There was that feeling again: pain, but it didn’t burn, didn’t sting, and didn’t throb. Ordinary pain manifested like that. Ordinary pain required a body, and he didn’t have one yet. It was forming, though, solidifying out of thin air, and got stitched to his mind. That hurt. This pain sneered at him he wasn't natural, that he should die like every other creature would after what he had been through, that he should not exist. It didn’t stop his body from forming. Skin, muscle, and bone slowly caged his tortured mind. He was being destroyed while being created. No words could describe that, not even "pain" itself. He had to broaden the definition instead.
Then, within the span of a heartbeat, the feeling faded. A sense of weight took its place. A mind had no mass, but now the earth pulled at his limbs as he lay still on the ground. His body was complete, fit and strong, untouched by that phantom pain. But his mind still knew. The pain got etched deeper into it every moment it was time to rise. Oh, how it knew…
He got to his feet. Grass surrounded him, but the knee-high blades rippled in the wind and made it look like a sea. The plants touching his stained greaves turned red. None of the blood was his.
He should leave the plate armour behind. He didn’t want to draw attention—or worse, be recognised because of it—and a wound was something he didn't need to worry about anyway. The only reason he wore protection was for show. Being clad in metal from head to toe brought either courage or fear to the hearts of soldiers, depending on which side they were on. He had been invincible, one of the most promising sorcerers the world had ever seen.
He would never be like that again.
"Nadir," he whispered. The code word made the enchanted metal split open at his back, arms, and legs. He removed his sword belt and peeled off the armour as if it were ordinary clothing. He looked around. Only a few trees stood scattered across the flat landscape, with their dark, twisted branches clawing at the sky. They seemed to claw at him too. At his mind. At the emotions he had so carefully hidden away. His hands began to shake. He was miserable. Mistaken. Misled.
Still, the desolate land west of Berg was a good place to flee to, despite its depressing effect on him. He didn’t want to be found. People had to believe he had been wiped off the face of this world and now lived in the next. His gaze went to the east, to the city, where his body was supposed to be lost under a pile of rubble. A thick column of smoke rose on the horizon, and despite the distance, its smell still stained the air. It reeked of death.
That was my home. What have I done?
It had been the Holy Army's stronghold. A pendant with their symbol bounced against his chest with every step he took away from home. He took it off his neck, stared at its engraved, crowned moon in disgust, then flung it over his shoulder—but his fingers snatched the chain at the last moment.
No, it wasn’t fair to think of them as the sole culprit. The blame was his. Sorcerers had ranks, and he had been so eager to reach the top that it had blinded him for the things that truly mattered. The Army had only given him promises of power, not taken his common sense. He had been stupid enough to give that up himself. His stepfather and half-brothers had paid with their lives for that mistake, together with countless others.
I need a new name, he thought while he walked away from the smoke, sheathed sword in hand. More than that: I need a new identity. A new goal.
The Army hunted sorcerers without a pendant, so he put it back around his neck. The weight felt comfortable, even though the thought of it was not. His thumb traced its decorations. The silver blurred, and his fingers smudged out the rim's engraving as if it were made of clay. Doing small handiwork had never been his strong suit, and the piece of jewellery ended up butchered. The markings had to go, though. They indicated the rank of the mighty sorcerer he once was, but that man had died in the collapse of his home.
I need a new name, he thought again.
He shouldn't have been that man in the first place. He shouldn’t have searched for happiness through power. It had only brought pain to others, while the pit inside his mind was as dark and inescapable as ever. Monsters lurked in there. He saw them when he closed his eyes. They kept their distance now, leaning against the walls of the mental pit without saying a word. They didn't need to do more. Their twisted grins were always visible in the dark, a silent reminder that, no matter how hard he fought back, they would always conquer his thoughts and snuff out all joy.
Death looked more attractive with each step he took. It would free him from his monsters, his pain, and his guilt. His end didn’t have to be an honourable one. Right here would be fine, where long blades of grass would hang over him to form the ceiling of his tomb. His hand stroked the pommel of his sword, but the blade wouldn’t give him what he needed. He had tried, but the time to rise still had come. Some people would consider that a gift. He did not. There had to be a way to not rise again. Death as a goal in life. How contradicting. How sad.
I need a new name.
The western horizon bathed in the greenish hue of dusk, but that last remnant of the sunset would be gone soon. The first stars had already appeared, standing in a sky so clear it made him lose all sense of depth. The twinkling lights looked only an arm's length away, ready to be plucked out of the heavens like flowers. One particular star caught his eye. It was still standing low in the east, having started its journey from one end of the horizon to the other not so long ago.
"Rigel," he whispered, welcoming the blue light. He was so accustomed to its company he almost saw it as a living thing, a real person, but one he never got to understand—a disappointing result, considering how much he had studied the star.
His hand ran through his short, dark hair while he gazed at the other celestial bodies that illuminated the night's sky. Rigel might burn with an impressive light, but the other stars that shared its constellation did that too. A corner of his mouth curled up, creating a crooked smile. He had found a new name, a good name. It was an unusual one, yet he couldn't think of anything more fitting.
His pursuit of happiness had died today. He walked towards his new, grimmer goal hidden somewhere on that starlit horizon, while his monsters followed him in his footsteps.
Schaduw van Kennis - deel 6
This is the prologue of my own little fantasy story, which got 'a State of Equilibrium' as a
I keep changing my work, I find it very hard to leave something be. I was doubting to upload this though, it will take ages before this chapter gets explained. Oh well, at least I hope it will motivate people to keep on reading.
There is this 'rule' in writing that you should start a story in the middle of all the action. You might have guessed that something filled with action has happened before my prologue starts, so according to this rule, I'm too late. I think this, with this fellow changing his name and such, is more important though. The reader knows this guy is still around with a different identity, and a big part of book one will focus on other characters slowly learning who he was and what has happened - only to learn the truth in the prologue of book two. But geez, I never stop wondering if this is still interesting to read, especially for someone who has no idea how the rest of the story goes.
Oh, and in case you're wondering what on earth 'nadir' is: it's the point right below you, making it the opposite of the zenith, the point above your head (that term seems to be a little more well known). In other words: you can't get lower than that... Quite fitting, looking at this guy.
A few questions/remarks that bother me;
1. I am not a native speaker (Dutchie here) so if you see something that doesn't make sense grammatically, please let me know!
2. Should I tell more about him? Now, you have no idea who he is, why is he is here, and who his enemy is... That's information that will show itself slowly as the story progresses. But I know the character completely, so it is hard to look at this and determine what's clear and what's not. Are there pieces of information missing that made it hard for you to understand what is going on? Though some things are meant to be a bit vague...
3. Sometimes I think 'ah, you poor soul. At other times, I want to shout at him 'stop whining'. Come on brain, make up your mind! Is whining too much though?
4. Have you any idea who this character is? The idea was to keep it a bit of a secret, and let the reader figure it out for himself while reading on. However, my story artwork contains a lot of spoilers, so it's pretty obvious when you only took a glance at it... which probably all of you did
This is the artwork featured here:
Update 12-11-2017: I've changed the questions in the description. I'll put the original ones here, in case I need to reread old comments. Please ignore these and don't answer them, this is just here to keep things easy for me :
1. I am not a native speaker (Dutchie here) so if you see something that doesn't make sense grammatically, please let me know!
2. is the character thinking too much?
3.There is no character interaction, and the one that's in it isn't doing a lot. I find it very hard to write situations like that, so is there something I can do to make it more interesting?
4. My boyfriend and I had a quite a discussion about the length of my sentences; are they too long/short/just fine?
5. Have you any idea who this character is? The idea was to keep it a bit of a secret, and let the reader figure it out for himself while reading on. However, my story artwork contains a lot of spoilers, so it's pretty obvious when you only took a glance at it... which probably all of you did
This work is part of a story I'm working on, called 'a State of Equilibrium. Find more about it here:
Your sensory descriptions are very good. I think it works as an opener to your prologue, but I would recommend reworking the first few lines for flow. For example, the third line "He wished he had found a solution to the pain by now, after suffering from it for over two decades, but no." really doesn't feel like it fits well. I think you wanted to make it clear this was a normal occurrence for the character, but that's done in the following line about him rising. That aspect could be introduced later at a time when the reader is more familiar with the character and there's some context to it.
"The plants near his armoured legs stained themselves red as they touched the blood that covered him." This line has a nice, poetic bent to it, but I'm not sure about saying they stained themselves. You could keep the feel of it with a little different verb use to make the action clearer, i.e. 'The plants near his legs were stained red by the touch of his blood soaked armour,' or something along those lines - just a bit more specific on what is taking the action and what object is acted upon.
I love the bit with the armor. It weaves a bit of mystery and a hint of backstory into the moment and establishes who the character is in terms of the world around him. Warrior, general, sorceror, exile.
This line is a little awkward, only because the phrase 'one by one' usually connotes several rather than only two: "His hands shook as they surfaced one by one." Instead, you might say one after the other, and tell us what they are surfacing from - is he pulling off gloves that were under the armor, or are they shaking as the metal shell falls down? A little more description here would really make this moment impactful and provide clarity.
The protagonist thinks - "This was a good place to flee to..." and mentions some qualities. I wasn't sure from the text if this is a place he's familiar with or a strange land. I think it would add to the moment to make that point. If he knows this place, since it's so close to his home, he could name it (i.e. The Barrens have few residents or Few people could make a living on the flats of Bastian's Error - which could be used to give the world some flavor and history in brief).
I really enjoyed the character's introspection throughout the prologue. This line in particular was good - "They should have stopped him from making his mistakes, but instead, they had cheered him on, giving him something that only made him more dangerous: power." It makes the protagonist sound inherently bitter, regret mixed with recrimination. Very nicely illustrated.
"I need a new name, he thought while he walked away from the smoke." Here you may want to say 'as' instead of while, or you could initiate the action of him beginning his walk away from the smoke before he has this thought.
You use the moment with the pendant well. It's moving the protagonist forward and characterizing him all at once. He could toss away the last vestige of his past, or cling to it, rationalizing his need to hold on to what power he can. The reader can see he's still addicted to the power he wields even as he understands the destruction it caused.
Here: "That man had died in the rubbles of his home." rubbles should just be rubble.
"He could only wish for that pinch of dullness most people had, but his gift prevented such an ordinary life. There seemed to be no cure for him, no one who could help, nothing." I think here you want to illustrate that there is something inherently different about him that is outside his control, but without more context it doesn't have the impact it should. I'd recommend either using this moment to expand on how his gift makes him less dull than the common person, or rework the line to read a little more simply and leave his wish for a cure to a later point. For example, you could say, 'He wished he could dull his gift and live like other people, but there was no way to rid himself of the sensitivities (needs? desires? visions? I'm not sure what his gift gives him but for example ^_^) he was born with. There was nothing he could do to change that.' Something along those lines, or an expansion of the text here to give the reader a bit more of what his gift does.
This is such excellent imagery- "long blades of grass would hang over him to form the ceiling of his tomb." I'm also glad that after his thoughts of despair and hopelessness you address the possibility of death by suicide and then allow him to dismiss it. I think without that, the character would feel a bit off - with it, he feels honest to himself and this situation.
This moment felt very strange - "He was so accustomed to its company he almost saw it as a living thing, a real person, but one he never got to understand - a disappointing result, considering how much he had studied the star." I feel like you want to create mystery and a sense of connection between the protagonist and the distant, cold light of the star. I like it, but I think for the moment to work you may want to add some context. It doesn't have to be much, just a little about why he studied the star so extensively. Perhaps it was central to his sorcerous powers? Part of a family legend? His focus at magical uni? The reader needs just a hint of why here, I think, and it gives you another opportunity to shed some light on Rigel's world.
Here: "One corner of his mouth curled up to create a crooked smile." you can just say 'curled into a crooked smile.' Using create isn't bad english, but it's a little odd phrasing.
The finish is quite strong and should make a good lead in to the rest of the text. Overall, it was a good read.
I think I covered most of your feedback questions above. I did take a peek at your Gallery, and I'm guessing this is Orion? I don't know much about your OC, but based on this prologue he sounds like a trouble anti-hero. Should make for some good stories ^_^