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Ephemeral_One
June 28th, 2016, 01:06 AM
This is part of my newest work for the next book in the Blue Phoenix Mercenary Company series. You can read it on my site. Anyway, this bit in particular stuck out as I'm going for a somber tone and I wondered if it came across. I worry I'm a bit too close to the work to know so I figure it never hurts to ask.




A shadow passed overhead several times before Ru'Sala halted to investigate. A winged shape was making rapid circles to drop down closer to us. It was larger than any normal bird and it only expanded as it drew closer. I recognized the specific pattern of feathers as the head of the Harpies. The females of her brood worked as messengers and scouts for the company. She landed a few feet ahead of me looking up with blue eyes.


Around her waist was a message belt. Kneeling down, Ru'Sala lifted the flap of her leather pouch. He asked while he unfurled the scroll, “How have things been going Kresh?”


“Good,” trilled the harpy. Though they had many bird like features with taloned feet, feathered wings in place of arms and feathers where hair would be, their mouths were human-like. Only when a harpy smiled did one notice they had sharp fangs for tearing apart fish. Which, was their favorite food. Her fangs were on full display as Kresh added, “We lost four to hunters while on a job. Their eggs and men are being looked after. I want revenge.”


Ru'Sala smiled softly and ran a rough palm across the harpy's head. He nodded, “I'll look into it and see who will be paying for our losses.”


“Thank you, Commander.” the harpy queen acknowledged before bracing her legs. Her initial jump brought her chest high but the powerful flaps of her wings sent her above the treetops in seconds.


I said sadly, “One more thing to add to the list. I didn't look, what did the message say?”


“Irthor wishes to have a talk,” Ru'Sala spoke gravely.


“The end of an era. Isn't that what they call this sort of thing?”


“I could go to the shrine first and ask about the other three clans.”


“You know Kresh just went to let Irthor know she delivered the message. He knows we came back to the island and stalling is just going to upset him further when we finally talk.”


Ru'Sala began a long string of half finished curses. His stride became shorter and a cloud of dust gather around his shuffling talons. Most of his angry comments were aimed at me. To which I retorted, “Cursing me won't work, you know that better than anyone. Come on, let's just rip out the arrow.”


With grim determination we followed the raised platform past the fields into the tamed jungle that separated it from the main village. Though plants offered plentiful shade along the paved roads, it was still a common afternoon on our island. Which meant it was uncomfortably warm. A few of our mercenary farmhands saluted as we passed by. Elves, Were-folks, Humans, Drow and a few Oni were the beginning of the variety of people on farm duty.


In the heart of the jungle an unnaturally flat field had been cleared by a modest home. The wooden cabin had both of its windows propped open. Ru'Sala winced as he examined the building. It had been the home and training ground for many of the current company's roster. Irthor had been the combat trainer and was the worst nightmare of any raw recruit.
Knocking on the door Ru'Sala announced, “It's me.”


“Come in,” Came a gruff voice from the other side. Tucking his wings tight and ducking underneath the headboard, Ru'Sala pushed the door in. The room was furnished simply with a light crystal mounted above a polished desk. The walls and shelves were all bare. Paintings and books had been plentiful not that long ago. Now, the cabin was pristine and ready for its next tenant since its current one would leave it no other way.


Even the bed at the back of the single room home had been stripped of all but its mattress. It had been one thing Irthor and Ru'Sala splurged on privately. They both had luxurious beds they could sink into at the end of the day. Knelt over a final pack of clothing was an elf with only one arm. Ru'Sala's pressed his lips into a hard line as he watched the elf sling his rucksack onto his shoulder.


After taking a deep breath to calm himself Ru'Sala asked, “Did you leave your recommendations for a replacement with Raqua?”


“Yes, though I know you'll likely assign Raqua the job since it'll keep her near her family,” Irthor said matter of factly.


“Several of her older children will be up for becoming brothers and sisters of the Company so I figure it's a good time to switch her over.”


A moment of stagnant air filled the room as both men stared at one another. Intangible though I was, I could taste the mix of emotions that was present. The silence dragged out.


Ru'Sala broke first, “What can I give you as payment?”


“My arm,” joked Irthor raising the stump that remained from Ru'Sala's brutal severing of his limb.


“Anything within my power to give you, I will. You've done so much to help not only me but this company that's become a family to me.”


“Honestly, Ru'Sala? You've given me more than you realize. You let me turn a potential threat into possibly the greatest ally that Nightrivers has ever had. You let me taste combat when everyone believed I was too crippled to do so. You let me pass on my skills to another generation, even if they don't appreciate it at the moment.”


“And I frustrated you to no end. I know I'm headstrong and my duties to my Goddess make me less than ideal as a Commander. Still, I won't feel right without giving you something as payment as you leave.”


“Well, my wife is a trader so I suppose I could settle for a vessel as a coming home gift.”


“Easy enough. I'm sure the Blackened Wreath will appreciate having you for a Captain on her final journey under my flag. Though all these years and you've never much mentioned your wife.”


“Cause she hates you.”


“So do most noble Elves. What did I do?”


“Aside from getting me out of retirement when she thought she'd finally get me to come home? Largely it's just a natural dislike of any 'uncivilized' races like you Dragons. But, I'm retiring for good this time. So, we'll have plenty of time to catch up and make each other happy.”


Ru'Sala extended a hand to Irthor. He made the best smile he could manage, “Thank you, my best enemy and greatest friend.”


“Take care, fool Dragon,” Irthor gripped Ru'Sala's arm past the wrist. As they shook the unspoken words were added, “I believe your wish will get you killed and I don't want to be made to watch that.” Neither side shed a tear at their parting. Ru'Sala simply stepped aside to let Irthor leave. He sat on the bed for a few minutes with his face buried in his palms.

bdcharles
July 1st, 2016, 06:47 AM
Hi

For me there are a little too many grammar faults and style/description wobbles to fully get the tone. Fix those, and also think about dialogue tags; eg. Instead of saying "X said sadly", say "X said" and follow that by some body language that suggests sadness. Good luck :)