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AtleanWordsmith
July 9th, 2015, 06:07 AM
The project that I'm currently working on is Tales from Atlea, a web serial that I plan to update at least three times a week, basically with micro-chapters. It's pretty much standard sword-and-sorcery stuff, but I'm trying to work it into something a little more unique. The current story arc, The Drain, follows an apprentice of the Mages' Guild of Ostheron as she attempts to figure out the significance behind an amulet that her mentor trusted her with before sacrificing himself.

Here's the first post, titled "Horse Thief." If you like it, you can follow the link in my signature to read more.

___________________

It was a warm night, by the standards of winter in the southern provinces of Vyoria. The wind coming off the mountains was light, and the shadows of the trees, bare of their leaves, cut interesting shapes in the moonlight. Two riders followed the road north at a liesurely pace. They had traveled far, and they were almost home, and they had agreed at the last inn that they could afford to take their time. They had, after all, spent the past few years rushing from place to place.

The rumors had also made them cautious. Vyoria, despite its relative isolation from the rest of the continent, had been torn apart by the Wars all the same. The riders had heard about the civil war and the bad blood that still existed between the Houses. The continent was largely at peace, but the strain of politics had broken greater nations than Vyoria.

The villages on the fringe, where the mountains of Vyoria gave way to the plains of Ankhora and Ostheron, were largely unaffected by the power struggles, but word had gotten out that there was a certain lawlessness in some of the provinces, and that soldiers returning from the Wars were being actively hunted for “treasonous offenses.”

This news in particular, though unwelcome, had been gratefully received by the two riders, who had indeed represented Vyoria in the Wars. They could now plan on skirting north around Litenstad, which would mean trekking through some fairly unforgiving terrain, but would get them well into friendly territory before the soldier-hunters began their patrols.

As it turned out, it would also put them on a collision course with destiny.

Ulric was the first to spot the light, which wasn’t much brighter than the moonlight. He knew it instantly–he’d seen it plenty of times in the past year and a half. It was magic, powerful magic, and the color of the light meant that the user was incapable of controlling it. He’d seen the results of such magic, too, and it was… unpleasant.

Hrothgar was the first to spot the girl, who ran blindly out of the trees and collided with his horse. She bounced and landed on her rear in the snow. her hood fell back to reveal dark hair, and a frightened, thoroughly female face. Her eyes focused on Hrothgar, who, under his hood, must have been a terrifying figure indeed.

There was noise from the forest, the snapping of twigs and the crunching of snow. Someone was in pursuit of the girl. Without a word, Hrothgar had slipped off his horse and drawn his blade. Ulric had his bow drawn and an arrow notched. Hrothgar lifted the girl off the ground and positioned her behind him. Ulric watched the forest for any sign of movement, and put an arrow clean into the chest of the first man who emerged from the trees.

He had to draw another arrow, which gave the second man time to charge at Hrothgar, who put him down with a well-aimed strike with the flat of his blade. The two riders surveyed their handiwork with a craftsman’s sense of pride, then turned to congratulate each other on a job well done. Only then did they realize that the girl–and, more importantly, Hrothgar’s horse–had gone.

The hoofbeats faded into the distance.
___________________

As always, I'm open to comment and critique. How else am I supposed to get better?

I also realize that my writing style may be a bit... casual or informal at times, or all the time. It's just the way I write, guys.

Thanks!

Etherhibba
July 17th, 2015, 08:12 AM
I like this story, however I don't think its necessary to use so many dashes (-), it doesn't ruin it for me though. I'm not sure if you did this intentionally but I see some TES V: Skyrim refrences in there with the names, made me giggle a bit and added to the charm.

ShadowEyes
July 17th, 2015, 09:15 AM
Heh, when I first read this I was super-intimidated because it was so good. Right now, I'm super-exhausted, but I'll see what I can see...



It was a warm night, by the standards of winter in the southern provinces of Vyoria. Instinct says not to start with the weather. And Elmore Leonard said that, too. I dunno why. Probably because it sets up atmosphere when so, so few stories are true atmospheric. For true atmospheric, an example is The Fall of the House of Usher. The wind coming off the mountains was light, and the shadows of the trees, bare of their leaves, cut interesting shapes in the moonlight. Two riders followed the road north at a liesurely pace. They had traveled far, and they were almost home, and they had agreed at the last inn that they could afford to take their time. They had, after all, spent the past few years rushing from place to place. That's all I need to know right now. Which I like, of course.

The rumors had also made them cautious. Vyoria, despite its relative isolation from the rest of the continent, had been torn apart by the Wars all the same. The riders had heard about the civil war and the bad blood that still existed between the Houses. The continent was largely at peace, but the strain of politics had broken greater nations than Vyoria. If it doesn't affect their current situation, it's irrelevant background information. When it becomes relevant, it becomes relevant through actions. Rarely do robbers tell of their nationality.

The villages on the fringe, where the mountains of Vyoria gave way to the plains of Ankhora and Ostheron, were largely unaffected by the power struggles, but word had gotten out that there was a certain lawlessness in some of the provinces, and that soldiers returning from the Wars were being actively hunted for “treasonous offenses. So let them be hunted and get on with it. If this was truly important (I understand this is a serial, but still...), then the characters would be hunted at this very moment. And nothing would need to be said other than, "Run!"

This news in particular, though unwelcome, had been gratefully received by the two riders, who had indeed represented Vyoria in the Wars. They could now plan on skirting north around Litenstad, which would mean trekking through some fairly unforgiving terrain, but would get them well into friendly territory before the soldier-hunters began their patrols. You jumped from national politics to local politics to terrain conflict. Not only does this dilute each conflict, I'll forget this information when it's more important. In general, I would recommend to stick to "in-the-moment" conflict. Why? Because this is a complication, but, without relevant story detail to make these places interesting to the reader, the complication conflict reveals very little about the characters. Sure, we get the inkling that they're brave, but not really. The time could either be better spent on individual heroic actions or (even better, in my opinion) playing up the emotion, which is relief.

As it turned out, it would also put them on a collision course with destiny. Cliche.

Ulric was the first to spot the light, which wasn’t much brighter than the moonlight. He knew it instantly–he’d seen it plenty of times in the past year and a half. This is where it starts to get good. Except for this next bit. It was magic, powerful magic, and the color of the light meant that the user was incapable of controlling it. He’d seen the results of such magic, too, and it was… unpleasant. Again, because the magic isn't relevant to this conflict (the uncontrollable nature of it doesn't lend to its downfall), it's unnecessary exposition.

Okay this is better:
Hrothgar was the first to spot the girl, who ran blindly out of the trees and collided with his horse. She bounced and landed on her rear in the snow. her hood fell back to reveal dark hair, and a frightened, thoroughly Note the sentiment primes us for a "relief-like" rescue. Because it's so objective in the next paragraph, it's not too intense, and thus the emotion is still relief, I think. female face. Her eyes focused on Hrothgar, who, under his hood, must have been a terrifying figure indeed.

There was noise from the forest, the snapping of twigs and the crunching of snow. Someone was in pursuit of the girl. Without a word, Hrothgar had slipped off his horse and drawn his blade. Ulric had his bow drawn and an arrow notched. Hrothgar lifted the girl off the ground and positioned her behind him. Ulric watched the forest for any sign of movement, and put an arrow clean into the chest of the first man who emerged from the trees.

He had to draw another arrow, which gave the second man time to charge at Hrothgar, who put him down with a well-aimed strike with the flat of his blade. The two riders surveyed their handiwork with a craftsman’s sense of pride, Relief pay-off. then turned to congratulate each other on a job well done. Only then did they realize that the girl–and, more importantly, Hrothgar’s horse–had gone. This was, likewise, primed by the girl's character: we know she was terrified, in a hurry, and "thoroughly" feminine -- which is akin to be thorough, or competent. So we're satisfied with this outcome, especially since it makes sense. Relief clashed with hurry and then pride clashed with need, or theft. Character motives check-out.

The hoofbeats faded into the distance.
​Lovely ending reminiscent of the earlier exposition. Or just lovely description.

musichal
July 17th, 2015, 05:32 PM
The project that I'm currently working on is Tales from Atlea, a web serial that I plan to update at least three times a week, basically with micro-chapters. It's pretty much standard sword-and-sorcery stuff, but I'm trying to work it into something a little more unique. The current story arc, The Drain, follows an apprentice of the Mages' Guild of Ostheron as she attempts to figure out the significance behind an amulet that her mentor trusted her with before sacrificing himself.

Here's the first post, titled "Horse Thief." If you like it, you can follow the link in my signature to read more.

___________________

It was a warm night, by the standards of winter in the southern provinces of The night was unusually warm for winter in southern Vyoria. The wind coming off Wind from the mountains was light, and the shadows of the bare trees, bare of their leaves, cut interesting shapes in the moonlight. Two riders followed the road north at a liesurely pace. They had traveled far, and they were almost home, and they had agreed at the last inn that they could afford to take their time. They had, after all, spentthe past few years rushing from place to place for After years of rushed travel, they were weary.

Don't use "It was..." pretty much ever. What was a warm night? The night was a warm night? That is why you don't use it. "By the standards of" is a wordy, cliché-ish phrase, better expressed differently. Think about what your message is, and write it directly: "The night was unusually warm for winter in southern Vyoria". Is it important to use province at this time? Doesn't seem so. Okay, you get the idea, editing is first about cutting extraneous words. We basically cut half, and said the same thing. Now I will just use my red pencil, but this explanation pretty much explains the goal. Red for suggestions, not for error.


The r Rumors had also made them cautious. Vyoria, despite its relative isolation from the rest of the continent, had been was torn apart by the Wars all the same. The riders had heard about the civil war, and the bad blood that still existed between the Houses. The continent was largely at peace, but the political strain of politics had broken greater nations than put Vyoria at risk.


The Fringe villages on the fringe, where the mountains of Vyoria gave way to the plains of Ankhora and Ostheron, were largely unaffected by the power struggles, but word had gotten out that there was a certain lawlessness reigned in some of the provinces, and that soldiers returning soldiers from the Wars were being actively hunted for “treasonous offenses.”


This unwelcome news in particular, though unwelcome, had been was gratefully received as warning by the two riders, who had indeed represented Vyoria in the Wars conflict. They could now plan on skirting They planned to skirt north around past Litenstad, which would mean trekking through some fairly unforgiving terrain, but would get them well into to gain friendly territory before the soldier-hunters began their patrols.


As it turned out, it would also put them Unknowing, they were on a collision course with destiny.


Ulric was the first to spot the light, which wasn’t much just brighter than the moonlight. He knew recognized it instantly – he’d seen it plenty of times in the past year and a half. It was magic Magic, powerful magic. and The color of the light meant color indicated the user was a novicethat the user was incapable of controlling it. He’d seen the results of such magic, too, and it was… unpleasant. He knew the results of this type magic were unpleasant.

Hrothgar was the first to spotted the girl, who ran blindly out of from the trees, and collided colliding with his horse. She bounced, and landed falling on her rear butt in the snow. her hood fell back to Her dislodged hood revealed dark hair, and a frightened, thoroughly female face. Her eyes focused on Hrothgar, who, under his cowl hood, must have been was a terrifying figure indeed.


There was noise from the forest, the Snapping of twigs and the crunching of snow from the forest warned of someone was in pursuit of the girl. Without a word, Hrothgar had slipped off his horse and drawn drew his blade. Ulric had his bow drawn and an arrow notched. Hrothgar lifted the girl off the ground and positioned placing her behind him. Ulric watched the forest for any sign of movement, and put an arrow clean into the chest of the first man who to emerged from the trees.


He had to draw While Ulric drew another arrow, which gave the a second man time to assailant charged at Hrothgar, who put him down with a well-aimed strike struck him down with the flat of his blade. The two riders surveyed their handiwork with a craftsman’s sense of pride, then turned to congratulated each other on a job well done. Only then did they realize that the girl–and more importantly, Hrothgar’s horse were missing had gone.


The Hoofbeats faded into the distance.
___________________

As always, I'm open to comment and critique. How else am I supposed to get better?

I also realize that my writing style may be a bit... casual or informal at times, or all the time. It's just the way I write, guys.

Thanks!

AtleanWordsmith
July 17th, 2015, 08:45 PM
I like this story, however I don't think its necessary to use so many dashes (-), it doesn't ruin it for me though. I'm not sure if you did this intentionally but I see some TES V: Skyrim refrences in there with the names, made me giggle a bit and added to the charm.

The Elder Scrolls games (particularly ESO) have been great for character design and certain visual aspects... but that's about it, haha. Vyoria is technically a case of "like Skyrim but," since Ulric and Hrothgar are a nod to the characters a friend of mine and I play regularly in RPG-style games, but I hope to distinguish it as a recognizably different viking-themed nation as I progress.


Heh, when I first read this I was super-intimidated because it was so good..

https://dviw3bl0enbyw.cloudfront.net/uploads/forum_attachment/file/101478/gw2_small_happy-oh-stop-it-you.png

I appreciate you guys being willing to look at it and give your thoughts and suggestions.

I ended up deleting the The Drain in its current form, and I hope to get content back up and running sometime in August with a reboot, most likely starting with this same series of events and preferably sooner than later. The reasons behind the decision to reboot had to do with some of the holes in my world-building, some inconsistencies with Maeryn (the horse thief) as a character, and the fact that I didn't quite like the way things were going.

It's a hard way to figure things out, but I believe it'll result in a stronger story in the long run.

Thanks again!

Etherhibba
July 18th, 2015, 02:33 AM
Don't get me wrong, it certainly has a viking-esque feel to it, and I love all things medival and nordic.

Boofy
July 18th, 2015, 02:57 AM
Oooo, this I am interested in reading. I am getting slightly fed up of the Warhammer world of late (It's my own fault for buying every bloody book they bring out) and I do like where this is going. I think Musichal made some excellent suggestions for trimming things down... some wordiness which I can see in my own writing (eep).

It's funny, really... Hrothgar and Ulric are two of my favourite names. I often bump into the latter in high fantasy novels, though I've only ever seen three Hrothgars. High Hrothgar, the mountain on which the Grey Beards live in Skyrim, Dwarf King Hrothgar from Eragon... and in the epic poem, Beowulf. ^^;

Oh, and Etherhibba! You're Walter White meets Avatar! I just love that. <3

Entity
July 18th, 2015, 10:57 AM
I enjoyed this! I'm excited to read more!

Etherhibba
July 19th, 2015, 06:11 AM
Oh, and Etherhibba! You're Walter White meets Avatar! I just love that. <3

Thanks :] Its my favorite pic.

Arthur
July 19th, 2015, 07:17 AM
Hi, I really like where this is going. The only thing I'd like to comment on is the rhythm and pace of how you've written it. Whilst the format is technically correct as far as my understanding goes, it read to me almost like a list or bullet-points given the high amount of short paragraphs. That may be because of the large spacing but as I read it, it seemed to be just a series of statements rather than a flowing text or story.

I hope I've been able to communicate what I mean clearly. Keep up the good work.

AtleanWordsmith
July 19th, 2015, 01:33 PM
Arthur, that's just something that happens when I port it over from Notepad. I never got around to editing the spaces out, haha.

Lumaria
July 21st, 2015, 10:20 AM
its an inter sting story, i was thrown right into the middle of it all, but it wasn't too intrusive where i kept asking questions i felt needed answer. However, perhaps certain scenes could put a little more build up. then again there was hardly any dialogue in the story, it was all told to me, and some of it shown, but i feel like its being shown to me from a great distance. Perhaps giving us a bit more details or expanding more on the scenes and really build more on the emotion. yes, i sense the mention you want me to have when reading, but it didn't last long. Or maybe despite knowing what emotion you wanted me to have wasn't enough if the story wasn't trying to really push for it.

AtleanWordsmith
July 22nd, 2015, 03:29 AM
Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you guys, work has been, well... [UNBECOMING VOCABULARY].

I decided to restructure some of it and rewrite it a bit to fit some of the points that were made in the critiques, and I hope it flows a little better. Keep in mind that a fair bit of the details aren't random, and will make sense as the story progresses, which is why I chose to leave them in. I'm probably going to be posting TFA in by WF blog, as well as on the site. It'll be like an early access thing, but where your prize is mediocre storytelling instead of anything good.

(I kid, I kid)

Anyway, like I said, I appreciate your input and suggestions, and to show my gratitude, I present you with a whole new slough of errors! Yaaaay!

No, seriously, you guys are wonderful.

___________________________
[THE DRAIN - 01] HORSE THIEF

Two riders followed the road north at a liesurely pace. The night was pleasant enough for winter in Vyoria, and the moon cast silver light bright enough to see by. They were almost home after lengthy travels, and they felt that they could afford to take their time--after all, they'd spent the past few years rushing from one place to another.

There was some call for caution, as well. The riders had been told about the civil war which had broken out over the High King's decision to aid Ostheron in the Wars. They were warned about the groups of men who patrolled the roads looking for unwary travelers to capture, humiliate, and execute for "treasonous offenses." Every now and again, one of these travelers would actually be a Vyorian soldier.

The riders slowed and stopped at the rise of a hill. Litenstad spread out below them, a dark, sprawling mass nestled in the foothills of the Ysaryngas. They took a moment to consider their options.

"No," the shorter one, a man named Ulric, finally said, "I don't feel like being measured for a noose tonight."

"The hunters might not be out tonight."

"Hrothgar, we're out tonight. They're probably waiting to ambush someone. I'll wager many travelers have tried to slip through in the dark."

Hrothgar's face was hidden in the recesses of his hood, but Ulric could imagine his brow knitted tightly as he thought about it. There was only one viable way around Litenstad, and that was the Kulku pass. It would take them north, but there was no direct road to Ytaanhald from there. They'd have to traverse the edge of the Wastes.

"You're right," Hrothgar admitted, and they turned their horses back just in time to see distant flashes of light to the north. They both knew instantly what it was. Magic, though it was never called that by those who used it, had featured heavily in the Wars. There were places west of Ostheron where nothing would ever grow again.

"Well, then," Hrothgar murmured, "Mages or hangmen..."

"I'd rather take my chances with the mages."

The riders paused at the mouth of the pass, as if reevaluating their plan. A sudden southerly wind picked up, and was gone. It stirred something in Ulric's memory and sent chills up his spine, but he was interrupted by the arrival of the girl.

She ran blindly out of the trees and collided with Hrothgar's horse, bounced off and landed on her rear in the snow. Her hood fell back to reveal a mane of dark hair and a frightened, thoroughly female face. Her eyes focused on Hrothgar, who, under his cowl, must have been a terrifying figure indeed.

Snapping twigs and crunching snow warned of someone in pursuit of the girl. Without a word, Hrothgar slipped from his saddle, drew his blade, and positioned himself in front of the girl. Ulric drew his bow and watched the forest for any sign of movement. The first man to emerge from the trees caught an arrow to the chest. As Ulric reached for another, a second assailant charged Hrothgar, who struck him down with the flat of his blade.

The two riders surveyed their handiwork with a craftsman's sense of pride, and turned to contragulate each other on a job well done. Only then did they realize that the girl--and more importantly to Hrothgar, his horse--had gone.

Hoofbeats faded into the distance.

musichal
July 22nd, 2015, 10:22 AM
Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you guys, work has been, well... [UNBECOMING VOCABULARY].

I decided to restructure some of it and rewrite it a bit to fit some of the points that were made in the critiques, and I hope it flows a little better. Keep in mind that a fair bit of the details aren't random, and will make sense as the story progresses, which is why I chose to leave them in. I'm probably going to be posting TFA in by WF blog, as well as on the site. It'll be like an early access thing, but where your prize is mediocre storytelling instead of anything good.

(I kid, I kid)

Anyway, like I said, I appreciate your input and suggestions, and to show my gratitude, I present you with a whole new slough of errors! Yaaaay!

No, seriously, you guys are wonderful.

___________________________
[THE DRAIN - 01] HORSE THIEF

Two riders followed the road north at a liesurely pace. The night was pleasant enough for winter in Vyoria, and the moon cast silver light bright enough to see by. They were almost home after lengthy travels, and they felt that they could afford to take their time--after all, they'd spent the past few years rushing from one place to another.

"to see by." You should almost never end a sentence in your narrative with a preposition (it's sort of a rookie error); in dialogue - okay, depending on who is speaking, perhaps. It is also sort of a lazy-writer indicator because it takes a bit of thought to reword the sentence and still present all that is desired by the writer. Something like this: "Silver light cast by the moon provided adequate illumination for the unseasonably pleasant Vyorian winter's night."

"They were almost home after lengthy travels, and they felt that they could afford to take their time--after all, they'd spent the past few years rushing from one place to another." The ideas expressed here include almost home, lengthy travels, taking their time, years rushing. You had already mentioned their leisurely pace, from which we can easily infer they 'felt that they could afford to take their time" so those are wasted words - fluff. "Lengthy travels" implies they went "from one place to another" (an unimaginative, formulaic phrase) so 'rushing' and the vague "spent the last few years" were the only ideas added after the hyphen. Perhaps a hyphen is not needed; combining all the elements seems a better idea: "Weary from years of hurried travel, they were almost home."


Two riders followed the road north at a leisurely pace. Silver light cast by the moon provided adequate illumination for the unseasonably pleasant Vyorian winter's night. Weary from years of hurried travel, they were almost home.

There was some call for caution, as well. The riders had been told about the civil war which had broken out over the High King's decision to aid Ostheron in the Wars. They were warned about the groups of men who patrolled the roads looking for unwary travelers to capture, humiliate, and execute for "treasonous offenses." Every now and again, one of these travelers would actually be a Vyorian soldier.

The riders slowed and stopped at the rise of a hill. Litenstad spread out below them, a dark, sprawling mass nestled in the foothills of the Ysaryngas. They took a moment to consider their options.

"No," the shorter one, a man named Ulric, finally said, "I don't feel like being measured for a noose tonight."

"The hunters might not be out tonight."

"Hrothgar, we're out tonight. They're probably waiting to ambush someone. I'll wager many travelers have tried to slip through in the dark."

Hrothgar's face was hidden in the recesses of his hood, but Ulric could imagine his brow knitted tightly as he thought about it. There was only one viable way around Litenstad, and that was the Kulku pass. It would take them north, but there was no direct road to Ytaanhald from there. They'd have to traverse the edge of the Wastes.

"You're right," Hrothgar admitted, and they turned their horses back just in time to see distant flashes of light to the north. They both knew instantly what it was. Magic, though it was never called that by those who used it, had featured heavily in the Wars. There were places west of Ostheron where nothing would ever grow again.

"Well, then," Hrothgar murmured, "Mages or hangmen..."

"I'd rather take my chances with the mages."

The riders paused at the mouth of the pass, as if reevaluating their plan. A sudden southerly wind picked up, and was gone. It stirred something in Ulric's memory and sent chills up his spine, but he was interrupted by the arrival of the girl.

She ran blindly out of the trees and collided with Hrothgar's horse, bounced off and landed on her rear in the snow. Her hood fell back to reveal a mane of dark hair and a frightened, thoroughly female face. Her eyes focused on Hrothgar, who, under his cowl, must have been a terrifying figure indeed.

Snapping twigs and crunching snow warned of someone in pursuit of the girl. Without a word, Hrothgar slipped from his saddle, drew his blade, and positioned himself in front of the girl. Ulric drew his bow and watched the forest for any sign of movement. The first man to emerge from the trees caught an arrow to the chest. As Ulric reached for another, a second assailant charged Hrothgar, who struck him down with the flat of his blade.

The two riders surveyed their handiwork with a craftsman's sense of pride, and turned to contragulate each other on a job well done. Only then did they realize that the girl--and more importantly to Hrothgar, his horse--had gone.

Hoofbeats faded into the distance.

bdcharles
July 22nd, 2015, 11:41 AM
Hi,

Nice work. It's a really rich and deep world you've got here i.m.o., with loads of scope and scale, and I can picture it all quite clearly.

I do agree with the point about opening with the weather. If this is intended to be a web-only story, it's not that much of an issue but in fiction it is best avoided. You can thank Edward Bulwer-Lytton and his "dark and stormy night" for that ... though I see you have removed it from version 2.

liesurely = leisurely

The beginning first version was - richer somehow? There's a little bit of infodumping, with all that history which could maybe be drip fed in at relevant moments into the story, to world build on the fly and in context rather than giving it all to us up front. With lines like " There were places west of Ostheron where nothing would ever grow again." I think do this very well. I want, straight off, to go - to journey - to Ostheron on the strength of that. That said, I see that the second version clearly had that removed, but, I dunno, seemed to be missing the vividness somewhat? Maybe the opening has ben stripped too bare.

The second opener seemed, to me, a little pedestrian (sorry!). I like the start: "Two riders followed the road north." We're a camera, then, above and behind the pair. While we're out there, at a distant POV, why not depict a couple of things they can see that detail your world for us readers, then do a psychic slide in, just dabbing in a little one line's worth of personal history as we swoop in, and then finishing up at a singular feeling, to set the tone. As it is, we see a nice distance shot, then something about "pleasant" weather, and then plop! we are dropped in the midst of their workaday thoughts.

Eg: (take or leave as you will; apologies, I will try and keep rewrites to a minimum!)

Two riders followed the road north. Their horses strode down the track at a leisurely pace, passing them under frosted boughs as the moon cast a silvery light over the wooded tops of nearby hills. The past few years had seen them rushing from one distant realm to another [or wherever it was they went], [doing XYZ], but no more; it felt good, at long last, to be home


Show/tell: eg "The night was pleasant enough for winter in Vyoria,". I want to see more! I want to see the twinkle of snow on the branches (if Vyoria is prone to inclement weather, that is - it might be baking hot for all I know). Ditto "There was some call for caution, as well." Have these 2 creep about, fretting about discovery (if that's relevant), seeing some threatening, shadowy figure stalk by (one of Oestheron's men, by the tabard) - let loose! Get geeky with the detail.

Hope this helps. Really enjoyed this.