Chapter: "Conscience"

  • This is the first chapter from one of my books (Not fan-fiction. it's with Humans, Elves, Dwarves ands tuff). This is only a first draft with a little editing, so it's not perfect. Still, I was wondering what your opinions where on how I could improve it. Be brutal! Honest! But detailed!
        Please…?  :wubs:

    2. Conscience

    Jerle's footsteps echoed loudly in the empty stone corridors. He caught sight of his pursuers in the plaza that opened up on his right, through the stone columns that flashed past him. Out of the corner of his eye, he also caught the glint of their sword blades.

    The patrol of city guards chased tirelessly, visible as little more than a crowd of dark silhouettes in the morning sunlight. Jerle felt relieved that he couldn’t see their faces.

    “Get to the docks! Block him off!”

    It won’t do you much good, Jerle thought. He was taking the most direct possible route. Aware of two heavily-armored guards behind him, he took a detour and hurtled a low wall. The first guard managed the jump, but the other tripped and crashed loudly to the cobblestones.

    “Halt! Stop where you are!” Someone cried.

    Jerle could hear the heavy clanking of the other soldier directly behind him. He reached the end of the corridor and charged straight into an empty stable. He heard the ring of steel as the guard behind him drew a knife. Nobody cared about catching him alive anymore.

    As he ran, Jerle jumped and turned, grabbing a low rafter. He landed a solid kick to the guard’s helmet and the man went out like a light. He crashed into a stall door, which smashed open under his weight. Jerle landed heavily, but he managed to keep his balance and kept running.

    Two of the patrol guards on horseback entered the stables, but had to duck under the rafters. These stables weren’t meant to be ridden in, but they took the risk in hopes that they could run him down.

    He heard the hoof beats directly behind him and was forced to take a sharp right, away from the intended exit. Surprised, the guards reigned the horses in sharply. One of them drew his sword, probably hoping to lop off Jerle’s head with it. Jerle slapped the horse’s flanks hard and the soldier tumbled off his mount’s back. He hit his helmet on the cobblestones and didn’t get up.

    The other horse whinnied and shied while the rider tried to regain control. The guard almost got control again, but then the horse bucked and his rider struck his head roughly on a rafter. In the chaos, Jerle was able to get away, but was forced the other way, down a separate isle of stalls.

    His luck started to run out; moments later, he came to a panting halt in the center of the feed store. It was stacked with bales of rotting hay, but there were no exits or tools that he could use. At first it looked like the detour had become a dead end, but then he noticed a ladder that led to the loft. He took swift stock of his surroundings and, struck by sudden inspiration, he started up the ladder.

    The one horseman and the four other remaining guards entered the feed room with caution. Jerle wasn’t visible anywhere. One guard turned to his superior. “Lieutenant?”

    The guard on horseback sheathed his sword. “Shut the doors partway. Post yourselves so he can’t get out.”

    Behind him, the other guards obeyed and shut the doors most of the way so that only one man could pass through at a time.

    “Come on out, Jerle. I know you’re in here.” The young horseman trotted slowly around the room in circles. He had short brown hair, sharp eyes and much very young. He was even younger than Jerle was, in fact. He couldn’t have been older than twenty. “Why not talk? I’m sure that we can clear up our misunderstanding.”

    Under his breath, he hissed, “Where are you, you devil?”

    For a couple seconds, there was nothing. Then came a cold reply, “Up here, Richard.”

    There was a loud crash of wood and the lieutenant swiftly pulled his horse around. The guards were backing away from the door. A large cask of pitch had broken open in the middle of where they were standing. Overhead on the second-floor platform, Jerle struck flint, bringing his torch blazing to life.

    “What are you doing?” Richard demanded.

    “Introducing a little chaos. Ontroy hasn’t seen fire in a long time, but now it’s a rebel’s turn to light one.”

    “So you’re going to take us with you?”

    “Not with you. I’m not going anywhere with you.” Jerle said simply. Then he saluted and dropped the torch. “Fair journeys.”

    The guard hurled his sword in desperation, but he was too late. The sword glanced off the wooden railing and almost caught Jerle’s shoulder, but he was already moving.

    The pitch caught fire in a heathen blaze of orange and red, blocking the horse’s escape. The horse whinnied even louder than before and reared back, but Richard managed to remain astride. The flames started to lick through the loose straw as the guards backed away. The ladder and the beams holding up the platform were burning and beginning to crumble.

    Jerle stooped in the low corner of the loft and pushed a barrel out of the way, revealing a small door that lead back to the stable. He kicked it open roughly. Through the building smoke, he could see clear air and streams of bright sunlight.

    “Stop!” The captain shouted over the roar of the growing flames. “We’ll be killed.” His horse’s eyes were wide, and it backed toward the back wall. The straw on the floor and the wooden walls were covered in snaking streams of fire.

    “I think I can see how that would concern most people.”

    “Wait,” Richard swallowed. “We could re-instate you in the army, Jerle. You don’t have to keep running. We know it was all just a mistake. Trust me and we can keep you safe.” The guards were starting up the ladder.

    Jerle stared at the door. There was a moment of silence. “I’m sorry, Rick. Trust is a weak word.” He turned and his voice turned to a stonily placid. “And it wasn’t a mistake. I don’t serve Lord Kythe anymore.” He started through.

    “What about what you left behind? What you lost. You could have it back.”

    Jerle went completely still. All eyes were on his back as he halted in the open door. “You would give me my life back?” He asked softly.

    “I would. I will do anything, Jerle.”

    “A lie for a lie?” Jerle called back. His eyes were cold as flint. “You think it’s the perfect revenge, don’t you? Nothing will ever return what I had before, especially since I don’t want it back. Empathy is too one-sided. I won’t make the mistake of trusting someone a third time.” He stepped through and turned to face them.

    Some of the guards were climbing up the wooden beams in desperation, trying to get into the loft. Richard’s horse was panicking. The young lieutenant looked tired and frightened. “And what of us dying? You don’t really want that either, do you? You wouldn’t want more lives on your conscience.”

    “I don’t have a conscience anymore.” He slammed the door shut.

    He heard heavy thuds as the guards threw their knives. He bolted the door and ran. He knew they would eventually figure it out and just jump through the fire. It's what he had intended from the start. All he really needed was to block the horse. It was the only why they could have caught him anymore.

    He jumped out of the lofts and took off through the stables. The horse of the downed guard was trying to eat the remains of straw strewn across the floor. Jerle took a leap into the saddle and the horse broke into a startled gallop. Jerle kept low, feeling the rafters whip past just above his head as the mare bolted toward the plaza. Leaning around one side, he could see two guards posted at the entrance

    Stirring into action at the sight of Jerle abruptly heading their way, both guards stood up. One lifted a horn to his lips, but Jerle urged the horse to the right and caught the guard between the mare and a stall door. The guard went spinning to the ground and the horn clattered out of his grasp.

    Jerle had galloped well away before the other soldier picked up the horn.

  • I was hoping to get some advice on this. It's fine if you don't read it, but I tried to make it fast-paced (unlike most of my other writing) so it wouldn't get boring. I'd really appreciate anything you could say about it, good or bad.

  • I read it all and i thought it was awesome! All I saw for errors were some typos so yeah I think its great! Nice job matey! It was perfect to it wasn't to slow paced or anything. I like it!

  • Danke schon XD
    Anything that you would change, personally? If you were to have written it, I mean.

  • Well no nothing I can think of. I don't think there's anything I would have changed if I was writing it. Looks good to me. (And I'm being quit honest)

  • Very good, very good!  I only saw a couple of minor spelling errors, but all in all it was well written.  You introduced the characters well, and everything that happened flowed smoothly; not once was I confused.

    Post more!

  • Danke schon^_^ You make me happy.
        I'll see if I can post more once it's to a point where I'm willing too. lol
        I have to be careful though because I'm in the process of trying to get it published. I don't know what agents and publishers say about posting more than a couple chapters online.

  • Oh gotcha gotcha.  Yes, be careful then!!!!!!!!!!

  • I read this last night, I think, but at the time I wasn't fully awake to make any fair comment on it.

    I enjoyed reading this.  It's fairly paced for an action sequence, clear and concise.

    You could add some more detail to the atmosphere and setting of where your main character is but I don't think that's  necessary since the detail could take away from the pace of the story. I don't know. I guess you'd have to play around with it if you wanted to.

    At any rate, well done sir.

  • Very very well done my friend. There were a couple errors with your punctuation for quotes, but it's the same exact mistake I made in the first ten chapters of Macar so technically I shouldn't be saying anything haha. The pace was great for an action sequence. It wasn't too fast or too slow, but it could have used maybe a little more detail if you could find a way to insert it without detracting from the pace.

    It's really good though, I mean that. Great job man ^^

  • That's been the problem I've noticed, too. I try to keep the pace, but I can't seem to get as much detail in that way. Consequentially, it looks a little juvenile.
        Thanks 🙂 That's the kind of feedback I need.

  • No trust me even without the detail, it's a great story and very well written. Keep up the work, seriously.

  • Thanks 🙂

    And edited 🙂 I think it's little better now. A more active voice, less superficially described, more detailed and a stronger feel to the diologue.

    I have to admit I made a really big mistake, however: I posted the second chapter, not the first. The following includes; The Prologue and Chapter 1. lol
        This is a couple weeks old, so I'll have to make edits. Just understand that, please.  :wubs:

    @Kaden: You might recognize the opening lines to the first chapter, actually. lol


    Jake, Ryre and a young soldier stopped at the end of the tunnel, somewhere near the other end of the hill. They came to a halt in the dark, breathing heavily, hearts thumping and sweat pouring. Ryre’s torch sputtered angrily, casting an eerie orange glow on their surroundings.

    Jake’s face was dark with dirt and sweat when he came to a stumbling halt, lungs burning from exertion. He fell to his knees, partly in grief, partly in relief. They were so close, though they had lost so much.

    An intricately-carved set of wooden doors stood on broken hinges, shattered wide open and beckoning them on. To one side, another door led to another room, but it was bolted and wrapped in chains.

    Jake heard the whispers. Through his chokes and his gasps, he began to sob. He wanted to block out the terrible sound. The cacophony of hissing voices penetrated his mind, drowning him with their desperate calls. Jake knew what they were. He knew they were gone, all of them. He and he friends were the last survivors.

    He felt the air around him grow cold. His breath froze into white mist and his tears turned to ice.

    “They’re coming.” He choked through his tears.

    “Hold on, Jake.” Ryre encouraged. “We’re almost there.”

    The chained door shook suddenly. Something screamed from the other side, painfully loud. The soldier hefted Jake to his feet and helped him forward. “I’m not leaving you behind as well.”

    They stumbled through the door, using what little energy they had left. Fifty pases through the doorway, a sheer cliff face that dropped straight down into nothingness. The far wall was not visible because it was much too far away. The ceiling rose above them in a gentle curve, rising forward to meet the far wall. It too, reached too far away to see. It was hard to believe that such a cavern could even fit under the hill. It seemed that a small fortress might have once fit inside.

    Centered on the cliff's edge, a narrow stone platform reached out into the dark, guarded by the statues of two white dragons, rearing up on either side. The bridge had no supports and seemed to fade away even before the dark did, simply vanishing into nothing.

    Kienen was there. He was standing between the two statues, wrapped in heavy black robes, waiting for them. “Cross,” he stood aside and pointed out into the dark with his gnarled black fingers.

    Behind them, in the tunnel, they could hear the grinding of talons on stone. A hulking beast crawled after them and they felt the rumbling of its advance.

    And yet they hesitated.

    “Cross,” Kienen calmly repeated. “Very soon it will be too late. You know what the Wraiths will do to our magic.”

    Obediently, the three of them stepped out onto the platform and started across the bridge. The stones beneath them came awake, stirring to life for the first time in hundreds of years. They could not see it, hear it or feel it. They just knew it, like a hum of energy traveling up their spine as they stepped over each stone. Jake knew this was the first time they had been used for this purpose.

    Kienen's cloaked figure led the way, Ryre and Jake stepping quietly along behind. The soldier stood in back, sword drawn and ready for a fight, as usual. He didn't want this to go wrong in the last moments before victory.

    Behind them the rumbling grew louder and the air grew colder. Jake began to feel worried that they might not reach the other side before the enemies arrived. He wanted to run, but his legs would not respond. His fatigue was too great. His friends were the same. Not even the whisper of approaching death was enough to drive them to call on the strength to run.

    “Wait!” A desperate voice called from behind. An old soldier limped into the room, his armor was damaged and bloodstained. “Help me!” He cried, hurrying to catch up, but it was impossible with his injuries. He knew that he was dying, bleeding to death from a dozen places.

    “Kent!” Jake whispered in disbelief. He was alive.

    Behind Kent, the goliath creature reached the tunnel's end and entered the room. Its lobster-like mass of black and red limbs dragged it into the room. The two foremost legs poised to strike at him, twice as large and deadly-looking as the others. The many eyes hunted for a victim to satisfy the burning rage. Shield-like plates of armor back begin to rattle on its back and a terrible hiss emanated from the seething monster.

    Behind it, the dim light of the tunnel was smothered and ice began to coat the stone walls as the other terrifying enemies approached. The whispers grew louder in Jake’s ears. His breathing grew ragged as he felt death steal in, but he could not tear his eyes from the dying old man.

    Kent turned as the black eyes of the enemy found him. It screamed with both rage and cruel anticipation.

    “Run you fool! Run!” Kienen shouted in rage.

    Then Ryre reached into his belt and tore out a slim golden dagger. “Kent! Catch!”

    The tiny blade whipped through the air, a metallic flash in the cold black. Kent caught it deftly and rolled out of the way as the monster drove a pair of black talons into the bridge.

    Jake opened his mouth to scream his friend’s name, but nothing came out. He felt a shock of cold energy jolt through his body and he felt to his knees. Ryre and the soldier grabbed him and pulled him forward. As they reached the end of the bridge, the end of it extended forward, materializing into view. The tunnel began to fade from view, but Kent and the monster were still visible. Behind them, tall, dark figures began to appear.

    Kent scrambled backward on his hands and knees, daging to either side as the beast slashed out at him.

    Beneath him, the bridge grew thinner underneath and narrowed at the sides. He glanced quickly over is shoulder. His friends were out of his harm’s way. He could see them, but they were ghostlike now. The spell had taken hold of them. They were going home.

    He rolled to the side one last time and got up onto one knee, grasping the dagger with both hands. He’d make sure that nothing followed them home. He raised the dagger over his head, then drove in down into the stone. The stones split with a crack like thunder and the glow of lighting spidered over the surface. The stones hummed louder for an instant, then began to crumble.

    “No.” Ryre whispered. “Kent…”

    The monster hesitated as the brudge shifted and cracked. Then it wailed. It slithered backward, trying to get away, but it was too no avail. Blinding blue light seeped through the cracks and the dark figures shied away.
    Then everything fell into the blackness.

    The old soldier opened his eyes. It was dark, but a dim light shown somewhere nearby. He tried to sit up, but he had no strength. He was greatedful that he could not feel the gruesome injuries he must have had.
    Then a face appeared above him, hazy, yet somehow familiar. It with wreathed by the orange glow of firelight.

    Ryre? Kent felt a surge of hope. Home. He could smell it. He could faintly hear it, the chirrup of crickets and the rustle of leaves. They were green leaves, the emerald canopy of a living wood. In the sky above, he thought that he could see stars. They were a sight for sore eyes.

    The man leaning over him spoke, but Kent could not understand. His senses were muddled. He knew that he was injured and dying. He also knew that he must have been nearly crushed by the falling debris.

    “Ryre.” He mumbled. “Ryre, is that you?”

    The man took his hand and squeezed. He was trying to speak, but Kent still couldn’t understand.

    “I won’t make it to Madrona. The monsters are coming. They will come from the east and take the Lost City. Find Jerle. Warn him…” Kent began to cough. He thought he tasted the faintest trace of blood in his mouth. “…tell him to find Ayden or all is lost. Forget the battle for the Pass. Take the King’s sword to Ayden! He will know what to do.”

    The man sat still over Kent, listening intently.

    Kent felt the shrouds of death begin to creep in and he fought to sit up. As he spoke, his voice faded to barely a whisper. “Remember, Ryre. We must be ready. The Dread Lord is coming.”

    1. "Execute Him"

    Of all the pains or tortures devised by fate, perhaps the most miserable is to have once been happy.

    The brokenhearted see the world the most poetically, but through the deadest eyes. Theirs is the pain of seeing the most and having the least, having only recognized their fortune in the moment it was ripped from their fingertips.

    The mercifully ignorant stumbled through the empty courtyard, walking corpses in rags. Their faces were covered in soot and blank expressions, tearless, resigned, familiar with nothing but the drudgery of their labors and the pain of the whip.

    They wielded their shovels and picks weakly, wishing they could fall to the earth and pass into sleep, but fearing the soldiers on all sides. The soldiers bore whips for the insolent and swords for the disobedient. Their light skirmish armor glittered in the sunlight and weapons glistened on their belts. Archers stood on the wall tops surrounding them. The slaves did not dare to run because their lives would not end painlessly if they did, but they envied those that often died in their sleep.

    The slave drivers observed the scene with faces of stone and pitiless eyes. They drove the slaves endlessly from one pit to another, one slag pile to the other. They forced their charges to mine and toil, brake bones, work themselves ill or to die. And they looked the other way. For many months since the start of the war, it was all they ever did. They took dozens on men, women and children and worked them to their deaths, all the time looking the other way.

    Then there came word of spies.

    The one hundred and forty-eight captives were forced to stand in formation, straight rows and columns as the patrol arrived. Everyone was silent. Even the wind was dead today, but the sun glared down at them, as if in fascination.

    Jerle felt the warm steel between his fingers, the stinging grit between his fingers and the cold in his heart. He watched his victim through expressionless eyes.

    “Execute him.”

    Jerle felt the weigh of the blade as it raked through the air. He watched as the body fell to the windswept sand and the muffled sound of its fall. The death was instant, the kill was clean. And yet, Jerle thought he remembered the stain of crimson on his hands.

    “You have done much for me, Jerle.” The vague outline of a man shifted in the shadows of the trees. His knife glinted white in the moonlight, glittering like clear water. “You have my thanks. And you will have your reward.”

    Jerle shuddered in pain as he lay in the dark soil, pressing his hands to the wound he had been dealt. His drugged mind was beginning to slow and the black around him was beginning to swallow him in its cloak.

    “Why are you doing this?” He gasped.

    The man turned to go. “You are a spy and a murderer now. They will not listen to your account of what has happened, but they will be quite satisfied with your capture, I think. They only need one of us, after all.”

    “I risked my life for you.” Jerle whispered.

    The other halted. “And why, exactly? You thought you could trust me?” He laughed loudly. “I trusted you once. I trusted my family. Then I found betrayal was the undercurrent of every reality, the lifeblood of self-preservation. Nothing that breathes can be trusted. It is so easy to slip. Everyone does.”

    “Not everyone.”

    “No?” The other asked in mock surprise. “I’m disappointed. I thought that I had proven my point so perfectly.” He stepped forward, into the starlight. “If you could never have trusted another being alive, Jerle, you would have trusted me. And yet I hurt you. I used you. I destroyed your future. And you killed your friend. You lied to your friends. You lied to the person you loved more than anyone in the world.”

    He turned, leaving Jerle sweating in agony. He stepped through the trees and was gone. “No one in our world can be trusted. Not even me. Not even you.”

Log in to reply

Recent Topics