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elphyon
June 9th, 2007, 09:21 PM
Hey fellow writers, here is a better prologue for my work-in-progress, starring Yahn Krahad. What do you think?






The golden rays of evening sun glimmered on the surface of the river Dahneb. A flock of waterbirds dove in and out of its golden stream with soft splashes, hunting for fish. A young human boy was sitting by the riverbank, watching them. He was a small boy with a sickly pallor, whose dark green eyes bore a rather perpetual air of indifference or boredom.

Behind the boy, in the direction of the setting sun, stood a forest of tall oak trees. This was the forest of Aeshir, which was famous for its two inhabitants: Garleoth the Green, a dragon of the Circle, and her mediator, Marius Drahja. The pair was charged by the Dragonian Cricle to oversee the eastern realm of Linford, and was the only members of the Dragonian Circle whose whereabouts were known, due to their recent involvement in restraining a plague outbreak in the realm. And so they had been chosen.

The wind was calm, but the forest began to rustle. Soon, what started as a whisper turned into a piercing shriek, and the ground itself began to rumble. The boy could feel it beneath his hips, and saw the quake make the proud currents of Dahneb tremble. The hunting birds flew up and away in disarray, and the boy sighed.

“He’s too slow,” the boy said to himself. Then he sighed again.

The rustling and rumbling continued for a while, and finally there came a terrible, long howl from the forest, followed by the sounds of snapping and uprooting of the oak trees. Soon a warm, humid wind passed the boy by, messing his silvery hair. The boy stood up then, looking anxious. But he shook his head and sat down again immediately. Then he began tossing pebbles in the river, with furrowed brows.

The sky above the river was darkening, freckled by pale stars. As the boy continued to make ripples in the river, a figure slipped out of the edge of the forest. It was a tall, lean man, carrying a sack on his back, who walked over to the boy and sat down beside him.

“You smell,” said the boy in brooding voice, without looking at the man. The man merely shrugged, bent over the river, and splashed the water on his face and neck. The water below him turned bright pink.

He was a young human, perhaps in mid-twenties. He had a sharp, slightly feline look about him, both sly and graceful. The eyes were of piercing sky-blue, and the lips peculiarly pale. With the boy beside him, he began to wash his brown hair which dropped below his waist.

“You should really cut the hair,” the boy said nonchalantly, watching the man squeeze water out of his hair. “It’s bothersome in battle, and it doesn’t look good on you.” The boy’s own was cropped above his ears.

The man answered in a dry, husky voice. “You know I can’t.” Then he ripped a strip of cloth from his already tattered shirt, and tied his hair loosely at the back of the neck with it. Having done that, he took off his shirt and threw it in the river, then lay down on his back.

“Water?” asked the boy, and the man nodded. He drank down the leather flask in large gulps, and took a deep, prolonged breath when he finished. Then he passed it back to the boy.

Filling the flask again with Dahneb’s water, the boy asked again, hardly hiding his anxiety. “So, how did it go?”

The man did not answer but reached for his sack and tossed it to the boy. The boy barely caught it, almost knocked over by its weight. He made a hissing noise at the man when he balanced himself, but opened the sack without protesting. After seeing the inside, he glanced at the man again, made a broad smile, and took out the contents.

Two heads came out of the sack, one large and scaly, and the other much smaller and human. The boy laid them down before him, and clapped and laughed. “This is excellent!” he claimed with cheerful voice.

The man moaned. “They were unsuspecting,” he said in a weary voice. “The rest will not be as easy.”

“Well, then you should take me along next time, Lael.” The boy said, the pleading diminished by the giddiness in his voice.

No answer came from the man, whose name was Laelosh, known as the Stormseeker among the mercenaries throughout Tirga’losh, the realm of sands. The boy realized that he was fast asleep. He tsked, and covered Lael’s body with a blanket. Then his attention moved back to the two severed heads again. “Yesss…” the boy could hardly suppress himself, and there was no need to hide. He would have a feast tonight.

James Carmack
June 10th, 2007, 06:52 AM
A better prologue, Elphy? What makes you think that? You do mean for this to replace your previous examples, right? If so, I hate to tell ya, Elphy, but I don't have your back on this one. The narrative is distant and establishes very little relative to the plotline. Shoot, Yahn's name doesn't even come up. (He's the silver-haired kid, right?) I actually preferred it when you started out with Yahn's reflection on his sordid past and then followed up with his last days with his master. I'm not opposed to this bit of plot per se, but I wouldn't use it to kick off the story. My advice: save this for its chronological place in the story and close in the narrative distance. We don't need to be looking down from the rafters. Get us down there with Yahn while all this is going down. That's my opinion on the matter.

Now for quibbles...

"indifference or boredom" It's be a lot easier to pick one or the other.

I realize we shouldn't hold dragons to the same standard as humans, but Garleoth isn't a very feminine name. Does it happen to mean something particularly cute in Draconian by any chance?

Although grammatically correct, it's a bad idea to have different numbers for the subject and predicate nominative. I'm thinking of this sentence in particular: "The pair[...]was the only members[...]"

"The boy could feel it beneath his hips[...]" This sounds a bit odd.

When talking about a river, the name should be preceded by "the" (i.e. "the Rhine"). So, in other words, instead of just saying "Dahneb", it should be "the Dahneb".

What are "hunting birds"?

"the sound of snapping and uprooting of the oak trees" This is awkward.

Unless our boy is some sort of mutant, he only has one brow to furrow.

"The eyes were of piercing sky-blue[...]" Drop the "of". Also, I recommend "his" instead of "the".

"[...]which dropped below his waist" This detail is unnecessarily verbose and throws off the flow of the narrative. You can just describe it as "his long brown hair" and call it good.

Why didn't Laelosh not have his hair tied back in the first place?

How big of a dragon was Garleoth? I was imagining a fifty-footer, but at that size, the sack needed to hold the head would be so unusually large that you'd have to make a note of it when Lael first appears. To not stand out too much, Garleoth's head would have to be about three feet in length. I don't know the actual proportions, but that'd put her well under thirty feet. There's nothing wrong with that. Not all dragons have to be humongous, after all.

"the pleading diminished by the giddiness in his voice" Giddiness doesn't preclude pleading. Also, both giddiness and pleading are markedly incongruous with our young friend as you've established him.

And that's all for now.

elphyon
June 10th, 2007, 09:26 AM
ouch, James, ouch! It's actually the event preceding the beginning of Yahn's journey, and the boy isn't Yahn! As for the dragon-naming... well, gender is a delicate and volatile issue, and so I'll have to say that even the ones with masculine-sounding names should be able to consider themselves female (crosses fingers). I'll fix it later as it's not really significant (at all).

So I took your advice about lacking plot details to the heart (and of course, the quibbles too) and made a revision. Hope you like this one better!



The golden rays of the evening sun glimmered on the surface of the river Dahneb. A flock of waterbirds dove in and out of its golden stream with soft splashes, hunting for fish. A young boy was sitting by the riverbank, watching them silently. He was a small boy with a sickly pallor, whose dark green eyes bore a rather perpetual air of boredom.

Behind the boy, in the direction of the setting sun, stood a forest of tall oak trees. This was the forest of Aeshir, which was famous for two things: Garleoth the Green, a dragon of the Circle, and her mediator, Marius Drahja. The forest was their chosen lair, from which they oversaw the eastern realm of Linford, as charged by the Circle. They were also the only members of the Circle whose whereabouts were known, for they had recently made an appearance before the entire city of Frytath, which was suffering from a strange plague. And that was why this particular pair was chosen for execution.

The air was calm, and there was no wind, but the forest suddenly began to rustle. Soon, what began as a soft whisper turned into a maddening crackle: as the boughs clashed with one another, leaves fell as if at winter’s arrival. The ground itself was rumbling. The boy felt the tremor pass beneath him, and saw the quake make the proud currents of the Dahneb tremble. As the waterbirds stopped hunting and flew up and away in disarray, the boy sighed.

“Finally,” the boy said to himself. “What took him so long?” He sighed again.

The rustling and rumbling continued for a while, and finally there came a terrible long howl from the forest, followed by a tumult of noise from snapping branches and the oaks themselves uprooting. A warm, humid gust of wind passed the boy by then, messing his silvery hair. The boy stood up, looked behind him anxiously. But he shook his head and sat down again immediately. Then he began tossing pebbles in the river, with a furrowed brow.

The sky above the river was darkening, freckled by pale stars. As the boy continued to make ripples in the river, a figure slipped out of the edge of the forest. It was a tall, lean man, dragging a large sack behind him. The figure walked over to the boy, leaving a wet trail.

“You smell,” the boy said in a brooding voice, without looking at the man. The man merely shrugged and sat down by the river. He bent over and splashed the water on his face and neck. The water below him turned bright pink.

He was a young human, perhaps in mid-twenties. He had a sharp, slightly feline look about him, both sly and graceful. The eyes were piercing sky-blue, and the lips peculiarly pale. His clothes were all but tattered and on his bare chest he had several cuts, some of which were bleeding alarmingly. But the man seemed to pay no mind to his injuries, and instead began to wash his long, blood-soaked hair.

“You should really cut that hair,” the boy said nonchalantly, watching the man squeeze blood out of his hair. “It’s bothersome in battle, and it doesn’t look good on you. Too feminine.” The boy’s own was cropped above his ears.

The man answered in a dry, husky voice. “You know I can’t.” Then he ripped a strip of cloth from his already tattered shirt, and tied his hair loosely at the back of the neck with it. Having done that, he took off his shirt—more like a rag now—and threw it in the river, then lay down on his back. He winced slightly.

“Water?” asked the boy, and the man nodded. He drank down the leather flask in large gulps, and took a deep, prolonged breath when he finished. Then he passed it back to the boy.

Filling the flask again with the Dahneb’s water, the boy asked another question. “So, how did it go?” His voice trembled with excitement as he spoke.

“I’m alive,” said the man. “My sword’s broken, but they’re dead.” With his right hand he patted the large sack twice, which was sitting between him and the boy. “See for yourself.”

The boy did just that. He stood up—for that’s how large the sack was—and loosened the top. As he peered inside he made an odd hissing sound, twisting his boyish face. “Do they all smell so good?” he asked. But apparently too anxious to wait for a reply, he stretched the top of the sack and let it fall loose. When the contents appeared in the cool evening air, he took them out and laid them down before him with both hands.

Momentarily the boy was facing two heads, bodiless and dripping blood. One was large, scaly and horned, and the other was much smaller and human. The boy examined them both with his green eyes, which suddenly were ablaze with extraordinary excitement. Then he broke into claps and laughter, almost jumping up and down with joy. “This is excellent!” he claimed with cheerful voice. “I thought you a madman when you said you’d do it alone, Lael—but look! You did it!”

The man, whose name was Laelosh, known as the Stormseeker among the mercenaries of the South, winced at the boy’s praise. “They were unsuspecting, Ishir,” he said in a weary voice. “The rest will not be as easy. Especially the Three.”

“Well, then you should take me along next time!” said the boy Ishir, with a growing look of exhilaration. “It’ll be… much easier that way.”

Laelosh shook his head, sitting up on his elbows. “No. Not yet. We need not alarm them of your escape, though they'll find out soon enough.”

"Bah. All your plotting is beginning to bore me, mercenary. We should hunt them down with force!” Ishir smacked his left fist onto the palm of his right hand. He made a rather patronizing face as he did this, which strangely suited him well. Then he made a childish yet sinister giggle, sucking in his lips as he looked at Laelosh. “But I will do as you say… even it’s just for a short while.”

Laelosh laughed a hollow and dry laughter. “If you fancy eating my head, beast-child,” he said coldly. “You’re free to try, once we have our vengeance. But till then—remember that it was I who freed you!”

Ishir scoffed and hissed at once. “How dare you! I will never have your head, even if you chopped it off yourself and offered it to me on a golden plate—” Here he suddenly changed his tone, and said in a soft, cooing voice, almost whispering. “For you are a man whose essence is but a heap of ashes… Are you not?” The boy chuckled then, picking up the human head and putting it back in the sack. “Well, I think I’m going to have dinner now. Will you join? The scales are hard to chew, but oh, the taste!”

Laelosh chose not to answer, but instead lay down on his back again.

“Fine then,” said the boy, feigning disappointment. He packed the heads and struggled his way into the forest, before deciding to settle down just a few paces away. “The head’s too big!” he complained.

But not for long, the mercenary told himself, closing his eyes, bidding sleep to come and heal him. Behind him, a feast was about to start.

James Carmack
June 10th, 2007, 10:21 AM
Well, it seems like I was under a few misconceptions. Always good to have those cleared up. I'll go over your new version in the morning. You tend to be good at tightening stuff up, so I look forward to giving it the third degree. Otanoshimi ni. ^_^

elphyon
June 10th, 2007, 12:00 PM
*gasp* I'm GOOD at something?!!!! Oh btw, I'm up to chapter 7 for kog, and I'm finally getting the hang of how to decode Jasper's speech... should be a huge boost to my reading speed! cheers! :D

James Carmack
June 10th, 2007, 07:50 PM
You do realize there's an appendix that has all of Jasper's dialog translated into standard English, don't you? Check the table of contents.

And I'll go over the rewrite once I've written up this test for my kiddos.

elphyon
June 10th, 2007, 08:39 PM
No James, I did not notice the appendix before! It's not much of a help though, since going back and forth two pages really kills the rhythm of reading.

James Carmack
June 11th, 2007, 12:55 AM
You could always open the appendix in a separate window and display it alongside the actual chapter, but since you've managed to unravel Jasper's tangled dialect, I suppose there's not much need.

Let's get on to the new and improved prologue. Considerably improved, I must say. Can I call 'em or can I call 'em? ^_^ Yes, you've come a long way in such a short time.

Now, when you describe this as a prologue for Yahn's story, are you saying that this is how we kick things off? If so, I stand by my assertion that you were better off starting out with Yahn (although I'm much fonder of this bit now). I would place this piece as Chapter 2, setting up a parallel plot thread to follow along with Yahn's journey. That's just me, though.

Time for quibbles and bits...

"rather perpetual" As opposed to "somewhat perpetual"? Perpetual is perpetual. No modifiers necessary.

"a maddening crackle:" Why is there a colon here?

"[...]passed the boy by then[...]" The syntax is troublesome here. "By then" is likely to be read as a unit rather than separately. To fix this, you could do a rearrangement like "passed by the boy then" or "then passed by the boy".

"Then he began tossing pebbles in the river, with a furrowed brow." That's some trick. Most people use their hands to throw rocks. :P Once again, the syntax is problematic. Something like "Then, with a furrowed brow, he began tossing pebbles in the river" would leave less room for misinterpretation, though you may want to rephrase it along the lines of "Furrowing his brow, he began to toss pebbles in the river."

"all but tattered" There's usually not much in-between. Your clothes are either tattered or they're in fair condition.

If Lael's bleeding "alarmingly", why doesn't he do something about it? He got some sort of mutant healing power?

"his already tattered shirt" Gotcha. Looks like his clothes were tattered after all. :P

Why does our dragonslayer go to the trouble of drinking out of a flask that young and broody goes on to fill with river water when the river is right there?

Do we really need to know that he gave the sack precisely two pats? Just say he patted the sack and we can imagine the number.

"[...]he claimed with cheerful voice." Claim or exclaim?

"How dare you!" isn't a scoff. And scoffing and hissing at the same time is bound to pull something.

And that's all for now.

elphyon
June 11th, 2007, 01:28 AM
aaahh the quibbles!! thanks again James. Glad you liked it. I think I will save editing for now and focus on writing along. Can't get anything done if I keep looking for stuff to edit!

About the original prologue, I'm trying to adopt the whole first person speech thing into third person narrative, which is turning out a bit odd. I can always use it as a kind of introductory blurb, I suppose.

Anyhow, I should really be studying now. Thanks!!

James Carmack
June 11th, 2007, 06:01 AM
Even if the main story is old in third-person, I see no reason not to keep Yahn's introduction as it is, particularly if the switch to 3P is turning out awkward. The prologue is expected to be somewhat removed from the main storyline. For continuity's sake, begin and end with Yahn's own narrative, the epilogue used to sum things up. Then, in effect, we're being told the story by Yahn, only it becomes so vivid that rather than simply hearing what he says, we live in the moment (hence the 3P). It's a thought.