"A Crisis in Tethyra" (REVISION) | Part 1

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  1. #1
    Member Apex Predator's Avatar
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    "A Crisis in Tethyra" (REVISION) | Part 1

    [A revision of my original chapter opening, hopefully the improvement I've made will better enhance the stories opening.]

    A rising Blue Moon in the east signaled the end of yet another troubled day throughout Tethyra. Such a peculiar heavenly event had brought a frenzied series of events across its scattered lands.

    In the muggy Pangraad jungles, a pack of Ongah traversed the gloomy foliage of their island home. They had had seen the Blue Moon as a message from their gods, and sought to offer gratitude by giving onto them the quarry of their recent hunt. Pressing on as hard as their hardy ape-like bodies could give. They made their way onto the slopes of the mighty brimstone mountain, whose foundations rumbled and fumed from the fires deep below the earth, to cast their hefty bounty into the mountains’ lake of fire - The Caldera of the Gods.

    There were four of them this night. In the rear was Romau, the weakest of the pack, he had brought a howler monkey – a pathetic trophy for any Ongah hunter, for they were easy to kill. In front of him was the older Aaga. On his shoulders he carried a wild boar, a hearty gift of any kind, yet he was angry as he had captured plumper prey. Ahead of him was the slightly stronger Dandaa, who triumphantly carried a spotted panther upon his shoulders. He had been wounded during his hunt; his barreled chest still bleeding from the feline’s mighty paws, while its teeth had left a gaping hole in what used to be his eye. Leading them was Gondwa, the alpha-male and most fearsome Ongah of their island home. Upon his sinewed shoulders he carried a crocodile – the most lethal of all Pangraad quarry. His coarse black fur was fraught with rigid scars, a testament to his years within the wild. He had broken many bones within his hands, feet, chest, arms, legs and face; he had felt the poisoned stings and septic bites of countless crawling creatures, and lodged within his torso were two lead shots – courtesy of scoundrel pirates.

    The last of twilight faded in the west. The Blue Moon rose higher within the ever darkening sky, and against the ashy slopes the four “brothers” muscled their way upward. Mountain climbing was something these hefty brutes were not accustomed to, but they knew their gods would reward such self-determined willpower. After hours of effort the four reached the mountains’ brim, and despite exhaustion from the climb, their shortened breaths were stricken as they gazed into the fiery deep!

    Peering down from the calderas brim, they beheld a most unnerving sight: a massive lake toiling with molten stone, flames hotter than any ember which they could have wrought, noxious gas burning at their noses, and a harrowing sound of thunder underground. Romau quaked with cowardly dread, Aaga did his best remain stern but fear was eminent within his red eyes, Dandaa was overwhelmed with excitement and thrust his prey into the night sky – bellowing out a roar of praise to the gods; but Gondwa remained calm and stern, he feared nothing that crawled or seeped upon the earth.

    Gondwa, as with alpha-male custom, stepped forward facing the molten chasm. He knelt down and laid the crocodile near his feet. He gazed up into a moonlit sky, the tropical clouds parting away, and then he bowed his head and muttered a prayer in a tone too low for any human voice to match – his three brothers waited in silence. When he finished, Gondwa stood up, grasp his crocodile, lifted it high above his head and in his glottal voice he bellowed at the words:

    Da’de khin Naaga”, which in the Ongah tongue means, “Forever we hunt!”

    Gondwa then cast the scaly reptile into the molten lake below! As quickly as the driest kindling burns, the scaly beast was consumed by the fires leaving only a plume of rushing steam from whence it sank. Gondwa stepped aside. Dandaa stepped forth, and in an equal manner repeated his brothers’ prayer, and then he stood and cast his spotted panther into the flames shouting the same phrase; then followed Aaga who cast in his wild boar then Romau who sheepishly tossed his howler monkey.

    After the plumes of the final offering faded away, the four brothers then joined hands within a circle, and on the brim of the Caldera of the Gods they chanted their ancient song of praise – Gondwa leading the chorus:

    Tau khin kroh,
    Ru’aag pan Atrah,
    Haa’ro khin,
    Mughra khin,
    Tau khin wata,
    Tau khin no’ab,
    Khin mku Naaga,
    Khin mku Ha’dekwaa,
    Pan-graad khin mku Napugan,
    Pan-graad ah pan ogila’ha da’de.

    Such a chant in human tongue would say:

    Here we stand,
    Among our fire gods,
    Strong, we are,
    Brave, we are,
    Here we fight,
    Here we die,
    We hill hunt,
    We will survive,
    Our home, we shall defend,
    Our home, and our way of life forever.

    Upon ending their chant, the four brothers glared up into the midnight sky, the Blue Moons’ sapphire glow seemed to give a sense of calm and ease. Glaring down the ash slopes, the gloom and mist of their jungle home had seemed to fade away, and for once in their lives they saw the jungle foliage which lay beneath them as nothing to be dreaded anymore – all except Gondwa, he never feared the jungle wilderness. It was at that moment that they felt as though they were truly blood brothers - Ongahs never married, neither was there concept of wife or husband, nor was there taboo of sex. They shared each other’s bodies without care; though the alpha-males such as Gondwa often got the first of females. He had never known his father, but he regarded all the elder males within his clan with equal reverence. He would never know who his blood siblings were; but after the ritual on the Caldara of the Gods, the four Ongah’s felt a genuine brotherhood.

    Nothing would prepare them for what they were about to witness far within the southern seas.
    "Congratulations, you have wandered off the map!"

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Apex Predator View Post
    [A revision of my original chapter opening, hopefully the improvement I've made will better enhance the stories opening.]

    When he finished, Gondwa stood up, grasp grasped his crocodile, lifted it high above his head and in his glottal voice he bellowed at the words:

    Da’de khin Naaga”, which in the Ongah human tongue means, “Forever we hunt!”

    .................. then Romau who sheepishly tossed his howler monkey.

    After the plumes of the final offering faded away, the four brothers then joined hands within a circle, and on the brim of the Caldera of the Gods they chanted their ancient song of praise – Gondwa leading the chorus:
    Tau khin kroh,
    Ru’aag pan Atrah,
    Haa’ro khin,
    Mughra khin,
    Tau khin wata,
    Tau khin no’ab,
    Khin mku Naaga,
    Khin mku Ha’dekwaa,
    Pan-graad khin mku Napugan,
    Pan-graad ah pan ogila’ha da’de.

    Such a chant in human tongue would say:
    Here we stand,
    Among our fire gods,
    Strong, we are,
    Brave, we are,
    Here we fight,
    Here we die,
    We hill hunt,
    We will survive,
    Our home, we shall defend,
    Our home, and our way of life forever.

    Upon ending their chant, the four brothers glared up into the midnight sky, the Blue Moons’ sapphire glow seemed to give a sense of calm and ease. Glaring down the ash slopes, the gloom and mist of their jungle home had seemed to fade away, and for once in their lives they saw the jungle foliage which lay beneath them as nothing to be dreaded anymore – all except Gondwa, he never feared the jungle wilderness. It was at that moment that they felt as though they were truly blood brothers - Ongahs never married, neither was there concept of wife or husband, nor was there taboo of sex. They shared each other’s bodies without care; though the alpha-males such as Gondwa often got the first of females. He had never known his father, but he regarded all the elder males within his clan with equal reverence. He would never know who his blood siblings were; but after the ritual on the Caldara of the Gods, the four Ongah’s felt a genuine brotherhood.

    Nothing would prepare them for what they were about to witness far within the southern seas.
    A couple of logicals troubled me.... a reader might presume an alpha male in a group is just that one being and he always gets the females , but further expanding the story might see that thought put straight in my head. I'm also uneasy about including real life animal species names in fantasy, such as Howler Monkey, Crocodile might be better as 'lizard' or 'reptile' which you have used, though Boar and felines are generic enough. There were also a couple of 'glares' too close for comfort and the term also has aggressive nuances to it, the reasons for which are not explained. The requirement for fantasy tongue translation into English (Human?) might be wearisome if continued as a practice, so that might be worth thinking about. As there are scoundrel pirates I guess this tribe is also humanoid and in that sense their language is also 'human'. The mention of 'lead shot' suggests technology within the fantasy so that might mean you having to make clear a definition of the kind of world you have in mind. The start is also a little passive and the terms 'wrought' and 'whence' jar a little. It might be better for an intro hook if you could start with something like

    Da’de khin Naaga” “Forever we hunt!”

    or some such. I also noticed the use of the word 'ember' being compared favourably to molten lava when my idea of an ember is a fire close to death.

    On the other hand, the narrative is rich and descriptive, you have a fine way with phrase and adjective which invites the reader to step into an interesting fantasy world. The seeds of tension are also present with the pirates, and the southern seas offer adventures aplenty. You have made a solid start to an adventure that is well worth pursuing so keep at it as I would readily read more. Thanks and regards.
    One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six." From A Child's Christmas in Wales - Dylan Thomas

  3. #3
    You seem to have a knack for description something I lack, so I will give you praise for that particular gift. Like the previous critique, I agree. The use of howler monkeys stood out. If you keep using earth bound names for certain animals your readers will think of home every time they read one. This is my first post and not used to telling other writers their strengths and weaknesses but I will continue. Post more.

  4. #4
    Member SummerPanda's Avatar
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    Interesting, not what I usually read, but well written. It gives a real view into the heads and culture of the Ongah, after that brief scene I feel some understanding of their culture already. The only caution I would give is to be wary of forcing too much explanation in too early. Your readers have the entire story to come to understand the culture and world of the Ongah, you don't need to cram every sentence with as much description as you can, let the reader learn their culture and beliefs from their actions.
    Rather than pointing out how they are different from what we perceive as normal, why not simply approach it from the Ongah point of view, it is normal, and here's why.
    Just my two cents.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. #5
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    I agree that to constantly translate every word or conversation into English would grow tiresome as a reader. It could be stated maybe that the Ongah speak their own native tongue but when words are exchanged, to write it in English, obviously. I could see how it would be tricky though. Its like writing a WW2 story and the main characters are german. Obviously they speak german but through some form of simple understanding, we are able to know what is being said in english. Know what I mean? Hope I made sense.

    Overall, its..... Interesting. If I read the synopsis on the back cover and was made aware of what the story is about as a whole, I might read it. But based on this excerpt alone, I might not.

    But this is what critiquing is all about; feedback from an audience. Good luck!

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