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PostSubject: The Shadows Are Falling (WIP)   Tue May 31, 2011 10:44 am

The Shadows Are Falling

Part 1
Upon the blood-strewn battlefield, our swords smashed together like mighty eagles clashing in flight, their talons locking upon each other, each one trying to wrest the other away. This moment in the battle between the Hydra and Leopard Kingdoms could decide the entire war. I let out a roar, lashing out toward my enemy with a vicious kick to his armour-plated stomach. He grunted loudly, doubling over as he stepped backward clumsily. His short, brown hair swept over his eyes as he gave me a menacing glare in revenge. I heaved his sword away from mine, diving toward him and flinging the sharp tip of my weapon toward his body for the ultimate killing blow...
But it was at that moment the steel shattered in my hands. I yelled, covering my eyes as gleaming shards of steel scattered all around me. What had just happened?

My opponent had vanished and all that was left in his place was a pile of ash, gently blowing about in the wind. My stomach churned at this turn of events.
I didn't have time to think about this as the ground began to shake. I barely had time to dive for cover before there was a massive explosion that sent blood-covered grass, soil and debris flying into the air. I groaned as my armour jabbed into my collarbones. I knew I shouldn't have stolen this set from someone that was too small.

I shielded my head as the dirt splattered over my body, bits covering my tatty amber hair. When I heard the sounds of steel hitting steel and numerous explosions on the battlefield dying down, I allowed myself to slowly stand up again. I surveyed the scene of horror all about me.

The battlefield was littered with pools of blood and there were but a few patches of clean grass remaining. The number of dead soldiers lying on the ground was incredibly high. I estimated at least ten thousand of our best men had died in battle on this day. I gulped, hazarding an estimate of how many of the enemy had fallen. Maybe five thousand - or if we were lucky - six thousand? They had proven to be a difficult match.

I stumbled forward, cursing myself. I clutched my left shoulder with my hand where blood was oozing from a minor gash. The pain had gone unnoticed when it had been inflicted, but now that my adrenaline levels had died down, the wound was taking its place in the forefront of my mind. All I remember was that my foe drew his sword across my shoulder like a hot knife through butter. If only I had learnt more defensive techniques from my father when he was still around...
I took a long, deep breath. The clothes under my armour did a nice job of absorbing the blood from the wound. Even if the gash was deep, it was not wide and did not hit bone so recovery would be quick if a mage or doctor could be found. Then again, my long-term illness could hamper my chances of recovery.

I gingerly stepped over a charred corpse, an unlucky victim of the war. Not far ahead of me was the sight of the grand stone walls of the castle we had been fighting for. If no-one could get in, the ten-thousand spent lives of our troops would have been in vain.
I stumbled forward, calling out as my foot was caught in a hole in the ground but a hand had reached out and caught me by my arm. As I was pulled back, I snuck a glance at my rescuer's face.
"Ah, Isabelle!" I gasped. She pulled her hand back to her face to lift up the rim of her large, pointed hat slightly. Her golden-brown hair hung down to her shoulders and her emerald-green eyes seemed to pierce my soul. She was a mage that was fighting for our cause with her powerful green magic, but the downturned sides of her mouth told me she knew the battle had taken a turn for the worse. If only our enemies had not got hold of the plans for the Bomber Cannon...

"We've lost, haven't we?"' I gasped, succumbing to the pain and setting myself down. My breathing became slow and laboured.
"I wouldn't say that." Isabelle attempted to reassure me, kneeling down and placing a gentle hand on my shoulder. "I will find you a healer. I know how much the Leopard Kingdom means to you. We aren't going down without a fight."
"Well, hurry then!" I snapped. This idle chat was a waste of time when I could drop dead any moment.
Isabelle nodded, placing a hand to her chest. She vanished in a puff of green smoke. I gave a resigned sigh, trying to focus all my efforts on blocking out the pain in my shoulder.
It was mere minutes before Isabelle returned. She appeared in another puff of smoke with someone who appeared to be in their sixties - shrivelled skin, grey eyes and a permanently downturned mouth. He wore a long, white robe with nothing to cover his balding head. 
"Ah, our captain has been wounded!" He exclaimed, fishing into his pocket of medical supplies. He picked out a small vial of clear liquid which he uncorked and held to my lips. I drank it down eagerly, knowing it was a strong antiseptic. 
When I was done, he pocketed the empty vial again and took a long look at my wound.
"Ah, not irrepairable." He gave a satisfied smile. "But the main issue..."
I knew what he was referring to.
"Ricardo, right now, my greatest problem is loss of blood, obviously, but don't bother trying to heal it. I've defeated my foe. Even my efforts weren't enough to win this war. My illness is likely to claim me soon anyway."
"What are you talking about?" Ricardo looked genuinely confused. He adjusted his position to look deeply into my eyes. "We developed an antidote to your illness. Didn't you know? We just gave it to you!"

-----
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PostSubject: Re: The Shadows Are Falling (WIP)   Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:05 pm

Part 2

"Ugh..." I gasped deeply as I lay upon a soft bed created from bird feathers and covered with cloth. I was in a medical tent on the outskirts of the battlefield, where the Hydra Kingdom were not allowed to attack. 
My shoulder was still searing with pain but the antiseptic I had been given by Ricardo reduced the pain slightly. I groaned every time a spasm of pain went through the wound.
The agony eventually sent me to sleep.

I was woken up by the sound of chirping birds and the tent flap swooshing open. I had to shield my eyes with my right hand as the sunlight threatened to blind me.
"That was some battle last night! You're lucky someone found you before..." The person with a white pointed hat and long cape spoke before stepping into the tent, closing the flap gently behind her. "How is your wound?"
"Not brilliant." I groaned, taking my hand from my eyes. Movement was painful. "I think my antiseptic wore off. Do you have anything stronger?" 
"Yes Captain." She smiled, examining a nearby table covered with medical tools and supplies. I took this moment to think about how casual lower-ranking members of the army were to the higher-ranks. I think it was a society thing.
"Ah, here." The mage smiled, picking up a small, worn scroll. 
"Magic, huh?" I chuckled, craning my head so I could see her actions better.
"Yes." She unwrapped the scroll, observing it with gentle eyes. When she was done scanning it, she placed it back where she got it from. The mage stepped over to me, raising her hands so they were hovering just over my tender shoulder.
"This may hurt." She stifled a small grin before a blue aura surrounded her hands. From what little experience I had with mages, I knew this one was summoning up some healing magic. 
The blue aura separated from her hands, seeming to fly away with its own free will. It dropped down into the wound, causing me to wince in great pain. I stifled a scream.
However, that was all I felt. As the mage continued her magic, I could feel it closing up.

"Thanks..." I muttered when she was finished. She took her hands away and helped me to sit up straight on the bed. I glanced at my wound - or rather - where it had been. There was nothing but a scar.
"You'll be fine now. By the way, we're all leaving since the war didn't turn out so well for us. The King expects us all to be out by midnight." The mage spoke with a frown.
"Really? Did we at least capture the castle?" I asked.
"Yes, part of it. A search party is going to go in the half we managed to claim and see if they can salvage anything."
"Oh! May I join that search party?"
"You..." The mage was taken aback. "I've only just healed you! Can you imagine what would happen if I allpwed you to leave so soon after an injury and you got injured again?!"
"I can take care of myself now." I chucked, using my left hand to brush away my untidy amber hair from my face. "When does the party leave?"
The mage sighed in resignation.
"Tonight."

Pattering footsteps.
"Take their flank."
"Yes sir."
The sound of metal on brick.
"Keep close to the walls, we don't want to be seen."
The moonlight shone down upon the castle. It was late autumn, when the days were getting shorter. I could tell we only had three hours to execute this mission before we had to leave. 
I adjusted myself so that my body was in the shadows. I was wearing a brand-new set of light armour that fitted me perfectly. It screeched quietly as it scratched against the walls of the castle.
"Hush." I commanded. Through a shattered wall, I saw a foot patrol of the Hydra Kingdom cross the partially-destroyed castle corridoors. When they passed wordlessly, I commanded my soilders to follow me. I clambered over some rubble toward the main gate. I dropped down from the rubble, hugged the main gate and made my way silently along the shadowed coridoor.
My team of 5 including me crept silently on. Every time we heard a noise of any sort that wasn't made by us, we would freeze until we were sure that any dangers had passed.

It took about an hour of sneaking before we found a room that was still intact. We gathered on either side of the oak door that led into it. 
"Romeo, use your sword." I commanded with a whisper. He nodded, stepping in front of the door. He brought out his sword from his sheath, pointing the tip at the door with both hands on the handle. 
I stepped in front of him, turning the dented brass handle quietly and pushing the door so it opened with a creak. My other hand rested on the handle of my sheathed weapon. 
There was a hiss.
I stepped back in horror, almost falling into the arms of one of my companions. 
Someone had put a snake in the room.
Romeo staggered back in shock as the snake darted out to bite him. However, it missed by a fraction of an inch and he was able to bring his gleaming sword around to smack it away, into the far wall with a loud crack where it collapsed, motionless.
I collapsed to the ground, my adrenaline levels slowly dropping again. When Romeo was sure that no dangers remained, he clenched a free fist. I stood up shakily, following him into the room.
What lay before me was an amazing sight. The circular walls of the chamber were covered with elaborate tapestries and two stained-glass windows that looked out upon the battlefield where we had the afternoon's battle. 
"This is amazing!" Romeo exclaimed. I followed his gaze. He was staring at a gold-plated statue of what seemed to be a small kiteshield, mounted on the wall. 
"That must be worth a lot!" I gasped, stepping over to him. "And it looks light enough to carry."
"Then let's take this and the tapestries and get out of here." Romeo agreed. "I think we've done enough scouting for today."
"We still have a couple of hours left..." I grumbled before silently accepting. I commanded a third soldier to come into the room with his leather backpack. He heaved the statue off the wall, placing it in the backpack.
The remaining two soldiers who had been keeping watch stepped into the room. "We have company." 
I gasped.
There was a blinding flash of light then an amazing rush of heat. I ducked down as quickly as I could, covering my head. Romeo did the same as did the third soldier. However, the other two did not. I looked up once the light and heat had subsided.
Two piles of ash.
"This must be their destruction spell! They have red mages here! Teleport us the F- out!!" I yelled commands, grabbing onto Romeo's arm. Upon it was a golden bracelet that had been left to him by Isabelle, the green mage. Romeo instinctively grabbed the third soilder's arm with a gasp before the world vanished in front of the three. The last thing they saw was a flash of red in the doorway.

"I should have you executed, but I don't think I will. Instead, I'm going to be demoting you..." The King pointed at me with a menacing glare. "To the lowly rank of a soldier. You will not be called up for battle for two months and you must forefeit your current weapons and armour."
Great. If only that bracelet didn't leave a "trace of teleport" when it was used. The King had quickly figured out what had happened once us three had appeared in his bedchamber in the middle of the night. He had just enough magical power to detect our teleportation.
I nodded in resignation. At least this would give me a nice holiday with my family, right?
Mabye not.
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PostSubject: Re: The Shadows Are Falling (WIP)   Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:34 am

Part 3

"I'm home." 
I knocked on the old, wooden door of the family's small cottage. The home was located on the outskirts of the castle village of Remora. We had decided to locate ourselves here after an uprsing in town and the poor becoming even poorer in the countryside at the same time. In theory, living here would allow us to witness both worlds at the same time without actually being part of them.
The door was flung open. What greeted me was a lit-up face of my wife who leapt towards me, grabbing my cotton clothes and hugging me as much as she could. I couldn't help but smile either when I heard the sounds of our children in the coridoor. There were two of them - a boy and girl. The girl, Katie, was the eldest at age 9 but the most immature when compared to Brandon who was a year younger. They both had fair hair just like my wife.
I broke free of my wife's restraining hold to kneel down and grab my children as they both dived toward me. I was knocked back from the force of the blow, the air being pushed out of my lungs. My spine met cobbled stone with a loud smack. Fortunately, I laughed off the pain and numbness as my son and daughter hugged me.
Every day that followed, for the next week was filled with reunions, celebrations and apologies. I hadn't been home in months when I was at war, but the loss of my job meant the loss of my family's income. My illness had not bothered me for a week, which my family was incredibly happy to hear about. The antidote that I had been given by Ricardo was working!
But these days were not to last.

A mysterious letter popped through the letterbox - a slit in the door - and landed on the makeshift welcome mat. It was early afternoon, a time when letters weren't normally delivered. I broke up a conversatiom with my family over the fire, from which we got our warmth, and stepped over to the doormat. I picked up the letter gingerly, weighing it in both hands. 
"Ah, its a note." I stated. My family turned back to talking amongst themselves. I opened the folded note to meet a page of handwriting...

"Dear Ex-Captain.

I am aware that your last few days have been spent in joy, bliss and wonder. However, I can't help but feel that a vital battle plan has been missed. Please allow us to discuss it in the Golden Valley tonight. I'll be waiting.

The Green Mage, Isabelle"

I turned the letter over in confusion, wondering if there was anything written on the back. There wasn't.
I turned back to my family, rejoining them by the fire. 

That night, instead of preparing the dinner for my wife and children, I kindly asked if my wife would be able to prepare the food instead. As she agreed, I kissed her and stepped into the darkness, wrapped in a thick cloth cape. I brought a lantern with me to light the way, as well as my grandfather's old sword. It wasn't magnificently sharp, but I figured it would be enough if any bandits tried to ambush me.

The Golden Valley wasn't far off - only about a mile from the cottage. As I stepped off the cobbled roads that overlooked the valley, I walked upon a dirt path that took me down toward an abandoned house that was covered by a massive overhanging rock. It was this home that was used as a meeting place during times of war, or secrecy. 
I knocked on the door, the sound echoing throughout the valley. I felt hundreds of pairs of eyes upon me. Was I being watched?
I waited for a few seconds before knocking again, but my fist never connected with the door. Instead, a hand had grabbed me by my wrist!
"Who is this?" I demanded, holding up the lantern with my other hand, its dim light radiating over the person who held my hand. 
It was Isabelle, and she was standing in the doorway. Her green eyes flickered with a welcoming light.
"Ah. So you're here." I freed my hand from her grasp. She nodded, stepping into the structure and holding the door open, inviting me to come in.
"I had feared you wouldn't come." Isabelle spoke as I stepped inside, the warmth of the building being the first thing I noticed. It was completely bare, with one room. There was a fireplace in the far wall, but that was it.
"Yes, this isn't particuarly inviting." I joked. "Now what was it you wanted to talk to me about?" I asked as I made my  way into the room.
"Oh, it isn't a simple matter. In fact, it's about a battle plan. One of Hydra's anyway." She replied, locking the door behind her with iron bolts. The stepped over to the lone window by the door and closed the shutters.
"You have information on Hydra?" I gasped, turning to her. 
"Yes, it wasn't hard to come by, being one of them."
The shock of what I had just learnt was like a lightning bolt racing through my body. I unsheathed my sword with shocking speed and accuracy but it was parried away by someone I had not seen before - a warrior that wore red and black armour that covered him from head to toe. Of course! Green mages can summon anything and teleport anyone, even warriors of darkness to fight for them.
The armoured figure pushed my sword away with his, forcing me to stumble backward. I rightened myself, getting back into my fighting stance as the warrior launched itself toward me. It raised its sword and brought it down, meeting with my own raised one. There was a tremendous clashing sound as the two swords met and the shock felt like it shattered every bone in my body. This beast was strong...
"Resistance is futile." Isabelle chuckled, adjusting her robes over her shoulders. "This is exactly the same fight your family put up, except they didn't fare so well."
I gasped in horror. Was there no end to the series of revelations that was being thrust upon me?

The dark warrior noticed I was distracted. It siezed this opportiunity, taking his sword away from mine and smacking the flat side into the side of my body, sending me crashing into the window and its shutteres, splintering and smashing them. I flew straight through, tumbling over myself down the sides of the valley...

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PostSubject: Re: The Shadows Are Falling (WIP)   Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:12 am

Wow! I really would like to mention what I particularly enjoy in this literature.

Initially, I intended to read a little, add a little to this post, read a little more, and type a little more, and so on. However, as I started reading, I couldn't stop. You already have a great style if the reader can't put the page down. You have excellent imagery and description; it is so easy to visualize everything that is going on with the characters.

To add to your description, think of all of your senses! When you mention that there are bodies and blood around the narrator in part one, you mention what your character sees, including the estimation of numbers of the dead. In order to increase the imagery here, why not add more? What do you smell? What do you hear? What sounds are made by your feet as you step through this chaos? What does this particular surroundings make you feel? Fear? Grossed out? Frantic?

This is just an example for you. If you include these things, it'll be much easier to visualize your surroundings, and perhaps you could even add more description on landmarks. (although with the surroundings, would you really have time to observe that much about your landmarks?)

I would also suggest doing a little more separation of your dialogue, or specifying who is saying what. Otherwise, it can be quite confusing. I just love your characters her and I really enjoyed the diction and grammar. Awesome work!

Thank you so much for posting this, I really enjoyed it! I hope to see more of your literature.
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