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Shredded Radiance


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#1 Offline Grantaire

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Posted Oct 24 2012 - 09:39 PM

In 1307 the knights Templar were arrested by the thousands in France, and tortured into giving confessions of blasphemy, idolatry, and other charged not fit to be mentioned here. Many were executed, others imprisoned. This story follows the possibility of one escaping.

-x-x-x-

     The wind was cold and chilling, whipping the freezing rain directly into the face of the traveler as he stumbled along.     He was dressed in muddy and ragged clothing which had once been white, a thick mantle draped about him, sodden with water. Red shreds of cloth hung in tatters from where it covered his left breast and his face, partly covered by the cowl, was scarred under the thick beard, the blood on it washed away by time and the driving rain. His features were set in a mixture of determination and despair, and his eyes were filled with a bleak anger. In his hands for a staff was a javelin, but no shield hung at his back, and no helm crested his brow. Wearily he trod along, setting one mud-caked boot in front of the other.     Life was not good to the traveler, and was not likely to get better. He peered at the scene ahead, the muddy road leading through the black trees, and the evening-dark overshadowing even the rain, turning it into a dark-silver curtain. No color could be seen except dimly the brown of dying leaves still in the trees, falling rapidly to the ravaging winds; there was nothing that did not match the despair of his stony heart.     There had been a time before he had faded into a wasting shade, a time where he had traveled brilliant and powerful, high above the common folk, looking down upon them from his war-steed. His clothing had been white, his heraldry a blood-red radiance. But that time had gone, with intrusion, arrest, imprisonment, torture, and finally that which enstoned his heart; the betrayal, the turning and trodding upon every oath and belief he had ever held. He had trampled it, his marks increased by those of the rich who pressured and tormented, and the pope who turned his head away, leaving him to fall into the pit of his own heart.     Even so, had that been the end of it he would have rotted in a quiet dungeon-cell, safe and somewhat warm; at the least fed. But he had not been content to rest like this, branded as a heretic, blasphemer, and idolater, although in his mind he had forgotten that fleeing would hardly change that. He had escaped then, and fled, armorless, with only the clothes on his back, torn from prison and flight both.     He had decided after his rage had subsided that he would die quicker in this manner; in prison, he would last a year and more, even if the prison-climate overcame him. Here, it was just a matter of wager as to whether starvation, cold, or bandits would smite him first.     He cared little now, a deadening of his heart the only real feeling he held; it was as if on the day he had slashed apart his mantle-cross to hide who he once was and what he hand once stood for, his heart had left him. It was as if the brilliance of that symbol had taken part of his soul away with it, leaving he himself in shreds.     The forest darkened even more, but the rain still beat down, filtered somewhat by the arching branches. It was not a place to be at night, even for an armed knight; for a wearied traveler, it was akin to near suicide. Bandits and murderers, thieves and outlaws, they all lurked in the woods, and at night they roamed unchecked. The traveler cared little though, his eyes fixed on the muddy road, his thought fixed on not thinking, of averting through lack of reason the pain of his sin.     Ahead figures moved, and at a harsh call the traveler looked up both warily and wearily. Exhausted in mind and body, he made little attempt to avoid the arrow which flew through the air, piercing him in the breast. And as his own red blood stained the mantle, mixing with the red of the shreds of cloth still there the emotions sapped for so long returned; the traveler collapsed, body wracked by grief and remorse, even as life gladly slipped out of him.

-x-x-x-

Okay, this will be my last Templar fic for a while, I promise!Basically, I saw the Flash Fiction pathfinding picture, and after that a birthday card with a Templar clad in a ragged surcoat and mantle, and yeah, it popped out.Also, for those f you unfamiliar with Templar garb, they wore a red cross at the left breast of their mantle.

Edited by Zarayna, Nov 26 2012 - 10:04 AM.

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#2 Offline Hawkeye

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Posted Oct 30 2012 - 01:16 AM

SSCC Review coming your way.I enjoyed this story. I really did. Not only was this story well written, but it drew on a period of turmoil and strife, and that no doubt helped you along in the writing process. I also am a history nut, which appealed to me. This story captures a lot of the injustice that went on after the end of the Knight's Templar, and is written extremely well. Other then some parts where I had to reread it, which is probably due to my haste in reading over your grammar, you didn't miss much.One thing that this story did for me was keep my attention, which is rare of amateur fiction. At least for me. But this held my attention all the way through, which is something I feel like I should praise. You really did a bang up job on this, in more ways than one. I really can't find many flaws with this story, and perhaps that is why you are heralded as such a good writer. You really stand out to me on BZP as one of the premier writers of the site, a part of an elite club, so to speak.I really truly did enjoy this story and think it's very good. Keep up the good work!
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#3 Offline Grantaire

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Posted Oct 30 2012 - 09:31 PM

SSCC Review coming your way.I enjoyed this story. I really did. Not only was this story well written, but it drew on a period of turmoil and strife, and that no doubt helped you along in the writing process. I also am a history nut, which appealed to me. This story captures a lot of the injustice that went on after the end of the Knight's Templar, and is written extremely well. Other then some parts where I had to reread it, which is probably due to my haste in reading over your grammar, you didn't miss much.

Seeing as I'm a Templar nut, I'm surprised it took me this long to write about their fall. Also, you could have nitpicked to your heart's content had I not edited it thoroughly for once; I thought I'd spare whoever read this the sight of my overuse of commas. :P

One thing that this story did for me was keep my attention, which is rare of amateur fiction. At least for me. But this held my attention all the way through, which is something I feel like I should praise. You really did a bang up job on this, in more ways than one. I really can't find many flaws with this story, and perhaps that is why you are heralded as such a good writer. You really stand out to me on BZP as one of the premier writers of the site, a part of an elite club, so to speak.I really truly did enjoy this story and think it's very good. Keep up the good work!

Thank you for the praise; I must admit that this story is excellent even to my self-critical reading, which isn't usual. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

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#4 Offline Kragghle

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Posted Nov 22 2012 - 06:23 PM

     The wind was cold and chilling, whipping the freezing rain directly into the face of the traveler as he stumbled along. This opening line would be more interesting if it wasn't for everything in the next couple of paragraphs basically reiterating this statement. It would have been nice if, after establishing the basic mood from this line, you could have moved straight to the action.     He was dressed in muddy and ragged clothing which had once been white, a thick mantle draped about him, sodden with water. Red shreds of cloth hung in tatters from where it covered his left breast and his face, partly covered by the cowl, was scarred under the thick beard, the blood on it washed away by time and the driving rain, and on top of it all, certainly, and without any doubt, could anyone claim anything contrary to the terrible burden of the commas he carried on his shoulders. His features were set in a mixture of determination and despair, and his eyes were filled with a bleak anger, but whatever bleak anger is can be a little vague, and this commentator suggests just saying that he had a bleak anger and let the reader imagine how this affects his body language, or describing the body language without explaining what it means, because one should suggest the other without both having to share the same description of the man at once. In his hands for a staff was a javelin, but no shield hung at his back, and no helm crested his brow. Wearily, because adverbs are so pointless that they can make anyone weary, he trod along, setting one mud [there should be a hyphen here] caked boot in front of the other.     Life was not good to the traveler, and was not like[ly] to get better. He peered at the scene ahead, the muddy road leading through the black trees, and the evening-dark overshadowing even [confusing word repetition] the rain, turning it into a dark-silver [I shudder at the thought of dark silver. To me, that's an unholy oxymoron. Die, you infidel.] curtain. No color could be seen except dimly [Another unecessary adverb. Allow me to get out my pitchfork.] the brown of dying leaves still in the trees, falling rapidly [adverb] to the ravaging winds: [a semicolon would be better here] there was nothing that did not match the despair of his stony heart, which, really, any reader could have inferred that I, the author, was trying the emphasize from the very start, since that it tends to be what most authors instinctively do, but just to be extra dramatic I decided to be blunt and drop all subtlety.     There had been a time before he had faded into a wasting shade, a time where he had traveled brilliant and powerful, high above the common folk, looking down upon them from his war-steed. His clothing had been white, his heraldry a blood-red radiance. But that time had gone, with intrusion, arrest, imprisonment, torture, and finally that which enstoned his heart; the betrayal, the turning and trodding upon every oath and belief he had ever held. He had trampled it, his marks increased by those of the rich who pressured and tormented, and the pope who turned his head away, leaving him to fall into the pit of his own heart.     The above paragraph is much better, although now you've turned to showing and not telling. Granted, however, showing takes a bit longer, and I like that you were very succinct with your description here. Now, if you had taken forever to tell the contents of this paragraph, then I would have preferred showing.     Even so, had that been the end of it he would have rotted in a quiet dungeon-cell, safe and somewhat warm; at the least fed. But he had not been content to rest like this, branded as a heretic, blasphemer, and idolater, although in his mind he had forgotten that fleeing would hardly [*cough*] change that. He had escaped then, and fled, armorless, with only the clothes on his back, torn from prison and flight both.     He had decided after his rage had subsided that he would die quicker in this manner; in prison, he would last a year and more, even if the prison-climate overcame him. Here, it was just a matter of wager as to whether starvation, cold, or bandits would smite him first.     He cared little now, a deadening of his heart the only real feeling he held; it was as if on the day he had slashed apart his mantle-cross to hide who he once was and what he hand once stood for, his heart had left him. It was as if the brilliance of that symbol had taken part of his soul away with it, leaving he himself in shreds.     The forest darkened even more, but the rain still beat down, filtered somewhat by the arching branches. It was not a place to be at night, even for an armed knight; for a wearied traveler, it was akin to near suicide. Bandits and murderers, thieves and outlaws, they all lurked in the woods, and at night they roamed unchecked. The traveler cared little though, his eyes fixed on the muddy road, his thought fixed on not thinking, of averting through lack of reason the pain of his sin.     Ahead figures moved, and at a harsh call the traveler looked up warily and wearily [I presume that I don't need to explain why these brackets are here]. Exhausted in mind and body, he made little attempt to avoid the arrow which flew through the air, piercing him in the breast. And as his own red blood stained the mantle, mixing with the red of the shreds of cloth still there the emotions sapped for so long returned; the traveler collapsed, body wracked by grief and remorse, even as life gladly slipped out of him.

:kaukau: Alright, now we have all the negative stuff out of the way. Since when do people comment on positive things when they inset direct observations into stories like those butchers known as editors?My overall thoughts are the usual, which you should be used to by now: include more action and more narrative. What you present me with here is a brief glimpse of a moody scene with a knight limping down a trail until he's shot. That's it. End of story. I summed it all up in one sentence, expanded by only one additional clause. There's that basic imagge, and then you telling me the basic historical context of his background. If this had been a flashforward to a much longer story, that would have been nice, but it seemed that everything you wrote about his background focused on how it affected him in the present. It all came back to the present. Yet, the problem with the present is that nothing happened there. You were just writing about his condition. I don't care about a condition. There's no story there. There's a backstory, but I don't want a backstory.Overall, still think that your best Templar story was "We Wanted Those Infidels Dead", where you managed to have a lot happen before the 1,000 words were up. If you revisit this story, consider starting at the beginning and working your way from there, because then you can make it a little longer, more engaging, and I think it would actually humanize him a bit more. Starting out with the depressing beginning...well, depressing stories are more depressing when you can still have hope for the main characters at the beginning. I'm thinking of works like Requiem for a Dream. I want to see what made him happy first before it got taken away from him. Otherwise, this story is static.

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#5 Offline Grantaire

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Posted Nov 25 2012 - 04:24 PM

I've written a story about a matoran running across a city and getting killed. It's just the way I like to write sometimes. In my view, not every story needs a concrete story, not every story need a plot, really. This story was simply my attempt to capture one image in writing; that of a ruined Templar wandering a rain-swept forest road. I do that quite often, with stories such as An Assassin's Reflection, The Refugee, Within temptation, and perhaps Living Stone. You pinpointed it very well when you said this story was about a condition. While in, for instance, An Assassin's Reflection, I focused on the struggle of repentance, and ended it with final impenitence in this life. In this, I tried to capture guilt, and this time repentance, with quite a bit of despair mixed in as well.Granted, this story was rather short; as a one-shot and quick-write, it was meant to be, but looking at it, I can't think of how much I could really expand it, just because I managed to hit what I was aiming at. I could, granted, make it more focusing on post disbanding of the order and less on one particular person, but... that would change the story too much for me.I will also grant you the first grant you the first run on sentence as well as msot other errors you pointed out; the second one, however, I rather like, rawr!

[confusing word repetition] the rain, turning it into a dark-silver [I shudder at the thought of dark silver. To me, that's an unholy oxymoron. Die, you infidel.]

Overshadowing meaning that the darkness of the forests hid the falling rain.Dark silver? I honestly have no idea where I was going with that.Also hey, I like adverbs, and I was aiming for that form of narration; people often nitpick my way of overstating things in the name of scenery. To respond I just stand next to Chesterton so I can shine by comparison. :PAnyways, thanks for the review. This will be irksome to match.

Edited by Zarayna, Nov 25 2012 - 04:26 PM.

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#6 Offline Zaxvo

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Posted Mar 20 2013 - 11:13 PM

Hey, it's Zaxvo from the SSCC! Your story has been selected for a free review!It's quite a grim story you've written here; very pessimistic, to say the least. I was kind of hoping for a more...uplifting sort of end. The knight has escape torture and imprisonment, somehow, and he had his whole life ahead of him. But it's cut painfully short amidst a brutally depressing train of thought.To be honest, based on the way most stories go, I was expecting a happy ending to this one. Nothing too cheery, but something a bit more uplifting.But really, that was just my expectation. And in a way, defying a reader's expectations usually works to your advantage. So you've succeeded.Last thing...I wish the killers were a bit fleshed out more. Bandits and thieves wouldn't go around shooting everyone they see; they would stop the traveller and take his valuables.Other than that, I was totally enthralled by the story and honestly, while it is a bit of a downer, I think that's kind of what you were going for, so I wouldn't hold that against you. Well done.
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