Author Topic: The Daughters of Woe - High Fantasy  (Read 63 times)

Offline ArslanArda

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The Daughters of Woe - High Fantasy
« on: May 22, 2020, 11:29:21 PM »
Same thing as the first chapter in this case. Just curious to see what people think of it; if it's interesting, if it hooks you, etc. Thanks in advance for any comments, it's really appreciated!

CHAPTER 1

   Brenna brought the knife to the young man’s throat. Her eyes lingered on his naked body. I’m a druid now, she reminded herself, looking instead at the river before them. I must live only for the Gods. For five years, she had learned, listened to her mentor’s every word, suffered through those endless days of ritual and piety… All for today.

   She looked behind her. The entire tribe was watching from the mist. Her father stood amongst the villagers, her brother too. The snows were rising around them, slowly leaving the world as they did at the end of every winter. Eighteen times, Brenna had seen the white particles return to the grey heavens, and eighteen times, she had witnessed the Ritual of Spring. Now she was to perform the ancient rite, for a Druid’s first Ritual of Spring was her consecration. One day Ésa will be gone, and I will be their only druid. It was time to earn her tribe’s trust. Brenna took a deep breath.

   She cut open the warrior’s throat. He let out a great sigh, one like that of bliss during sex. Brenna heard a few of the children gasp. It’s their first sacrifice to witness. They would see many more with the passing of the years. And who knew? Maybe one day, they would offer themselves to the Gods. Ésa spoke of other tribes whose sacrifices had to be poachers and murderers, but Vélute Tribe was a pious one. In living memory, all their sacrifices had been willing souls like strong Élémbivos. The latter still knelt, vomiting blood upon the misty surface of the river.

   “It’s time,” Ésa whispered. Her grey hair was rough as thatch, and her smell reeked of rotten teeth. Her thin fingers grabbed Brenna’s robe. “Now, you become a druid.”

   Before the girl could prepare herself, her mentor had stripped her naked, baring the sacred paintings, orange like her hair and blue like her eyes. Brenna began shaking, but not from the cold. They’re all watching. The entire village was seeing her. Be calm, she told herself. Everyone had seen her brother’s body before, when he went into duels, naked and war-mad. If only her nakedness were just as pleasing to the village boys… No. Not with her boyish breasts that somehow sagged like Ésa’s, not with her large, unsightly hips.

   The old woman placed a golden torque around Brenna’s neck. The druid’s torque. “Go,” she said, “let Wérgia speak to you.”

   Brenna stepped into the river. Her bare feet met only mist at first, and then the ice-cold water. Élémbivos’ blood had painted it red. Like so many before him, he had sacrificed himself to Goddess Wérgia to ensure rich crops. And like Ésa and all the druids before her, Brenna lay down in the river, placing her face beneath the bleeding throat so that Wérgia could speak to her. Now they would know whether the coming spring would be cruel or joyful. The heavy torque pulled Brenna to the river floor. Let the water hold you, Ésa had told her. Let Mother Wérgia hold you, don’t struggle. Just wait for her voice. She will speak a few words, that’s all there is to it.

   All was red in front of Brenna, water and blood made one. Don’t struggle, she told herself. I won’t die, Ésa promised it. Wérgia doesn’t kill her servants. Yet she could feel her heart beating faster.

   She couldn’t breathe. What if she died? Gods, what if she died? Souls lived on in other bodies after death; she knew that, all knew that, but what if it was a lie? Don’t doubt, don’t doubt. She was a Druid. Druids did not doubt the Gods. But the terror was still there, like a black pit in her belly, and the water was cold. Colder than death.

    No, no, I have to get out. Brenna pushed against the river floor — she had to get out. She could see that great nothing beyond; she didn’t want go to it, she didn’t…

   Then something happened. The world turned and the water was gone. Existence became a blast of wind, and she fell a thousand towers deep in a great rising, flying downwards to the skies amidst stars and blackness.

   The wind disappeared. Brenna saw a great plain around her; bare soil stretching into infinity, dark and flat, and not a mountain in the horizon, nor a hill, nor even shapes. If silence had a form, she was standing on it. A red fog covered the emptiness. Not fog, she quickly realised. It was Élémbivos’ blood, still floating in that watery manner. And there, far away, in that fog of blood, there were three women. Their black robes blew in the wind. In the distance, it looked like dead crows’ feathers.

    For ten thousand years, Druids had performed the Ritual of Springs and recounted Wérgia’s voice. No one’s ever described something like this. No one. The pit in her stomach grew larger.

   “What name have you?” she dared ask. Her voice echoed through the silence.

   One after the other, the women spoke; one old, one young, one faceless. In their voices, Brenna heard the echo of time long gone.

   “None that by man or beast may be spoken.”

   “Hear us now, heed our call.”

   “The marble men have sailed from the broken sea. Blades thirsty, killers all.”

   The mist’s red tint grew darker, and a deep rumble moaned below the earth. A stench of blood reeked through the air. “Hear us Brenna; you shall be your people’s voice.”

   “Hear us Brenna; the Bold One shall come to these lands cold.”

   “Again shall he be, Brádhán the Bold.”

   “Again shall he be, Brádhán of Old.”

   “Brádhán Twice-Crowned, soon Thrice-Crowned.”

   “The Champion of yore, to your people bound.”

   “Bold Brádhán of strong blood born.”

   “Bold Brádhán by strong womb borne.”

   Lightning slashed across the skies, its roar a mighty warcry. The faceless one cried tears of blood. “Make haste, Brenna, light the fire as fast you can.”

   “Once it burns, seven days must pass.”

   “Then a month ‘til the man Brádhán roars, and the foe’s doom is cast.”

   They walked away, disappearing in the depths of the now black-red mist. OOOOOOOOOOooooooommmmm… The wail of the carnyxes, the horns of war, pierced her ears until they bled like the throat she had cut. OOOOOOOOOOooooooommmmm… A million horns, a million wails, a music horrifying. She fell to her knees, naked and cold, surrounded by blood. All hail Brádhán who comes again, she heard, all hail Brádhán who comes again, all hail, all hail, all hail, all hail, OOOOOOOOOOooooooommmmm…

   “Brenna!”

   It was Ésa's voice. Brenna was lying on the river’s shore. The villagers formed a circle around her, hungering for her words. Her brother removed his sagum cape and placed it around her, finally shielding her nakedness from the familiar gazes. Shaking, Brenna looked behind her. They had thrown Élémbivos in the river. His blood was still on her face.

   “Hush child, it’s done,” Ésa whispered, one of those rare smiles on her face. “Now you’re a druid. Tell us, what did the Lady of Waters say? Will the crops be generous this year?”

   The whole tribe huddled closer to her, impatiently waiting for her report. Finally, Brenna spoke.

   “Forget about the crops.”
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 10:31:20 AM by ArslanArda »

Offline klclou

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Re: The Daughters of Woe - High Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2020, 03:15:22 AM »
First of all, I liked this. I especially liked the vision scene - very interesting. Liked the chant and the horns making her ears bleed and most of the description. There were some sentences I'd change. I'd write 'She cut the warrior's throat' without open. It was their first sacrifice. Not sacrifices had to be but sacrifices were. Not her smell reeked of rotten teeth but either her breath reeked of rotten teeth or she reeked of rotten teeth. After Brenna thinks she has to get out, don't type she had to get out again. These are only suggestions, of course.

Now, the things that made me pause. The first is that part where she's gazing at the naked sacrifice. Maybe that could happen but I feel like this is too important and stressful a scene for her to be thinking that way. I just find her perving on him just before she slits his throat a little jarring. I agree that it is a way to introduce the subject of her druidness. Maybe she could have once fancied him when they were younger or something? Similarly, his orgasmic sigh on having his throat cut seems a bit unlikely, though I get he is supposed to be happy he is chosen for the tribe - that he is perhaps not scared but gratified. I still wonder which hole it came out of though and can you really sigh with the bliss of sex when your windpipe is cut? I also didn't like 'vomiting blood' though I get the visual. I'd prefer gushing as more accurate. I actually thought for a minute that Elembivos was someone else vomiting blood, because I assumed the sacrifice couldn't really vomit anymore. But that is a quibble.

The one thing I really dislike though is the last line of the chapter. Forget about the crops. It just sounds too modern, especially after all that wonderful mystic visionary stuff. I'd prefer a different line there, though I don't know what. It just takes me completely out of the mood of the whole piece.

Anyway, those are my impressions of this piece. Overall I think it's an interesting start and I would read on.

Offline ArslanArda

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Re: The Daughters of Woe - High Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2020, 03:57:33 PM »
First of all, I liked this. I especially liked the vision scene - very interesting. Liked the chant and the horns making her ears bleed and most of the description. There were some sentences I'd change. I'd write 'She cut the warrior's throat' without open. It was their first sacrifice. Not sacrifices had to be but sacrifices were. Not her smell reeked of rotten teeth but either her breath reeked of rotten teeth or she reeked of rotten teeth. After Brenna thinks she has to get out, don't type she had to get out again. These are only suggestions, of course.

Now, the things that made me pause. The first is that part where she's gazing at the naked sacrifice. Maybe that could happen but I feel like this is too important and stressful a scene for her to be thinking that way. I just find her perving on him just before she slits his throat a little jarring. I agree that it is a way to introduce the subject of her druidness. Maybe she could have once fancied him when they were younger or something? Similarly, his orgasmic sigh on having his throat cut seems a bit unlikely, though I get he is supposed to be happy he is chosen for the tribe - that he is perhaps not scared but gratified. I still wonder which hole it came out of though and can you really sigh with the bliss of sex when your windpipe is cut? I also didn't like 'vomiting blood' though I get the visual. I'd prefer gushing as more accurate. I actually thought for a minute that Elembivos was someone else vomiting blood, because I assumed the sacrifice couldn't really vomit anymore. But that is a quibble.

The one thing I really dislike though is the last line of the chapter. Forget about the crops. It just sounds too modern, especially after all that wonderful mystic visionary stuff. I'd prefer a different line there, though I don't know what. It just takes me completely out of the mood of the whole piece.

Anyway, those are my impressions of this piece. Overall I think it's an interesting start and I would read on.

Really good points and suggestions, thanks alot! I pretty much applied all of them, they've been really helpful.