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Essence 6
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Kieran's Tale, Part One (Contains Very Little Kieran)

04 Apr 2006, 14:01

Well, I've been sitting around reading all the textwork that goes up around here, if not commenting much, and I decided to leap into the fray. Why not?

Anyway, hope you like the following first page of a story.


Jarik Threespurs crouched low in the gloom. The cave that surrounded him and his companions was dark, with only two faint torches to light their way. Ahead of them, a great bridge forged of stone crossed a deep pit, with the area surrounding it couched in shadows. The bridge was flanked by strange metal spines, connected to each other by long threads of strange wire, glowing faintly in the darkness.

"Alright, this is what we'll do." Jarik looked at the five travellers who had dared the depths with him. His brother, Havek, who was standing near the back, holding a torch, and leaning against the damp rock wall with a smirk on his face, nodded slowly, showing ragged teeth, and Jarik continued. "The only way to get across that bridge is to prime the defenses. We need to trigger both switches within seconds of each other, though, or the defenses'll short out right away. They're on opposite sides of the bridge, in the side corridors there, and there." He pointed down two gloom-shrouded branches, and shrugged. "Once that's done, we get across the bridge, get into one of the unopened tombs, and come away with a king's ransom if'n we're lucky."

"Seems pretty easy." Jarik gritted his teeth as Ollir Elena spoke up, surpressing the urge to beat her soundly. He'd thought having a good-looking woman along on the trek might be a nice chance, but she'd made him regret it ever since; setting watch orders, second-guessing him, and acting like it was her expedition, not his. "Why do you need so many people? Seems like two could do the job."

"Oh, yeah. Real easy." Jarik let sarcasm seep into his voice. "Not like we spent a full day slipping through dangerous, monster-infested mines to get here. Not to mention that the defenses don't hold up more'n half an hour, and the beasties try to stop us. That's also why I haven't just cleared all the tombs out already." He looked around the group. "Look around carefully. There's a good chance that one of us won't be here when we regroup." He snorted. "Two would be suicide. Six is a little small, but I think we'll manage. Any other stupid questions?"

"Seems odd, this setup." Jarik fought down a scream of annoyance as Kieran, the youngest member of the expedition, mused aloud. "I mean, why set it up to be so confusing?" The boy frowned thoughtfully, getting the faraway look in his eyes that suggested he was less than present. Jarik was beginning to suspect that the boy was demented. "Wouldn't you want something straightforward?"

"They're Anathema, you little twit, who knows?" Behind Kieran, Rappa Halana rolled her eyes, smoothing down her traveller's garb and checking her torch to make sure that it was burning properly. "Maybe they had magics to hit both buttons at the same time. Maybe there were seven other safeguards that are gone now, and that made the whole thing make sense. It doesn't matter anymore." She shrugged muscular shoulders, and grinned. "What matters is getting that treasure. Shall we?"

"Let's." Jarik smiled. "Havek, Elie, you two are with me, heading right. Kieran, Sarn, go with Halana, heading left." The last member of the group, Bettis Sarn, merely nodded, sliding his sword in and out of his sheath absently, and scratched the stubble of his chin. Elena looked annoyed, but nodded. "You see any nasty black ropes slipping up, you hit them with the torch. They hate that." With a last grin, he started rightwards, with Havek and Elena just behind him.

The passage was narrow, and the pit loomed on one side. Jarik saw hints of motion in the shadowy depths, and smiled darkly. "Company's on the way. Better hurry it up." He pushed ahead into the side chamber, gesturing towards the far wall, where a small red light glittered. "That's the switch up ahead. We'd better wait a moment, though. Want to make sure the others are there, too."

"Great." Elena turned to look at the pit, surpressing a shudder. "The sooner this is done, the better."

"Now, now, Elie. This's your fortune. Look happier." Jarik made a subtle gesture, and Havek walked forwards, looking towards the pit himself. "Pretty soon, we're going to be rich."

"Lovely." Elena drew her sword abruptly. "Go for the switch, Jarik. Something's coming."

The shadows swirled, and something started to appear at the mouth of the pit. Jarik backed up despite himself as four thick tendrils, seeming almost to be built from the shadows themselves, pulled themselves over the edge of the pit. Elena stabbed at one, which backed up, and bit back a curse. "Havek, get that torch over here! Now!"

Havek grinned, looking back to Jarik, who nodded. Stepping forwards, he brought the torch about in an arc that ended squarely in Elena's back. With a gasp of pain, she fell forwards, and the tendrils hungrily reached up to grab her. Jarik chuckled.

"Sorry, dear, but there's been a slight change of plan. Truth is, the 'defenses' don't do squat. They're a light system, that's all." Elena's eyes were wide as she struggled, but a tendril was around her neck, and she couldn't find the breath to yell. "But it's cool, because the beasties are smart folk. Seems they need food, you see, and people are the best kind. So I feed them, from time to time, and get treasure in return." He chuckled again, as the tendrils began to drag Elena over the side of the pit. "It was gonna be that boy, Kieran. But you were just such a bitch." His expression turning angry, Jarik strode forwards and kicked Elena in the chest, knocking her off the edge of the pit. For a moment, she hung in the air, the tendrils supporting her, and then they withdrew downwards. Jarik snarled after her. "No one orders me around!" Turning, he chuckled, and then started walking towards the red light, as it lit up brightly. He pressed it firmly, and it turned blue - the pit was suddenly lit up with blue light, and from where he was standing, he saw tendrils falling backwards, feigning fear of the tomb's lighting. He turned to Havek, and shrugged. "Time to tell the group the sad news, brother."

Havek nodded, and chuckled. "A terrible day, indeed." He looked down into the pit, and spat, then chuckled again. "Won't see her like soon."

Jarik nodded with a dark smile. In the end, a woman like that was a small price to pay for the riches of the First Age.
"Some people walk in the rain. Others merely get wet."

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Essence 8
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Re: Kieran's Tale, Part One (Contains Very Little Kieran)

05 Jan 2008, 21:50

Ok, while I do really like this story, I feel the need to address a possible issue here. This introduction is slightly confusing because you are writing from the POV of, well,the bad guy. While it quickly becomes clear that Jarik is a murderous jerk, at the beginning he could just as easily be an exasperated leader who has had to put up with a couple of idiots for too long. Given what we see of Elena and Kieran later, I suspect that Elena was simply trying to help and/or correct a few of his more egregously incorrect decisions while Kieran was simply one of those kids who asks questions all the time, neither of which is bad, but Jarik wouldn't like either of those people. Thus his assessment of "Bossy Bitch" and "Idiot Kid" both of which are patently untrue, but Jarik's assessments are the only information we have about them at this point in the story. On my first read through I was somewhat confused as to the real personalities of our heroes and who the protagonists were for the first couple of installments due to this faulty introduction.

What my point is here, I'm not totally sure, but, should you ever decide to edit this, you might consider making it clearer just what kind of man Jarik is.

Overall though, once I got to part three or four, I had gotten caught up in the story and these initial impressions had been left behind, so I don't think it matters much in the long run, but I thought you should be informed.
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