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Destiny's Scourge

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#1 Offline Zarayna

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Posted Sep 05 2012 - 03:48 PM

Destiny's scourge

Many have fallen through cowardice, others through pride. But still more have fallen through curiosity. Perhaps the most, however, are the ones who fall through all three.

In the dark of night, the capitol of Dinaru shone like a star; its white stone seeming to be glowing, as it indeed was. Even at this time of night, it was not deserted, with some people still working behind the now locked gates of the building. In a relatively small building adjoining it, the leader of the republic sat, deep in thought. Makuta Aola was not what one usually thought of when the word ‘makuta’ came to mind. He stood no taller than a toa, his armor black accented with deep blue. His eyes shone sadly from behind a black Arthron with the classic marbling of that mask in the same deep blue. His only weapon, a long ornate staff, rested against a wall. The paper in the makuta’s hand was not read, nor had it been. It was the first thing Aola had picked up, if only to try to get his mind off the burning thought that seemed to intrude into his mind. I am a Makuta, not a matoran. I will not allow myself to be read, ye fool. Show yourself plainly if you wish to speak, He spoke; in mind, not in voice. “Very well,” came the quiet reply from behind the Makuta, in front of the door. Aola did not bother to turn his head, or even activate his mask. Instead he placidly looked to the wall in front of him, blank though it was. “You wish to speak with me?” Aola asked calmly: in his own home, and in the dead of night, he still showed no alarm. “Yes. I did,” his visitor replied. Aola now did turn, his eyes showing trace signs of amusement at the robed figure that stood in front of the still-locked door. “Robed and mind-shielded. You take a great effort to remain unknown, I see,” he observed, toying with the paper which still remained in his hand. “I do,” was the only reply. “Very well, then. You’re not the first night visitor I’ve had, but you may be the first to leave alive. Speak your piece and be gone.” “Speak and be gone?” the visitor questioned, stepping forwards uninvited to take a seat on a chair. “You act as if I am an assassin or a servant. But so it shall be! Your statement conforms perfectly with my intent, in your luck.” “Then speak,” Aola said flatly, and his eyes portrayed a slight frown. “You are aware of Destiny, Aola. I know you are; as a Makuta, it is not possible for you to know otherwise. But, are you aware of Mata Nui’s intentions in it?” There was a pause as the eyes of the two beings met. “In two hundred years of rule, such a trite thing has never occupied my mind. Nonetheless, the answer is… Yes.” In the last phrase, Aola’s voice seemed to become sullen, and his eyes certainly had changed from slightly annoyed to grim irritation. “Then you have… Brought great clarity to me. Much more than any of my probing could have.” The visitor rose to his feet. “I thank you,” he said as he turned towards the door. In an instant, his feet froze where he stood, and as he looked back, he came face to face with Aola, now teleported next to him, his magnetic abilities keeping the mysterious visitor from moving. “You may not leave,” the Makuta said coolly. “I am not done with you.” In response, the visitor motionlessly fixed his eyes, unhidden by the cowl of his robe, on the Makuta. “Unhand me,” he said emotionlessly, and to emphasize this, the hold Aola had over him was thrown off like a man might shrug another’s of he leg. “You command matter through magnetic forces, I command it through its substance,” he said, as if by way of explaining. “Cease your attempts, Makuta, lest I slow my patience.” An onlooker would have expected Aola to disobey, or to attack, but instead the Makuta stepped back, almost resignedly. “Your telekinesis is exceptional. Who are you?” he asked, not giving entirely up. “Who I am is not your concern,” came the toneless response. “What concerns you is what I am: the voice of Mata Nui. You would do well, Makuta, to listen to that voice.” With that last statement, the room once again was empty except for Aola. The Makuta stood for some time, eyes fixated on the same place, his frown evidencing his depth of thought. For a second the silence was broken by the sound of paper being crushed. Then the Makuta turned away, the report he had been reading falling to the ground in a ball, until stopping almost where the visitor had been. Silence once again set in on the room, but to Aola, it had a ring of eerie unrest.


The second of my teaser short stories for my upcoming Nanowrimo epic, And to the Republic. Thought I'd set a bit of the theme, give some spoilers away... Besides, this was originally going to be the prologue to the epic, before i decided to write it for Nanowrimo.

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#2 Offline Chro

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Posted Sep 06 2012 - 08:33 PM

Nice little piece, quite mysterious. I like Aola's character, from what little I've read of him. :)
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On 10/20/13, at 9:07 PM, Voltex wrote:
> I used to be a professional assassin
> Until I tried to kill Santa Claus
> But he caught me
> I was fired and Santa Claus has been hunting me down ever since

#3 Offline Jean Valjean

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Posted Nov 26 2012 - 04:48 PM

:kaukau: Well, it's a teaser. Before I get to the big picture, I have to just comment on this one little thing:

The paper in the makuta’s hand was not read, nor had it been.

Isn't that a little redundant?Anyway, while I was glad that Aola wasn't too arrogant, I was also a little disappointed that this story was essentially one of those where the author (you) try to write about a powerful character who is unimpressed by a mysterious visitor, and there's the unspoken central conflict going on of "Who's more powerful?" It brings back good old memories of working in a corrupt TBRPG where everyone's characters were so powerful that they were unimpressed with each other, although for the purpose of interaction they entertained themselves with each other's presence. So it is that this is painstakingly crafted (and unfortunately, I can see your effort) to make for a dramatic encounter between two higher forces, with much of the drama highlighted in nitpicky details given to the tone of voice and hand gestures that seem altogether a little too attentive. The tension might work, but it's really difficult to say. Perhaps I would have to see it within the context of your bigger story. I would strongly consider another opening, however. I mean, it can be powerful, but in my experience, there are many other kinds of confrontations that are much more dynamic. How difficult is it to reimagine an entire opening? I don't know. This goes beyond mere commentary on form and style. If you truly want to stick with this, I would consider writing and rewriting it, because where it stands I am definitely unimpressed. Everything about the conversation seems too contrived at the moment, and neither of the characters have the presence that justifies it. I like that you simplified the conversation and only included minimal, prototypical dialogue, but I think that part of the key here is to simplify it even more. For example, I don't think that explaining how the Voice of Mata Nui broke Aola's magnetic bond was really necessary. You just need to use some basic imagery that makes it apparent that he's more powerful. Heck, given that you're working with high beings, I think it would even be fitting if you outright came out and just explained where they stood relative to each other, and instead of working from Aola's perspective you should fully embrace the omnipresence and omniscience of the third person narrator. You can basically say some more elegant variant of "Aola tried to subdue the visitor with magnetism, but with some more elementary force the visitor resisted".Now imagine for a moment that the story opens with an establishing shot. They do these often in movies, and all the time in television shows. These are meant to give an idea of the place. You wrote this with a style that I can tell you were imagining the scene in your head, playing out as if it was a movie. I wouldn't mind it if you started off with a little more of that dedicated to the setting, because I think I need some appreciation of the setting and the character's place in it before I can take this conversation as seriously as you meant it to be taken (which, to clarify, does not mean that I take it as a joke or a comic failure, but I still maintain my view that I'm too aware of how hard you're trying). Do you have that image of the setting in your head, the dramatic theatrical swoops sweeping over the small building? Do you have all those details in mind? The mood?Good. Now throw it all away. All of it. It belongs in the trash. It it the impulse of writers such as you and me (and mercy, must I shake that impulse off) to describe how things look and use the paintbrush to tell us about a place. "It was a small building, and it's smallness represented a [insert emotional wordplay here]." Do you know what I mean? Steer clear of that. I don't want any of that. We've been taught to show instead of tell, but the writer's equivalent to dramatic, swooping establishment shots is to just tell us something about a place. Tell us something dramatic, something cool, something tragic, something funny. I don't care, so long as what you tell me shows that this place is interesting. Why do you think some heroes introduce themselves as "[name], Prince of [kingdom], mediator between the [fantasy race] and humanity, last of the [fantasy title], the fifth bearer of the [fantasy name] sword, who, most bravely, slew a thousand goblins with his right hand while holding the fair maiden in his left, and who, without hesitation, jumped the bridges of [fantasy location name], stole the idol of [temple], escaped the clutches of the Dragon Pit of Narr, and claimed the Holy Grail."? Because there are interesting things about them that qualify them as figures worthy of additional storytelling. Because it immediately gets your interest and allows you to put up certain expectations. Then there's the example of Russel Crowe in Gladiator, who introduced himself quite famously with a powerful line about his name being "Maximus Decimus Meridius." What he did there, and with the following self-description, was justify who he was and made himself known.So it is that I think that the beginning of a story must make the story known. As this is the prelude and a bit of an advertisement, it's your goal to deliver a bit of the concept. That involves a little bit of exposition, I know, but I really think it does wonders. This is sometimes a writer's equivalent to an establishment shot. An establishment shot can only do so much. It only shows you what a place looks like. As a writer, you can make a place so much more well known to the reader.The reason why I think this is important to setting up you story? Simple. As I said before, you require a bit of setup to build into this confrontation, so that I can see at least one of these characters within a little bit more context. I have a sense of who Aola is, but I need more in order for this scene to flow right. I need credentials. I need to get a sense before I see him that he acts the way he does. You need to build that expectation up for me.There you go. I hope you don't mind these few suggestions. I figured that, given that this is pat of an epic, it would make more sense to make a few big suggestions, especially given that you could potentially come back and write the opening again, instead of nitpicking, because I realize that we are fellow writers here. I hope that when next a sign of this epic graces BZPower, the opening is even more dramatic and manages to fly with it.


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