||City of IF
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Joined: 24 May 2006
|Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:00 pm Post subject: Another Interlude: The Past
|Still working on the second part of Chapter 4, but for some reason I'm having a lot of trouble with it. I don't know why. So here's another interlude for you people to chew on. Introduces some new characters, including one i hope you kinda recognize. :P
“The Dark Lord? Who does he think he is, another Rolov?”
“With all due respect sire, Tdem Rolov never really conquered much more than Ixia in all twelve years of his reign. This man has already gotten all the way to our borders in ten months. It’s said that he’s bent the other four members of the Western Circle already.”
The mage-king in his high-backed seat, an imitation of the throne he ruled from, frowns thunderously.
“They would never bend knee to him. Ezel is too proud, Moren too wise, and Rogar too stubborn. Lothren might, but he’d be too lazy to take orders properly; the Dark Lord would probably have his head on a spike in less than a moon. But all are too powerful for even the Dark Lord to cow. Together, they could crucify him.”
The blonde seneschal, bows his head. “It was only a rumor, my lord. Perhaps you should reply to Lord Wu’s pro-“
The door opens and a maid rushes in, her cheeks red with exertion.
“Milord!” She rushes through her curtsy, almost tumbling to the polished floor. “Queen Nira has gone into labor early. I’ve already summoned the midwife, and I thought I should-“
The mage-king rises, cutting the flustered maid off, starts to stride from the room.
Vogel, the blonde man, starts to ask again of matters of the state, but the mage-king waves him aside, heads for his love and the child they’ll soon have together.
Gone. Both gone. The child taken, before she even had a name, Nira killed defending her daughter. In the heart of his fortress, the Mage-King of Naroth.
He hadn’t even gotten to name her. What would he have named her, he wonders. Maybe Nira after her mother. Nira, the gem from which the Phoenix hatches.
He almost chuckles. Ironies of Ironies. The one woman he was unable to save from that black sword named after the egg from which the Everlasting fire hatched.
He looks up from his brooding at Vogel, sees the tear-stains that mark his cheeks as well. Looks unto his court, sees Sir Andenbrel, sees Mromnel, sees the sadness in their faces. Nira was much beloved, not only by her lord.
A messenger hurried into the room, goes to Vogel, whispers in his ear.
He in turn moves to the King, whispers to him.
“Messengers from the Dark Lord. They wish to negotiate the return of your child. Shall I order them tortured?”
“Send them in.”
“Are you sure milord? They do-“
“I said, send them in.”
The blonde seneschal nods, gestures to the messenger, returns to his place. The messenger hurries back out of the throne room.
Minutes later, three figures enter.
The leader is like a walking corpse, clothes in shreds, and flesh in almost as bad a shape. Despite that, an aura of activity surrounds him, a dreadful vitality at odds with his horrible visage. The only parts of him that seem to be undamaged and alive are his eyes, dark and terrible, rolling in their sockets horribly. He carries no weapons; his skeletal hands seem weapon enough.
The thing to his right is just as terrible, a giant hunched figure in nondescript clothing that looks threadbare and worn, but still manages to hide almost all of what lies underneath. He wears a mask, a tattered leather thing that covers his face while letting the long tangles of colorless hair fall to all sides. He carries a staff, a long plain stick of an unknown wood, at first glance. Closer examination reveals long squiggling runes, like wormtrack, that seem to squirm away from wandering eyes.
The thing to his left seems normal, in comparison. A haughty, distant face looks down at those around, dressed in a noble’s finery. However, along the edges his image flickers slightly, shimmering. He wears two daggers at his belt, longer and thinner than usual.
The Mage-King’s eyes flash as he sees the three.
“So the rumors are true…. Rogar. Lothren. Ezel. You work for the Dark Lord now?”
The leader smiles, a grisly grin with rotting flesh peeling away.
“Not quite work. He’s found a way to enslave us. Through the power he says, although I doubt he tells the truth any more than we do. And we go by new names now.”
The Mage-King raises an eyebrow.
The leader gestures to himself. “The Dead Man.” To Lothren, the man on his right. “Creeper.” To Ezel, the man on his left. “Wraith.”
“And what of Moren?”
“He heard the rumors, and heeded them. He took his own life as the troops took apart his castle stone by stone.”
“And why didn’t you do the same?”
The grisly grin again.
“Who says we didn’t?
There really wasn’t any reply to that. An unnatural silence fills the room, to be broken by Vogel.
“What do you want of his majesty?”
The Dead Man chuckles, a dry ominous thing, produces a small black vial, opaque. Runes of a dull grey dance all along the opening, and a large red rune pulses atop the stopper. The vial seems to draw in the torchlight, causing the flickering flames to bend in as if moved by a nonexistent breeze.
His voice, dry and scratchy, says ominously, “I think that you know what we want.”
The Mage-King unhesitatingly raises his palm, a white flame blazing up from his hand to light the room. It towers like a pillar, overtopping the tall throne by a good head.
The three smile, and the Dead Man uncorks the vial. A great wooshing sound is heard, and the pillar of flame spirals into the black vial. The pillar seems so great, the vial so small, that it looks as if the vial could not possibly hold all of it, but it does.
The flame vanishes into the vial, and the room is darker for it. The Dead Man places the vial somewhere in his tatters, and turns to leave.
“What of my daughter, Rogar?”
The Dead Man looks back, grins that ghastly grin. “First of all, it is the Dead Man now. And when did we ever say anything of your daughter?”
He turns again to the door, the contempt in the faces of him and his companions obvious.
The king snarls angrily, gestures a hand. Prescribed runes burst aglow on the carpeted floor, creating a pentagram that surrounds the three. As they turn back to the king, startled, the threads of the carpet start to shred itself, the threads unwinding as if repulsed, opening up into a black pit.
The three fall before they can do anything else, and the carpet reweaves itself. The king slumps in his throne, crown heavy on his head.
The king looks up wearily. “Yes Vogel?”
The king smiles grimly. “No. A trap like that could only hold them momentarily. They’ll be gone soon. Let them leave. They would tear through your men like an axe through paper.”
The seneschal nods.
The king sighs, holds out his palm. A small ball of light, little more than a mote, floats above it lazily. He closes his fist on it, stands.
“Take care of the kingdom.”
“What? Erm… Sire?”
“I go after my child. I leave to you the crown. You’ve always done most of it anyways.”
The king takes the silver circle from his head, tosses it to Vogel casually. Vogel catches it, looks up at his king.
“Before I go, my new king, could you scrounge me up a sword somewhere? It’s been a while since I’ve last used one as more than a plaything, but I feel I might have more urgent need of it now than I did.”
Vogel looks at the crown, back at his king. “I go where you go milord.”
The king looks at Vogel and frowns. “I must do this alone, Vogel. There awaits only death for those who travel with me.”
“Then why do you go?”
“Because I’m an old fool, Vogel. A sentimental old fool.”
“As am I milord. You abdicated to me; you can not protest my abdication to another.”
He tosses the crown to Sir Andenbrel, who catches it only to place it safely on the ground.
“I go with my king. Let Mromnel take the throne, he is fool enough to wish it.”
“But also fool enough to go on this mad quest. I refuse it.”
And so on the crown went, passed on to every member, every noble in the room, each protesting their loyalty, each time their loyalty protested by their king.
Vogel looks up at his king, says, “No man is cold-hearted enough to be king after you, milord.”
The king’s eyes glistens, but his tone is firm. “Stay here Vogel. You will make a good king. The rest I will take, but you must stay. You’re the only one who knows what’s going on around here well enough to rule.”
“Why do you torture me thus? You bring others and leave me here like a rusty sword, cast away.”
“You must stay, to defend the country against this Dark Lord’s armies. If I must, I will order you as king!”
“You have given up your kingship; I could order you to stay, as king.”
“Then I will not order you as king, I ask you as friend. Please. Stay. Defend the borders, and…” He hesitates here. “Build a tomb for Nira. Build a tomb for me.”
The seneschal, now king, bows his head, accepts the silver circle. “I will, milord.”
The man leaves the room, followed by his loyal band, leaves the palace with only a few day’s rations, a horse, and the weapon on his back.
The man crouches in the cold and wet, the last of his followers by his side. Of the thirty strong that had left Naroth, only two beside him remained. Sir Andenbrel and his young squire.
There had been trouble on the road; The Dark Lord’s troops controlled most of this countryside, and they had run themselves ragged avoiding patrols. And they had lost occasional men to small skirmishes; Thankfully, no one had really gone after them so far. Still, the group hadn’t been big to start with.
And several of the nobles had trickled away after an appropriate period of time. May they suffer a thousand times for their infidelity.
The man is confident they will. The armies they have dodged the past few weeks were large, their destination obvious. He wishes Vogel the best of luck.
He sees the walls of the city once again, a great megalopolis rising from the swampy ground around. Huge black walls surrounded the center of the city; originally Necremos had been no more than that, a small city in a swamp amongst several hills. Then a general, a sorcerer, unknown before this had swept through the land like a burning scourge, known only by the title the Dark Lord.
Sir Andenbrel speaks up. “The soldiers have past, Lord. We should enter now before they close the gates for the night.”
For centuries, Necremos and other cities had closed their gates to keep out the creatures of the dark. Even though the dark now lived in Necremos, the custom continued. It reassured the citizens, slightly, and those agents of the Dark Lord who roamed the night had no use for gates.
The man nods, and the three get up to enter the city. Sir Andenbrel wears no knightly armor, wears only his sword and some tattered chain mail. His squire carries a spear, and he too wears chainmail, but he is untested. And the man wears but the sword.
They enter the city, unnoticed except by casual glances.
The Dead Man stands, facing the three men in that dark room at the heart of Necremos.
“Did you really think you could come into the heart of the empire and steal your daughter back?”
The three men have their weapons out. Sir Andenbrel circles to the right, his squire to the left. The Dead Man seems not to notice, looking instead at his former companion.
The man says nothing. He has no answer to the question.
The squire breaks first, lunging forward with the spear. The point skitters along an exposed bone, leaps from his hands as he stumbles onwards, only to be backhanded by the Dead Man. He flies backwards, blood flying through the air. His face now sports a long wound from his forehead to his neck, and he is missing a chunk of his nose, though the Dead Man carries no blade.
Like the scream that triggers the avalanche, the other two sprang into motion.
The man closes the gap quickly, trying to get in before the Dead Man can do anything sorcerous. On the other side of him, Sir Andenbrel tries to do the same.
The Dead Man moves like lightning. His skeletal hand is around Sir Andenbrel’s throat even as the two swords pierce his dead flesh.
He squeezes, and the knight’s eyes bulge. A whiplash of his arm, a snapping sound, and then he drops the twitching corpse.
He looks down at the two swords as if surprised, slides Sir Andenbrel’s heavy broadsword out with one hand.
“What have they done to you, Rogar? What kind of monstrous things…?”
The Dead Man looks up, his face surprised. “They did nothing. I did this to myself.”
The man is shocked, pulls out his sword with a jerk, holds it unsteadily in front of him.
“As for what kind of monstrosity. I see no monstrosity. This is a higher form, a step closer to perfection. Immortality is within my grasp! I’m surprised you and Moren didn’t see it! We are now so infused with magic that we have BECOME magic!”
The man only shakes his head.
The Dead Man snarls, twirls the broadsword one-handed. “Fine then. Let’s see how your pathetic little flesh fares.”
He attacks with the broadsword, each swing fast enough to blur the air, each clatter of the heavy broadsword against the steel of the man’s beating him back another step, each clash of metal sending numbing reverberations into his hands. The Dead Man presses the attack, step by step, around the room.
A particularly vicious stroke and the man’s sword goes flying. He jumps back, avoids spilling his blood onto the ground.
Another stroke goes deep into his bicep.
He winces, and his left arm goes up, a small white flame glowing, sinking into the wound. It shrinks to a small scratch.
The Dead Man chuckles. “So you’ve sunk that low. Minor healing tricks is all you can do?”
Another swing and the man ducks, only to be kicked to the ground by the bony foot. He scrambles backwards, his hands falling on the abandoned spear. He brings it up in front of him.
The Dead Man laughs at his feeble attempt to save himself. The broadsword held loosely in his thin fingers, he waits, grinning that awful grin.
The man gathers his strength, a white glow flowing from his fingers to the spear. With a quickness the Dead Man can only gawk at, the spear flies from his glowing fingers. As it flies, it seems to twist, to grow. By the time it reaches the Dead Man, it has started growing branches. It hits him, carries him backwards a full ten feet, into the wall. And, impaling the Dead Man to the wall and keeping him trapped, with its dead branches, the spear starts to grow roots which quest through cracks in the stone for nourishment.
Ignoring the snarls and threats of the Dead Man, the man goes to the squire, a white fire dancing along his fingers. The wounds on his face scab over, though he will always have a long ropy scar on his face.
He helps the squire up, and the stumble into the next room, pausing only to collect their weapons.
“Go ahead! Come closer!”
The Dark Lord stands beside his throne, surrounded by a moat of lava that had sprung into being at a snap of his fingers. He holds the babe in one hand over the fiery depths. With him on the island, is the father.
The father hesitates, says in despairing tones, “What more do you want of me? I can give no more! You have taken everything!”
“I want her, don’t you see? With her bloodlines, she could be one of the most powerful sorceresses in the world! The union of your ancestry and the Phoenix clan could produce magics that could rock the world!”
The father is appalled. Better to die than to be in the service of the Dark Lord. So he takes the first step, and the others come easier.
“I mean it! I’ll drop her!”
He says nothing, holds the sword to the Dark Lord’s throat.
The Dark Lord shoots a curiously tortured glance at the child, then steps back. He cradles the child in his arms.
“Not even I am that cold. I could never…. Here. Take her.”
The man drops the sword, takes the child, cradles her in his arms. He looks at her tiny face, sees the face of his beloved imprinted there, as if piercing the veil of time, murmurs in a loving voice.
“I name you-“
A taloned hand bursts through the father’s chest, splattering the child’s tiny face with blood. It wakes, and starts to cry.
He hears a voice whisper in his ear, full of acid contempt. “Sentimental fool. No wonder your comrades told me not to bother enslaving you.”
The Dark Lord’s other hand reaches around to take the wailing bundle, brings her around to him.
The taloned hand withdraws, pushes the man into the pit.
The Dark Lord gestures, and the pit closes up, rumbling. He walks to where the trembling squire cowers, speaks in sepulchral tones. “Would you like to join him?”
The squire shakes his head mutely. The Dark Lord shoves the babe into his arms, tells him to take care of it, dismisses him.
And there we are. So whaddya guys think? Comments, Questions, Criticisms, welcome.
Joined: 01 May 2008
Location: Deep within the music of the night
|Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:02 pm Post subject:
|...Huh. Bit more swearing in that poll then you tend to do...
But that was an AWESOME interlude.
Especially the part where the dad gets killed.
Joined: 12 Dec 2006
|Posted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:36 am Post subject:
|Congratulations on your new forum by the way!
Your interludes show the amount of depth you are creating within your world, and without doubt I think they will help you with the inspiration you need for future chapters.
Be mindful though, your chapters are already rich with characters, and it is difficult to follow who is who some of the time. The interludes, while they enrich the world you're creating may also end up confusing us poor readers in the end!
One thing I did notice as your chapters progressed, was Benjamin's (Reddoc, The Hunted) detachment from his own reality as a film director. For the first 3 chapters you remind us that this is a world HE created, and it is a good vehicle for the subtle humour you bring into your writing. (other examples are NightStalker's rather direct summary of the situation, and Poxbringer.) This is a clearly rich and detailed world that is developing; and I'm curious to know how much of it came from Benjamin's own muse.
If you are really REALLY stuck with progressing with the second part of your chapter, one thing you could try is to go through your most recent chapter 4a and see if there is a good decision point already hidden there. Then cut off everything after that potential DP, and ask for suggestions. It might help get things moving again!
(I did that with the most recent chapter of my SG - I cut a 2500 word chapter down to 1,200 words when I discovered half way through I could make a DP out of the main character either saving his friend or stopping his enemy)
Other than that, all I can say is to keep firmly in mind your main character's origins and his destiny, who his friends and enemies are, and let the DPs carry him forward!
Joined: 19 Aug 2008
Location: Wherever Garth Nix is being read.
|Posted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:26 am Post subject:
|Congratulations on the forum!!
Good interlude, though I can't quite see what it has to do with the story AS OF YET. Apart from being in the same world, that is.
Joined: 24 May 2006
|Posted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:51 pm Post subject:
|*cough* Chunk from nose and scar across face? *gently reminds people of a certain previous character who has those same attributes* *finishes cough*
(also, Tdem Rolov is an anagram for a certain character from a different series. :P)