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Prologue and introduction

Hey everyone! I know i joined a while ago and never posted anything, but here it is. The prologue to one of my longer works. A fantasy novel, a series of three books, of which i finished the first and need help revising. So please, all critiques on the table! ;)

 i finished the first book but i feel like I'm far from done, with a lot of editing to do and constant new plots and ideas coming up. As i said, ideas and suggestions are really appreciated. 

Here's a summary of the two main characters, the only viewpoint characters through the entire series, with an occasional song from a bard to fill you in with things happening in the meantime:

Lord Fabian Edelric, favored lord and advisor of King Hayden, ruler of the castle Dian Dokedale in the kingdom of the Chandelier. Fabian has the ability to control water, but only because of the ring the king has given him. His parents were suspected to be Silverian, the neighboring kingdom that borders the seas and The Chandelier. Fabian swore his loyalty to protect the kingdom, which has been suffering heavy losses over the years, due to enemies attacking, debts, and the weakness the immortal King Hayden has been showing. Growing more ill over the years and now days, the king has Fabian search for a cure, rumored to be only possible through Fabian's ability to control water with the ring. this illness is a problem Fabian hopes to have remedied before anyone finds out.

Timothy Tilson, a town rebel and gang leader. Took over and now runs one of the four Candles, as the towns of the Chandelier are called. Timothy was born under the two crossing moons, granting him bat like wings and sensing abilites. His parents identity are unknown, but he and his sister, Elisot,  were raised by Luitguard, a sheep-like man of a very distant kingdom, its people known as the folk of wool and deceit. The sheep folk being very superstitious, Luitguard taught Timothy to believe in a wise man known as The Sayer, a common legend among the towns and poor people. Years before Timothy took over the town, a group of warriors had attacked his town. Timothy fought and a part of this group joined his town as protectors and the other is now led by a man known as Diggery Spade, constantly plaguing Timothy's town, The Western Candle.


Introduction,

"In a kingdom known as The Chandelier,

I, Delores, sing to tell of a story queer.

To tell you of the lands all around,

To the north, east, west, south, enemies abound.

The powerful lizard kingdom of The Kheronn, an ever present shadow,

Of scales, reptilian eyes, flickering tongues, and skilled warriors, does their army grow.

Far to the north, the savage Folk of Wool and Deceit,

Defeating such a raider is no easy feat.

Silveria, a kingdom bordering waters and its people knowledgeable in magic and lore,

They are not enemies, but who knows what their minds have in store?

Over years, The Chandelier’s king has lost much power,

A man known to have made even death cower.

Now he plots within his castle, Dian Dokedale,

His four towns wasting away like bread growing stale.

And unaffected by men’s plans, the two moons,

Etched into the night sky like large runes.

Ladislas and Dietrich, when paths have crossed,

For the babes born on that night, dice is tossed.

Ability, power, appearance is granted,

Such like not even The Sayer has chanted.

I am headed to The Southern Candle, where the Sayer is rumored to pass through,

His wise words and prophecies known only to be true."




PROLOGUE


Where she used to fill him with comfort, the woman on the portrait now invaded Fabian’s heart with cold.

     She wore a deep blue dress. Her cheeks were pink, the way they were once before she grew ill. Her lips were turned into a smile. But her loving eyes now glared at Fabian with bitter blame.

     "Avenge her," a raspy voice whispered into his ear.

     “Erline,” Fabian said. “Forgive me. Please.”

     The voice sounded like an old man’s, saying in its own opposition, "It was an illness. You have no time for this. No one to avenge."

     Fabian clenched his fists. The healers weren’t to blame. They’d tried everything they could. The fault didn’t belong to the food tasters or the cooks. She hadn’t been poisoned. It had been no man’s doing. His lover’s heart had eventually given out . . . 

     “My lord Edelric!” 

     Fabian turned to the sound of knocking and hurried to the door. He saw the face of Vent, one of the king’s guards, and asked said, “It is very late. What is going on?”

     “It was around the hour of midnight, my lord. Me and a maid were speaking when we both hear noises coming from the king’s chamber. Someone shouted too.” Vent looked down into the washbasin he’d been carrying. 

     Fabian turned left from the two way corridor, and hurried the stairs up. They reached the third floor in the castle, where the king’s bedchamber was located. Fabian’s room was closest, but several other nobles were on their way across the Longsword as well. The hallway was extensive, branching off to the stairs on the left, right, straight ahead. Thus, the name of ‘Longsword’ had begun as servant talk but now even the king used it. 

     Fabian didn’t stop walking but looked over to the guard. “Explain, Vent. Is His Grace alright?” 

     “I wouldn’t know,” panted Vent. “I called to him, and when he would not answer, I tried opening the door. But it was locked.”

     Fabian stopped. “So what do you expect me to do?”

     Vent shook his head. “The king trusts you, Fabian. If there be anyone he listens to, it would be you. And besides, you have a way of entering. None of us do.” 

     The man looked down to the ring on Fabian’s finger. Held up the basin, the water rocking back and forth, light dancing from it.

    Fabian’s hand jerked to the ring on his finger immediately. The voice in his head said, "The man means your powers . . . use them."

     “You expect me to break into the king’s chamber.” Fabian nodded and hurried on. “Anyone else hear this?”

     “Only the servant I was speaking with.”

     And by the looks of it, she’d awoken quite a few others, six as far as Fabian counted. “Find her, Vent. Stop her from telling anyone else.”

     “But, sir—”

     Fabian took the washbasin from Vent. “I’ll take it from here. Go!”

     Fabian rushed to the door. Two guards stood by, pounding on the door.

     “Aside!” Fabian ordered. Everyone parted to let him through. Fabian leaned close to the door. Nothing but silence. “Your Grace, it is I!”

     He could not wait, not if his king was in danger. Upon Fabian’s unspoken command, water flew from the basin. Fabian took a deep breath, summoning the water to narrow. It remained floating by the door, waiting to be sent forth. Without a word but a silent wish, the water tore through the lock and the bar. The doors opened to darkness.

     “Everyone, stay back,” he said, looking around. He took a candle from a servant and continued into the dark chamber, closing the door behind him.

     He saw the outline of the large table in the center, the flickering light making it appear ominous, the shadow of the chairs rising against the wall. “Your Grace?” he asked, nearing another door, which was slightly ajar. 

     The whispers in his head stopped. He heard ragged breathing. Strained grunts. 

     The yellow light revealed a tall and hulking man, sword in hand. The man turned, revealing blood on his bare chest. A tang of red in his white hair and beard. Massive sword dripping. But without a cut or even a bruise. Fabian approached the king carefully. “Your Grace, what happened?” 

     King Hayden looked down, stepping aside. “Fabian, I don’t—I don’t know what to do.”

     Fabian lowered the candle, following the pool of darkness. Of blood. Light glanced off buckles of a pair of boots. He continued until the light cast a shadow sprawling over the floor. Of a man. Eyes reflected the light and stared back. 

     Fabian gasped. “Lord Kinsley.”

     Fabian knelt down beside the dying lord. The lord that owned twenty men of his own, whose family was in charge of financial properties, and who possessed an influential voice in court. Everyone knew his brother would inherit his authority once dead, but Kinsley was the stronger.

     Upon discovering a wound in Lord Kinsley’s side, Fabian glanced to the king’s massive dripping sword.

     Shaking violently, blood spilling from his mouth, Kinsley said, “Fuck you. Hayden, you are a very incompetent, Godforsaken, king. But you are an even worse—”

     King Hayden’s boot struck Lord Kinsley’s jaw, and the lord groaned but spoke no more. The name of God had not been mentioned ever since, well, ever since the king had declared himself the one to be worshipped. 

     But Hayden was now trembling. Not looking like a god at all. “He called me weak, Fabian. Said I would be the doom of this kingdom. Such words have never been spoken—they cannot!” The king’s expression suddenly changed, and he turned away, muttering. “It’s all your fault. My illness, it’s getting worse.”

     Of course he’d turn this on Fabian. As if he wasn’t already struggling to focus, the voice in  his head started speaking. "The king is ill. His fragile mind cannot continue to cause harm! You cannot afford to lose an ally because of your failure." But the current situation couldn’t wait.

     "You already lost him."

     “Can he survive?” the king asked.

     The stab wound in the man’s side was not the issue. The king’s weakness could never be known. He was strong. Everlasting. Wise. Undefeatable. “I’m afraid he cannot.”

     Fabian reached out with one hand to the pitcher on the king’s night table. He held his other over the man’s twisted mouth. 

     Fabian somehow wished the water wouldn’t obey him. That the ring would fall from his finger and lose power. That the pitcher was empty. But water dripped from the table, and came slithering over Lord Kinsley’s throat like a serpent.

     Kinsley shook his head, eyes wide and desperate. He started gasping hysterically. Head flopping from side to side.

     The water crawled into the man’s mouth and nose. He began to sputter and choke. He gulped but Fabian kept his trembling hand above his face, forcing the water to drown the man.

     “W-what are you doing?” the king demanded. 

     Fabian felt his hand grow wet as Kinsley coughed. When the lord that had possessed so much influence and authority—one of the most capable men of this dying kingdom—stopped struggling, Fabian stood up, fighting back his emotions of disgust and horror, and turned to the king. “He saw what happened,” Fabian whispered. “He knows you are no longer fit for this.”

     “How dare you.” But King Hayden’s shocked expression vanished quickly. He too, knew that Lord Kinsley could not live. The truth of Fabian’s words was disastrously real.

     “So—so what are you going to tell the people?” Hayden asked. If there was ever a moment for their king to know fear, it was now. And it terrified Fabian.

     Feeling like he needed some air, Fabian bent back down and removed the dagger from Kinsley’s sheath. He drew back all water to remove any signs. “The truth.”

     The king drew his eyebrows in question.

     Fabian knew what had to be said, but speaking the words would make it real. “This man insulted the king, threatened him. The truth is, this man is a traitor to the crown.” Lord Kinsley didn’t deserve such a death. But the questions needed to be answered. Fabian’s duty to the king needed to be pulled through. 

     But why are you loyal to this king? You know this question dwells among the court.

     There was no need to answer this question. With the growing losses this kingdom was suffering from opposing forces, weakness and doubt among their own would destroy The Chandelier.

     So he would do everything to keep alive unquestioning loyalty to the king from his diminishing allies. “Lord Kinsley raised his weapon against the king himself.” Fabian  took the dagger from Kinsley’s sheath and cut across the king’s chest.

     Hayden gasped. Anger flashed in his eyes, and Fabian eyed the sword in the man’s hand warily. 

     He continued speaking. “He drew first blood. You put an end to this traitor’s life.” He placed the dagger on the floor near Lord Kinsley’s hand. “Some lunacy overtook this man to act irrationally.”

     “The people will never believe it,” the king said, still seething. He took a deep breath. The bleeding on his chest was slowly ceasing. Soon, it would scab, just enough to show that he’d been attacked. And quicker than with any other man, it would be healed. Just another small scar among the many healed wounds that would have killed any other man than Hayden.  

    Fabian would have to do everything to keep this man the strongest.

     "You cannot avenge a woman taken by a disease. But find a cure for this man. Before you’ll have to drown the entire kingdom to keep the secret." Fabian gritted his teeth but kept his expression even. Two souls had been sacrificed this night. But that could not matter. How he felt had no play in the king’s might. He looked into the king’s eyes without wavering. “Look at my face, Your Majesty, listen to my voice, and tell me you don’t believe me.” 


-------------------------------- 


“Timothy, your sister’s been taken!”

     “A man has taken Elisot, mounted Demon, and rode away!”

     But Timothy was certain he knew who that man was. Diggery Spade. One of the many warriors that had fought to destroy the town nearly five years ago, Diggery had refused to follow Timothy and took a third of those trained men with him. The others had become a part of Timothy’s town, all of them yet unsure as to who it was that hired them. But Diggery and his men were relentless and destructive, bent on harassing people and this town.

     How could he have let that brute take his sister? He would surely kill her or sell her as a slave to the lords in their neighboring town. Timothy had banned him from town for trying to steal Demon. But taking his sister meant very dire consequences. 

     Timothy opened his eyes. The horse was three blocks from him, in Gambler’s Alley. A storm of clicks against the stone ground, nearing the gates, informed him of what his eyes could not. 

     Timothy took a deep breath, stood, and ran over the tiles. He spread the wings on his back and dropped from the roof. Skimmed a pace above the next house and flew past several alleys. Air whooshed past his face and gently pulled his hair back.

     Timothy took a sharp left turn in the air. Flapped his wings vigorously. He dodged smoke from the baker’s house, passed over a small patch of flowers belonging to their healer—inhaling a positively unhealthy dose of fragrances—past the two fruit trees from a currently uninhabited house, and over the hunters’ dogs bellow. 

     He cut across a few more streets and flitted over five more buildings before he could hear the horse’s running steps nearing. He overtook two men running in the same direction and nodded at the woman pointing.

     Wind whipped past his face as he increased speed. Timothy heard the horse in front of him before he saw it. The moons cast a shadow of a man with bat’s wings speeding madly over the ground, and he watched as it overtook the man and girl on horseback. It was as he suspected. The man had a shovel strapped to his back.

     Oh, Diggery, I swear, if you harmed her . . . 

     The man had his arms choking her thin body, hands clamping the reins and heels slamming into the copper colored horse’s sides so that Timothy wondered if ribs would break. 

     Timothy flapped to maintain the insanely perilous speed and waited to be right above him. Resisted the urge to reach for his mace. Slowed so he wouldn’t pass, and when Diggery looked up, he dropped.

     All three tumbled to the ground, toppling like rolling dice over the ground. Mud slapped his face and grinded between his teeth. Demon neighed. Timothy yelled, got to his knees, and punched the man in the face. 

     A fist came back to his stomach, but Timothy let him and just flung another hard one into Diggery’s cheek so that his knuckles felt cracked. “I told you to never return, Diggery!”

     Elisot got to her knees, gasped, and shrank away. Eli never fretted. He’d taught her that with hard training.

     Timothy just wanted to drive another punch into this coward’s face. But tonight, he would want more than to bloody the black mark of a spade on the man’s forehead. But first, he needed to know. He grabbed him by his collar and shook him in near hopes to loosen teeth. “What have you done, Diggery? What were you going to with her, uh?”

     The man smiled, blood seeping from the corners of his mouth. He chuckled. “I kissed her!” he hissed.

     Timothy snatched his arm before he could reach for the shovel strapped to his back. He laughed, hoping to sound cold and menacing. “Elli has kissed over ten men before, you fool. But never against her will. And never filth such as you!” 

     Running footsteps came from all over. Timothy would destroy this bastard! “You’re dead meat, Diggery. You will suffer, and when I’m done, Demon can eat your flesh!” 

     But his stomach twisted as the man laughed at him. “You cannot kill me, Timothy,” he snarled. “We each know we are too powerful to start war with another. I don’t own a town, yet every single one but yours opens its gate to me. I may not have as many warriors, but can you really afford my men’s rage against you and your people? My grave digging spade? You have too many concerns to let someone so mighty as I be your adversary.”

     Timothy brought the man to the ground, pressing his face to the dirt. Wishing he could choke him in mud like he deserved. Diggery grabbed a stone from the ground and struck it against Timothy’s thigh. He twisted and turned so Timothy struggled hard to keep him down.

     “Someone bring me rope!” Timothy commanded. And better fast, or he just might kill this wretch, who continuously hit him with the rock. Grabbed his arm. Flopped like a nearly uncontrollable fish on land. 

     Rope was tossed. Timothy put his knee over the man to keep him down. Two men came and helped.

     Timothy secured the rope to the man’s ankles and tightened it like he might strangle him. He handed the rope to someone else, motioning for them to tie it to the horse. Then he bent down close to the man’s face.

     “You said you kissed her? My sister? I will not kill you, Diggery Spade. But you will never come back again, ‘cause my people have permission to kill you. And by the end of this, your mouth won’t let you do something so despicable again.” He tied up his hands with another rope, jerking it into a tight knot. “By the moons, you won’t have any lips, nor any ridiculous spade.”  

     Timothy stood up and slapped the horse’s hind. “Ride, Demon! Ride until you rid of the devil at your heels.”

     The gigantic horse neighed and plunged into a gallop. Dragging Diggery face first over the road, veering sharply around a corner—so that Diggery’s body nearly collided with a fence—and out the gates. Diggery started screaming but his voice faded quickly.

     Satisfaction swelled within Timothy’s chest as he gazed at the streaks of mud that led away from his town, but not enough to calm his rage. 

     “That—that was our best horse,” someone spoke.

     Timothy was too angry to care. He turned to Elisot, who looked shocked. And when her eyes met his, she averted her gaze. Stood trembling against the wall of the potter’s shop.

     “No one has my Elli quivering,” he growled, tightening his fists. He reached out and wiped grime from her chin. “That coward of a wretch will certainly think twice before returning now. His life is forfeit from here on.”

     Elisot swallowed. 

     “Look at me, Elli.” Timothy glared at her until she raised her head and looked back at him. “Did—”

     “Tim, he said The Sayer is rumored to visit The Southern Candle,” she blurted.

     Something was different. She was clearly avoiding him. Timothy had a mind to fly after the horse and kill the man after all. Carry him high until his legs would flail and then . . . 

     “Did you hear me?” she asked, sounding frantic. “The Sayer! He who blesses and curses. Or have you forgotten how long you’ve been longing to hear his knowledge, his words of promise for our town? We could be the strongest, remember?”

     The man that legends claimed descended from the moons? “I have.” It was the only reason he was still here. He’d heard so many great stories about the man known as The Sayer, a man whose every word was truth and wisdom. And who’d been said to foresee many things. Excitement stirred with Timothy’s other feelings. “We will head out immediately.”

 


 (Thank you! and let me know if you wanna read more of this)

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  • Before I attempt to give any feedback on this, a question: who is your intended audience for this story?

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    • Hi! thanks for asking. i guess it's probably an adult book, as there is some cussing occasionally, but anyone that enjoys medieval fantasy is welcome to read it!

      hope this answers your question.

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      • I was afraid you were going to say that… Which means that the first thing that jumped out at me needs to be mentioned. (Disclosure – if you were to raid the deep, dark recesses of my computer and read the horrors I wrote back in the first dozen years I was writing, everything I say here would apply to my own output, too.)

        First, I will say well done on getting through an entire novel.

        There are styles of high fantasy that were prevalent in the ’80s and ’90s. This bears many of those hallmarks. One of the features thereof was the race-based nation definitions – whether elves, dwarves and orc, or the variances you have substituted them with – and stereotypical characteristics of those peoples. This is a simplistic approach to worldbuilding that has largely gone out of fashion. Most audiences are sufficiently mature to not buy this simplified us-versus-them model, this depiction of the other land as inherently evil.

        The second thing that struck me is a timeline challenge. Here’s what happened in the opening scene, including backstory: Vent and a maid were outside the king’s chamber when they hear noises and shouting. After trying the door, they decide to get help. Vent runs off, get a basin of water, takes it to Fabian’s chambers to wake him. Then they walk, not particularly fast as Vent is carrying the water, all the way back to the king’s chamber where Fabien does his thing with the water to unlock the door.

        Now, why is this an issue? Because when Fabian enters the king’s chamber, an absolute minimum of ten minutes after that sequence started, likely 15-20 minutes, the scene in the king’s chamber has not evolved from the initial confrontation that triggered Vent’s actions; Kinsley is at just that key point to utter a final curse before dying. (This is a classic issue in the design of many RPG modules – which I’m guessing you may have some familiarity with – from back in the day, too, where the inhabitants of a dungeon would just be waiting in various rooms for the adventurers to turn up and slaughter them in turn.)

        That same issue then plays out in the continuation of the scene itself, wherein Fabien goes through one more door beyond the first and colludes with the king – he closes it, but he literally tore through the lock and bar to get the door open, so it’s only swung shut, not properly closed – and expects everyone to hold back, to not eavesdrop. Basic human nature is such that we cannot believe his expectations to hold true. And he would know that, so would take further precautions. If, that is, he expected there to be a need to collude. And if he didn’t, why would he tell everyone to hold back?

        Anyway, enough of the structural flow/discontinuity. This is an aspect of storytelling that many people overlook. Once you know about it, spotting it in your own work becomes quite easy.

        The next challenge I had with this is the dialogue. Everything is very much on the nose. People are saying exactly what they mean, and they are being overly verbose about it. But that isn’t how people really speak. Indeed, if you listen to a real conversation, what you’ll hear (I’m paraphrasing someone quoting the original source here, no clue who it was from) is two monologues passing in the night, with nary an impact on each other.

        I will also call out the filtering. Not by explaining it directly, but if you go to any other recent request for feedback and look for Kate’s comments, you’ll almost certainly see it mentioned.

        There is also a lot of superfluous explanation. Yes, much of it is relevant – the backstory of the Longsword, for example – but Fabian is your POV, we are in his head, and he would not be thinking about these details at such a time. Therefore, to divert from the story to tell us about them breaks the flow. (When looking for Kate’s comments on other requests, look also for Laure’s (L.) for more on this psychic distance issue.)

        Where, further on, Kinsley calls the king Godforsaken, is one instance where the backstory would make sense, but only if it is shown through Fabian’s visceral reaction, rather than the narrator telling us.

        (And I'll stop there.)

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      • I'm a lover of historical fiction and I've never been a great lover of fantasy, but I loved what I read so far. Fantastic imagination. I'm not an editor, just a reader and a writer and I'm not going to be critical about anything, certainly not at this stage. I thought it was well written and I could visualise the scenes easily. I look forward to reading the next part. 

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        • Awesome, thank you so much for reading it. Glad you enjoyed it! I will be posting more soon. ;)

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