A Tale of two kings - chapter 1


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  1. #1

    A Tale of two kings - chapter 1

    Hey there.

    I stated to write my own fantasy novel, the very first I have ever written. I have write short stories before, but not anything in this scale.
    English is not my native language, but I hope that the words I used are not too distracting.

    I would like to have some feedback about the first chapter. What is good, what should I improve?
    I tried to introduce the setting and the main character(s), and tried to sow some seeds that will come up later in the story. How did I succeed?
    Now on to the story itself:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter one: The honored quest

    Khaynd tried to peek over the young guardsman’s shoulder at what the dwarf smith was doing. He was not the only one with that kind of aspiration; it seemed all the children of Ravenhill were there, and at least half of towns youth, his peer, as well. It had been a lot worse before Mayor Thomas appointed town guards to keep the viewers out of the smithy. Now at least the grown-ups left the gentle old dwarf to work in relative peace, even though whenever they walked past the smithy to cross the Whitefoam-river over the newly renovated bridge , or back through the town square past the temple on their way to the mines on the hills, they all seemed to slow their steps to have a better look of what might be happening there. For everyone knew that what was happening was extremely rare: The last magical sword had been forged during the Great orcish invasion over two hundred years ago, and was now one of the most precious heirlooms of the Academy.

    -“Do you see anything?” His sister whispered in his ear.

    -“Nothing yet Rose. Jeria won’t let me get any closer” Khaynd replied, also in lowered down voice.

    -“Let me talk to him.” She said and started to wiggle her way in front of Khaynd. It was a bit tricky since her white robe seemed to entangle with everything possible. She was still getting used to it, and being too big for her did not help. Their mother had made it to her for the ceremony not a week ago, and she deliberately made it to have some room to grow on her. “No use to have the robe being too small for you after two weeks.” She had said to her. She finally got in front of Khaynd, and since the crowd did not let him to take any steps back it put her practically hugging the young guardsman. It put her in awkward position; since Jeria was two years older, he was also a full head taller than Rose. Despite it, she tried to look him in the eyes as she asked:

    “Hey there Jeria! Why don’t you let us in? You know we don’t disturb the work, we just wanted to take a look.”

    Jeria did not look at her though, and wisely so as he never could refuse anything from her when she looked at him with her bright blue eyes. Instead he kept his eyes fixed on the crowd as he replied:

    “You know how it is. No admittance except for town council business. I’m sorry.”

    “I know. But a little peek would not disturb the work at all. “

    “Even then I have my orders. Besides, if my father would find that out I would get in big trouble. You don’t want me to get in trouble do you Rose?”

    “Of course not. I was just teasing you… So when are you getting off?” Rose asked.

    “Not until sundown I’m afraid.” Jeria replied.

    They were interrupted by Pierce, an apprentice of the Ravenhill’s town smith. He needed to get out to the riverfront, so Jeria started to disperse the crowd so he could get through. Khaynd decided to go with Pierce to get the water.

    “How is it going?” Khaynd asked him the minute they got away from the crowd.

    “OK I guess. It seemed strange to not work on anything but merely assist master Tibalt, who himself is not doing much in his own smithy since the High Runesmith Thromningarth brought with him his own assistant from the Thargan mountains.”

    “Well, at least you get to see it all happening” Khaynd said with the mixture of awe and envy.

    “I guess you are right” Pierce replied after a short pause. “It is quite an honor to even be a part of making something that will still be here generations after we are all gone”.

    They walked to the waterfront in silence, both pondering what Pierce had said. Once they got there, Pierce handed the bucket to Khaynd and said:
    “Here, you take the water. That way you too get to be a part of making this legendary blade.”

    Khaynd was stunned as he took the bucket: “Really, would you do that for me?” He stuttered.

    Pierce nodded solemnly. Almost misty-eyed Khaynd turned to water. “The muddy waters of the riverbanks was no good for the sword.” Khaynd thought and decided to wade a little deeper, where the current was stronger. There he sunk the bucket, to get not just the light surface water, but the very essence of the river itself. The spring waters that came down from the White mountains was still too cold stay for long, and as he headed back to the shore he started to shiver. He handed the now full bucket to Pierce and started to squeeze the water out of his pants. His deerskin boots were now muddy from the shallows, but in his mind that was all worth it. They headed back to the smithy.

    “The star had now been burned all away you know.” Pierce told. “What metal it left behind is being formed many times over, but I think he is almost done now. The basic shape of the sword starts to be visible.”

    “Thanks for letting me know.” Khaynd replied.

    They waved each other goodbye as Pierce went inside the smithy and Khaynd joined Rose who were talking to three other youngsters on the edge of the crowd.

    “Sorry Nardo, but we have to get going home now.” Rose said to the leader of the trio as she turned to Khaynd to leave.

    “Come on Rose, you know you want to. Just admit it already.” Nardo replied, his voice half-persuading and half-annoyed.

    Rose did not react to it, but kept walking away.

    “Your sister would have done it!” Nardo shouted after her. That certainly did get a reaction, but probably not the one Nardo would have hoped. She whirled around with her eyes blazing with rage.

    “Only thing Lily would have given to you was her fist in your teeth!” She shouted. “And the only thing stopping me to do likewise right now is my wows!"

    Khaynd believed her, at least the part about Lily. She had always been the more wild of the twins, getting in trouble because of her temper. Rose on the other hand had always been the more even-tempered, always kind and friendly. This kind of outburst from Rose was unheard of, so Khaynd was not sure what would have happened if she had not been appointed a priestess of Trielon just a few days ago. So surprising was it that even Nardo seemed to quail her. She stormed off, and this time Nardo kept his mouth shut.

    Khaynd hurried up to catch Rose. She seemed to calm a little, but she still was far from herself. Khaynd put his hand on her shoulder and asked:”Are you alright?”

    She looked at him with sadness in her blue eyes. The same sadness that Khaynd had seen there from time to time during the last winter. This time there was more of it than a long time, really since the last summer after the war ended.

    “I miss her too.” Khaynd said empathetically. She nodded, and then gave Khaynd a hug. The hug lasted a while. Khaynd could only imagine how she might feel. Even though Lily was his sister, she was her twin. They were inseparable before the war. Whatever happened that fateful night was unknown to him, but something must have happened. Rose seemed to know, but she was unwilling to talk about it. Their mother knew at least part of it but after she gave him scolding he has not had since childhood as an answer to his questions he rather not asked her again. Lily had been really sick, so their mother had bluntly commanded him to mind his own business and leave Lily alone. Shortly after that their father went on a trip with her, and came back from their travel without Lily. He had told them she was all right, but wouldn’t’ be coming home anymore. She had a new place to live now, and a new master to study under.

    Finally, after a long time Rose pull out of the hug. “Thanks. I really needed that.” She said and smiled a little. Some sadness still remained in her eyes, but she seemed mostly at herself now. They continued to walk in silence, until they come to the Bluefeather ranch, their home, which had been in their family for generations. It was one of the first estates in Ravenhill, predating even the town itself, or the mines on the hills that gave the town its name and most of its revenue. Just as they walked through the gate they saw Bohar, their stableboy, farmhand, janitor and handyman all rolled in to one. He greeted them gleefully and said:

    “Cutting kinda close don’t you think? Your mother came a while ago, and Meja has already set the table. Even If you’d go straight to the dining room I doubt you could make there in time.”

    “Thanks for the heads up. We kind of lost a track of time, and then were detained. You know how it goes.” Rose said and smiled as thanks. What started from a corner of her mouth quickly spread to the whole mouth, and were dangerously close to drive the last remnants of sadness from her eyes.

    “My pleasure. I’m sure your mother would have no problem for figuring out extra work in the temple for you Rose if you are late. Khaynd on the other hand should really be worried. She is not that fond of you as is, loitering near the smithy day in and day out. So start figuring out some excuses, you are going to need them, even more so if you happen to be late.”

    “Well then we should not have her wait too long, should we?” Khaynd replied with a grin, and started to run toward the west side of the mansion. His plan was to cut through the kitchen to the dining room. Rose tried to yell something, but Khaynd did not hear it. He went through the kitchen door, waved hi to Seave, their main chef who was in the middle of making their main course, some sort of game hen in the looks of it, and went straight through the door to the dining hall.

    It happened to be bad luck that Meja was just next to the door as he bumped through it and straight in to her. And equally bad luck was it that she happened to have a bowl of hot soup on her hands. Of course she loosed her balance and dropped the bowl. The bowl hit the floor and shattered, spraying the hot soup all over the floor, and also at the feet’s of the poor maid burning her. She screeched in pain and fell to the floor, luckily away from the soup to roll in agony. The whole incident had happened in an instant. Khaynd looked in horror what have happened, and then raised his gaze to the room full of people looking at him. Grandpa Kaela was at the head of the table, at his right side sit Khaynd’s father Abel and next to him was a man Khaynd did not know before but could guess that he was the man this dinner was organized for. On the other side of the table sat his mother Nydera and Khaynd’s older brother Kedore. Couple of chairs were still empty, for him and Rose. Gwoe Longline, their head housekeeper was on the other side of the room with the drink kart.

    In his mind it took ages, but in reality,it happened in merely seconds. Everyone started to shout exactly the same time, as time started to move at regular speed again. His brother and mother both came towards him and Meja. Kedore pulled him aside so Nydera could tend Meja’s injury. Gwoe brought her a towel so she could dry out the soup from her legs. Then Nydera put her hands on Meja’s ankles, where the burns were most severe. She closed her eyes and focused her healing powers through her hands to heal the burnt skin. It was a wonderous thing, and still Khaynd knew that his mother had healed much worse injuries as a high priestess of Trielon, a goddess of healing. Their guest was impressed by it nonetheless, and watched the procedure intrigued. Not awed though, Khaynd noticed, and thought that this man had probably seen similar things before.

    After a while, when Meja was well enough Nydera pulled a chair for her to sit and said: “Now rest. Even the spirits can do only so much, and with that you still need time to regain your strength. Please join us for dinner, we have an extra plate that would otherwise be wasted tonight.”

    She looked at Khaynd pointedly. Kedore needed no other commands. He grabbed Khaynd by the shoulders and said: "Ok, let’s go.” as he started to lead him out of the dining room, through the main hall and up the stairs to the hallway where their rooms were. Rose just came out of her room. She was now wearing her blue dress, that she only wore on special occasions such as this dinner was supposed to be. She looked at them with question in her eyes. Khaynd could not give her an answer, just a croked half-smile and baffeled look in his eyes.
    When they got to Khaynd’s door, Kedore said:

    “I don’t know what possessed you to rush in there like that, but you better have some explanation to all this when mom comes to talk to you. It might take a while, probably after Mathias have left, so you should have enough time to come up some semi-decent lie by then.”

    “But it was not my fault really…” Khaynd started.

    “Save it for later. I have to get back down. It was shame really that you weren’t on time, I think you would have liked Mathias and the stories of his many adventures.”

    And with that, Kedore left back to where he came. Rose was also gone, probably downstairs where she would find what had happened. Dumbfounded, Khaynd went to his room. He sat at the edge of his bed, and started to ponder why this kind of things always seemed to happen to him.
    Without thinking about it he started to lay down on his bed. He did not remember in time that his boots were still muddy, and now his linen were also soiled by it. He instantly rose back up, and started to take his bootstraps off. Once he got his boots off he went to his closet to see if there was something to get the mud cleaned off of them. There were a lot of stuff there: Some things of weekly use, more items which had use less often, and even more broken or otherwise unusable items. There were some old mementos where he spends some time to reminisce where he had acquired them and what stories they contained. Finally, he found a brush and some rags to fight his battle with, and got to work.

    That kept him occupied for a while, until someone knocked on his door. Khaynd had not realized how long had it took to clean his boots. They still were not perfect, he needed water for that, and even then it might leave a permanent stain on the leather. Somebody knocked again, and this time Khaynd said: “Oh, come in please.” Even though Kedore had said that their mother would come to scold him, the person who come in was his father, in which Khaynd was grateful. He was much gentler than Nydera, who had infamously bad temper when things went sour, and Khaynd could attest to that for sure. He had dark hair and green eyes same as Khaynd. Kedore had gained attributes from both of their parents, he had brown hair and his eyes were a mix of green and blue, where their mother and Rose were blonde with blue eyes. Lily came after their father same as Khaynd, although her personality definitely came from their mother.

    Abel come in and shut the door behind him. He looked at Khaynd’s bed with a surprised look on his face and asked: “What happened here?”
    Before Khaynd could get a word out of his mouth, Abel shook his head and said: “Never mind, I don’t think I want to know the answer. Just make sure to clean it up yourself. Meja can’t help you today, she will have rest of the day off. But that is not what I come here to talk about. Sit with me here, and let’s talk man to man.” He sat at his bed and tap place beside him. Khaynd joined him there.

    “For man you are, even if not yet officially.” Abel started. “Your brother’s future is clear, he shall have this estate when the time comes. Rose have already chosen her path, becoming a priestess younger than anyone in living memory. You on the other hand had not yet chosen yourself a profession. You can farm, tend animals, fish from the river, and in the woods you can hunt small animals, and gather berries, mushrooms and wild herbs really well. Your mother had thought you basics of healings. Your friends have introduced you to the work in the smithy or in the service of the town guards. In none of those you are not good enough to provide yourself a living that way though, and not even speaking about your wife and children down the road. We have given you time to find your own way. Since that has not happened we have decided that maybe it is time for you to see the world, same as I did when I was younger, before the first war against the undead, before I had any of you or the responsibility of this estates yet. As exciting as it was, it broadened my views, and I am better for it. And I think you will be better for it as well.”

    “What do you mean by that dad? Khaynd asked.

    “We have not yet decided that. As you know in this village there is a custom that every male must go to the Forest of memories to get himself something that will show him a direction for his life before he is consider a man grown. Some get flowers from the meadows, some catch a wild animal, some go as far as the ruined settlements of the Ancients to find pottery or mason work that are lost to this time. Some hope to find riches or ancient artifacts. None of it matters though, as the thing you are looking for will be found inside yourself. It is easier to find for those whose life have already laid before them: Maybe they are apprentices like your friend Pierce, or have learned their parent’s profession like Jeria. Maybe they have somebody in their life they wish to share their life with. You have none of it, so you have longer way to go, literally as well as figuratively.”

    Khaynd thank about it for some time, and Abel let him do so. It was a welcome change to a boy who always seemed to act before he thanked things through. Finally, Khaynd asked: “When am I supposed to go on this journey?”

    “Well, it is for you to decide. But I think you should wait a week or two before you leave. You might regret it if you would miss how the story of the comet would end.” Abel responded as he smiled encouraging.

    “What should I do until then?” Khaynd asked.

    “Whatever you want. Making independent decisions is the first step toward becoming a man.”

    “What if I would decide that tonight I would like to meet my friends at the tavern? Wouldn’t you have any objections?”

    “None. Have fun.”

    And with that, Abel rose and stepped to the door. With an encouraging look in his eyes, he nodded before he left.
    Khaynd left there with mixed feelings. After a while of pondering, he decided that he would do exactly what he had said to his father. Pierce and Jeria were probably free by now, and he could have a bite to eat since he missed dinner, so the Crow’s nest, towns only inn and tavern was a logical choice. He quickly counted the coins he had: 17 copper pennies, 5 silver leafs, and one golden crown. He put the pennies and one leaf in his pouch, and left the four remaining leafs to keep the crown company in his box of valuables as he left for the evening in town.
    Last edited by Tyrisalthan; April 7th, 2020 at 10:07 PM. Reason: Revisioning the story (as per suggestions)

  2. #2
    Sorry, but I can tell English is not your first language. I have problems taking a document off to work on it so I will just work a little bit.

    Khaynd tried to peek over the young guardsman’s shoulder (at) what the dwarf smith was doing.
    Good beginning, it instantly makes you think 'What was he doing?' Note the 'At', 'To see' would also work, but it needs something.

    He was not the only one though, as it seemed that all the children of Ravenhill was also there,
    He was not the only one; it seemed all the children of Ravenhill were there.
    Note the words I have taken out. 'Also' makes it sound as though Khaynd was not from Ravenhill, 'All the other children from Ravenhill were also there' would work too.

    and at least half of the fellow youngsters as well.
    Are they not included in 'All the children from Ravenhill' ? Whose 'fellows' are they? Maybe lose this, unless he and they are from somewhere else.

    It had been a lot worse before Mayor Thomas appointed town guards to keep the viewers out of the smithy. Now at least the grown-ups left the gentle old dwarf to work in relative peace, even though whenever they walked past the smithy to get to the docks on the riverbanks, or over the newly renovated bridge, or back through the town square to the temple or the mines on the hills, they all seemed to slow their steps
    That is a list of places, and needs the commas I have added. 'Slow', not 'slower', that is the adjective, (for more slow) not the verb

    and leered what might be happening there.
    'Leered' is the wrong word, it has unpleasant sexual connotations, 'Looked to see' or 'Looked at'

    For everyone knew that what was happening was extremely rare: The last magical sword had been forged during the Great orcish invasion over two hundred years ago, and was now one of the most precious heirlooms of the Academy.
    Nice, you have solved the mystery of line one and posed a new one, 'Why do they need a new sword?'

    I know it is not much, I find it hard working in the restriction of the quick reply box, but I hope it helps a bit.
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  3. #3
    Thank you very much for your help.
    I appreciate that you like at least parts of it

    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    He was not the only one though, as it seemed that all the children of Ravenhill was also there,
    He was not the only one; it seemed all the children of Ravenhill were there.
    Note the words I have taken out. 'Also' makes it sound as though Khaynd was not from Ravenhill, 'All the other children from Ravenhill were also there' would work too.


    and at least half of the fellow youngsters as well.
    Are they not included in 'All the children from Ravenhill' ? Whose 'fellows' are they? Maybe lose this, unless he and they are from somewhere else.
    What I tried to say is that:
    a) There are a lot of people there, consisting mostly of kids.
    b Khaynd is from Ravenhill, and so are everybody else from the crowd.
    c) Khaynd is not a child, but a youngster (or teen), hence term "fellow", signifying that he belongs in that group. Even though both 10 years old and 16 years old are still legally underage, they are mentally and physically at different level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post

    Note the 'At', 'To see' would also work, but it needs something.

    That is a list of places, and needs the commas I have added. 'Slow', not 'slower', that is the adjective, (for more slow) not the verb

    'Leered' is the wrong word, it has unpleasant sexual connotations, 'Looked to see' or 'Looked at'
    Thank you for these. I will edit my writing asap.


    What do you (or anybody) think of the main character's name? Is it easy or hard to pronounce? Would some other name service the character better?

    Did the story captivate you? If so, what elements did the trick? If not, what it need more of?

  4. #4
    Member petergrimes's Avatar
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    Hello Tyrisalthan,
    thanks for replying. Finland, that's cool (no pun intended). As I said fair play for posting, putting yourself out there.
    As the Gentleman above points out missing words are a problem. But now you know that, you can work on it. I'm English. I can't speak any foreign languages, let alone read - then write - and be able to express my own imagination in one. I too find I miss words out sometimes. When I re-read a sentence my mind just remembers it how I thought I wrote it. Fills in the blanks how I think they should be. If you have any friends who like writing you could always check each others work. It will all come with practice. You've made a good start.

    The Gentleman who has written above me has made some really good points that will help you. Really good advice. Punctuation and grammar are not my strong points so pay close attention to what he's written (although I wouldn't worry about semicolons ; just yet, most English people would struggle to put them in the right place). Get the basics right and build from there.

    Your vocabulary is very good, I can tell you have read widely. I particularly like how you describe how people are feeling. Also the words directly after someone has spoken. They almost always do a perfect job of showing how they are feeling, or how they are speaking, or where they are going etc. You are good at this. I especially liked

    “Your sister would have done it!” Nardo shouted after her. That certainly did get a reaction, but probably not the one Nardo would have hoped. She whirled around with her eyes blazing with rage.


    “Only thing Lily would have given to you was her fist in your teeth!” Brilliant.

    You have also done a good job of quickly showing the relationships between the characters. Rose and Jeria at the beginning.
    Khaynd and Rose bonding over Lily. There are nice touches throughout. Good shows of empathy.

    I particularly liked the soup scene. I laughed out loud. It seems to me that you know how to build relationships between characters, have a good understanding of phrases and descriptions. Know how to set the scene. I can tell you know lots of what works and how it works. Its just the language barrier that makes it difficult. To be honest it does make it hard to follow in some places. I can see what you're trying to say or the picture you want to paint. It just doesn't quite work because of the language. Don't worry, you have the skills to write a story. It is just a question of getting your English right. That will come with practice.

    That's not to say your English is bad its very good. There are wonderful phrases and sentences and paragraphs, with real craft in them. Its just lots of little errors, things you probably don't see, that break up all the good bits. Make it difficult to read. I feel frustarted for you, for I can see what you are trying to say.
    However there are other bits where the sentence structure, grammar and punctuation are all perfect. So you can definitely do it. You just need practice, practice at writing and practice at checking what you have written.

    I'm afraid you're just going to work extra hard on getting the nuts and bolts of the English right. The boring little things. For I can tell you know how to tell a story, know how it all works, are able to create real dynamics between characters and set the scene well. I like the chapter. Keep at it. At first you will have to go back and carefully check things lots and lots. But the more you do it, the easier it will become. Good work for putting the effort in, taking the chance to pursue your interest in writing. Keep at it. All the best P


  5. #5
    Thank you for your kind words

    Finland is not cool, I mean literally cool, this year there were practically no snow. You start to really see global warming when temperature rises to plus decrees during the winter, since all that should come down as snow will rain as water instead. When it rises from -20 to -10 you don't notice, but when it rises from -5 to +5 you do notice for that exact reason.

    None of my friends write, or at least not in English. Besides I think that the grammar etc would go wrong for them too. Finnish is so different from English that it will warp the way you think. As a language Finnish is easier (really) than English, so much fewer exceptions, so much easier pronunciation, it is more on-point. When I try to translate a Finnish-thanked thought in English it does not always translate well. But I try my best to improve on it. That is why I am here, where native speakers could help me figuring this out.

    I upgraded the story as per suggestions.
    Well... Not always exactly how suggested, but I tried to do something about them without losing the basic idea I was trying to get across.


    So what about the name? Is Khaynd a good name or should I change it? It would be much easier to change it now rather than when the book would be almost done.

  6. #6
    I am reading a book with all Arabic names, all new to me. I realised that I don't actually pronounce the name, and when I think about it I wouldn't know how to, but I know the shape of it, I recognise the individual. That way Kahynd is quite memorable and distinctive. If you are working in something like 'Word' it is actually quite easy to change something that distinctive. Not that I could do it without a bit of research, I am a tech oldie, but I have looked at it. You can get a particular word selected throughout the document and deleted or changed.
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