no act of the Elements. "You could say that, but it is far worse than any spring thunderstorm."

 

Realization slowly dawned on the tired man's face and his jaw dropped a little. "Is that a battle?" he asked with incredulity.

 

Syler, nodded without a further word. He was still sitting on his bedroll with a thoughtful look on his face as he contemplated what they were truly marching into. Havert didn't know whether to be excited or afraid, "Sniven," he swore, "I can hardly believe it."

 

It was difficult for them to believe. By now, the entire northern horizon looked like it was on fire. Though they couldn't see it, every man in that camp knew what was going on. It was a massive battle and the battlemages and wizards and conjurors and all sorts of magic wielders were dueling in the night. Massive fireballs were being hurled from one side as the other attempted to block them with their own magic even while firing off their own destructive spells. Lightening, fire, fierce winds, and spells of such magical power that they could strip the flesh off the bones of all within their range were being unleashed in great displays of terror as tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of men were caught in between. Most would be countered by the other side's magic wielders, but even a single fireball that hit in the right spot could kill dozens of men.

 

Syler felt sorry for those soldiers who were in the thick of it. Nobody there would be getting sleep tonight. He didn't know if their commanders would send them into direct battle at night or if they would spend their time worried that they would be consumed in the magical attacks of the enemy magic wielders. One thing was for sure though, he did not envy them.

 

"We had best get to sleep," Syler said after a few minutes. "Tomorrow is going to be a long day."

 

Though it was clear he wanted to continue to watch the battle, Havert replied, "Yea, you are probably right."

 

They didn't even get to sleep before the bells began to ring out and officers began running through camp shouting for all to pack up. Apparently, sight of the battle had caused whoever was in command to decide they would march through the night so they could arrive in the morning to join the battle. The men appeared spooked enough at the sight of the battle that they didn't offer much in the way of objections to losing their night's sleep. The camp was mostly silent as the men prepared to march again, but the looks of trepidation and fear were loud and easily heard.

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Nice "traveling" post, as Ami put it. You did a good job of combining long hours of walking, troop movements, and keeping us apprised of what was going on across the entire country with smaller pictures of the conscripted troops and Havert's stories. It was a clean, concise way of passing time and places in an interesting way. Things are certainly heating up! The first glance of battle here is pretty crazy with all of the mages duking it out, it sounds like the foot troops like our conscripted hero are really almost inconsequential players in the battles, left to victory or fallout based on the magic fight about them. Still, I imagine that if some good soldiers make it through to kill the opposing mages they can make huge impacts on the battle scene! It's a very interesting difference from a more generic giant battle.

 

You did a great job with the prose as well. The writing was smooth and easy to read, with the same great descriptions as before. I think the transitions around people talking were cleaner, too; I didn't see anything that stood out as an awkward talking-action description like in the first part. Overall, you kept all the great parts of the last section and moved them forward in an interesting way.

 

I did notice a few minor words to be fixed:

"The group of men wasn't another conscript company on their way to the capital because they were heading the wrong way and numbered far more than any company would. Of greater concern was the fact that they couldn't make out exactly what the standard was or who the men are."

"Despite that, he knew that his easily excitable friend well enough to know that no matter what he said, he was going to hear those stories. "

"Syler, nodded without a further word."

 

With a shrug, Syler said, "Not really. I wasn't really interested in those stories."
Haha! Like Ami, I appreciated Havert's amusing and intense passion for the stories of the past and how ironic it was that the hero who was prophesied about had no prior knowledge of any of them!

 

Looking forward to the next progression.

"It's always these little worlds that get you in trouble. Like Tatooine. I'm still living that one down." - Han Solo

Your barnacle has carnivorous salamanders the size of whales.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the faith we profess, for he who promised is faithful." -Heb. 10:23

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Sorry about not replying, I have been busy and was still hoping to finish the next part before posting.

 

The first glance of battle here is pretty crazy with all of the mages duking it out, it sounds like the foot troops like our conscripted hero are really almost inconsequential players in the battles, left to victory or fallout based on the magic fight about them.

In a way, yes. I know a lot of RPG's and stuff balance things out between warriors and magic users, but I think that is more for the sake of the gameplay than reality. I can't imagine a guy with a sword and simple metal shield posing much of a threat against someone who can hurl fire and electricity and who knows what else at them. Therefore, the only way for "normals" to fight against magic users is in large numbers.

 

Fear not, there are normal guys who are trained and equipped to deal with magic users via enchantments and charms and magic wards. They are the ones who really do the damage against magic. Even then, there are only a few magic users in the army, so the tens of thousands of men will have plenty of opportunity to fight each other. Battle strategy and tactics are my absolute favorite thing to write about and study in real life, so I am going to have fun with the various battles in the novel.

 

Haha! Like Ami, I appreciated Havert's amusing and intense passion for the stories of the past and how ironic it was that the hero who was prophesied about had no prior knowledge of any of them!

To both Ami and Gimpy, yes, that is very intentional. I have grown fond of the idea of the hero who is unknowingly fulfilling prophecy about him instead of one who actively tries to make it happen. That latter group is where the poor Angvardi and Terulans have gone wrong. As the story progresses, I will explore their vain and futile attempts to "create" the hero from the prophecy so they can control them. It won't turn out well.

 

I will address the errors and go back and edit them when I get more time and focus on it. Thanks for pointing them out.

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I haven't read it, and mainly I'm probably going to stay away from reading it because of the sexuality (I hate reading stuff like that), but I can tell you're serious, and want you to know that you have my support. Please keep it up!

You know the closer you get to something

The tougher it is to see it,

And I'll Never take it for granted,

Let's go!

 

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Well, the sexuality part would be more that it happened and a sort of fade to black type deal, not going into detail and whatnot. I marked it as such just to cover myself. So far, there has been nothing even close to sexuality.

 

Though, there will soon (as of maybe chapter 3 or 4) be a part where some people walk in on a woman being raped (it is quite crucial to the plot and is in no way just there to be there), but I won't go into detail of the actual rape. If there is anything even close to that, I won't post it here, but will only post a link to the chapter on DeviantArt and only include a summary here. That way, anyone who may be disturbed by it won't have to see something they don't want to see and anything that may skirt the site's rules won't be here.

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Okay, got the first part of Chapter 2 up. I had hoped to have this up far sooner, but have been so busy. Work and school have been a beast and it is hard to find enough time to clear my mind and focus on it. I will probably edit some of this and welcome input. Also, for anyone who has a DeviantArt account, I tend to post a bit more information and description there. The link to this chapter (all other submissions related to the novel are in the description) is here:

 

 

 

Also of note, I have submitted a map of the Kingdom of the Sei and a few surrounding areas. This is where the first several chapters of the novel will take place. At a later point, I will make a version that traces the path Syler and his companion(s) travel, but it is too soon for that. That map can be found here: (Old) Kingdom of the Sei

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2a

 

 

The Sei have maintained our freedom and independence for five centuries precisely by not bowing to the numerous invaders who have threatened us. Why would you think we would suddenly do so now after fighting for so long?

 

”” King Alvaren Granad of the Sei, in response to a letter from Empress Celienna of Angvard demanding his surrender

 

Fazei Crossing,

Kingdom of the Sei

 

The men marched straight toward the distant battlefield for the entirety of the night. Throughout their trek, they were able to see the sky light up with flashes of fire or lightning or some other arcane power every few seconds. The closer they got, the better they could see and hear what they were going toward yet the more they wished they couldn't. The distant booms that had sounded like thunder were now joined by harsh cracking sounds of far more focused energy. In the rare moments where neither of those sounds were dominating the battlefield, they could hear an odd hissing sound as though a thousand cats were voicing their threats all at once.

 

The men were mostly silent so the only noise other than the distant explosions were their footfalls and the light clinking of armor and weapons. Syler, never one to shy away from a fight or confrontation, was growing more and more weary with each passing hour. Not even Havert could muster up the motivation to ramble on about some story of glory or heroism. The men who had already fought in war were nervous because this was something far larger than any of them had ever seen before.

 

It didn't help that they were all bone tired from marching and not getting enough sleep. None of the men complained in front of an officer, but it was hard to keep going for another six hours knowing you were only going to have to fight at the end of it. They had had scant little rest from a full day's march. Some of the weaker or older men were showing signs of exhaustion. One poor man marching next to Syler, Jarend the grocer, was limping and breathing heavily. He quietly gave him a drink from his flask and carried the man's spear for several miles to give him a chance to catch his breath.

 

They marched closer and closer to the battle even as dawn began to break over the horizon. At last, they reached the crest of a small hill and directly saw what they were marching into for the first time. Even Sergeant Keil looked disturbed and extra grim at the scene before them. They didn't even need the brightening sky to see the battlefield because of the fire and volume of magical attacks arcing everywhere.

 

Men, visible only as tiny dots, clustered by the tens of thousands with varied standards fluttering in the slight breeze. They could see torches along the great Royal Road that ran north and south throughout the kingdom. At the crossroads with the Foiled Road, a large camp was set up. Smaller camps dotted both sides of the horizon with a wide open space between them. That space was bright enough to see from the fires and explosions that dotted the landscape. Armor glittered in the firelight as men in groups of a thousand or more marched in formation towards each other. Some were moving away from their opponents with far less organization undoubtedly as result of fighting and needing to regroup.

 

Not all the fire was the result of magic. The Seinari had set up several trebuchets along the outskirts of their camps. They were manned by many men who kept them firing steadily at the enemy with flaming projectiles Syler thought might be full of tar from the southern parts of the kingdom. Judging by the gaps in their position, several of them seemed to have been destroyed by the enemy. He noted that the Angvardi didn't seem to have any such artillery and had to rely solely on magic wielders.

 

Syler could see thousands of darker figures on the ground and, with a long gulp, realized they were probably bodies. The fighting had been going on all night. He had no doubt that were the sun a bit higher, the landscape would be stained red and black from the blood and char of the fires. Every few seconds, another bright light would arch over the battlefield and come crashing towards the opposite side. Sometimes, it would be deflected by a magical shield or even another arching light, but when it didn't, the resulting explosion tossed dozens or hundreds of men far into the sky and to their deaths. Closer in, different types of magic were used as magic wielders unleashed their horrible power at close range. From this range, it looked almost like small fireworks going off or sparks from his anvil when he was hammering red hot metal. It was the most horrible and yet most fascinating thing he had ever seen.

 

"Look!" someone shouted as he pointed to a cluster of large standards flying in the wind. "The King's standard!"

 

"He fights on!" another added.

 

The sight of their king's crest and colors still standing at the heart of a massive army of their countrymen stirred all of their hearts. It had not been known what happened to him after the fall of Kasas Sei and many worried he had been captured. That he was still fighting gave them hope and helped drive off their exhaustion. King Granad was well liked by his people and it would have been a terrible blow to them all if he had not survived the siege.

 

They had only a short time to soak in the sight of the battle for the captain in command of the Seinari company quickly rode down the column of men ordering them to form into ranks and prepare for battle. They were able to eat a few bites of their cold food and drink from their skins before they left their unneeded gear like bedrolls and cooking utensils on the hillside. It would only slow them down on the last two or so miles of their march and would make them vulnerable in battle.

 

As they left their blankets and all of their food stock but a single day's rations behind, Syler looked over at a silent Havert. "Are you ready for this?" he asked quietly.

 

With a glum expression not characteristic for him, Havert responded, "I wonder of all the great heroes felt this afraid before going into battle."

 

Syler was silent as several possible responses bounced around in his mind before saying, "I am sure they were just as afraid as we are on the eve of their first battle. Don't worry, it will be better on our next one."

 

The other man chuckled despite himself, "You must have lost your mind if you think that we will be going into another battle after something like this."

 

"You expect to die here?" Syler said with an arched brow. "What happened to being able to tell stories of your great heroism to your grandchildren?"

 

"I saw that," said Havert dryly while pointing out at the battle being waged in front of them.

 

"Have faith my friend. If the Elements want us dead, we would just as easily die crossing the street back home as in an inferno like that. Our fate is in their hands as it has always been."

 

Havert was not nearly as pious and replied with doubt, "Huh, I guess it could be, but I still think we would live longer by making an about face and continuing until we hit the mountains."

 

"Havert," said Syler with exaggerated inflection, "the Metles are that way." He pointed east off to their left. "Behind us is the south and enemy occupied territory."

 

"Uh yea, I knew that," came the embarrassed response.

 

Syler chuckled despite himself, "Don't worry, we can always””"

 

"Ready weapons, form up, and move out!" interrupted Sergeant Keil with a loud yell to the entire company.

 

The time for talking was over for now. Syler unsheathed his axe and pulled his shield from off his back. The rest of the men did the same for their weapons as they readied for battle. With one last look, Havert left Syler's side to join the other spearmen at the front.

 

All around them, the men did as they had drilled and been trained to do. Other companies did the same. Spears were to the front, axmen were behind them in the center, and swordsmen were at the flanks. Last of all were the archers. It was a standard formation practiced by most of the Sei's conscript companies. The spears were needed in the front to blunt any enemy charge or to jam in between enemy shield walls when they attacked. Axmen were behind them to deal with anyone who got through the spears. Swordsmen, since swords were always only given to experienced and battle hardened men, maintained the flanks. It was their job to prevent the company's flanks from being turned as well as to envelop the enemy from the sides should the center be driven back. When fighting in formation with other companies, putting the swordsmen on the flanks also ensured that no matter where the enemy attacked, the better armed and armored veterans would be near the point of contact. Archers, of course, were at the rear as they did their damage at range and were vulnerable to attacks, especially from cavalry. It wasn't always the most effective of formations, but it was the best that the conscripts could muster.

 

The Seinari captain rode out to the front of their formation of around five hundred men and began to survey the battlefield. He was taking stock of where the various standards were so he knew how the battle was progressing. He waited silently for a minute before nodding to himself in confirmation. "We will be marching to offer assistance to General Galvan's men. They are along the edge of the battle and if we can turn the enemy flank, we may be able to rally our countrymen to counterattack. March forward in the name of your King!"

 

With a series of quickly shouted orders, the various sergeants got the entire group moving at a much faster pace than normal. The aches and pains of days of marching seemed to fade as adrenaline began pumping through Syler's veins. As much as he was afraid, he was excited and nervous. They were marching into battle and would be soon fighting the Easterners who desecrated their lands.

 

It took only twenty-seven minutes to reach the battle itself. They were rushing straight towards a mass of men engaged in fierce hand to hand battle with each other. Now that they were close, Syler could see that the battlefield wasn't just a solid mass of men fighting, but several groups of men fighting. Though the battle was spread out over more than a mile, the groups they were nearing seemed to have a couple of thousand men on each side fighting along a line of about a hundred yards.

 

It was not difficult to tell who the enemy was due to their strange armor and the dark red paint in which it was trimmed. Most of the Easterners seemed to favor a mixture of light plate armor over leather with mail underneath. It was far better than what most of his fellow conscripts wore, but not quite the level of what the heavy infantry in the Seinari ranks possessed. The men he could see hacking and slashing at his countrymen wielded fierce looking swords that were notched on one side like a saw blade. Those that didn't wielded lances or spears that looked to Syler's blacksmith's eye to be impeccably made compared to their own.

 

The Seinari captain halted their formation at a hundred yards away from the fight. Syler caught a quick glance of Havert's red hair poking out from beneath his helmet as he struggled to get into the tightly packed formation that the spearmen used. Though he was a little older than him, Havert was nowhere near as strong since he didn't spend his hours pounding away at hot metal or lugging ingots of iron to the melting pots. He wasn't weak, but the night's march clearly had its toll on him as he put up his spear next to his shield in readiness for an attack.

 

Syler himself was with eight other axmen in a far more loose formation. Though they had small shields, they needed far more space than the spearman to maximize the full potential of their weapons. Though he was fatigued himself, he still had some energy left. He only hoped it would be enough to meet the challenge of what he would face today.

 

Various officers began relaying orders down the line, "Archers at the ready!"

 

The archers notched an arrow and prepared to release a volley. "Archers, fire!"

 

Four dozen bows twanged and launched their missiles into the ranks of the enemy. In the early dawn, it was difficult to see them as they landed among the Easterners ranks, but Syler knew that they had to have done so. The enemy unit they were facing was simply too large not to hit. Another volley was fired off followed by yet another until the enemy began to react to their presence by ordering their own archers to return fire.

 

"Shields up!" came the startled cry as enemy arrows began to fall into their ranks. Syler put his wooden shield up over his head and a moment later, felt a distinct thud as something hit it. He looked up and saw the head of an arrow sticking out of the bottom of his shield right over where his face was. He gulped and tried not to contemplate what would happen if that arrow had landed where his forearm was holding the shield.

 

Syler heard someone around him muttering a prayer to the Elements for safety and decided that following suit would not be a bad idea. He, like most of the Sei, believed in the Elements and took care never to offend them. He knew the Elements often had their own aims and goals, but they occasionally were swayed by an impassioned plea or heroic stand. He said a quick prayer for both his safety and that of his sister back in Sandrin.

 

The cries of wounded men snapped him back into the battle. Despite taking fire, the archers were ordered to continue shooting despite several of them on the ground with arrows stuck into various parts of their bodies. They didn't have shields anyway and it was critical that they thin out the enemy's ranks as much as possible before the rest of the men charged. The exchange seemed to go on for hours even though Syler knew it was only a couple of minutes. He heard many cries of pain during that time as men were hit. Another arrow hit his shield, this time on the top, causing him to wince. This was not fun at all and was nothing like the tales of valor and glory that Havert had regaled them with along their march.

 

Their efforts were not going unnoticed, though. The Sei who had been fighting the Easterners took heart in the arrival of allies and were quick to redouble their efforts in driving back the enemy. Blood flowed freely from all along the battle line and bodies began to pile up. When a man fell, another quickly took his place while others pressed to get into the fray. It was a brutal contest of will as men on both sides fought for their very lives with nowhere else to go but forward due to the constant mass of men.

 

Apparently, the Seinari captain grew tired of watching his countrymen fighting because he dismounted and began to yell for a charge. "Here we go," Syler whispered to himself. It was the moment he had been dreading since hearing of the Angvardi invasion.

 

As one, the body of men began charging at the enemy's relatively exposed flank. The Easterners were not blind to this new development and began forming their own lines to deal with the threat. Spears were raised, shields were formed into walls, and men braced themselves for the charging Sei. As he ran with the others, Syler could only see the points of those spears and the angry, almost frenzied expressions of the men who wielded them.

 

Seventy-five yards were all that remained between the fresh companies and the chaotic edge of this small part of a much larger battle. Even though their archers tried to fire off shots as they jogged, only a few were able to do so. That didn't stop the enemy fire, though. Syler tried to hold his shield up, but it was difficult to do that while keeping up.

 

At fifty yards, Syler nearly tripped over a the body of poor Jarend who had an arrow piercing through his forehead just below where his helmet covered. He fought back the urge to vomit as the kept going. The enemy was getting closer and closer now. Many of those with him were yelling either their battle cries or out of sheer terror.

 

At twenty-five yards, a strange man in black leather armor and a hood elbowed his way through the crowd of far more heavily armored men. Syler didn't know what he was doing, because he didn't seem to be carrying any weapons. The man stopped just behind the front rank of Easterners and waited.

 

With just fifteen yards to go, it all went bad. With a swift motion, the man in leather armor flung out his arms and strings of light were hurled toward the charging Sei. Even as it arched back and forth through metal armor and soft flesh, Syler's stunned mind realize that it looked startlingly similar to the sparkling lights that had so fascinated him just half an hour ago on the top of the hill.

Edited by Guest
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Sidenote question - Is Sei pronounced Say, Sigh or See?

 

This post, though well constructed, and a linking post to the next sequence, felt somehow separate from everything else. It doesn't feel like it's joined to the rest of the story. Not sure how else to explain it, maybe one of the other readers, if they get the same disjointed vibe, can word it better then me.

 

The Commanders decision to march everyone through the night, was that a deliberate pacing or storyline choice?

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Order of the Nocturnal

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Sidenote question - Is Sei pronounced Say, Sigh or See?

I pronounce it with two separate vowel sounds (in one syllable) as "Sae-ie" essentially like "Say" with a little more emphasis on the ending. If you like saying it as something different, that won't offend me in the least.

 

This post, though well constructed, and a linking post to the next sequence, felt somehow separate from everything else. It doesn't feel like it's joined to the rest of the story. Not sure how else to explain it, maybe one of the other readers, if they get the same disjointed vibe, can word it better then me.

Hmmm, this is exactly the type of feedback I have been wanting. Can you give any reasons for that? Is it perhaps the more generalized tone or is there something specific? I don't want to miss the forest because of the trees on this so if there is a problem, I want to address it immediately before I stray too far from the path.

 

The Commanders decision to march everyone through the night, was that a deliberate pacing or storyline choice?

The way I see it, if your king or comrades were in the middle of a big battle for the fate of your country, wouldn't you want to be involved and help out? If they had slept through the night, they would have likely missed the battle entirely. If there was even the slightest chance that their presence would have tipped the scales, how would you have felt if you arrived in the afternoon and found that your side had already lost? Forced marches through the night or to rush toward a battlefield are not uncommon, so it isn't an entirely illogical stretch as far as I have read. If everyone here completely disagrees with me, then perhaps I can change things as it isn't critical to the plot.

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Beautiful word choices in this last section. I feel like you captured the nervous anticipation of battle, combined with the sickening desperation that follows. Very well done. I don't really have much that I noticed off the top of my head to critique.

 

I feel like the pacing did suddenly drop down much slower, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It's like in a movie where everything suddenly is in slow motion for a dramatic scene, and I think it works here.

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SHE MEANS TO END US ALL!!! DOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!11eleventyone!
There goes Ami's reputation of being a peaceful, nice person.
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I was just curious how you hear it in your own mind.

 

With regards to the disjointed feeling, thinking further about it, and I've said this to Lee about a few posts for Tell No Tales, I suspect it's due to the nature of the format we're reading it in. THat is, the nature of posting segments on a forum breaks it up and creates a disjointed feeling. If this was all in a book and I was just reading it straight through, it may not have the same problem.

 

That said, it feels like a filler post designed to just get our hero from point A to point B, there's nothing of substance happening in the post until they get to the battle, and the battle feels a little superficial...I want to hear more about the sounds, how the particular formation our heros group is helping is fairing and how they're fighting, how the King reacts to reinforcements....more detail.

 

Filler posts are required especially when travelling, and your previous post executed this very well, giving the read lots to think about, giving depth and background to our characters very effectively.

 

Keep in mind, I'm just one opinion.

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