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  1. #16
    Oh hey, been doing thinking, researching blurbs, and writing. I don't think I'll ever get the hang of writing blurbs, but I know practice is the first step to something useful and readable.

    Here is another attempt.

    Feedack is as always, hugely appreciated.


    Outcast
    Book 1 of the Exiled Triumvirate

    Forsaken, alone, and unwanted by her people; Lynian is abominati, a taboo union of two species. Taken from the floating cities of the Soldii she is sent to the monastic Order of Allemann and put in the care of Godhart Leland, a templar tasked with escorting her north to a sanctuary.

    Abandoned, belittled, and punished for learning; Hensel dreams of becoming a scribe, but after a series of unfortunate events he finds himself far from home in a foreign land. Discovered by Malik, a sahr of the Eranshar kingdom, he is offered a chance to fulfill his thirst for knowledge.

    Rejected, misunderstood, and burdened with expectations; Felix is the heir to a powerful family. Between his oppressive father, a plot to remove him from the line of succession, and Ravus, the assassin hired to protect him, he struggles against a life with little choice.

    This is the tale of the triumvirate, the three who would return balance to the world of Erd.

  2. #17
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Hey Princeroth,

    I like this better that your first few attempts, but two things:

    What are the stakes? Will they die if they don't restore balance? Will everyone die if they don't restore balance?

    Also, I see what you are trying to do with the "Forsaken, alone, and unwanted...", "Abandoned, belittled, and punished...", "Rejected, misunderstood, and burdened..."; but it was too much for me. It weighed down the whole thing and it actually got me depressed. Maybe a bit too much.

    Otherwise, well done!

  3. #18
    Nothingman ... Nothingman pennywise86's Avatar
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    Outcast
    Book 1 of the Exiled Triumvirate

    Forsaken, alone, and unwanted by her people; Lynian is abominati, a taboo union of two species. Taken from the floating cities of the Soldii she is sent to the monastic Order of Allemann and put in the care of Godhart Leland, a templar tasked with escorting her north to a sanctuary.

    Abandoned, belittled, and punished for learning; Hensel dreams of becoming a scribe, but after a series of unfortunate events he finds himself far from home in a foreign land. Discovered by Malik, a sahr of the Eranshar kingdom, he is offered a chance to fulfill his thirst for knowledge.

    Rejected, misunderstood, and burdened with expectations; Felix is the heir to a powerful family. Between his oppressive father, a plot to remove him from the line of succession, and Ravus, the assassin hired to protect him, he struggles against a life with little choice.

    This is the tale of the triumvirate, the three who would return balance to the world of Erd.

    Definitely MUCH better than the first one. When I read the first one as soon as I read the words "bind them" I though "huh, sounds like LOTRS", by the time I finished reading I couldn't helpt but feel it was an exact replication of LOTRS. This new one evokes nothing like that and feels more original. The blurb reminds me of Abercrombies "The Blade Itself", which isn't a bad thing. Only reason I point it out is in case you want to check out his blurb for inspiration or whatever.

    I'm curious though as to why you're writing a blurb instead of a query.

  4. #19
    Wirt's Fourth Leg Cirias's Avatar
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    I believe a good blurb focuses on selling the character of the story to whoever's reading it and getting the reader emotionally invested straight away. If we're made to feel an emotion when reading a blurb, whether it's sympathy, anger, sadness or happiness, we're more likely to want to read on.

  5. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    Hey Princeroth,

    I like this better that your first few attempts, but two things:

    What are the stakes? Will they die if they don't restore balance? Will everyone die if they don't restore balance?

    Also, I see what you are trying to do with the "Forsaken, alone, and unwanted...", "Abandoned, belittled, and punished...", "Rejected, misunderstood, and burdened..."; but it was too much for me. It weighed down the whole thing and it actually got me depressed. Maybe a bit too much.

    Otherwise, well done!
    Ah, that's a good point. I read it again and there really isn't any mention of what would happen if they failed.

    I'll try to tighten it up a bit in the next iteration.

    Quote Originally Posted by pennywise86
    Definitely MUCH better than the first one. When I read the first one as soon as I read the words "bind them" I though "huh, sounds like LOTRS", by the time I finished reading I couldn't helpt but feel it was an exact replication of LOTRS. This new one evokes nothing like that and feels more original. The blurb reminds me of Abercrombies "The Blade Itself", which isn't a bad thing. Only reason I point it out is in case you want to check out his blurb for inspiration or whatever.

    I'm curious though as to why you're writing a blurb instead of a query.
    I looked up Abercrombie's "The blade itself" and that is exactly what I wanted to achieve with my blurb. Thanks

    As for why I am writing blurbs, it's the only thing I can't do I have a lot of trouble with giving people a sense of my work in a few short words. This is practice both for selling my work and informing friends/contacts about what I am doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cirias
    I believe a good blurb focuses on selling the character of the story to whoever's reading it and getting the reader emotionally invested straight away. If we're made to feel an emotion when reading a blurb, whether it's sympathy, anger, sadness or happiness, we're more likely to want to read on.
    This is a good point. The big issue is doing it with very few words

    I'm emotionally devoid (probably not the best trait of a writer) so I need to fake it and hope it works.

  6. #21
    Outcast
    Book 1 of the Exiled Triumvirate


    Book Blurb

    Forsaken; Lynian is abominati, a taboo union of two species. Taken from the floating cities of the Soldii she is sent to the monastic Order of Allemann and put in the care of Godhart Leland, a venerated templar. But Godhart has problems of his own, chosen as successor of the Order and the target of a political plot; he needs to survive long enough to make it north to Sanctuary with his charge.

    Abandoned; after being orphaned Hensel is taken in by the Order and dreams of becoming a scribe, but after a series of unfortunate events he finds himself far from home in a foreign land. Discovered by Malik, a sahr of the Eranshar with a checkered past, he is offered a chance to fulfill his thirst for knowledge, but only if he can overcome the curse that threatens to erase his existence.

    Rejected; Felix is the heir to a powerful family. Between his oppressive father, a plot to remove him from the line of succession, and Ravus, the assassin hired to protect him, he struggles against family, friends, and a life with little choice.

    This is the tale of the triumvirate; three children born to a world of malicious politics, dogmatic cultures, and tragic pasts. When magic meets the renaissance and people are just a means to an end, there is little room for compromise.

    Book Background

    Imagine the Renaissance had happened in the 8th century, humans aren’t the only intelligent species on the planet, and there are two moons instead of one; this is the world of Erd. Erd is geographically similar to the Earth of our time.

    To the west is a continent much like modern day America called Arca. This continent is a perpetual tundra of frozen ice and snow with many natural resources. The people that inhabit Arca are called the Lunaii. These people are fair skinned and haired with blue eyes and elongated ears. They are an aristocratic society which believes in slavery, and that their race is superior to all others. Lunaii often raid other kingdoms with their airships to harvest slaves for their ever growing cities. Below Arca are unexplored jungles inhabited by mysterious creatures and cultures (possible room for exploration within the narrative at a later date).

    At the centre of the world (relatively) is the Deutz Empire, an ever growing industrial and scientific powerhouse that is in the grip of a scientific revolution and on the verge of economic collapse. In order to finance his coffers the Emperor orders the religious organisations (such as the Order of Allemann) to be sacked and destroyed. In a panic many of the religious orders are fleeing the Empire to escape.

    North of the Deutz Empire is Roskya, a kingdom ruled by a tzar and his royal family. Roskya is much smaller than other human kingdoms but it stands as a bulwark against the beast men and other creatures that threaten the human kingdoms from the northern wastes. Roskyan people are hardy and barbaric compared to more cultured civilizations.

    South of the Deutz Empire is Eranshar and the Soldii (separated by a large inland sea). The Soldii inhabit large floating cities and keep to themselves… mostly. The Soldii believe themselves to be an elder race and don’t want to interfere with the other civilisations on Erd. Both Soldii and Lunaii are Alvii, a species who came to Erd from one of the orbiting moons, Fro, five millennia ago as the moon was becoming too unstable to inhabit. Every seven or so millennia Fro passes close enough to Erd so that both the celestial bodies’ atmospheres connect and make it possible to travel between them by airship (a machine that uses a special gravity defying rock from Fro to float). Unlike the Lunaii, Soldii are dark skinned, dark haired and have hazel to gold eyes. Alvii are generally weaker physically than humans with less dense bones, but are on average taller.

    Interesting physiological side note about Alvii, they have three genders, male, female, and inichubani. Alvii don’t have sex, the female will lay a small egg, and the male will spread his seed over it (from an organ inside his mouth). The egg will then sprout feelers that leech nutrients and genetic material from the inichubani that sits on it. Inichubani are always obese and have difficulty moving around. They have a revered status in society but hold no places of power. Alvii females have no breasts and males have no genitals, both genders also hold an equal social status. Lynian is the taboo result of using a human (or other species) incubating the egg.

    The Eranshar are a Middle Eastern inspired people who share similarities to the Ottomans and Arabic peoples. The Eranshar recently underwent a cultural revolution and have fully embraced science as their religion. Having close links to the Soldii they continually push the envelope of science and are one of the most advanced human civilisations on Erd.

    To the east is a mountainous region and beyond that the unexplored Far East. The Tehk mountain people are the only civilized society that lives in the region between the known world and the Far East. They are a collection of subterranean earth dwellers that have adapted to the darkest depths of a vast cave system and rarely come out, except at night. They have poor eyesight, squat bodies, and don’t like to associate with the outside world. Tehk have unrestricted access to precious minerals and ores, and are often sought after by diplomatic envoys of other nations.

    In the far north exist strange beast like creatures that live in societies and exhibit intelligence. One example is the Feros, a barbaric wolf like creature that is often twice as large as a normal man with half the intelligence. Feros live in packs and often raid Roskya for food and weapons. Many Feros are also addicted to a red powder which they use to work themselves into a frenzy before battle. The Feros believe the red powder connects them directly to their god, and that their god desires bloodshed and death.

    There are many other smaller nations and peoples throughout Erd. The axial tilt of Erd is less than Earth which means that there is less seasonal variance, with most places, like Roskya and Arca, remaining perpetually cold. Due to the twin moons there can be up to four tides a day, and on rare occasions there is a super tide which often wipes out coastal communities. Seafaring is considered very dangerous on Erd, and very few people live close to the sea.

    Technology is comparable to the 16-17th century in most human kingdoms, while the Alvii have technology that exceeds 21st century earth. Muskets, cannons, and pikes are the weapons of choice. Very little Alvii technology has made it into human hands and are impossible to reproduce or to power.

    Story Arcs/Synopsis

    Lynian and Godhart

    Lynian and Godhart’s story arc revolves around external conflict and uses elements of the quest and the journey. In Lynian’s case she deals with being unwanted and an outsider in a foreign land. In Godhart’s case he deals with the mantle of patriarch and outside forces trying to destroy the Order. Their story begins in the Altstadt Allemann monastery.

    After escaping a siege on the monastery they travel north in disguise with three other templars. In the forest one of the templars, Dieter, exhibits strange behavior (he is a pedophile) and tries to rape Lynian. Lynian escapes into the forest and meets a strange leopard who turns out to be the god Iacus, master of shadow and trickery. He offers her patronage in the form of worship and a contract. He says she is special and he needs to her to something for him.

    After Iacus disappears she is found again by Godhart (orchestrated by the god) and the templars, Dieter’s crime is still undiscovered. Just before they reach the sanctuary Dieter tries to rape Lynian again but is discovered by Godhart. In a fury Godhart almost kills Dieter when the group is attacked by Feros (beast like wolfmen). A bloody battle ensues but the Feros are too numerous to defeat.

    Dieter sacrifices himself to buy them time, and they escape to the Sanctuary of Allemann. In the Sanctuary Godhart is told the true reason he was sent with Lynian. He is told that the Order of Allemann was created to protect an ancient artifact until such time it was needed again. The problem is however that the artifact can only be used by someone of Alvii descent.
    In the final chapter Lynian is given the artifact with disastrous results. She turns into a demon and almost kills Godhart.

    Hensel and Malik

    Hensel and Malik’s story arc revolves around internal conflict. Hensel deals with his own identity and his dreams, where Malik fights old demons (within himself) and tries to find solace in helping outhers.

    Hensel is an initiate at the Alleman Monastery in Altstadt when he discovers a silver amulet, which he subsequently throws into a grove for fear of being accused of stealing (again). After being attacked after dark he wakes up in the body of a crow, in a puddle he sees his reflection and the amulet he had thrown away fused around his (crow) abdomen. After getting used to the crows body he meets an albino crow who befriends him. They pilfer food together until the albino crow is killed by black crows. Alone and lamenting his friend Hensel strays into an alley where he is eaten by a cat.

    Malik finds the cat aboard a merchant ship headed for the capital of Arca, Arcon. Recognizing the magic used by the amulet he is able to communicate with Hensel. Learning the boy’s (cat’s) story he agrees to take him on as an apprentice sahr (mage). Once reaching Arca, Malik searches for a replacement body for Hensel. He doesn’t want to use a living person because of the conflict it can create (having two consciousness in one body), so he searches clinics and hospitals for a vegetative person they can use.

    While Malik is out searching Hensel (in cat form) meets Felix (who is already in possession of one of the artifacts which he received at his coming of age ceremony) who can understand him and they quickly become friends.

    In the final chapter Malik is confronted by old enemies and Hensel’s consciousness is copied into the new body. Hensel (person) defeats the old enemies in his new body but is crippled. Hensel realizes he has two consciousnesses which can communicate with each other (one within the cat, one within the person) and questions whether he is truly still alive, or just a copy.

    Felix and Ravus

    Felix and Ravus’ story arc revolves around relation conflict. Felix is Lunaii and expected to treat slaves as slaves, but he believes the system is wrong. He is also issues with his father, who wants him to become head of the family and a mage. Ravus was once a great noble, but has lost prestige and his position in the family due to old circumstances; he also has a great desire to learn magic. He makes his living as an assassin.

    Felix’ coming of age ceremony is soon and his father wants to prepare him to take the mantle of family head, but Felix behavior is a concern to his oppressive father. Instead of treating slaves like salves, he treats them as friends and equals. This causes a lot of conflict between Felix and his father, as well as others of his kind. The family (Argentai) is not happy with Felix becoming head of the family and hatches a plot to assassinate him. Discovering the plot the father sends for Ravus, the most infamous assassin of the Lunaii, to protect his son.

    Ravus is not happy babysitting a soon to be mage and heir to a powerful family (all the things he once was or wants) and the relationship between Felix and Ravus is icy and volatile, Ravus embraces Lunaii culture and has trouble understanding Felix’ feelings about slavery. Just before the coming of age ceremony Felix’ is almost killed but is saved by Ravus.

    After the coming of age ceremony Felix meets Hensel in his cat form and is able to communicate with him (due to the linked artifacts power). They share their stories and quickly become friends before Malik calls Hensel away.
    Felix persuades Ravus to run away with him and in the final chapter and they escape Arca and head toward the Deutz Empire.
    Last edited by Princeroth; May 18th, 2012 at 05:39 AM.

  7. #22
    Posting the first chapter. Feedback is always much appreciated and if anyone could point out grammar, logical, and spelling errors.

    Chapter 1: Part 1


    The raucous cries of crows echoed through the monastery. The winter sun was making its way below the horizon. Shafts of light glittered through the simple fix arch windows that lined the halls illuminating a fine dust drifting in the air. Beady eyes scanned the courtyard, intermittent caws signaling the end of the day. They watched the robed figures below, waiting for an opportunity to steal a morsel of food.

    Hensel looked up at the vermin with disgust. His muscles groaned as he pulled the rope, hand over hand. The well was old and the water was a long way down. One bucket was no feat, but a hundred wore him down. He didn’t count the buckets, it was just a guess, and he had just recently learned how to count to a hundred. Learning was his only solace. He wanted to be like the other initiates chosen to become scribes or messengers who spent all day inside studying and reading books. To him reading was magic. He had learned his letters in the candlelight at night when the acolytes were asleep. They caught him once and scolded him, taking away his most precious possession, a simple book. He didn’t know what it was about or even what the title was, but it was only link to the world he yearned for.

    “Where did you steal this from?” The acolyte had said. Hensel had only shaken his head sadly. He had found the book, discarded and forgotten under a bench.
    “We house you, we feed you, and we give you a life, and this is how you repay us?”
    Sharp pain followed by an audible crack as the acolyte backhanded him. He was a big boy, and strong for his age, but it wasn’t the physical pain that hurt him, it was the shame of being accused of stealing. It was also the anger of not being able to choose his path in life. Why couldn’t he choose to be a scribe? Why did he have to do physical chores just because he was bigger and stronger than the other boys? These questions went unanswered and they took his book away.
    “Listen boy. If we catch you stealing again the Order will throw you back on the street where you came from. There are many other children who could live a good life here.”
    And that was the last time Hensel had ever kept any personal possessions. Dreams were one thing, but being thrown out by the Order of Alleman was not something he could bear.
    Cold streets and hungry nights were all but a distant memory now, and not something he ever wanted to experience again.

    His reverie was broken by a commotion nearby. A white crow was fending off two black crows. The beasts danced across the courtyard, jumping, hopping, and then taking flight. The two black crows did not let up on their victim; they raced after the red eyed outsider picking at it in midflight. The three creatures circled each other in the air before the black crows lost interest and settled themselves back down on a nearby rooftop of the monastery.
    “An ominous omen,” he said to himself.
    The rope strained in his hands. The bucket had reached the top of the well. Holding down the rope with one hand he reached out to pull it in.
    “Initiate.”
    The rope slipped sending searing pain through his hand. He tightened his grip instinctively.
    “Initiate!” The tone of the voice was raised and sharp.
    Hensel bit his lip, tears forming at the corner of his eyes. The pain was excruciating. A robed acolyte was standing behind him crossing his arms.
    “What are you doing? I told you to finish delivering the water an hour ago.”
    Hensel felt a sharp crack at the back of his head.
    “Stupid boy! Explain yourself.”
    He was used to the abuse. There was no point in getting angry, he thought. He replied with a measured voice.
    “This well is almost dry; the last few buckets were full of mud sire.”
    Another crack.
    “Then why don’t you use the well on the other side of the west wing? Can’t you think for yourself a little?”
    It would have taken twice the amount of time to fetch water from that well, he thought. There was no point arguing with an acolyte. It would only earn him a sharp flick to the head and missing out on an evening meal.
    “Pardon my ineptitude sire.”
    The acolyte sighed, turning to attend to his own duties. As he walked away he spoke over his shoulder.
    “Hurry up boy, evening sermons will begin shortly. I’ll be damned if you don’t attend because you haven’t finished your chores.”
    “Yes sire.”
    The acolyte turned the corner and left him once again. The interruption had taken his mind off the pain in his hands but now it returned twofold. Gritting his teeth he pulled the bucket up again. Luckily it hadn’t fallen far and with a few pulls he was within arm’s reach. Wrapping the rope around his left hand he reached for the metal handle.

    The bucket was heavier than usual. With a mighty heave he raised it over the mossy wall of the well and dropped it on the ground with a thud. His hands were red and bloody. The old rope had scraped away skin and opened old calluses. Looking past his hands he saw that the bucket was full of muddy water, just like the last one he had pulled up. He would have to go to the west wing’s well now, there was no other choice, but first he would have to do something about his hands. The water beckoned to him. Carefully he stuck one finger into the bucket. It was cool to the touch, and soothing. Without a second thought he placed both hands in the bucket rubbing the water gently onto his palms. At the bottom of the bucket he could feel rocks, slime, moss, and other things mixed in with the water, but there was another strange object that he couldn’t identify.

  8. #23
    Chapter 1: Part 2

    It was smooth and didn’t feel naturally formed like a rock or a piece of wood. He lifted the object out of the bucket and examined it. At first there was only black mud, but as he scraped his finger across the surface a glint of silver shone through. His heart jumped in surprise and he looked around quickly to see if anyone was watching him. The east wing courtyard was empty except for the crows who lined the walls and roofs, watching him with feigned disinterest. Hensel cleaned the object on his tunic without thinking, spreading the black mud on the brown stained cloth. Turning to the last rays of the sun he finally saw what he had found.

    In his hands lay a triangular shaped amulet with a large round crystal set in its centre. Around the crystal was an elaborate metal work depicting armored men kneeling and raising their hands like the acolytes at sermon. Hensel had only ever seen such jewelry on nobles who visited the monastery and had never touched anything so finely crafted. He traced his finger across exquisite metalwork trying to decide what to do with it. Hensel turned, taking a step, but was then assaulted by doubt. What if he was accused of stealing again? Would they believe him if he had said he had found the amulet in the well? The painful memory of being reprimanded by the acolytes about the book was still vivid in his mind. He crushed the amulet in his hand, angry at the injustice. His palm burned again. The rope burns were still painful. He stopped squeezing it but the burning didn’t subside. It traveled up his arm toward his neck.

    Hensel clutched his head crying out in pain. Images from his life flashed past him. The cold streets of Altstadt, starving of hunger in an alleyway, the gentle smile of the acolyte that had found him, a hand offering him food, the long days scrubbing sand stone floors; his entire life. The sudden flashes ended abruptly and he doubled over falling to his knees and retching.
    “Ahhrgg, my head!”
    He felt weak and disorientated. His arms were slumped next to him and the amulet was still tightly clutched in his right hand. He wasn’t sure if it was his imagination but for a moment he thought he saw the crystal glowing red hot. He ran his fingers across the surface of the crystal again and all he could feel was cool stone. He let out a sigh.
    “I wish I could keep you,” he said.
    The crows cocked their head as he stood up unsteadily supporting himself on the wall of the well. Hensel held the amulet over the darkness of the well. He couldn’t keep it. It was too risky. He tried to open his hand but it wouldn’t obey him.
    “So, you don’t want to go back in the well?” he said to the amulet.
    He looked around the courtyard. The east wing was the older part of the monastery. Unlike the western or northern wings the walls were darker and more grey, worn with age and damaged by weather. The monastery was surrounded by a moat and in parts of the compound the protective walls had crumbled and broken. Since the city of Altstadt had engulfed the monastery there had been no need to continue maintaining the walls and guard towers. In the furthest corner of the east wing was a small grove of trees and brush that had taken advantage of the moat and broken wall.

    Hensel walked to the edge of the grove, the crows tracking his every move. He pulled his arm back and with all his willpower he hurled the amulet amongst the trees. The decision was painful. It felt as though he had just cast away a part of himself. He also knew he would never be able to touch such a beautiful and well crafted ornament ever again. The sun was setting. Red, orange, and pink light, danced with one another mixing amongst the clouds. The trees cast long shadows hiding the grass that struggled to grow. He turned back to the well and saw a small figure crouching over his bucket. The figure was bent over, back turned to him. It wore a cloak and was very small, no more than a child. He didn’t recognise the fabric of the cloak. The garments given to initiates of the temple were a dull brown but the crouching figures cloak was the colour of old paper. Whoever it was, he had chores to finish and he needed the bucket. With a confident pace he started forward, kicking up dust his wake.
    “Hey you!” he called.
    The cloaked figure jumped in fright like a startled kitten. Without looking back it tried to dash away. It had only taken two steps but got tangled in its cloak and tripped face first onto the hard ground. Splayed on the dusty ground the figure struggled to stand up. Hensel was just as surprised and rushed forward to help. His even strides carried him past the bucket and with one swift motion he grabbed the figures arm. With the strength of a grown man he hauled the figure up on its feet.

    His heart jumped. Underneath the hood was the face of a small girl, her delicate features stained with dust. Defiant eyes stared back at him. They were bright gold, something he had never seen before.
    “Relinikereta!” she shouted in a silvery voice.
    She started hissing like a cat and clawing at his arm, shouting incoherently. He was about to let her go when he noticed that her elbow was scratched and bleeding. He kept holding on trying to calm her down.
    “Please madame, wait a moment,” he said in a gentle voice.
    The girl continued to struggle as he reached for a handkerchief with his other hand. The motion only made her more frantic.
    “Exechor, relinikereta!”
    Hensel pulled out a white cloth from his pocket and held it up for her to see. Her eyes fixed on it in confusion.
    “Please, let me treat your wounds.”
    He raised her arm and pointed to the scrape with the cloth in his hand. He noticed she couldn’t see the wound, but blood was running down her arm. He nodded slowly, trying to make her understand. The girl looked from the cloth to the blood and nodded slowly.
    “I’m going to let you go now…”
    Hensel loosened his grip and her arm darted away. With a quick jump she opened a distance between them and turned to run.
    “Wait!” he cried, desperation in his voice.
    She froze, like something was holding her in place.
    “Wait,” he said again, backing away slowly to the bucket of muddy water. She eyed him cautiously as he moved. He crouched down next to the bucket, beckoning her with his hand. She still stood motionless, watching him. Hensel waited patiently for her to make up her mind. She looked him up and down, her cautious eyes never straying too far from the perceived threat. Blood dripped down the ends of her fingers staining the ground. The girls shoulders relaxed and she shuffled towards the crouching boy. Hensel smiled and she hesitantly lowered herself down, keeping a watchful eye on him.

  9. #24
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    I like the story so far - oh, a bit ambiguous here and there but with little girls and acolytes seeming to conjure themselves out of thin air (is he hard of hearing or deaf?). A nit, to be sure, but something to think about in the old "cause and effect" world. Much like the rope which you handled well.

    I would also like to see more description in your characters. Hensel is big, sure, but what about that pink hair and a wandering left eye? And those shoes! (grin). Okay, fun aside, you did get me interested in the character enough to want to see him better. And the Acolyte - even a "bitter faced man dressed in severe orange robes" would be better than...uh...where was that description again?

    I did notice one constant pattern in grammar (notice I'm not complaining about story?). You need to work on commas, perhaps.

    The interruption had taken his mind off the pain in his hands but now it returned twofold. Gritting his teeth he pulled the bucket up again. Luckily it hadn’t fallen far and with a few pulls he was within arm’s reach. Wrapping the rope around his left hand he reached for the metal handle.
    for example.

    The interruption had taken his mind off the pain in his hands, but now it returned twofold. Gritting his teeth, he pulled the bucket up again. Luckily it hadn’t fallen far, and with a few pulls he was within arm’s reach. Wrapping the rope around his left hand, he reached for the metal handle.
    Read this aloud and you will find natural pauses where the commas needed to go.

    Now, as to your story so far...keep going. His conditioned reflex to any material goods shows promise, and great characterizations will carry any tale far.

    Kerry

  10. #25
    Good points. I'll be sure to address them in the next redraft.

  11. #26
    He is not a nit, he's a very distracted boy!

    Chapter 1: Part 3


    He soaked the handkerchief in the water and offered his hand palm uppermost.
    “Your arm, madame.”
    She reached across resting her arm on his palm and he examined the exposed scrape. It was not as bad as he had first thought and gently dabbed the wet handkerchief on the wound cleaning away the blood. The girl winced but didn’t pull her arm away. He looked up and her eyes bored into him intently. Blushing he lowered his head again, concentrating on the task. Her skin was dark, much darker than his own sun beaten skin. Hensel had heard stories about ambassadors with dark skin from the southern kingdoms, but he had never seen one before. If this girl was part of a diplomatic escort or the daughter of an ambassador it was even more important for him to demonstrate the hospitality of the monastery. He washed the handkerchief in the bucket and wrung it out before folding it into triangle.
    “This will let the wound heal,” he said in a soothing tone.
    He smiled reassuringly but her brow was still knitted in a frown. Gently he tied the damp cloth around her elbow covering the wound.
    “There you go madame, that should scab in a few days and won’t leave a scar.”
    She ran her fingers over the handkerchief. Hensel thought he saw her eyes tear up but she rubbed her eye with her forearm like it never happened.
    “Garata.” She said not daring to meet his eyes.
    Hensel smiled again. She was beautiful and strange, and her large golden eyes reminded him of the street cats that would keep him company when he was a street urchin. When she had regained her composure he pointed a finger at his chest.
    “Hensel.”
    She stared at him, saying nothing. He pointed to himself again.
    “Hensel, my name is Hensel.”
    Her eyes lit up. She nodded, ash blonde hair falling into her face. She pointed to herself.
    “Lynian, nomene sas Lynian ese.”
    Hensel couldn’t understand the language, but she had used a similar sentence structure to bring her point across. It was not a name or a language he had ever heard in Altstadt. She must be from another kingdom, he thought. He didn’t realise he was staring at her again, and looked away blushing. All this time she had kept a calculating expression but he had sensed the beginning of a smile.

    Hensel heard shouting from the other side of the courtyard. To his right four men were approaching them. Hensel recognised his supervising acolyte by the hysterical hand gestures he made, and next to him was a templar. Behind them were two tall armored men, covered in foreign style dark golden armour. The acolyte was pointing in his direction. As they got closer Hensel saw a dark expression on the templar’s face. The two men behind them carried no expression and betrayed no emotions, they had the same dark skin and golden eyes as Lynian, but their hair was a pitch black.
    “Initiate!” the shrill acolytes voice broke.
    The four men surrounded them, towering over them like a brooding storm. The acolyte’s eyes fixed on the handkerchief bound around Lynian’s elbow. He was fuming.
    “I demand to know what you have done to our most honoured guest!”
    The templar said nothing. He watched impassively. Hensel didn’t know who to respond to, the acolyte was his supervisor but the templar’s presence was overwhelming. He bowed his head low in the direction of the templar, forehead touching the ground. He felt someone grab the back of his head.
    “Well,” the acolyte lowered his voice. “What did you do?”
    Hensel’s heart was caught in his throat. He was in trouble, and he was scared. What should he say?
    “For-,” he started to speak but a voice next to him interjected.
    “Ego sas chadeneita,” Lynian said. “Achiden eseita.”
    The templar’s voice rumbled. Hensel recognised it now, he was one of the librarians.
    “What did your child say?”
    “Child says she fell. Accident it was.”
    The acolyte’s grip on Hensel’s hair relaxed a little. The templar spoke again.
    “All is in order then acolyte, carry on.”
    Hensel heard Lynian stand up and the rhythmic clink of armour as the strange foreigners walked away. The acolyte leaned in closer.
    “You got lucky this time boy,” and pushed his head into the dirt.
    “Get to your sermons.”
    The acolyte stood up and hurried after the templar and his guests. Hensel dared to look up and saw Lynian’s golden eyes looking back at him as she was led away by her escorts. She gave him an encouraging smile.

    Red light streamed in from high set windows. Everyone was at sermon. The halls were empty. Hensel hurried over the smooth sandstone floor. The water in the bucket he carried sloshed around threatening to spill. He turned into another long hallway. This was the last room he had to attend to. This entire wing was reserved the men who served Alleman their entire life and followed the strictures of the Order diligently, the most revered and respected templars of the Order. These rooms were what awaited him if he became a templar, Hensel thought.

    Like the rest of the monastery, the walls were built from simple red sandstone. Bronze sconces held freshly filled oil lamps; the smell of paraffin mixed with dust permeated the air. Along the hallway heavy oak doors stood equally spaced, each adorned with a metal shield of the room’s owner. The shields were all painted with a crest, and Hensel had memorised them all. Horse upon a hill, a headless crow, three stars; it was part of his job to know which rooms required water and which needed chamber pots cleaned in the morning. Some templars refused to let initiates do these simple tasks. A templar was a warrior as much as a monk and few allowed themselves the luxury of being served upon.

  12. #27
    Chapter 1: Part 4


    Hensel found the door he was looking for. Like the others, it was crafted from oak native to the forests surrounding Altstadt. The triangular shield on the door was heavily damaged, rents and tears covering its borders. Once, a large green tree had stood proudly on the shield, but much of the paint bad been stripped away. Now only a half a trunk and a few braches were left against a dull unpolished grey. The tree was the crest of Sire Godhart Leland. Hensel traced the battle damage with his hands remembering the stories the acolytes shared about Sire Leland’s exploits, of the battles he fought and adventures he lived through. Stepping back from the door, he composed himself, knocking twice and waiting. There was no response. As procedure dictated, he knocked again, but only silence followed.

    He nudged the door open with one hand, the iron hinges groaning in protest. Hensel wondered why the hinges were in such a bad state, he remembered an acolyte oiling these doors last week. He entered the room and placed the bucket on the floor. The room was barren. Not a single picture or holy text hung from the walls. The window, facing the setting sun, had neither glass nor wooden shutters. In the corner was a simple straw mattress, and beside it a night stand with a polished bronze lamp. Hensel closed the door and crouched down, examining the hinges. There was no evidence of tampering, but he could smell paraffin, the oil they used for their lamps. Someone had poured it on the hinges.
    “That will annoy the acolytes,” he said aloud.
    Hensel had never thought of using paraffin to make old hinges creak. It was a neat trick. Satisfied with the solved mystery he surveyed the room. The only other things of interest were a suit of armour and a bookstand filled with books. Like the shield on the door, the armour had battle damage that no armour smith could fix. It was an older style of armour, no longer used by the Order. Hensel didn’t understand why Sire Leland had not requisitioned a new set of armour; he certainly had the prestige and position to ask for it.

    Next to the armour was a warhammer and a Swartz-powder rifle, two other outdated relics. No other templar Hensel had ever seen wielded a warhammer. He reached forward hesitantly gripping the large weapons haft trying to pick it up. The warhammer wouldn’t even leave the ground. Carefully Hensel levered it back into its original position, looking at the rifle next to it. The black powder rifle was also from another time. It was an old matchlock design, not used since – forever. In fact Hensel had never seen a rifle this old being fired.

    He turned away from the weapons and armour, he liked to look at them like every other initiate, but his true passion was letters and reading. Crossing the room, he kneeled before the book stand. He counted them. There were twenty five books. Hensel recognised the litanies of Alleman, the scriptures of the Order, and other books he had seen in the library, but there were others that were older and – Hensel gasped – hand written. He traced his finger down on of the leather bound tomes. Hand written books were rare and expensive. Since the invention of the printing press, they had become collector’s items, rather than books to be read.

    Hensel heard a creak and looked to the door. A scarred face looked at him sternly. He jumped in fright and kneeled, pressing his forehead to the ground in prostration.
    “Pardon my intrusion to your quarters sire, I didn’t mean to--,” but a gruff voice cut him off.
    “Didn’t mean to what?”
    Hensel didn’t know what to say. He had been caught red handed.
    “Pardon sire, I shouldn’t have looked at your belongings.”
    He kept his eyes closely shut, the cold of the floor seeping into his skin. The door closed heavily with a thud. The templar’s footsteps were so light they were almost inaudible. Hensel heard him walk around to the bed, followed by the rustle of straw.
    “Get up boy. Curiosity isn’t a crime.”
    He sat up keeping his eyes lowered. There was no mistake, this templar was Godhart Leland. He was sitting on the straw bed watching Hensel.
    “How old are you boy?”
    “Pardon sire, I don’t know how old I am.”
    Hensel saw him scratching his beard.
    “I see. How many years have you served in the Order?”
    He counted on his fingers, one, two…
    “This is my fifth year since joining the order, sire.”
    Godhart stood up sat down next to him in front of the bookshelf.
    “Do you like books?” he said.
    Hensel nodded as the templar pulled one leather bound tomb from the shelf.
    “I was like you boy, when I first joined the order. Big and strong, and destined for the battlefield, but in truth all I wanted to do was work away like the scribes in the library,” he opened up the book, paging through it in reminiscence. “This was given to me by an elderly templar who was much like me, and I guess, also like you. Men who have their destinies written for them; rather than being allowed to forge it themselves.”
    Godhart closed the book, handing it to Hensel.
    “Do you know your letters?”
    Hensel nodded taking the book like it was a treasure. Godhart’s stern expression had vanished and he looked at the young boy with a warm smile.
    “Take it.”
    Hensel’s eyes widened and he shook his head vigorously from side to side.
    “I couldn’t sire, it’s too precious.”
    The templar clapped his hand on the young initiates shoulder.
    “Listen boy, the most precious thing in this world is knowledge. To give and receive knowledge are one of life’s great pleasures. All I can hope is that one day when you are an old man like me; you do the same for the initiates of the Order.”
    The smell of leather and paper hung in the air. The cover of the book was smooth from years of handling. Embossed on the cover was an old man with a beard that reached down to his knees sitting under a great tree. Godhart had called himself old, and it was true that he had a few grey hairs in his black beard, but he was not as ancient as patriarch Daniel. Hensel’s hands clutched the book so tightly that his hands turned white.

  13. #28
    Chapter 1: Part 5


    He could not accept it.
    “Sire, it is a precious gift, but I fear that if I am caught with another book the acolytes will throw me out of the Order.”
    Godhart threw his head back and roared with laughter.
    “If I had silver pann for every time I was threatened with being thrown out I would be rich man.”
    He clapped Hensel on the back.
    “But you have a point, this is a precious book. I wouldn’t want to you lose it,” he said standing up. “Have you been given a surname… what was your name again?”
    “Hensel, sire. Initiates are only given family names at their coming of age ceremony.”
    The templar walked to his night stand.
    “Bring the book.”
    Hensel did as he was told. Godhart opened the tomb to the second page.
    “This is a list of men who have carried this book,” he pointed to the first name on the list. “Here, this was the author, Godfried Leland, and under him Karl Leland.”
    Godhart reached for a quill. Hensel breathed sharply as the templar put it to paper under his own name. With even strokes he wrote a name.
    “There, now there is no question to the ownership of this book Hensel Leland.”
    The young initiate couldn’t believe that someone would do such a thing for him.
    “But sire, to become a Leland I need three recommendations –,” Godhart pointed to his name and then the name above it.
    “Well, you have one and if you ask the owner before me I am sure he would give his blessing when you show him the book.”
    Hensel squinted trying to read the name. Dan—Daniel… Leland. The previous owner is the patriarch himself.
    “But why, sire? Why would you do this for me, I am just another initate, like everyone else.”
    The templar pointed to the armour and weapons.
    “This is not the first time I have walked in on initiates and acolytes admiring my belongings, but they would rather dream of battle and glory. You are different boy, big and strong, yet you were kneeling before the bookshelf. A warrior is more than strength and armour. The Order needs men who think and seek knowledge. This is what the Leland line has done for generations.”
    The ink had dried. Godhart closed the book and gave it back to the initate.
    “May the book of Leland serve you well initiate. You are dismissed.”
    Hensel took the book and bowed deeply. He was about to leave, trying to open the creaking door as quietly as possible.
    “Oh, and initiate.”
    “Yes, sire?”
    The templar smiled.
    “Don’t miss any more sermons.”
    Hensel’s cheeks reddened.
    “Y—yes, sire.”

    The night was warm and the twin moons eclipsed each other. Fro, the lord had a bluish hue and the smaller moon Frea, the lady, was a marble white. The halls of the monastery were empty and oil lamps burned brightly casting an orange light against the sandstone. Hensel clutched the book tightly to his chest as he hurried down the corridor. Sire Leland had given him a treasure, but more than that, he had given him hope and a purpose. He pressed himself against the rough walls and peeked around the corner, scanning the deserted hallway. Even if I go to the kitchens I won’t get fed tonight, the acolytes would see to that, he thought. His stomach rumbled. The only thing he had eaten all day was an apple at breakfast. He considered going down to the storehouse to steal some food like he had done before, but he shook his head. The book he carried would certainly be forfeit if he got caught, and the hope the templar had offered him would have been for naught. His stomach rumbled again…

    When he lived on the streets there was always food to be pilfered behind taverns or in narrow alleyways behind townhouses. Altstadt always had an abundance of wasted food, but the monastery of Alleman was different. Food was not thrown out here. You ate what you were given and not a crumb was wasted. The flames of the lamps flickered sending shadows dancing across the walls. The air was muggy and a trickle of sweat beaded on his brow. He sneaked quietly down the hallway pressing himself against the cool sandstone walls, always listening for footsteps. He waited, counting in his head. When he reached ten he started to move again. A metallic sound reverberated down the hallway and he stopped mid-step. Two voices started arguing nearby.

    “Don’t drop me you clumsy idiot!”
    A woman cried.
    “What –,” a man replied.
    The metal sound rang again.
    “Did –,”
    And again.
    “I –,”
    The ringing increased in pitch.
    “Say –,”
    Then it stopped.
    “About calling me clumsy!”
    Between each sound the female voice had cried out.
    “Owowow! Are you crazy.”
    The man’s voice was harsh.
    “Shut up you stuck up wench!”

    Hensel had never heard these voices in the monastery. The noise was coming from just beyond the next hallway. He peered carefully around the corner with one eye trying to get a look at who it was. The flames of the oil lamps showed a dark cloaked figure with a glinting piece of metal in his hand. There was no one else.
    “Shh, I smell something.” The man said.
    Hensel pulled away and pressed himself against the wall. How could they have smelled him from so far away? He held his breath, waiting, listening. Nothing, there was no sound except the trees rustling in the breeze. He turned his head slightly. Nobody was coming. He let out a sigh.
    “Look what we have here.” It was the same voice of the man.
    To his right, out of the shadows a pale manic face emerged holding a dagger. His skin was pasty white and he had a vicious smile. He was holding up a dagger in a reverse grip.
    “What should we do with him,” the female voice rang out of nowhere.
    A large red crystal set into the cross-guard of a dagger glowed in the darkness. The man brought the dagger close to his face.
    “I’ll think of something…”
    Hensel heard a female voice of laughter. It was coming from the dagger. He hadn’t noticed it before, but an eye looked out at him from the crystal.

  14. #29
    I've been doing some more work on my project. Many things have changed (as they do) and I've spent some serious time trying to learn how write effective blurbs.

    How do you feel about this? I've managed to shorten it to 124 words, but I think I can still shave off another 40 to get it to a perfect length.

    Malediction


    Tension between the Kaizer and the Orders, the representatives of the gods, has reached crisis point. Kaizer Frederik III has put forth an ultimatum, return all lands and wealth to its rightful owner, the Deutz Empire, or face the consequences…

    The Order of Alleman, and Godhart, awaits the arrival of a small child. Bound by an ancient oath, the child is to be escorted to Sanctuary, a place for her kind in the frozen north, but with the Deutz Empire on the brink of rebellion the Kaizer has no interest in the ancient oaths and duties of the Orders.

    When power rests in the hands of a few a single word can bring great good or terrible destruction, a curse of power, a malediction.

  15. #30
    sf-icionado / horr-orator Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    Germanic fantasy, is it? I would start by rephrasing the first paragraph to something like:

    Tension between the representatives of gods and men has reached crisis point. Kaizer Frederik III has put forth an ultimatum: return all lands and wealth to its rightful owner, his Deutz Empire, or face the consequences.

    Pretty similar to what you had, but a little tighter to read. The important thing is that it establishes a core aspect of the conflict to come, while characterising KF3 as a despot.

    Then, assuming that the casual reader has no prior knowledge of the story world (like me), I would use the second paragraph to introduce the godly adversaries. Perhaps you could say something like:

    The various orders of the gods, pledged to blah blah blah, are forced to defy Frederik's command and blah blah blah if they are to fulfill their ancient responsibilities.

    This establishes a general opposition to the forces of evil (and where each blah represents as close to ONE word as possible). I really can't say anything precise though, because reading what you wrote I have almost no idea what to make of it. It suffers from too much that's specific but unclear - Godhart is just a label to me, there is "an oath" regarding what, and saying of the child "her kind" only raises infinite questions. You ought to tantalise us with a more manageable number, and the way to do that is better establish the overall nature of the world before you get down to the meaningful details.

    Finally, to me your third paragraph is basically not about story at all but amounts to an explanation of your title. I would ditch it and turn the wordcount more towards the story. So, as suggested above, you could springboard from the description of general opposition and focus down to some specifics:

    Godhart, leader of the Order of Alleman, must etc etc...

    Now Godhart is defined in a way the random punter can understand, and KF3's opposition is shown on a personal level.

    If you want to make reference to a malediction, say how it will appear in the plot. Keep it negative for the threat: When power rests with one man, one word can destroy, or something similar - a good punchy line is a nice way to end the blurb, but spelling out for us Exactly How It Relates To The Title Of This Story wastes valuable words.
    Last edited by Andrew Leon Hudson; October 2nd, 2012 at 08:39 AM.

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