PDA

View Full Version : Another Revamp



Ephemeral_One
February 27th, 2017, 01:22 AM
I apologize, I really do. I'm sure plenty of people are sick to death of my writing and re-writing the same opening scene but I can never capture the tone I want, it seems. But, as usual, I think I've nailed it. I've dropped much of the pretension and I feel that I'll let the story tell itself so to speak. Hopefully it reads smoothly at least. I know I'll need to add more detailed descriptions but getting the general flow is whats important at this point to me.



An unfortunate side effect of survival is that one becomes introspective. Worse still when one is literate. Then you desire to leave your story in one form or another. Be it in music, corpses or monuments. The desire to stake a small claim to let all who will follow that you were here at one time is known to every sentient being. For me, I've spent several years at this point trying to write out my story in one form or another. However, in my age I've become sentimental.

This memoir shall detail my journey that lead me from a nameless phantom to earning the name Ru'Sala Sorigean. However, with a sparse exception, I shall have my story told by those whom I shared it with. Allies, enemies, acquaintances and more shall tell their story as well as my own. I choose this because there is no greater way to honor those relationships. Though I shall translate their words to a common tongue, I shall endeavor to keep them as close to their original as possible.

To my eyes, this life began as a dream. Then I recognized it as visions. Now, it is simply a part of my daily existence. Yet, despite the many years, I never forget how it began. So, I shall don a title and keep my presence only to when you must know another. So, for now, consider me your narrator and enjoy our tale.


Narrator:

As is so painfully appropriate let us begin thusly: in the beginning was the darkness of my sleep. I had drifted off as I had so many nights before. However, my cold water baptism into the dream were these words, “He's absolutely useless.”

Without question, I knew that was directed at me. Their weight pressed down like the slap of a boulder. Without my urging, our eyes opened for the first time. A dull, distant pain was the first sensation I knew. Even the simple act of raising eyelids evoked the primal knowledge that I was in pain. But, it took some concentration for me to register that the sensation was linked to me.

However, the owner of the agony let out several long groans. Out of panic I tried to look around for the source of the noise. Ignoring my urging, my vision remained steadfastly focused ahead. Another grunt mixed with the rattling of chains. As the fruitless exertions subsided my eyes adjusted to the lightless gloom.

Though lacking any color our surroundings became clearer. The room was a single domed chamber. In the center was a slab of stained rock. Around it flocked smaller, wheeled trays covered in various items. My attention was drawn to various eldritch marks carved into the stone altar. Then, I noticed the same marks were in circles all around the room and even on the ceiling.

My view suddenly dropped then. It took me a second of focus to realize that the strength to look around had fled my neck. I suddenly felt nausea when I noticed a pool of blood below me. Tracing the source lead to my own thick, powerful legs. Both lower limbs ended in scaled feet that were thoroughly coated in the drying liquid.

My eyes traced the blood of their own accord to block of stone in the middle of the room. If what was below me was a lake, an ocean of the crimson elixir stained that rock. My stomach turned at the amount. I asked,

“Where am I?”

“Ah, you're awake,” rumbled a voice so loudly I feared the ceiling would collapse upon me.

A deep, rasping voice spoke of it’s own accord from my lips, “What?”

“I didn’t say that,” I stammered.

“I see,” rumbled the loud voice.

Fear rose in my gullet as I demanded, “What do you see?”

“Introductions are in order first. I am Ieak'Osh, subject fifteens.”

“Subject fifteen? I have a name!”

“And it is of no consequence. You’re the lesser part of subject fifteen. I can barely sense you. Now, the other subject fifteen, are you awake?”

I heard a sharp rasp. It repeated several times. I stammered, “I think the other one cannot speak.”

“He can,” assured Ieak’Osh, “He just doesn’t do so as naturally as you. Subject fifteen, don’t use your mouth. Push your thoughts outward.”

More hisses came before a word broke through, “Pain.”

“Ah, I believe he can’t focus because of the pain,” I explained.

Ieak’Osh acquiesced, “That’s fine. At least I know he can hear me. Now, you now have a choice. Do you wish to escape?”

I was irritated by this. What sort of question was that? I was chained up in a blood soaked chamber. Anyone would want to escape!

Yet, the other one’s answer didn't come immediately. Instead our vision became transfixed upon the slab. It was then we recalled something we had no memory of. In hindsight I know now what we saw. Ieak'Osh showed us what he had borne witness to through our own eyes. What had prompted his actions.

The vision was vivid. Even the scent of blood filled our nostrils. Pain even sharper than what was present now tore at us. Unlike now, I was could feel every torn nerve. Worse yet, our flesh was paralyzed. Unable to wince, whine, cry or scream, we could only lay still.

Above us was a woman speaking to herself. I recognized that her voice was the same as the one that had beckoned me into the dream. Her face was uncomfortably close to ours but her brilliantly emerald gaze was transfixed on our chest. Unable to move, the agony made it clear that we were cleaved open.

It was then she raised a gore stained hand from my cavity with a pulsing organ gripped firmly in her grasp. She lifted to examine the grisly piece of our biology. She muttered, “Still not enough. I’ll need to reinforce the musculature.” Reaching with free hand, she picked up some pick-like tool from a cart. It crackled with electricity at her touch.

Terror rose in me. I could only watch helplessly as the tool closed in. My internal screams and pleading died before I could even make them. Then, pain. Sharp, absolute and indescribable pain just tore through every inch of my existence.

“Get me out of here!” We bellowed in unison to Ieak'Osh. His response came swiftly. The chains all but instantly shattered. Fear of the woman overrode any pain and fatigue we’d had. Scrambling past the stone, we pulled ourselves up the narrow stairway on all four limbs. Our manic ascent sent us crashing through a wooden door.

From the bloody depths we stumbled into a hallway. A luxurious carpet ran its length and the stark contrast left us dumbfounded for a moment. Amid the shower of wooden shrapnel we now stood in the otherwise pristine passage. Paintings hung on one side. Alternating on the opposite wall were long mirrors and windows that let in the full moon's light. My own focus became transfixed upon the closest mirror. And once more, I was stricken with terror.

Reflected on the affectionately cleaned surface was a creature. Yellow eyes with a black slit down the center sat protectively recessed from a short snout. Pristine fangs filled the gaping jaw. The underside of the creature was a darkly tanned hide while dark blue scales armored the rest. We stared at the reflected being.
I urged subject fifteen to move away from the image. When we tried to escape the mirror’s illusion we passed a second one and halted again. No matter how much I desired it, the being in the mirror refused to look away from me. Disgusted with its constant mockery, I roared in fury. My will drove a fist into the mirror. Now dozens of distorted clones stood in defiance of my desires.

Whether I wanted to admit it or not, this was my appearance. How had I come here? Who or what was I? Question upon question paralyzed me. For the first time in a short eternity, my mirror self pried his gaze away. Subject fifteen continued his escape by proceeding into an open room supported by thick, marble pillars. I reminded myself, “Right, we have to get out of here before she finds me.”

It didn't take long for us to locate our escape route in the form of a pair of large double doors. They weren’t even locked and we just managed to duck under to get outside. This brought us face to face with a lush garden of flowers on either side of a paved path that lead up to the manor.

A wall of ivory painted brick lined the compound and it was then I discovered the advantage of being a monster; Such things weren't much of a barrier to us. Every taloned digit on subject fifteen’s four limbs made it simple to clamber over.

Beyond the white walls were rolling hills and a forest I could see beyond. Instinct drove us to seek the protective boughs. Drawing ever closer to the forest, we were halted at its edge. Something between a scream and roar pierced our skull. At the same instant a light so grand that it banished the night's shadows poured out of the mansion.

Expelled skyward from the edifice was a winged serpent. It's body was so long it took a minute for the whole length to coil up in the sky. Pale green scales and white feathers all gave off light that beat back the night sky back into its azure color. Now the woman's voice returned. This time it was tinged with barely constrained fury as she commanded, “Return.”

Subject fifteen’s legs locked in place. A single, clawed hand rose and inch by inch. The arm twisted on its own towards the serpent. I felt fear rising in my own gullet but it was dwarfed by the terror soaking me from Subject fifteen. Just as in the vision, his body was under her sway and he could do nothing against it. Refuting
the command I screamed out, “No!”

The hand shook, spasmed and dropped.

“Return!” Bellowed the serpent woman once more. Yet, my shout had stolen control back. Fleeing into the forest, we nestled into a divot with our hands over our head. The light of the serpent was visible even through our clenched eyes. With ebbing fury, she pelted us with commands. Not once did our body listen to her anymore. When her voice was on the verge of tears she asked, “Can you find him, Ieak'Osh?”

“He is too small and weak, I'm sorry to say. He won't answer me,” lied the voice. A sensation ran through our head that evoked the image of a bow as he promised, “The instant I can, I'll direct him back to you my lady.”
Her voice was choked by misery when she said, “Then I shall leave it in your hands for now. I have too many things to attend to.”

The night sky once more reclaimed it's obsidian hue.

“So, what now?” I demanded with equal exhaustion to the woman's.

“That is up to you,” Ieak'Osh failed to hide a sense of amusement in his tone. Before I realized it, we'd drifted off to sleep within the dream. Though not much time had passed since my initial awakening, it'd left me exhausted. Even so, when I slipped into the darkness no rest would come our way. Instead, I once more saw memories I had no recollection of.


A Girl:

My chest heaved with each ragged breath. Low reaching branches groped at the rough woolen fabric I'd carefully chosen to wear in my escape. My clothes were cumbersome, unsuited to a forest flight but I couldn't spare the air to curse him more. Thus I had to endure the wooden claws tearing at everything I wore.

Having long since lost my shoes to the mud and my own desperation slowed my pace to avoid anything that'd cripple me. Gritting my teeth was all I could do to keep going. Streaks of red lined my long legs matching the cuts along my arms. The forest was too thick to navigate safely here and the night was too dark. This would be my only road to salvation. I had to keep off the main path or else it would all be in vain. My heart hammering in my ears almost drowned out the barks of HIS dogs.

Pumping one leg after another and avoiding anything dangerous took all my focus. Thus, it was too late when I darted around a thick oak only to realize all too late it had rested at the edge of a small crevasse. It had been hidden by the rising slope I'd been climbing. Open air caressed me all over as gravity took its due. Tears poured from my shut eyes as I accepted death. At least HE would never have me and I'd never have to look upon him. Unfortunately, fate wasn't so kind.
My eyes fluttered open at the bottom. Despite my inability to move I could still look up. The fall hadn't been as long as I had expected and hoped for. Lights swayed this way and that above. A few stones from someone skidding to a stop had been what awakened me, one having landed only inches from my crippled form.

I could see HIS darkened face illuminated by moonlight. His cold, blue eyes stared down at me with a sneer. His dogs were barking down at something. He was yelling something but my ears were broken so I couldn't hear anything. All too late I saw the yellow eyes of the beast before its fangs sank into her throat. Perhaps this was to be my freedom?
In a pitch black void, I laid as the beast had found me. This new one had the same feral, yellow eyes that my killer did. I expected to have my throat torn open again. Instead, trembling fingers it hunched over me. Placing my palm to my shoulder, it seemed to offer something like a prayer. I asked,
“Who are you?”

“I'm not entirely sure,” it admitted. When I looked closer I could see my own blue eyes reflected in the black slit of the beast. Cocking its head to the side the beast inquired, “Were you the one I saw being hunted?”
Somehow, I managed to weakly bob my head in agreement. Somehow, I spoke despite my torn open throat, “Yes, I was hunted. My name is Gera.” My eyes widened in shock that such natural actions were afforded to a dead woman.

“Why?”

“My father was lied to. I was to marry a nobleman's son in exchange for money. Instead, I was ravaged and married to him. So, I fled.”

It was then that a deep, rumbling voice broke through. His amusement plain as he explained, “You have another choice, subject fifteen. This girl is dead, there's nothing you can do about that. But, her soul isn't ready to cross over. So, will you carry her with you or force her across and risk injury?”

The beast snarl in irritation by his words. Yet subject fifteen spoke with surprising calm, “That is her decision to make.”
Reaching up, my fingers touched the tip of its snout. The beast shook its head and pulled away at my embrace. Somehow, it reminded me of a child. With a giggle I acquiesced, “I'll accompany this kind monster.”

A chill ran up my spine as I felt my body change. A hand to my throat let me feel it sew itself shut. In fact, it was impossible to tell the wound had ever been there. Then, the void swallowed everything up.

My eyes opened once more to see the forest in a fog soaked dawn. Nestled in a divot with its hands over its head was the beast. Grunts and snarls from being sore and cramped came as it stretched out to stand. The noise was highlighted by an unmistakable stomach growl. My eyes locked on a nearby white mushroom, “It's not much of a start but those mushrooms are edible.

“That's a good start. Those two are ignorant of the world. Keep vigil over them,” ordered the booming voice. The beast made no sign of hearing it, however. My restored form let me choose to float or walk along the ground as I pleased but I couldn't go far from the beast.
After devouring the mushroom in a single gulp, we delved further into the forest. Every now and then the beast would stop to look skyward. After a heartbeat, it would continue. Though the exact forest was unfamiliar, I had grown up the daughter of a hunter and knew the forest well. So, I would do as the voice had bid me, and keep an eye on him.


Subject Fifteen:

Those first few days were a struggle against my own body. Hunger simply tore at me at all times. Every command I ordered of my form took seconds to implement. This made my only option to stave off starvation was scavenging since I had no strength to catch anything.

What kept me going was Gera's knowledge of edible plants. The other 'subject fifteen's' running dialogue with Ieak'Osh. And mostly, the terror of being caught once more by the serpent woman. I'd travel for a few minutes and collapse for various lengths of time. Darkness swallowing my vision while I struggled to process whatever I'd manged to get my fangs into.

I don't know how many days after my escape it came but a single stroke of luck came my way. Leaning against a tree to support my trembling legs, I heard a warning bark. A horned animal with thick, reddish fur snarled at me. I'd stumbled not only into its territory but the whole of its family. With scales and claws, even an animal knew me as a predator.

Even if I had been built to prey on other creatures, I was devoid of strength to do so. My heart sank as I watch the creature dig its hoof into the dirt. I asked as a shiver ran down my spine, “I'm about to die, aren't I?”

“That's a Red buck. They're really aggressive in defending their family,” Confirmed Gera as the creature charged. Death had come. Part of me accepted it. At least there would be no more pain like what that women had done to us. Closing my eyes, I waited to feel the sharp points of the horns tear me open.

Once more, the other me overrode me acceptance. As he had done when the serpent commanded me to return, he took control. Forcing aching, degrading muscles to work, I caught the buck. Spurned on by his own desperation, I roared. Pain flared in every muscle as I lifted the animal into the air.

That act sapped whatever our will had built up. With a loud crunch, the buck fell back to the ground. Its legs spasmed a few times before falling utterly still. Looking at the dead creature, something welled up. Glands in my mouth began to produce so much saliva it hurt. My eyes shut.
What followed was a frenzy of noises. A manic symphony of shrieks, the glopping of flesh and snapping of my own jaw. I knew I was eating. And that was all that mattered. From my stomach, heat spread. Warmth flared throughout my entire body.

I only became aware of passing out by virtue of awakening. As my eyelids rose, for the first time, no pain greeted me. Even more than that, a simple flexing of my hand made me feel strong. The carcass before me had been thoroughly gutted. Scraps of flesh clung to me and I wiped them off. Opening my mouth wide, I let out a roar. Something in me felt the need to announce my newfound strength.

Immediately I was scolded by the other, “Shut it! What if she hears us?”

“Let her! Now that I have eaten I can take her!”

“No! We can't! She's massive! All she would have to do is bite us in half!”

“She couldn't catch me!”

I winced as the booming voice of Ieak'Osh returned, “She wouldn't have to.”

“Must you be so loud as well?” groaned the other one.

“Ah, am I loud to you? How about now?” his volume quickly became more managable.

In tandem both of us breathed, “Thank you.”

“Now that you're fed. Do you have a plan? Evading her is no simple task.”

Both of us fell silent. I'd been so focused on the pain and hunger my mind had room for nothing else. Even my other self seemed to be at a loss by his silence. I simply stared down at the lifeless eyes of my prey. It's black orb stared at its killer accusingly. Ieak'Osh then chided, “I'm not expecting you two to have a plan. I just want you to consider what you'll do moving forward. After all, you've got a Goddess hunting for you now.”

“What do we do then?” the other self questioned.

“That's up to you. I'm just giving you a warning.”

Images of the great serpent in the sky made me shiver. Remembering the buck's charge made my body quake. I blurted out, “I'm scared.”

“There are two ways to deal with fear,” opined Ieak'Osh, “Either flee from it or gain knowledge and disarm the fear.”

“Tell us, who is hunting us.”

“She is the Goddess Lesara.”

The other self queried, “Is there a way to be free of her?”

“Be more powerful than her.”

“Are you?”

“No.”

Together, both of my selves said, “Then we have no choice but to flee and keep running.”

With that, I took a step away from my victim. The buck had sacrificed everything to protect its family. So, I offered a quick nod in respect for that and departed. I needed to keep moving to evade the so-called Goddess serpent. That is all I could do, for now.

Higurro
March 1st, 2017, 08:09 PM
Hi there!

Well, I've not commented on here in a little while, and I've not read what was previously directed to you, so I hope you find this useful and not in any way just a rehashing of what you've previously heard.

In a letter to his brother in 1886, giving him some advice on writing, Anton Chekhov wrote, "You’ll have a moonlit night if you write that on the mill dam a piece of glass from a broken bottle glittered like a bright little star, and that the black shadow of a dog or a wolf rolled past like a ball”. More often you'll see that quotation paraphrased as

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."

Apologies if you don't need this explaining, but it's basically saying that sensory impressions should be given directly, rather than merely implied. If you describe the quality of shadows and light on water, and convey a fragment of glass twinkling out of the darkness, the image of a moonlit night is already there without it needing to be stated. I think the reason this is good practice is that it's how we actually experience the world. In this, there's a little bit of telling the reader about moonlight going on (although it's not across the board), so maybe that's something for you to keep an eye out for.

Another thing you might bear in mind (related to the above) is filtering. This is when the experiences of the character are filtered through their senses - i.e. one writes "John could see the moon was shining," which isn't as good as, "The moon was shining," which in turn isn't as good as, "on the mill dam a piece of glass from a broken bottle glittered like a bright little star". To be honest, even Chekhov's version is a touch cumbersome. Ellen Brock has a very good video on this (https://youtu.be/ToZorCVQeXo), which is worth a look.

Generally, this isn't a genre I'm much read in. I've read David Wong's book John Dies at the End, and its sequel This Book is Full of Spiders, and enjoyed both. I think the reason I enjoyed them was two-fold: they are very honest American literature (i.e. they're set in America, concern modern American culture and the experiences of young, lower income white males, which is interesting to a certain extent) and they contain a decent slug of wit, humour and humanity. The fact that they also contain body horror, bizarre monsters, the occult and graphic violence is merely the dressing they use to go about telling the story; they're not the story in itself. What I'm trying to say is, don't get too hung up on plot - in some senses what actually happens can be often less important than how it happens, at least for the enjoyment of the reader. I got the slight sense while reading this that it was done as a series of events, told in pretty linear fashion. If storytelling is to be about more than plot, and to contain an emotional core (which I think it must to really connect with a reader), then ensuring the reader has a link to the events unfolding is key. David Wong can do this even when the subject matter is totally fantastical (such as being transformed into a monster) because the sense of a real human being, their feelings, their struggles, their relationships to other people, are all present and all relateable.

Let me just pick out one sentence that was particularly jarring for me (personal opinion, of course): "Pumping one leg after another and avoiding anything dangerous took all my focus."

That's not a visceral description of fleeing through a darkened forest. "Pumping one leg after another..." is a touch too literal; we know what running involves, and I don't think there's good cause here to slow up the action just to point out that it involved moving first one leg, and then the other. That's followed up with "and avoiding anything dangerous...", which is the kind of language you'd use in the instruction manual for a "How to Escape a Dark Forest" handbook. If you were writing a list of things to do while fleeing in a dark forest, "Avoid anything dangerous" might be number two or three, but it's not giving the reader anything like the impression of being there, doing it.

So, I feel to an extent that your narrator is taking describing the action oddly, as though they're a former closed-caption writer who used to adapt TV programs for the hard of hearing, and can't let go of their former life (matter of fact, that could be a pretty interesting character background now I think of it...). Then, they periodically filter that result through their senses, making it still more remote. Compounding the problem (at least for me) is the fact that the actual events taking place are so removed from reality that I couldn't find a way in, emotionally. Even the wildest theme park ride has to have a place for people to get on and off, after all.

Just finally, I'd suggest scrapping the first three paragraphs altogether. They're ponderous and serve little purpose. In fact, because they inform the reader that "all this happened a long time ago", as it were, one goes in knowing the stakes are lower. There are a few grammatical errors here and there, and also you might look at your sentence length. Almost all of the sentences in the passage above are roughly the same length, with only a few long or short ones, and not much in the way of variation structurally. It's an aesthetic decision to be made, but getting it right can allow one to use the cadence of the writing to contribute to its emotional thrust.

Anyway, hope that helps! I really liked the idea of being trapped in a body that isn't one's own, struggling to deal with a will that wants to go its own way, being affecting by horrors one has seen, so if starting with an emotional link between the reader and the character, and carefully nurturing it through immersion in compelling experiences, this story could be great. Don't forget that the source of horror is often not the simple description of the grotesque, but rather the psychological implications that follow on. Think of The Shining - it's horrifying because it subverts the protective strength of the father figure - and the vulnerability of the child and mother - to twist the real experiences we all known of family life into something horrifying. It's the familiarity with the things being subverted that causes the emotional link, and hence the horror, even though the actual content of The Shining (topiary animals that come to life? Puhlease...) is completely removed from reality.

Keep working away. My advice is to stop with this now and move onto something else, but don't just start at the beginning and write until the end - start with the emotional point of contact and then work out how that can be used to give real psychological impact, and you'll be sorted! All best.

bdcharles
March 2nd, 2017, 11:12 AM
Hi,

There's alot about this I like - it's quite Clive Barker-ish, with peculiar monsters and strange situations and the voice too, which has a particular feel to it, sort of epic, otherworldly, wonderfully unhinged, like a text written in the midst of a kundalini crisis, or from the point of view of a possessing demon. I quite enjoy reading about Ru'sala, and you have many vivid sentences that really lift up the piece.

That said, I would say that for the same reason I never managed more than a couple of Clive Barker's books, I found myself skimming here - namely that it is sometimes a little too challenging (for me) to ascertain what is going on. Lots of strange names, bits of speech coming out of nowhere and so on, all very pinned closely to the narrator/s. However I am aware that this is primarily a limitation of myself rather than your writing, so no real need to address that unless you specifically want there to be more external descriptions.

A few small typos, insiginificant really but I thought I'd mention them:

Repetition:
Thus, it was too late when I darted around a thick oak only to realize all too late it had rested at the edge of a small crevasse.

Errors:
A single, clawed hand rose and inch by inch.

Grammar:
Somehow, I spoke despite my torn open throat,[<- full stop? colon?] “Yes, I was hunted.
“Return!” B[<- lower case b]ellowed the serpent woman once more