Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let me know what you people think...

This is the beginning of a fantasy novel I'm formulating in my spare time. Give my writing a fair and honest critique, no bullshit or platitudes.

The Exile Chronicles

As the morning sun raises in the eastern sky a faint sparkle shown on the horizon. Such sights in the war torn land of Grundig were not unusual, many armies with gleaming shields and deadly spears had passed along this same road marching towards victory or doom. But this new force would irrevocably alter the landscape and forever change the balance of power.

The Exile had returned, and he traveled at the head of the massive army he’d assembled in compelled isolation, driven out by his own people for an offense he did not commit. How long ago was he ostracized? A millennia at least, over a thousand years spent stewing and plotting. What plan he carried in his conscious none knew, revenge, redemption, or reckoning was equally possible.

What was the purpose of his sudden return? Was he here to serve the Jade Council, the same counsel who had pronounced guilt and had banished the Exile to the blighted northern reaches of Grundig, and who now had the temerity to summon him in hopes of gaining his allegiance? Or was he here to destroy them?

No one knew, save only the Exile himself, for he served no master.

What was the Exile’s name? Few knew for his name hadn’t been spoken aloud in many circles for a thousand years. As part of the sentence passed down by the Counsel, the Exile’s name was to be stricken from the records and his name was strictly taboo. Only those who knew him and were still alive knew his proper name but none dare speak it aloud in public lest they be tried by the magistrate for treason. The mighty Jade Counsel ruled with an iron fist and did not tolerate sedition of any kind. And uttering the Exile’s name was an affront to the Counsel itself.

As the Exile’s army slowly advanced towards the small town of Spikiri the locals sat along side the road going about their daily rituals. Some swept their stoops, some tended to the vegetable fields and fed the livestock, and others stood on alert with brandished weapons, hoping that the latest travelers meant this sleepy hamlet no harm.

The glint of sun on spear tips gave way to a large cloud of dust and the faint rattle of metal and footsteps. It was hard to tell how many approached but the seasoned lookouts high in their towers could not see the end of the column as it passed beyond sight over the horizon. Quick arithmetic would surmise that the Grendal Road, the main highway that linked all of Grundig, could accommodate only twenty men walking abreast, and half that count of cavalry, and even fewer wagons. This army numbered ten thousand, maybe more.

The guards knew such a force would level the town in seconds, so they stole up the courage to dutifully let this army pass unheeded. As the rumble drew near the Elvin guards in the towers, using their supernatural eye sight, could now see the head of the column, and their faces turned ashen with fear. The humans gathered below saw the look of dread in their normally stoically valiant and stoic compatriots and panic welled up in their hearts. The townsfolk scattered, doors slammed, shutters were closed tight, the mood grew apprehensive.

The hooves of the horses at the head of the column grew to a nearly thunderous din as the tip of this war scythe drew within a mile of the town walls. The elves on guard could now clearly make out the stern yet ominously beautiful face of the leader of this cabal. Stories had been written about this wayfarer. Tales of his sword cutting swaths of destruction through his enemy were the stuff of legend. It was also said that this one, the Exile, was the most powerful elf in the long and tumultuous history of Grundig. Some legends even said his eyes burnt with the fires damnation and that his visage was so fearsome yet so fare that to gaze upon his angelic face was akin to looking into the eyes of Yah, the Creator, The Master of All Things.

The Exile and his closest lieutenants were now within 200 yards of the town walls. He raised his right hand and the entire formation stopped in unison.

“’Lo there, state your business.” An Elvin sentry manning the gate, obviously the one in charge, tried to be stern but his nerves shown through in his voice.

A voice boomed from the head of army, “We’re making way to Vorai.”

The sentries’ hearts leapt to their collective throats. This army meant business and would not be stopped by the two hundred men-at-arms in Spikiri. “What business do you have in Vorai?”

A decidedly more gentle voice, yet one with great command shouted, “My business is my own. But if you must, we’re here to see the Jade Counsel.” To hear the voice of the Exile was like listening to a soothing and wise sage, the wisdom of the ages was in that voice. “Now please, let us pass.”

And with that the sentry captain signaled and the gate was open.