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Zeynith
February 20th, 2014, 01:32 PM
Hey everybody,

I am working on a book and hoped to get some feedback on my prologue. Any feedback is appreciated. :)


Prologue

Corric leaned out over the ridge squinting into the light of the setting sun, his eyes straining to make out the canyon below. An icy wind whipped past sending a dull ache through his ears and the clasp of his cloak digging into his throat as the coarse fabric ripped back. Over the howl of the wind he could scarcely make out the sound of the fabric as it slapped together.

“You’re certain?” he asked turning to face the man who stood waiting behind him.

Eldton’s muscular arms were folded across his chest, a bow slung over his broad shoulders. The glow of the setting sun had given his features an orange hue except for the two dark circles of shadow that concealed his eyes. He shifted his sheath impatiently resting it more comfortably against his side.

“As certain as I can be.” Eldton replied weary of the question. It was the fifth time Corric had asked, and each time his answer had been the same. If anything was still moving down there Corric couldn’t see it. The canyon below was filled with nothing more than rocks and shadows as far as his eyes were concerned.

“I hope you’re wrong.” Corric replied gruffly.

“I hope so too.” Though from his tone it did not sound as though he believed he was.

“Put extra men on the watch. If they are down there we don’t want to be taken off guard. If we are lucky it may only be a few.”

Eldton nodded crisply as he spun around on his heels and strode back toward camp where the rest of their group waited. Corric returned his gaze back to the rocks and shadows with an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. Eldton was one of his best scouts and he had grown to rely heavily on his keen eyes. Little got by him and he was rarely wrong, if he claimed he saw something it was likely to be true.

Their encampment was on a shelf high up on the Serpent Spine, a mountain range named for its winding peaks. It was an out of the way place, not well traveled by other wanderers and difficult to reach. Corric had hoped that would be enough to keep them from being discovered, but it would seem fate was working against them and they were likely spotted as they made their ascent. They had a good vantage point at least. From here they could see for miles making it difficult for the enemy to reach them undetected. Higher ground and choke holes would give them some advantage as well. Maybe it was just some wanderers. Corric thought though he was not overly optimistic about the prospect.

The sun vanished over the horizon changing the sky from gold and crimson to a deep violet. As the sky grew darker so did the moods of those in camp. They always attacked at night. Human eyes depended on light to see, a dependency they did not share. Corric had never understood how it was possible but over his many years as a wanderer he had seen the truth of it. On a cloudy night when both moon and stars were hidden from the land by a veil of gray, they could see farther and clearer without so much as a candle than Eldton could with his keen eyes in the light of the shining sun.

The muscles in his legs ached as Corric moved stiffly to a rock at the edge of camp and lowered himself down to wait. I am getting too old for this. He thought wearily, suddenly feeling his age. Wandering is for the young, not silver haired old men whose bones creak when they sit. He gazed down at his old tarnished mail, and dirty jerkin. He had been wearing them so long they almost seemed apart of him. Many of the rings in his mail were darker or lighter than the rest from the countless times he had repaired it, he often wondered how much of the original mail actually still remained.

He unsheathed his blade rotating it gently in his hands. It was nothing extraordinary, a simple hilt wrapped in brown leather with a brass pommel. The blade was nicked from the countless times he had wielded it, but he did his best to keep it clean and oiled. It had once belonged to his father until he had died in battle near Mount Rador. After the fighting had finished the clan had presented Corric with his blade before his father’s blood had even had time to cool. But that was just the way of things when you were a wanderer. He had always hoped to pass the sword on to his own son one day, but it was too late for that now. Just a silly dream of a foolish old man.

Corric caught sight of movement on the edge of his vision drawing his thoughts back from the shades of his past. He sheathed his blade as Lohtor’s hulking form lumber over and sat heavily atop a rock opposite Corric studying him with a stern expression on his hard chiseled features. The left sleeve of his mail hung limply at his side where his huge bicep once had been earning him the name One Armed Lohtor among most wanders. Corric still remembered the day he had lost the limb. It was a few years ago now, his arm had been injured in a battle, raked by their claws. It had been minor wound, scarcely even bled. As soon as the battle ended however Lohtor turned his blade on himself, hacking the limb free to remove the tainted blood before it spread to the rest of his body. It had seemed like madness at the time but it may well have saved his life. He had never developed the symptoms of the infected, though they were never certain if removing the limb was truly what had saved him or if he were just naturally immune to their affliction but for whatever the reason he survived.

“How bad is it?” Lohtor asked his big square jaw tight with concern.

Corric shrugged. “It may be nothing.”

“Eldton doesn’t seem to think so.” The big man replied skeptically.

“He may be mistaken.” Lohtor scoffed unconvinced. “I know it is not likely. But there is nothing we can do now. We just have to wait and see.”

The big man nodded balling his one massive hand into a fist as a grin crept across his face. “If they come we will be ready for them. We will give them a battle they will not soon forget.”
Corric smiled, feeling somehow comforted by his friend’s confidence. He had known Lohtor and Eldton for some time. Though both were considerably younger than himself he would trust either of them with his life and had on several occasions.

They sat and waited in silence for a span, till finally Lohtor produced some cards and they played a friendly game to pass the time and help them forget the heavy cloud of tension that hung around them. Some of the others managed to fall asleep. Corric envied them. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. He thought looking over the sleepers. They were green city kids, new to wanderings and the horrors of battle. They will be like the rest of us soon enough. Once they have survived a few battles sleep will no longer come so easily. Corric’s dead plagued him nearly every night. The image of slain friends and family sprawled out over the rocks, or half buried in the snow was not so easily forgotten.

The hours dragged slowly by. Midnight came and went and still the watch reported nothing moving amongst the rocks below. Corric began to relax as it seemed more and more likely that Eldton had simply made a mistake. He leaned back against the rock feeling some of the tension ease from his limbs. Weariness and fatigue began to replace the anxiety and stress that had been eating at him for hours.

“It seems Eldton was wrong after all.” Corric said rising to his feet and rubbing some of the stiffness from his joints.

“Perhaps.” Lohtor replied his face contorted in concentration as he struggled to make out his cards in the pale moonlight.

“If it were them they would have attacked by now. They are not known for their patience, or tactics. You know that.”

Lohtor pulled his eyes from his cards frowning up at Corric. “I do. But something doesn’t feel right. Don’t you feel it? It is as though even the wind is ill at ease.”

“The wind?” Corric asked incredulously. “Have you been hanging around some northerners again? The wind doesn’t feel-” A loud thud rang out from the camp cutting him off.
“anything…” Corric finished lamely as he spun around to find the source of the disturbance.

For a brief moment he thought it was nothing, just some fool who tripped while trying to get out of their bedroll, or at least he hoped until he saw the hunched white form standing in the center of camp amongst the sleeping wanderers. The tattered remains of clothes hung from its pasty limbs. A black blade glistened in the moonlight held by long slender fingers. The creature had already plunged it into one of the sleepers and raked another with its claws before Lohtor could even get to his feet. More of the creatures leapt down to join the first impaling those sleeping below on their black blades.

Revulsion crept into Corric’s throat as he watched the abomination massacre the helpless around them without mercy. It was hard to believe these creatures had once been human. The transformation had twisted their bodies beyond recognition and destroyed their minds leaving them as nothing more than shells of their former selves. Their origin had gained them the name corrupted amongst the wanderers and city folk, though if they had ever had another name Corric had never known it.
The creatures appeared to have climbed up the back of the cliff they had used to shelter their camp from the wind, bypassing their carefully planned choke holes and catching them completely unaware. The uneasy feeling in the pit of Corric’s stomach returned. This is wrong.

“They’re in the camp!” A voice sounded from somewhere in darkness, but it was already too late. Those who had been asleep were awake by then, struggled to get to their feet and draw weapons as more of the creatures landed on top of them, cutting them down.

Arrows flew through the air while blades clashed as those who were free of the carnage attacked. Lohtor’s cards fluttered through the air, tossed aside as he let out a mighty roar. He charged forward smashing two corrupted into the cliff face before ripping his great mace from of its sheath and spinning around catching a third in the head with a mighty crack. Corric dropped his cards as well sending them scattering across the rocky ground as he pulled his sword and joined the fray swinging his blade at whatever corrupted had the misfortune of crossing his path. Soon everyone was in the melee fighting for their lives as the screams of the dying filled the air.

As the battle raged on it became obvious they were outnumbered. It would be only a matter of time before they were completely overwhelmed. We must flee. Death is all that awaits us here. Before he could put his thought to words a roar of pain erupted into the cold night air drowning out all other sound. Corric risked a glance toward the source of the cry as he crossed blades with one of the corrupted. His eyes found Lohtor’s form standing in the moonlight, his back facing him. Lohtor’s mace had slipped from his fingers and rested on the ground beside him. It was then that the glint of a blade protruding from his back caught his eye. It had cut through him from shoulder to sternum and appeared as though the weapon were the only thing keeping the big man on his feet. Its wielder soon resolved that however. With a twist the blade was cut free, separating Lohtor’s arm and a portion of his upper torso from the rest of his body and sending him crashing to the ground in a great heap.

The corrupted that stood over his body was like none Corric had ever seen. The drones they typically fought were more like animals than men, hunched creatures with no ability for rational thought, but this corrupted was different. It stood as straight and tall as any man, its black sword slick with Lohtor’s blood and its eyes glowed faintly with blue-violet light. There was an intelligence in those eyes that Corric found terrifying. The monster’s gaze locked with his as it gave its blade a sharp swing sending Lohtor’s blood spraying across the rocks at its feet.

Corric forced himself to look away, fear threatened to overwhelm him. “Fall back!” He shouted. “Fall back, and regroup!” Suddenly all the pieces fell into place. Drones were not smart enough to climb up the back of a cliff and surprise their prey. They were creatures of instinct. They were predictable. Nothing that had happened this night had been predictable. The only reason they would have diverted from their usual behavior was if they were being influents by an outside source. They called them regulators. They were more powerful and cunning than other corrupted. No one knew what made them different, but few saw a regulator lived to tell the tale. Until now he had thought them nothing more than a myth, a scary story told when too deep in your cups. He had never been more disappointed to be wrong.

Corric managed to make it to a cluster of rocks they had originally intended to use as a choke hole with any other wanders he could find, hoping they could hold the position long enough to regroup and decide their next course of action. Eldton and a few others were already there. A woman was draped from his shoulder, her head bowed preventing Corric from seeing her face but the glisten of the blood seeping from the large gash in her leg was easy enough to discern.

“I told you.” Eldton said as he lowered the injured girl onto the ground.

“You did. But you failed to mention there was a regulator among them.”

“If I had known I would have gladly told you.” He replied. “Next time I will ask them to come out from behind the rocks so that I might make a more accurate report of their numbers and make a thorough check for regulators.” He made no attempt to hide the sarcasm from his voice.

“Better hope there are less than twenty or you will run out of fingers and toes to count them on.” Corric grinned.

“Still better than Lohtor. Not sure the big guy could even count that high with all his limbs intact.” Eldton laughed. Corric felt his smile slip away as the memory of Lohtor’s giant body crashing to the ground came flooding back to him. Eldton’s smile vanished as well seeing the look on Corric’s face. He did not need to ask to know Lohtor was dead.

“We have no time for this idle chatter.” Nyem shouted back at them exasperated, breaking them from their gloom. She was a little thing with plain features, but she was fierce. Her mousy hair clung to the blood on the side of her face. From the look of the cuts and scrapes she had likely been shoved into a rock during the battle. She caught one of the corrupted in the gut with the tip of her blade ripping them open and sending black entrails spilling across the ground but that did not seem to dissuade the creature which continued to come at her unrelentingly. “How are we going to get out of here?” she demanded impatiently.

Corric rubbed his chin wearily, the coarse white whiskers that adorned his face scratched at his fingertips. Few had made it out of the massacre and some of those who had survived were injured. It was likely none of them would be standing when the sun rose.

“Some of us will have to stay behind and hold them while the rest make their escape.” He said finally. “It is the only hope any of us have of surviving.”

“That is madness.” Tiyen breathed between swings as he fought off the corrupted’s blades. His blonde hair clung to his sweat drenched brow. “We cannot just leave people to die. We all live or die together.”

“There is no reason we all must stand and die together, it is senseless.” Corric replied ignoring the suggestion that they might live. He moved forward impaling a corrupted on his sword. Its pasty limbs ceased their flailing as the blade passed through its black heart. “The corrupted do not care if we all stood together and died fighting honorably, or if they cut us down as we flee as long as we all die. I would rather at least a few of us came out of this mess alive.” He put his foot on the creatures white chest and pushed it back off his sword just in time to catch the blade of another. “I will stay and fight. I’m old. I have lived my life. But I cannot hold them alone; at least a couple of you will need to remain with me if we are to buy enough time for the others to escape.”

“I will stay with you old man.” Eldton answered immediately. “It would be an honor to die by your side.”

“I thank you for the offer Eldton but you must go. If the others are to have any hope of surviving they will need your skills. Is there anyone else?” Silence was the only reply. “Cowards…” Corric scoffed bitterly. “Is Eldton the only one willing to sacrifice his life to-“

“I will stay...”

Reny was clutching her side; blood seeped slowly between her fingers onto the rocky ground. “It is likely my time would be short even if I did somehow escape this nightmare. Let those who still have life before them leave this place.” Her voice was quiet, but Corric could hear the fear hidden in her words. She was young and pretty. Her long dark hair hung wildly about her face. She had always reminded him of his granddaughter. His son and his family had died many years before but he had met her a couple times before she had passed. She had been a sweet girl and had died far too young, never even reaching her fourteenth winter.

Corric just nodded in understanding. Reny’s wound had not been caused by a blade and she was unable to discard her side the way Lohtor had his arm. It was likely she was already infected. The wound had weakened her that was plain to see, but she still appeared strong enough for their purpose.

“I will stay as well.” Tiyen said without a hint of fear in his voice. He was still young, barely old enough to have been allowed to come.

“This is not a game.” Eldton spat irritably as he nocked an arrow. “If you stay you will die.” He let the arrow fly, passing only inches from Tiyen’s head and striking the corrupted he had been battling straight through an eye.

Tiyen glared at Eldton over his shoulder as the corrupted crumpled to the ground in front of him before turning back to face his new opponent. “I understand that.”

“You heard the boy Eldton.” Corric said unable to wait any longer. “The three of us will stay and hold them as long as we can. I am counting on you to look after the rest.”

Eldton gave a stiff nod. “It was a pleasure to have known you old friend.”

“No use getting sentimental now. Get out of here while you still have a chance.” Corric replied. Without another word Eldton picked up the wounded girl and helped her toward the canyon below. Corric had never figured out who she was but it made little matter now. Eldton would likely be forced to abandon her before long. She would only serve to slow him down. Nyem and the others followed behind him leaving Corric Tiyen and Reny to hold the pass. The three of them were too busy to watch them go or say any real goodbyes, and before they knew it they were alone.

The corrupted pressed them hard as the rest of their prey slipped out from between the rocks and vanished somewhere below, but the three held their ground not allow a single corrupted to slither past. Time dragged by slowly as they did nothing more than bat away the enemies’ blades, unable to make any real attacks for fear of leaving themselves open. Fatigue began to weigh on them like massive chains making every swing more difficult.

Tiyen let out a cry of pain as one of the corrupted’s blades slipped past his own stabbing him in the shoulder. His energy left him so quickly he could scarcely stand by the time he knocked the sword aside. His movements became sluggish, his swings sloppy as he managed to block a few more blows with arms that would scarcely obey his commands. When he was finally struck again Tiyen fell to the ground unable to rise. The corrupted swarmed him then, continuing to plunge their blades into him long after life had left his body.

Corric tried not to watch, not wanting to think that that would soon be his fate as well. Reny was still fighting by his side at least. The sound of her blade singing was like music too his ears, reminding him that he was not alone. How long have we been fighting? He wondered wearily. His arms were burning. The adrenaline that coursed through his veins was the only thing that kept him moving. He was sure some of the corrupted would have found another way down by then and would be chasing after the others, but he hoped they had bought them enough time.

A corrupted slipped past Corric on the rocks in the gap left by Tiyen. Unable to turn to defend himself in time he gritted his teeth expecting to feel the blow any moment. But it never came as Reny suddenly darted behind him slashing open the corrupted’s throat. It collapsed to the ground its head nearly severed from its shoulders. Fear and determination was all that drove her now, tears slid unhindered down her cheeks as she forced her body to keep moving.

She leapt up onto the rocks putting herself in the path of another corrupted that had attempted to take advantage of the distraction. She sliced through the monster’s chest with her blade before placing a booted foot on the wound and shoving it back so it crashed into another that had begun clawing its way up after.

Suddenly a blade was flung at her from somewhere out of the horde. She dodged out of the way just in time, the sword passing only inches from her face. She stared after it astonished. Never in his life had Corric seen a corrupted hurl its weapon, and from the look on Reny’s face neither had she. She hurried trying to jump clear the rock, but it was too late. More swords were already in the air hurling towards her. One caught her in the chest sending her crashing to the ground on the other side of the stone.

“Reny!” Corric called breaking off his attack and hurrying to where she had fallen. He was not sure what drove him to abandon his post and go to her, but it made little matter. The battle was already lost. He could not hope to hold the pass alone and many corrupted had already slipped past chasing after the other survivors. To his surprise once he no longer stood in their way they hardly seemed to take notice of him, running past as though he were not even there.

Reny was lying face down in the dirt when he found her. “Reny!” he called again flipping her over. She was still breathing. The blade that protruded from her chest had just missed her heart. Dirt clung to her tear streaked cheeks leaving lines of gray while blood dripped from the corner of her mouth and covered the front of her armor.

“I… I’m… scared.” Her voice was barely a whisper, her breath ragged. “I… don’t… want to… die.” Her beautiful gray eyes caught the moonlight as she stared up at him giving them a silvery glow.

“It will be alright.” Corric promised, trying to wipe the dirt from her face. “I’m here. I won’t leave you. You did well. I am sure Eldton and the others got away safely.” He tried to keep his voice jovial to hide his uncertainty hoping the lie might help the girl find peace in her final moments. Did someone do the same for my granddaughter before she had died? Was someone there to hold her hand and wipe away her tears?

Reny tried to laugh but it turned into a grimace as a cough shuddered through her sending more blood leaking from the corner of her mouth. “You… do not… need to… lie to me… old man.” She managed weakly. “I know… their… chances… are slim… But still… it would be… nice… to… die for something.”

Corric opened his mouth to answer her but stopped as he noticed a tall figure striding towards them, a jagged ebony blade in hand. Its pasty skin almost seemed to glow in the moonlight. Tangled hair hung in its eyes nearly obscuring them from view, but nothing could conceal their blue-violet glow. They were the only color in this world shrouded by night.
Corric smiled down at Reny sadly. “I’m afraid I will not be able to stay with you after all.” Reny gave a small nod of understanding sending fresh tears streamed down her cheeks. He smiled for her one last time before getting to his feet and taking a deep breath as he turned to face his foe.

The creature seemed to almost smile with pleasure as it looked at its prey. All the other corrupted had gone leaving them alone except for Reny and the dead whose corpses littered the rocky ground. The abomination raised its blade readying to attack. Corric took another deep breath steadying himself as the monster began to charge toward him with alarming speed. Riatha guide my hand. He prayed as he lifted his blade to meet it.

Jake Creamer
February 20th, 2014, 11:56 PM
I have a hard time believing that these are experienced warriors, they are pulling massive rookie mistakes. Some of the things that stood out to me, are things like: experienced soldiers don't silhouette themselves on ridge lines, as Eldton did. Corric is a grizzled vet, he would have informed his whole camp of the scouts results. In my experience, soldiers who fear getting attacked in the night keep at least 50% of their force ready. If they thought they'd been observed as they moved into a position, they'd sneak to a new place, leaving an ambush for the bad guys, or just bail...you already have established that this group of soldiers fears the enemies capability enough to try and take as defensive a posture as possible, but it seems like no one in the group is really that concerned.
I like that they play cards while they are bored and waiting...however, what would you say to describing Lohtors lack of disability a bit by showing how he can manipulate the cards one handed? Maybe give a little backstory on what a gambler he is, or how it's easier to catch him double dealing now that he's one armed, etc.

I think it would be more chilling to show them doing everything right, and still getting their clocks cleaned. Maybe let us know how experienced they are, posting their security, maintaining overwatch, treating the enemy as a grave danger....but to no avail because of the cunning of the fiend in charge.

Zeynith
February 23rd, 2014, 02:24 AM
Thanks for reading, sorry you didn't like it. I feel I should probably clear up a big misconception you have about this group. They're not soldiers and have no military training. This story takes place in a world where these creatures have taken over and the human race is struggling to survive. Humans live in hiding for the most part though some (like Corric Eldton and Lohtor) spend time outside. This group was just traveling from one of their hidden cities to another and some had not seen actual combat before. I was trying not to bog the beginning down with exposition but I will have to find a way to rewrite the opening so it will be a bit more clear.

I am a bit confused by some of your examples.

experienced soldiers don't silhouette themselves on ridge lines, as Eldton did
Eldton and Corric were looking into the sun so it wasn't behind them, I am not sure why you thought they were silhouetted? Also Eldton was not at the edge Corric was. I didn't say how far back he was standing so that is mostly my fault but I was trying not to make things drag with a lot of extra details.


Corric is a grizzled vet, he would have informed his whole camp of the scouts results.
I did not mean to make it seem like he hadn't, will try to make it more clear.


In my experience, soldiers who fear getting attacked in the night keep at least 50% of their force ready
Was only supposed to be a small portion of the group that was sleeping, once again I will try to be more clear.

I will be working on editing the first page or two so hopefully it will make a bit more sense when I am done.

Riptide
February 23rd, 2014, 03:03 AM
Before I go too far I better place this here: When doing dialogue do this, "Yada yada , " he said. You see that comma? Yeah, it's important.

This: out of the way place sounds better strung together like this: out-of-the-way

This: Corric thought (COMMA) though

This is an awkward sentence, especially after the than: they could see farther and clearer without so much as a candle than Eldton could with his keen eyes in the light of the shining sun.


Oh wow! It was intense! I was like, "No! Not the girl! Don't die!" I did think she moved pretty well for someone already injured, but it was a really heart breaking story. It was really excellent, but you need to seriously touch up on you grammar and punctuation.

The scene witht hem grouped up is odd as they're still fighting, somewhat. I didn't get it much why only like three were fighting. The story was great, though, really, keep at it, and improve it

Zeynith
February 23rd, 2014, 03:30 AM
Glad you liked it XD Yeah my grammar is awful, English was my worst subject in school. If not for spell check and grammar check would probably not be readable. I am hoping an editor can help me with a lot of those issues once it is ready to be published.

Yeah Reny doesn't come off as being very injured. It was supposed to be her pushing through on adrenaline but I am not sure it comes across very well. Maybe I will have to add some grimaces or something to make it seem like she is in more pain :3

The scene with them in the rocks still needs a bit more work. More than three people were supposed to be fighting till the rest of the group leaves but I didn't really go into it. I will work on it and see if I can make it a bit less awkward.

Thanks for reading, and for the input XD

Jake Creamer
February 23rd, 2014, 03:57 AM
I apologize if I seem overly nitpicky. Military reconnaissance is actually my day job, so I tend to pay close attention to that sort of thing. I got the impression they were veterans from the well worn, much repaired armor and weapons, etc.
If it would be of any value to you, I'd be happy to offer any input you request on things like military habits, or how soldiers talk to each other. For instance, to be silhouetted on a ridge line, you don't have to have the sun behind you. If you stand up on a ridge, your outline will pop out against the natural background, even at night. The experienced move to what is called the "military crest", (which is the highest point that you can walk to and not be seen over the edge), and then get down and crawl up to where they can gain good visibility.

If you have a good handle on the type of culture that your people are from, get a feel for how they traveled, maybe that will help you paint the picture of camp life. Are they all on foot? Do they have animals? What do they eat? I think one of the things that I admire most about Tolkien's writing, is how well he paints the picture of life throughout the stories. We know when they complain about sleeping on cold rocky ground, or how much they dislike their trail rations, or how good it feels to take a nice hot bath after being on the road for an extended period. That golden balance between enough detail to make us feel the characters, without so much that it's a flood of information that we can't process and then skip over.

As far as the refugees complacency in camp goes, It's always hard to predict how people will behave. I assumed they were soldiers, and that is where my criticism came from.

Please don't think that I disliked your story. I like it quite well. I think that reading your work (and anyone else's) critically, is truly helping me be more aware of my own weaknesses in writing. I appreciate that you have extended your work for this purpose, that takes courage.

Zeynith
February 25th, 2014, 12:12 PM
No worries. I appreciate the input, will only help me to improve. The fact that you thought they were soldiers just means I need to be a bit more clear that they aren't. Most of the remaining population knows how to fight because they have to if they are going to survive, and Corric's gear is so worn cause he has survived for as long as he has.

Thanks for the offer, if I have any military related questions in the future I will send them your way. Already learned more about military terms. :3

A lot of the elements of how people live in this world I planned to include more in future chapters, but perhaps I will try to find a way to include some of it to paint a better picture of what they are dealing with on a regular basis.

I agree that reading other works can be very helpful. You and Riptide have already both given me a lot of ideas on how I might improve this piece, and I am glad reading it has been a help to you as well. :)

Elvenswordsman
February 27th, 2014, 05:33 PM
*Ahem* This is supposed to be a prologue? Seems more like the first chapter...

Why not go and read a prologue from another book in the same genre, and then reconsider your "Prologue."

Good luck, have fun!

Zeynith
February 28th, 2014, 03:50 AM
Clearly not a Game of Thrones fan :P

Kepharel
February 28th, 2014, 01:18 PM
Okay, I read this through and really really like it. I like it enough to hope you will do a rewrite and give it a bit of polish. My own problems with it are highlighted in red italics below and are just my point of view

Prologue

Eldton’s muscular arms were folded across his chest, a bow slung over his broad shoulders. The glow of the setting sun had given his features an orange hue except for the two dark circles of shadow that concealed his eyes. He shifted his sheath the sheath of his sword impatiently resting it more comfortably against his side.

“As certain as I can be.” Eldton replied weary of the question. It was the fifth time Corric had asked, and each time his answer had been the same. If anything was still moving down there Corric who couldn’t see it would this be obvious to Eldton and the sentence therefore redundant? couldn’t see it. The canyon below was filled with nothing more than rocks and shadows as far as his Corric’s ? eyes were concerned.

“I hope you’re wrong.” Corric replied gruffly.

“I hope so too.” Eldton spoke this Though from his tone it did not sound as though he believed he was.

Their encampment was on a shelf high up on the Serpent Spine, a mountain range named for its winding peaks. It was an out of the way place, not well traveled Travelled by other wanderers and difficult to reach. Corric had hoped that would be enough to keep them from being discovered, but it would seem fate was working against them and they were likely spotted as they made their ascent. They had a good vantage point at least. From here they could see for miles making it difficult for the enemy to reach them undetected. Higher ground and choke holes would give them some advantage as well. Maybe it was just some wanderers. Corric thought, comma though he was not overly optimistic about the prospect.

The sun vanished over the horizon changing the sky from gold and crimson to a deep violet. As the sky grew darker so did the moods of those in camp. They always attacked at night. Human eyes depended on light to see, a dependency they did not share. Corric had never understood how it was possible but over his many years as a wanderer he had seen the truth of it. On a cloudy night when both moon and stars were hidden from the land by a veil of gray can you see gray on a moonless cloudy night?, they could see farther and clearer without so much as a candle than Eldton could with his keen eyes in the light of the shining sun.

Corric caught sight of movement on the edge of his vision drawing his thoughts back from the shades of his past. He sheathed his blade as Lohtor’s hulking form lumber over and sat heavily atop a rock opposite Corric doing the studying? studying him with a stern expression on his hard chiseled chiselled features. The left sleeve of his mail hung limply at his side where his huge bicep once had been earning him the name One Armed Lohtor among most wanders. Corric still remembered the day he Lhotor not Corric had lost the limb. It was a few years ago now, his arm had been injured in a battle, raked by their claws. It had been minor wound, scarcely even bled. As soon as the battle ended however Lohtor turned his blade on himself, hacking the limb free to remove the tainted blood before it spread to the rest of his body. It had seemed like madness at the time but it may well have saved his life. He had never developed the symptoms of the infected, though they were never certain if removing the limb was truly what had saved him or if he were just naturally immune to their affliction but for whatever the reason he survived.

They sat and waited in silence for a span, till ‘til finally Lohtor produced some cards and they played a friendly game to pass the time and help them forget the heavy cloud of tension that hung around them. He only has one hand so careful with this passage Some of the others managed to fall asleep. Corric envied them. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. He thought looking over the sleepers. They were green city kids, new to wanderings and the horrors of battle. They will be like the rest of us soon enough. Once they have survived a few battles sleep will no longer come so easily. Corric’s dead plagued him nearly every night. The image of slain friends and family sprawled out over the rocks, or half buried in the snow was not so easily forgotten.

“Perhaps.” Lohtor replied his face contorted in concentration as he struggled to make out his cards in the pale moonlight a moonless cloudy night.

For a brief moment he thought it was nothing, just some fool who tripped while trying to get out of their bedroll, or at least he hoped until he saw the hunched white form standing in the center of camp amongst the sleeping wanderers. The tattered remains of clothes hung from its pasty limbs. A black blade glistened in the moonlight it was a grey night with moon and stars hidden held by long slender fingers. The creature had already plunged it into one of the sleepers and raked another with its claws before Lohtor could even get to his feet. More of the creatures leapt down to join the first impaling those sleeping below on their black blades.

Revulsion crept into Corric’s throat as he watched the abomination abominations? massacre the helpless around them it? without mercy. It was hard to believe these creatures had once been human. The transformation had twisted their bodies beyond recognition and destroyed their minds leaving them as nothing more than shells of their former selves. Their origin had gained them the name corrupted amongst the wanderers and city folk, though if they had ever had another name Corric had never known it.

Corric forced himself to look away, fear threatened to overwhelm him. “Fall back!” He shouted. “Fall back, and regroup!” Suddenly all the pieces fell into place. Drones were not smart enough to climb up the back of a cliff and surprise their prey. They were creatures of instinct. They were predictable. Is instinct predictable or were they creatures of habit Nothing that had happened this night had been predictable. The only reason they would have diverted from their usual behavior was if they were being influents influence by an outside source. They called them regulators. They were more powerful and cunning than other corrupted. No one knew what made them different, but few who saw a regulator lived to tell the tale. Until now he had thought them nothing more than a myth, a scary story told when too deep in your cups. He had never been more disappointed to be wrong.

“If I had known I would have gladly told you.” He replied. “Next time I will ask them to come out from behind the rocks so that I might make a more accurate report of their numbers and make a thorough check for regulators.” He made no attempt to hide the sarcasm from his voice. Not sure if this passage works

“Better hope there are less than twenty or you will run out of fingers and toes to count them on.” Corric grinned.

“Still better than Lohtor. Not sure the big guy could even count that high with all his limbs intact.” Eldton laughed. Not sure about grinning and laughing at a friend’s demise or talking in the middle of a fight Corric felt his smile slip away as the memory of Lohtor’s giant body crashing to the ground came flooding back to him. Eldton’s smile vanished as well seeing the look on Corric’s face. He did not need to ask to know Lohtor was dead.

“We have no time for this idle chatter.” Nyem shouted back at them exasperated, breaking them from their gloom. Appropriate considering the levity above? She was a little thing with plain features, but she was fierce. Her mousy hair clung to the blood on the side of her face. From the look of the cuts and scrapes she had likely been shoved into a rock during the battle. She caught one of the corrupted in the gut with the tip of her blade ripping them open and sending black entrails spilling across the ground but that did not seem to dissuade the creature which continued to come at her unrelentingly. “How are we going to get out of here?” she demanded impatiently.

Corric rubbed his chin wearily, the coarse white whiskers that adorned his face scratched at his fingertips. Few had made it out of the massacre and some of those who had survived were injured. It was likely none of them would be standing when the sun rose.

“That is madness.” Tiyen breathed between swings as he fought off the corrupted’s blades. Talking at the point of exhaustion and pre-occupation in a fight? His blonde hair clung to his sweat drenched brow. “We cannot just leave people to die. We all live or die together.”

The corrupted pressed them hard as the rest of their prey slipped out from between the rocks and vanished somewhere below, but the three held their ground not allow allowing a single corrupted to slither past. Time dragged by slowly as they did nothing more than bat away the enemies’ blades, unable to make any real attacks for fear of leaving themselves open. Fatigue began to weigh on them like massive chains making every swing more difficult.

Tiyen let out a cry of pain as one of the corrupted’s blades slipped past his own stabbing him in the shoulder. His energy left him so quickly he could scarcely stand by the time he knocked the sword aside. His movements became sluggish, his swings sloppy as he managed to block a few more blows with arms that would scarcely obey his commands. When he was finally struck again at the point of being struck again the finality is not known Tiyen fell to the ground unable to rise. The corrupted swarmed him then, continuing to plunge their blades into him long after life had left his body.

“I… I’m… scared.” Her voice was barely a whisper, her breath ragged. “I… don’t… want to… die.” Her beautiful gray eyes caught the moonlight a grey and moonless night as she stared up at him giving them a silvery glow.

- - - Updated - - -

Zeynith
March 2nd, 2014, 01:33 AM
Thanks a lot for all the comments. Looks like you sent a lot of time on it. I will post a revised version as soon as I can. :)

iron_aufschlag
March 5th, 2014, 11:58 PM
Really cool battle scene. I really liked the description of the senior warrior's armor.
It needs some polishing though. Those pesky commas!
Check this one out: "More of the creatures leapt down to join the first impaling those sleeping below on their black blades." Without a comma after "first" it reads very oddly. You could also go, "More of the creatures leapt down, joining the other fiends and impaling the sleeping soldiers greedily." I say "greedily" because you keep inferring that the humans are prey. The same comma mistakes are spread throughout the writing. Other than that I really liked it.

thepancreas11
March 6th, 2014, 03:03 PM
You have a very natural grace as a writer, that you don't overdo it, but yet you're still very descriptive. The first paragraph and a couple of others are very adjective heavy, but as long as you don't keep that trend going, it works. I have actually made critiques in the past asking young writers to do something similar to what you have here: tell us what the character looks like in one sentence with no more than three adjectives to any sentence, and you'll be able to both set the scene and keep the flow. You've already done that. I can tell you read a lot of well-written fantasy stories (GoT included) by the voice you use here (leather jerkin was a dead giveaway).

Unfortunately, this doesn't always make for the best story telling. This is LONG for a prologue. Frankly, it's on the longer side for a Chapter. I thought mine were a little too much to handle, and they were only about 4000 words. This is almost 4500. Now, that's okay if it's a cohesive, intense story from start to finish, but to be honest with you, it isn't. You have them playing cards at one point. Is that really necessary? Do people want to read about your soldiers playing cards? Do we need to know all about his dead father just yet, and his history of battle? This is just the very first chapter. Not even: it's the prologue. A prologue is a story separate from the plot that plays an important part in the plot. Is this separate? Is this really distinguished from the rest of the story? If it's not, then this is really chapter one, and it might well include bits of chapter two, eight, and fifteen in it. Spread the wealth, slim it down, trim the excess. I think there is a more intense way to build the characters than a card game.

Often times when we as writers get caught up in certain description, we leave the more important stuff out, and there is evidence of that here. You don't really do a good job of separating the wanderers from the humans. I'm guessing they're two different species, but it's not entirely clear. Also, when you first start talking about Lothor and how he lost his arm, who are the "they"? Now, later on in the story, you do a really good job of explaining who they are, but for at least four or five paragraphs, you've left us hanging. These "they"s are the real threat; they're what's plaguing him from the moment Eldton sees something in valley. They should really be on Corric's mind from that point. If you're going to be mysterious about them, you have to lead with them. You can't just lump them in halfway through.

There's nothing particularly spectacular about the prose in the first half, nothing I haven't read a dozen times in fantasy novels. You want to distinguish yourself from other writers, so consider changing it up, doing something radical, writing a story that evokes some kind of new action or emotion. These creatures with their black swords, they're your key here. That's what gives you innovation. Just like GoT leads with the Others, I like the idea of leading with the "them", but you've really got to LEAD with them.

Overall, I thought it was a good story. You're a promising writer, that's for sure. For such a long piece, it was surprisingly entertaining and cohesive. You have a knack for describing battle, by the way. I've got to compliment you on that. It falls just short of something that could be published, for me, but only just. Well done.

iron_aufschlag
March 6th, 2014, 06:13 PM
You have a very natural grace as a writer, that you don't overdo it, but yet you're still very descriptive. The first paragraph and a couple of others are very adjective heavy, but as long as you don't keep that trend going, it works. I have actually made critiques in the past asking young writers to do something similar to what you have here: tell us what the character looks like in one sentence with no more than three adjectives to any sentence, and you'll be able to both set the scene and keep the flow. You've already done that. I can tell you read a lot of well-written fantasy stories (GoT included) by the voice you use here (leather jerkin was a dead giveaway).

Unfortunately, this doesn't always make for the best story telling. This is LONG for a prologue. Frankly, it's on the longer side for a Chapter. I thought mine were a little too much to handle, and they were only about 4000 words. This is almost 4500. Now, that's okay if it's a cohesive, intense story from start to finish, but to be honest with you, it isn't. You have them playing cards at one point. Is that really necessary? Do people want to read about your soldiers playing cards? Do we need to know all about his dead father just yet, and his history of battle? This is just the very first chapter. Not even: it's the prologue. A prologue is a story separate from the plot that plays an important part in the plot. Is this separate? Is this really distinguished from the rest of the story? If it's not, then this is really chapter one, and it might well include bits of chapter two, eight, and fifteen in it. Spread the wealth, slim it down, trim the excess. I think there is a more intense way to build the characters than a card game.

Often times when we as writers get caught up in certain description, we leave the more important stuff out, and there is evidence of that here. You don't really do a good job of separating the wanderers from the humans. I'm guessing they're two different species, but it's not entirely clear. Also, when you first start talking about Lothor and how he lost his arm, who are the "they"? Now, later on in the story, you do a really good job of explaining who they are, but for at least four or five paragraphs, you've left us hanging. These "they"s are the real threat; they're what's plaguing him from the moment Eldton sees something in valley. They should really be on Corric's mind from that point. If you're going to be mysterious about them, you have to lead with them. You can't just lump them in halfway through.

There's nothing particularly spectacular about the prose in the first half, nothing I haven't read a dozen times in fantasy novels. You want to distinguish yourself from other writers, so consider changing it up, doing something radical, writing a story that evokes some kind of new action or emotion. These creatures with their black swords, they're your key here. That's what gives you innovation. Just like GoT leads with the Others, I like the idea of leading with the "them", but you've really got to LEAD with them.

Overall, I thought it was a good story. You're a promising writer, that's for sure. For such a long piece, it was surprisingly entertaining and cohesive. You have a knack for describing battle, by the way. I've got to compliment you on that. It falls just short of something that could be published, for me, but only just. Well done.

What exactly do you mean by poor use of "adjectives"? Do you mean to say, for example, ""You all are cowards," said Eldton spitefully." This is something I have wondered about and you reminded me of it. Is it necessarily bad writing to use a adjective description for speech? I agree that playing cards is rather pointless and boring. But I don't think the prologue is too long. And I really liked the description of the armor. That told the man's history, but it was interesting.

Zeynith
March 7th, 2014, 03:46 PM
Hey guys thanks for reading, I know it is a bit long so it takes some time to get through. Glad to hear you both mostly liked it. :)

iron_aufschlag (http://www.writingforums.com/members/55500-iron_aufschlag)
I say "greedily" because you keep inferring that the humans are prey. The same comma mistakes are spread throughout the writing.

I didn't really go into it in the prologue because, well it is already long, but the corrupted don't really feel anything. They are more like zombies or the Borg. They do what they do without emotion. I cover it in more detail in the third chapter so I don't think I will be adding it here.

Yeah me and commas don't get along... I will try to work on it. XD

thepancreas11 (http://www.writingforums.com/members/54795-thepancreas11)

I can see what you are saying about the beginning being a bit derailed, and it is the part I am least happy with along with the conversation in the rocks. Some of it I included so the reader might get some attachment to the characters and others just to establish the world they live in. (The part with his father was a bit of both)

I still believe this is a prologue not a first chapter. It is its own event. Most of these characters will not be heard from again and it isn't till way later in the book that they are.


You don't really do a good job of separating the wanderers from the humans. I'm guessing they're two different species, but it's not entirely clear.
Wanderers are humans that live outside the protection of the city walls. They have to pretty much always keep moving and have no real home (hence the name). They call those that live in the cities city dwellers. (For equally obvious reasons) The names of everything is very simple at this point because much of their knowledge has been lost and names are the least of their problems. I establish it better in the forth or fifth chapter I think.

Also, when you first start talking about Lothor and how he lost his arm, who are the "they"? Now, later on in the story, you do a really good job of explaining who they are, but for at least four or five paragraphs, you've left us hanging. These "they"s are the real threat; they're what's plaguing him from the moment Eldton sees something in valley. They should really be on Corric's mind from that point. If you're going to be mysterious about them, you have to lead with them. You can't just lump them in halfway through.
I was trying to be vague about what they were until the grand reveal when they drop into camp. Thought it would have more impact if the reader didn't know what to expect. Not sure what you mean by lump them in halfway though. They weren't referred to by name but it was all the characters were talking about, unless you mean they appeared too late?

For such a long piece, it was surprisingly entertaining and cohesive. You have a knack for describing battle, by the way. I've got to compliment you on that.
Thanks a lot! Writing battles is difficult so it is nice to know it turned out. XD

Artemis
March 11th, 2014, 03:26 PM
Really I don't think prologues are overly necessary as they can be incorporated into the novel over time which really makes it more effective, also the first paragraph has a lot about weather which really readers don't care about myself but I myself actually like to know, its not what I usually like to read but you made it interesting and your use of description is really good and makes for a good reading experience overall

Qetris
March 12th, 2014, 03:55 AM
This is an energetic and exciting prologue. I love the setting and, so far, what I can make of the plot. There are some grammatical errors and unnecessary phrases. For example, we don't need "feeling somehow comforted by his friend's confidence", as Corric's smile and the next few sentences make that understood. I must say that the idea of the corrupted being mysteriously influenced by the regulators is very interesting and adds good tension to this prologue. Nice job!

erinranning
March 12th, 2014, 05:16 PM
I love it!

But I think it can go further.

I'd like to know if the MC in the prologue is going to survive to become the MC throughout. If not, perhaps consider jumping straight into the story by having the MC lose everyone under his command, maybe even family etc, in order to skip the prologue and open the book with the main throughline of the novel, which is his revenge / saving of humanity / survival /etc. The real star of this sequence is the enemy and its new secret weapon - the regulator (for me the name doesn't quite fit yet). I think the earlier discussion of the humans not behaving appropriately as soldiers, given their background and belief that they might be attacked, could be avoided by making a clear point of the inability of the typical enemy they know to either conceive or execute any sort of sophisticated strategy. (I know it's mentioned already, but there is no clear suggestion that they believe there is no great tactical risk.) As such, the opening of the book could become a devastating change in the game if the regulator variant had either never been heard of before or had been thought of only as a very distant and murky myth told by few survivors, thought of as untrue up until that point. His major failing could be his arrogance, rather than mere underestimation. You could really up his flaws and make him a multi-dimensional MC worthy of being called human.

I think if the MC's flaws lose him people close to him, this could grip the reader right through to seeing him redeem himself and get revenge later on.

thepancreas11
March 13th, 2014, 04:58 AM
When I say "poor" adjectives, I'm talking about ambiguous adjectives, things I call "opinionated" adjectives. I'd much rather see a smile tug at the character's lips than for you to say, he was happy. Instead of saying he was unconvinced, say he squinted. Equate an expression with an emotion, try to convey what's happening, what the characters are saying, rather than just giving it all away.

I understand the idea of holding off on the explanation of certain things. This is after all, a prologue. However, what I was trying to indicate was that you have to create a separation between the regular humans and the wanderers that starts immediately and runs deeply enough for the readers to understand from the get-go that they are a completely different species. It could be as easy as capitalizing the "W" in wanderers.

Like I said, I like this piece, I just think it could be thinned out a lot to provide a more natural prologue.

Philipj
March 23rd, 2014, 02:49 AM
This was a cool story unfortunately i´m to tired to finish it,it´s 3 in the night where i live, but i maybe do it tomorrow. I like that you keep the tence ,so to say, already from the beginning. It makes me wonder what will happen next and what is those creatures are who hunt them. You also give me the felling that something bad is going to happen and i think that is a very good way to get people to really get in to the story. You may work a bit on the grammar as they others here have mention but i´m not the right one to question that because i am not so good at it either. Keep working and i think you will get some where with this :D

Zeynith
March 25th, 2014, 11:04 AM
Hey everyone. Thanks for reading!

I am working on editing the beginning, but it is taking some time since I am trying to work on future chapters as well.

erinranning (http://www.writingforums.com/members/55551-erinranning)
Glad you liked it. Corric is not the MC. The main character is female and not in the prologue. (I have already written a good portion of the book) She is trying to get revenge for someone she lost and does blame herself for their death. I don't want to give away too much so I will leave it at that.
The events of the prologue do come up later in the book and like most prologues you can read the story without it and it will still make sense, but you will miss some of the references and won't know who they are immediately when those that did survive show up again. The primary reason I wrote a prologue was to get a bit of information about the world out and to introduce the enemy since they are not in the first chapter, but are discussed at great length. (Also shows they have more to worry about then just the drones they usually fight and how dangerous they are)

As was talked about in previous comments these people aren't soldiers. They are a group of people working together to survive. I am planning to write a conversation between Lohtor and Corric discussing this more clearly along with addressing some of the tactical issues.

thepancreas11 (http://www.writingforums.com/members/54795-thepancreas11)
Wanderers are human. They aren't a different species.
I have been cutting things down a bit so hopefully it will be better after the edit.

Philipj (http://www.writingforums.com/members/55649-Philipj)
No worries. Glad you like it so far. I feel the second half picks up a lot so hopefully it will hold your interest :)

Zeynith
April 8th, 2014, 01:37 PM
Hey Everyone,

I would like to thank you all for your great comments. I have taken them all into consideration and have finally finished my edit. (Which I posted in the prose writers' workshop if you are interested in seeing the result.) A number of cuts were made to the beginning and toward the end while they were in the rocks. (it is still rather long though) I also added/changed some of the conversation to hopefully clear up some of the confusion. Thanks again for all your help.

Zeynith