Now you see, this is what I find - not exactly confusing about your writing but interesting in a perplexing way. This is great storytelling, it drew me in, and your command of dialogue to tell the tale is really good. And if the Erlos story went the same way, it would have the same command, the same drawing power. Here we have two characters, one a seer, the other the son of a king, whose destiny has now been revealed to him, and we're set up for a rollicking tale of derring-do. The erlos group extract just didn't have the same commitment to characterisation you're showing so admirably here.
There are a few points. The opening is great, I really love it... the way you set up the relationship between them, up until the bit where you try to avoid 'telling', by revealing Sorac's past to him... By doing it the way you do, I feel you've lost immediacy, you've lost a chance to show us more about Sorac because we have absolutely no way of knowing Sorac's reaction to it. Did he know it already? Is there disbelief? Amazement? Shock?
But then you tell us the shepherd sits shredding tobacco
as his mind tried to negotiate the enormity of what he had just been told. Suddenly, in one awful instant of awareness, he knew it was the truth. |
So this is the first time he's been aware of it, yes? Considering how well you handle dialogue, I wonder why you've passed up this opportunity to continue in the way you started out. And exactly how did Sorac know? Where did the instant of awareness come from? It's a little too convenient and it's a shame, because the great strength in your writing is the way you handle people when they're together - showing a lot and telling a little. Although occasionally you drop an infodump in, you largely get away with it because the story is rolling along so well. Can I make a suggestion? I'd like to rearrange your words a little, to add more drama (because that's what's missing when you use three 'cold' lines to tell an incredible birthright story) and to keep the focus on the characters. This is only off the top of my head, but seeing the words on the page, this occurs to me: “No,” he said, “I am not here for food.” "Please, share my fire," Sorac said. Kierien nodded and squatted beside the flames. “What do you know about the weapon of Aba Mainyus?”. "I'm a shepherd, father. I know about sheep and goats, and high pastures. Not Myths and fairy tales." "Indulge me." “A legendary weapon forged by Aba Mainyus the Great Adversary, able to capture and hold forever the souls of those slain by it.” Kierien’s nodded. “An army of wraiths, bound in service. The man who wields it would have terrible power. And he would be driven mad too. The Archangel Mycyl created a sword of light -- the Sword of Mycyl – and used it to cut away the foundations of the dark continent of Aba Mainyus, which sank into the sea forever. Do you know what became of it?" Sorac shrugged. He’d had enough. “That’s all I know.” Kierien lips tightened briefly into a quick, rare smile. “Then I will finish it for you,” he said. “The legend goes on to say that the Archangel Mycyl placed the Sword of Light in a cavern of ice and set over it a fierce guardian -- knowing one day the weapon of Aba Mainyus would return to the world of men, and in that day a man would be born to wield the Sword of Mycyl against it.” The wind tugged at their garments. Thin clouds scudded like grey smoke against the bright stars, pinpricks in the light bound blackness of the night sky. “You are that man.” Sorac rose to his feet. “Our headman died today,” he said quietly. “All my friends are taken by the Ukonaai. Yet you have come all this way to abuse me, father? Goodnight. I must rise early.” Sorac strode away angrily. “Come back. Sit down.” Sorac paused with his hand on the door of the hut, with his back to the old man. “Do not snub me, Sorac.” The shepherd sat down again. He looked sullenly into Kierien’s eyes for a few seconds, then lowered his eyes and stared into the yellow flames. "You say you are a shepherd? Yet you know, deep inside, that there is more." The old man paused, as if considering, then continued in a quiet voice. "Your father was King Dumarion of Aazyr. I carried you
away [at least I think that's what you're saying...] from the Royal City the night it fell to Mykros. You were three months old." Sorac stared at the old man, aghast. "I gave you into the care of Nyla, whose son had been stillborn, and she raised you." "It's not possible..." Sorac's voice was barely a whisper. Yet even as he spoke, he knew, somehow, impossibly, it was true. His mind reeled; he could not take it in. The old man waited. “I’m just a shepherd,” Sorac said, at last. "And the son of a king too." “I’ve never even held a sword.” “One can learn such things.” “Father, I cannot do it.” “Then what will you do?" the old man said. “You can’t stay here. Unless you wish to join the armies of the Ukonaai?”
And so on... just my thoughts.
ps: not sure if you can alter it, but your title is '12k' and I'm sure you meant 1.2k. Might be putting people off, thinking there's 12,000 words awaiting them...