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Strange Eyes (1 Viewer)

comma127

Senior Member
Strange Eyes: Prologue & Blurb

This isn't the entire prologue but I might change the rest before posting, depending on your comments : )

Blurb : The heirs of house VerBissen are dead. The son betrayed by his King and the grandson struck down in the night. Years later the family patriarch is on a dock, a charity auction to keep up appearances, though their house can ill afford it. He sees the haunting shadow of his son on a slave ship. Both his heirs were well known philanders so is it possible that a descendant still lives? The phoenix of house verBissen is about to rise once more. But perhaps it is better for the world if it is left in ashes...

Prologue

“Watch out!” came the warning, moments too late, as the lamp post made a not-so-welcome impression on Ain verBissen’s face. His friend Jake derNormer stood bent over, red faced as his laughs echoed across the now dark streets of Demanse city.

There was little light illuminating the city - the lampposts having ceased to work millennia ago- leaving only the Guild of Jagor glowing distantly on the hill where it had stood for eons. It was an hour past midnight and what was left of the city’s ‘respectable’ citizens had gone to their beds. Most of its streets were now given over to the homeless, the drunk, the drunken homeless and ‘rich vagabonds’ - as they were known throughout the city – like these two gentleman.

“You couln ha’ warn’d meh!” slurred the boy now a man on this, the night of his 23rd birthday, raising his goblet to his mouth, spilling most of it as he belched. His friend’s fresh peals of laughter only enraged him more.

“Ail ge’yu!”Ain shouted, stumbling across the street making a direct trajectory straight into another lamppost. “Oww!” the muffled cry rang out as his face made contact.

“Ain my dear fellow, are you now so desperate for affection that a mere lamppost will suffice?” Came Jake’s mocking voice, further forward than Ain would have expected, and who seemed to be in a greater state of sobriety than he.

“Come on boys we should get back to the guild dorms or they’ll give us demerits” plead the dainty blonde creature on their tails.

The Guild was the one thing in Demanse that had never changed in its entire history. Where most of the city’s buildings were dark and abandoned, the Magicians Guild of Jagor stood overlooking it all, its scoured limestone walls glowing resplendently in the moonlight. Where empires rose and fell, warred and pillaged, abandoned and surrendered, the mages of Jagor stood impassive and resolute; the bastions of justice, peace and prosperity - but only if you believed their party line. It was more likely that they would whore the city over to whichever empire would bid the highest - over and over again till it was a husk of its former triumph.

“Oh yes brother mage, you should get going” Jake said, “we would never want to upset you fair wife now would we?”

“I’m not his wife!” the blonde stamped her foot, “we’re just engaged, Jake”.

Jess glanced around nervously, knowing it was ‘illegal’ to be outside the guild dormitories at night. But students still snuck out occasionally to celebrate the odd birthday or the end of exams with a night of heavy drinking. Of course the Superiors were well aware of this but let it go on, nursing fond memories of their own such misadventures. But if any proof these happenings were presented to the Head Superior… Jess knew that the punishment would be harsh – for student and superior.

“Well you’ll be a widow soon, if we don’t get Ain back” Jake said glancing back to where Ain had collapsed on the cobbled streets. “Come on Ain you don’t want to lie where those filthy peasants have trodden do you?” he said sparing a disparaging glance for the dregs of humanity that clung to the shadows.

The city that had once been a bustling metropolis crammed with carts, wares and people from across the known world was now lucky if a stray peddler dared venture there from the outside world. The marketplace where dozens of tongues from North to South had once peddled their wares, imploring for business, now rang silent but for the drone of the homeless that slept on its streets. It’s only connection to the outside world was the port, where periodic shipments of supplies would arrive.

Jake walked back to where Ain lay sprawled on the street, pulling him onto his shoulders, “Come on Jess, gimme a hand with this” he said.

“Ok fellow, just hold on till we get back to the dorms” he said, shaking his head, still smiling, “though what we’ll do if you need a healer, I have no idea”.

They made their way through Demanse’ abandoned streets, all of them slowly winding up to the hill atop which stood the magnificent guild hall, glowing even at night. But the city itself had a defeated air as if its millennia old bones had finally tired of being fought over and possessed, back and forth like a beautiful jewel that was wanted for its value and prestige but rarely admired for its beauty – and it had precious little left. Jake glanced nervously at the abandoned building feeling, for the first time, slightly uneasy at how far they had wondered into the city slums. The buildings creaked in the wind, their doors swinging from rusted hinges, their fine workmanship laid low by time itself.

Suddenly a shadow detached itself the dark and slinked towards them – menace radiating from him like fumes from naphtha.

Jake swung to face the new threat as Jess cowered behind him.

“Which of you is the heir of house VerBissen?” came the growl, emanating from beneath the hood where the stranger’s face should be. His speech was unusual, spiced with something from a land far away and he smelled of something… acrid.

“Stand aside or face a true scion of Jagor” Jake shouted, his squeaky voice a far cry from the manly roar that his superiors at the academy taught him. His hand felt empty, having left his mage staff back in his dorm room and he was starting to regret wandering so far away from their usual haunts. He cast an elementary shield of protection, nothing powerful but more than enough to keep the homeless at bay. Come to think of it, he’d meant to cast it before tonight’s adventures but it had slipped his mind somewhat.

White teeth suddenly appeared from the beneath the hood, but Jake couldn’t be sure whether it was a snarl or a smile.

“Boy, it has been eons since Jagor had a true scion” the answer floated across the night air, sounding disgusted to Jake’s ears but he couldn’t be sure. “Stand aside or die!” the man hissed, finally letting anger colour his words, as he flung his arms open and a pulsating black energy radiated from his body. Jake felt his shield bend inwards under the sheer presence of the power. What on Shea could create that much pressure? Jake wondered in panic. He redoubled his efforts pushing back with all his reserves of strength, feeling triumphant as his shield started pushing back the magical onslaught. We’ll see who’s a true scion now! he thought, forcing his shield forward by sheer power of will.

“True amateurism” the stranger crooned, and abruptly the pressure was gone; and now Jake felt a harsh magnetic pull. Jake tried to rein in his original push force but it was too late and he felt his shield collapse into the stranger’s energy.

“Enough boy! Tell me which of you is the heir of VerBissen or you will all die!” he bellowed, lunging forward, his claws barely missing Jake.

Claws! Jake thought falling back onto Jess in his panic. “That’s Ain, that’s Ain” he cried out, pointing to Ain, all postures of bravado abandoned, his self preservationist streak overtaking all else as he left his friend lying on the street.

A glow emanated from beneath the hood, searching Jake’s soul, scouring it for the least shred of falsehood. “Good” hissed the creature. Without another word, it sliced its hands – claws! – across Ain’s throat. It was such a hemorrhaging blow that his head only came partway off. Ain’s neck hung open, his blood pouring onto the cobbled streets of Demanse. As his eyes slowly closed and his sight blurred, his last sight on earth was the glowing guild of Jagor, and his blood trickling down into the street.
Now the monster lunged after the fleeing pair, bringing down Jake with another powerful claw, jabbed straight through his back into the heart.

“Why me?” he gurgled as blood poured into his lungs.

“This must happen for the greater good, boy, lest a great evil be loosed upon this world” the monster whispered almost regretful, as he pulled his claw out of Jake, who collapsed on to the ground. He turned away and melted back into the shadows from whence he came,trailing blood from his claws, leaving a hysterical Jess to scramble away to Jagor. Jake was left bleeding into the cobbled embrace of the street, his life force slowly ebbing away.

His last thoughts were of a woman, with an accent not unlike the stranger’s. He and Ain had made love to her in a whorehouse not far from here, barely making it out in time to avoid being caught by Jess. She was a wondrous creature her hair black as a raven, her skin browned from days in the sun and violet eyes, the darkest he had ever seen. She said she was from the metallic deserts of Antaria where men fight for food scraps against wolves, leopards and dogs. He had felt something with her that he had never felt in his wasted life. He felt destiny.

**********
 
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Cressida

Senior Member
Firstly I apologise in advance as I am not very good with fantasy; I am afraid I never normally read it so I have little with which to compare it.

Lamppost or lamp post, one or the the other, decide which and stick with it.

The spacing of your dialogue isn't right. You seem to have your dialogue and the following descriptors all bunched together, I would space it out more as it makes it easier to read.

I realise the characters are meant to be slurring drunkenly but the way you have written it appears to me to be faintly Glaswegian. You might be better just describing them as slurring perhaps?

Being English the word snuck is definitely not right. Personally I would say stole or slipped.

Demanse' I think should be Demanses.

These are all just nit picks and I think your story has great potential. It takes imagination to create a world of your own but you have made a great start and it is very imaginative. You also have a nice sense of timing leaving the prologue at that point.

Good luck with the rest of it.

Cress
 
L

luke.bradford.knowles

Hey comma127,

I am in the same boat as Cressida in that I do not read much fantasy. Nevertheless, I would like to try and help you out.

I enjoyed the world-building elements. It's one of my favorite parts of any speculative fiction. I like the idea of a largely abandoned city which isn't totally overrun. It is an interesting, and I feel, unique concept. I encourage you to expand upon things like this.

One thing that I think you should stay away from are the two most predominant stereotypes (plagiarisms?) in the story. Namely these two: a magic guild which apparently has students and even demerits... too Potter-esque for my liking. An ancient order which never dies but protects and outlasts with the magical powers of their order... too Jedi-esque for my liking.

That is not to say that you should not continue with this story. By no means should you stop. I do think, however, that if you have heart set on these elements then that's okay. Just keep in your mind any opportunity to make it differ from those stereotypes.

Utilize the quality of your world-building to keep the characters unique and fresh along with the plot. Keep thinking of ways to change scenery and fill it with imagery of yours. You clearly have a talent for it. I think that you have the tools to do this, especially in the setting. Tell us more about the city... about the buildings... about the people... how are they different?

It's definitely a step up from other new fantasy that I've read. I mean that as a complement. Your writing definitely stands out in that crowd. At least in my mind. Keep it up.

Comrade Luke
 

comma127

Senior Member
hey guys, sorry for the late post but i totally forgot about this site.

Cressida, i agree with you about the dialogue, so i will get around to improving it.
luke, thanks man, and ill definitely try to stay away from cliches. It's one of the main reasons i get writers block in the first place.

So, here's the rest of the prologue. I have a sneaky suspiscion that the second part lacks description.... tell me what you think.

*******************************************************************************

The General set a brisk pace as he hurried through the corridor, his steel-tipped boots clacking against the black marble of the Imperial Palace. The morning Sun shone weakly through the curtains giving the entire palace an eerie blue glow and pipe music floated down from above. Rumor among the servants was that the King rarely rose before mid-day and even then sported an almighty headache making him more irascible than the usual.

The General pursed his lips. The entire place stunk of debauchery and sex. That the house of VanHer - the house that had held discipline and stolidity above all - had come to this, darkened his mood. He hurried his pace taking the main stair-case with quick steps, trying to get to the King before he took his morning drink or, more likely, drinks. He slowed his pace as he came to the door of the King’s hall. He gathered his wits, calming himself before stepping into the King’s Hall.

As he stood there his eyes couldn’t help but wonder over the entrance to the King’s hall. The door in itself was a giant statement to the power that Demance had once held - to those attuned to such things. The whole palace was nothing more than a gigantean symbol to those who visited Demance.
The grain of the massive wooden doors around the palace was seamless, without the slightest imperfection or knotting. It was quite possible that entire forests on the northern frontier of the once far-flung Demancean empirate had been leveled to find them. The door knobs were gold, embedded with rubies mined from the Southern edges of once Demance occupied Analia. The windows were crystal clear, untouched by frost and double glazed, the kind only found in the now Free Cities of the Crean Islands. The marble on the floor came from the quarries near the now liberated Mountain States which was also where the palace guards were hired from - as mercenaries. Even the grain in the kitchens came from the rich wheat fields of northern Agraria.

The only thing in the entire palace that came from Demance itself was the dye in the curtains. Made from crushed sea-snail shells from the bottom of Demance bay, it had made the city rich on its conception, renowned throughout the world for its small size but great wealth. And now, since the farmers were abandoning their crops, the sheepherders abandoning their herds and every shop from corner to corner was fleeing the King’s taxes, Demance Royal Blue was the only remaining commodity that had any real value after taxes.

Colony after colony, settlement after settlement, city after city had been lost to either horde or kings and aside from its few surrounding settlements; Demance was left as she was five hundred years ago. Alone and surrounded by rabid wolves who saw its wealth as easy pickings. If only the fool had listened-
The General shook himself from his desolate thoughts and stepped up to the door, knocking three times with a hard gauntleted fist. The door was swung open by two guards wearing the royal palace lively and they snapped a quick salute to the General before falling in step behind him as an escort. Gods, doesn’t the man trust his own Generals anymore, he asked himself, bowing low to the man – boy – who lay sprawled across the throne like some floozy off the streets.

He was fingering the tip of his blade, twisting it over in his hand, watching the light of a solitary candle play across it. Good solid Valerian metal, the General noted, though he very much doubted the King could cut butter with it let alone use it in combat. The General cleared his throat.

King Garlet VerHer finally allowed his gaze to wander over to the man standing before him. He was not a tall man and his shoulders did not fill the entire room with their girth as did the other Generals. His face while not overtly handsome, had a distinctly masculine quality that was common on the rugged farmlands in northern Agraria. But above all it was his eyes that demanded attention. They were not a spectacular color or shape, they were the normal brown of Demance nobility, but in them one could see grim resolve and steely determination. They promised gritty retribution to any who crossed him - and they had. He had, on more than one occasion, forced entire empires into retreat from Demance’s weakened borders. If Demance was an over burdened cow encircled by rabid wolves then General Normer VerBissen was the undaunted lion that protected her.

But this lion was tired. After three decades of tireless campaigning against every threat imaginable, from every type of enemy from every corner of the earth as well as civil uprisings by civilians and nobles alike, he was on his last leg. And the king had just cut that from under him as well.

“Sire, I want my legions,” he stated. Best to be forthright. Years of dealing with the court creatures that slithered around the palace walls had taught him one thing. Tell them what you need, why you need it and what will happen if you don’t get it.

“Well, you can’t have them,” the child said. The General had to fight to keep the disgust off his face. Nearly twenty three years old and the King sounded like a child. His thin frame showed no signs of ever having worked or fought and the Lichtite addiction had melted the flesh from his bones.

“Sire, that was a full half of our forces. Without them we’ll be defenseless.”

“They were needed elsewhere,” the King said, his tone mocking the General’s helplessness.

The General’s jaw worked hard to keep from shouting at the boy’s insolence, “Sire, I’ve been fighting up and down this kingdom before the day you were born,” he said bracing himself to give another lecture as he had when the king was young.

“I’ve annihilated kings, erased cities from the face of the earth and I’ve spent more time in Crown service than with my own family and all for this city, so when I tell you I need my legions, you damn sure listen!” he said, raising his voice at the last.

The king sighed, bringing his hand to his head and massaging his eyes. “General, the magician’s guild requested those forces for a special mission in the Analian desserts.”

“What in Gods name are they doing there?” the general asked, “that’s Rashaen occupied territory. We’ve no supply lines to Analia - those men will be dummy targets for Rashaen arrows.”

The King shook his head, clearly wishing the painful conversation to be over. He’d spent the last two nights doing things he didn’t care to remember and now his head was punishing him for it.

“General, the Guild said they were taking care of it,” was all the King said.

“You trust those reptiles?” the general spat, “What did they give you this time boy? More empty promises?”

Here I need to show that the Magicians Guild is supplying the King with drugs to keep him in line. Also possibly there's a sexual context that the General dislikes as well. My idea was to have the magician come out from behind the King's throne, but seems so cliche.
Anyway, the king dismisses his general. Onto the next scene.


***********
Brigadier Langler opened the flap to the Generals tent while balancing his dinner platter on his free hand. It was nothing special really, cold flat-bread, melted butter and a slice of ham, but knowing the General he would only eat the bread. He always gave Langley lectures on suffering the same as his men.

The General, as always, stood over a map his face burrowed in concentration as he planned his next movements. This winter’s campaign had taken them to the northern woods of Agraria, the corner of civilization where men and wolves were said to cavort. Last summer, half of the General’s force had been taken by the King for some mysterious mission. Even the hardened Terrah cohorts couldn’t help but gossip over their fate. Without them, the defense of the Southern border was left entirely to the Magician’s Guild, who frightened the desert savages with their dark magics.

“General, your dinner” he said, uncomfortably interrupting the General’s thoughts.

It seemed that the General had not heard him at first, so deep was his concentration, but Langler hesitated to repeat himself. Even after twenty something years in his service, the General was not someone you would interrupt. Finally, the General seemed to register his presence and dragged his eyes from the map, bringing the full weight of his gaze upon Langler. His eyes, normally cheery brown, maybe through some effect of the lamplight seemed pitch black, absorbing the room in their gravity. It was impossible to look away from those orbs of power. They seemed to radiate ambition and hunger, not unusual among men of station, but tonight there was something deeper. Tonight there was a desperate madness to them, a crazed wildness that Langler had never seen in him.

“Who are you,” The voice was deeper as well, scratched and harsh.

“Langler, Sir,” he said scarcely believing the General had forgotten who he was.
Something seemed to snap in him and the General shook his head as if shaking off the strange mood that had overtaken him.

“Ah, I apologize Langler,” The General said, once again the embodiment of the old Demansian courtesy.

“Old age seems to fill one’s head with problems only time will solve” he said gesturing to the air with a half smile, as Langler finally laid the dinner down on the wooden desk.

“No apologies needed sir,” he said, uncorking the water and pouring some chilled water into the Generals cup. He stepped back and sat down in his customary place, ready to take an order should the need arise. This had been their routine from before Langler could remember. He would bring the General his dinner and sit as the general questioned him about the mood in camp. But he could tell tonight would be different.

“If anyone needs to apologise, it's me. Have I ever apologized, Langler?” the General asked, his eyes now downcast.

“For what sir?” He honestly couldn’t tell where this was coming from. Sure the King had hamstrung their forces, but they’d been through much worse together.

“For your family’s death. For your village’s death.”

Langler froze in his seat. This was a topic they had never discussed, in all their years of conversation while the General took his nightmeal. Langler couldn’t remember it himself because he’d been too young but from what he could eavesdrop, the General had made a tactical mistake, leaving an allied village undefended before a marauding army. His entire family had been slaughtered, he only surviving the fire through some miracle of fate.

“I don’t really remember much, sir,” he said, shifting uncomfortably. This was something the soldiers mocked him about constantly. They said his village had refused to lift a sword in anger, a cowardly act in Demansian culture.

What was going on here? Why was the General acting so strangely, he wondered glancing around the tent.

From what he could eavesdrop from the soldiers, the General had been charged with defending the rebel cities of Sa’Phot from a marauding Rashaen army. Though the cities rebelled often, they almost entirely relied on a hasty re-alliance with Demanse to protect her from larger forces. This was said to be the ingenuity of the generals diplomatic style. While the Rashaen Warlord would send men wearing strange garments and wickedly carved weapons –more suited to torture than battle- to ask for an alliance, the General would send men, all skilled in the native toungue and customs. Demansian Generals had long ago learned the value of speaking the native tongue and wearing the native dress when addressing a friend. Otherwise it might seem as if you were addressing an enemy.

This is where I get stuck. I need the General to die in a non-cliche way, to leave Langler to take care of his son who we saw in the OP. Later it will be revealed that langler failed in this and thats why we see Ain ver Bissen killed off. Then chapter 1 will begin...
 

BoredMormon

Senior Member
Ox is probably saying he is going to come back to this later. The post is so he can keep track of it. (After a while you get used to him).

You seem to be cramming a lot of infomation into your sentances. All the commas and dashes make them confusing to read. I found your description oblique (I think thats the right word). Metaphors are fine, but they should be clear.

One of the dangers in fantasy is voice. Got to check every word to make sure it fits the feel you are trying to create. Modern sounding words jar a reader right out.

Your description seems at odds with the charactes. They don't appear to be in the mood to note the former glory of the city. The idea of lamposts still standing after thousands of years doesn't sit right either. Why are there homeless sleeping in the streets? Why don't they move in to the abondoned houses?

Thats about as far as I could make it.
 
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