Stranger Lands - Prologue

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Stranger Lands - Prologue

Post by Moshda on Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:43 pm

Here it is, hot off the presses! This is the beginning of the story I mentioned here.
I hope you like it! Please let me know what you think ^.^
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A cloaked, hunchbacked figure leaned over the marble seeing-pool, peering into the dark, glassy water. The only light in the stone chamber was from a few torches hanging in brackets on the marble columns nearby.
“Well?” spoke a chill female voice from the shadows in front of the seeing-pool. The figure twitched and replied in a whimper,
“I see nothing yet, your Highness…”
“Look closer!” the female hissed menacingly. The figure nodded and snuffled.
“Yes, yes, anything for you—”
“Now!”
The figure stirred the water in the pool with a stubby, deformed finger from which a yellowing fingernail grew crookedly. The dark water swirled and suddenly grew still again.
“Ah,” the figure said.
“What? What do you see?” the voice pressed urgently.
“I see… I see a girl,” the figure muttered. “A young girl—”
“What does she look like?” the female’s voice interrupted.
“She has pale skin, yellow hair, and… blue eyes.”
“And what is she doing?” the female asked. The figure peered closely into the water for several minutes.
“Well?”
“The image, it fades and I see nothing!” the figure replied, desperation thick in its voice, shoulders twitching under the dark cloak. It reached a hand out and stirred the water again. Ripples glittered, then its surface became still again.
“Oh! She sits in a room at a table, filled with others that look like her, sitting at other tables. They are staring straight ahead at something. I think this is the place where they send their children for learning,” the figure described.
“Very good, Egatem. Do you see anything else?” The woman’s words slithered into the figure’s brain like a sensual, serpentine enchantment.
“I see many tall buildings, and strange wagons drawn without horses. The roads are paved with something hard and black. There are so many people!”
“What else do you see about the girl?”
“There are… four others that go everywhere with her… they look different than she, though.”
“You’re doing well, tell me more,” the voice encouraged from the shadows. The figure bowed slightly, snorting in pleasure.
“Yes, whatever you ask, my lady!”
It stirred the pool again, and this time, the woman waiting in the shadows was even able to see a flicker of color across its surface before it stilled unnaturally soon.
“Is there any way to bring the girl here?” the woman queried.
“Yes, but it will be difficult—”
“That’s never seemed to stop you in the past,” the woman praised, and the figure snuffled in pathetic euphoria.
“My lady, you are too kind!”
“Egatem!” the woman cut him off, “a way to get her here?”
“Her ties to that place must be cut, every one, Madam.”
“What precisely does that entail?”
“She must leave everything behind, her companions, her belongings, her body—”
“Her body?” the woman shifted in the shadows. “Do you mean that she has to die?”
“No, my lady… if she died, her spirit would go to the afterlife and your plans would be ruined. We must simply separate her spirit from her body, and bring it here. She won’t need her body here, anyway.”
“I see,” the woman said, and from her tone, it sounded like she was smirking in the darkness.
“And tell me, Egatem, how would we go about this separation?” she asked, placing a particular, enticing emphasis upon the figure’s name. Again, the cloaked figure snorted and snuffled in immense pleasure, quickly stirring the pool to give the woman an answer.
“Their strange wagons are easily manipulated. They keep traffic in order with a set of different-colored lights—easily broken. She crosses the street an hour after sunrise every day. If I could… if after I watched for a few days, I could change the pattern of the lights, I might be able to use one of those wagons and—almost—kill her.”
“Very good; I am most impressed with you,” the female said. There was a rustle of silk, and a stunningly beautiful woman stepped into the torchlight, approaching Egatem slowly, gracefully. She had a dark complexion and a pile of silky, perfectly coiffed black hair sat primly atop her head. Her long white gown trailed behind her. The figure gasped as the woman stepped around the seeing-pool and brushed its shoulder, shivering at the touch. She flicked back the deep hood on the cloak to expose a hideous, pockmarked face which stared up at her with unconcealed adoration in great bulbous brown eyes. The man sniveled with glee as she traced his jaw line with a long fingernail.
“Tell me, how do you plan to drag her spirit here?” the woman asked, putting a hand under the man’s chin, raising his face so he had to look her in the eye.
“She seems so fragile, my lady; surely if she were struck by one of those wagons she would be close to death! Then, when her mind was sleeping, I would perform a summoning spell. She would come without resistance. Without her spirit, her empty body would die and not be revived.”
“Perfect,” the woman purred, stroking the man’s thin, sparse brown hair. He grunted appreciatively, like a stray dog being petted for the first time. The woman turned away to conceal her disgust, her dress swirling on the stone floor behind her. She smoothed her lovely features with some effort and then turned back towards Egatem halfway, resting one hand on a nearby marble column.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you,” she began assuming the doe-eyed, deeply grateful expression of one who is absolutely earnest.
“My lady,” Egatem breathed.
“Why, if we don’t get the Darina here soon, the whole country is going to dry up, and that would be just terrible,” she continued, shaking her head sorrowfully. The man nodded eagerly in wholehearted agreement. “But, if you succeed, our lands and people will be saved from utter destruction. Your name will go down in history: Egatem, the man who saved Samandra!”
“Oh!” the man whimpered happily.
“So you understand me when I say that the mission I’ve given you is very important,” the woman concluded.
“Yes! Yes, I’ll do anything to get her here!” Egatem cried.
“Good,” the lady smiled, but it did not reach her eyes. “Call me when you are ready to perform the summoning,” and with that, she turned and swept past Egatem, down the long hall between the columns, and disappeared through the door at the far end of the chamber.

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MOSHDA: obsessive hugger since 2003
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Re: Stranger Lands - Prologue

Post by ashketchumlovergirl on Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:48 am

This seems like a wonderful beginning! I must find out what happens next!!! Very Happy keep it coming!
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Re: Stranger Lands - Prologue

Post by Lillie on Fri May 27, 2011 2:52 pm

The woman’s words slithered into the figure’s brain like a sensual, serpentine enchantment.

In the third person, you can't tell us what happens in anyone's brain.

“I see many tall buildings, and strange wagons drawn without horses....”

This phrasing is a bit awkward. Something like "...and strange wagons which move without horses..." could work better.

The figure gasped as the woman stepped around the seeing-pool and brushed its shoulder, shivering at the touch.

Who is shivering? I couldn't tell from you wording.

This is a good story beginning. The imagery is very vivid. It's great that you can visualize all that so clearly, but when you write it all, it gets in the way. The actual story is bogged down with irrelevant details. You are constantly telling me exactly how everything looks, and leave nothing to my imagination. As a result, I don't imagine it. After reading it, I remember what the characters described (in very few words) better than what the narrator told me (in hundreds of words) because I had to think to see what was told in few words. I(the reader) will remember what you guide me to think far better then what you tell me to think.Trust that your reader will have enough imagination to carry your story. Because, face it, you can't give them yours.
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Re: Stranger Lands - Prologue

Post by Moshda on Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:00 pm

Thank you Lillie, I've noticed over the years that my weakness is being too wordy. Also, I appreciate that you pointed out the awkwardly worded passages - that's so helpful!

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