View Full Version : Dawn: Salder's Legacy (working title) ~2,000 words

March 18th, 2015, 11:50 PM
Hello, and thank you for checking out part 1 to the first chapter of my work in progress!

As an aspiring writer, I'm always low on feedback, so I joined WF very recently, and am looking forward to building a rapport with members of this community.

If you choose to read this, I ask only one thing... please be honest.

Like any writer, yes, I'm passionate about my work, but I have a very thick skin and am not married to it. What's the point of writing for an audience if you're unwilling to make adjustments for them?

Writer's note - my primary interest is whether or not you were hooked. Imagine being at the bookstore, and you have that gut reaction to a book you pick up... that point where you decide, I want to keep reading, or you put the book down and move on. I want that honesty. What worked, what didn't, why and why not?

And thank you for reading!

Short synopsis: After a lifetime of selfish pursuits, Tharon is confronted with the death of his brother, and the realization that he must now take up a cause he never believed in.

Chapter summary: Tharon plays Adrien’s game.

Chapter 1: Betrayal
Sitting at my desk, my head jolts toward the bay window. The gale screeches through the old Finnish forest, distracting me from my research. Trees wave beyond the river, begging me to go for a hunt, but the evening’s work is incomplete.

The area’s not what it once was, but the old house Salder and I built here is one of few places I still consider home.

A loud crash echoes through the candle-lit hall as I watch Adrien burst through the front door. Out of breath and dripping wet, he sheds his coat on the wood floor.

Dimming my laptop, I leave my desk to store his overcoat next to mine.

I don’t much care for Adrien, my brother’s lapdog, but his presence intrigues me. It’s the first I’ve seen of him since the schism five years ago—the last time I spoke with my brother. Salder became negligent of his duties as the Head of the Darogardi Council, and I fought him on the issue, relentlessly. My tenacity resulted in him cutting me out of his life, and the council was left directionless.

Normally, I’d kick Adrien out, but the only way he could’ve known about this place is if Salder told him, and there’re very few reasons why he would’ve done that.

“What are you doing here, Adrien?” I ask, closing the door behind him and crossing my arms.

“It’s your brother,” he says, catching his breath. “He’s dead . . .”

My heart races in defiance. “That’s impossible,” I say, my arms gliding back to my sides.

Adrien drops to the floor, leaning against the wall. “I tried to stop him, Tharon, but he wouldn’t listen,” he says, shaking his head.

His words are all too familiar, though I still don’t want to believe him. “I know better than anyone that Salder can be irrational, but how do you know he’s dead?” I ask, standing over him.

Adrien looks up at me, failing to find words; I sit down next to him. He closes his eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath. “He told me he was going to trade his life for Emilia’s,” he says, with sadness in his voice.

Titling my head away, I stand up and walk toward my desk. “Irrational is one thing, suicidal is another,” I say, turning around to face Adrien once more. “Are you absolutely certain?”

He pulls himself off the floor. “Yes. I get it, Tharon; I’m not your favorite person. But Salder trusted me, and that’s gotta mean something to you.”

Adrien’s words sink in. An unusual pain builds in my chest—one I haven’t felt since our father’s death. I move near the window. “When our father died, he told us to run. Run as far away as possible. But Salder couldn’t do it,” I say with an odd smile, remembering my brother’s passion. “I watched over him throughout the centuries, baffled by his persistence. He wouldn’t give an inch, forever unyielding in his endeavor to unite the regions. He believed it was the council’s responsibility . . . his responsibility, to establish peace amongst our kind,” I say, lightning cracking against the clouds.

Adrien examines the picture of Salder and me with our father on the credenza. “This photograph, err portrait? Is this him, your father?” he asks, holding it in his hands.

“Yes, and it’s the only picture I have of him,” I say, clutching it from his grasp. “Salder claimed that the original portrait was lost a long time ago, but not before he’d saved a few pictures of it,” I say, looking at it for the first time in years.

It barely does the original work justice. Salder was only eight; I was ten. But our father . . . he was tall with thick, black hair and eyes dark as night. Looking at it compels me to search for the original again, but some things simply can’t be found.

“You and your brother look so young. Do you remember who painted it?” he asks, still looking at it.

I reach for the half-bottle of Lagavulin next to the picture, struggling to bar myself from the past. “A talented Roman woman,” I answer, pouring a second glass, intent on concealing the fact that it was our mother. The burn in my throat distracts me from the conversation. I set the empty glass down, turning away from Adrien to regain my composure.

“I know this is a sad moment, but you should be proud. He created a world for us all to live in. We don’t have to fear humans, or each other. He succeeded in ways no one thought he could,” he says, attempting to show concern for my well-being.

“Is that why he’s dead? Because of how successful he was?” I ask poignantly. “Those words still haunt me . . . run . . . just run. There were times when I tried to force him, but he never gave in. So as his older brother, all I could do was protect him. And now, we know exactly how good of a job I did,” I say, reaching for the whisky again.

He stops me. “I realize this isn’t easy, but your brother did send me here for more than your self-loathing. Salder told me you’d know where Emilia is—we have to find her,” he says, with a glint of purpose in his eyes.

I pause and catch my thoughts, staring into the fireplace behind my desk. The flames turn into a blur, with Adrien’s words ringing in my head.

Salder forbade me from meeting Emilia. I always assumed it had something to do with the schism, or the pregnancy, though he never actually told me why. Tensions were rather high then, but I respected his wishes in hopes of future reconciliation.

So why now? Why tell Adrien I’d know where she is? More importantly, if Adrien doesn’t know where Emilia is, does he even know where their son is? Salder could’ve sent him anywhere, but he sent him to me. I was the only one who never trusted Adrien, and Salder knew that. So, did my brother want me to trust him, or not? I ask myself.
Unsure of Adrien’s game, I grow calm, studying his expression. “Forget Emilia. Where’s my nephew?” I ask, stepping toward to him.

“So you can take him and run away?” he asks. “I’m on strict orders, Tharon. Orders from a man who just sacrificed his life to save his family, and all you can do is think about yourself,” he says, shaking his head. “No wonder Salder didn’t trust you.”

I grab him by his throat and slam him into the wall, his blond hair sticking to the bits of mud on his face. The picture frame shatters as it hits the floor. His dark blue eyes reflecting the fury in mine . . . “Do not mistake my temperament for good will,” I say, as Adrien struggles for air. My eyes follow the string around his neck to an amulet hidden beneath his black and red robes. Letting go, I tear the relic away from him.

The hand-crafted, clay amulet is the only token of remembrance left by our father; he died saving us, but Salder and I had been alive too long to remember any of it. All I ever wanted to do is honor our father’s dying words, but Salder’s the one who followed in his footsteps. Was I wrong . . . all this time? I ponder.

I look back at Adrien. “Where did you get this?”
“Your brother, but you already know that,” he responds in a defensive voice.
I distance myself to appear less threatening. “Did he bother to reveal its meaning?” I ask.
“He told me it was a symbol of loyalty—a final token of appreciation for my service,” he proclaims, straightening his robes.
“Is that all he said?” I ask in a curious tone.
“Yes. That was the last I saw of him.”

I take a long look at the heirloom—reviewing the Latin symbols. They had faded over time, but I still remember what my father said when he gave it to me, as if I’d rehearsed it every day.

No bond is greater than blood. Betray that, and betray yourself.

I shared those same words with Salder when I gave it to him, and he wouldn’t’ve forgotten.

I put the pieces together in my mind and realize that the necklace is the real message Salder had sent—intended as my vindication. He provided Adrien with a false meaning, or Adrien would never have come.

I look back at him, clenching the artifact. “No more games. Tell me where my nephew is, and I’ll let you leave here alive.”

“Do you really think I’ll be so easily threatened? You could probably kill me, but you won’t,” he says raising his chin at me. “Salder wouldn’t send me to my death with his final act.”

“No. He wouldn’t. And he wouldn’t’ve given you this trinket either,” I say, enjoying the irony.
“Threatening me isn’t enough? Now you have to dishonor your brother too?” He questions, scoffing at the notion of his insignificance. “Your brother gave me that because I was with him to the end, when you—his supposed protector—were nowhere to be found.”
His verbal jab stings the ears, as truth so often does, but his impudence betrays him. I want to see his face when he realizes that I figured him out, but he’s made it clear that he’ll play his part regardless.

I open the bottom drawer of the credenza and gracefully remove an ancient sword from its cloth covering, kept in pristine condition.

“That’s where it’s been!?” he asks, exhaling in confusion.

“Salder left it here five years ago, after he met Emilia. I told him I didn’t want it, but he insisted,” I explain, closing the drawer.

“Only the Head of the Council is supposed to have that, Tharon,” he says, as if it’s his job to provide me with a history lesson.

“Do you know the story behind this blade?” I ask, admiring the sword’s brilliance.

“Of course not. Only council members are entrusted with such secrets,” he replies.

“Five years as my brother’s right-hand and he never told you,” I say, laughing to myself.

“Maybe he didn’t trust you as much as you think. You’re right about one thing, though. My brother and I didn’t get along. Too bad for you that you and your brother do,” I say, walking toward the entrance.

He moves out of the way, scanning me for intent. “I haven’t spoken to my brother since the schism. I forsook my family to align with your brother’s cause. Do not hold me in the same regard as Armand just because I share his blood,” he retorts, feigning disdain.

“Yet you would hold me to mine . . .” I respond, looking at him over my shoulder. “This heirloom means far more than loyalty, and there’s only one reason he would’ve given it to you.”

“And what reason is that?”

I turn around, plunging the blade clean through his stomach—blood spattering on my robes. “That you’ve been in league with your brother all long,” I say, slowing his fall to the floor.

Blood flows across my fingers as his glare intensifies. “My brother was denied . . . his rightful place . . . as Head of the Council,” he says, choking and coughing up blood. “All so your brother . . . could run away with some human woman . . .” he continues, spitting blood in my face.

Wiping off his filth, my nerves pull my head back in disbelief. My eyes widen. “She’s human . . .” I whisper aloud, losing all focus.

My vision becomes stale. I remember all the years I spent in research and study, the experiments and tests, nearly an entire millennium of work. Yet the only thing rushing through my mind is the most irrelevant question: why didn’t Salder tell me?
Adrien’s voice jerks me back to reality. He laughs, or tries to with what little life he has left. “He never told you . . . did he?” he asks, grinning in delight of my ignorance.
I remove the sword from his body, blood streaming across the floor. He convulses in pain, desperately gasping for air.

I raise the sword high and see myself in the hallway mirror, pausing at the image. Streaks of blood cover my whole body, like a gladiator of old. Gray and black strands on my head bonding in red, and my robes losing their white inflection . . . “I should’ve done this a long time ago,” I say, swinging with full force, splitting Adrien’s skull in two.

I open the door and step outside, surveying the darkened sky once more. I close my eyes, focusing on the rain as it cleanses me of Adrien’s betrayal . . . I catch a faint scent as the wind blows against me. The night’s only just begun.

Again, thank you so much for reading! Please, feel free to leave any comments or critiques as you see fit!

April 10th, 2015, 08:17 PM
First, I have to ask: If not a human, then what is the protagonist?

Then, I should point out that you often use the present tense inappropriately.

Otherwise, there were few flaws.

Good luck with your writing!