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bluesilverlily
May 2nd, 2012, 04:11 AM
This is the beginning of a novel I'm trying to publish, I'd appreciate any feedback.

Prologue

Bards were relics, old and outdated. Children didn’t want to give them a chance as they thought sitting and listening to an old man recite stories and poems would be dull. They would much rather go see a show if they wanted entertainment. Unlike the moving pictures that were becoming a fad, the stories and traditions of the bards were ancient. They dated back thousands of years and were well worth listening to.

Some parents managed to convince their children to listen to a bard when he was in town. Others gave up on pretenses and went to hear the stories themselves. Especially when it was him, the Bard.

The room had filled quickly. Anyone with an ounce of taste couldn’t bear to miss the Bard, he so rarely traveled to Rayne. The room buzzed with whispers and speculations about which story he would tell. The Evil Magician? No, that was too morbid. The Griffon’s Tail? No self respecting bard told that one anymore. No one even dared voice the hope that he would tell his greatest tale.

As the Bard walked to the front of the room it fell silent. The audience seemed to hold its breath as the Bard settled himself in the chair provided and pulled out his lap harp.

The Bard was ancient, but he held himself straight and moved with deliberation. His white hair was long, and like his suit was at least thirty years out of fashion. His weather worn coat was at least sixty years out. It was as if the times had changed, leaving him behind.

“I’m always amazed that I still can fill a room,” the Bard said in his easy voice. It was the only thing that made him seem younger. “I’ve only told this story twice in my life. Tonight will be the third and last time.”

The room exploded in buzzing for a minute before the quiet gaze of the Bard settled them. They would hear his legendary tale.

When the room was quiet, the Bard continued. “You have all heard the legends of the Thief wet Arianwyn and the Lord Knight Siarl. Tonight you will not be hearing a legend, but a true telling of their deeds. Over the years it has come to be regarded as fiction, or fantasy. I promise that not one word of the story I tell you tonight is a lie.

“You are all charged to remember well and true the Tale of the Thief and the Knight. If you recount it, do so without embellishment and exaggeration. Their story needs neither.”

The Bard had written the story as to prevent its complete degridation. He questioned weather or not he should even tell the story again.

Here in the city of Rayne, in the inn once called the Wandering Moon, the Bard knew he had to do one more telling of Adain and Tayrn’s story.
He leaned forward in his chair, all eyes in the room were fixed on him. “We begin on a night that for all intents was just like any other, in this very city. Two moons were full, and it was as clear a night as any. On this night, Adain Arianwyn was caught for the very first time.”






Chapter 1



For Adain Arianwyn thievery was a simple process. She snuck in, took the excess wealth or interesting goodies her target might have, and left.

Usually it all went so smoothly.
Sometimes they had dogs, traps, or possibly a few guards to protect a poorly hidden safe or lockbox. Most of the rich had come to the conclusion that trying to protect something from Adain Arianwyn was hopeless, and due to the seeming triviality of her thefts, many accepted her existence as inevitable: much like rain on holidays or the King’s tax.

She didn’t go after gems or other such obvious items of value; people were often left befuddled when they woke up finding a letter explaining that they had been robbed, and a detailed list of what she had taken. It was her audacity that made Adain the most well known thief in the Kingdom of Llyse. Five years of successful heists had given her a sense of confidence that, until the man stepped from the shadows, was well placed.

He was a formidable man standing across from Adain in the dark room, blocking the doorway with a blade glinting in his hand. She had a feeling that this would not be one of her characteristically easy heists, despite the unlocked window in the kitchen. Perhaps that should have been her first clue that something was out of the ordinary on this particular night.

“And here I was thinking that I was just that good,” she said. The man did not appreciate her little joke, and when he stepped towards her, Adain decided that it might be a good time to jump out the window.

Thievery was easy. It was getting away that was sometimes a bit of a trick.

Adain did most of her thievery abroad, as the wealthy of Rayne had exceedingly dull collections. Despite this, it typically only took Adain a matter of minutes to lose a pursuer when in her home city. She was very quick, and knew all the best shortcuts.
This night was one of unfortunate exceptions. She couldn’t lose the man now chasing her. Not only that, but he was gaining on her. This was no ordinary man, and Adain was sure that she was going to need to implement some creativity in order to get away.

She gave an extra burst of speed and turned a sharp corner before vaulting over a high gate that had a narrow space between the top and the archway it was set in. Adain was halfway up a storm drain in the connecting alleyway when the man made it through the gap. She heard him curse loudly before continuing down the alley, presumably to find a different way up the building. Adain had only caught glimpses of him during their ‘adventure’, and she was glad that she was correct in assuming that he would be too large to climb a storm drain.

Adain went a distance further across the rooftops before she felt confident enough to stop and catch her breath. Many people called Rayne a dreadful mess, but to Adain it was home.

It was one of the larger cities in Llyse, though not by design. It was full of twists and turns, dead ends in odd places, buildings so close together that it would often be easier to go from roof to roof instead of trying to navigate the streets. It was a mix of different architectural styles and cultures. Those who emigrated from other countries often wound up settling in Rayne, for you could find a little piece of just about everywhere there.

A sword point pricking at her neck broke Adain from her musings about emigration patterns. She looked slowly back over her shoulder into her pursuer’s face. He was a spectacular example of a Llysian man: tall, broad-shouldered, with a lean athletic look. The only thing that marred his otherwise attractive appearance was a set of heavy eyebrows that pulled into one of the most magnificent scowls she’d ever seen.

“I don’t suppose that you’d believe me if I told you that you’ve got the wrong girl?” Adain asked with a cheery smile.

“After you’ve led me halfway across the city on this ridiculous chase? Not likely. In the name of the Crown, you are under arrest,” he replied. His voice had the potential to be an extremely pleasant baritone, but he used it sharply with a no nonsense tone that almost made her feel like arguing would be futile.

As a general rule, Adain found seemingly futile arguments quite entertaining, and she engaged in them whenever she had the opportunity. “Oh, come on. You don’t want to arrest a little thing like me. Think of what all your friends would say when they saw the height difference! It would be quite embarrassing for you, if you ask me. How about you just let me off with a warning? I promise I won’t tell anyone,” she said this with a wink as she inched away from the sword.

The man moved with her, backing Adain to the edge of the roof. It was either fall off or go with him. “If I’m not mistaken, you’re the thief Adain Arianwyn. If that is indeed the case, then arresting you is definitely worth my time. Every noble family is calling for you to be brought to justice, and there is a warrant out for your arrest in nearly every city in Llyse.”

Adain eyed the drop and tried to guess at the chances of landing in the river instead of on the cobbled road. It didn’t look good. She tsked, wagging her finger at him. “I think you forget the lack of law enforcement in Rayne. I think the last warrant that was carried out here was… oh my. I can’t seem to think of one.”

The man snarled and reached out to seize Adain. She dodged to the side along the edge of the rooftop just avoiding him. He followed and raised the sword again saying, “I am aware of the lawlessness in this blight of a city. I hold authority to carry out the King’s will no matter where I am.”

Adain took offense at the insult to her city. Yes, you had to watch your purse strings, but you didn’t have to be worried about getting beaten up in a dark alley unless you really deserved it. “Well, next time I’m up having tea with his Majesterialness, I’ll be sure to let him know you tried,” she said.

“The only time a thief like you would have occasion to meet our King is if you were about to be hanged. None of your crimes are of a capital offence, but try my patience more, and I will see to it that you are sent to a penal colony where they will teach you to show His Majesty the proper respect he deserves.” The man’s expression was murderous, and Adain could feel the warm trickle of blood as the sword broke the thin skin of her neck.

“May I suggest you take up a slightly less stressful career path? You look like you’re going to burst something. For your sake, I’ll come along quietly.” As she started to raise her hands over her head, the man shifted his grip on his sword so that he could reach out to seize the thief. That split second gave her a chance to act.

Adain’s left hand knocked his sword away while her right drew a knife from her boot. She swung for his leg, hoping to disable him while he was distracted. The man was faster than she expected, and only a quick tuck and roll between his legs saved her from being grabbed. Before she even had a chance to get her bearings, the man had wrapped one of his long arms around her, putting her in quite an effective choke hold.
This was definitely a new experience for Adain, and it was one she did not care for in the slightest. His arm was unyielding, and no matter how she struggled, she couldn’t free herself in the slightest. “Who ARE you?” she exclaimed. He was fast, strong, and not even out of breath despite the chase.

Panic started to set in when another voice rang across the rooftop. “Ah, here you are. I almost lost the two of you.” The speaker was a dark-haired boy in his early teens. He wore a curved sword at his waist and had a Geldyne military issued rifle trained on the girl.

“You brought backup? You cheater!” Adain snapped, kicking back at the man’s shin. She didn’t even make contact, suddenly her limbs were leaden. She fell limp in her captor’s arm, and it didn’t even occur to her that something wasn’t right. She wasn’t thinking straight, and everything was starting to look like you’ve had one too many shots.

Something felt like it was wrapping around her brain, picking through her thoughts and clouding the world. Odd memories were flashing before Adain’s eyes, most fairly innocuous. Things she hadn’t thought about in years: playing with her brother when she was a girl, walking home from school. With a momentary flash of lucidness it occurred to her that this boy was somehow sifting through her memories.

That would not do.

Her only safety had always been in no one knowing who she really was or what she could do. The boy followed this fear, searching for what Adain didn’t want him to find.

The man’s arm dropped from around her and she slumped to the ground. Unconsciousness was beckoning irresistibly. The last thing she remembered clearly was a memory from her first heist.

The boy had found her secret.

**

The first thing she was aware of was the cold floor. Then something warm bumped into her face. Adain reacted more on instinct than thought and bit down into what was probably a hand. The surprised and pained yell identified the owner of the hand to be the man who had chased her.

“Who’s there?” he said, sounding like a grumpy lion that had just woken up from its nap before it wanted to.

“Adain Arianwyn.” She settled down next to the man best she could with her hands tied behind her back and turned a charmed ring she wore so it would glow. The man winced at the bright white light and shied away from her. He didn’t get very far as he was manacled and attached to the wall by a very short chain. “Since we’re sharing this cell, is there any chance I can learn your name?”

There was a moment of hesitation, but he replied. “Siarl: Sir Tayrn Siarl.”

The name sounded familiar, but Adain couldn’t place it. “I take it that the boy back there wasn’t working with you since you’re chained to the wall here,” she sighed. “If only you hadn’t tried to capture me, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess.”

“Pardon?” Taryn spoke sharply. “Are you blaming me?”

“I’d thought it obvious that I was. Yes, if you hadn’t gone and tried to be the law abiding hero I wouldn’t be in this mess here!” Adain jerked her head to gesture at the cell. The mouldy straw in the corner that even rats wouldn’t go near. The smell of sewage and filth creeping through the stones and under the door.

“How dare you. You’re the criminal, I did nothing wrong.” His eyes flashed like lightning, and his voice was thunder.

“I would be safe at home if you hadn’t chased me,” Adain said refusing to cower away.

“And how do you know that that boy would have left you alone? What if you were his target all along?”

Adain shrugged. “I doubt it, and if you hadn’t held me back I could have gotten away.” She smiled brightly into his scowling face. “As far as I’m concerned this is all your fault.”

It was a good thing Tayrn was on such a short chain or he might have strangled Adain. “It’s your insatiable kleptomania that’s at fault here, not me.”

“We’re both entitled our opinions,” Adain said. She was worried that a vein in the knight’s head would explode if she continued blatantly insulting him. “How about we go on blaming each other and we work together to get out of here?”

“I’d rather you stop talking to me.” Tayrn grumbled as he tried to reign in his temper.

“You don’t want to be in here anymore than I do,” Adain said evenly,“If you want to untie me, I can see about getting those shackles off of you.” Between the thievery, the biting, and the blame assignation, Adain was sure she hadn’t made the best first impression.

Tayrn tugged on the chain connecting him to the wall. Adain read his look of consternation and understood. If he untied her she would be able to reach the door and get out without him. The chance of a doublecross was too great.

“I wont cross you, Tayrn. I may be a thief and a crook, but I’m no backstabber.”

“I have no reason to trust you,” he replied.

“No, you don’t.” Adain bit her lip thoughtfully. “How’s this? Put a knee down on my hair, something like that. It’s long enough and then even if I try to trick you, which I wont, you’ll be able to get a hand on me.”

Tayrn didn’t reply. He just leveled a steady gaze on Adain. It was almost as if he was staring straight through her. He had honey brown eyes that were flecked with gold. His heavy brows made them look fierce and menacing. Adain couldn’t decide if this scrutiny or the boy in her head was more invasive.

“Fine,” Tayrn said after what felt like an eternity of silence. “That does not mean that I am going to let you go once we are out of this place. I want to find out why we have been captured, and by whom. Once that is settled, I will take you to the capitol to be properly tried and imprisoned.” Tayrn kept his eyes locked on Adain’s while he said this.

Not everyone would have thrown in the intention to finish the job. It made Adain like him, and also made her much more comfortable in having given her word to the man. It truly wasn’t something she did lightly.

“Well, I suppose there’s nothing I can do about that. I won’t promise to come quietly, though.” She replied, sure that she would be able to figure out a way to escape from the man. Or at the very least convince him not to take her in. Almost everyone was susceptible to bribery or a blunt object to the back of the head.

Tayrn gave Adain a wry smile. “I wouldn’t expect you too, Arianwyn.”

Adain turned around and felt Tayrn kneel on her long blonde hair. She didn’t want to think about what grime was getting ground into it. Dirt was one thing. Slime of unknown origins was an entirely different matter.

The knight’s hands were large and rough with many callouses. His long fingers were not the most nimble, but he knew his way around knots and had her untied quickly.

Adain sat stock still as Tayrn unraveled the length of rope and took a hold of her wrist. She looked back over her shoulder and grinned. Tayrn looked surprised that she hadn’t even tried to get away.

“How about you get off my hair so I can turn around and get you out of here,” she said.

Tayrn grunted and moved allowing her to turn and examine the shackles. That’s when Adain saw the problem.

“They welded the lock shut,” she said quietly. Tayrn groaned, leaning his head back and letting it hit the wall. The boy who had captured them definitely had rooted around and found out Adain’s secrets. “Tayrn, I can still get you out of this.”

He looked up, fixing the girl with a sharp gaze. “I don’t care how good you are at picking locks, if the locking mechanism is melted there is no way you can get it. Unless of course you’re saying you have a file secreted about your person, which is highly doubtful.”

“No, it’s possible, but it will require me to put a lot of trust in you. I already have enough on my head to be put in prison for a very long time; I don’t need a charge of witchcraft thrown into the mix.”

The look on Tayrn’s face was difficult to decipher. Shock or anger was the natural reaction to a statement like that. Use of black magic was punishable by death in Llyse, and most of the populace was deathly afraid of it. They didn’t mind trinkets like the ring Adain wore, or singing cutlery and magical family heirlooms. It was the darker and more destructive magic and sorcery that brought back memories of a harsh time in Llyssian history when the country was ravaged by magic. If Adain had to take a guess at the emotion displayed on Tayrn’s face, it would probably be curiosity.

“What do you mean by witchcraft?”

“As far as I know, it’s not any sort of actual magic, it just seems that way.” Adain ran her fingers over the shackles, not wanting to look at Tayrn. She had never told anyone about what she could do before, and it wasn’t easy. “My mum always said that it was a gift from the gods. Father thought I was cursed. I don’t really know which it is, but it’s not something I usually let people know about. If it weren’t for the promise I gave to get you out of here, I wouldn’t be showing you.”

The metal beneath Adain’s fingers shivered, and Tayrn made an alarmed sound. She tapped the shackles lightly, and they fell away from his wrists. They were both silent, and Adain fixed her gaze on the floor, afraid of what he might say.

“You made that happen just by touching it,” Tayrn said staring at the shackles on the floor.

She picked at a loose thread on her shirt and shrugged, “Metals respond to me; they do what I want them to.” She slowly looked up, meeting Tayrn’s gaze. He was studying her, definitely curious.

“It is not my place to say if this is a curse or a gift. It does explain a lot of the mystery of some of those heists you’ve pulled off.” He rubbed his wrists thoughtfully before continuing. “A paranoid public could definitely mistake something like that for a dark magic. While you are a thief, you don’t deserve to be treated like a witch. I’ll keep your secret.”

Right then and there Adain decided that Tayrn Siarl was her new favorite person. She would have kissed him if she hadn’t made a realization. When Tayrn had introduced himself, he’d referred to himself as ‘Sir’. She remembered why the name Siarl sounded so familiar: it was the name of the largest province in Llyse, and this man was the Lord Knight Tayrn Siarl. He was a war hero and possibly the most famous knight in the entire history of the Kingdom.

It seemed a good idea not to say anything about it. His name was so well known it probably never occurred to Tayrn that Adain wouldn’t know who he was. He had started looking at the girl curiously, as she hadn’t said anything since he’d promised to keep her secret. Adain smiled at him and moved over to the door, which kindly unlocked itself and swung open

riverdog
May 2nd, 2012, 01:52 PM
Initial Feedback: If you want to publish this with a real publishing company, don't post it on a public website. It can muddy the publishing rights.

bluesilverlily
May 2nd, 2012, 05:13 PM
Initial Feedback: If you want to publish this with a real publishing company, don't post it on a public website. It can muddy the publishing rights.

I'm aware of that. Right now I'm trying to get it up to publication standards, and get feedback on my mechanics and voice. If I get an agent to look at it, I'll take it down from a public website.