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One Who Masters Magic (End of First Draft)


Travis
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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.

It is odd that you feel it is much slower as I thought the opposite. The first chapter seemed to drag on for me, but this is like everything happening at once.

 

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.

I understand, and it may be something to do with the paragraph you wrote before this regarding the format and sporadic pieces being posted. Not everything can be super plot changing material, there has to be some support and setup. I can't just say "and they were there and charged into the enemy flanks" when they were viewing the battle on the horizon a few paragraphs before because this isn't a roleplay, it is a novel. I did try to focus on the fact that these guys are pushing themselves hard so they can help defend their country. I had actually intended on including far more material and cut it short simply because there was not much more need for details.

 

I would like to point out that I ended this where I did for two reasons: it was about the same length as the other submissions (trying to keep it short for internet readers as per advice from my last attempt at submitting literature here) and because it kinda fits as a decent stopping point. I will point out that in the completed work, there will be absolutely no break between this and what follows.

 

Also, regarding to how the King reacts to reinforcements, the answer is he wouldn't. Small groups of reinforcements have been coming all night and to be honest, when you have a quarter a million men fighting on the field, five hundred really isn't that significant. I haven't yet gone into scale here yet (that comes later), but there are about 70,000 Sei on the field facing 200,000 Angvardi. It is a big battle and I intentionally set the hero in a relatively small group and had him play a fairly insignificant part because he isn't yet the hero. It would be entirely illogical to have him play a major part in victory when he has not even been developed.

 

As for more detail on the actual nitty gritty, that is coming. The battle is far from over and there will be more detail of the fighting itself and the aftermath in the second part of Chapter 2 and start of Chapter 3.

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That makes sense, and I do understand that reading it in book form would quite probably feel different, because it is one continuous flow. But it's something I'll point out anyway for consideration and leave it to the author to make the decision about what to do with it.

 

And yes, setup is vital, and I don't devalue that at all. Just pointing out what I see

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I definitely appreciate that and will take it into consideration. I know it can be frustrating, but I am trying not to load out tons of details right away for two reasons: first being that I don't want to overwhelm the readers and the second being that the readers will learn things as the protagonist (who is a fairly sheltered village boy) does. I made a mistake in other attempts of overloading mass amounts of information at the start and it didn't turn out well.

 

I have also decided to go back and alter a few bits of that and add some more material that may help it flow a little better because you had some valid points. Some may not make it into this part of the chapter, but will in the second part.

 

That being said, the Chapter 2a post has been updated with around 500 additional words.

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This next part continues without pause from the first part of the chapter. Brendo, I hope this was more of what you were wanting regarding the actual battle and what was going on.

 

Oh, a warning: there is some mild blood and gore and whatnot. I don't go into too much detail, but there may be some who are soft of stomach here.

 

I have some time off this week, so I hope to get the next part up within a couple of days, maybe less. The plot will now begin to really take shape and some of the bigger picture will be explained over the next two or so chapters.

 

 

 

Chapter 2b

 

On instinct, Syler dropped down as the onslaught of magical energy cut down men on all sides of him. The devastation wasn't total, there were those who survived either by quick action or simple luck. He had lost track of Havert during the charge and wondered if he had survived. Some of those who did survive continued, especially among the ranks of the Seinari, but most of the conscripts who survived froze.

 

Some of them managed to make it to the enemy lines and began hacking into the Easterners. The magic wielder, just a battlemage if Syler's memory served him right, gave the Sei a sneer and faded back into the ranks of his men. Nobody risked their magic wielders in hand to hand combat unless it was absolutely necessary.

 

The Seinari, seeing the one who caused so much death among their ranks, were furious when he retreated. Their fury overcame their exhaustion and gave them motivation to press forward against the superior numbers of their foes. Many of the conscripts who had been frozen moments earlier snapped out of their shock and joined the fighting. Blood poured and men screamed in pain as the men engaged each other in a struggle for their very lives.

 

Syler joined the others as they charged in. He tried to get in close, but enemy spears were blocking his path and threatening to skewer him on their steel tips. After several failed attempts to get past that wall of death, he began using his axe and his strength to hew the spears off. A Seinari pikeman saw what he was doing and took advantage of the opening to jab his pike deep into the chest of one of the Angvardi spearmen who had seen his weapon made useless.

 

Syler tried to get in close to wield his own weapon against the enemy, but was driven off by another spearman whose weapon he had not cut down. He warded off the attack with his shield and swung his axe with all his strength to cut the spearhead off. His foe, now armed with only a dull staff, didn't give up. If it were just that one man that he had to worry about, he would have dove straight in and cut his head straight off, but there were plenty more Easterners with very deadly weapons ready to stick them inside him.

 

The Seinari pikeman continued his fight, but had taken a blow to the leg and was not able to jump in and out like he had been. A Sei conscript with a spear quickly stepped in to cover him by thrusting his weapon into the head of an Angvardi swordsman angling to kill the Seinari. That move cost the conscript his life as another Angvardi spearman got a successful hit through his chest plate and straight into his heart killing him instantly.

 

More were there to fill his place, though. Another conscript spearman joined even as Syler hacked off two more enemy spears and took the top off a swordsman's shield. The Angvardi with useless spears tried to withdraw, but there was nowhere for them to go since their fellow soldiers were pressing forward with eagerness. More Sei conscripts rushed into the scene to kill those spearmen and press through the gap. A conscripted swordsman from Syler's village who seemed to be at ease as he slashed back and forth into flesh and bone was valiantly trying to break through the Angvardi spear wall and get in close with other swordsmen. He recognized the man as Gronald, an ill tempered farmer who lived on the outskirts of town and frequented the tavern. Syler was not surprised that he was doing well on the battlefield.

 

A couple of the spearmen followed Gronald as he began to make headway into the enemy ranks. Syler stayed right behind them and cut apart any spear that tried to jab them from the sides while more of his countrymen followed behind. They fought their way foot by precious foot into the mass of Easterners who were trying just as hard to kill them as they were the invaders. With his waraxe, Syler tried to keep the enemy from overwhelming them with spears or the occasional pike. He wasn't always successful as one of the two spearmen up front was killed, but Gronald seemed to be fine even as he left red armored bodies in his wake.

 

One Angvardi who lost his spear to Syler's axe tried to stab at him with a long knife. Syler stepped back and swung his own weapon with a hasty strike. The blow landed but did not cut the man's arm off. Instead, it sliced through muscle and snapped bone. Before he could carry out a follow up attack, a spearman stabbed him in the face and dropped him into the pile of blood and bodies at their feet.

 

The distraction proved costly for the Sei. Without Syler and the spearman to watch his back, an Angvardi managed to jam his spear through Gronald's armor and into his side. He didn't cry out in pain, but his face contorted into something from a nightmare as hatred and fury overtook him. He made a few more slashes at his foes before an Angvardi swordsman beheaded him with a single sweeping blow.

 

Without the stalwart swordsman leading their charge, the Sei began to be driven back. Their numbers were just not great enough and there were too many Easterners. It seemed like for every one they killed, two more replaced them. Syler and a small number of his fellow conscripts began to give back the ground they fought so hard for as the Easterners rallied.

 

The swordsman who killed Gronald slashed a deep and mortal blow across the chest of a conscript spearman before turning his attention on Syler himself. Syler knew he couldn't cut apart the steel sword as he had the various spears, so he tried to get at the enemy's armor. His first blow was blocked by the swordsman's shield. The second blow was caught by the serrated side of his opponent's sword. With a wicked smile, the Angvardi pressed forward to keep pressure on Syler's axe then pulled backward. The jagged edge of his sword acted like a saw blade and deftly cut Syler's weapon in two just as he had done for so many of his own enemies. Now weaponless, Syler could only block with his shield as the swordsman made a jab for his chest.

 

The block succeeded in deflecting the blow, but the combination of haste and the power of the blow knocked him back a step. Since his attention was focused on the fight, Syler didn't realize there was a body behind him and thus tripped over it and onto his back. The swordsman used his foot to pin Syler's shield arm on the ground then prepared to finish him off.

 

Before he could do that, Syler heard an oddly familiar cry and had blood spray all over his face and upper body. When he blinked the blood away, he saw a spear sticking out of the swordsman's throat just before it was pulled out and the man fell over dead. Holding that spear was a face that he recognized immediately.

 

"Havert!" Syler cried.

 

"C'mon," replied Havert as he reached down to pull his friend off the ground. "We don't have much time."

 

He was right for there were plenty of Angvardi eager to kill them just out of reach. A few of the Sei conscripts and a single Seinari were still standing and trying to hold off the onslaught, but it was clear they were fighting a doomed battle. Syler picked up the sword that had nearly killed him and immediately began fending off attacks from spears as they withdrew.

 

They continued to retreat as quickly as they could while fending off attack after attack. Some of them didn't make it and were cut down. It didn't take long for them to get back to the point where they had been attacked by the battlemage. Behind him, Havert swore and yelled "Down!"

 

A hand reached up and grabbed his collar from behind and pulled him down just as he heard the whisper of arrows overhead. More than a dozen of the Angvardi who were hot on their heels collapsed with arrows protruding from various parts of their body. The rest of them halted their charge and struggled to pull shields into place before the second volley slammed into their ranks. Only a couple fell from that attack, but the enemy advance had been stopped.

 

Syler looked back and saw the surviving Sei archers were notching another arrow to cover their retreating countrymen. "Let's go," he said to Havert. If they stayed there, eventually the Angvardi would advance again or direct their own archers to attack. The two of them stood up and began to run toward safety gambling that the archers wouldn't hit them. The few remaining survivors in their vicinity saw their lead and followed suit.

 

The archers didn't kill them but instead fired an arching volley into their enemy before beginning their own steady retreat. With their foe defeated and the threat of more arrows looming over them, the Angvardi decided to let the tattered remnants of the Sei companies withdraw. They were exhausted from the fighting and needed a short break since they had been at it for longer than Syler had.

 

Though their pursuers were not following, the retreating Sei had not escaped danger just yet. The Angvardi archers took this opportunity to fire a few volleys of their own. Syler and Havert managed to get their shields up in time, but not everyone was so lucky, especially among the archers who had just saved them because they had no shields. The only thing to do was to keep running in order to get out of range.

 

At last, the tattered survivors managed to stumble out from under the fire of their enemies and into their own ranks. Syler looked back at the battle lines and saw that most of the original Sei who had been fighting in the area they joined in had also retreated. Without as many to fight, the Angvardi had redoubled their efforts in driving back his own group and simply overwhelmed them with numbers. At the end, their little group was fighting well over two thousand Angvardi on the field. They had fought valiantly and made good progress despite it all, but were doomed from the start. Of the original five hundred or so that went into battle, only about eighty managed to stumble to safety. Other than Havert and himself, Syler could only see eight others from their village.

 

Without saying anything, the survivors headed toward the nearest friendly standard which was waving a few hundred yards away from the battle. The group was made up of perhaps eight hundred men, mostly Seinari, who all looked as tired and bloodied as they did. Many of them were covered in blood or hastily applied bandages and all looked as exhausted as Syler felt right now. He knew they had been at this longer than he had and couldn't help but admire their courage.

 

A weary Seinari officer wearing a lieutenant's insignia raised a bloody arm in salute to his retreating comrades as they began to stagger in. "Poor sods," he said with sympathy, "I saw what you did. You took the worst of it and should have retreated when we did. Not your fault, your officer should have been aware of that."

 

Syler looked around and didn't see any officers. His heart was saddened at the loss of Sergeant Keil, he was a good man who meant the best for his men. The officer looked around and seemed to come to the same conclusion. "Are any of your officers here?" he asked.

 

At first nobody answered, so Syler spoke up, "No sir, I believe they were killed."

 

"A damn shame," the sergeant said with genuine sympathy. "That is probably why you didn't know to retreat with the rest o' us."

 

"No sir, we did not receive any orders to do so," Havert added.

 

Several others from their group murmured their own agreements to that statement. The lieutenant nodded and put a hand on Syler's shoulder. When he spoke, he made it clear he was talking to all of the men. "Hold your heads high, lads. You served your king and did your duty. Don't let nobody look down on you or say you didn't do your part."

 

He removed his hand and let out a long, saddened sigh. "We were plannin' on regrouping and joining you back there 'cept the orders came in to stand our ground. The day has gone ill for us and the King has called for a general withdraw. Rumor has it he has sent emissaries to the enemy to ask for terms."

 

As that news hit him, Syler's heart dropped. He looked back over the field and noticed that most of the Sei forces had withdrawn. A few were still fighting, but it was clear even to his untrained eye that the Angvardi had claimed the field and were in position to strike at the various Sei encampments. The trebuchets were silent and only a few magical attacks were being lobbed back and forth. Bodies by the tens of thousands littered the plains behind the advancing Angvardi and fires still burned in the morning light causing a haze to fall over the battlefield.

 

"I must tend to my men, but it seems the battle is over and with it, our war." The lieutenant gave them one last salute before returning to his own men.

 

Though they were wary of the Angvardi just a few hundred yards away, their enemy seemed to be content in glaring at them as they waited for further orders. To occupy their time, the Sei began tending their wounds, though they left a few sentries to watch the Angvardi and alert them to attack.

 

Syler didn't have any major wounds, but Havert had taken a slash to the right arm that needed tending. As he treated his friend's wounds, he said, "Thank you for saving me back there. I would have been dead if you hadn't come."

 

Even though he was grimacing from the pain as Syler put a homemade salve on his arm, Havert tried to keep his voice somewhat cheerful. "I am just glad I saw you. When I lost sight of you during the charge, I feared you had been killed."

 

"Same here," muttered Syler. He ripped a somewhat clean strip of cloth off his shirt to bandage the wound.

 

"I am glad we were both wrong." Havert let the silence fill the air for a few moments before asking, "What now? Do you know what is going on?"

 

With a shake of his head, Syler responded, "No, I have no idea. I don't even know who our commander is, not that there are enough of us left to need one."

 

"Would you be mad at me if I said I just want to go home?"

 

"No, because I would want to join you," there was sadness in Syler's voice. He had only the vaguest idea of what was going to happen here, but this was worse that he had feared. With so many of the men dead, he didn't think their village could ever recover. To make matters worse, it seemed that they would lose anyway. It seemed that the Elements had decided not to help them with a miracle. Right now, the only thing they could do is wait to see if they would be going back into the fighting or if their country had fallen to the enemy.

 

Over an hour later, when the last of the fighting had died out, a cry of dismay erupted from their side of the field. At the same time, shouts of triumph drifted towards from the clusters of Angvardi soldiers a few hundred yards away. Both Syler and Havert scrambled to their feet to see what was happening.

 

The King's standard was being lowered and the rest of the Sei units were following suit. The King had surrendered and, though he wasn't privy to the exact terms, Syler knew that the kingdom was lost with it. Without the King and this army, there was nothing but a few small conscript bands to stand in the way of the Easterners marching through the entire country. The war was over and for the first time in over four hundred years, the Kingdom of the Sei had surrendered to outside invaders.

 

"Well," he said calmly, "that settles that. I wonder what will be done with us now."

 

 

 

________________________

 

Just in case you forgot due to the time between posts, there were about 500 men in the original group of which only 80 survived. Of the 80 men from Syler's village, only 10 survived.

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Lol! I am sooo busy right now! So, I finally finished Ch 2a, refreshed the page to read the comments before I posted mine, and found that you had already updated to ch 2b! Urgh, hopefully I can catch up all the way soon.

 

But for now, here's comments for 2a only...

 

Overall, a solid piece. I can see what Brendo and Ami are saying about a slight adjustment to the pace, but like Ami I don't think it's a problem here. I will add to Brendo's argument and say that there are a few places where you can add more detail without going too much (I believe you said you didn't want to overload the readers yet, and that's a very valid point). There are lots of places where you talk about the battle as a whole - the whole field, the whole company, etc, and only some parts where you dive down to get Syler's direct thoughts or actions. I think in this last category you have already done a good job (right at the end of the post) of going more into what Syler feels and sees, but you could go even a little farther with describing the sights, smells, sounds he experiences. What you do have in there are some of the things I liked best about the post, because it did show that "inexperienced hero" meeting battle for the first time, as you intended. I think you could even push it a little more, but it's pretty strong as is, as well.

 

The constant change in perspective (whole battle, company, down to Syler/Havert) is believable and not confusing as you've done it now, but I"m curious as to whether you plan the entire story to be like this, or only some of these initial battles? I'm not sure if it would work for the entire novel, but I'm just speculating at this point clearly, as I haven't read it!

 

Outside of those big picture items, here are some more detailed things to look at:

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 through the ranks directing all of the officers and men to form into ranks and prepare for battle.

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 frenzied edge of this small part of a much larger battle.

That didn't stop the enemy fire, though. Syler tried to keep his shield up, but it was difficult to do that while keeping up.

You reuse the same words within one or two sentences here, I would suggest trying to change on of them (first sentence: ranks, second part: frenzied, last sentence, "keep[ing] up"). Also, minor detail, but I'm wondering if Syler would be able to see much of the expressions at a distance of 75 yards or slightly more? Lol - that said, I'm terrible with distances, though!

 

He was taking stock of where the various standards were so he knew how the battle was progressing.
The sentences around this are past-tense, I would suggest changing "was taking stock of" to "took stock of".

 

"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."
I would suggest adding a few commas in here for a smoother read. You need one between "faith" and "my," I would also suggest one after "hands."

 

Swordsmen, since they were always only given to experienced and battle hardened men, maintained the flanks.

Though he was a little older than he, 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.

"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.

The cries of wounded men snapped him back into the battle. Despite taking fire, the archers were ordered to continue to continue shooting despite several of them on the ground with arrows stuck into various parts of their bodies.

Even as it arched back and forth through metal armor and soft flesh did 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.

I think these ones just slipped through your own edit. The first sentence treats "swordsmen" as if it were "swords," the second has too many pronouns referring to different people, the third I thought was referring to enemy Sei arrows falling into the Angvardi ranks at first because of the paragraph right before it, maybe there is any easy way to clarify that? Not a biggie, though. Fourth sentence has multiple instances of "to continue" in it. In the last sentence, "Even as" and "did" do not work together.

 

As a last thing, I thought Syler's prayer to the Elements and the information about the spiritual beliefs of the Sei was interesting and good detail to include, but I would suggest moving it upwards in the post to somewhere else the Elements are mentioned. Where it is now has a lot of action going on from the battle, and having that aside only interrupts the action and slows it down.

 

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

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.

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.

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.

I really liked these details! There were interesting descriptions, good word choice, and a great picture of the difference between stories and real battle.

 

I can understand why you broke off there just for posting length... man, what a cliffie! I like how you are getting into a more detailed take of the battle here through Syler's eyes, we definitely need that to understand the gruesomeness of it for ourselves, not to mention how unprepared Syler is for it!

"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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Good update. Interesting that you've kept the slower pace, describing each little thing that Syler did. I usually speed up during battle scenes when I write...but I think that is mostly because I'm terrible at writing them.

 

As a reader, I felt a little overwhelmed by detail, but it wasn't too bad. Because this was the first time you went into such detail, I just had to adjust to the fact that you were that style of writer, and then it was fine.

 

A few things I noticed:

 

"Common," replied Havert as he reached down to pull his friend off the ground.

 

You mean "C'mon". I was like, "Why is he saying common? What is common?"

 

hand reached up and grabbed his collar from behind and pulled him down just as he heard the whisper of arrows overhead. More than a dozen of those who were hot on their heels collapsed with arrows protruding from various parts of their body. The others halted their charge and struggled to pull shields into place before the second volley slammed into their ranks.

 

This paragraph was confusing for me. I thought that it was friendly fire; that the Sei archers were shooting at the Angvardi but were hitting the men who were retreating with Syler and Havert. And then I got confused when you said after that that the Angvardi would "direct their own archers to attack". I think you can easily fix this though by stating something like "More than a dozen of the Angvardi who were hot on their heels..." Just to avoid the confusion.

 

That was pretty much what I noticed. Great battle scene, lots of description. I wouldn't mind seeing some emotion in the scene (what is Syler thinking? How does he feel when Havert saves him?), but on the other hand, they might not be thinking/feeling anything if they are battle-numb. Just a suggestion you might want to think about.

 

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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To Gimpy:

Your help is greatly appreciated, but it can be confusing when you lump in lines from various places in one quote with no spaces between them. If you could, put everything that isn't directly connected in a different set of quotes, even if it is quote after quote.

 

I will add to Brendo's argument and say that there are a few places where you can add more detail without going too much (I believe you said you didn't want to overload the readers yet, and that's a very valid point).

I will, someday. I generally am viewing this as a rough draft. My hope is to write it with this level of length and general details, complete it, get feedback on the direction and whatnot, then go back and significantly edit it. I know it might not be the best way to write a book, but that is what I figure will be best for me at this moment. I have a very good idea of where I am going, but don't have extremely detailed outlines or anything of that sort. Once I get the frame in, I hope to add to it some of the little details that will enhance it as well as make it deeper (even if it isn't plot critical info). Plus, doing that will allow me to add various little "ohhh yea, I remember that" type moments that would be foreshadowed early and fulfilled later.

 

There are lots of places where you talk about the battle as a whole - the whole field, the whole company, etc, and only some parts where you dive down to get Syler's direct thoughts or actions.

Yes, and that is partly because it is how I envision Syler would look at things. At times, he is looking out over the entire field, at other times, he is focusing on what is around him. I wanted to give the reader at least some idea what is going on, but not to sound omniscient. This first battle is definitely more from his perspective because he is just a pawn in it. Later, when he is commanding battles, it will be very general and much "larger scope."

 

I think in this last category you have already done a good job (right at the end of the post) of going more into what Syler feels and sees, but you could go even a little farther with describing the sights, smells, sounds he experiences.

Continue to part 2. . . . . In the final product, there will be no break between the two parts.

 

The constant change in perspective (whole battle, company, down to Syler/Havert) is believable and not confusing as you've done it now, but I"m curious as to whether you plan the entire story to be like this, or only some of these initial battles? I'm not sure if it would work for the entire novel, but I'm just speculating at this point clearly, as I haven't read it!

No, it will not be the same throughout the entire novel. In some of the smaller fights/skirmishes, it will be more personal, but in future battles, especially the ones where he is more than a mere inexperienced pawn, it will be more general. One reason why I intentionally skipped around a bit was to be a little more chaotic and even a bit confusing. Syler has never been in battle, and as this novel (at least at this point) is from his perspective, I wanted some of that chaos and confusion to show through. I may later go through and refine it a bit if it doesn't seem to work out as that is exactly what this stage in my writing is about: experimenting and seeing what works and what doesn't.

 

Regrading the edits, I have updated them and you were right, most were just overlooked. Some were just plain facepalm worthy (like the double use of "to continue").

 

About the prayer to the Elements, what about something more along the lines of this:

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 knew the Elements often had their own aims and goals, but they occasionally were swayed by an impassioned plea or heroic stand and now would be a good time to gain their favor by crying out to them. He said a quick prayer for both his safety and that of his sister back in Sandrin. In the middle of this horrible situation, praying gave the young man a sense of comfort, as though it would all work out as it was supposed to.

 

After that brief moment of respite, the cries of wounded men pulled him back into the battle. [continues with rest of paragraph]

Does that work a little better?

 

 

 

To Ami:

Interesting that you've kept the slower pace, describing each little thing that Syler did. I usually speed up during battle scenes when I write...but I think that is mostly because I'm terrible at writing them.

I am blessed to be skilled at both writing in generalities and the details of action. My weakness is in dialogue.

 

You mean "C'mon". I was like, "Why is he saying common? What is common?"

Yes, you are right there. I was kinda "in the moment" where I was inspired and was typing it out rapidly. I could see it happening in my head and was trying to type what I saw. It has been fixed.

 

This paragraph was confusing for me.

I thought it was clear, but then again, I am the author. I have specified who was doing what and which side was firing the arrows and which was getting stuck like pincushions.

 

Great battle scene, lots of description. I wouldn't mind seeing some emotion in the scene (what is Syler thinking? How does he feel when Havert saves him?), but on the other hand, they might not be thinking/feeling anything if they are battle-numb.

You answered your own question. While I don't claim at all to be an expert on combat, I wouldn't imagine that they would be feeling too much emotionally (other than being scared shitless, something I have already tried to portray) once they are actually fighting. I do know that when I get involved in stuff like paintball (which I am not at all saying is an equal comparison with actual combat), I am really nervous and excited before the first shots are fired, then I kinda focus on the action and "surviving."

 

The third chapter will deal with their after emotions, as well as dealing with the loss of their battle, country, and freedom.

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No problem; I do know that it's hard to read that way. Personally, I don't like response posts that seem almost as long as the story posts themselves and are filled with an overwhelming majority of little quotes and comments for each one that could have been dealt with more generally. I've been trying to find a decent method to still point those out (since the simple things can be the easiest to miss for the writer who's been poring over the passage so much) without having to just send a separate private message. I was trying this, but I don't think this method works either. I'll try to break them out a bit more so that it's a little easier to follow.

I will, someday. I generally am viewing this as a rough draft. My hope is to write it with this level of length and general details, complete it, get feedback on the direction and whatnot, then go back and significantly edit it. I know it might not be the best way to write a book, but that is what I figure will be best for me at this moment.
Ehh, I don't think it's a bad or strange way to write a book at all. I think when you get consistent feedback you can already try to work it into the next parts you are still writing in a rough draft, but otherwise it makes a lot of sense to get in the framework first and you can go back and make a full sweeping edit on the parts behind you.

 

I like your tactics and reasoning for changing how the battles read as Syler grows more experienced.

 

Hopefully I can get to 2b in the next few days.

"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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Regarding the prayer to the Elements, what you suggested is a little better but I would still suggest moving the bulk of it upwards... just in my opinion. The current placement includes the hows and whys they pray and is long enough to break the action and pace of the battle, which can lose a little of the mood you are creating for the reader. If you add it in earlier, however, when the battle is still imminent but not yet amidst them it adds to the anxious wait that comes right before the action. For example, you could work in the prayer anywhere in between the parargraph which begins "With a series of quickly shouted orders..." and that which begins "The Seinari captain halted their formation..." Someone praying would make sense because they are truly seeing what they are about to jump into and have time to think...plus it "interrupts" or "asides" the prelude to the REAL action focus of the chapter. If you really wanted to keep Syler's pray in place after the first volley of arrows, you could leave his "following suit" prayer off from the first mention and then add just a small reference to it after the arro volley. Again, this is just my opinion on how it affects the flow of that portion and it's not a big make-or-break detail.

 

And now, on to the next part! Btw, thanks much for the gore warning. Ugghh, that is NOT my thing, so being prepared helped, and if it got to be too much I could skip down a bit. I thought you had a great amount of detail here, great action, and a good understanding of how a battle would move and change with tactics, etc. Haha, at least I think you have a good understanding but have no real skills in this area myself to really confirm it! I'm pretty sure that in itself, your story itself, and your comments as to your background help point to a solid war, though. Anywho, it was very believable.

 

I liked the pace of it, as I believe Ami also pointed out. You kept giving us some detail of the whole battle instead of just skipping through any details of the fighting. I really felt the fade of addrenaline to exhaustion at the end with the Sei, as they move away to lick wounds. How disappointing to find that you essentially fought - and lost so many people - for nothing! This will be a huge blow to the morale of the kingdom, and who knows what will happen to the rest of the soldiers still alive to keep them from being any threat in the future.

 

"Well," he said calmly, "that settles that. I wonder what will be done with us now."
That was a nice sum up - clean, crisp, still full of disappointment - for this whole battle. Things are moving quickly - we jumped right into the Sei gearing for war only to find out that the war was essentially over before they joined. I'm guessing a lot of Syler's development is to come next!

 

As always, I have those few minor suggestions to make. Hopefully they are more clear this time around.

If it were just that one man that he had to worry about, he would have dove straight in and cut his head straight off, but there were plenty more Easterners with very deadly weapons ready to stick them inside him.
The last part of that sentence reads a little strangely, I think because "Easteners" is the subject but "stick them" refers to the weapons. You could change it up a little, or even just add a commad after "weapons" probably to make it work.
That move cost the conscript his life as another Angvardi spearman got a successful hit through his chest plate and straight into his heart killing him instantly.
Need a comma between "heart" and "killing."
He recognized the man as Gronald, an ill tempered farmer who lived on the outskirts of town and frequented the tavern.
General convention (I'm not sure that there is an official rule) suggets that "ill tempered" should be hyphenated since "ill" is modifying the "tempered."
His heart was saddened at the loss of Sergeant Keil, he was a good man who meant the best for his men.
Semicolon instead of colon?
"A damn shame," the sergeant said with genuine sympathy. "That is probably why you didn't know to retreat with the rest o' us."
I'm still getting this slightly weird vibe on the language. Most things seem very formal, and then out of the blue (and pretty much as a lone, isolated event) you have the occasional drop of a sound. Now, it's not bad to do that - it adds both culture (to a people group) and character (i.e. to more rough soldiers, or the happy-go-lucky attitude of Havert) but I'm not seeing any distinctive trend and so it comes out choppy and undefined. For example, most of what the officer said was very formal outside of this line. Similarly, Havert is usually more relaxed in his wordage but at the end of this post everything was veyr proper. Sometime he might be[/] more proper, i.e. in the solemnity of that moment, I would just double-check for consistency. In this post, it was the officer who really stood out to me.
To occupy their time, the Sei began tending their wounds, though they left a few sentries to watch the Angvardi and alert them to attack.

 

Syler didn't have any major wounds, but Havert had taken a slash to the right arm that needed tending. As he treated his friend's wounds, he said, "Thank you for saving me back there. I would have been dead if you hadn't come."

Multiple uses of "tend[ing]" and "wounds" within a short time-frame... try to diversify a bit?

 

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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Alright, Chapter 3 time. Gimpy, I will address your post concerning Ch. 2b when I address the first round of feedback from this chapter.

 

The action is done, it is time to deal with the repercussions as well as shed some light onto things that will be critical to the story. Plus, it is religion time! That is always a fun time for me because I love studying religion and motivations. What was presented here is pretty bare bones, but hopefully it makes sense even if it doesn't fill in all the gaps. More will come in bits and pieces as the story continues.

 

 

Chapter 3a

 

Conquer a people through strength of arms.

Control a people by breaking their spirit.

Make them love you by showing them kindness.

Make them one of you by converting them.

 

”” Angvardi proverb

 

Fazei Crossing,

Kingdom of the Sei

 

Chroniclers would record that the battle was among the largest ever fought within the borders of the Kingdom of the Sei. Though none could be sure of the exact numbers due to a steady stream of reinforcements from scattered companies, they estimated that the Sei armies numbered around seventy thousand strong. They had over three hundred magic wielders among their ranks, a truly mighty force by any reckoning.

 

Facing them, however, were over two hundred and eight thousand veteran Angvardi warriors. Unlike the mostly conscript based Sei army, the Angvardi were entirely a professional army with years of experience fighting the Terulans and other border skirmishes. Supporting them were seven hundred practitioners of the arcane arts including some of the most powerful wizards of the era. The Sei never had a chance, yet they fought on with such fervor that even their enemies acknowledged their valor. Throughout the battle, only a handful of cowards fled the field. Not a single officer fled and all the units that came onto the field remained until either being wiped out or being ordered to surrender by their King.

 

Syler and Havert sat next to each other in a long row with a hundred other Sei. Nine other identical rows stretched out in front and behind them. All along the plains and hills where the battle had been waged, similar groups of a thousand captured Sei sat guarded closely by their Angvardi captors.

 

Healers and magic wielders were sent out into the field to see whom among the fallen could be saved. As far as Syler could tell, they did tend to the Sei, but their focus was clearly upon their own wounded. The men who had been forced to sit in rows had been checked for major injuries before hand and those who needed treatment were allowed to go to special areas to await it.

 

The Angvardi hadn't been overly harsh, but they clearly meant business and expected their commands to be followed out immediately. While being sorted, a few men had resisted and had been beaten harshly with cudgels or other weapons. Some who had tried to flee the field were brought down with arrows or magic and left to rot. Beyond that, there had been no summary beatings or looting of individuals and the Angvardi exhibited great constraint.

 

It had been several hours since the surrender and the morning had grown into midday. Shortly after accepting the conditional surrender from King Granad, the Angvardi immediately sprang into action with precision and purpose. Their first order of business was to disarm the Sei and separate them into groups of a thousand so they couldn't revolt and continue the fight. The Sei were forced to march by specific points and leave their armor and weapons in massive piles. As they did, they were warned that anyone found with weapons or armor from this point forward would be severely punished.

 

From there, they were divided into ten rows of a hundred each and forced to sit in the early afternoon sun. Once there, they stayed under the watchful eyes of their guards while the Angvardi did whatever they were doing. For the Angvardi, it was one more great victory to add to their list of accomplishments. For the Sei, it was the end of everything they had known.

 

Talking was not permitted, so they sat in silence while each contemplated his future. Now that they had nothing to do but think and remember, the emotions and memories of the fighting just hours ago began to hit Syler. He had done things that he had never contemplated doing before. Never in his life would he have wanted to hack at another man's arm or cause anyone harm. Syler had never been a violent man or one who wished ill upon another.

 

When he had been fighting, he reacted by instinct and did what he had been trained to do and what came natural. He defended himself and his fellow countrymen. The violence, the blood, the screams, and the smell of sweat borne of fear all came back to him in vivid memories seared into his brain. He had been around a butcher's shop during slaughter, but the gore and blood he had seen was beyond anything he had encountered before. Seeing animals cut and hacked into pieces was one thing, but seeing people in the same way was something else. As he sat there in the afternoon sun, Syler didn't think he would ever shake those memories for as long as he was alive. He didn't even want to contemplate his dreams.

 

How do the other men do it? he wondered. He knew that there were many in his village that had fought battles before and killed men. Perhaps those men were stronger than he to be able to go back to their previous lives. Then again, perhaps not. Suddenly, Gronald's drunken nights and angry behavior made a lot more sense. He had fought and, judging by his actions today before he had been cut down, had killed. The drinking and attitude had probably been his way of dealing with the memories. With all of his heart, Syler hoped that he wouldn't end up like that. Sergeant Keil had been a good man who was tender to his wife and kind to his children. Syler knew that he had fought and killed as well, so if he could handle the haunting memories perhaps there was hope after all.

 

As time passed, his thoughts began to shift to the future. Assuming they weren't executed or enslaved, he would go home. How would he face his sister after what he had done? She was a peaceful soul who didn't even like the slaughtering of chickens much less larger animals like pigs or cattle. Try as he might, Syler couldn't recall actually killing anyone, but he had made it possible for others to do so. Did he share the burden for the killing if it was not his hand that actually landed the blow? Syler didn't know, but in his heart, he felt complicit just as though it had been his own axe that came down upon the neck of his foes. He could only hope that Karusa would understand and that he could somehow return to how things used to be.

 

Assuming they would be allowed to return to normal. What would life be like under Eastern control? Would the Angvardi even care about their tiny little village? Would they punish him for fighting against their armies? Syler knew that his questions were no different than everyone sitting beside him, but there was nothing they could do until the Angvardi told them. They were the ones in charge now and could do whatever they wanted regardless to whatever agreements they had made with their king as part of the surrender agreement.

 

Syler looked over at Havert who seemed to be dealing with his own internal struggles. After a quick glance around to make sure none of their guards were looking their direction, he reached over and patted his friend on the shoulder for a moment. The touch seemed to shake the other man, but he didn't cry out or react in too obvious a way. Havert did glance over with a small grin before resuming his contemplations. The look would have given Syler hope except it was utterly devoid of the normal carefree mannerisms that characterized him. That alone told him how much his friend was suffering, but there was nothing he could do right now.

 

Their Angvardi captors didn't want them to starve to death or die of thirst, at least. Buckets of water and a ladle were passed around along with bread and a small piece of salted pork jerky. In time, some who needed to relieve themselves were allowed to go under guard to do so. Somewhat fresh bandages were passed out for those like Havert who needed them.

 

As the sun was dipping toward the horizon, the men in Syler's group were called to attention. In front of them, flanked by soldiers armed with swords and brilliant shields, were four men in colored robes. They did not appear to be practitioners of magic, nor were they armed. Syler didn't know who they were, but he figured he would soon find out.

 

One of them, dressed in forest green robes stepped forward first and began to address the thousand men sitting before him. "Hear us, men of the Sei, for we speak words that shall free you from ignorance and save your very souls. We are here to show you the Way of the universe and of truth of all things. I am a priest of Tantis the Founder who dictated all the laws of the universe ere it was even formed. He determined that the world would be flat, that fire would be warm, that things would fall down and not up, and that man live for a season before returning to him. It was he who established the presence of magic to help and guide man on his journey. Without him, nothing that exists could function and life would be forever snuffed out in Chaos."

 

Another man, this one dressed in blue robes stepped forward. "I am a priest of Mewela the Former. It was she who formed the universe according to the laws of her husband, Tantis. She formed the dirt and stones and sands and water that make up Teladia. It was she that made the trees and grasses and animals and people who live on this world. It was she that formed all that we can see, feel, smell, taste, or hear. Without her, we would not even exist in this fair world, but would dwell in Chaos."

 

The man in red robes joined the other two and said, "I am a priest of Salgeus the Sustainer. He is that which sustains life and ensures that it may propagate and survive. He maintains the laws founded by Tantis and the world that was formed by Mewela. Through his grace, we live in peace and happiness. Through his ill will, we experience hardship and despair. He guides and protects the righteous with his love and compassion and punishes the wicked with his wrath and vengeance. Without him, the world could not sustain itself and all would perish into Chaos."

 

The last man dressed in white moved in front of the other three before speaking. "I am a priest of Featwel the Uniter, the one who gives us harmony. He maintains the balance between all things so that Chaos does not gain hold. He tempers magic, guides nature to follow its laws, and ensures civilization does not collapse. He unites the laws of Tantis, the formations of Mewela, and the sustenance of Salgeus so that all may benefit and be spared the machinations of Chaos."

 

As the priest of Featwel continued to speak, he raised his arms to the sky, "All four of the Great Tetrarchy are to be revered and worshiped for what they have done and continue to do. The gods are not selfish, nor do they withhold their blessings to those who petition them and follow their ways. Those of the East have long worshiped them and experienced those blessings firsthand. We have comfort, sustenance, law, order, and guidance aplenty. Our fields flourish as do our numbers. We have great cities and places of learning. We have marvels wrought by hands and of magic that astound all. The Angvardi are a mighty people, yet we too needed the unity that Featwel represents. After many centuries of foolish infighting, our most benevolent Empress married the mighty king of our rivals the Terulans. Now, united at last, we are the most powerful ever to exist upon the earth.

 

"We have conquered your lands not out of greed or a desire to expand. We did not do so to destroy or pillage them like thieves. We did so to save us all. As the prophets have foretold, the Day of Chaos is neigh upon us. Even your Elements have foretold of such an event, but unlike those impersonal and apathetic beings, our gods care for us. Blessed Salgeus, the Sustainer of all, has gifted the prophets and seers with a way to stave off our eternal destruction: we must all unite as one just as Featwel does for the all of Formation. We urge you to give up your old ways and to embrace the Way as we have. If Formation is to survive the Great Chaos, we must do so as an united people with one voice, not dissenting individuals who speak in many ways and at many directions. Without unity, there can be no escape from Chaos and all that has been founded, formed, and sustained will be destroyed forever."

 

Done at last, the priest lowered his arms and gave a quick, silent prayer. The four as one withdrew to where they had been before the speech and an Angvardi officer in glittering armor stepped forward. "Men of the Sei, I, on behalf of the benevolent and kind Empress Celienna, am here to offer you a choice. All of you have taken up arms against Imperial forces and many of you have spilled Angvardi blood. The normal punishment for waging war against the Crown is enslavement. We are prepared to forgive this most heinous of transgressions and offer you a chance to join us in our efforts to protect Teladia against the coming Chaos."

 

He stretched out his arm over the men in a sweeping gesture, "All of you who are married have a chance to go back to your families and provide for them if you will but reject your apathetic and cruel Elements and embrace the warm, loving arms of the Sustainer. Learn of the Way and join us in faith. Those who do so will be sent back to their families on the morrow.

 

"Our offer is not just for married men. For those who are not married, if they convert tonight, they will not be sent as slaves to labor for the rest of their lives. Instead, they will be given the opportunity to start fresh, to build a family, and to unify the lands through their free labor. In time, they can join the Imperial Army, own a plantation, or even travel the lands as merchants. The choice is yours, but you must make it tonight."

 

The officer's voice lowered and became deadly serious, "Those who do not accept our most generous offer will never be given the same opportunity again. Do not take this lightly for the life of a slave is not an easy one that few ever rise above. It would be a tragedy if you were to reject our simple offer out of misplaced devotion to deities who have already forsaken you.

 

"Think upon it. You have until the sun touches the horizon to make your decisions. Do not let any other man sway you against joining us. Let them suffer for their choice while you move on to happiness and acceptance." With those words, the entire group of them left and moved on to the next thousand captured Sei.

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Yeah, definitely. I think the offer is pretty straightforward, well worded. Clearly, these priests and officers have experience in trying to convert people to their religion. It's an ultimatum, one that I think many Sei will choose.

 

One thing that I noticed:

 

The men who had been forced to sit in rows had been checked for major injuries before hand and those who needed treatment were allowed to go to special areas to await it.

 

It should be "beforehand" not two words.

 

Nice stuff!

amipaint2.jpg

SHE MEANS TO END US ALL!!! DOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!11eleventyone!
There goes Ami's reputation of being a peaceful, nice person.
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I have no time for a detailed critique but I just wanted to let you know I've given it a read. (I spent all my time on Ami's and well, now I have to run.)

 

Also, this is so not PG-13 for sexuality. D: I wouldn't even put that there if all you have is a couple loosely mentioned fade to blacks.

spsig.jpg

Just when I thought it was over, I watched Tiana kick Almira in the head, effectively putting her out of her misery. I did not expect that.
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To repeat what has been said before, that was a nice set of speeches. Clearly the Angvardi have had some practice with this! The words are flowerly and well intentioned (which, of course, is the smoothest way to take over), but the reality is much more dire. WIth those kind of options it seems unlikely that many Sei will choose the slavery over returning to their families, although I wouldn't be surprised if there was one or two stalwarts.

 

For the Angvardi, it was one more great victory to add to their list of accomplishments. For the Sei, it was the end of everything they had known.
I liked the contrasting viewpoints of this sentence and the way it sums up the entire situation. It's amazing how being through one battle (especially now that Syler has had time for it to soak in) has changed his perspective, like with Gronald.

 

One of them, dressed in forest green robes stepped forward first and began to address the thousand men sitting before him.
The only minor edit I noticed was this sentence; you should either remove the comma or add a second one after "robes."

"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...

Okay, the conclusion to the third chapter. It isn't one of great action or suspense, but it is critical for apparent reasons as well as a few more down the road.

 

_____________________________________

 

Chapter 3b

 

It was clear to all what the priests wanted. Each man here would have to either give a solemn vow to serve the Way or be enslaved. They knew their target audience well for such things were not lightly given by people of the West and were held in great regard.

 

There were murmurs among the men as soon as the priests were gone. Their Angvardi guards did not stop them, so the whispers grew louder into full conversations. Some were vehemently proclaiming their opposition to these new oppressors and vowing to resist anything that would make them more like the invaders. Others were arguing that if the Elements had allowed them to be defeated by those following this "Way" then perhaps the Angvardi's gods were indeed more powerful and should be worshiped. A small number did not even attempt to debate the religious aspect of things, but argued that it was prudent to convert simply to stay out of enslavement. Some didn't appear to care, but sat silently while those around them fought on with increasingly louder voices.

 

Syler was one of the latter group. He firmly believed in the presence and power of the Elements and wouldn't ever accept these new gods without experiencing their presence. He knew as surely as he was sitting here that the Elements were real, but he had no such knowledge of these foreign gods. It did not escape his notice that the priests of the Way had not attempted to persuade their Sei audience that the Elements didn't exist, just that they were impotent and uncaring to the plight of those who worshiped them. Syler knew that there were many strange things beyond their own realm that not even the most wizened of wizards could explain. Belief in the Elements had been present for as long as any could remember and there was good reason for it.

 

The Elements had guided him all throughout his life and given him a feeling of comfort and peace when he needed it most. Even during the battle, when arrows were falling all around him and men were dying, they were there giving him the strength that he needed to carry on. That was not the first time they had intervened in his life. When he seeking out what to do with his life, he had consulted the Elements and they had guided him to Fitno and to the life of a blacksmith's apprentice. The burly blacksmith had turned out to be an excellent choice of master as he took in Karusa and was kind to them both. Without the Elements guiding him, he would have never offered his services to Fitno.

 

One time many winters ago, when he had been out late searching for herbs for Father, he had gotten lost in the rolling hills to the west of town. He had resigned himself to having to brave out the perilous night alone and began looking for whatever sparse shelter could be found. At that point, he heard the thunder of a winter storm heading his way. If he didn't get to cover rapidly, he would have likely frozen to death. Just as he was about to give up hope, he felt the strangest presence come over him, one of peace and reassurance. It was then that he saw a fleeting image of a figure in a bright crimson cloak out of the corner of his eye. When he turned his head, it was gone. He followed it for several steps before catching another glimpse of the person. He followed the flashes of red until he came upon a small but dry cave. During the night, he wasn't afraid despite being only thirteen and alone in the night as the storm raged outside. The night was cold, but he was not.

 

In the morning, he crawled out of the cave and found himself not far from town. He had climbed the very hill that sheltered the cave since he was barely able to walk and never knew there was a cave below it. He would never have been able to find it had it not been for the mysterious figure who had led him there. Nobody ever found out who it was and Father told him that it was the Elements that had decided to save him.

 

Havert wasn't the only one who knew old stories, Syler was devout in his beliefs and knew many things about the Elements. Legends tell of people meeting individuals who knew impossible things and acted mysteriously or providentially. Often, those Strangers would help people, though not always in an obvious way. Of course, there were also stories of such Strangers who tempted individuals and led them to their doom. Regardless to their purpose, the Strangers were more often than not harbingers of change to whomever saw them. That change was sometimes for good, though it was also sometimes for ill. For Syler, his encounter with the Stranger had changed his life by causing him to accept their will in his life. It was not a decision that he had ever regretted.

 

How could he abandon the Elements now?

 

Syler sat silently for many long minutes while those around him debated. Havert joined the debate some, though he didn't seem to take a particular side. Their captors looked on without interfering, though Syler could see their eyes were constantly swinging back and forth between the loudest of speakers as though they were evaluating their charges in case the argument broke out into a physical fight.

 

After a half hour, Havert plopped down on the ground next to his friend and asked, "What do ya think of this whole mess?"

 

Syler was cautious in responding, "I believe we must make a decision and either way, we are going to be forced to give up something."

 

Havert rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. "Of course we are going to have to make a decision. These Angvardi tagrol are calling the shots and they know how to divide us. If they wanted a way to make sure we don't all suddenly rise up and lash out, this was the best way to do it. They know we love the Elements, but when faced with total defeat like this and the prospect of slavery, we are kinda stuck. They want us thinking more on this than on fightin' or runnin' away because we are not nearly as dangerous if we are distracted. Then, once the decisions are made, it will permanently divide us ensuring we don't later trust each other enough to conspire against the Easterners."

 

Syler had come to a similar conclusion, but was surprised that Havert had as well. Havert was always the excitable one who rarely thought beyond the next wagonload he had to haul or where he was getting supper. If it weren't for his pa getting all the money that his son earned, Havert would have been on the streets long ago.

 

"You are correct. Many of us will not abandon our beliefs to side with those who have invaded us. On the flip side, many have had their beliefs shaken from this battle and will join with those they view as stronger."

 

"Well, I have no intention on being made a slave," proclaimed Havert. "The Elements are good and all, but if it means that I am able to live my life without a bunch o' chains around my wrists, then I will have to bid them a fond goodbye. I have nothin' against them, just that I would rather be free."

 

That did not surprise Syler. Havert had never been overly religious. Freedom, fun, and the open fields were what drove him. He bore no ill will for the other man for abandoning the Elements. Each man had to make his own choice and was accountable to nobody but himself.

 

"Where do you stand?" asked Havert.

 

"I will not abandon the Elements," Syler stated flatly. Before his friend could say anything else, he continued. "That doesn't mean that I would reject the Angvardi's offer."

 

Havert crossed his arms and fixed his disapproving gaze on Syler. "And how is that going to work? The Angvardi want us to abandon the Elements and join their Way."

 

"Just because I might publicly join their religion doesn't mean I my heart would," said Syler with a shrug.

 

"So you would sorta convert, but not really." Havert looked for Syler to confirm or deny it, but got nothing but a blank expression. He waited for a few long seconds before throwing his arms up and crying out, "That doesn't make no sense!"

 

With a smile, Syler responded, "Of course it does. I won't abandon my beliefs. If I don't convert, I am enslaved. I also can't abandon Karusa, either, which I would have to do if I don't convert. Since I can't convert and I can't abandon my sister, I must find another way. Therefore, I convert in public, but in private, maintain my belief in the Elements."

 

The red head was incredulous, and Syler couldn't blame him. This position wasn't being discussed among the group at all. The Sei were men of their words: if they said something, they were bound by it. Their word was their bond and to break a sacred vow was unheard of. Those few that did were exiled from their village for seven years.

 

After opening his mouth and closing it several times as though he was wanting to say something, Havert finally managed to croak out, "You would lie and make a false vow?"

 

"Yes," Syler said firmly, "I would. If it means I get to go back to my sister and take care of her, I most certainly would."

 

"But how could you live with yourself knowing you violated your sacred vow?" Havert was no longer taking this lightly. Before, he had been slightly sardonic when describing their situation, but now he was serious, as serious as Syler had ever seen him before.

 

Matching his friend's tone, Syler replied, "How could I live with myself if I allowed myself to become a slave and left her in the hands of the Easterners? Alone, Fitno wouldn't be able to risk his life for her as he might need because he has his own wife to consider. At least I have nothing else holding me back from standing up for her if they come to take her."

 

Havert sat back and pondered the response for a few moments before responding, "Yea, I guess you have a point even if it does mean you have to make a false vow." His face spoke volumes of his distaste for the situation. Without the ability to take their vows seriously, most of the trade, diplomatic, and political agreements that held the scattered kingdoms and tribes of the West together would collapse almost overnight. Treaties and alliances were made with such sacred vows. Mortal enemies blunted their spears forever after making vows of friendship. One who broke their vow could never be trusted again and was made an outcast in all lands.

 

Seeing his friend's distaste, Syler let out an exasperated sigh. "I don't do this lightly, you know. I have to watch out for my sister, that is all there is too it. If I must say or do things that I might not like, then so be it. These Angvardi are nothing but barbarian invaders, anything they force us to swear to is by its own nature null because it was done by force and was not of our choice."

 

Havert let out a snort, "Just 'cause it was made by force doesn't negate its binding power."

 

There was silence between them for many minutes. Syler knew that Havert was correct. Many defeated armies or raiding bands had been pardoned upon their vows never to take up arms against their captors again. It was near unheard of for any to violate that even if it was made at the edge of a sword with the threat of death awaiting those who refused to make the pledge. He knew that he was in the wrong for even contemplating this, but he had no other choice. The Angvardi wouldn't care about his sister and he couldn't just leave her to be carted off into slavery. That left only one choice.

 

"I am sorry, Havert," said Syler at last. "I wish there was another way, but there isn't."

 

Havert didn't answer for a long time. "I know, I am just disappointed. You were always the man whom I looked up to whenever it came to doing the right thing, and to see you become a breaker of vows is hard to stomach."

 

That was a revelation. Syler had no idea that Havert saw him like that. In all the years he had known the other man, he had gotten the impression that Havert saw him like a prudish stick in the mud. Syler was not prone to rash actions nor was he wild by any stretch of the imagination. Having to care for himself and later his sister as he did had burned that out of him. He had no clue that Havert looked up to him for anything other than perhaps a little extra coin or a favor.

 

In an even tone, Syler replied, "Would you rather me be one who abandons his own family?"

 

"No, I just wish there was something else we could do."

 

"We can't, so there is no point in wishing for it to be otherwise. The Elements have decided this path for us, all we can do is accept it."

 

Havert had no reply for that, so they waited in silence while the debate raged around them.

 

* * * * *

A large gong announced the return of the four priests of the Way. The bottom of the sun had touched the horizon and they had come to hear each man's response to their offer. Throughout the day, the men had come to their final decisions one by one so the arguing shifted into an uneasy disquiet.

 

The priest wearing a white robe stepped forward. "Men of the Sei, the time is nigh! Step forward and proclaim your allegiance! Join those of the Way in unity so that we may face the upcoming Chaos and win the victory!"

 

The four directed the other Angvardi to begin rounding up the Sei into a long line. The line stopped by the four priests where each man was to give their final answer and either make their vow of conversion or march into slavery. The Angvardi guards were on high alert and kept an eye out on the most vocal of dissidents from the arguments earlier in case they tried to cause trouble.

 

As the line began to slowly move forward, Syler could tell that it would take some time to process all of the thousand men in it. They were in the first quarter or so of the men, so at least they wouldn't have to wait as long. Both friends waited next to each other in line for thirty minutes before it was their turn to make their decisions.

 

The four priests, helped by their special guards in the shiny armor, would listen to the men as they announced their decision. If they remained true to the Elements and rejected the Way, the priests would, with an expression that looked genuinely saddened, direct the guards to take the man to the right. There, they were had irons connected to a long chain clasped around their arms. Many men were on that line, but not as many as Syler had expected.

 

More than three quarters of the men opted for the other choice. When asked of their decision, they went to one knee and gave their vow to the Way. The priests, with benevolent smiles, clasped each man's ears with both hands and welcomed them into the fellowship. When that was done, they dipped their fingers in a bowl of some sort of scented water and drew a complex shape on the new convert's forehead. What the shape was, Syler did not know for he had never seen it before. Once that was finished, they directed the men to the left where they were given food and water as they waited in another line to be further processed.

 

When it was Havert's turn, he got down on his knee and proclaimed his loyalty to the Way. After the blessing and a quick dousing of water, he went off to the next line and it was Syler's turn.

 

"What choice have you?" the priest in red asked.

 

With a clenched jaw, Syler went down to one knee and said softly but clearly, "I pledge my loyalty to the Way."

 

The priest smiled warmly and clasped him gently on both sides of his head for a moment. Syler half expected to feel something during this, but he felt only a hollow emptiness. He was a breaker of vows, something he had never expected to be.

 

The priest dabbed his forehead with the water and Syler caught a scent of strange spices he had never smelled before. "Rise, man of the Way, and join your other brothers," the priest said when he was done.

 

Syler did and joined Havert in line. The two said nothing as they waited in yet another line. This one, at least, was moving much quicker than the other because it branched off into multiple lines. When they got to the front of the line and were forced into nearby lines, Syler could finally hear what was being asked.

 

There were several Angvardi men with scrolls and other papers. Each captured Sei was asked his name, military company, hometown, if he was married, and if he had any children. It was a census of sorts, Syler figured, to see exactly who they had captured and to learn as much information as possible about them. Both Havert and Syler went through the lines, answered the questions, were given small slips of leather with numbers branded onto them, and were told to keep those pieces on them at all times. Once that was done, they were directed into different small groups and reunited with each other and the survivors from their village.

 

The sun was well below the horizon by this time and large numbers of torches were lit to provide light. Now that they had been processed, their Angvardi guards seemed more at ease and less on edge. The Sei were able to talk among themselves and even move around a little as long as they stayed within the general area of their small group.

 

They were given bedrolls, likely raided from the Sei's camp, to sleep on for the night. After the ordeal of the battle and the capture, most of the men quickly went to sleep without protest. Syler lay on his back staring at the stars and listening to the rumble of men all around him. Even at night when most of the men were asleep, there was always noise.

 

It was a day that had changed the lives of all of these men forever. When the sun rose, it rose upon the Kingdom of the Sei. When it set, it set upon the Angvardi Empire. Tens of thousands had been killed in the battle on these very fields and more had been wounded. Nothing would ever be the same for any of them.

 

The only thing Syler could do is trust the Elements and whatever Plan they had. He would accept the future and work as hard as he needed to in order to protect and provide for himself and his sister. So far, the Angvardi had not been cruel to any of them, even those who had chosen slavery. Perhaps that was a sign that things would work out well for them. With that hopeful thought, his eyes drooped closed and he drifted into sleep.

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Just wanted to post saying that I do really want to read the latest update, but life's been hectic. I'm going to try to read it today.

 

EDIT: Ah ha! I got the chance to read it. And as always, I was not disappointed. I'm really enjoying this fic, and this post did not falter. I thought it was interesting, seeing their thought processes, wondering what I would do in that situation. Well, I guess I know what I would do, but it's still interesting to think about being faced with that choice.

 

A few things:

 

Syler was one of the latter group.

 

Since you have four groups, you can't say just 'latter', because three of the groups are 'latter'. You need to say 'lattermost' when there are more than two.

 

Havert wasn't the only one who knew old stories, Syler was devout in his beliefs and knew many things about the Elements.

 

Run-on sentence. The comma should be a period. I think it was probably just a typo on your part, but wanted to point it out regardless.

 

The red head was incredulous, and Syler couldn't blame him. This position wasn't being discussed among the group at all. The Sei were men of their words: if they said something, they were bound by it. Their word was their bond and to break a sacred vow was unheard of. Those few that did were exiled from their village for seven years.

 

Alright, this is a good explanation, but there are two things I want to say about it. First, I think it almost needs to come earlier. I kept wondering why Havert was so shocked and incredulous that this was Syler's decision. I was certain that a whole bunch of men were considering it, and therefore Havert's response puzzled me. When you finally explained it in this paragraph, it made sense, but I think this paragraph needs to be earlier.

 

Second, a rumination on the consequences of his decision. I'm curious to see how the people react to him if/when he becomes this hero of destiny but is also an oath-breaker. Shunned and yet praised? That's going to be an interesting and difficult balance. Very intriguing....I look forward to seeing how this is handled!

 

Keep up the good work!

amipaint2.jpg

SHE MEANS TO END US ALL!!! DOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!11eleventyone!
There goes Ami's reputation of being a peaceful, nice person.
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Another solid update. It was interesting to see how the Angvardi ultimatum played out. I would have expected most people to say one thing and do another, as I am so used to seeing that in our current culture even in small ways, and yet the Sei (as well as other people they conquered, it seems?) have a very honorable expectation that thought and deed should match.

 

I had picked up on the sentence "They knew their target audience well for such things were not lightly given by people of the West and were held in great regard." right at the start of this segment and so was not as confused about Havert's outburst, but I can see what Ami is saying about emphasizing that even more at an earlier point. I think that would help a little.

 

I found the conversation between Havert and Syler very interesting, not just in regards to their decisions and thought processes but also as their friendship transitions. While Havert can only respect why Syler makes an empty oath, all the same he will lose some of the regard he has always held for Syler. Like Ami, I'm extremely interested to see what this will look like later when Syler (at least as anticipated) rises up to fight and yet reveals himself an oath breaker by that very action. Will he be regarded as a hero or not? It's going to be interesting!

 

I only noted a few minor items for fixes:

"Just because I might publicly join their religion doesn't mean I my heart would," said Syler with a shrug.
Seeing his friend's distaste, Syler let out an exasperated sigh. "I don't do this lightly, you know. I have to watch out for my sister, that is all there is too it. If I must say or do things that I might not like, then so be it.
'Too' should be 'to'.

"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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Syler was one of the latter group.

 

Since you have four groups, you can't say just 'latter', because three of the groups are 'latter'. You need to say 'lattermost' when there are more than two.

That was actually referring to just two different groups: those who argued and those who sat silently. Nonetheless, you are correct. I clarified by adding a phrase onto the sentence to make it say: "Syler was one of the latter group who sat silently contemplating the situation."

 

Run-on sentence. The comma should be a period. I think it was probably just a typo on your part, but wanted to point it out regardless.

You are correct, it has been changed. I also edited "things" to "stories and tales" simply because it better reflects what I am trying to say.

 

Alright, this is a good explanation, but there are two things I want to say about it. First, I think it almost needs to come earlier. I kept wondering why Havert was so shocked and incredulous that this was Syler's decision. I was certain that a whole bunch of men were considering it, and therefore Havert's response puzzled me. When you finally explained it in this paragraph, it made sense, but I think this paragraph needs to be earlier.

That was partly intentional. As was said by Gimpy at the start of his post, I wanted to contrast today's society of saying one thing and doing another with a society that adhered to what they said. I wanted the reader to be first confused with what was going on at first. I also was hoping to get the reader to possibly side with Syler at first and think Havert was a little loopy, only to develop things to where they perhaps saw things from Havert's side and realized that it wasn't Havert being off the wall, but rather Syler (at least for their time and place). I will probably end up heavily expanding this section in the future as I develop the characters more and can help fit things in later on.

 

Second, a rumination on the consequences of his decision. I'm curious to see how the people react to him if/when he becomes this hero of destiny but is also an oath-breaker. Shunned and yet praised? That's going to be an interesting and difficult balance. Very intriguing....I look forward to seeing how this is handled!

To address both you and Gimpy on this, it will be important. It will come to play an important part in the future. And yes, it was prophesied as one of the contrasts in his character like what Terrand mentioned in the Prologue. It will be something like "The world will follow his words, yet he will be one who has broken oaths."

 

I had picked up on the sentence "They knew their target audience well for such things were not lightly given by people of the West and were held in great regard." right at the start of this segment and so was not as confused about Havert's outburst,

Excellent. I wrote that specifically as a clue and am glad you picked up on it. I didn't want to spell it out, so I left a few clues out there.

 

I also went through and fixed the two errors you pointed out. Sometimes, I type too rapidly or am thinking too far ahead when writing and things get out of order. Thanks for catching it for me. All of the corrections have been fixed in the master copy and will be updated when I add the first part of chapter 4 (which I am working on at this moment).

 

 

 

 

One question for all of you. I am having difficulties in describing Havert and Syler without using their names. I don't want to keep going on with something about "his red haired friend" as that gets old. I don't want to call them "the other boy" as they are not boys. Neither do I want to call them "man" as they aren't yet at that point and "young man" seems too formal. Do you guys have any ideas on how to refer to them without being too repetitive?

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As was said by Gimpy at the start of his post,

Hmmm... would it be alright if I stay a girl? I think my husband might be a little concerned, otherwise! I'm not sure if it's my username or the way I talk, but I've had this happen more than once... for some reason people seem to default to assuming I'm a guy!

 

And yes, it was prophesied as one of the contrasts in his character like what Terrand mentioned in the Prologue. It will be something like "The world will follow his words, yet he will be one who has broken oaths."
I like the fact that you're going to handle all of the parts that make this messy, as well. Not to compare your character to Jesus, but it reminds me a bit of how he came and fulfilled all prophecy concerning him and yet was accused and rejected because people wanted the prophecies fulfilled in the ways they thought would be most immediately beneficial (i.e. a king to defeat the Romans). Here, the people will look to Syler (eventually) as a hero and yet will have to concede that he doesn't meet all of the ideals they thought he would. Granted, no matter how noble the reasons, Syler is being purposefully untruthful in a culture which refreshingly demands people be purposeful and truthful from words to actions.

 

Sometimes, I type too rapidly or am thinking too far ahead when writing and things get out of order.
Seriously, no apologies. We're all writers; we all do this. It comes from having the whole scene in our head so completely that it takes some distance before we're able to go back and catch the very little errors that exist in the text. When I finally get something up in the forum as well, I expect you to catch these same mistakes for me.

 

One question for all of you. I am having difficulties in describing Havert and Syler without using their names. I don't want to keep going on with something about "his red haired friend" as that gets old. I don't want to call them "the other boy" as they are not boys. Neither do I want to call them "man" as they aren't yet at that point and "young man" seems too formal. Do you guys have any ideas on how to refer to them without being too repetitive?
That's a tough one, for precisely that reason - not becoming too repetitive! I salute the fact his is important to you -I pretty much roll my eyes now whenever I read Mara Jade's alter description of "red-gold haired" as it seems to be the absolutely ONLY thing people use!

 

I do think "young man" would be a little strange since most often we're in a 3rd person limited perspective of Syler, and he probably wouldn't think of himself or Havert as a "young man" either. At the same time, I think you could use that term when more disconnected from Syler's perspective right now and then move to "man" later in that story to specifically emphasize that transition you are hinting at here. Outside of that, you don't mention Syler by his hair color much like you occasionally do with Havert - you could do that. You could also identify him by blacksmith or apprentice, and Havert simply as friend. I don't think you've over-used any descriptions so far, and since most often the "micro-view" conversations are between only Havert and Syler it's easy to use their names or even down to the "he" and "him" level without it getting confusing.

"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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Hmmm... would it be alright if I stay a girl? I think my husband might be a little concerned, otherwise! I'm not sure if it's my username or the way I talk, but I've had this happen more than once... for some reason people seem to default to assuming I'm a guy!

Sorry about that. I don't interact with you except here and it doesn't involve gender. As for why people assume you are a guy, well, the fact that you have a gender neutral name and the fact that most people on this site are male is the reason for that.

 

Outside of that, you don't mention Syler by his hair color much

And I don't plan on ever doing that. It is my intention to go the entire novel without describing any of Syler's features other than that he is a male, of average height, and is pretty strong (from being a blacksmith's apprentice). I want people to be able to imagine him as they choose to based on his actions. This may change in the future, but as of now, that is my goal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, short chapter this time. This isn't part A, this is the whole chapter. I normally plan on my chapters being about 5500-6000 words each, but this one just didn't quite get there (it was about 3400) which is fine because it did what I needed it to do.

 

This is where the plot really begins to develop. These first four chapters set the stage, the next few begin the multiple plotlines and introducing more characters (next chapter will have about two or three more major characters brought in).

 

 

 

__________________________

 

Chapter 4

 

The Sei have been conquered, only the northernmost regions have yet to be occupied. We have already began implementing Unification among the captured soldiers and will implement it among the general population by the end of the week.

 

”” journal entry by Angvardi General Saveron dated the day after the Battle of Fazei Crossing

 

 

Fazei Crossing,

Angvardi Province of Sei

 

The next morning, the captured men were all roused and fed breakfast. Syler was grateful to have a meal of sizzling bacon and warm bread after the previous day's ordeal. It almost felt like being at home even if his favorite eggs were replaced by thousands of strangely dressed Easterners who had just conquered his homeland and killed many of the people he had grown up knowing. By this point, the Angvardi were not as on guard around the Sei and even had short conversations with some of them. Clearly, since their conversions, they were no longer viewed as being hostiles that could revolt at any moment. In the last day, even Syler had to admit they were acting far more hospitably than he had expected a conquering army to.

 

After breakfast, Syler managed to catch a glimpse of those Sei who had not converted being led away in chains. The sight left him numb and feeling guilty for not having the courage they demonstrated in standing up for their faith. Who was he to be able to go free when they were in chains? Who was the more courageous: the one who sacrificed his freedom or the one who sacrificed his honor? He deeply regretted what he had to do, what Fate had brought him to and hoped that the Elements would understand. If they didn't, then there was nothing more he could do but accept his punishment.

 

Havert had said little to him since their argument. He stayed nearby, but didn't say much to him or anyone else. Instead, he mostly brewed in silence and, while Syler mostly focused inward, kept an eye out for what was going on around them. Syler feared that his decision had cost him the respect of his friend. There was nothing he could do about it, though. His family came first.

 

Around lunchtime, they began to notice various groups of Sei and Angvardi marching in various directions. Most of them were to the south and east, but a few went in other directions. "Welp, it looks like they will be sending us home after all," Havert said, breaking several hours of silence.

 

"And it is about time," another Sei said. "I was wondering when they would get around to it."

 

Syler noticed the movement, but said nothing. Havert talked with a few of the others but generally ignored his friend. They were excited about finally getting away from this entire mess and began debating what sort of changes their daily life would face under Eastern rule. In the past, their little village received almost no direct control from the crown. They were allowed to rule their affairs as long as they paid their taxes and offered men and supplies for the defense of the kingdom. Even when the crown got directly involved, it was almost always through a magistrate from See Sei, and that was a rare event indeed. The most important individual in their daily lives the elders who helped guide the village's collective efforts and mediate disputes.

 

Syler remained despondent and reflective even as their own group was organized and ordered to form ranks. There were around four hundred of them left and Syler thought that some men not in their original group of a thousand were part of it. He had no idea what the grouping meant, though he thought he did recognize some of the men from nearby villages among them and hoped that the Angvardi were simply being practical in returning them to their homelands based on regions.

 

Before they were to leave, a few of the Angvardi sappers began handing out supplies for their journey. Syler was surprised to find his own bedroll returned to him. It had been left on a hill to the south of the battle just like the rest of their company's had. He couldn't fathom how the Angvardi not only found out what company it was that had left the supplies, but managed to track it to the individual men who owned them.

 

He took a closer look at the sappers handing the bedrolls out and realized that they were not actually sappers. They had no calluses on their hands from digging fortifications or blazing roads and their clothes were just simple light grey robes, not dirty like he would expect sappers to be. There was also something about them that seemed off about them. Their eyes were not normal, but seemed to possess some inner spark within them. When one of the men looked at him, he got a tingle down his spine that raised the hairs on the back of his neck. Syler looked at the others to see if anyone else noticed anything, but they all seemed more than happy to have their meager possessions back.

 

The strange men left them with their belongings and moved on to the next group of men to continue their tasks. In their place, several Angvardi horsemen formed up around the Sei. One man, an officer by the looks of his golden pauldrons, began riding up and down their group. "I am Sergeant Jaclens," he said in his strange Eastern accent. "We are to depart from this camp and march to your homes. I expect this to be done in an orderly fashion. As men of the Way, it is our charge to conduct ourselves with the utmost honor and dignity when we face our duty."

 

There was ripples of excitement among the men as they heard this news. They were all eager to return to their families and continue on with their lives, even the Seinari who had been lifelong soldiers. Syler remained silent, merely content to watch the others and their captors. Though nobody but Havert knew it, he was returning only to his shame. He had violated his word and broken his oath. Even if he was now able to help Karusa, he would never be able to regain his honor properly. It was a sacrifice he was willing to make for her.

 

Before they left, men began handing out rations for their journey. Syler found it odd that they were being given far more rations than was needed for the two or three day journey home. Perhaps these Angvardi were taking it easy and would only march at a slow pace with long breaks. He supposed that he would probably feel the same after marching hundreds of miles and fighting multiple battles. At least they wouldn't be going at a breakneck speed like the journey here had been.

 

Now that their provisions were stored safely in packs, the entire group began marching. Their Angvardi led them east through the camp along a makeshift road that had been formed during the last day. At first, nobody said anything and figured that the Angvardi simply wanted to get out of camp and were following some odd sort of rules. The unease along the column began to grow as they left camp and didn't swing back west. Their Angvardi escorts did not seem to want to make the turn, but were content in heading east away from where these men lived.

 

The unease turned into discontented murmurs as it became clear that their escorts had no intention on turning around. One rather brave man had the courage to call out, "We live to the west, why are we heading to the east? What treachery is this?"

 

At first, nobody answered him. Emboldened by his lead, more Sei began to call out and demand an answer. The Angvardi were now watching their charges carefully and had hands near their weapons as though they were expecting trouble. When nobody answered them, several of the Sei in the front stopped and demanded to know where they were being taken.

 

Sergeant Jaclens rode up to the front and finally addressed the Sei. "You are being taken to you new homes. The Way has stated that all must experience Unification, and that is what shall be done."

 

There were several outcries of anger from among the crowd. A few men shouted that they lived in the west and were perfectly happy with their homes. All of these cries were ignored by the Angvardi.

 

"The Way demands Unity and that Unity comes through following its directives," continued Jaclens. "You gave an oath to serve the Way and the Way has directed that you must follow the path of Unification. Unification directs that you shall make your homes in Kubei among the Kuti peoples so that your people's will become one and therefore Unified. Just as the Angvardi have mingled and become one with the Terulans, so must the Sei and the Kuti."

 

The Sei were silent for several moments as the shock of that revelation swept over them. The various Kut tribes that lived to the east of their kingdom had long been bitter enemies. They had sent numerous raiding parties each year for centuries and had killed countless thousands in their attacks. For their part, the Seinari had made many retaliation incursions into their territories and burned villages by the dozens. The blood feud between the two peoples had gone on for as long as either side could remember and would not be cast aside lightly.

 

The thought of being taken from their homes and forced to live among their hated enemies was infuriating. After they recovered from the shock, cries of outrage began to erupt from the men. Some got so angry that the Angvardi drew weapons and prepared to strike them down. Seeing the drawn swords and lowered spears at the ready, most of the angry men resorted to glaring at their captors in hatred.

 

One man made a run for it. He had apparently waited for a gap in the perimeter and for the Angvardi's attention to be focused on the more vocally angry Sei before sprinting out of the column and toward freedom. The man was through the Angvardi net and was twenty yards away before they even noticed he was gone. He kept running to the cheers of several of his countrymen.

 

The Angvardi did not charge after him despite being on horses. Instead, one of them pulled his bow off of his back and nocked an arrow, then aimed. The escapee continued to run despite warnings from the rest of the men, but he was not able to escape the arrow once it was loosed. There were cries of outrage mixed with groans as the man's body tumbled to the ground with an arrow in his upper back.

 

"Enough!" shouted Jaclens. "This man's death was needless. All of you swore to uphold the Way and the Way dictates we must all experience Unity. I myself took a Terulan wife and our people had been fighting for centuries untold. None of you have wives or children at home, so you must therefore take wives of another tribe and end your blood feud with them. You must now examine yourselves and decide whether you will stay true to your oaths or if you will abandon your honor. Any who attempt to escape Unification will be put to death as heretics and oath breakers!"

 

That silenced all of the outcries leaving only murmurings of discontent and anger. Nobody here wanted to break their word nor did they want to die. The Angvardi slowly began sheathing their swords as their charges began to calm down. None of the men were happy, but they realized that to resist now would be futile. The Angvardi were not only armed, but they had horses to run down anyone who escaped.

 

Syler paid little attention to what was going on. As soon as he heard what their fate was, he knew that the Elements had chosen to punish him for his broken oath. He would not get to take care of his sister and, based on what the sergeant had said, she would be given to a Kuti as a wife. He had broken his oath for nothing as it turns out he was destined to be away from Karusa no matter what he did. For a brief moment, he considered trying to make a break for it, but that would only result in his own death. Being dead would do his sister no good now.

 

He paid little attention as the men got back into ranks and continued their eastward march. His feet moved of their own accord acting upon hours of drills to where he didn't even need to guide them. His eyes stared into the back of the man in front of him without seeing. Havert, who was marching beside him, seemed to understand what his friend was going through and said nothing.

 

Miles passed and the sun rose and set, all without Syler noticing or caring. He was lost in his own world of misery and rejection. He had given control of his life to the Elements and now they had apparently decided that to take him away from his sister. It would be wrong to question their motives, but that didn't mean he had to like it. He would go where he was told to go, but his heart would remain behind.

 

At camp that night, Syler still had said nothing. He ate the food given to him in silence and didn't even notice that Havert was no longer with him. Instead, he was content to lie down on his bedroll and stare off at the stars. Havert came back later and set up his bedroll nearby. He whispered various rumors about their ultimate destination and what their futures would hold, but Syler didn't pay much attention. All of the rumors were just baseless worrying and Syler had no desire to comment on it.

 

"Are you going to say anything?" Havert asked after several minutes.

 

"There isn't much to say," replied Syler.

 

"Aren't ya angry or anything? Many of these guys are."

 

Syler shook his head in the dim firelight. "There is no reason to be angry. What was done was done and being angry about it won't help me."

 

"You are too accepting of things." There was a tinge of reproach flavoring his response. "What happened to wanting to help Karusa? What about getting back home to see my Pa? Should we just give that all up because some Easterner decides to haul us away?"

 

"We tried fighting and failed. That tells me that either the Elements have abandoned us, they are weaker than the Way's gods, or the Elements have another plan for us that includes our being conquered. Either way, what is done is done."

 

"Listen to yourself! Just this morning, you were eager to go back to make sure Karusa would be safe, now ya sound like a whipped dog. Don't you still want to help your sister?"

 

"Of course I do," Syler said with a tiny bit of annoyance at the suggestion that he didn't. His friend knew him better than to think he would just give up helping her. "I would give anything to help her, but getting myself killed isn't going to do either of us any good."

 

Havert snorted in derision at that idea. "You have given up. Why aren't you willing to fight?"

 

"What point is there in fighting right now?" asked Syler in a dull, almost uninterested voice. It was a question he had been wrestling with for hours while on the march. He knew that there was little chance of escape while they were marching and didn't want to waste the effort in considering it. However, after they arrived wherever they were going, more opportunities presented themselves. The Angvardi couldn't keep watch on them all forever. Perhaps when that time came, he would reconsider his options, but at this moment, resistance was hopeless.

 

"What do ya think we were doing just yesterday!" exclaimed Havert in a barely restrained whisper. He immediately looked around to see if anyone took notice. When he was satisfied nobody did, he continued in a lower tone, "We were fighting these Easterner tagrols with everything we had. Thousands of us died trying to stop them from ruling over us. Now, you want to just give up and pretend none of that happened?"

 

"Of course not, but fighting now is not going to help things. Our King surrendered, remember? The Kingdom of the Sei no longer exists so what would you be fighting for?"

 

"Our freedoms, the ability to go home and live how we want," Havert shot back.

 

With a sigh of exasperation, Syler said, "We can never go home and live how things once were because they are not. Whether we like it or not, the war is over and we are under Angvardi control now."

 

"I will never bow to the Angvardi," Havert said defiantly.

 

"Then what did you do before their priests this morning?"

 

Even in the darkness, Syler could see his friend's eyes narrowing and his face hardening. It took several long moments for him to respond and when he did, there was a coldness in his voice that Syler had never heard before. "I did what I had to in order to survive and fight another day."

 

"What do you mean, 'fight another day?'" Syler asked. For the first time, he started showing some interest in the conversation.

 

"Exactly what I said," Havert replied defiantly. "They may have won on the battlefield, but they haven't conquered us yet."

 

This alarmed him greatly. "What are you getting into?"

 

"All I'm saying is that not everyone is happy with this betrayal. Some of us don't intend on takin' it without a fight. It may not be now, but it will be soon."

 

"What are you going to do then? If our entire kingdom couldn't resist them, why do you think a few men on the way to a strange land can? It is pointless and you know it. You can fight them and likely get yourself killed or you can wait and see what the Elements will bring into your path."

 

"I don't follow the Elements anymore, Syler." Now there was definite reproach in the man's voice. "I took an oath, remember? Unlike some people, my word actually means something."

 

"Then how are you going to fight the Angvardi?"

 

Havert shrugged a little, "I haven't heard nothin' that says the Angvardi are the sole avatars of the Way."

 

This was very much unlike the man Syler knew. Havert had always been easy going and never held a grudge. He liked his freedoms, true, but Syler had never pictured him as vengeful or wanting to really fight. Havert had only joined the conscript company because he wanted adventure, not because he wanted to kill people.

 

"You be careful then, Havert," he said at last. "I hope you don't get yourself into more trouble than you can handle."

 

With one final humph, Havert rolled over and said no more. Syler lay on his back and continued to look up at the stars even as he pondered what had happened to his friend. One of his traits that did remain intact was his eagerness to dive into whatever adventure or cause that caught his fancy. He always was quick to embrace some cause or ideal, even if it was typically something that allowed him to escape his chores and have fun. This trait had probably been what caused him to volunteer for the war.

 

Yet, this was an odd cause for him to embrace. Havert had never struck Syler as one who was prone to wrath, violence, or revenge. He was far more apt to simply shrug off offenses and continue on his way than to hold grudges. Now, he seemed eager to see fighting and to continue a war that was over. It wasn't the time for that and probably wouldn't be for many months or even years. Whatever happened yesterday during the battle had clearly changed him, and Syler wasn't sure it was for the best.

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I like this. It very much feels like an opening for the future story. Interesting to hear the difference in the attitudes of Havert and Syler. I get the distinct impression that Havert will play a crucial role in forming Syler as the hero of this story.

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  • 3 weeks later...

As promised, the travels are over (well, by the end of this piece). I have introduced a new antagonist character as well as the environment for the next few chapters.

 

_______________

 

Chapter 5

 

The Kuti are a barbaric race, one that would sooner raid and pillage their neighbors than live in peace. We have tried to reason with them, but they are beyond all rational discourse. If you encounter them in your travels, pray to the Elements that you are armed for the only way to deal with the Kuti is through violence.

 

”” Chronicler Gratis of the Sei, written in 983 of the Second Age

 

Village of Kubei,

Angvardi Province of Kut

 

The journey east took several days, but the miles were not what took their toll on the men. Each step they took put them farther from home and closer to the lands of their enemies. Some of these men had fought the Kuti raiding parties before and bore nothing but hatred for them. A few men grew so angry that they refused to march any further. Those that didn't fall back into line after the touch of the whip were simply slain on the spot. The Angvardi made it abundantly clear that all would follow the Way or die as heretics.

 

Syler hadn't spoken to Havert since that night when they had their argument. The other man hadn't even marched next to him, but stayed away. Syler was still too consumed with thoughts of what was going to happen to his sister to care. The only thing that kept him going was the hope that one day, he would live long enough to see her again.

 

Travel along the Foiled Road that ran east and west across the Kingdom was easy, but when they started slightly northeast into the Kut Lands, there was nothing but wilderness. Travel was slow and harder so they couldn't march as far each day. The Angvardi didn't seem concerned, though. They just kept marching the men as far as they could go each day with only a handful of breaks to eat. Out here, in lands south of the Escand Desert, water was scarce, so they made sure to fill up whenever they came across a spring or creek. The terrain had gradually changed from rolling green grasslands into patches of prairie dotted by sandy flats filled with rocks and ravines. It wasn't quite desert, but what moisture that made it over the Escand Highlands to the north was usually dumped into the Subeleth Woods before it ever reached these lands.

 

From what little Syler knew of the Kuti, they were a semi-nomadic people who roamed their lands for sometimes months at a time before settling into temporary villages near various resources like herds, water, and tillable soil. They would stay there until the resources had been depleted and move on. Over time, the natural resources returned and another clan would settle there.

 

When their natural resources were scarce, the men of the clans would form raiding parties to attack either the Angvardi to the south and east or the Sei to the west. It was from those raiding parties that their neighbors learned to fear and hate their people. Kuti warriors were renowned for their fighting prowess and durability. They were quick and apt at avoiding being tracked. Their raiding parties were known to terrorize lands as far as Lake Kart in the east to the outskirts of Kasas Sei in the west. Their raiders had even been known to occasionally go through Terulan territory around Yaitil in the south and attack the Gope Tribes.

 

Syler grew up more concerned with the Sua peoples who lived to the west near Sandrin, but he heard plenty of horror stories of the Kuti raids. They would descend upon farmsteads and small villages and kill everyone within. Sometimes, if they were particularly angry, they would hang up all of the bodies in a visible area and strip their flesh off. Once they were done with their savagery, they would loot whatever they could and fade into the night. The Seinari were always vigilant when watching the borders, but they didn't always find the stealthy raiders.

 

At last, early on the eighth day of marching, their Angvardi escorts grew visibly excited and one of the riders went on ahead. Syler saw thin tendrils of smoke on the horizon, the first sign of civilization since they entered the Kut lands. Apprehension grew among the Sei once they realized that they were going to soon be in the camp of their enemy, but none wished to feel the bite of an Angvardi arrow so they continued onward.

 

They came to a small city that was significantly larger than what Syler had imagined. There were hundreds or even thousands of small, simple dwellings ran along winding packed dirt roads. From what they could see at a distance, there were a few vendors and markets peddling various wares. There was only one tall building, located in what looked to be a central square at the heart of the village. Syler thought it looked a little odd as it didn't look to be something that could be quickly torn down and moved.

 

As they entered the outskirts of the city, the people there stopped to gaze at them. The people weren't cowed nor did they seem to be terrified of the Angvardi. They seemed more curious and possibly even afraid of the newcomers the Easterners escorted. The Angvardi ignored them for the most part as they guided their captives to one of the larger streets toward the center of town.

 

There were a few children staring at them as they walked by, but not a great number. There were many women, Syler noted, but there didn't seem to be very many men. He wondered if they had been killed in battle as the Angvardi invaded. Either that, or they had been rounded up and marched away just like he had. There were plenty of older men and a good number of young boys, but during the trip through town, Syler saw only three men of middle age. He also noticed that every so often, they came upon a man armed and armored in a fashion similar to their escorts, clearly part of the Angvardi occupation force. What struck him the most was that, though many were quite tanned, all of them seemed to have light brown or blonde hair. There wasn't a single one among them other than the Angvardi who had dark hair.

 

What struck him was how similar their village appeared to be to his own. True, their houses were made of grass and mud bricks while his were mainly of wood and stone, but beyond that, it was very similar. Chickens ran through the alleys and various fruits or vegetables hang out to dry. Women sat in small clusters mending or washing clothes and blankets. There was a few mills to grind prairie wheat and a press for whatever juices they wanted to make. A butcher had smoked meats laid out in front of his shop to entice customers while racks of freshly slaughtered meat hang on racks farther back. There were even a few milk cows and goats in pens attached to larger houses.

 

The people wore clothes similar to their own. From what he had heard, he half expected the men to run around shirtless and the women to have bones for necklaces while naked children roamed the streets covered in filth. Instead, he found them all to be well clothed in simple but tough looking brown and tan cloth. He wasn't sure what the cloth was made from, but it looked sturdy and perhaps a bit warm.

 

As they neared the center of the city, a gong began to ring out in a steady beat. All around them, the Kuti dropped what they were doing and drifted to the center alongside the procession. When they arrived, they saw that people were coming from all over and that there was no way for them all to fit. Even though it was rapidly filling with people, Syler was able to see just how odd this place was and how little it fit with the rest of the city.

 

The square was just that: a large square in the center of the city. Syler estimated that each side ran at least two hundred yards thus creating a huge inner area. A waist high wall constituted the division line between the central square and the rest of the city. A good part of that area was open, but the rest was filled with the tall structure that he had seen on his way in.

 

The building appeared to be six stories tall and towered over everything else. Instead of being made of simple mud bricks like the rest of the village, the tower was made of extremely well cut and fitted stone blocks of the same warm brown color as the dirt they walked on. The walls of the tower displayed various carvings of strange figures and even stranger scenes Syler couldn't decipher. Some of them looked nice and peaceful, but others depicted scenes of horror. The tower was guarded by an imposing set of doors made of glittering steel that appeared to shift in the light like oil on water. The entire tower was a most unnerving thing to behold and Syler hoped he wouldn't have to spend much time around it.

The square around it was mostly flat like the roads, but it was cobblestone instead of packed dirt. There were swirling lines of white stones mixed with the brown that formed an odd pattern. He had no idea what their significance was, but they were unlike anything he had seen before. Every dozen or so yards there was a pillar made of unhewn stone. Most were brown like the rest of the square, but a few were black, grey, or even slightly greenish.

 

The Kuti were clearly used to assembling here because they did so in a neat and orderly fashion. There was an eerie silence as they did and it only served to increase Syler's discomfort. The Kuti got in an ordered set of lines and sat down with their legs crossed on the cobblestones while Angvardi guards stood watch. Those that couldn't fit stood outside the perimeter wall in silence.

 

They stood there for many minutes while more people continued to filter in. Their own guards warned them to keep silent and remain where they were, but beyond that gave no instructions. They had been huddled into a fairly small area near the great tower and none of the Kuti tried to go near them.

 

After people seemed to stop flowing in, the gong stopped. A minute after it did, the doors to the tower slowly creaked open. As one, all of the Kuti bowed their heads where they sat and the Angvardi went to their knees. Only a few remained standing long enough to ensure that the Sei were following suit. Syler managed only to see a gaping blackness from within before he joined the others in kneeling down.

 

From the door emerged several priests dressed in the various colors of their individual deities. The priests spread out and began inspecting the new arrivals. When they were satisfied, they folded their arms and stepped back on either side of the door. At last, when all were standing there, another group of figures emerged from the darkness.

 

Syler was able to see only black robes embossed with odd symbols and designs before one man spoke in an impossibly loud male voice, "Welcome, brothers of the Way. Welcome to your new homes." The voice resonated off the stones like a bell leaving Syler's ears ringing. The man continued in his deep, rich voice, "This is Kubei, a new city built for our brothers and sisters of the Kuti peoples. No longer will they have to wander the lands with aimless purpose. Now, we will build great cities and roads and temples and grow as a unified society."

 

"Look out at your fellow believers in the Way," the man commanded. It took a few moments, but people began to look up. The Sei were looking at the Kuti, and the Kuti were looking right back. Syler didn't care about the Kuti in along the outside of the square, he was more interested in the man who was speaking.

 

The man was middle aged and completely bald and his chiseled jaw was clean shaven. He was adorned in heavy black robes that shimmered even though he was in the shade of the giant tower. His brow was stern, his cheeks gaunt, and his eyes were as dark as his robes. and From what could be seen of him, he looked to have not an ounce of fat on his muscular frame. Whoever he was, he gave Syler chills up and down his back just looking at him.

 

The man was apparently pleased with the reaction and nodded. "There," he said in what he clearly intended to be a soothing, placating voice. "We are all brothers and sisters here, we all follow the same Way. Your past differences are behind you. Long have your peoples fought and waged war, but those days are over. You are all part of the Unity now.

 

"I am Uthas of Ravest, governor of the Province of Kut. Follow the Way and follow our laws and you will flourish here. Rebel and resist our Way and you shall be destroyed. I have no desire for any to come to harm for we are all needed to be unified in order to withstand the coming Chaos, but I will not allow dissenters to stand in our way."

 

He continued to drone on about their religion, propaganda about being united, and other lofty words that they were forced to listen to but that Syler didn't think meant anything. Finally, he got into explaining their laws, what was expected of them, and how they were to live. There were so many rules, Syler didn't understand why they were necessary. It seemed as though many of the rules were simply to make sure they didn't leave or gather in large numbers except when summoned here to the square. He supposed that they were still afraid of rebellions in their newly unified lands and sought to preempt that with harsh rules and regulations.

 

When it seemed he was finally satisfied that the newcomers were aware of the laws that they would be expected to follow, Ravest began praying, "Oh mighty Featwel, Unifier of us all, guide your humble servants as we make the critical decisions that we must now make. Guide the hands of your priests and ensure that the matches made are the ones you desire. Bless those who accept your selections and cause Mewela to smile upon them. If any should resist the Unity, then deliver their names to Salgeus so that he may unleash his wrath upon them. Make us stronger so that we may resist the coming Chaos. Our lives for the Way."

 

As soon as his booming voice faded away, he raised both of his arms and gestured to the assembled priests to begin doing whatever he wanted them to do. Sergeant Jaclens stepped forward and offered one of them a bag which turned out to be full of papers. This seemed to excite the priests greatly as they began dividing out the sheets among themselves while chattering in low tones.

 

Syler began to wonder if these Easterners would ever get on with whatever they were doing. More papers were brought out and more priests joined the small crowd. The sun was now high in the sky and the temperature in the unshielded square was rising to uncomfortable levels. With nothing to stop the hot winds coming off the Sintart Wastes to the north, the desert heat stretched farther south than normal. That mean that it was significantly warmer here than in the Sei.

 

The Kuti didn't seem to be bothered by the heat. Syler figured they were probably used to it having lived here all their lives. Now that the focus of the Angvardi wasn't upon them, they were glaring at the Sei. It was almost unnerving to see so many angry looking eyes upon them. There were nearly four hundred of them, but they were outnumbered many times over by the Kuti. Even though there were few Kuti men in the crowd, Syler had no doubt that were the armed Angvadi to let them, they would quickly tear the Sei soldiers apart with their bare hands and teeth.

 

Syler was just about to fall asleep when the massive gong went off again. A few moments later, one of the priests stepped forward to address the crowd. His voice was nowhere near as imposing as Ravest's, but it was easy to hear. "The gods have spoken and guided their servant's hands. Each of you are to return to your dwellings. The gods have selected many of you husbands from among our new brothers in the Way. Before you depart, hear my words.

 

"Women, do not resist your new husbands. They are no longer of the Sei just as you are no longer of the Kut. Care for them as you would your own father. Tend to their needs as a proper wife should. Be faithful to them in all ways. You may not know them now, but as you both grow in the Way, it is Featwel's will that you come to love your husband with all of your heart.

 

"Men, respect your new wives. They are no longer your enemies, but are your new family. Treat them well or face the wrath of Mewela at our hands. There will be no toleration for those who treat their wives poorly. Care for them as you would your mother. Tend to their needs as a proper husband should. Be faithful to them in all ways. You may now know them now, but as you both grow in the Way, it is Featwel's will that you come to love your wife with all of your heart."

 

The priest paused for several long moments before continuing in a distinctly somber voice, "War has weakened our numbers. The centuries of strife between all of our peoples has diminished our population. If we are to face the coming Chaos, we must be strong and unified. When the Chaos is unleashed, our numbers must be as the sands of the sea or the leaves of the forest or all will be lost. We must present a united front and with one voice and one will oppose the Chaos. To do that, we must end the petty rivalries of kingdoms and race that once divided us. It is for that cause that the Angvardi and Terulan peoples put aside our differences and began intermarrying just as you are now. However, as you resisted our generous offer to join the Way and fought a war against our holy armies, you will have to suffer punishment. Because you submitted to the Way after being conquered, you were not enslaved, but that does not exempt you from paying for your rebellion.

 

"Hear me! If you should not take each other as husband and wife in every way, you shall suffer the fate of the unbelievers. If your union has not produced a healthy child within one year of this day, both husband and wife shall be bound in chains and sent away as slaves."

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Intriguing post. I'm curious about this stone tower you've mentioned. It sound like it will hold some importance later in the story. And the clear hatred between the two peoples will be an interesting factor in things. An enjoyable post, progressed the story along but didn't make it boring.

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Wow! It has been so incredibly busy; I'm sorry it took me this long to get to this! I read chapter 4 quite some time ago and have just been trying to find the time to right up a lengthy review. Unfortunately, I think I'm going to have to come back for chapter 5 later!

 

As Brendo mentioned, it felt like a lot was being set up for the rest of the story here. Boy, are those Angvardi dangerously clever! I went back and skimmed their official address to the Sei army again, and noted that while they specifically told the married men that they could go back to their families, the unmarried men were only told they could go back to their homes. While the obvious implication is that they could return to the homes they identified as "home," the Angvardi carefully let out (until the Sei were further isolated and already on their way) that they had assigned them new homes! They are being extremely smart in their methods... in a way I don't respect (having already identified with Syler as the protagonist, and being forcefully made to move after having done nothing to initiate the war) and yet respect as well, as it should bring peace between them and the Kubei over time in a way which nothing else could.

 

Can you confirm - did the married men actually get to go home to their families, and this is the unmarried men only? I don't think it was specifically stated.

 

Who was the more courageous: the one who sacrificed his freedom or the one who sacrificed his honor?
What a tough question! Normally I would say the one who sacrificed his freedom for sure, however in this case while Syler sees the debate in these terms, it seems to me that he is sacrificing one area of his honor (caring for his dependents) for another (being true to his word).

 

He couldn't fathom how the Angvardi not only found out what company it was that had left the supplies, but managed to track it to the individual men who owned them... There was also something about them that seemed off about them. Their eyes were not normal, but seemed to possess some inner spark within them...
Hmm, I'm going to guess that these are some of the magic users! It would help explain how they managed to get belongings back to the correct people.

 

I did struggle a little bit with Havert's opinions in this segment. It was very understandable - whereas before it was just the oath, not it appears like the Angvardi have tricked them and reneged on their promises. Also, Havert does seem like the type who could be swayed by talking with other men who are getting angry...and, Havert still appears to honor his word regarding the Elemnts vs the Way. Nonethless, it felt a little "off" to me that Havert seemed to completely reversed his opinion and attitude from one chapter to the next. It might be just me, and I think even that slight feeling would go away with perhaps a little more insight from Syler near the beginning of the chapter instead of just the end... yeah... that's just what I picked up.

 

Anywho, overall... a nice addition, as always!

 

There are always those few little sentences that sneak past all of our radars, but they were all minor things that you should easily catch on your next draft.

 

Hopefully I can get back to Chapter 5 much more quickly!

"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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I'm curious about this stone tower you've mentioned. It sound like it will hold some importance later in the story.

Yes, it and others like it will definitely play a major part in the story.

 

Can you confirm - did the married men actually get to go home to their families, and this is the unmarried men only? I don't think it was specifically stated.

Yes, the married men returned to their original villages and families. The unmarried men were sent off to different territories.

 

Also note, Kubei is the name of the town Syler and Havert are sent to. The name of the land they are being sent to is Kut. The name of the people are the Kuti.

 

Normally I would say the one who sacrificed his freedom for sure, however in this case while Syler sees the debate in these terms, it seems to me that he is sacrificing one area of his honor (caring for his dependents) for another (being true to his word).

He is indeed. His comparison is in himself for sacrificing his honor and Havert for merely sacrificing his freedom (of religion). Of course, he didn't know at the time that they were both being sent away.

 

Hmm, I'm going to guess that these are some of the magic users! It would help explain how they managed to get belongings back to the correct people.

Yes, they were, though they were merely some of the lowest forms of magic users. And as for the method, well, not everything is explained (hence why it is "magic"). Similar things will be used later, but I have no intention of explaining how that happened.

 

I did struggle a little bit with Havert's opinions in this segment.

Havert is a hothead (and, not coincidentally, a redhead). He was quite pissed at being sent to Kut. That, mixed with his desire for excitement, causes him to do do some rather risky things in this story. Plus, I will point out (and it will be made more clear shortly), he is not abandoning his new devotion to the Way, merely expressing his disapproval with the concept that the Way can only be defined by the Angvardi.

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I don't know how I missed chapter four...I apologize! These were two really great chapters. I think most of what I noticed has been said already, but I will add that I really liked chapter five. The tensions between these two people groups is a cool twist. I suppose the Angvardi are prepared for the inevitable anger and discord that will be raised by these forced marriages--after all, they've done it with other peoples I assume. So that's where I find the threat at the end so brilliant.

 

Excellent stuff, and I'm really curious to see what happens next.

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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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This chapter was really solid, Travis. Wow, what a new world to be thrown into! The Angvardi really know what they're doing... And clearly the Kuti aren't as content with this arrangement yet  as the Angvardi have indicated that they, themselves, and the Terulans are. It'll be very interesting to see how this develops... Especially the first time the guards are out of sight!

 

I'm interested in seeing how Syler will begin to run into magic more and discover his talents. I'm guessing that both the tower and the governor may play big roles in that!

"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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