Friday, December 22, 2017

New Beginning 1075

The ruin spread north like a disease. Six horses halted at the line where the green plain butted against the barren wasteland. Their riders sat in silence, squinting in the late summer sun.
Rowan’s mare snorted and tossed her head. He placed a gloved hand on the horse’s mane to calm the beast and glanced at his companions. Only one of them had been this far north. Yet Crispin’s face gave away none of his thoughts as he stared ahead, one hand shading his almond-shaped eyes.
Crispin slid from his horse and raised his hand, commanding his mount to stay without a word spoken. He knelt on the ground and traced a finger over the line where the healthy green grass of the meadows met the dead muddy land.
Rowan dismounted. He removed his helm, shaking his dark hair out of his eyes, and set it in a clump of clover before squatting next to Crispin.
“How far are we?” he asked.
Crispin lifted his head and squinted north. “About eight leagues, Captain.”
Rowan studied the wilting grass before him. “I thought you said the wasteland only went six leagues from the capital.”
“It was only six leagues when I was last here,” Crispin replied. “Nine years ago. It has been spreading south since the Sundering’s beginning.”
          "What are we waiting for?" said Rowan. 
          "Lead the way," Crispin answered.
          Rowan walked briskly into the wasteland.
          Suddenly a flurry of dead, ghastly hands appeared at his feet, dragging the resisting Captain down into the muck until he disappeared completely, and only the brown mud remained.
            Crispin smiled. Rowan had been the last of them. The King would have to make him captain now.

Opening: Karen Baer.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Rowan dug his fingers into the mud, feeling its doughy texture. "How can you be so sure?"

Crsipin removed his bascinet and brushed aside a raven lock. "I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night."


"The signs are clear," he continued, shouldering his mace. "Strange rumors are abroad: lobbyists have been sighted, outside The Beltway; the Cable News Commentators speak their oracular riddles, which no man may comprehend, through every hour of the day; the disembodied Robocalls, the cryptic Campaign Ads, the Ringing of the Doorbells, the Distribution of the Pamphlets, all proliferate as never in living memory... and this in an off-year election, as well ye know."

"By all the Gods," cried Rowan, striking his gauntlet against his brazen chest plate. "What times are these we live in?!"


Evil Editor said...

The ruin spread north like a disease. Not sure what that means. There seems to be a line dividing the ruin from the meadows, but a disease wouldn't strike everyone on one side of a line and no one on the other.

Only one of them had been this far north. If you say Only one of them, Crispin, had been this far north., it might keep us from wondering, when we read the next sentence, if Crispin is that one person, or if Crispin is Rowan's first name.

The passage opens by saying the ruin is spreading north, and closes by saying it's spreading south. From where they are, Crispin can see that it has spread south. It may also have spread north, but they can't tell that from here.

Mister Furkles said...

I think it was Fred Mertz who came this far north after borrowing Ricky's convertible.

"He removed his helm, shaking his dark hair out of his eyes, and set it in a clump of clover before squatting next to Crispin."

So, Rowen shook his dark hair and set it in a clump of clover?

Better to group things together. Maybe: "He removed his helm and set it in a clump of clover while shaking his dark hair out of his eyes, then squatted next to Crispin."

davefragments said...

I don't see why the reader has to wait to learn about "the Sundering."
Basically three sentences:

How about opening with: "The riders halted where the green plain turned to a barren wasteland; a gift of the Sundering."

Then maybe: "Rowan dismounted. “How far are we?” he asked. Crispin squinted, staring north. “About eight leagues, Captain.” "

And finally: “It was only six leagues when I was here nine years ago. It's spreading."

My word choice might not be yours but that's the basic idea that you ware trying to convey to the reader.
That's only 47 words. You have the other 150 or so of the opening to explain the Sundering and the reason for Crispin and Rowan to be concerned.

I didn't think their movements dismounting the horses and removing their armor mattered to the opening or added to it.

Chicory said...

When I first read wasteland I instantly pictured the badlands out West, so I was surprised when the waste turned out to be muddy. Perhaps a touch more description on what, exactly, we're seeing here? Is it a bog, stinking of rot? Is it churned orange mud and shale, like you'd get at a construction site? I'm sure you're picturing the scene very clearly. It's just not all getting on the page.

KareBaer said...

Bwahahaha I'm loving the insight, comical and constructive. Much thanks.