Chapter 25: The Fort

You can read the first 24 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” here.

They didn’t let me out of their sight now that Tyler had managed to escape. Two guards were at my side at all times, even when I needed to relieve myself. Our captors didn’t want to take any chances at all. Drake and Michelle were still struggling with every step along the way, with their breathing short and irregular. My thoughts wandered to their pain often, but I kept my gaze straightforward most of the time. There was no need to let our enemies think we were up to any more shenanigans.

We traversed the forest surprisingly quickly, but because the sun was still hidden behind a thick wall of grey clouds, I couldn’t tell how close we were to the night. The only hints of how much time had passed were the frequent breaks we took to drink or eat. Most of our captors were not used to be away from civilization for such a long time. Their stamina left much to be desired. Drake coughed quietly. His eyes were barely open, but his wounds weren’t infected and he was able to keep up with our speed. Michelle was quiet, saving what remained of her considerable strength for the small steps she took.

Now, the landscape around us was filled with fields of growing wheat and corn. It didn’t match the beauty of the field of tulips, but then again, that hadn’t brought us any luck. The fields were far prettier than the depressing barren stretch of land we had passed earlier. Our captors still didn’t speak much, as especially the two guards on night duty still seemed to be very disturbed by their failure.

My thoughts wandered to Tyler. Where was he headed? Had he understood my subtle hints? Were my hints subtle enough? A wave of fear and despair washed over my body. What if he hadn’t made out of the forest? I tried to think positively and to channel some of the self-help wisdoms adored by one of my teachers back in the real world. It was no use. My brain refused to remember and so I couldn’t do anything but let the image of a lost and broken Tyler pass.

Just when I had succeeded in diverting my thoughts to the yellow colorof the corn, a massive structure came into sight. I squinted, trying to find out what we were looking at, when I heard the relieved sigh of one of my close guards.

“Finally, we’ve reached the fort.”

So that was our destination. From the distance, I could only make out a wooden palisade, which was at least four times my height tall, and two stone towers flanking it. The leader of the group was elated at having succeeded in getting me so close to their destination and our speed picked up considerably. The gasps of Michelle and Drake made me shiver.

I could tell that the evening was near. Temperatures were dropping and torches were being lit on the palisade. I counted ten of them and hoped that they wouldn’t be guarded by anyone. But as we got closer, I could tell that a soldier stood between each of the torches, each one equipped with a massive crossbow. If Seraphina and Tyler wanted to free us with force, they would need an army.

The shining torches finally let me see what was the palisade was guarding. In the background, I could make out a stone wall, which was once again higher than the palisade. The structure wasn’t flanked by towers, so for me, it just seemed like another wall which needed to be walked through.

We finally reached the palisade before I could give the wall another thought. Two soldiers clad in grey chain armor from head to toe guarded the gate. They were holding pikes and opened the gate with a nod as soon as we approached.  We passed through the gates and I immediately saw why they called it the fort. A scattering of wooden huts lay between us and the stonewall. But the wall was just the hull of a massive, impenetrable pentagon building. No towers flanked the structure, but that wasn’t necessary. Should attackers be able to overcome the palisade with its four towers, the pentagon on the inside would be strong enough to withstand an assault without siege weapons.

My heart fell as we were led inside the stone building. The walls of the pentagon were adorned with shields and sigils of powerful houses, torches provided the light and tiny slits tailor-made for crossbows provided the fresh air. It was nowhere as near as elegant as the Lion’s Den. This was a castle made for battle and not for living. Our captors lead us along a corridor, but made sure to obscure our path as often as possible, sometimes backtracking on purpose or using shortcuts through different rooms. They took no chances anymore. After a while, two of the our captors led Drake and Michelle in a away from me. I wanted to protest and just as I wanted to speak up, one of the guards struck the hilt of his sword across my face. It was clear that my opinion didn’t count on the inside of the fort and that I needed to face the next challenge alone.

Three of the guards remained with me: the leader, the sleepy guard from the night before and a woman with a black ponytail. The leader of the pack had short, scrappy brown hair and a clean-shaven face. He didn’t seem to be much older than 30, but judging by his movements and self-confidence this wasn’t his first mission. His colleagues on the other hand grew visibly nervous as we approached our destination. They tensed up, straightened their backs and made the effort of trying to fix up their hair. We came to a halt in front of a round, red door. The leader turned around and stared at me intently.

“You’re about to meet the Chosen One. Stand straight and show some respect.”

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I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Please also have a look at my other posts this week about Catching Fire and Swiss Politics. Enjoy your weekend!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

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Chapter 24: Moves

You can find the first 23 chapters under “An Elusive Hero“.

I stared at the stick for a few seconds. If only I could my hands on it. It was still a few meters away from me. The guards were sitting drowsily around the remnants of our campfire. They were not paying much attention to my friends, who were all sound asleep or I. But the ground was covered with twigs and leaves. Every movement of mine pierced through the silence of the night. A false move would alert them right away, robbing me from my element of surprise. Either I had to be extra careful, or my plan needed to be thought through more thoroughly.

While I could take out one or two guards with the large branch capturing my imagination so vividly, what would happen next? Michelle and Drake were still injured and would be unable to flee. And without it, they didn’t seem to be of much use to our captors. Nothing would prevent them to be disposed of in a fit of rage. Tyler would be able to fight with me, but he looked fatigued and out of breathes. His will had been sapped by all our recent setbacks. My eyes moved to the stick again and I sighed, barely audible.

I had to look at this situation more like a game of chess. Moves would be countered and figures needed to be secured. I had loved the game as a teenager, spending countless hours replaying the games of the great players like Kasparov, Fisher or Spasski. So I tried to calculate the reaction of our enemies after acquiring the club and knocking two of the guards out. Even if I would manage such a feat, three of the captors would still be able to overwhelm me while I tried to get Tyler to follow me. I could, however, ignore Tyler and get away from them on my own. But I wouldn’t get far alone. If I’d manage to flee, I couldn’t guarantee what would happen to Drake, Michelle and Tyler.

I looked up, hoping to see another shooting star, but large, fluffy clouds covered the stars. No help would come from above. I also had to keep the mission in mind. We wanted to find Laurenar. And we still didn’t have a clue where the knight was held captive.
Again, my thoughts wandered to Seraphina for a brief moment. But she was nowhere to be seen or heard. Had she gone on to get help? Or had other henchmen of our enemy captured her? After all, I assumed we were riding in territory not necessarily loyal to the Queen anymore.

The safe move was to stay put and be brought before “The Chosen One”. Laurenar must have been in his custody. But how would we get him out if we were captured on our own? Should we get to their lair, I didn’t believe we would get the chance to get in touch with each other. Even worse, since Laurenar was probably the most dangerous combatant of my acquaintances, he would lose his purpose as bait as soon as we’d arrive.

I looked around once more. One of the guards was slipped in and out of consciousness, visibly exhausted by the travels of the last few days. The other one was awake, but was sitting with his back to Tyler. My eyes locked in on Tyler, only to notice that he was only pretending to sleep and instead keeping a close watch on the two captors.

A plan started to form in my head. I couldn’t do anything with the club, because if I left, the others would be endangered. But if Tyler would get away, someone could get in touch with Seraphina. I managed to catch his attention by sighing again. The alert guard glanced at me with a look of disdain, but Tyler stared at me curiously. My eyes shifted to the branch and with a slight nod I signaled for him to make an effort to get to it.

His eyes widened and brief smirk appeared on his face. But how could I tell him what to do? Did I have to trust his instincts? Or was there a possibility of giving him a clue without tipping our enemies off?

“Hey.” I spoke quietly, hoping that the second guard wouldn’t snap out of his sleep-like state. Again, only the man sitting with the back to Tyler reacted.

“What?”

“It’s freezing. It seems like that fire needs a branch or two.”

I emphasized the words fire and branch more than I should have, but the oblivious guard did not pick up on it. Tyler nodded, while sneaking towards the stick.

“I find it very cozy the way it is.” The guard scanned me from top to bottom.

While I was talking, Tyler was getting closer and closer to his goal. His ability to move quietly was definitely better than mine. But he still needed a few centimeters to grasp the weapon.

I launched into a coughing fit, even though it woke the other guard up. The one I had been talking to attempted to get up to check on me. But he didn’t get very far. My coughing had drowned out the movements of Tyler, who had grabbed the stick and gotten to his feet. His hands were still bound, but he was still able hold the stick. He connected with a powerful blow to the back of the head of our captor. And then he ran.

The sleepy guard jerked to attention by the sounds of the commotion. But by the time he had loaded his crossbow, Tyler had vanished into the woods. I rested my head against the tree and closed my eyes, feigning to be sound asleep.

The guard frantically woke up his companions. They grabbed their weapons at once and looked around nervously. They were insecure about what to do next. But after notcing that I was still there, they didn’t place much importance on Tyler. The leader sent the guard to look for Tyler, while he and the two ladies of the group remained at the camp.

After about an hour, when the birds had woken up and filled the air with the sounds of their songs, he returned without having found Tyler.

The leader of the group remarked dryly. “He isn’t important. But it can’t happen again. Let’s get a move on.”

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Thank you very much for reading. Chapter 25 will be released next Friday.

Have a great weekend and please like, share and subscribe!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

 

Chapter 23: Captured

The first 22 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” can be found here.

Our horses were being used by the opponents who had been responsible for the barricade, while our three followers remained on their own horses. Tyler, Drake, Michelle and I were forced to walk. The injuries to Drake and Michelle were severe. In an act of mercy, the riders had bandaged their wounds, seemingly intent on keeping them alive until we reached our destination. A whole host of questions entered my mind. Where were we headed? And would we find Laurenar there? Most importantly, what did they want of me?

The landscape we trudged through had changed remarkably. The field of tulips and its beautiful flowers seemed to belong to another world entirely. The path we were on was lined by barren fields, with only two or three lonely trees showing signs of life. It was below one of these trees we made camp for the night. The branches and twigs were used for a fire, where our captors huddled around. Nothing seemed to happen during the quiet hours of darkness. The silence was only broken by occasional groans and sighs by Drake and Michelle, who both seemed to be in a world of pain.

We were fed with stale bread and water and were seated as far as possible from each other. It was clear that they did not want us to talk. But then again, none of us seemed to possess enough strength to begin communication. I stared blankly into the fire, hoping to bend it to my will as Seraphina had done.

The sorceress stayed on my mind. She had gotten away. But what was she going to do? A part of me hoped she was watching from somewhere nearby, plotting to rescue us from our captivity. But I knew quite well that she would not stand a chance against the five foes still around us.

Their voices were full of relief and glee. I overheard them talking about possible rewards ranging from purses filled with gold to more mundane pleasures such as a massive dinner in their honor. But the chase and fight had also cost them a lot of energy, so three of them drifted off into sleep easily. The man and woman still awake just sat there, taking turns sipping from a flask presumably filled with a whisky-like substance.

My eyes moved up to observe the stars. They were shining beacons of light so far away. As a kid, I had wished to travel to them, to explore space and planets and the great unknown. Now I had been transported to a world totally different from the place I was born in. The stars I admired with a childlike curiosity had no resemblance to the ones visible from Earth. I couldn’t find a single constellation that looked familiar.

But suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I could see an object travelling through space, leaving a burning trail behind it. A shooting star. A smile appeared on my face and quietly voiced a wish in my head. Hopefully shooting stars worked the same way on Illusio as they did on Earth.

A groan brought my thoughts back to my immediate surroundings. Michelle was wincing in pain, a few meters away from me. It pained me not to be able to do anything for her. But she had willingly joined our mission, to ensure that her friends had no died in vain. Now we we were failing miserably and all their sacrifice had been for naught.

Tyler, who sat a distance to my right, had closed his eyes. But he was moving his fingers tirelessly. To me it seemed as if he was playing on an invisible piano. I wondered what was going on in his head before my eyes focused on Michelle again.

She had helped me so much during my recovery and the ride. I felt a surge of sadness and despair rush through my body. A single tear rolled down my cheek. She coughed weakly.

Time passed slowly during the night. I didn’t sleep a single second. I was looking forward to seeing the sun rise in the morning, but during the early morning hours, grey clouds appeared from nowhere. So when the sun had taken its place on the firmament, it was hidden by a great wall of clouds.

We ate a small breakfast again consisting of water and bread before resuming our journey through these dark parts of Illusio. I kept looking for a village or city, but the next miles were just a barren landscape. It was a sharp contrast to the places I had encountered so far.

Our captors still did not talk to us and also didn’t talk much to each other. When they did, they were careful to speak in a low voice, preventing Tyler or me from eavesdropping. Drake and Michelle were to weak to understand anything anyway.

We walked through the whole day and towards the end of the evening, another forest appeared to be approaching. Our enemies talked about setting up camp at the edge of the woods. I wondered if the Chosen One had hidden in these forests or if he had taken up residence in one of the larger towns in Illusio.

Again, Drake was seated to my left, Michelle straight ahead of me and Tyler to my right. Their faces were drawn out and exhausted. Our journey together was coming to an end.
But this was not how it should end. They had given up a lot to help me and to save the kingdom they believed in. I felt my desperation rise in me again. During this whole trip, I had been following someone, first Sophia, then Laurenar and Seraphina, now our captors. It was then and there I decided that I need to take matters in my own hands. After all, I was supposedly the hero they had called. My mind was racing. I looked around, surveying the ground for anything I would be able to use as a weapon.

And I got lucky. A short distance away from me, hidden by the stumped of a fallen tree was a stick large enough to knock one or two guards out. Now all I needed to do was get my hands on it.

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Thank you very much for reading this chapter. Have a great weekend and please like, share and subscribe!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Chapter 22: Lost

You can find all previous chapters under “An Elusive Hero”.

After a quick glance backwards, I saw Seraphina make the movement to conjure a shield in front of us. I had gotten used to see the air shimmering in front of me during dangerous situations. Seraphina however didn’t look exhausted the least bit. She seemed reenergized by the determination to get to Laurenar. The five of us stared at our counterparts silently, before one of the bandits spoke up.

“Hand over your weapons and come with us!”

The woman spoke with conviction and seemed convinced that her words would be enough to keep us from fighting back. Drake just shook his head and Seraphina answered:

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. Why don’t you just let us pass?”

I felt Michelle tighten her grip on the reins. The air was shimmering before us and I felt strangely safe. My rapier was hanging by my side. I wondered if this would be the first time I actually used it in an actual fight. The bandits seemed to get nervous as they saw the riders who were following us, get closer and closer. They didn’t want to share their prize.

Seraphina looked over to Drake and gave the captain a curt nod. Then she turned to Michelle and smiled. Michelle did not respond in any way. The woman, who had demanded us to follow them, repeated her demand:

“Drop your defenses and follow us.”

Her crossbow was firmly aimed at Seraphina’s head. But the sorceress just looked at her, her hands folded neatly in her lap. I noticed she had let go of the reins and could get knocked off any second now. But she was also murmuring something, barely audible and invisible to anybody more than five feet away. Standing right to her horse, I could feel the ground heating up. I wondered what was going to happen next and it was Drake, who answered the woman next:

“Like we’ve said before. Let us pass and nothing bad will happen.”

The answer didn’t surprise the woman, who kept her crossbow aimed at Seraphina but took a second to check how far our followers had come. That second was all Seraphina needed. In an instant, a line of fire ignited the ground and proceeded to travel towards the barricades with extreme velocity.

One of the figures shouted and they frantically tried to get their crossbow shots off. Three of them managed. The first bolt hit the shield and fell to the ground listlessly, the second one managed to damage it and the third one punctured the shield, but missed Tyler by a meter.

The line of fire had now reached their wooden barricades, which caught fire immediately. Our enemies were struggling with the new events, but two of them had managed to pull out their swords. They stormed towards Tyler and Drake, who jumped of their horses elegantly. Especially Drake, armed with his impressive two swords, parried the first blows almost effortlessly. I didn’t know what to follow as I heard Seraphina panting next to me. She was still commanding the line of fire, which had shot past the barricades and now circled back to the remaining figures, who were reloading their crossbows.

Michelle tried to position our horse behind Seraphina’s shield, but the next round of bolts managed to dissolve the shield, leaving us vulnerable to attacks. With a swift movement, she took her bow of her back and fired an arrow towards the woman who had spoken. Without watching if her shot had connected she looked over to Tyler and Drake, who were locked in a battle with the two swordsmen. Their attackers moved in-sync and were trained in fighting as a team, making it difficult for my friends to defend themselves. Drake tried to attack them, bringing his left sword down in a swerving motion, only to be parried time and time again.

The smell of burnt wood now filled the air. The sounds of battle masked the approaching steps. The next round of bolts was fired and this time the attackers finally hit. Michelle was knocked back by the hit and I fell off our horse with her. I cushioned my fall with my hands and immediately screamed in pain as my shoulder injury wasn’t ready for the impact the fall caused. But I ignored it. I scrambled to Michelle immediately to see that the bolt had hit the heavily armored part of her clothing. But her fall had knocked her out. I pulled out my rapier and surveyed the situation, which did not look great.

Seraphina was still commanding her fire, but it has already lost a considerate amount of speed compared to the initial attack. The flames had defeated two of the foes. But on the other side, Tyler was standing behind Drake after being disarmed. Fighting against the two swordsmen, the former captain was overmatched, even though he managed to land a few blows. I turned to see our followers closing in on us.

A loud cry forced me to focus on the fighting again. Attacking from both sides, the two swordsmen danced around Tyler and Drake. Just as one of them wanted to attack, Tyler broke out of his defensive position to land a devastating punch knocking his opponent out cleanly. Seeing his companion fall however enraged the fighter still standing. With furious attacks he evaded Drakes blows, striking the captain in the side before finally puncturing his armor. Drake dropped his swords and fell to his knees.

Before I could react, I looked to my left so see Seraphina’s horse take off in a wild gallop. The sorceress was slumped over the animal, clutching its reins tightly. But it was clear she had exhausted herself and was in no position to do anymore. The horse jumped over the burning barricade and the startled woman. It didn’t look back.

With Drake and Michelle injured and Tyler disarmed, the only person left standing was I.
My rapier was sitting in my hand uselessly. I stared at it and stared at the two opponents still standing before me. Just as I decided to go out with a bang, a voice from the back stopped my movements:

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

Our followers, three of them all clad in the grey armor we had seen at the Lion’s den and on the Island, had finally caught up to us.

“You’ll need to come with us.”

I stared at the person, a young man with dark hair and clean-shaven face. Bushy eyebrows framed his green eyes and an arrogant smirk appeared as he saw my surrender. Seraphina was gone, my friends hurt, Laurenar taken and I was completely lost.

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Thank you very much for reading so far! Have a great a weekend and please like, share and subscribe :)

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Chapter 21: The Ride

You can read the first twenty chapters here.

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Like Seraphina had said, we left the little, nameless village just as the sun was rising over the horizon. I was sitting on a horse with Michelle and holding on tight. It was the first time on a horse for me. We quickly made haste, riding out on the main road. After passing the meadow I had trained on we made a sharp cut into the surrounding forests. Our horses settled into a rhythm, a soft trot. Drake, who had been briefed by Seraphina earlier, rode at the front and Tyler covered our rear. Seraphina travelled next to us. I studied her from my uncomfortable position behind Michelle. Her expression was focused and she was observing everything. She was making mental notes of everything we passed. Roots and Weeds were classified as poisonous or useless, trees were seen as empty or dangerous and animals were either ignored or avoided.

I concentrated on not falling off the horse, but Michelle was an excellent rider. She held total control over the animal, whispering soft commands in its ears. The horse, a dark-haired mare, swiftly followed suit. Sitting behind her gave me the time to think about the rest of our mission. My shoulder still hurt and Seraphina had instructed me to practice moving my aching limbs as often as possible. But travelling at this speed made it more difficult than she had anticipated. So my mind wandered.

Was Laurenar still alive? Or had he been tortured and killed? Where had they brought him? And what would they do to him? Maybe they had brainwashed and turned him?
I wiped away the depressing thoughts by closing my eyes and listening to my surroundings. The only sounds I heard were the hooves of our horses hitting the ground.

I looked over to Seraphina again, who was smiling knowingly. She left our side and rode forward to Drake. The former captain was busy navigating us through the trees. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about; it ended with Drake nodded vigorously.

The forest was not particularly dense, so all of our horses could pass through gaps with ease. But the trees were tall and their crowns full of healthy, green leaves, shielding us from the burning sun. It had been March on Earth when I had left, but here it seemed to be summer, maybe early June or whatever equivalent they used on Illusio. At sea, I hadn’t noticed the temperatures thanks to the cool sea breeze, but now I felt glad for the shade the forest provided.

Seraphina fell back to the rear and exchanged some words with Tyler. The gaps in the trees widened now and we were about to leave the forest. My sense of time was terrible, but I felt we had probably ridden for about an hour. It was getting brighter and my eyes needed a moment to adjust to the additional light. Drake, seeing the last trees of the forest, accelerated, with Seraphina and Michelle following close behind. I held on tight as our mare started to gallop.

We found ourselves on a tiny dirt road. The road probably circled the whole forest, allowing villagers to avoid the dangers and darkness lurking within. The five of us rode north, with the forest on our right and a beautiful field of red and yellow tulips going on for as far as we could see on our left. Their sweet, light scent filled the air as the red-haired sorceress rode up close to Michelle and I.

“They’re following us. But they’re more than the two I expected.”

She spoke very quietly and with supreme confidence in her words. She had spent the whole time in the forests trying to find out how many enemies we had on our trail. Seraphina continued.

“At least one of them continued on the road, when we turned into the forest. Two of them, maybe three, followed us through the forest. They haven’t planned anything yet and have stayed back far enough not to come into view.”

“How can you be sure?” I looked at her surprised at how she had gathered all this information.

She smiled at me. “I have my ways and means.”

With those words she galloped forward to Drake, presumably to discuss the next steps of our route. I had known that she was a powerful sorceress, but I thought her expertise was in fire magic, just as the Queen had power over water. Then again, I understood nearly nothing about the magic in this world. Even playing the online version of this world I had focused on being a fierce warrior rather than an intelligent wizard. Somehow I wished I hadn’t.

We continued on the road and I still couldn’t see a trace of our followers. The sun was shining down on us and I felt hot in the leather armor designed to protect me. It was a pleasant enough journey. Had we not been on a rescue mission I would have enjoyed discovering Illusio’s countryside. The field of tulips seemed endless. We continued by the flowers.

“What do you think will happen next?”

I whispered into Michelle’s ear, carefully studying the movements of Seraphina and Drake at the front.

She shrugged. “We’ll keep on riding until our followers have nowhere to go.”

I nodded, but in the front, Seraphina and Drake abruptly came to a halt. The field of tulips was coming to an end and the road made a sharp left. And unlike what we had anticipated, the road ahead wasn’t empty. Five figures, glad in grey clothing were standing in the middle of the road. They had seen us, but hadn’t made any motion of coming closer. Seraphina turned her horse around and rode back towards Tyler, only to stop as well. Behind us, still a few hundred meters away, three riders emerged from the forest.

The sorceress rode back to our side. “Well, we better hope those figures up ahead are just normal bandits.”

We continued on, speeding up the rhythm of our trot. We got closer, still hoping these bandits would let us pass without too much of a fight. But our hopes were not fulfilled. The moment we got in range, the five figures, three men and two men, got in position. Two of them were kneeling on the ground, with the other tree taking cover behind a makeshift barricade. Seraphina and Drake were now riding directly in front of Michelle and Me, with Tyler sitting next to us. The riders at our back had broken into a gallop, catching up quickly.

All of the figures had crossbows pointed directly at us.

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“An Elusive Hero” continues! Thank you very much for reading so far. As always, I’m very happy to hear feedback, so let me know by mail, comment or on twitter.

Please like, share and subscribe!

Have a great weekend.

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Manes – Part 3

One of the new projects I’m participating in is a collaborative writing effort by six blogs initiated by Akira Okihu at http://dreamyidea.wordpress.com/.

Part one can be found at http://certainlyshort.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/manes-part-one/ .

Part two can be found at http://sagedoyle.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/manes-part-two/.

Part four can be found at http://dreamyidea.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/manes-part-4/ .

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Abin and Kyrian had no idea what they were dealing with. They were held firmly in place by the creature’s gaze, sitting in their niche terrified and seemingly with no way out. The thing was losing its patience and let out another agonizing cry, which made the walls around tremble. Kyrian was waiting for his life to come its inevitable end. The Manes had taken him long before they should have. He glanced over to his companion, who by now was struggling to keep his last meal in. The creature attempted to get the two men to do something again, but it was no use. They couldn’t understand it. Angered by their refusal to comply with its wishes, the thing put in all its energy into a last high-pitched shriek.

Abin and Kyrian fell backwards and were bound to be caught by the cave walls, but to their dismay and surprise, the wall behind them had not been solid. They tumbled right through the veil and rolled down a steep decline, desperately trying to get a grip on a stone or rock. Bu they had no such luck. The floor was dark, smooth and shiny, similar to some of the stones the rich women wore as jewelry in the world so far away. But it also felt like a mattress, cushioning the impact of journey and preventing them from seriously injured themselves. After what might have been an eternity, the floor straightened out and the two falling men came to a halt.

They were sitting in a large, rectangular room. Torches with a dim, blue light illuminated the space, allowing them to look around. Abin pointed out the way they had entered and looked back for any sign of the creature. But it hadn’t followed them down the chute.

“It seems to be some kind of secret escape way. Where are we?”

Kyrian only shrugged and proceeded to examine their new surroundings. In the middle of room a perfect circle had been drawn with red color. He stood on the circle, but it showed no reaction.

“What was that?”

Abin was met with silence once again. No door was visible, but that didn’t startle them anymore. Doors seemed to be something which belonged firmly in the real world. Kyrian tried to pull one of the torches off the wall, but they didn’t budge. He then unsuccessfully tried turning them, hoping to uncover another hidden passage. He let out a sigh of frustration.

Suddenly, the red lines of the circle ignited, and the ground in the center dropped with a extreme velocity. Kyrian jumped to his feet and ran to the middle. Abin followed suit and they stared into the abyss, careful not to touch the burning lines. T¨hey heard a sound, first in the distance, but then approaching faster and faster. The floor was returning and it was returning quickly. They stumbled back just in time. The moment the platform had reached its destination, flames shot up to form a wall of fire, concealing the contents of the circle. Abin and Kyrian were temporarily blinded by its brightness and averted their eyes while the fire died down.

A soft and calm voice forced them to look to the circle again.

“You do not need to be frightened.”

A tall and slender woman was standing in the circle. Long, blond hair were bound together behind her head. Her face seemed youthful and Kyrian thought she would have to be around his age. But her eye-blue eyes sent a chill through him. They had seen things far beyond his experience. The lady was wearing a long white dress, which revealed no part of her skin. The sleeves reached her wrists and were joined by elegant white gloves. She wore no jewelry and the only extravagance in her get-up were her dark red lips.

“My name is Angelica. You should follow me.”

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Thank you very much for reading. Part 4 will be released on Akira’s blog soon!

Have a great weekend!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

The Editing Process and “Wonderbook”

Like I said last week, my story is on hiatus until October 25. So if you haven’t read it yet, head over to “An Elusive Hero” and start catching up.

I’m in the process of editing and revising parts of it, making it more concise and the language more precise. Hopefully, I’ll be able to release an updated and improved version of the first 20 chapters for everyone who wants to catch up.

“An Elusive Hero” now spans 20 chapters, almost 60 pages and 20’778 words, which is the most I’ve ever written (on my own) for one whole, consecutive story. They have all been written in the last five months and I hope to make even more progress during the upcoming NaNoWriMo.

I’m revising the story on my own for now, but obviously am always happy for suggestions and feedback from others on how to improve it. My biggest help in the editing process has been a book by Jeff Vandermeer titled Wonderbook, an illustrated guide to creative imaginative fiction. It’s beautifully put together and written, and full of tips also specific to the genre I’m currently writing on.

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I’ve learned a ton about writing process and story structure. Hopefully I’ll be able to incorporate my improvements in the next chapters. I can only recommend the book to anyone interested in writing.

Besides editing my story, I’m working on a few exciting other projects. One of them is not ready to be talked about. But we’re very close to launch and we’ve started working on the content, so I’m really happy about we’re developing. Stay tuned!

Well, that’s all from me for today, more of an update post. Please catch up on “An Elusive Hero” and be ready for the story’s return on October 25!

Like, Share and Subscribe for eternal gratitude. Have a fantastic weekend!

Sincerely yours,
Albert