Author Topic: Legacies of the Fallen, Altered Second Chapter  (Read 1349 times)

Jasson Knight

  • Earthbound (+15)
  • *
  • Posts: 36
    • View Profile
    • http://www.lunaescence.com/
Legacies of the Fallen, Altered Second Chapter
« on: December 27, 2004, 02:10:06 pm »
I've never very happy with the second chapter of my Legacies of the Fallen.  Towards the end of the second section, it always seemed very awkward to me, but I couldn't figure out a way to improve it.  Recently, a fellow CT author named Locuster suggested a different take on it, which is working out much better.  It still seems a bit on the awkward side to me, though.

For comparison, the original chapter is posted here.  (The new version of that second part follows this post.)

I'm also looking for a Beta Reader for my fic.  I've just finally realized I really need one to catch the mistakes I keep missing.  :oops:

Thank you in advance!  =)


Quote
1 September, 612AD
The Denodoro Mountains, Kingdom of Guardia


Indian summer had descended upon the shoulders of the Denodoro Mountains, transforming them to a place like those in fairy-tales.  The peaks stood with their backs to the ocean, the legendary winds stirring the limb and leaf as they climbed the rocky crags.  The aromas of wild lilies, lavender, and sage hung elusively like a lady’s perfume on the omnipresent wind.  Among dappled beams of hazy sunlight delicate tufts of Cotton Ester fluff swirled and tumbled like troupes of dancing fairies.

Seldom did anyone venture this deep into the mountains; and, if they did, they never lingered for long.  Tales of marauding bands of Mystics were still used to warn children and unwary adventurers away from delving too far down the shrouded, verdant trails.  Goblins and Ogans, while generally non-confrontational, were still often provoked into attacking unwary travelers by the malicious, bird-like Freelancers.  Apparitions in the form of ethereal, veiled maidens had become notorious for luring unsuspecting men to their doom.  Additionally, over the last year, another creature had been added to the list of creatures to be avoided.  Rumored to be an Ogre, it was known to attack and even kill Mystics and Humans indiscriminately and robbing them of anything of value they might be carrying.  Those who had survived their encounters with the brute could never agree on whether they saw a very large, human bandit or a ruthless giant.

Had anyone asked him his preference, that would be exactly as the very human Highwayman would have wanted things.

It had been a year since Leander Nikarah had made his audacious escape from the dungeons of Guardia Castle.  Since then, he had almost continually prowled the road from the Zenan Bridge to Porre and back again.  The gains from the travelers he harassed had easily kept his belly full and coin-pouch heavy.  The news of his escape had made him infamous; the report that the enormous and heavily armored bandit was a Mystic had allowed him to travel incognito after taking the time to don civilian garb.

His Falchion made but the barest noise as he rested its point on the boulder before him.  Leander leaned on the pommel, the black leathers of his jerkin and boots creaking softly as bent far forward over the stone to put himself lower to the ground.

The blade was of a foreign design; too small to be a proper short sword but too long to be a dagger, but it was his preferred weapon nonetheless.  It was versatile and compact, light enough to be wielded with blinding speed in melee combat but its point was strong enough to breach the even Kingsweave with a lone, hard thrust.  For times when he was pressed to heavy combat he switched to a double-edged long sword he had found in a cave deeper in the mountains.

In the gully before him, a solitary Freelancer looked around cautiously and began unpacking the earnings from his day of banditry.  The southern road to the mountain town of Sandorino was treacherous at best even without his help and travelers were frequently plagued by teams of the little beasts.  The renowned winds of the western range had virtually faded, but Sandorino was still a tourist’s haven.  The Bazaar alone was still celebrated for its selection of wares from throughout the world and their luxurious Inn was still highly profitable.

Thus, like lambs leading themselves to the slaughter, unarmed travelers continued to risk the road for a visit the little town.

From within the blackness of his hood, Leander’s mouth twitched wryly as the little bird-man pulled a Vigil Hat from its sack.  He stroked his newly grown beard thoughtfully with a hand sheathed in a heavy glove and mittened gauntlet.  It was an odd bit of swag where the Freelancers were concerned.  They were generally poor judges of worth; often taking worthless trinkets while leaving the real items of worth behind.  To them, if a thing was shiny or brightly colored, it was priceless.  Vigil Hats were rare and exquisite finds, but they weren’t much to look at.  For a Freelancer to have taken it, its former owner must have inadvertently tipped it off to the Hat’s worth.

The former Knight brought one foot up to rest on the rock and leaned on his knee, gazing intently at his target.  Impatient, he absently twirled his Falchion a couple times before sheathing it under his massive vest made from the shaggy, mossy green pelt of a great beast.  He knew better than to attack too early.  Their name notwithstanding, Freelancers seldom traveled alone and generally appeared in pairs.  To attack before the partner appeared could bring him more trouble than even a Vigil Hat was worth.  He was a powerful and superior swordsman, but he was no match for a full garrison of magic-wielding, rebel Mystics.

The rest of the Mystic’s loot was relatively worthless as far as he was concerned.  There were a few vases, some odd pieces of costume jewelry, a mirror, plenty of coin, a matched pair of silver candlesticks, and a strange, girdle-like object with shiny, bronze buckles that looked suspiciously like a chastity belt.

Nikarah backed away from his boulder and crouched low in the grass.  If it had one, the Freelancer’s partner should have appeared by now. Only the top of the Mystic’s hood was visible from his vantage point, but any part of the creature’s body counted towards keeping it in sight.  He tossed the liripipe of his hood over his shoulder and began to steal down the embankment.

The Freelancer was back to examining the Vigil Hat, turning it over and regarding its murky reflection in the dull, metal visor.  It clacked its beak and chattered something unintelligible, blinking its dark, lustrous eyes at the Freelancer in the helmet.

He drew his Falchion and poised himself for the charge.  As though sensing him, the Freelancer froze stock-still, its beak slightly open.

Something wasn’t right.

Leander decided he would need to kill it in a single strike before it had a chance to summon reinforcements.

He crept forward one more step.

"Now!"  The Freelancer screeched in a shrill, feminine voice and flattened itself to the ground.

Arrows rained upon the glade with the suddenness of a squall.  Bolts clanged dissonantly off the shield he still had strapped to his back and grazed the fur of his vest.

He covered his head with his hands and sprinted back up the hill to dive behind his boulder.  Arrows scraped across the stone like a swarm of foul insects and clattered impotently over the protective steel of his gauntlets.

"Halt!"

The rain of missiles ceased and he could hear many armored footsteps approaching the glade where the "Freelancer" had been.  Indeed, through a tiny opening he was able to peek around the rock to see the young maiden begin slipping out of the intricate disguise behind a protective ring of Knights.

"Leander Nikarah!  We have you surrounded!"

"There’s no way out!"

"Like hell..."  Leander muttered calmly and sarcastically under his breath and began stealing backwards, keeping the boulder between himself and the Knights below.  He had to give them credit for the ruse, but they didn’t know these mountains like he did.

"By the order of King Guardia the Twenty-first -"  Garson was shouting once more, his voice drowning out the skitter of pebbles as Leander slid unhurriedly down the rock-face behind him and allowed himself to be swallowed by the mossy green leaves of a gigantic Denodoro Fern halfway down.  The velvety soft fronds enveloped him and whispered across his back and across his vest as he gently slid deeper into the plant.

At the sound of a snapping twig and the sound of armor shifting, he braced a foot against one of the thick, rigid lower stems and froze.

Very near, he could hear soft panting and wheezing as a man struggled up the slope.  The Knight skirted the Fern and paused just above it, a crossbow armed and held at ready.  Sweat trickled down his spine as the Knight stepped on a bad patch of rock and was forced to pinwheel his arms to maintain his balance.

That would be a tale, eh?  He thought as a bubble of hysteria floated up from the pit of his stomach, The infamous Leander Nikarah dying to a crossbow misfire when an idiot tripped over his own bloody feet...

However, the man regained his balance and paused to catch his breath.  He blew a deep sigh of relief and then began to creep up the rise once more.

Then there was a bellow and the twang of the crossbow followed by a stupefied silence.

"He’s gone!"

The Highwayman rolled his eyes and turned slowly around while still within the enormous fern.  He turned and darted swiftly down to throw himself into the cover of some dense scrub, allowing the shouting of the Knights behind him to drown out the noise of his retreat.

"- Do not stop until you find him!  The butcher must not escape!!"  Birds screamed in surprise and leaped skyward as the Commander’s roar echoed thunderously across the mountain.

But his quarry was growing ever further away, loping away at a comfortable run and occasionally ducking into the cover of the ubiquitous foliage and naked rock endemic to the Denodoro Range.  He had no plans of stopping until he was deep into the eastern range and even then until he reached some ruins he’d found while exploring the relatively uncharted region.

The forest ran into an emerald haze as he dashed between the trees, struggling up and down steep slopes, sporadically stopping to erase his tracks or doubling back on himself to confuse his trail.  His breath soon began to burn in his lungs and a stitch formed in his side, but he kept moving.

The sun was setting when he finally reached the mist covered ruins he had sought for most of the day.  The pale, weathered stonework and half-decayed marble rose majestically into the canopy overhead; awesomely old yet bearing little sense of frailty.  The structure had the air of a place forgotten by time, defeated by the crawl of eons yet possessing a dignity and poise that remained undaunted.

Additionally, while he didn’t feel in any way threatened, he often felt like he was being watched.  These unseen, ghostly watchers hung just out of sight, danced at the edges of his vision, and spoke to him in the limbo between sleep and wake.  He felt he knew where they stood - at times, he was certain he would run into one of them should he swing too quickly around a corner.

Today was no different when he finally stumbled inside.  He could feel these unseen, silent beings turn to watch him, welcoming his arrival as though he was a king returning to his court.  The former Knight was breathing heavily as he sat down upon the smooth, veined stones of the floor and leaned back against the wall.  He drew his hood off and smoothed his sweat soaked hair away from his face.  When he could breath easier, he shrugged the straps of his pack off his shoulders and pulled it open.  It only took him a second to locate his canteens and a packet of smoked fish from one of the many nearby rivers.  He fumbled one container open and proceeded to dump the cool, fresh water over his face and head with a gratified moan.

This part of the Denodoro was a mass of labyrinthine canyons, caverns, deep valleys, and breathless peaks.  Game was plentiful and the water untainted; the ruins provided a sturdy shelter against the elements including the ferocious Denodoro winds and the sudden storms they could summon.

He grinned in spite of himself at the thickening fog, those same currents were drawing a cloud up from the cooler ocean; when it reached the peak it would become a violent tempest that would plummet like an avalanche down the western peaks.  The Guardians would be forced to give up their search in lieu of a desperate, headlong search for refuge.

Leander lifted his second canteen to his lips and took several deep gulps of the cool water within.  When he had drained it of every drop, he let it fall beside him.  Now that he was safe, he was feeling lethargic.  His flight from the Knights had drained him and right now his body screamed for rest rather than the food he knew he needed.  After eating a couple mouthfuls of fish, he climbed slowly to his feet, painfully hauled his pack over one shoulder, and wearily tottered deeper into the ruins to sleep.  His muscles were already cramping from his long run and the rest of him begged for sleep - he was more than happy to oblige.

He didn’t know how long he had slept when he was awoken unexpectedly.  The half-light of early dawn was fighting its way through the gravid rain-clouds and through the gloom of the sleeping forest.  The ruins were silent as usual save for the trickles of water from a broken fountain back closer to the entrance and the steady rain falling outside.  Even so, something seemed definitely amiss.  Leander held himself perfectly still, listening intently.

He was almost ready to give up and go back to sleep when the eerie sound of a child sobbing became louder, more persistent.  He felt gooseflesh raise on his arms knowing it was highly unlikely that a child would be here in the Eastern Range.  There were two native creatures, on the other hand, who could mimic the sound of a child or baby crying or a woman screaming - neither were something he wanted to come across.  The felines were vicious, unrelenting hunters well adapted to the mountains and held no fear of man nor mystic.  If they were hunting him...

"Poppa..."

Leander dropped his head back down with relief.  It was a child afterall.  The animals could produce a crying or screaming noise, but they couldn’t imitate speech.  A full day of running through these blasted mountains and he was - of all things - roused by a child crying.  He groaned with disgust and rolled to face the wall.

"Poppa...!"  Though distant, the crying was steadily growing louder and more persistent.

He surged to his feet in a temper and snarled his contempt as he took up his arms, discarded armor, and pack.  The brat’s encampment was about to make acquaintances with a very unexpected guest.  As he was tugging the straps of his quiver tighter, the child’s shrill little scream echoed across the mountain.

Narrowing his eyes, he slipped up the crumbling staircase that would take him up to the only tower still standing to get his bearings.

The well-built staircase was tightly wound and steep, but there was no way he could take it very quickly without loosing his footing on the rain-slick treads.  He knew the intention behind the design was to foil an assault, but it left him frustrated nevertheless as he was forced to slow his pace.

At length, he reached the tower’s peak.  From here he could see nearly the whole mountainside and all the way out to the vista of ashen froth on a dark, angry sea.  The wet, blustery wind whipped his hair and caught in his beard and in the fur of his vest.  He planted his feet wide and stuck his head out one of the crumbling windows, absorbing every sound he could hear.

Satisfied that his destination was somewhere between the ruins and the sea, he took the stairs down as swiftly as he dared.

He left as much gear as he felt he could in his comfortable nitch in the ruins and crossly stepped outside.  The Highwayman gave one last look back inside, hoping vainly that the child would stop its incessive bawling now before he left so he could go back inside and continue sleeping.

"Poppa...!"  It certainly wasn’t looking like his prayers would be answered.  Leander blew a snarl through his nose and rubbed his temples before setting out.  Once more he found himself stalking through the forest, though he much preferred being the hunter yet again rather than the game.

"Poppa...!"

The sea was looming closer and closer, the scent of salt water and blood filled his nostrils.  The child’s cries echoed as they struck the rock face.  Perhaps a family of fisherfolk, out catching their morning meal?

Leander gasped against the furious wind as he scanned the sea, searching for the vessel.  His saturated auburn hair lashed sharply against his face, the occasional strand catching in his beard.  He could barely hear the youngster crying anymore, but the wind clearly made up for it.  The former knight couldn’t see the vessel, though it was probably out there - somewhere.

"Quiet your brat!"  He screamed wrathfully down at the water.  He held his breath, listening for a reply against the howling wind.

He spied a malevolent, dark shape swimming around the rocks.  ‘A Heckran.’  Interesting to note, but he had more important things on his mind - such as sleeping.

"Did you hear me?  Quiet your brat!"  Leander screamed once more.

Finally, a small, pasty white hand appeared in answer between two very large boulders and groped frenetically at the edges as though searching for his rescuer.

‘This is impossible.’  Nikarah thought to himself.  First he had to deal with those fools from Guardia, then he was awakened by someone’s spawn bawling, and now this.  Another scream echoed off the rocks as a ridge of bony spikes broke the surface momentarily and then submerged once more.

"Come get me! It’s gonna get me"  The tiny voice whined pitifully even as the Heckran collided with the rocks like a juggernaut, trying to reach its prey.

‘Good.’  Leander thought peevishly.  He then immediately felt slightly guilty.  The mystics had killed his baby brother years before during the war and it appeared another mother would soon loose a child.  On the other hand, it was Guardia’s chore to protect its populace from the dangers of the world - no matter how incompetently.

The mystic reared tall and swiped furiously at the rocks, obviously frustrated.  The child shrieked in alarm and returned to crying with renewed vigor.

Nikarah groaned and scanned the horizon for some way down to the shoreline.  Silencing the child equated with sleep and that meant killing the beast.  Of course, a supply of jerked Heckran meat would hold him in supplies for some time.

"How the deviltry am I going to get down there?"  He muttered to himself and began calculating his odds of managing to drop the beast with his long bow.  He unslung his bow from its home on his quiver and strung it.  If he could catch it in sides for a lung shot, the chance of success would be high.  They might have thick skins and bony plates, but gravity was a powerful ally.  If the General’s tales could be trusted, the great knight Cyrus had killed a Heckran once in this manner.  He snaked his hand behind him and felt the fletchings for best arrows.  Leander finally felt the arrow he was looking for and withdrew the last of his war arrows he had stolen long ago from Sandorino’s limited armory.

Leander sidled sideways, lining up his shot for when the Heckran resurfaced.  He would need to compensate for the wind, but he was used to the Denodoro winds.  If he was successful he would kill the creature quickly, if not immediately.

He drew his bow and waited.

It reared and swiped at the rocks, but its thick arm was in the way.  Patiently, he waited, watching the dark shape circling in the water.  Second time was better, but not clean enough for him.  On the third attack, it speared down into the rocks and gave Leander the shot he wanted.


"... Sweet as pie."  Nikarah rumbled with satisfaction and released the bowstring.  The arrow practically sang as it sliced through the air and found it’s mark between the Heckran’s ribs.

It arched backwards, roaring with fury, flung itself into the waves, and vanished into the ocean.  Leander cursed his luck and then realized the child had fallen silent.

Nikarah palmed his waterlogged hood and pushed it back as he gazed down at the rocks where the child had been.  Blood was seeping from the rocks, the rain washing it down to mingle with the surf reddened with the monster’s blood.

He realized someone was behind him an instant before he heard a cold, deep chuckle.

Leander Nikarah, the infamous killer of three of Guardia’s finest, had only a split second to see a blue skinned hand and silver blade slash in a vicious, downward stroke.  White brilliance rose up from the ground and arced in a searing sine wave that burned him as it flung him forward.

For an instant he was flying.  His form gliding above the rocks like the ocean birds that cried as they traced the faint line that marked the boundary between water, earth, and sky.  He caught the briefest glimpse of a small, fair-haired boy reclined deep in the crotch of a rock, his shirt and breeches plastered to his skin and dripping blood.  The child was gazing up at him as he fell; his round, angelic face waxen above his devastated chest of shredded flesh and splintered ribs.

To his credit, he never had a chance to scream as he fell to earth.  His eyes remained fixated on cliff where the mystic warrior stood even blackness opened beneath him as though the gates of Hell had yawned wide to admit the fated warrior.

ZeaLitY

  • Entity
  • End of Timer (+10000)
  • *
  • Posts: 10797
  • Spring Breeze Dancin'
    • View Profile
    • My Compendium Staff Profile
Legacies of the Fallen, Altered Second Chapter
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2005, 07:09:11 pm »
I'll volunteer to read it, along with this selection.

Jasson Knight

  • Earthbound (+15)
  • *
  • Posts: 36
    • View Profile
    • http://www.lunaescence.com/
Legacies of the Fallen, Altered Second Chapter
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2005, 12:13:58 am »
Thanks!  I'd really appreciate any feedback you could give me on my story and on this selection.

Locuster also pointed out some words I forgot to remove and some fairly stupid grammar mistakes, which has made me a bit disgusted with myself.  I keep going through my own copies, but I'm my own worst critic...  I'll probably end up butchering something that was fine if I keep trying to Beta Read my own fic.

ZeaLitY

  • Entity
  • End of Timer (+10000)
  • *
  • Posts: 10797
  • Spring Breeze Dancin'
    • View Profile
    • My Compendium Staff Profile
Legacies of the Fallen, Altered Second Chapter
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2005, 11:41:11 am »
What's exactly been altered in that selection? I'll compare.

I've ready everything so far; these are wildly interesting, as tales of Zeal or Zealian ruins are. I'm on the edge to learn who this Leander villain truly is, as well as discover the identity of the Tidal Lord. I did not see much wrong with the chapters, save that as a matter of personal taste, I usually add a

~

before launching into a flashback or memory, just to formally divert attention. I have no idea if this is proper or flat-out wrong, though.

Jasson Knight

  • Earthbound (+15)
  • *
  • Posts: 36
    • View Profile
    • http://www.lunaescence.com/
Legacies of the Fallen, Altered Second Chapter
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2005, 10:22:27 pm »
Originally I had Leander trying to save a little kid he heard screaming, but I changed it so he was more or less just trying to shush the kid up.  He's one of my villians and his frantic attempt to save the little boy just didn't seem to fit him as well as I would have liked.

Thanks!  =)  I've always been facinated with Zeal and Zealian ruins too.  I'm planning on continuing to visit the various ruins.

Yeah, I wasn't sure how to separate out the flashback either.  I tried merely putting a extra large space between the beginning and ending paragraphs, but it didn't separate it out enough for me.  So I ended up settling for italicizing it.  I'll just have to do like you suggested and put a ~ in there to separate it.

ZeaLitY

  • Entity
  • End of Timer (+10000)
  • *
  • Posts: 10797
  • Spring Breeze Dancin'
    • View Profile
    • My Compendium Staff Profile
Legacies of the Fallen, Altered Second Chapter
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2005, 03:15:29 pm »
Aha, I see. I applaud the improvement.

CTCE will feature ruins of Zeal; this has given me something to visualize.

Symmetry

  • Enlightened One (+200)
  • *
  • Posts: 288
    • View Profile
Legacies of the Fallen, Altered Second Chapter
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2005, 01:13:46 pm »
Quote from: Jasson Knight
Originally I had Leander trying to save a little kid he heard screaming, but I changed it so he was more or less just trying to shush the kid up.  He's one of my villians and his frantic attempt to save the little boy just didn't seem to fit him as well as I would have liked.


Ah!

I was a little confused at where you were going with that. Leander didn't seem like the type that would go out of his way to help a little kid like that and I couldn't decide if you were trying to reveal that somewhere deep down he had a good side.

I'll have to read the newer version soon.