Knowledge (working title) - Chapter 2

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Kalthandrix
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Knowledge (working title) - Chapter 2

Post by Kalthandrix » May 15th, 2010, 11:04 pm

Here is the second, revised chapter of my novel. It is almost 5,500 words long, but I think it will be a good read with a good deal of action.

Here is a link to Chapter 1 if you need context for what is happening in this chapter.

Feedback and comments are welcome and appreciated!

-----

Chapter 2 - Phnor

The forest was just beginning to awaken as he made his way up the path behind the house. Phnor hated leaving Aria’s body behind house, strange as it was. The thought of her being alone only added to the pain that tore at him. The sun’s light had yet to crest the great trees of the forest, leaving them to loom like green and black shadows. Goose pimples stood out upon his bare arms and his breath misted slightly, but he bore the slight discomfort with ease. It would be only an hour or so before the chill wore off. His ground eating pace would carry him the half league to the knoll where Janna lay in short order, then he would have to find that damned shovel and get to work on another grave. He knew that throwing the shovel into the woods had been childish—it had hardly been the shovels fault—but it had felt good to hurl be rid of it.

For all that he had been through, sacrificed, and endured he had been a helpless as Janna’s health had declined and then a mute witness as she had given the last of her strength to bring Aria in this world. Her sacrifice had now amounted to nothing. Snuffed out by his negligence.

With luck the nox’elan will be waiting to rip my damned spirit apart when I cross the Veil, he thought. He knew he deserved the attention of those dark spirits, but now be wished for that kind of oblivion.

Unconsciously, he began to push himself harder the path steepened. The Tir Forest was an ancient wood that rested on the edge of the Stark Mountains and was riddled with several steep hills and deep valleys. The clearing he had built his house in was one of the few he had found within any reasonable distance from New Turen. It had been a boon really, but the location he trekked to now had been the reason Janna had wanted to build there. The barest hint of a smile moved his lips as he thought back to that day. If the land ahead had been better suited to it they would have built there.

As he moved, be breathed in the cool air in great lung-fulls. The wilderness usually worked as a soothing balm upon him; freeing his mind from the small things that bothered him. It was hard to worry about mundane issues when surrounded by the majesty of the mountains and old growth forest. But now it only served to remind Phnor of the dreams he had once had and the compounded failure that his life had become.

Heavily muscled legs and arms began to pump harder as his pace increased, propelled along as if he could escape the thoughts and guilt that rode upon him like a demon. Sweat beaded his brow in minutes and soon cut wet paths of their own down his tear-streaked face. On he ran, and his breath came in ragged, heaving bellows. It had been years since he had been forced to move at anything resembling the pace he set. Trees, even the rarest of them, did not run from his axe when he came for them.

A line of waist-high stones rose in front of him as the path curved around. He did not slow or turn to follow the worn track. With reckless disregard he bore down upon the obstacle and leapt over them.

Wet leaves met his foot on the other side and his back foot clipped the top of the stones. With nothing resembling traction, he slid upon the debris for brief second, arms wind-milling wildly as he fought to stay upright. Gravity was not to be denied though. With a thunderous crash, Phnor crashed in a sprawling heap. His head slammed upon the traitorous carpet of leaves and mossy stone under them. A burst of stars exploded across his vision and then darkened as if he had gone blind.

For a time, it was all he could do to lay there, his head pounding in time with his racing heart as his vision cleared. A mouthful of dirt and leaves were spat out in short order to allow him to find his breath.

“Uhhh! Damn fool,” he said. “Can’t even fall well enough to snap your own neck.” Probing fingers found a large knot on the left side of his head just above his ear but no blood as his fingers came away from their inspection.

A light breeze wafted across his sweating body. Small stars and pale green cloth flittered with the slight breath of air at the edge of Phnor’s vision as he lay sprawled upon the ground and for a moment could find no reason or desire to ever rise again. Nothing—absolutely nothing—had ever prepared him to face the pain gnawing upon his heart. He remembered burying his parents and grandmother when he was barely into his teens; causalities of troubled times now all labeled as the Consolidation Wars. He had had hate then to shelter him from grief. Hate had been enough to sustain him for years as others he had cared about fell and as he made sacrifice after sacrifice for lines on a map. But this! The pain of losing his wife and child...and to know that he was responsible for Aria’s death...

When his tears finally ran out, he felt empty—hollow.

So be it, he though. Time and again life had dealt him a black hand. And like a good soldier he had marched on as everything turned to dust around him. But he had nothing left inside of him now.

Shaking his head, he got to his feet and started walking once more; though this time he did not follow the path. By cutting through the woods he knew he would make better time and was determined to finish what he started out to do.

One foot in front of the other, he marched through the undergrowth, his thoughts still and focused. He no longer looked about or thought of anything else except pushing aside limbs and brush in his way and placing one foot in front of another. He only wavered from the line he marched when a stone or tree too large to step over or push by appeared before him. Everything else was trod underfoot or shoved aside without regard for anything but the next step. Time and distance meant nothing to him as he hiked along. The world around narrowed into a single muted blur.

“Hoy! You stupid bastard! What do you think you are doing?” came a shout from behind him, snapping Phnor from his single-minded trek.

A fleshy-lipped man stalked towards him as he stopped and turned. His hands were busy lacing the front of his trousers and a long red welt stood out on the man’s stubbled face in sharp contrast to his off-white tabard. The thread-of-silver design stitched over the breast was that of a circle with seven spokes arranged evenly inside, merging in the center to form a unified center.

Phnor did a quick scan. He had stepped into a small clearing just off a newly cut trail. He caught sight of six other men with similar tabards over breastplates, one of whom also wore the red cloak of a praetor. The others were clustered near a small campfire at the other end of the dell. A single, saddled piebald cropped at a few shoots of grass a good five paces from the group.

By the Lost Gods, I must be cursed if I can blunder into a Unity patrol in the middle of nowhere, he thought.

“Your pardon,” was all Phnor could force himself to mumble as he turned his back to the man with the welt and resumed him march.

“Hey! I am talking to you. What, are you deaf as well as blind?” There was a crash of foot steps behind Phnor and a heavy hand pulled upon his shoulder. “Now you had best stop right there and take heed, old man.”

Phnor spun about and roughly slapped Red-Stripe’s hand away. “Keep your hands off me,” he growled. “It was an accident and I have better thing to do right now. So I’d leave off if I were you and we can all go our own ways.”

Red-stripe nursed the arm Phnor had struck. Hate was etched across his face. He cast a fugitive glance back and caught sight of two of his companions moving closer and left off holding his arm. Instead he dropped a hand to the hilt of the sword strapped to his waist.

“You stupid whoreson! You just struck a sworn peacekeeper for that piss-hole of a city New Turen!” he shouted. Phnor could almost see him swell with bravado now that two of his companions were coming closer. Red-stripe stepped forward and put his face inches from Phnor’s bearded one.

“But more importantly, you struck a guardsman of the Unity, and well, we tend to make examples of shit-brained farmers that are stupid enough to think they can disrespect the Unity like that.” Flecks of spittle flew out of the guardsman’s mouth. The fetid odor of old garlic and sour wine assaulted Phnor’s nose puffed over his face.

“I may be a bit slow, boy, but I learned a long time ago that if something smells like shit, you shouldn’t stuff your face with it,” Phnor replied, waving a hand before his face to ward off the smell. A voice at the back of his mind said that he should keep quiet, but he no longer cared.

A bark of laughter from Red-stripe’s companions caused the man’s eyes to narrow and the color of his face changed to match that of his welt. A dangerous gleam appeared in the his eyes as he stepped back slightly and reached down with his off-hand to steady his scabbard while his sword-hand gripped the weapon’s hilt as if it to strangle it.

“I've had it with you and your disrespectful mouth, old timer. You are under arrest. I bet you’re a poacher and this is the Unity’s lands. Now turn around and kneel or I will be forced to put you down.” His enthusiasm for the latter course of action was readily apparent.

“If you draw that steel, you had best know how to use it, boy.”

The low, threatening tone of Phnor’s voice did nothing but paint a sneer of contempt across Red-stripe’s face as he gave a jerk and the sword’s blade slithered forth.

In a single blurred move, Phnor launched a jab. His fist met Red-stripe’s sword arm, aborting his attempt to draw as the sword was slammed back into it scabbard with a loud clack.

As the stunned guards and praetor looked on—none with a more surprised look on their face then Red-stripe—Phnor pivoted with his hips slightly and slapped the edge of his left hand into the guardsman’s throat with a wet thwack as flesh met flesh.

Red-stripes’ eyes bulged like a fish while his hands reflexively shot up to grasp his neck. A shocked silence reigned as the other members of the Unity patrol stared as their companion fell to his knees and made a slight, gurgling gasp as he struggled to breathe.

Without a word, Phnor turned and began to walk away, feet set to once again resume the hike and task that he had set out to do today. He had only taken three steps before he heard Red-stripe’s armored form crumple to the forest floor. Five more before another of the guardsmen shouted angrily, “That bastard just killed Uron!”

The ring of several blades being pulled chimed in the morning air.

Seeing no reason to run, Phnor turned calmly to meet the men, all of whom were moving cautiously towards him now..

From the back where he held the reins to the piebald, the red-cloaked praetor pointed at Phnor and in an imperious tone stated, “You have murdered a man and for that crime, you will die. But by your hand you have also struck down a soldier of the Unity. For that I will see that all you possess be forfeit to the Unity and your family punished for your crimes against the gods’ chosen servants!”

The praetor’s comment, designed to cow farmers and simple country folk only served to ignite the rage Phnor had been struggling to hold. Unable—unwilling!—to in rein the white-hot anger any longer, Phnor let loose an unarticulated roar of fury and charged.

The distance between the enraged woodsman and the closest of Red-stripe’s hangers-on disappeared in a heartbeat. Taken completely by surprise guardsman desperately brought his blade up and over his head in a clumsy but powerful attack meant to cleave a man crown to groin.

He was too slow. As the blade descended, Phnor was within the arc of the blade and grasp the guards own hands. The blade stopped as though caught in a vice. Brown eyes wide with fear stared into Phnor’s own grayish-blue orbs for just an instant as he struggled against muscle honed by years of swinging an axe and hauling wood.

Out of the corner of his eye, Phnor caught sight of Uron’s second crony charge in to thrust at his exposed left flank. Instinct from decades of training and scores of conflict had not completely abandoned Phnor during his quite life in the woods as he moved without thought.

Utilizing his superior strength, Phnor jerked the hapless guard he held off his feet as he swung the man’s sword around and in line with his charging comrade. The man’s momentum was enough to punch the sword through cloth, steel, flesh, and bone. A grunt of surprise escaped the young man’s lips before he crumpled to the ground, clawing feebly at the sword the transfixing his chest.

On his knees, the guardsman’s hands trapped within Phnor’s steely grip slackened he watched his friend die on his sword. A tight spin on the ball of his forward foot allowed Phnor to rip the weapon free from the dead man’s chest and the others lax grip. Like a dancer, Phnor carried his spin through and used the deadly momentum to whip the sword around and lob off the kneeling man’s head. It popped up into the air, surprise writ upon it’s features, and landed at Phnor’s feet.

A red rain fountained forth from the stump of the man’s neck as Phnor came to a stop—crimson steel gleaming in his hand and as he looked up at the remaining four men. Warm blood now speckled his face, beard, and chest and though his pulse raced and body shook with his fury his gaze was that of death incarnate; calm, methodical, and uncaring.
In a rush of white and a chorus of war cry’s, the three Unity guardsmen charged en mass. Phnor held his ground and waited. The weight of grief and loss had lifted from his shoulders at the first ring of steel. Though was gone, replaced with action. He unchained his pain and could pass it on to someone else and nothing this side of the grave could make a man feel more alive.

Phnor enjoying the fresh morning air with deep, even breaths as he allowed the guardsmen to descend upon him, to close to within five paces before he exploded into motion.
Powered by a thickly muscled leg, he hooked a foot the head at his feet and launched it into a short, low altitude flight toward the guardsman leading the charge. The improvised projectile snapped the man’s head back as it struck and the fellow crashed to the ground in a heap. The other two racing figures had enough room between them and the lead man that they were able to swerve aside to avoid tripping over the fellow.

Breaking to each side of the fallen man, the two men slowed and advanced with mixed expressions of anger and caution. Phnor took a single step to the right, adjusting his stance slightly and angling his body to allow him to keep his opponents in his peripheral vision as they moved to his left and right. He held his purloined blade upright in both hands and close to his body. He knew he could not take the fight to one without leaving himself exposed to the other and was not about to back away, so he waited for them to make the first move.

It was not a long wait. With practiced timing, they both lunged and thrust at his unarmored flesh as if synchronized.

Hard-earned experience had Phnor moving at the first hint of an attack, but his reflexes were not as sharp. As he spun to the right and swept his blade around in a low-guard to deflect one sword, he felt the edge of the other line a line of fiery pain across his lower back. It was a grazing strike that sliced mostly through his shirt, but was still enough to draw blood.

The first guardsman whose attack he had foiled over-balanced and stumbled as he had expected to meet some resistance. Phnor carried his spin fully around to face man who had hit him as the guard began to recover from his lunge. The older swordsman offered up a lunging step of his own with a fully extended double-armed thrust caught the second man high on the hip and elected a sharp cry of pain as the weapon scored flesh. The guardsman reflexively jumped back, free hand clutching his side.
From his new position, Phnor was easily able to shift his weight from front to back foot and bring his sword up into a high arch and back down to deliver a diagonal slash that opened the first man’s chest from collar to short-ribs.

Phnor pivoted back around to face the wounded man and then advanced upon him with a rain of powerful, chopping blows that came at him from every direction. The first half dozen strikes were turned aside, but the wounded man was driven to a knee by the savage might behind Phnor’s blade. Desperately the man fought on, only to have his blade shatter under the assault.

Wild eyes shown upon the other man’s pale face as his hands came up in supplication. “Please, I-aahhhh!” he began, but the aborted plea fell upon deaf ears as Phnor amputated one upraised arm at the elbow. His next strike opened the guardsman’s throat so deeply that Phnor caught sight of the man’s neck bones. The cut silenced the guard’s cries forever.

With his heart beating like a drum in his ears, Phnor almost missed the sudden clatter of hooves bearing down upon him. The woodsman turned in a rush; bring his sword up in a high block to brace himself for the mounted praetor’s blade. A flash of steel caught his peripheral vision in the instant before something struck him. He felt a jarring impact in the tender area just below his right collar bone followed immediately by a sharp blow to his bone of his eye socket.

A kaleidoscope of lights and bursting stars exploded across his vision and he fell to a knee just as he felt the thunderous pounding of the horse whip by and the hum of steel pass over where he had just stood. As his vision returned to normal, though his right eye was rapidly swelling closed from the surprise blow to his head, Phnor could make out the shape of a small throwing axe next to him.

A grunt escaped him as he shook his head to try and clear away the flashes of light and regain his feet. There, in the grass and leaves, he made out the shape of a small axe with a polished hickory handle. He looked over to trace the path the axe must have come from to see that the guardsman Phnor had hit with the head was back on his feet. His helmet’s nose-guard was bent and there was a wide smear of blood across the fellow’s face. A second axe, sister to the one on the ground, was tucked behind the man’s belt.

“I’m gunna make sure this hurts, you filthy bastard!” was all the axe-throwing guard said as he rushed Phnor. Behind the guard Phnor caught sight of the praetor hauling upon his mount’s reins to turn the breast’s head. A loud protest from the piebald echoed thru the woods, but it came about and the praetor lined up for another charge.

Time to take it to ‘em.

Thought became motion as Phnor staggered into a charge of his own. Sparks flew as his blade clashed with the guardsman’s and they crossed. Each man pushing with their faces mere inches from the other.

Phnor dropped his center slightly and pushed up to throw the other man back, but was stopped short as the guard’s helmeted head lashed forward. Pain flared as Phnor caught the blow upon his brow instead of the bridge of his nose. Blood spilt into Phnor’s already swollen eye as his skin split, but the smirk upon the guardsman’s lips sent Phnor over the edge.

“Rrraaaaaa!!” he roared as he swung his weapon as if he were chopping through a stubborn tree trunk. Powered by both arms and a recklessness brought on by his disregard for death, the glittering steel hammered blows upon the other man in a relentless wave as they spun, parried, and cut. The fact that the other man evaded or turned aside one stroke after another only served to fuel Phnor’s rage.

But even the ocean looses it’s momentum upon a reef and it was not long before the guardsman began to take advantage of Phnor’s sweeping attacks. A shallow cut across the ribs and his own gasping breath cleared the red-haze from his eyes and Phnor knew that he was in trouble. Sensing victory, guardsman launched a full assault of his own.

The strident clanging of steel was deafening as Phnor struggled to draw upon skills and reflexes that had become rusty. The guardsman was very good, and though he was breathing hard, he was at least twenty years younger with the luxury of being able to focus all of his energy upon Phnor. In turn, Phnor was not only bleeding and winded, but he had to split his attention to keep from being trampled by the praetor.

The heavy tha-da-thump of hooves across the forest floor came once more from behind Phnor, but with the clamor of charging horse-flesh, Phnor had a revelation.

Without regard for his own vulnerable flesh, he let loose with renewed flurry of his own that was both inspired and completely wild, driving the younger man back a half step as the earth shuttered with the force of the charging mount. With that small bit of space and the time it allowed him Phnor dropped to a knee and aimed a low cut at the guardsman’s ankles. The man easily hopped the blade but lost the momentum of his assault and paused for a heartbeat—giving Phnor the opportunity to drop his weapon and throw himself to the side as he tucked himself into a ball.

Right into the path of the on-coming horse.

The impact with the forest floor was nothing compared to the near bone-crushing force behind the animal’s foreleg as it collided with him. Breath exploded from him and was accompanied by the ear-splitting shriek from the horse as it’s leg snapped like a wet branch.

Unable to stop it’s forward momentum, the piebald and rider hurled over Phnor’s tightly curled form and crashed into the wide-eyed guardsman.

#Break#

“Whaa...,” Phnor croaked sometime later as the veil of unconsciousness was stripped back by the sound of crazed screams and the throbbing wound that was now his body.
Bruised muscles and bones protested as Phnor uncurled himself and sat up. Three paces away the weakly flailing legs and head of the piebald greeted the one blurry eye he could see out of. On the ground between him and the horse, Phnor could make out form of the axe-throwing guardsman—now a horrid jumble of red flesh, white bone, and crushed metal.

“There's something perversely wrong with the world if I can just keep on living,” he muttered as he took stock of his injuries. Blood crusted his hair to his scalp and his right eye was all but swollen closed. His shirt was glued to the hand-length wound along his ribs as well as the cut in his back closed. A gasp escaped him as he pulled the injuries as he shifted to get his feet from under him and stand.

Nothing appeared to be broken, he noted, though his ribs ached as he drew in a deep breath and a crescent shaped bruise stood out upon his left forearm from where the charging horse had stepped upon him. Considering the sheer stupidity of diving under the hooves of a charging horse, he was in good shape.

“Must be a damned deific joke or something today,” he said aloud and spat out a gobbet of dirt, blood, and saliva. “I hope they are getting their enjoyment out of it.” Bending over darkened his vision a bit, but he shook it off in order to grab a sword from the ground to lean upon as he made his way over to the thrashing animal.

As he drew near, he could see that both of the piebald’s forelegs had snapped and white-bone poked through the beasts hide. Never one to enjoy seeing a wounded animal suffer—years of war and a hundred battlefields had given him plenty of opportunity to witness it—he made his way over to the animal’s head.

With the sword in held tightly in both hands he swept the weapon down and through the piebald’s thick throat with as much power as he could put behind it. A surprisingly small amount of crimson geysered from the severed arteries and the horse’s screams and struggles instantly ceased.

A low moan emerged from behind the animal and cut through the new-found silence of the dell.

Oh good, Phnor thought, death by crushing seemed a bit too simple and common for one of the Unity’s select. He planted the sword’s tip firmly in the ground as he took a handful of shuffling steps to get a look at the praetor.

Gone was the smug look the red-cloaked man had worn just a short time ago. Blood trickled from his shattered nose and painted a red trail down from the corner of his mouth. Most of the praetor’s body was buried under the piebald, leaving only the upper portion of his chest and one arm free.

What have I done, he thought in horror as he stared down upon the helplessly pinned man and then about the corpse strewn dell.

All of these men...dead, and for what? To ease my own pain? To make someone else suffer for my sins? The realization of what he had done was just starting to set in when the praetor’s eyes opened and he groaned again as he attempted to move. The man’s brown eyes focused upon Phnor with a glare of pure murder that burned the signs of pain from the man’s features.

“You will pay for what you have done,” the praetor said. His voice was weak but he spat the words like envenomed darts. “The Seven will see to it!”

Phnor could find no words—nothing to say to defend himself in the face of what his actions had wrought. Instead he let go of his improvised cane and bend down. Large, blood-caked hands grasp the dead piebald’s tack and he attempted to shift the animal off of the praetor. Arms strained and legs bunched as the dead weight. He pulled until his body shook from the strain and blood ran freely from his wounds, but he barely budged the massive body.

Can I do nothing right!

Phnor closed his eyes as he tried to think of a why, any way, that he would be able to save the praetor. New Turen was at best a league and a half away and he knew of no one that lived closer. A quick glance up told him that the early hours of the morning had fled as he lay unconscious. If-, “Oow!” he yelped as the thought he had been chasing gave way to a flash of pain that cut across his shoulder. He shot a glance at it and could see a fresh flow of crimson leaking from shallow cut. He clamped a hand over it and shifted his gaze to the fallen praetor.

The other man’s eyes could just be seen, straining to look over the barrier of horse-flesh that lay over him. His free arm was pointed at Phnor.

“What the-,” he began as he rose to his feet “...I am trying to help you.” A glob of bloody spittle flew toward him followed by the praetor’s gasping reply.

“Save your concern, you bastard.” Religious zeal animated the man’s pale face as he spoke. “Do you think...anything you do now will save you? You’re a dead man! The Unity will see to that.”

Phnor stepped toward the trapped praetor, anger stirring once more at the other man’s words, but he quickly tamped it down as he looked down upon the praetor. His remorse had fled with the new blood that wet his arm.

As he turned to leave the man to his fate, the praetor’s hand swept out and caught a fluttering end of the blanket tucked behind the woodman’s belt.

“That is right, coward, run off and hide from the righteous wrath of Unity,” the praetor said, his voice pitched with an unnatural fervor. “Hide in the deepest, darkest hole you can find. It will do you no good! Everyone you know and love will suffer the justice of the Seven Gods. Their power-”

Rage, guilt, and a multitude of other emotions held in check before the praetor’s tirade burst forth. With a bestial snarl Phnor ripped the hand from his child’s blanket and twisted it until the man’s palm faced the sky.

“Your god’s power!” he bellowed. “I’ve seen nothing of their power today, nor on any day since the Return. Where are they? Why don’t they come in your time of need!” As he yelled at the hapless man, he slowly exerted greater pressure upon the limb trapped in his grasp. “Where’s their power and wrath now? Where’s their compassion for the life of their flock?”

The praetor fought feebly against Phnor, but could not break free from the Phnor’s vice-like hold. His whimpers and cries of pain fell upon deaf ears as the enraged woodsman vented his fury.

“Where were they a year ago when I went to Iudex Pugn and begged for their help!” Twist.

“Where were they when my wife died!” Another twist.

“Where have they been these last months as my daughter lay ill!” Rage contorted his blood splattered face into a demonic mask as he applied even more pressure upon the arm.

“Why didn’t they come to her aid before she died today!”

With a sickening snap, bone twisted and splintered under Phnor’s terrible might and the praetor let loose with a scream of pain that rivaled those once emitted by his now silent mount.

Bones jutted out of his flesh, sending fresh blood jetting out to mix with the dark, congealing pool already soaking the ground at Phnor’s feet. Ignoring the man’s cries he flung the ruined limb down and stepped forward slightly. Looking down at the praetor, a cold, numb hate settled upon his heart. With deliberate care he took one foot and placed his heel lightly upon the other man’s throat.

“Your gods are nothing, boy. I fear neither their wrath nor power. If you see them, tell them that for me.” His voice was hollow to his ears as he looked into the praetor’s eyes as they began to bulge as he slowly exerted pressure upon his heel.

He has some fight in him, that’s for sure, Phnor mused as the praetor thrashed with a surprising burst of strength to throw off the crushing pressure.

Several faint pops reached Phnor’s ears between the praetor’s gasping just before the man’s entire airway collapsed. It took a whole minute before his bloody lips stopped their vain attempt to suck in life giving air and for the praetor’s body to go still. Phnor just watched, boot resting on his neck, as the last bit of life fled the man’s eyes.

#End#
I Don’t use sublIminal mEssages

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Kalthandrix
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Re: Knowledge (working title) - Chapter 2

Post by Kalthandrix » May 18th, 2010, 9:27 pm

I see that people have been by to look at this chapter, but as of yet, no comments. Would it be easier if I broke it down into smaller sections for the purpose of having a critique done on these forums?

I welcome any and all suggestions or comments.

Thank you.
I Don’t use sublIminal mEssages

Steppe
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Re: Knowledge (working title) - Chapter 2

Post by Steppe » May 20th, 2010, 6:41 am

This is all good. You obviously write fast and proofread for spelling later.
I would want you to up the emotional stakes because they are in danger of dwindling by a
sudden movement into action. This chapter would be the third chapter after a transitional
chapter between your finished "establishment scene/shot."
Phnor has recently become a new person. He is a grizzly bear sort of man
who has only recently learned the depths of loving and protecting others.
After the first chapter I was subliminally expecting a helping narrator voice(s)
A transitional or permanent character(s) who plague Phnor's mind even deeper.
Example; two children, brother and sister who have taken refuge in the woods believing
their parents are murdering their own children (raise suspicion of the apothecary) while
at the same time offering Phnor a chance to recommit to loving and protecting something
or someone even if the children run off frightened of him. This action scene will work
but I need to know about the evils of The Unity. What's their game, what's their angle,
how did they gain power, how do they keep power, sheer numbers and fear or something
darker and more sinister. Will Phnor need allies, if so where can they be found.
What is The Unity's strategic weakness, could their be anyone who might know.
If this chapter stays as chapter two (establishment scene + the worlds always dangerous setting now)
then sooner or later Phnor's allies and enemies in the underlying conflict struggle would need
to be discovered in sub quests that prepare him for the showdown and resolution of the ending.

That would be the tough pacing decision now.
Is chapter one a prelude plus forward thrust chapter two resolved by a deeper understanding of circumstances
and characters for a long third chapter.

As a draft or r1-r2 its good. Nice choice of colorful expressive non-boring phraseology. Good action scene.
Strictly artistic decision now. How to deepen overall understanding of the stakes for protagonist and antagonists.
Introduce allies and reinforce enemies position as barriers to resolution.

Mostly emotionally I'm hoping Phnor does not lose what he gained from the wife and child.
It's a rustic 1200-1850 rural setting life is tough and now I know how tough and how casual
and quick situations can shift. Now I need to know who is on his side. He needs a narrative ally.
Someone to argue with and struggle against morally to maintain the emotional assets
he gained from loving his wife and daughter. Someone who challenges him to remain
courageous and willing to fight but helps him not dissolve into a killing machine the way
The Unity people are trying to get him to do

Steppe
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Re: Knowledge (working title) - Chapter 2

Post by Steppe » May 20th, 2010, 6:58 am

To sum up.
I needed to become Phnor before I could kill with him.
I could be Phnor at the cottage but before I can kill with him
I need a just a little more motivation as the reader pretending to be him.
Good action scene I read it twice.
Needs tiny grammar polishings that won't kill the natural flow
(to be expected) of good quick writing.

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Kalthandrix
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Re: Knowledge (working title) - Chapter 2

Post by Kalthandrix » May 20th, 2010, 9:54 am

Hmm...I did not think there were any (or many) spelling errors? But I will comb through it some more.

To date, I have written about 150k worth of this novel in long-hand before typing, of which I have only typed 20-30%. I have seven more chapters to complete before I reach my end scene. The reason I say this is because as you have said, pacing is important. I have Chapter 1 set the hook with the emotion of Phnor loosing his child, while Chapter 2 gives us some gritty action. In chapter 3, Phnor will be making his way into New Turen, where he will speak with an old friend of his. They will talk and it will be there that a bit more background as to why Phnor hates the Unity and the struggles he had went through these last few months will be covered. This friend will not be in this story again until the every last chapter, but Phnor will meet others.

I have a cast of 4 PoV characters - Phnor, Princess Alycia, Magius Blayn, and Prince Davoren as well as three other main (but not PoV) characters. After Chapter 3, we will meet Alycia and Blayn and spend some time with them. We will not see Phnor again until chapter 8 or 9 when these other two characters meet him.

But, that is later of course.

Your comments were great and actually helped me because it made me think. So I reworked the end of this scene just slightly to read:
“Your gods are nothing, boy. I fear neither their wrath nor power. If you see them, tell them that for me.” His voice was hollow to his ears as he looked down upon the praetor’s ghost-white face.

“On second thought,” he mused aloud as the seed of an idea took root in the fertile ground of his grief, “I believe that I will tell them myself.” Phnor watched as the fellow’s eyes began to bulge as he slowly exerted pressure upon his heel.

He has some fight in him, that’s for sure, Phnor mused as the praetor thrashed with a surprising burst of strength to throw off the crushing pressure.

Several faint pops reached Phnor’s ears between the praetor’s gasping just before the man’s entire airway collapsed. It took a whole minute before his bloody lips stopped their vain attempt to suck in life giving air and for the praetor’s body to go still. Phnor just watched and thought about his plan for revenge as his boot rested upon the Unity priest’s neck as the last bit of life fled the man’s eyes.

#End#
So this change is a slight foreshadowing of the initial plan that Phnor will talk to his friend about in Chapter 3 - of course the plan changes when he meets Alycia and Blayn, but it sets the stage so the reader will see that Phnor is so intent in spitting upon (metaphorically speaking) the Seven Gods that he will do just about anything...even perhaps killing them <teaser>.

Thanks again for the time you took to read this and your comments!
I Don’t use sublIminal mEssages

Steppe
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Re: Knowledge (working title) - Chapter 2

Post by Steppe » May 21st, 2010, 12:58 pm

I was able to suspend disbelief because the narrative did not demand
that I memorize to many new elements to quick. There were no spell mistakes
i was only commenting on style of grammar as an action scene tool.
I did anticipate his loss of control from reading chapter one
and I did anticipate his re-evaluation of everything within himself
after the catharsis of slaying some of his opponents in chapter two.
Seems on track to me. Nice stuff, enjoyed reading.

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Re: Knowledge (working title) - Chapter 2

Post by Kalthandrix » May 21st, 2010, 1:11 pm

Thanks again for your time. I am going to spend some time this weekend diving into the unwritten chapters - so if you see my muse, tell her to get her tail over to my place :)

I am glad you liked it and I look forward to the time I am able to release my beta!
I Don’t use sublIminal mEssages

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