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Romanticide - Chapter One

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Old 05-24-2006, 08:43 AM
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Default Romanticide - Part One


Whoever said that love is beautiful has never stepped in my shoes. On the other hand, the man who stated that love is war didn’t quite get it right, either. Simply put - love is not something that can be defined. While these things may be a part of love, no combination of words can truly describe the feelings that a man and a woman share together. With that in mind, let me tell you my story.



Prologue



The Drynn Senate was in session. They filled the massive ovular chamber, surrounding two debate podiums, one at each end of a raised, circular dais on the Senate floor.

One Senator slammed his fist on the podium before him. “This council must vote in favor of the treaty with Sarassus. The New Alliance is merciless in their assault of our Isles and they will not relent. The Sark have offered us military aid, and we should accept it gratefully.”

“Senator Patryn,” the opposing Senator rebutted, “did not the Sark promise the same aid to the humans in the War of Westworld, only to turn against their very allies in the end?”

The other hundred-odd Senators in the chamber murmured in agreement.

Senator Patryn placed his hands on the podium. “That is true, Senator Xylen, but the War of Westworld happened nearly two hundred years ago. Both the Sark and the Giants have since been beaten back by the New Alliance. Would it not make sense to ally with those who hold a common grudge?”

Some of the Senators acknowledged Patryn’s valid point.

“With all due respect, Senator Patryn, by forming an alliance with the Sark we show that we are nobetter than our former brethren, the Ishnaa, the weak, who allied with the humans.”

The Senators applauded their approval.

Xylen smiled, flashing a wicked smirk across the platform at Patryn.


PART ONE


I had been serving the King’s militia at the time I received the assassination order – they told me it would end the war. Bullshit. I knew as well as they did that killing a Drynn Senator would only serve to exacerbate things – but hey – it was my job, and I was getting paid a lot of silver for it.

Thusly I entered the city of Reed’s Folly through the old aqueducts which were connected to the catacombs. The aqueducts hadn’t been serviced in an age, and it smelled like it, too. The place was about as clean as two warthogs making love during a mudslide. Needless to say, I was in a hurry to get out of there – I scrambled up a ladder and into the musty catacombs not a minute too soon. The chamber into which I entered was nothing more than a bare room; the aqueduct manhole was in the center of the floor and eerie light emanating from sporadically placed torches danced across the walls. I set off down the only available path – a hallway heading north.

It was quite some time before I came upon a large stone archway which led into an unusual burial chamber. I pressed my back to the wall near the archway and peered around the corner.

There were several ornate sarcophagi in the room, each bearing a plaque with the name of the body inside. The walls were inset with open tombs much like the rest of the catacomb; these bones probably once belonged to the servants of the people in the sarcophagi. The heavy wooden doorway on the other end of the room blocked the way to my destination – a staircase which led to the Upper Catacombs.

I waited for a moment, and when it seemed that the coast was clear, I slipped into the room.

It was at that moment where fate intervened. Of all the times it could have happened, out of all the places in the world, of all the missions that it could have messed up, fate chose this one.

Right when I rounded the corner, she ran into me. As we both reeled backwards, she yelped in fright. I just blinked.

The mission would be compromised if she screamed. I figured I’d have to kill her.

My right hand found its way to my hunting knife’s sheath, and in the same second that my fingers closed around the leather-laced grip, I pinned her against the wall with the blade at her throat.

She was a Drynn; a deserter. I could tell from the fact that her toga was clasped at the shoulder with the crest of Drynn nobility: a simple pentagram made of silver that was now dull and smudged, and a golden triangle in the center. I'd seen it many times on dead Drynn nobles during the war.

This story may have ended here had I not faltered, but I looked into her eyes, and time itself stopped.

I did not see anger or hatred as I expected - only fear. I could tell she was but a child among elves; I guessed maybe fifty or sixty years.

We stood in the dim chamber in silence as the torchlight . My blade quivered at her throat as if my years of training alone were willing it to complete the deed on its own.

And yet her wide, purple-eyed gaze remained locked onto mine, and it pierced into my soul. I didn’t know what I felt or why I couldn’t just kill her in cold blood like so many of the pirates, brigands, and rebels that I had before. I tried to read what her eyes told me in that brief instant: I was confusion, suffering, and turmoil.

A million questions of doubt raced through my mind – questions which people of my profession should know better than to ask. My emotions wrestled with themselves as the Drynn’s life lay in the balance:

What if someone else is nearby?
Kill them too.
What would I do with the body?
The aqueducts.
What about the blood?
Don't make a mess.
And if she screams?
Do it now, God dammit, and don’t let her.

My hand edged forward slightly, and the cold steel pressed into the delicate skin of her neck. The tip of the knife pricked her, and a drop of blood fell.

Then she blinked, and I stopped. For an instant, I saw hope. I hesitated far too long.

Angered, I threw the knife away, and it clattered noisily onto the ground. I closed my eyes and turned away for a second, feeling somewhat embarrassed.

I could tell she was beyond frightened. After all, I almost killed her. She was a noble, and although she tried to look intimidating, she stared up at me with such forceless defiance that it was obvious she was struggling to retain her composure.

I think it was at this moment that I first recognized how bewitching I found her to be.

Despite her bedraggled appearance, tattered clothing, and the smudges of dirt that dotted her fair skin, nefarious beauty emanated. Her russet hair was twisted up into three long, horizontally-lined ponytails, and yet somehow still managed to flow effortlessly down her back in a way that was so ornate, and yet so simple.

The aura she held about herself also captivated me; she had a swagger like none I'd ever seen. Every movement she made, the slightest gestures, sent chills up and down my spine. The lavender glow in her watering eyes pulled me in, forcing out any worries I'd previously had. They invoked feelings of compassion that I hadn’t felt in several lifetimes.

Her lips began to tremble and she looked at the floor, unable to speak.

“I didn't mean to frighten you like that. I thought you were -” My voice trailed off.

She clasped the wound on her neck and stepped back as she tried to hide her face from me.

I didn't know what to say, and for a few awkward seconds, we stood there in silence.

Finally, she spoke. “If you’ve been sent to kill me, make it quick,” She turned her back to me and turned her nose up in the air, but I noticed a subtle trembling in her words.

I closed the distance she’d put between us. “No, no, it’s not what you think; I’m no assassin,” I said. At least, I’m not here for you.

“Then what in the name of Sarius are you doing here?” She turned back around, eyeing me with a look of suspicion. She seemed to forget all about the blood trickling down her neck.

I glanced around in the dim, humid crypt. Rubble was strewn about on the floor and the empty eye sockets of the dead gazed at everything and nothing at the same time. Some of their jaws were frozen open as if they were screaming in pain, forever telling of their last, horrific moments.

I shrugged at her. “I suppose I could ask you the same question.”

She frowned, but before she could rebut, the door at the far end of the room rumbled open. A short, stumpy, bipedal dog – a Gnoll – stood there, waving a torch.

He pointed at the girl and barked “Here she is! Captain! Captain! I found her!”

The girl's eyes widened in measureless fear. “No,” she whispered. Her eyes began to water again. “No,” she said, this time more audibly.

A human with coal black hair and a mustache-goatee walked briskly into the chamber. He wore a full suit of chain mail and white tunic bearing a coat of arms with a black crest which signified him as a high-ranking officer in the Drynn army. As he stepped in front of the Gnoll, he became silhouetted by the torchlight.

“Nadia, your father awaits you,” his voice echoed from the stone walls.

All of a sudden, the girl burst into tears. “No!” She yelled and ran towards me. Her arms latched around my waist. “My father is trying to kill me,” she sobbed into my leather vest, “Please don’t let them take me.”
Shocked at the turn of events, I barely even moved. Great, was my first thought, compromised already.

“He...killed...my...mother,” she said through her sobs, “I watched him kill her and I ran away. Please don’t let them take me.”

Two more armored Drynn stepped into the chamber and drew steel.

All of a sudden the hope I had seen in her eyes made sense to me. I blinked at the Captain, the Gnoll, and the guards as I reached up and ran my hand through her hair. My stealth mission might have been compromised, but there was one thing I could do now and that was certain. I won’t let them take you.

“You must be the one who’s been hiding her,” the Captain boomed, pulling me out of my trance.

I scowled. In one swift motion, I drew my rapier and pushed the girl behind me, blade extended toward the men.

“Owoo! This gonna get ugly! Me go for help!” The Gnoll barked. He ran away up the stairs.

“Surrender the Senator’s daughter, fool, and you may be spared your life,” the Captain said. He unsheathed a gleaming steel saber as he nodded to one of the other guards, “Get her.”

I responded with a charge and boosted myself into the air off of a nearby sarcophagus. Twirling about, I lashed out with my foot at one of the guards. My leather boot came in contact with his face, sending him staggering backward through the door and crashing into the far wall.

I had no idea where the other man's attack was coming from, so I whirled around and backpedaled, whipping my blade in a circular parry. Luckily, it came in contact with the Captain's saber, but he didn’t let up with his attack. A series of quick blows rained down against my faulty defense; I barely blocked each one in turn, hoping that I could find some weakness before he overwhelmed me.

An opportunity presented itself when the Captain lunged forward. I parried and flicked the point of my blade out in a quick riposte. He tried to evade, but my rapier scored a small cut beneath his shoulder.

We both turned to face one another, circling and prodding for some weakness. I danced in and out of his sword's reach, taunting him as I flicked my blade out in quick thrusts at his. This angered him, and he bore down once again. I brought my blade up to parry and for what seemed an eternity we were surrounded by a shining web of sparks and flashing blades.

Then the girl screamed, and I looked over to see the remaining guard dragging her out of the room.

Mistake.

The Captain noticed my distraction and took the opportunity to take a low cut at my right thigh, a blow that I was unprepared to parry. His sword made a clean slice through my leather armor and the steel burned through my skin. I staggered and dropped my rapier, sending it spinning across the floor. The Captain grinned as he brought the tip of his longsword inches away from my throat.

Falling back into a sitting position, I frantically scrambled towards the corner. He pursued me with a slow gait, blade extended.

“This is the price you pay for kidnapping a Senator’s daughter, villain.” He scowled and forced me to look at him by placing the tip of his blade at my throat. His eyes burned white with contempt. “Justice is served today.”

I pushed myself as far into the corner as possible as the man pulled back to finish me off -- and my hand closed around cold steel.

My hunting knife.

The incoming blow was knocked out of the way by my small dagger, and the Captain let out a grunt as his sword fell from his grasp.

I reached up and wrapped my hand around his head, twisting myself behind him with the hunting blade poised at his throat.

I hesitated only long enough to let his mistake register in his mind, and then quickly and firmly finished him. He fell into a heap on the floor, and it took a few seconds for his gurgling to cease. I wiped the blood from my knife onto his tunic as the girl's screams echoed down the stairs. Maybe I could still catch them.

Up until that point in time, I had always been a loner, only looked out for myself. For the first time in my life, I actually cared about someone. Someone I barely even knew. I blinked and forced the thought out of my head as I tried to focus on the situation at hand. By now, the adrenaline from the battle was wearing off and it was becoming apparent that I would need to find aid soon; it became almost unbearable to walk at all.

As I hobbled up the staircase and down the hallway, I found myself cursing audibly at the fact that I couldn't protect her. The sheer thoughts about what might happen to her kept me going – for a while. Eventually, as each step became laced with excruciating pain, I accepted the reality that I would not be able to stop the soldier.

Wearily, I fell against the wall of the catacomb, pounding my fist on the cold stone. I’m not so ashamed to admit that at that moment I felt a tear roll down my cheek.

I slumped down to the floor, fighting to keep myself awake as her name ran over and over in my mind.

Nadia. Her name is Nadia.


Last edited by Zermonth; 05-31-2006 at 08:25 AM..
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Old 05-24-2006, 12:17 PM
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The New Alliance are merciless in their assault of our Isles and they will not relent.

[“is” not “are”]

“With all due respect, Senator Patryn, by forming an alliance with the Sark we show that we are nobetter than our former brethren, the Ishnaa, the weak, who allied with the humans.”

[no better]


Needless to say, I was in quite a hurry to get out of there – I scrambled up a ladder and into the musty catacombs not a minute too soon.

[delete “quite”]

I set off down the hallway, heading north.

[Delete comma after hallway.]




It was quite some time before I came upon a large stone archway which led into some sort of unusual burial chamber.

[Delete the unnecessary qualifier “some sort of.” “which led into an unusual burial chamber.”]

I waited for a moment, and it seemed that the coast was clear, so I slipped into the room.


[Ummm, maybe. Try “I waited for a moment, and when it seemed that the coast was clear, I slipped into the room.”


It was at that moment where fate decided to intervene.

[Fate decided to intervene or intervened? Why not “It was at that moment where fate intervened.”]

At precisely the same time as I rounded the corner, so did she. She wasn’t even looking in the direction she was walking – she was looking behind her as if there were someone chasing her. She ran right into me and yelped in fright, reeling backwards.

[Maybe “Right when I rounded the corner she ran into me. Reeling backwards she yelped in fright. Over her shoulders she looked for who/what was chasing her.]

My right hand found its way to my hunting knife’s sheath, and in the same second that my fingers closed around the leather-laced grip, I had her pinned against the wall with the blade at her throat.

[Delete “had’]


We stood there in that dim chamber in silence.

[Not that there again. “We stood in the dim chamber in silence.”]

My blade quivered at her throat as if my years of training alone were willing it to complete the deed on its own.

[Delete comma after “throat.”]


And yet her wide, purple-eyed gaze remained locked firmly onto mine, and it pierced into my very soul.

[Delete “firmly” To be locked is to be firm. Delete “very.” It’s an adverb that isn’t necessary.]

I didn’t know what I felt. I didn’t know why I couldn’t just kill her in cold blood like so many of the pirates, brigands, and rebels that I had before.

[Try “I didn’t know what I felt or why I couldn’t just kill her…”]

I saw confusion.
I saw suffering.
I saw turmoil.


[Try “I saw confusion, suffering, and turmoil.]


A million questions of doubt raced through my mind; questions one of my profession should know better than to ask.


[“one’s in my profession know better to ask.”]


Then she blinked, and I stopped. For an instant, only an instant, I saw hope.


[Delete “only an instant.” I got it on the first instant.]


I had hesitated far too long.


[Delete “had”]


I could tell she was beyond frightened. After all, I had almost killed her.


[Delete “had” Be careful on past-perfect tenses. Past-tense is what you want.]


Every movement she made, even the slightest gesture, sent chills up and down my spine.


[Delete “even” It’s like using “really” “very” Make “gesture” plural]


The lavender glow in her watering eyes seemed to pull me in, forcing out any worries I'd previously had.


[Did it pull you in, or “seem” to pull you in? If it did the trick, say so. Delete seemed and changed pull to “pulled.”]


“Then what in the name of Sarius are you doing here?” she turned back around, eyeing me with a look of suspicion.



[Capitalize “she”]


She frowned, but before she could even rebut, the door at the far end of the room rumbled open.


[Delete “even”]


He pointed at the girl, barking “Here she is! Captain! Captain! I found her!”


[“girl and barked”]


All of a sudden, the girl burst into tears. “No!” She yelled, running towards me. She latched her arms around my waist.


[“She yelled and ran towards me. Her arms latched around my waist.”]





Someone I barely even knew, at that.



[Delete “at that”]


As I hobbled up the staircase and down the hallway, I found myself cursing audibly at the fact that I couldn't protect her. The sheer thoughts about what might happen to her kept me going – for a while. Eventually, as each step became laced with excruciating pain, I accepted the fact that I would not be able to stop the soldier.


[How many “facts” are you going to tell me?]


Summary
Good story Zermonth! The pace of the story development was nice. What really tickled me was adjectives were used only when necessary. How unusual these days! Again, good story and I look forward to reading more. There is more, right?
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Last edited by xfacktor; 05-25-2006 at 02:28 PM..
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Old 05-24-2006, 12:58 PM
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Thanks a lot for the great critique! There are a lot of things I didn't notice in my many read-throughs that you picked up on here. Always good to have someone else read your stuff.

I will begin corrections tomorrow. And yeah - there's more.
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Old 05-25-2006, 06:23 AM
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Okay! The corrections have been posted.

I hope you don't mind, xfacktor, but I didn't follow your suggested lines for all of the corrections you made due to diction problems with my narrator's style. However, I believe I have nonetheless fixed the errors that you pointed out.

Any further comments are appreciated.
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Old 05-26-2006, 10:25 PM
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You've critiqued my piece, and I'll do the same for you once I'm rested enough to tell you something useful. I h'aint forgotten.

-FS
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Old 05-27-2006, 02:36 AM
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There is only one point of critique on the story telling part. In the beggining I had no idea what was going on. I thought it was some sort of futuristic war between planets or something but only later did it become clear to me that this was a Tolkien style fantasy world. I think that if you'd make it more clear in the beginning what is what that readers will be able to follow the story more instead of thinking "Oooh! Now I get it." every time you reveal a bit more of what is actually going on. Maybe you could make the prologue a bit different by indicating what is going on and what race is fighting who and where this is all taking place etc. But only you this fits in with your writting style ofcourse.
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Old 05-27-2006, 09:51 AM
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xfacktor did your piece pretty thoroughly, so I'll be general in my comments.

-Your action scene is great and quick and doesn't get stuck in stupid details, but beforehand, the Gnoll was a really thin addition. I'm not sure this is the best place to introduce his character type. You have more important things to focus on.

-Your character doesn't face the consequences of a sliced thigh. It stikes him and he ignores it. Also, I hope you're not going to forget about resolving his original purpose in the catacombs. What was he there for anyways?

-The prologue is dead right now. You've carried interest in your overall plot so far, but it needs to be connected soon, or it's pointless. Also, the MC enters a city and immediately he's confronted with this scene. A city is a big place, especially if it's a capitol. If he entered the premises of a mansion or a keep it would make sense for something so coincidental to occur. As it is, it seems like an author's gimmick to turn the plot.

-One thing the prologue obcurs and is never really established is the time period. The setting isn't well developed so far, and by the prologue I was thinking 'space age' because of the inter-galactic warfare, but after the talk of rapiers and leather armor, I was thinking olden times. When is this taking place?

-Also, the MC's attachment to Nadia is really cheap. He sees her once and falls in love with her; this is just a gimmick. There should be some more interaction between the two for his sudden devotion to her cause to feel real. He pins her up against a wall and by the way she moves he becomes entranced. Not only is this physically weird, in terms of characterization it is very small.

Overall, though, my interest was held very well. I read to the end, and I think the action scene is a strong point of yours. Have you read George R.R. Martin? He's a great example of good characterization and good action scenes, although his are few and far between, as it should be. He's just a good example in general. Anyways, good job.

-FS
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Old 08-02-2006, 09:24 PM
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I am way sorry for my very late response. I am glad however that I finally got time to read this. I am surprised at how many people have really replied to this. It was done awesomely and was compelling for me. I had a hard time wanting to stop (Hold on, there are things ) Very nicely done. I didn't find too many things, just four, but then one major thing that bugged me but that's below. Hope this helps.

We stood in the dim chamber in silence as the torchlight *.
* Means no space right there


And yet her wide, purple-eyed gaze remained locked onto mine, and it pierced into my soul.
I don't like sentences starting with conjunctions unforunetly unless in basic speech. Maybe something else?


All of a sudden the hope I had seen in her eyes made sense to me.
Comma for transition


I responded with a charge and boosted myself into the air off of a nearby sarcophagus.
That's not needed.


___

Now, this is just my opinion, but all of the dashes!!! I saw way too many for my liking. Now, (excluding the ones that were used for interuption in speech and dialogue), I dreadfully hate dashes because I find them lazy. I know their purpose and how they are used, where they should be and etc., but I still hate them and I saw far too many of them. They're used to draw out importance, but with everyone I saw, it felt like you were telling me everything was important, but then again, if you're saying it, I can speculate it had purpose. I won't say get ride of them all, but replace several with other punctuation maybe.

___

Otherwise, very nicely done.
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