Dear Readers, Please Advise

Aye, readers. I finished my rewritten draft of the prologue for Melody's Song, a novel I've been working on, and I think that this version will be much better than the original, simply because my word flow is better, and I think I've made it slightly more suspenseful. So, without further ado, here is the prologue of Melody's Song. Feel free to give me pointers, things you liked, or what you hated. I won't mind. :}
NOTE: I apologize that none of the paragraphs have been tabbed in, that's just because when I copied and pasted it, it refused to add those in. Silly computer...


Before...

Two shadows flitted across the mouth of a bottomless ocean chasm that yawned in both directions for miles. One of the shadows holding a squirming shape close, gently shushing his cries as she bolted after the preceding form. They weaved their way in and out of the kelp and coral, one intent on catching up to the one in the lead, while the figure in front was determined to keep the other from following himself, no matter what the cost.
“Zeke, please! Won't you at least give me a chance to reason with you?”
Zeke spared a glance in the direction where the voice had come from, his eyes wide and frantic as they settled on the form in front of him.
“Delia. Stay away. Now. It is the way it must be,” he ordered, using the unnervingly calm voice he always reserved for when he was furious.
“But you don't understand!” Delia said accusingly, jabbing an angry finger at him, a hair too close for Zeke's comfort.
The hiss of a sword being released from its scabbard was heard, strangely loud in the calm waters of the sea.
“No,” Delia gasped, clutching her merchild even closer and backpedaling quickly with her purple tail, the scales on it already chinking together in its natural protective armor.
“I warned you, Delia,” Zeke tutted, letting his blade, Decessus, cut through the water menacingly. His tail was suiting up in its own battle attire as well.
Delia cowered from the blade, her hazel eyes as large as pearls. Decussus meant “deceased” in the ancient language that Delia had learned from her great-grandmother many years ago. Most merfolk were taught about the legend of Decussus, and the merman named Death who had wielded it, when they were only tiny merchildren who did nothing but laugh and play during the hours of light. They were taught what that merman's fate had been only days after he had first had the sword forged for him by the master smiths that lived in caverns off the coast of the north. Everyone knew that the sword had overpowered him and consumed the merman before being lost to the currents of the sea forever. Forever, it had seemed, until that day when Zeke had found it's hilt sticking out of the rock of his castle wall near his window.
“Zeke!” she hissed, stricken at the sight of Death's blade. “What are you doing with that accursed weapon?! You know what happened to its last owner, do you not?”
Zeke laughed. It was not a happy laugh, but the laugh of someone on the brink of insanity.
“Aye, I do know exactly who possessed this stunning saber before it came to me,” Zeke chuckled. “And I know that it will not consume me.”
“How could you know?”
“I am much too strong for that to happen, Delia. Surely you know how headstrong I can be when I wish to be?”
Delia averted her eyes to the sea floor, gently stroking the bundle in her arms. “Yes.”
Zeke nodded, satisfied.
Finally, her gaze returned to meet his, her hazel eyes burning with an intense fiery defiance that was met with an equal opposition from his green, piercing ones. Neither was going to back down now.
“But you have no rights to abandon both your child and your wife, Zeke! Is this the way a good prince to behave?”
Zeke didn't even blink. “Delia. I am a prince. You are a commoner. You do not come from royal blood—how could I stay with you? Even this child here will not receive any inheritance from me as he is not purely of sovereign parentage. If you had been a princess, a duchess, or perhaps a queen, then yes, it would be possible for me to stay with you. There would be no problems. But you are not. So I cannot stay.”
“Yes you can!” Delia objected. “If you just searched through the laws and found some way to change the rules, I'm positive that you would be able to find a way. Because, if you remember, you can be quite headstrong sometimes, yes?”
A pair of chilling green eyes locked onto Delia's face in a deathly stare. If looks could kill, Delia wouldn't be with us any longer.
“Enough. I have no more to say on this matter.”
“But—”
“I . . . said . . . enough!” Zeke leaned forward and put his face only centimeters from hers. “And if you know what's good for you, you'll leave it at that.”
Delia let out a snort of disgust in the vicinity of his face. “You princes are all the same. Vapid and vain. And you,” she moved her face even closer, her eyes on fire once more, “are the worst. I wish I'd never fallen for you and your lopsided grin that day. It's only caused me grief and anger. I hate you.”
The prince shook his head, snickering lightly. “No you don't. You love me. If you didn't, you wouldn't have wanted me to stay with you. You're afraid, Delia. You're scared and you need me to protect you and the child. But I refuse.”
To prove his point, Zeke unsheathed Decussus and swung it in another dangerous arc, stopping the blade's path at the throat of his terrified, yet undoubtedly furious, wife.
“Now be gone, my wife. Let me never see your face again, or once again you will be met with Death's blade.” Zeke paused as if to ponder this notion. He licked his lips hungrily. “Yes. Decussus will not mind a little fresh blood to cleanse itself with. “
“You're a sea monster!” his bride cried, not daring to move with the sword still locked at her throat. “It's the sword! Throw it into the abyss! It will overpower you, Zeke, get rid of it. Look what it has done to you already in such a short amount of time you have had it in your possession! Promise me you'll destroy it.”
Zeke bowed his head low, as if he really did feel sorry that he wasn't listening to his beloved Delia. “Delia, you do not understand the value of such a blade! I will not promise to rid myself of it.” He stopped, and cocked his head to the side. “But I will promise you this.”
“What is it?” Delia asked eagerly, praying desperately that her husband would soon see sense in the wrong that he was doing to both himself, her, and their merchild that was cradled in the crook of her arm.
Zeke's sea green eyes blazed, flashing for an instant to a deep ebony that was even darker than the depths of the chasm below. He was angry, that much was clear. Angry at his father, for introducing him to Delia those many years ago after the war of Shipwreck Bay. Angry at his wife for being stubborn and insolent. But most of all, angry at his son, for just being born. If that Whistle Tree had had any sense, it would've found a different family for the merchild instead of the one it had stupidly chose. When this little inconvenience was dealt with, Zeke swore that he would take Decussus and slice the tree to pieces to make it pay for the pain it had given him.
“I am going back to Manoa Lai. If you or your child—”
Our child.”
“Aye.” Zeke's cold stare flicked briefly across her face, causing Delia to wince slightly. “If you or our child,” he began, saying the word our with disgust, “steps foot into my kingdom ever again, I will personally come and impale both you and this child upon Death's blade so that your souls will wander for eternity.”
Delia emitted a garbled squawk of protest. The legend of Death's blade in addition told the tale that if you were unlucky enough to be killed in battle by the saber, the sheer evil that dwelt inside of it would cause your soul not to enter the golden gates of the Overwhere, where the merfolk believed your soul would go when you were deceased, and instead to wander through the Underthere for all eternity, shrouded by clouds of pure darkness. The darkness was said to attack your soul, and show you everything you were afraid of, everything that had caused you to worry in life, everything you hated, to terrorize you until you were in the weakest state of being possible. Once you had arrive at this state, the darkness would not hesitate to consume your soul. There would be nothing left. Not a trace that your soul had existed there would remain amongst the masses of shadows that waited to prey on another wandering soul to feed their undying hunger.
“Go. Get out of my sight. Build a kingdom of your own. Raise that accursed child of yours. Tell him of a world where everything is good, the way that you always wished it would be. I don't give a barnacle about it. But if I ever see you again, even from a distance, I won't hesitate to kill you. And I will hunt down your child as well. So it would serve you well to never cross my line of sight,” Zeke threatened.
Delia's fingers grasped her child even closer to her, as if the nearer he was to her, the less he could be harmed by Zeke's words. Her free hand went unconsciously to the hilt of her own sword, Aeva. Life. The two swords were opposites of each other. One hungered to bring about death to every being that came near, the other yearned to bring light and sunshine to people's lives. Both were equally deadly when opposed.
Zeke's stare flitted briefly to her sword, his eyebrows creasing for a moment when he realized that if Delia had possession of this sword, there was a chance she could come after him and seize his throne. He had a snap decision.
“There is one more thing,” he intoned, paying no mind to the daggers Delia was shooting at him with her eyes.
“What is it?” Delia snapped, brushing a loose blonde hair from her face.
“Give me your sword.”
“My sword?”
“Do not play innocent with me! I can see you carry the blade, Aeva, and I know that you will not rest until you have beheaded me with it. I must squelch this threat before it arises. Nip the plan in the bud. So. Give. Me. That. Sword,” Zeke ordered, bobbing up and down as his seaweed green tail kept him level.
Delia did not move.
“NOW!” he screamed, jabbing Decussus into her throat, making a thin stream of blood flow from the wound and float into the sea in a crimson cloud.
Aeva blazed inside of the scabbard it was placed within, burning white-hot for a moment and burning Delia's protective scale armor, leaving a scalding pain. Whenever its opposite was delivering a blow to a being, Aeva would burn with fury, aching to ease the pain of the victim. The best it could do was fight against the evil that brought about the agony.
Delia felt her sword of light burning in its scabbard feverishly, and this time it was she who made the snap decision. She grabbed the golden entwined hilt of the sword and yanked it free of the scabbard, feeling how the sword automatically balanced to fit its bearer, and slashed it towards the dark blade of Death.
The two swords clashed, and tiny sparks flew out before being quickly snuffed out by the sea. Both blades burned with rage against the other, each wanting to alter effects the other had already done.
Now, Delia was not experienced in the field of fighting, as it was not a usual activity of the commoners, but Zeke had been trained by the head swordsman when he was only at the age of twelve. There really was not a contest between the two opponents; Zeke easily flung Delia's away from her shaking hand, leaving her weaponless and defenseless as well.
The prince looked at Delia balefully. “You should have just handed me Aeva when you had the chance. Because you didn't, I am going to kill you right here and right now. The child too,” he added as an afterthought.
Deeply troubled from the change that had overtaken her husband, Delia ran desperately through any options she had left. The run-through was, not surprisingly, quite short, being as it was that Zeke was planning on killing them both with Decussus without a second thought while cackling evilly no doubt. An idea popped into her head unexpectedly, and she decided that, ridiculous as it was, it was her only chance to live. She took a deep breath, readying herself for what was to come. It would not be pleasant, that much she knew.
“Father, let us go. This instant.”
Delia's mouth dropped open, as well as Zeke's. Zeke was so astounded that for a second he dropped his sword hand away from Delia's throat. Unfortunately, his wife wasn't paying the least bit of attention to him, so she didn't take the opportunity to bolt from the area. Instead, she gawked at the child she was holding. The said child was in fact staring with his intense deep blue eyes at his parents, as though he had plenty wisdom beyond his years.
Zeke was the first to recover. “What did you just say?”
The merchild shrugged. “I didn't say it; I ordered it.” He stopped, glaring forcefully at his father, daring him to disagree. “Let us go. This instant, or you will suffer the consequences.” The child's voice was unwavering, and the tone made his father flinch as the words cut into him like a trident's prongs. His mother hadn't moved a muscle since the jaw dropping, except that the scales on her tail had relaxed from their natural armor to the usual normal supple plates. Though Zeke was in a state of shock and disbelief, he kept his emotions in check and still had his hand on the hilt on Decussus, continuing to point the blade at his wife's throat. His free hand was slowly reaching for Aeva, the gold hilt gleaming temptingly on the ocean floor, the glassy blade glinting.
“And while you're at it . . . “ the merchild continued calmly, “Get your grubby paws away from the Sword of Light!” When Zeke hesitated, his son glared at him meaningfully and made a shooing motion. “Mother . . . get me the sword,” he commanded. His mother obliged, although not without a significant amount of timidness. Her baby merman had just spoken his first words after all, and they weren't the usual “Mum”'s and “Papa”'s that most children would say for their first, but instead an order to the prince of Manoa Lai to release them and spare their lives. And, surprisingly, the prince had obeyed.
Delia gave her son the sword, almost reverently, and he took it gingerly, holding the hilt with both of his tiny hands, his deep blue eyes intense with concentration.
“Ocean, Canyon, Mountain, Sky, use your power, use it well. Sway the threads of time with ease, lock away Decussus, annihilate the seven keys!”
Both parents stared, dumbfounded. The Ocean, Canyon, Mountain, and Sky were the four corners of the world that only the most knowledgeable merfolk knew of. Most merfolk only knew of their realm: Ocean. The legend of the seven keys was even more rare. The tale stated that one who knew the spell of power could overcome the power of Decussus and lock it away for a short while, or if they were stronger yet, forever. There were seven keys that would need to be found to unlock Decussus for it to be used once more, but when the child had told the corners to annihilate them, it ensured that Decussus would not be returning anytime soon. Neither of the merchild's parents were sure of what had happened, or even if the spell had worked, until the sword of Death swelled ten times its normal size and exploded into fragments of pure darkness, scattering amongst the coral and seaweed. Seven silver keys then appeared, glowing with a potent light. They too swelled up beyond their standard sizes before erupting into minuscule segments.
Nothing moved. No flora or fauna, nor any of the merfolk present. Finally Delia came to her senses and fled, holding her miraculous child to her chest, murmuring unrecognizable words to herself.
Zeke was not as quick to react, but as he came to his senses, the first thing he noticed was not the heavy dark cloud lifting from his shoulders like a cloak, making him feel more normal again. He did not notice that his wife and child had fled from the scene.
No, the first thing that Zeke saw, after blinking several times, was Aeva, the golden blade of light, shuddering and creaking, before laying still in the sand, being clouded over and turning dark.
Decussus was back.
And it hungered revenge.

Comments

  1. I hope this comment isn't too long, but here are my thoughts on the piece. I thought it was good, all in all-- nice storytelling and imagery. Perhaps a few things were stressed too much, such as their "protective scale armor" which was mentioned a little too often. Without further ado, some nit-picky minute things that you can fix in a minute:

    “One of the shadows holding a squirming shape” should be “one of the shadows held”, even though you’re describing the two shadows.
    “Himself” in first paragraph is out of place after “following”.
    Not using contractions makes the conversation a little harder to follow.
    “Stunning saber” is out of place unless the sword is actually a saber, which hasn’t been mentioned yet…
    “How could you know?” from Delia should be coupled with a little more of an entreaty, especially if she’s his wife. Otherwise it sounds like an interested reporter taking notes for his article in the paper. The following sentences from Zeke can remain even if Delia continues speaking her thoughts.
    “Intense fiery defiance” could be reduced to only one adjective—usually fiery defiance is assumed to be intense.
    “…Delia wouldn’t be with us any longer.” So far you hadn’t given us a clue of the author talking to the reader. Why would you suddenly mention “us”? If you were going to pursue second person storytelling, this would be perfect.
    Centimeters? Millimeters, perhaps. Inches, perhaps. A hairsbreadth, yes. Centimeters, perhaps not. It takes the reader out of the story to wonder why the author seems to be reading the most obscure units from the ruler.
    “A snort… in the vicinity of his face.” I didn’t know snorts could be aimed—and usually they’re intakes of breath, so you can’t let out a snort.
    Did Zeke ever sheath his sword before you said he unsheathed it again?
    “Undoubtedly” is another indication of a second person storytelling style that I haven’t seen prominent as of yet. “Terrified but furious” might be better.
    “You’re a sea monster” was brilliant.
    “Overwhere” and “Underthere” made me laugh. Obviously you don’t want to do “Underwhere”. Good names, though.
    “Not a trace that your soul had existed there would remain…” You seem to be moving your terms around. “Not a trace of your soul would remain…”, perhaps, or “Nothing would remain to prove your soul had existed…” As it is it seems rather convoluted.
    “I don’t give a barnacle…” was good. I like these undersea turns of phrase.
    If Delia had a sword, why wouldn’t we know it by now? And why wouldn’t Zeke have noticed before then?
    “Now” at the beginning of a sentence is another indicator of second person, so I beg you—make up your mind!
    “Zeke easily flung Delia’s away…” Delia’s what? Her sword? The contest between the two opponents you mentioned? Perhaps you just forgot a word.
    “…being as it was that Zeke was planning on killing them both with Decussus without a second thought while cackling evilly no doubt.” Try adding a comma before “while”. It’ll clear up the sentence.
    “…Since the jaw dropping…” What, is jaw dropping all of a sudden something large like an execution? Since dropping her jaw, perhaps, or just not mentioning the jaw.
    That incantation the baby merman (brilliant character introduction, by the way) speaks sounds like it ought to rhyme, but doesn’t… Perhaps it shouldn't. I don't know. Something to think about.

    Again, I thought the thing was great. If you can put together a good plot to follow this, the story looks good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it for the most part, and I want to thank you for showing me those nit-picky details. I've revised those trouble areas with a word or two, and I do think that those changes are for the better. The undersea spoofs on different expressions are quite fun. There's plenty you can accomplish with a little krill and barnacles.

      Delete
  2. I like your story. You caught me off-guard with merpeople; my brain was trying to go through a list of creatures that could live under the sea with hands and somehow missed the idea of merpeople until you mentioned it. :D I like your descriptions and overall the story flows well. That being said, a few things that I noticed:

    ~ I like the foreshadowing in the first paragraph.
    ~ "The hiss of a sword being released from its scabbard was heard, strangely loud in the calm waters of the sea." We mostly get the story from the perspective of the two characters. The "was heard" in this sentence feels a little awkward because it's acknowledging previously unnoticed "others".
    ~ “I am much too strong for that to happen, Delia. Surely you know how headstrong I can be when I wish to be?”
    "Because, if you remember, you can be quite headstrong sometimes, yes?”
    Headstrong typically has a negative connotation, so I'm not sure that it's use here works. The first thing that comes to mind is whether a person would ever willingly describe him or herself as "headstrong" by choice. Perhaps a word like "determined" or "persistent" might make this flow better.
    ~ "Is this the way a good prince to behave?" This sentence feels like it's missing something. I think something like: "Is this the way for a good prince to behave?" or "Is this the way a good prince would behave?" would even out the flow.
    ~ This might be covered at another section in the novel, but if Zeke and Delia can't have a legitimate child together who would inherit their lands, would their society allow their marriage? The marriage of a prince seems like a big deal, an event the kingdom would attend. If Zeke needs to have legitimate children to inherit the throne, I would image society would generally frown upon him marrying a commoner. Delia sounds more like a mistress...maybe that's just me though.
    ~ " I don't give a barnacle about it." I like this sentence; it's really cute and made me laugh.
    ~ "There really was not a contest between the two opponents; Zeke easily flung Delia's away from her shaking hand, leaving her weaponless and defenseless as well." I agree with Liam, this sentence definitely needs to mention the item Zeke is flinging away. I understand it to be the sword, but it breaks the flow.

    Overall, great job, can't wait to see where you take it. The ending is an effective, unexpected cliffhanger.

    :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aye, if you don't know the vague plot, it could be a tad confusing at the beginning why those characters have tails and hands. FISH-PEOPLE! Yeah! xD.

      Ah, but I must thank you profusely for pointing out those little details. I must have skimmed over them during the proofread. Already I've taken both yours and Liam's advice and delved into my writing to fix things here and there in that section, and it's improved nicely thanks to you both. (:

      Thanks for taking time to read it! I was hoping the ending would do its job. ^_^

      Delete

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