Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Beginning 500!!

The knight knelt alone in the cold light of dawn, waiting for the voice of God. Waiting for guidance. Waiting for forgiveness.

"I failed you, my king." His whispered words cut as deeply as any sword. The truth of them cut deeper.

Still he waited in the silence of the warrior's chapel. A shaft of sunlight, knifing through one of the narrow windows brought the only warmth as the sun rose higher. With the warmth came his message.

Your king lives.

Tears flowed freely down his cheeks as he choked back a sob of relief. "Show me, Divine One."

You will know before the day is done.

He bowed his head in thanks. Aegis, last of the king's personal guard wept openly as he began to pray.

"Grant me honor in life. Honor in battle. Let me vanquish my enemies. If I must die today, let my spirit dwell with my fathers in the Hall of Champions this night."



Hidden behind the curtain, Dwight bugged his eyes out at the reaction of the man in the aluminum foil armor.

"Who is this guy?" he whispered to his friend Tommy.

"Beats me," Tommy replied. "Whenever I see him approach the photo booth, I duck back here and say whatever comes into my head. Watch."

Eat Spaghettios tonight.

"Yea, divine one, I shall eateth Spaghettios."

"See?" Tommy whispered. "He'll do whatever you say. You try."

"Okay," Dwight whispered, and then in a louder voice spoke:

Submit your opening to Evil Editor. It will be good for you.

There was a pause in the booth until a troubled voice said, "Shit. Okay, who is this?"


Opening: Anonymous.....
Continuation: Pacatrue

35 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:


The light dimmed.

Don't overdo it, pal. I've got stacks of bacteria to lay to rest and you're holding me up.

'My Lord!'

Bless you.

'Thanks. It's the pollen.'

Tell me about it. But, look — keep it snappy next time.

'So...I'll live?'

Not in that helmet, you won't.

'My Lord?...My Lord?'

Aegis rose to his feet and slid open his visor, contemplating going barechested as his heart swelled with courage.

'Now!' came a husky voice from behind the chalice.

A single arrow whistled from the orcish assassin's bow and hit him SMACK between the eyes.

The light dimmed to blackness, smothering his dying gasp like a shroud and the voice of God spoke again.

Tiger Woods, eat your heart out...

--WO


The Hall of Champions is booked solid.

The knight paused. Bowing deeper, he prayed, "Then, oh Glorious One, let my spirit dwell in the Chambers of the Virtuous."

You know you do not qualify.

Sighing, the knight raised his head. "Divine One, then let my spirit dwell in the Tavern of Eternal Drunkenness."

The shaft of sunlight burned warmer.

It shall be done.

--Kiersten


And he added as an afterthought, "Oh, and I'd prefer not to die a virgin. So--"

With a flash of light, seventeen vestal vampire angelli appeared around him in a cirle of black swansdown wings. "Here, drink this," a dark haired vixen ordered, tipping a bottle of booze against his teeth.

Aegis was forced to swallow or drown and complied, choking and hacking. She forced more down his gullet so the alcohol spread a burning langour through his veins.

"Quick, ladies, off with the armor!" she said when the bottle was near empty. "We don't get a chance at a bloody knight very often!"

--writtenwyrdd


Digesis switched off the lamp, turned to the Queen's counsellor, and said, "See?"

The counsellor nodded sagely. "Now make him think he's a chicken."

--BuffySquirrel


His tears splashed on the stone flags beneath him as he continued his prayer.

"If I must die today, let my death be glorious. Let the pain be quick and the bleeding minimal.

"Grant that the wound not be on my face, so I may be as handsome in death as I am in life. Let my mother mourn me wholeheartedly, forgetting about the time I stuck a drawing pin into my sister's foot. Let my sister mourn me wholeheartedly, forgetting about the drawing pin, the haircutting, the urine jug and all other childhood japes.

"If I must die today, don't forget to let the dog out and cancel the milk.

"Amen"

--McKoala


"Let me be to the wicked a sword of woe, and to the righteous, a sword of justice."

"Unto Thee, O God, do I commit my cause. Amen."

But Richard was dead, fallen on that field of blood and treachery, and Sir Robert Falwick, the man he called Aegis, had failed to reach him at the last.

Your king lives.

Then whose body had the filthy Invader flung naked into the public square? Who was it lay in wounds and rotting infamy? Above all, where was Richard?

He had little time to find the king. Here in this abbey, the sanctuary of hunted men, he had paused to pray, and to confess the sins of his guilty soul. To pray most of all for Richard's forgiveness as for God's. Now he must go, before the Invader's men came like dogs of the kennel to defile the sacred place.

You will know before the day is done.

"Whereunto shall I go, Divine One?"

Go unto Anne.

"Anne is dead." He did not realize that he had dared to contradict aloud, so shocking did the command seem to his soul. Richard's beloved Anne, laid in her grave these ten months past....

Go unto Edward.

"Edward is dead!" Son, nephew and brother, which of them it mattered not, for all had gone the way of all flesh....

Among the dead, seek ye the living.

--Sioned


Slowly, Aegis came back to his earthbound senses.

That was one damn strong mushroom to have him thinking his king still lived. He’d wanted the old fart dead, and dead he was. Now, it was Aegis’ s turn to do the mighty battle. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks as he choked back a sob of relief and gratitude.

He took a deep breath and looked heavenward, praying to his favorite god, Bacchus, asking forgiveness for his Friday evening fungi transgressions.

“And as I live on today, let me and my weenie dwell on and within my father’s concubines on his soft golden pillows, comforted and buffetted by their sweet and tender and captured carresses in the antechamber just off the Breakfast of Champions. Ah, yes. Self- sacrifice. It’s a beastly wonderful thing.”

Or at least he thought it would be. He would know before the day was done.

--Robin S.


Your king prayed before this altar but two hours ago.

“Then indeed he lives?”

Did you doubt me?

His tears flowed freely. “Then my spirit belongs to my king and to you.”

Stand.

Aegis pushed himself to his feet, using his broadsword for support.

Go.

Aegis bowed his head and began to back away from the aisle.

I don’t know how I’m going to clean this place if you people keep coming in here, covered in mud, crying and moaning all over the place when all I'm trying to do is get my job done and earn a modest living to pay my taxes and put food in my belly...

The cleaning servant swiped at Aegis’s feet with his broom.

Now fuck off.

--ril


A place for you is already prepared.

"My Lord, I tha-- Oh."

The chapel fell silent.

--ril


I have already fulfilled two requests. Don't get prayer-happy.

--Xiexie

Anonymous said...

Good to see that there were alot of conts. for this. I started one along the lines of McK's (with graphic depictions of possible death as part of his prayer)but not as well done as her's.

I really didn't need Mrs. V's explanation, but it did make me laugh (Ha Ha, the enlargement makes her seem wise)and appreciate the chosen continuation. Of the unchosen: really liked Robin's and McKoala's and of course, ril's!!!

What's the writing exercise for this weekend?

ME

BuffySquirrel said...

Nice one, Paca :D.

I found myself distanced from this opening. Although there's emotion in the scene, there isn't in the writing--if that makes any sense. I don't feel any empathy with the knight--perhaps at least partly because he hasn't a name and so isn't really a person.

I think you need to find a way to help the reader connect with this character.

writtenwyrdd said...

While this opening is nicely worded and very stylized, it felt emotionally remote, even though the knight has a lot to deal with. I think perhaps you might consider taking the backstory out of the prayer dialog, as that seems to be taking the impact from the anguish the knight is feeling as he prays.

Also, the godly dialog not set off my quotes or italics was jarring. Not sure if that's just a translation error from Word to blog, though.

Bonnie said...

Are you planning to continue the elevated saga-esque style for the whole piece? I'm thinking it might work for a short story but might get to be a bit much for a novel.

ChrisEldin said...

Good one Paca!!! And look at the crowd of Hall of Famers you beat out!!
:-)

Sorry Author. This is too overdone for me. But it's not my genre.

Evil Editor said...

I don't think we need: The truth of them cut deeper.

If hte words weren't true, they wouldn't have cut deeply in the first place. You can just say: His whispered words cut more deeply than any sword.

The apostrophe in "warrior's" suggests that this is one particular warrior's chapel.

If the pronouncements from God aren't italicized they should be.

You might want to let us know the knight's name is Aegis earlier. By the time you get around to it I'm wondering if Aegis is another person present.

Wes said...

Ditto on EE's comments.

A couple of nit-picky ones from me. Why "Still he waited....." "Still" implies to me he is overcoming some force to make him leave. Also a shaft of sunlight would not bring warmth. It might bring hope, clarity, and a promise of revelation; some sort of indication that a need of the knight might be met. Also the sentence re: the shaft of light could be strengthened by having the light shine thru one window, or a special window. "...through one of the narrow windows..." diffuses the impact.

Just one person's opinions.

laughingwolf said...

google ate my post! grrrrr

i said something like: the comments are right on, but for the knight's tale... fughedaboudit!

Phoenix said...

cold light of dawn - to me, this phrase means more of an objective, unforgiving light, yet because the text introduces warmth later on, it makes it seem this phrase is supposed to establish the temperature, which makes me think entirely too hard about what I'm reading.

Still he waited in the silence - I'm not clear why this phrase is here. We've just been told he's waiting. Then he speaks. And right after this phrase he gets an answer. The waiting and silence seem misplaced here.

You also have tears flowing and Aegis weeping openly fairly close together. We probably only need tears once.

I think this is one time that writing spare in backstory detracts from the emotion of the moment. Maybe intersperse a bit of Aegis' thoughts into the scene to draw the reader in more?
________

The knight knelt alone in the chill of the dawn, waiting for the voice of God. Waiting for guidance. Waiting for forgiveness.

"I failed you, my king." Aegis' whispered words cut more deeply than any sword. The memory of the king beneath the enemies' blades haunted him. He could still see the score of knights standing between him and Regis as he battled his way forward. Then came a dozen more warriors swarming about the fallen king, barring his way, driving him back. And one by one his shield mates falling, too. If only ...

He took a shuddering breath and wrenched himself back into the present. Through a narrow window, a shaft of light from the rising sun knifed into the warriors' chapel. And with the bit of warmth it brought came Aegis' message.

Your king lives.

The knight choked back a sob of relief. "Show me, Divine One."

You will know before the day is done.

Aegis, last of the king's personal guard, wept openly as he bowed his head and prayed. The oft-recited words took on a layer of meaning today beyond any he had uttered before. "Grant me honor in life. Honor in battle. Let me vanquish my enemies. If I must die today, let my spirit dwell with my fathers in the Hall of Champions this night.

Phoenix said...

Loved all the conts! Also, Mrs. V.

Xiexie said...

I think the reader's emotional connection with Aegis, here, feels a bit disconnected. For me, it seems as if we're looking at Aegis go through his angst rather than experiencing it through him.

Am I making sense?

Otherwise, I think it's an interesting opening. I'd read more.

Scott from Oregon said...

The whole "voice of God" thing threw me.

Why not straight to-- "waiting for the voice of guidance"?

On my old computer, I have a list of over 3500 gods that were at one time or another worshipped by somebody on the planet.

When somebody makes the claim of "god", I immediately ask "oh yeah, which one?"

I think you are better off creating a supernatural entity with a different name, like "The Deep Abysmal Voice" or "The Crazy Guy Who Yells At Me" or "Bob"...

Using the G-word so early seems oddly arrogant, if you know what I mean... (kinda Ted Haggart-like...)

BuffySquirrel said...

My cat would like wes to know that shafts of sunlight coming through windows are warm if they fall on you.

Robin S. said...

Author,

This is a genre I don't read so I don't really have anything to say that would be meaningful - other than to mention that the prose seemed 'distant'to me. Maybe this genre is OK with that. There's nothing really wrong - it just didn't draw me in - but again, that may be because I'm not your target reader.

Good contin, paca!

Love the use of Mrs. V, EE. And you sure can't say you didn't get a boatload on continuations on this one...'cause you did.

Julie Weathers said...

Wow, number 500, I am honored. And, I will try not to be verbose or defensive.

Thank you for the continuations. I laughed. A lot.

Julie Weathers said...

Buffy, I think adding his name sooner might help. This isn't a lengthy prologue and he dies very soon, but I'll try to make him more interesting.

Julie Weathers said...

Also, the godly dialog not set off my quotes or italics was jarring. Not sure if that's just a translation error from Word to blog, though.~

Yep, the italics disappeared in translation. It's italicized in my version.

Julie Weathers said...

Are you planning to continue the elevated saga-esque style for the whole piece? I'm thinking it might work for a short story but might get to be a bit much for a novel.~

Nope, this is a short prologue introducing Aegis' death, which sets a lot of other things in motion. He is murdered shortly after he leaves the chapel.

Julie Weathers said...

If hte words weren't true, they wouldn't have cut deeply in the first place. You can just say: His whispered words cut more deeply than any sword.~

Good observation and thanks.

The apostrophe in "warrior's" suggests that this is one particular warrior's chapel.~

It is.

If the pronouncements from God aren't italicized they should be.~

They were and got lost in the shuffle.

You might want to let us know the knight's name is Aegis earlier. By the time you get around to it I'm wondering if Aegis is another person present.~

Another good catch and is being changed.

Thanks, as always for your advice.

Julie Weathers said...

Thank you, Wes. I'll take a look at that and see how I can change it.

Julie Weathers said...

i said something like: the comments are right on, but for the knight's tale... fughedaboudit!~

I'm not sure what this means so I'll refrain from commenting, but thank you for participating.

Evil Editor said...

The Mrs. V explanation was also provided by Paca.

Dave F. said...

500 new beginnings - congratulations.

500 x 155 words (average, I guess) = 75,000 words - almost a novel all by itself.

Julie Weathers said...

Phoenix, thank you. Some of the suggestions are spot on.

The king simply disappeared in the confusion when a demon appeared so there was no dramatic battle. However, I think I can play with that a bit and add it to a memory.

As usual, your comments are very astute and appreciated.

Julie Weathers said...

My cat would like wes to know that shafts of sunlight coming through windows are warm if they fall on you.~

Yep. I guess I think too much or can't convey the thoughts. Being inside a cool building at dawn and then finally feeling sunlight streaming in is oddly comforting and warm.

Julie Weathers said...

Paca did Ms. V also! Good job.

Robin S. said...

Being inside a cool building at dawn and then finally feeling sunlight streaming in is oddly comforting and warm.

Julie. Use this. It says a lot.
I do that a lot. Find my off-the-cuff notes convey more than I was originally conveying - so I use them, because they are real in a way I wasn't in my prose.

Cool that paca did the Mrs. V.

Paca, you're amazing. Is school finally over, honey, and you're celebrating with all that extra brain power on overdrive?

Is that it, sweetie?

Either way, you kick butt.

Wonderwood said...

I don't mean to pile on but I agree with the majority of the comments.

This stopped me: His whispered words cut as deeply as any sword. The truth of them cut deeper.

My thought was, it wasn't his actual words that cut deeply, it was the truth of his words, so mentally I was rewriting it for you as "The truth of his whispered words cut deeper than any sword."

Then I stopped again at "Still he waited..." Same thoughts as the others, a throw away sentence. Find a more productive way to tell us he's in the chapel. Something like "The silence of the warrior's chapel was his only companion..." or some such phrase that tells us something we don't already know.

I think with some of the suggestions already made you can rework this into a good opening, Julie. Savor the process.

Wonderwood said...

Oh, and Congrats on #500 EE!

Julie Weathers said...

This will be going into the Rogan workshop in a couple of weeks, so I may wait to do a lot of tweaking since, well, I totally screwed several other chapters.

I may post the whole prologue on my blog and do a revision process and then repost the final version of this opening back here in this thread. If EE doesn't mind.

All of the comments were very helpful and I do appreciate it.

pacatrue said...

I indeed am honored, ok a lucky bastard, to have submitted my first continuation in a month or two and it turned out to be #500.

Anyway, congrats, EE. 2 years, 500 continuations. Impressive.

Whirlochre said...

Late in — and brief.

Still he waited in the silence of the warrior's chapel

This was my only real issue. He's waited in para 1 and more waiting adds nothing.

Happy 500 NBs

ril said...

Fckn Paca.

;)

Jeb said...

After reading all these comments, I'm kinda glad I didn't get around to commenting earlier.

I really, REALLY hate prologues where you get to know the fellow and identify with him and then, instead of following along rooting for him while he overcomes his demons, he's offed by page 3.

On the other hand, a short, snappy opening paragraph that ends with the guy's death-gurgle.... :D

"The knight Aegis, most trusted sword of the late king, spent his final night in this world on his knees alone in a chill stone chapel, praying for forgiveness. When he left the chapel, stiff-kneed and blinking his tear-crusted eyes against the watery dawn..."

It's always so easy when it's other people's work. Presently, my own writing - semi-finaled in the Arthur Ellis Awards notwithstanding - sucks so much that I can't bring myself to submit the dead dregs of what I once thought was stylin' prose to a real publisher. And can't bring myself to rewrite the whole damned novel up to my current standards. Damned if I do and....