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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> Creativity Forum --> Personal Creations --> Xanthia: An attempt at a novel
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    Messages in Xanthia: An attempt at a novel
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Xanthia: An attempt at a novel

I am in the process of attempting to write a fantasy novel. I intend to post my efforts here, or at least snippets of my writing.

Set in the city of Xanthia (and maybe the kingdom which it is set in). A new force has invaded, the Shah empire, they are ever expanding and warlike. they pride themselves on their efficiency and engineering, they believe in strict rule and a world where people are born into a caste, they cannot break out of their birthcaste and each member of society is set to do a particular job in order to keep the Empire running, whether this be a builder, a waste collector or a politician, diplomat, or even part of their intelligence network.

The story focuses on two main characters. One is lazy and workshy and a native of Xanthia. the other is a true believer in the ways of the Shah and believes wholly in their ethics and policies.

Both of these young men are quickly enveloped into two rival factions of Xanthia. The strict dictatorship of the Shah empire and the more liberal and freedom seeking of the Sevari Brotherhood. Both find themselves escalating in these power systems and are forever intertwining with each others lives, yet they do not know this.

The lazy and unambitious character, Danacus, is put into a world of love and passion and a search for new feelings of ecstasy. Whereas the overly-ambitious and logical character, Bennavius, is set on turning Xanthia into another colony of the Shah where strict order and logic must be rigorously followed. One day he dreams of being emperor of the Shah empire and showing the whole world to the greatness of the Shah's efficiency.

Unknown to these totally different young men is that there actions will be pivotal in developing Xanthia as a city state.

I will be writing in different chapters mainly from the point of view of these two characters, however some other chapters will be devoted to other sub-characters who will impact both their lives and Xanthia itself.

Feedback is welcome and please don't be afraid to be critical for this is the best type of feedback!

Posted on 2014-01-30 at 20:24:16.

Karma: 18/0
207 Posts


Four hundred years the monarchs of Xanthia had reigned. Their subjects had largely been happy, with only a few, quickly dispatched, rebellions in Xanthia’s long history. Now though their ancient reign had finally met its end.

Vasavus Coln, the new ruler of Xanthia, studied the great city’s walls. It was the moment he had been dreaming of since his boyhood. A city state, conquered by him for the glory of the Shah Empire and now he was to rule it. He could give this city a new hope, a new beginning, the start of a great history. They would love him, his name would go down in their lore and legends. He would become immortal, his name forever an echo in the corridors of time.

His horse’s hooves squelched on the flooded flatland as he progressed down the small rise in which his general’s tent had been pitched. As he looked back over his shoulder even now his servants were dismantling the grand tent in the splendid black and silver of the Shah.

A passing downfall of heavy drops in the form that Vasavus and his thousands of soldiers, attendants and camp followers had got accustomed to during their brief time in the unpredictable country fell around him. Swiftly a junior officer, recently joined from the Capital, trotted his mount to Vasavus’ side and held a parasol over his head to stop the esteemed general from getting rapidly soaked.
“A truly stupendous day for the Empire, sir.” Said the junior officer, dressed also in silver and black, with the traditional sharp features of the Shah upper class, just like himself.

“It is true Vuisen, the emperor will be pleased. However, there is still much work to be done before a real congratulations is in order.”

“Oh… sorry sir I did not mean my congratulations to be premature.” Said the young officer, looking down at the ground.

Vasavus sighed. “The fault is mine comrade, we should be enjoying this moment, not speculating the perils of the future.”

With that a silence ensued and gave time for the pair of officers to take in the carnage that took place to those born in the lower castes to them.

Bodies littered the large grassy plain before the city of Xanthia’s vast, high walls. The uniforms of the dead were barely recognisable, such was the carnage of blood and mud on the once beautifully farmed plain. The white short-haired stallion that Vasavus Coln rode had blood stained flanks as his grand procession weaved their way carefully to the city gates. As the group of generals, nobles and diplomats of faraway lands entered the city they looked little better than the veterans, and conscripts, who had fought hard in the hours of battle just minutes before, such was the devastation of the farmland. Vasavus could scarcely hide his disgust of the stench that filled his nostrils, but did his best to keep his face set, not wanting to betray his weakness to the spluttering Vuisen next to him.

“Learn from this young Vuisen. Only go to war when you are finally sure that there is no other solution.” Vasavus began lecturing the younger officer. It was one of his favoured past times. “It is widely perceived by those in the heart of the Shah. The families that never leave the glorious and illustrious capital that war is a thing of glory, of beauty even. This may have been your thoughts too, I trust that this experience has changed you. The stench, the blood, the ravens, the flies, the s*** and the death. Remember that someday you will order men, with hopes and dreams, with families and enemies, with courage and fear you will order them to their death. They will be buried in mass graves with no care who is on which side, no grieving wives and children beside their grave, only a letter the same as any other man’s death letter. A successful leader is not one who ignores this it is one who embraces it.” Vasavus finished and took a deep breath, the stench of death once again burning his nostrils.

Vuisen looked visibly shaken by Vasavus’ words and by the assault an hour old battlefield gives you on your senses. As if to accentuate the idea of the horror of a battlefield the audible crunching of bones from behind as the four hundred or so entourage came over the battlefield uncaring and jovial. The day was won.

Vasavus entered through the city a broad smile across his face. The populace should be in wild fervour, he had freed them from their oppressive rulers. What he found however, was of stark contrast. Silence.

Through the southern gate, from which Vasavus entered, was the living environment of the mass working populace of Xanthia. From what Vasavus had read, and been lectured about, the plaza in which his powerful, bloostained horse was now stepping into was normally the place of formal celebrations and one of the largest marketplaces on the continent, yet today it was empty. The crowds Vasavus had been expecting to be lining the city’s streets were non-existent. Instead he was greeted by locked doors and barred shutters.

At least in its tranquillity he could take in its beauty. The floor here was not the dusty, littered roads the rest of the outer city was famed for. Four hundred square metres of marble, laid precisely into a mesmerising mosaic of black and white stone leading into different spirals all entwining and overlapping with each other. It would not take long for his architects and builders to rip this up and replace with something more suitable.
This wonderful, yet too creative, piece of architecture did not sustain Vasavus’ previously ecstatic mood. He felt his anger rising, this was not what he had dreamed of over the last few years of campaigning in this drab, uninspiring land. He turned to see some of the foreign diplomats, some from the struggling Coth Empire and others from all around Shah’s ever growing colonies, smirking and looking at him with a sense of pity. His anger rose quicker still.

As he continued through the roughly paved and mismatched streets the rain still hammered around him and Vuisen, who had so kindly surrendered his parasol, was dripping from head to toe. He had to commend the young man for his lack of complaining and self-sacrifice, his estimation of the man had gone up.

It was nearly dusk when the procession made its way to the last regiment of the defeated army. Old withered veterans and young boys, some had only saw ten summers others looked like they had seen a hundred, stood guard at the gates to the inner city. Vasavus did not fear them, his guards were close behind and they were the elites of the Shah, sworn to protect him.

Begrudgingly the guards parted and opened the creaking iron gates to let him through. The younger members of the guard stared up in awe at the gilded plate work of his armour; the older guards however stared at him, fierce hatred in their eyes, some even hawked and spat on the floor. Perhaps this would be harder than first thought.

As the gates opened he was finally met by a welcoming party. The lesser nobles, and courtiers and come out in their finest silks to welcome their new leader. As he passed they smiled and gave similar welcoming gestures. He did not smile back. His face held a firm tight expression, he would have to strike some sort of fear into these potentially ambitious nobles. They would have to respect him and he was not willing to give any compromise, they would bend or break under his rule.

A hundred metres in front a raised dais had been hastily erected and five figures stood there, obviously awaiting his company. Brast was there all in black as usual, the uniform of the inquisition, the man who was really responsible for the fall of the city. His two most acclaimed Hands stood behind him, Ethok and Crosk twins born into the same life of hatred. They were monsters of men both reaching over seven feet tall and broader than any man he had seen. Next to the three men garbed in black were, the high priest of the Pentathon, the five gods of Xanthia, dressed in even more outrageous and flamboyant colours than he had been warned about.

Vuisen dropped back and let Vasavus approach the stage alone. The rain had begun to ease off, but the smaller drops that kept falling were still a nuisance and he shifted uncomfortably in his saddle. The nobles lined the sides of his straight route to the dais and the finery of their attire increased the closer he got to the stage. Vasavus also noted the smattering of priests in the crowd, there were always five of the priests grouped together and their garments were always filled with gaudy and flamboyant colours. This seemed a strange custom to him, for the Shah had no gods only the belief of working towards a greater good for all.

He reached the dais and dismounted gracefully, trying to avoid the blood that stained his horse’s flanks, still wet and running because of the now misty and drizzling rain. Vasavus let out his first wave to the crowd and put a terse smile across his face. Some of the nobles cheered, but most just whispered into one another’s ears, making their first impressions known to those around them.

Vasavus reached the steps to the platform and mounted them. He nodded abruptly, to Brast and the greeting was returned their place in the hierarchy was as equals, yet Brast was Vasaus’ man. The next man he met was the flamboyantly dressed priest, they grasped forearms and Vasavus lent in to whisper into the priests ear.

“I hope you have redoubled your praying to your gods. There is a great change ahead and I am unsure the Shah Empire welcomes heathen gods.”

The priest was rapid in reply however. “Do you really believe that it is man’s right to choose the gods?”

With that the priest broke off the traditional greeting and smiled broadly, lifting his arms he called out to the crowd below them.

“Lords and ladies alike. It is with the utmost pleasure that I tell you that the gods came to me last night each one of the pentathon. They told me Xanthia would become a place of turmoil, a place of change, a place where they may smile upon us.” The priest’s voice changed now, instead of booming loud, it seemed but a whisper, yet it reached every ear. “With this promise of hope they also forewarned of those who would become unbelievers. Instead of smiling upon their worshippers, they would turn to anger and hate. A lifetime of ill luck and an eternity pain await those who turn their backs upon the gods. That was their warning.”

Suddenly, the priest turned and made for the steps leading off of the stage. Surely he must know he has condemned himself to death, yet he has no fear. Curious. Vasavus thought. More importantly however, he must rescue the situation. The war would no longer be fought with sharp swords and sturdy armour, it was a war of tongues and gold.

“People of Xanthia, is it not true that the your gods send messages to their prophets, but it is those prophets who must decipher that message. I urge you to think about the high priests words. Would he not be against a change? He was showered with gold, given good meals and a comfortable living and all he must tend to is deciphering some hazy dreams. The Shah wish to welcome you to our empire. It is a chance for you all, to reach new heights of power, wealth and pleasure.”

There were murmurs of approval throughout the crowd and Vasavus was content for now. At least the priest’s unexpected act of martyrdom was not a total disaster. Now it was time for the speech he had been preparing for years, when reaching this moment was but a thought in the wind. Now it was happening.

Posted on 2014-01-30 at 20:26:48.
Edited on 2014-01-30 at 20:27:17 by Brundel

Veteran Visitor
Karma: 4/0
102 Posts

Good start!

Your premise is great. You've obviously put a lot of time into it!

Although, I do think your overall writing style could use some work. I think your introduction would be better if done a bit.....slower. It seems as if you have taken a bit of Oscar Wilde's writing style, and used it to explain facts about your world as this scene takes place in the background.

It's honestly a little confusing. The root of the problem is your narration vs your characterization in the intro. I honestly haven't read the whole thing though, it got kinda difficult and I just quit XD.

All you really need to do is to have the characters' interactions with each other here reveal the world building instead of narrative clauses. For example, when you mentioned the silver-blue robes indicate nobility, you could say,

"He gestured to the wine cabinets with an outstretched arm, taking the opportunity to show off the silver-blue robes attached to it and worn on the rest of his body. He wanted this soldier to know he was dealing with nobility, not some foot-soldier ruffian."

This not only describes nobility wearing fancy blue-silver robes, but it also puts in some characterization for the nobleman.

I know you'll write a great story. You've obviously got a lot, and a message to convey, which is always good! Keep up the good work man!

Posted on 2014-07-21 at 11:26:34.

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