Alight, so it took a while, but finally decided I am ready to continue working on the Serpents Tale. I started part two, but a looking for some more ideas. Below is the first one whick was already previously posted, and I will post what I have so far for part 2. It isn't much at all yet, but I want a few more ideas on where to go from here.
A Serpents Tale...
The red sun rose in the east as the winds whispered from the south. The sky was a blanket of blue with the exception of red and pink; which coloured the sky in the east. The oaks and willows of the forest blew gently as the swift wind raced through the trees, and dying completely before reaching the heart of the bush.
The birds chirped merrily as a cold night gave way to the promise of a beautiful spring day. The cool air was refreshing since the heat of the previous day’s sun had proven to be a wasted day. A golden haired, bear of a man, lay peacefully sleeping beneath the protection of a weeping willow. The man woke abruptly to the sound of a branch breaking from the tree above. Lying on his back, the young man’s bloodshot emerald eyes opened quickly, barely in time for him to roll out of the way of the falling objects. Instinctively, he reached for his prized dagger. To his surprise, the creature was nothing more than a malnourished raccoon. The dagger in hand, he rose clumsily and painfully from where he had stopped rolling. Josh clawed towards the helpless animal. He had hoped the raccoon would run away and scare any other animals lurking about in search of easy prey.
The man was hard to ignore because he was six-foot-five-inches tall and with a very handsome face, to make this man both intimidating to men, and intriguing to women.
The sound of hooves upon solid earth rang loudly through the forest. His eyes flicker about the trails, until he noticed a coal colored colt rushing in his direction. The raccoon heard the horse and quickly disappeared up the nearest tree. It was then he realized that his sweaty hand still grasped the dagger and he carefully sheathed his weapon in its scabbard.
Josh stood in disbelief as the horse stopped in front of him. If he had any hope of being saved, it was thrown away at the familiar sight of his colt. His leg gave way to his weight as he fell against the powerful frame of his faithful companion. Josh’s free hand moved to his left leg, which had been injured approximately nine days ago.
“Smoke! What are you doing here!? You were supposed to go home and get Thomas! To let him know I’m alive!” his voice boomed through the dense forest.
The sound of thunder roaring through the prison of oak and willow brought confusion to the thin face of the hungry man. The part of sky visible to the man was light blue; so Josh decided an army of horses must have caused the sound of thunder. The riders wore shining armor and rode with elegance. The leader wore a full helm and rode on the back of a young paint. Upon seeing the man, the leader had halted the followers and removed the helmet slowly. Long whitish blonde shimmering hair fell over her shoulders and down to her lower back, her eyes a darker green than those of the dying man before her. The flawless mask of serenity covered her features from the emotions she felt in finding her older brother so helpless.
Sharlina sat upon the saddle as if she has always been there. Josh leaned against smoke for support, stunned to find his younger sister coming to his rescue when she was not supposed to be home for another two weeks. Remaining by his colt, he listened to his sister’s words though still visually shocked by her presence. Her voice was soft and teasing as she grinned:
- Do you always yell at your horse Josh? Or are you suffering from delusions from lack of nourishment?
- Shimmer! What are you doing in Zandof when you were supposed to be visiting our beloved cousins in Zion? Besides, how in the name of Heaven and Earth did you find me here? In the middle of the forest!?
It was obvious that Josh was not in a mood to joke, which his sister had obviously noticed. Her grin had vanished as she replied to her brother.
-The reason I’m here is because of that colt of yours. Well and the note you’d sent him with. Besides aren’t you glad to see me?
Sharlina’s grin had returned as she began to tease her brother in a loving manner. Josh shook his head and smiled.
- Of course I missed you Shimmer, you may be my sister, but I consider you a daughter to me. After all, I did raise you. But why were you at the castle?
- Are you alright to stay in the saddle?
Josh knew that Sharlina was hiding something. He eyes her carefully as he shook her head with a deep sigh released. Sharlina watched her brother as he laughed replying quickly.
-Had I been able to ride, do you think I’d have sent Smoke to find help? I’d have ridden if I didn’t break my ankle. I just hurt it even more just before you showed up.
Josh had injured himself on a trip to scout the terrain which they wished to add to the realm of Zandof. His older brother was King when he left, and he hadn’t been back home in almost two weeks. Josh had gotten worried and after falling off Smoke he broke his ankle landing the wrong way. He had not moved again until just before his sister’s arrival.
-Then it’s a good thing I asked the guards to bring a horse wagon with us.
The guards moved to Josh’s side and carried him onto the wooden wagon, which was filled with straw to offer comfort. With a groan of pain, he lay in the wagon as Smoke was tied to a lead and followed the rest of the horses.
Sharlina watched as her brother was loaded into the wagon, before replacing her full helm. Though a pair of guards directed their mounts to the front of the pack. Sharlina rode beside the horse-drawn wagon to ensure her brother’s safety. The castle guards protected the young royalty. Josh turned to meet his sister’s gaze, as he noticed pain and sorrow in her deep green eyes. He sat in thought for the entire trip back to the castle, knowing whatever caused her pain would not be revealed until their arrival.
The horns of Zandof sounded loudly as the search party returned in sight of the castle. The gates opened only moments before the guards reached their boundaries. The streets seemed flooded with people of the kingdom, wishing to show respect and fill their curiosity. A look of concern filled the faces of many bystanders as they watched the prince lay helplessly in the wagon. Sharlina removed her helmet as they passed through the main streets of their town.
The sun was high in the sky as they reached the royal stables. The footman helped Sharlnia from her horse and quickly moved her mount into its proper stall. The guards moved Josh from the cart in to the castle. His thoughts were racing as his sister entered his Royal Chambers.
Sharlina dismissed the guards and quickly Josh questioned his sister; “You never answered my question Shimmer. Why did you return to Zandof with such haste?”
She looked at Josh carefully before she realized that she had not thought up and excuse. Josh eyes her carefully as she replied: “Josh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t tell you as soon as I saw you. Thomas passed away a few days after you left. I’m so sorry.” She cried softly. Sharlina covered her face with her cold hands as she sobbed gently. Josh studied his sibling’s actions, carefully noticing how much his sister had changed.
Josh laughed: “You’re lying to me Sharlina! Thomas didn’t pass away, you murdered him. You are not my sister. What did you do with her!?” his voice booming loudly but he knew he would not get the help from the guards. He was rather helpless, the only thing he had was his dagger. Carefully he eyed the woman in the room.
Sharlina’s laugh was different from earlier and she could not help but reveal who she was. Her eyes turned red as she spoke “You’re right…how did you know? You are my next victim. If I can kill you, than the throne will be mine! You beloved sister is locked up in Zion, never to be seen again. Let’s not mention how I killed your brother without anybody else knowing it was murder. Everyone thinks he died in his sleep. After all, the only reason he got sick was because of me” she had a laugh that he could not quite pin a face to.
Josh shook his head and wondered if he would be able to avenge his brother’s death. The woman quickly swept across the floor and had her icy cold hands round his throat as he struggled to catch his breath. For a woman she had a strong grip, and it was then it struck him who this was. It was one of their servants in the stalls. Somebody who had access to each of them. As he started to turn blue from lack of oxygen, the guards burst through the door and pinned her to the wall. Josh drew in quick but deep breathes to fill his hungry lungs.
-I want you guys to put her in the dungeons under constant supervision. I’d like to be briefed about everything that’s happened in my absence. Commander, take a group of your best men out to Zion with great haste. I wish to find my sister still alive. Let’s not waste time. I’ll be briefed when my sister is back safely in my watch.
-You can’t do this to me. My plan was flawless! I walked through it so many times and I couldn’t find any flaws. It’s just not right… I mean I…
- You can never find flaws in your own work. A lesson learned, not that it will benefit you much…
SERPENTS TALE PART 2: Slippery Business
Zion was a quiet kingdom far to the north of Zandof, and much smaller than its surrounding neighbours. The seasons were changing swiftly, and the blowing winds caused worry for those living in Zion. Sharlina had even more to worry about than normal, as she and her cousins were locked away in the very top of the tower. The windows had been broken for years in the tower and the wind chilled the four of them to the bones. Sharlina had been locked in the tower for a month, with little food and no real protection from the cold. Shyenth, and his wife Keren, Sharlina’s cousins, and their son Lan had been locked up for over three months now. Karen was expecting her child within the next two ten-day, and she would have a difficult delivery indeed if they had to deliver the baby in these conditions.
Sharlina was huddled beneath a window gazing out into the frosty air, but she was seeing nothing at all before her, as she was lost in memories of better times. Lan, walked over to the window near his cousin, from his tiptoes he could see the black clouds that were heading their way. For the hundredth time he looked down from the window towards the ground and debated attempting the jump, but again reason one that decision. The drop from the top of the tower where they were being held captive was over fifty feet from the ground. The wind was razor sharp against their already cold skin, and so they huddled together as close to the wall as they could to try and stay warm.
As prisoners they had very little given to them to keep warm, just enough so that they would not freeze to death. They were fed food that was starting to show mould, and only dirty water. All four of them were malnourished and wore nothing more than soft shoes, a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt. The guards at their door would not provide them a blanket to sleep on, or even coats against the cold. Numerous times they had banged on the door asking for coats or blankets, anything for protection against the chilling air, and were beaten for disturbing the guards needlessly.
Shyenth already sported a bad cough, and this winter storm looked bad, it was only the beginning of the storm. Lan was shivering despite being in the centre of the huddled circle, and Keren was starting to look like she was a statue, she was not moving at all, eyes closed and kneeling against the wall of the tower. Shyenth and Keren were more accustomed to the weather in the North than Sharlina, however her strong will was enabling her to better face the elements.
The door swung open and for the first time since being held captive, they were escorted from the top of the tower to one of the lower sections of the tower, but placed under heavy guard. Soup was fed to them and a blanket provided to each of them for the night. The temperatures dropped below average for the time of year, and the snow was so thick you could hardly see a foot in front of you. The commander of the guards spoke to them when they had finished eating, and the words rang in their minds.
“From the beginning, we have treated you badly, but all of that changes for the winter. We are human, not monsters, you will stay on this level for the remainder of the winter, with blankets and hot meals. Your son will work for us in the kitchens for you to be able to stay here however. When you give birth to your child, wench, you will forfeit it to us.”
Posted on 2010-11-11 at 23:55:28.
Edited on 2010-11-12 at 00:55:27 by cdnflirt
to be honest, since nobody gave me any feedback, didn't know where to go with it, may also add to the beginning of the first one,...just had an idea...nobody knows what happens to the 3 royals parents, so figure, I should start out with that...
Posted on 2010-12-07 at 00:10:01.
Eol Fefalas Keeper of the Kazari RDI Staff Karma: 453/28 7540 Posts
Depth and background are always good... I mean, you don't want to drag things out for your readers too awful much, right? But you do want to know what's gone on before so you have some sort of "reference point" or "empathy" for the characters.
I go on "free writing" binges, at times, where I just scribble down everything that comes to mind where a particular character or scene or circumstance is concerned and come up with some of the most menial, inconsequential, trivial, and tedious details that you could possibly imagine... Not even half of that kind of stuff ever makes it into anything that "my readers" might see but it's there if needed and can be worked into the tale somewhere along the line if necessary.
First off, your descriptions are stunning. In the first part, you set a wonderful stage with the details of weather, light, and even temperature in a display of wordcraft. You leave no doubt in the reader’s mind as to the scenery.
Interesting use of dashes to denote dialogue. I haven’t seen that since Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country.
There are a few verb tense issues. Use the past tense only unless in dialogue.
This revelation that Sharlina is actually some horse stable servant is too abrupt. While there is some foreshadowing, it is a bit too brief and the line “She looked at Josh carefully before she realized that she had not thought up and excuse” is clumsy. Perhaps just a few more clues as seen by Josh would help.
Prince Josh would not refer so casually to his guardsmen as “you guys.” Also, he seems confused as to when he wishes to be briefed, now or when Sharlina is rescued.
That first paragraph is great--establishes geography and political situation between Zion and Zandof, plus it just pulls the reader into the story with the fate of Sharlina et al. You really do paint the picture of dire suffering, especially with Keren so late in her pregnancy.
Let me suggest something style-wise. “Sharlina was huddled beneath a window gazing out into the frosty air, but she was seeing nothing at all before her, as she was lost in memories of better times” How about: “Sharlina huddled” and “saw nothing, lost” There is a certain passivity in the way you tell the story that pervades this part. Is that intentional? In a way I can see how you may be reinforcing the captive’s helplessness by doing so. Now here, “however her strong will was enabling her to better face the elements.” the verb should be “enabled” not the passive “was enabling.” Sharlina is too strong a character to say otherwise.
This last paragraph, what does the Commander look like? What is his general demeanor? I certainly look forward to reading more of this! I really don’t mean to come off as harsh in my critique, only helpful. If you’ve any doubts of this, ask Odyson.
Why do they want Keren's newborn? Salt mines? Additional ransom? Is this the babe prophesied to be the Chosen One, or the Harbinger of Doom? Will he bring balance to the Force? (just kidding on that last one)
WHY were these people taken prisoner? Could it be Zion has a legitimate beef with Zardoz--that this land Josh had been scouting is sovereign territory of Zion?
The reason they want the newborn baby is for leverage over the couple. The couple being held captive are Sharlina's relatives. The people holding them hostage were able to overthrow the couple and their guards while Sharlina was making her trek to visit them.
If the enemies take possession of the child, they can train it to turn against the parents, etc...but most mothers would give up their life or anything asked for their child. I am unsure if I will play her as the common mother, or if I will make her show indifference to the event once it happens.
it was intruiging... i agree with whoever said it was rushed in the end.. you have a good plot, but to reveal so much in one paragraph of dialogue... it kind of stops the story... its more like reading a history at that point... just a suggestion... its cliche, but you could extend the fight scene, having a question-answer dialogue while Josh figures out how to win... alternatively, you could have Josh torture the information out... or somthing else entirely... just let it flow, try not to be to jerky..
it was still a great story though... i look forward to the next part!
Posted on 2011-02-04 at 18:27:41.
Steelight Sage of the Realms Karma: 44/9 1024 Posts
Part 1 suggestions
You asked for my advice. I tend to tear things apart but here is what I have thus far.
1) 2nd paragraph: "the previous day's sun had proven to be a wasted day" The sentence doesn't make a lot of sense. On top of that you use "day" twice in relatively quick succession. I might suggest something along the lines of "The heat of the previous day's sun had forced much work to be put off until its fierceness abated." Or some such.
2) 2nd paragraph: "he reached for the prized (insert description here) dagger at his (insert location here)." That will make it seem a bit more interesting.
3) 3rd paragraph: Run on sentence. Recommendation: "The man's incredible height made him hard to ignore, as he stood just under six and a half feet tall. His handsome face and the light in his eyes made him at once intimidating to lesser men, and intruiging to women."
4) 10th paragraph: You use obvious twice in the same sentence. I would suggest rewording it a bit.
That's what I have so far. I do agree with Pit about the revelation of Shimmer being very sudden. Something should be off with her from the beginning, though Josh would likely just brush it off as circumstance. And the soldiers would be referred to much more formally, if only to maintain the fantasy feel of the story. Over all I like the general plot. It flows pretty well. There are just a few repetitious words, tenses (choose either past of present and stick with it, depending on the point of view you wish to tell the story from) and odd sentences that could use a bit of tweaking.
Well, those are my "at a glance" thoughts. I hope I wasn't too harsh. I hope you win your contest.