*Opinions Wanted* For a Prologue, to a larger piece i'm eventually going to write

Discussion in 'General Books' started by Lightborne, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. Lightborne

    Lightborne Fledgling Fantasy Author

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    This is a rough Prologue to a larger piece I'm eventually hoping to write. Keen for some opinions, even if they are just one or two words :p *Warning* This type of fantasy is quite dark, so read at your own risk. Thanks in advance!

    Prologue:
    By James Taylor


    Rondol urged his mount for more speed. Towering pines and oaks rushed past him, leaves and undergrowth rustling and crunching loudly as his steed pushed onward. He knew these woods well, having used them countless times to deliver his charges in the secrecy they demanded. He smiled fondly as a monstrous pine, reaching up beyond sight came into view. Her trunk was ten spans across, and massive roots, some almost as thick of the surrounding trees, shot out in every direction.

    Rondol lay low on his horses neck, and dug his heels in sharply to jump one such root. The great tree, affectionately known to Rondol as Betha, also marked the halfway point for his passage through the woods. He unconsciously felt beneath his deep green coat, a simple thing, that hid him well in the forest, but went unnoticed by those who he would very much like to avoid the attention of. The letter was still there, of course, safely concealed in a hidden pocket. If he was ever captured or killed, a man would have a hard time finding his charge. The pocket was stitched over, to one examining the coat, it would appear to be nothing but another seam. The letter was also wrapped in a thin layer of coarse material, matching that of the coat, and fooling the touch of seeking hands.

    Rondol shook his head in wonder, marvelling at the genius of his own mind. He was messenger to the King himself, and he had never failed to deliver a charge. He wondered what this particular letter contained. Information was power, but if he broke the seal on any one of his charges he knew he would hang. Still he attempted to puzzle it out anyway. This particular letter was to be delivered directly to Lady Da-- abruptly he pulled his reins back hard, causing his mount to rear up, almost throwing Rondel from the saddle. He held on until the horse settled all four hooves back on the ground, patting its neck to sooth the animal. The objects of his sudden halt were two large oaks, one laying flat on the forest floor, the other slanting across low to the ground, its top caught in the limbs of a large tree to the right. He had not seen the obstacle through the dense growth he had been riding through but a moment before.

    What were two felled trees doing, surrounded by perfectly healthy specimens, in a region that had not seen a vicious storm in a great many moons? Rondol moved his mount slowly toward the break in the closest tree. It was a perfect break, too perfect. Realisation bloomed, and Rondol attempted to urge his mount to the left, but it was too late. His horse screamed as a shaft punctured its neck. It danced wildly, tossing its head, blood spraying to and fro. He held on, attempting to free himself from the saddle, but succeeding in only getting his left boot free. There was a loud snap as the horse's leg fell into a shallow pit, breaking it, and throwing him from the saddle. He landed expertly, rolling to his feet in one smooth motion and darting over the fallen trees.

    Rondol ran hard, quickly leaving behind the screams of his dying mount, abruptly changing directions every fifty strides to deter his pursuers. He could hear hooves somewhere moving in his direction behind him, but he dared not look back. Quickening his pace, zig-zagging as well as he could, he ran on through the dense forest. The noise behind him grew louder, however much be pushed himself, and he risked a glance back. His pursuer was dressed all in black, hood pulled forward, astride a steed of the same colour, and horrifyingly with a crossbow in hand. Panicking, Rondol desperately attempted to change directions yet again. He made it three paces, pain abruptly lanced up his leg, and he tumbled to the ground.

    His face was pressed to the damp forest floor, and he could feel warmth rapidly spreading around the wound in his calf. He knew he had finally met the man that would take his life. But, he would not die like a coward. Ignoring the pain that shot through his leg, he turned himself onto his back, reaching inside his trousers to grip the knife hidden there. The hooded assailant casually dismounted, perfectly at ease, and tossed the crossbow aside. Rondol sat up, keeping his hand hidden where he had a good hold of his knife.

    “You are Rondol Kath?” The hooded figure asked in coarse voice, thick with an accent Rondol did not recognise.

    “I am, tell me, how did you know I would be passing through these woods, who betrayed me?” Rondol was surprised at how steady his voice was.

    The hooded man laughed, the sound coarse and harsh. “The Master knows all, whelp. Do not question him, you need only obey.” He said, moving closer to Rondol.

    Rondol froze. The Master? Was this strange hooded figure referring to The Master of the Dark, a tale told to scare children not yet off apron strings into behaving? Surely not, he must mean his Master in some far away kingdom where they all spoke as he did. The man stood over Rondol, and he was finally able to see inside the hood. Rondol blinked, he could not make out the man's face, his eyes sliding off where the man's nose should be. All he could see were a pair of deep black eyes, strangely well lit in spite of the surrounding darkness. Rondel shivered, pulling his eyes away.

    The hooded man leant down, going to reach inside Rondel's coat, it was then that Rondel struck. Freeing his knife from his trousers, Rondel reached up, aiming for the Man's chest, and heart beneath. The hooded man's hand darted down to grip Rondels wrist, and broke it in one smooth motion. Rondel cried out, gritting his teeth as agony overcame him. Such speed... how?

    “You will learn to obey, underling, I will not be so gentle again,” The man said, cocking his head before reaching down to retrieve Rondol's dagger.

    “You mean to let me live?” Rondol asked, voice strained, gripping his ruined wrist.

    “The Master has great designs for you, Rondol Kath. He would not be pleased if you were to die without his consent. You may call me Drak, do you still wish to struggle, Rondol Kath?” Drak asked, again reaching down into Rondol's coat. Using both hands, he sliced the seams protecting the hidden pocket, and pulled out the cloth wrapped letter. How did he know where it was hidden? Rondol shivered again, trying to ignore the agony in his wrist and the throbbing pain in his leg. Drak straightened, discarding the cloth and breaking the seal on the letter. Drak read through the message, occasionally laughing harshly.

    “If you require me for a task, you must know that I am the King's man, the seal that you just broke will as good as see me strung up,” Rondol said. Drak remained silent, dropping the letter beside Rondol. Rondol glanced at it, and drew a sharp breathe. The letter was resealed, exactly as it had been when first handed to Rondol.

    “What-”

    “SILENCE, whelp!” Drak boomed, the sound unnaturally loud. Drak leant down again, and cut strips of cloth from Rondol's trousers around the crossbow bolt in Rondol's leg. Drak then gripped the bolt, and pulled it free in one clean motion. Rondol gritted his teeth, beginning to feel dizzy from loss of blood and the pain. The strips of cloth were tied around the wound.

    “Your former allegiances are void, you serve The Master now, Rondal Kath. You will continue as you have done, and follow the orders of The Master when they come. The price of disobedience is death.” Drak struck out, slashing Rondol's face. Rondol withdrew sharply, feeling the blood already flowing from the gash.

    “If you ever forget who you truly serve, you need only look in the mirror, Rondol Kath. You were assaulted by brigands, they killed your house and stole your coins. You managed to kill them. The leader broke your wrist in the struggle, and slashed your face before you killed him. Remember who you serve, Rondol Kath.” With that, Drak walked slowly to his mount, mounted, and trotting the monstrous black animal away, disappearing among the trees.

    Rondol took a deep breathe, no, he supposed that name would no longer do, he would take a new name. He knew his survival now hitched on how well he was to serve this 'Master.' If his strange servants could find him with so little ease, he was sure he was no longer safe. He needed to obey utterly until he found a way out. He touched his face with his good hand, tenderly feeling gash there. It was deep, and ran in a line from the top left of his forehead, to bottom right of his chin, narrowly missing his eye. It would scar heavily. Scar, he was Scar, a faithful servant to 'The Master.'

    Some time later, Scar retrieved the sealed letter, found a stout stick to walk on, and begin his agonising journey from the now dark forest. Why did he feel a growing sense of secruity in the gathering darkness?

    - This prologue is intended for a piece at a later date. Please do not copy or reproduce the piece.
     
  2. WildPony

    WildPony New Member

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    I think it is a very good start. It definitely sparks an interest and makes me want to read more. I think it could be tidied up a bit and maybe some parts expanded a bit... perhaps dwell a bit more on who Rondel was, how he looked, the colour of his horse... small details like that. But, I do think it is great so far! :]
     
  3. Lightborne

    Lightborne Fledgling Fantasy Author

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    Ah yes, this was a rough draft to gauge interest. More detail will be added. Details like an ancient language for use with names and their representations will also be added. For instance the horse is intended to take one such name. Scar himself will take a name 'translated' from the fore-mentioned language meaning "Scarred One." I have not described Scar heavily as i'm still working out in my mind what he looks like. These events take place years before the novel's 'beginning.'

    Once you were immersed in the prologue, did anything pull you out? This is something I would much like to avoid.

    Thank you for your feedback!
     
  4. WildPony

    WildPony New Member

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    Sounds really interesting, I'd love to read it once you've added the extras. No nothing made me want to stop, I was very intrigued.
     
  5. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    Good opening scene, presenting conflct and character in under 2000 words. I expected much worse and was pleasantly surprised.

    One important detail, though: the line Rondol shook his head in wonder, marvelling at the genius of his own mind. needs to be cut unless you intend to make the character a buffoon continually failing through overconfidence. I almost stopped reading there.

    Personally, I thought the opening two paragraphs are a little weak. It becomes mush stronger once Drak appears onstage.



    BTW, Please don't start the same thread in more than one place; please don't bump threads. Regular posters find both annoying, and in some forums they're considered spamming.
     
  6. Lightborne

    Lightborne Fledgling Fantasy Author

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    "the line: Rondol shook his head in wonder, marvelling at the genius of his own mind. needs to be cut unless you intend to make the character a buffoon continually failing through overconfidence" - You've hit the nail on the head, that's exactly the head-space this particular character is in. It leads to his fall from grace...

    You almost stopped reading because you did not like the character?

    Posting in more than one location and bumping was done to gather more readers, which in turn means more opinions. Thank you for your feedback, most helpful. :)

    P.S. This is one 'scene' in a few that is to make up the Prologue. More on its way.
     
  7. Lightborne

    Lightborne Fledgling Fantasy Author

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    Prologue Part 2

    This is the second 'Scene' of the prologue to the piece i'm eventually going to write.

    Prologue Part 2:
    By James Taylor



    Screams rose again from the adjacent bedroom, louder this time. They were enough to curdle a man's blood. Cries of agony and strain. Lord Jonar Berdonan sat with his eyes closed, hands on head and fingers entwined in his hair. When would it end? He suspected he had been woken not a moment past mid-dark, and all but hauled down to these tiny servants quarters by his Mistress of House. A fearsome woman. He often wondered who truly ran House Berdonan... him, or Shorna. He tried to determine how long had past, an hour or two? Longer? He did not know.

    He sat on the rooms only chair, a battered old thing, hard wood with an unembroidered cushion thrown on as if in afterthought. Dominating most of the remaining measly space was a plain pine table, battered as well, with chairs sister to the one he sat on surrounding it. Jonar supposed this tiny hovel was intended to be a dining area for the servants.

    He rose, his loosely laced shirt falling open at the front as he made his way to the single blurry window, the only one in the cramped room. He often pondered how any person could live in such squalor, living only to serve others. As he peered out the small window into the thick darkness, he thought of what it would be like to be a servant. He knew that it was of the utmost necessity that there was a clear distinction between persons of noble birth and power, and the bottom feeders that performed the... unsavoury tasks. Jonar shook his head, no, he would rather die than be reduced to living like these people, an honourable death in battle, or on a great hunt perhaps; but never to live like this.

    He started as another scream tore through the quarters, and moved away from the window. He caught his reflection in the room's only mirror, a bubbly thing, that half distorted his image. His dark hair was a mess, its shoulder length a tangle from sleep. Shadows from the wall-lamps played across a bold face, his jaw strong and set in the Berdonan fashion. He needed a shave. A respected Lord did not go about dishevelled and unshaven like some lice-ridden woodsman. Dissatisfied, he turned from the inferior excuse for a mirror, and looked over at his Mistress of House.

    A stocky woman, grey hair caught in a bun where each hair was strictly arranged. He wondered if they kept in line for fear of her wrath. Her face was weathered and lined, constantly fixed in a stern expression. Jonar wondered if she thought of him as her Master, or still saw him as the naughty young boy whom she would likely have to strap again for stealing another honey-cake. He decided that tonight he was the boy, but for other reasons. She stood with her arms crossed. A guard for the door, as fearsome as any he had seen.

    “Ye always make a right muddle of things, Jonar. Ye did neigh need to get the poor girl with babe. I do have a right mind to march up to Lady Berdonan's quarters and tell her just who the child belongs to, I do” Shorna said, her voice thick with a Dirkanian accent, but quite high-pitched. In stark contrast to its owner.

    “If you were anyone else Shorna, you would have been birched long ago, but your tether is not without end. You will not speak a word about this to the Lady, I want your oath on it,” Jonar said gruffly.

    Shorna caught his eye and narrowed hers, after a short silence, broken only by the cries behind her, she said: “Ye have it, my lord, but you will see the child born if I must tie you down to that there chair.”

    “Am I not here?” He said dismissively. Shorna grunted, but said nothing.

    A great deal of time past, Jonar remained standing, tapping a slippered foot impatiently, the silence broken only by the cries. The sun casted its first tentative rays through the small window, the light reflecting oddly through the rough glass, spraying light like spears along the floor and walls.

    The screams rose in tempo, louder and louder, until Jonar was sure it was all he could hear. Then, it stopped. He waited for a while longer, Shorna opening the small door and peeking in, then proceeding to speak with the rooms occupants in hushed tones.

    She turned back to Jonar, ushered him forward with a gnarled hand, before opening the door wide and stepping aside. The scene he entered into was not what he had expected. The first person he noticed was Yiona, her golden hair disarrayed and spread out on a rough pillow. Her usually radiantly beautiful face, with her deep green eyes, perfect pink lips which he had dreamt of kissing regularly, and small too-perfect nose was deathly pale. She smiled weakly as he entered.

    There was blood on the sheets, and a lot of it. The room had a small window identical to the one in the dining area, a single chair, a wash stand with a broken mirror and the cot Yiona lay on completing the furnishings. He glanced at the woman he supposed was a midwife, a plump woman, with a grave expression on her moon-shaped face. She held a small thing wrapped in blankets.

    “It's a boy, Jonar,” Yiona said, much too faintly.

    The woman holding the child passed it over to another Jonar had not noticed. Young and strikingly ugly, with pudgy face and too-short legs, she curtsied to Jonar and then took the bundle gently. The midwife moved over to Yiona, inspecting her thoroughly. She placed a hand on Yiona's forehead, shook her head. Pulled up the blanket and peered down, tsked, and dropped the linen back down. Before Jonar could ask the obvious, the midwife waddled over to him, and drew him aside after giving him a slight curtsey, he noted that disdainfully.

    “My Lord, the girl is in a bad way, I do not think she will live, and not for much longer at that.”
    Jonar's heart seemed to stop.

    “And the boy?” He asked, voice shaking.

    “Perfectly healthy My Lord, but hasn't cried a peep, first time I seen that, quite unusual My Lord.” The midwife said, peering over at the baby, gently being rocked by the ugly maid.

    Jonar pushed past the midwife, and pulled the single chair over beside Yiona's bed, she didn't look good. But Light's Salvation she was still beautiful... even now.

    Feeling distressed and angry, Jonar turned to the two other women in the room.
    “GET OUT! Both of you!” Jonar Roared.

    The two women scuttled out after giving hasty curtsies, the midwife giving the proper one this time. Jonar glimpsed a furious Shorna before she pulled the door closed. He did not care. Yiona was all that mattered.

    “Jonar, he is so beautiful.” Yiona said weakly. Jonar gripped her hand, one finger on her wrist, her pulse was slow.

    “He doesn't matter to me, you're what matters to me. Yiona, if things had been diffirent... Well you know I would have been with you.” Jonar said quietly. Yiona looked sad, she gripped Jonar's hand weakly.

    “It would have never worked Jonar, a Lord doesn't marry a maid servant. Promise me you'll look after him Jonar,” Yiona said, trying to sit up. She failed, falling back limply. Jonar knew whom she meant by 'him.'

    “We could have taken gold and started a new life somewhere. Light's Salvation woman, I love you with a greater passion than I have loved any other.” Jonar protested.

    “Your wife would have sent trackers. We would have both died. Jonar, our love could never have been,” Yiona said, her voice growing fainter with each word. Jonar, feeling torn, gripped her hand harder.

    “You speak as if this is the end, my dear Yiona.” Jonar said. She didn't respond, just smiling.

    They sat like that for a time, Jonar holding Yiona's hand, gazing at her pale face. The manor would have awakened now, the room bright from the sun sliding in. Motes sparkled in the illumination, and rays fell on Yiona's face. She closed her eyes.

    “Jonar?” It was only a whisper now, her grip loose.

    “I'm here, my dear Yiona,” Jonar said shakily, a single tear leaving his eye. Lord's did not cry so.

    “Look after our boy, you must promise...” She trailed off, her breathing very slow.

    “Yiona? Please! I promise Yiona, please stay with me!” Jonar said, shaking her hand up and down. She smiled ever so faintly one last time, her pulse very slow. It stopped.

    “Yiona? No, no...” Jonar rose, bellowing incomprehensibly, he threw the chair against the wall. It shattered. She couldn't be dead! Anyone but her!

    Shorna burst into the room and rushed over to Yiona, ignoring Jonar, who was now pounding his fists against the wall, they already felt bruised. He noticed the midwife in the doorway in the corner of his eye, bundle still in her arms. It was his fault! He had taken Yiona from him! But his promise...

    “Go and get Guardsman Galburn, bring fifty gold crowns from my chest in my rooms, tell no one! GO! Before I see you hang for treason!” He yelled. He knew what he was saying was unfair, but he did not care.

    Jonar paced, trying to calm himself. The boy had taken Yiona from him, he must be sent away less Jonar go against his promise. Shorna placed a hand on his shoulder, stopping him. She said nothing, just stood with a comforting hand on him. So, she must have understood.

    A man entered, followed by the midwife. The baby wasn't in her arms. Just as well, he must be calm. Guardsman Galburn stood with a hand resting on his sword hilt, the long blade hidden in its scarlet sheath. He wore a tabard of the same colour, with two white streaks from left shoulder to the right hand side of where the cloth finished. Burnished chain-mail glittered faintly beneath. His hard face, all sharp lines, bore numerous scars, and a deep red eye patch covered his left eye-socket. Galburn bowed deeply to Jonar, hand staying on hilt. This man was his most trusted.

    “Galburn, you are to take a child that is presented to you shortly, and the gold, and take them to a mountain village in the Jagged Peaks. Care for the boy, and present him and the gold to the first woman who looks to be a village herb-healer...” Jonar paused, waiting for Galburn's nod before continuing.

    “The gold is to be given to the boy when he comes of age, you must make this clear. Go with the Light as your guide, Galburn,” Jonar said, starting to turn away. He turned back.

    “Oh and Galburn? May you never tell me which village the boy ends up at, or I will have your head.” Galburn nodded, bowing again.

    *

    A short while later, Jonar stood at the window of his rooms in his manor, looking out over the township below. This particular window was clear, well cut glass. How it should be. Behind him, Lady Berdonan sat in a lavish chair, it's cushioning plush and embroidered in thread-of-gold, surrounded by a polished oak frame. Her dark hair fell around a pretty face. The ends of her hair rested on her pearl white silk gown, equally rich with thread-of-gold. Her pouting lips worked as she remarked on the condition of some Lady or other.

    Jonar wasn't listening. He wondered how he would go on without Yiona, it seemed a dull existence spread in front of him now. He knew he must. Most of all he wondered what would come of the boy, in his heart, he wished him well.


    - This prologue is intended for a piece at a later date. Please do not copy or reproduce the piece.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  8. WildPony

    WildPony New Member

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    I like the second piece. I think it was more polished, I wouldn't add anything to the content. Just some editting changes. The only thing that is worrying me is that your prologue is growing to be too long now. To have two story lines in one prologue is a bit much. Is there no way to make this a first chapter?
     
  9. Lightborne

    Lightborne Fledgling Fantasy Author

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    Both Story-lines are integral to the story being told later on. Both are well into the past as well, so i'm not sure how I would go about it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011
  10. WildPony

    WildPony New Member

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    Hmm, okay, put the whol prologue together with a *** thing in between. Then, write the first chapter and we can see how it feels. If your first chapter is quite a bit shorter than your prologue it just won't fit. But, if you can get your first chapter to be at least two-thirds as long as the prologue, then it should have a good feeling to it. :]