Author Topic: Woman of Flame. Fantasy fiction. 2100 words.  (Read 341 times)

Offline mcc1789

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Woman of Flame. Fantasy fiction. 2100 words.
« on: April 26, 2019, 10:21:00 PM »
The delegation went slowly up to the temple on the mountain.

For hardly the first time, Badar Nilamin Selran ir Senaris, the royal envoy from Senaris's queen, lamented the long trek. Yet the path could not be shortened, as the spells protecting the temple stopped anyone moving there directly through magic. He had to go there, by Queen Terina's command.

Badar sighed as he rode on a mule up the path with a jolt and sway. It was hardly dignified, but nonetheless practical, as horses fared much worse on the rough mountain terrain. The guards, courtiers and slaves who came with him rode the same beasts, though their state did not concern Badar.

He caught sight of the temple now as they drew nearer, for sunlight reflected from its golden roof in sometimes blinding flashes. This was no mere accident, he knew. Such had been the intent of the temple's builders, for it was dedicated to the sun god Lenisar.

At last the party reached their destination, a summit of rock which lay before the temple itself. Standing on it waiting for them were seven clerics of Lenisar in white robes, four women, three men. Out behind the temple was the forest, undisturbed by human habitation.
   
“Welcome to the great temple of Arvel,” one of the female clerics intoned, with her expression neutral. She and the others all wore their hair long, so that it surrounded each of their faces beneath the hood every one wore. Their hair was black, moreover, a stark contrast with the color of the robes.
   
To that degree, they looked no different from Badar or the rest of his delegation. Black hair was the most common in the Kenari people. Most were also olive-skinned, though a few like him had more an almond hue, a mark of their status, which let them stay out of the sun.

“In the name of Terina Shiranamina Ilredi ir Senaris, my queen and mistress, I give you thanks,” Badar said, inclining his head to her. He recognized the women from past visits to the temple, named Lirala. She was next in rank only to the Seer herself, whom they had come to consult.
   
“Do you seek the wisdom of the holy one?” Lirala asked him, going through the formality as ever. Badar found it tiresome, as they knew that was his wish already, but what could he do?
   
“Yes, cleric,” he confirmed humbly, bowing his head again. She nodded.
   
“Enter, then, and prepare yourself.” Badar felt the fool, sitting here on a mule speaking this way, and motioned for his body slave to help him down. He alone would be allowed inside to ask the Seer the question Queen Terina had instructed of him. The rest would stay outside and make camp here.
   
When he dismounted and walked toward the temple, the clerics turned as one in a white wave, going before him. The temple was magnificent, he had to admit. No matter how many times Badar viewed it, and this was his seventh visit now, the effect was still awe-inspiring.
   
He looked up at the statue of Lenisar over the entrance, a youthful robed man depicted as strong and with handsome features, holding a lyre in one hand, a scroll in the other. This was due to him being also god of music and poetry. On his head was a starry crown representing the sun's rays.
   
The slaves began to unload gold from the mules behind him, but he paid that no heed. A gift was required, but they could deliver it. He was needed inside. The temple's slaves would receive this gift-there was more gold stored in the vaults built into the mountain than many countries held.
   
The statue was impressive enough, but the temple itself... Badar looked enviously at the round roof and then the great double doors before him. Not only these but the whole outside walls were gold covered. It was mesmerizing to look at, and blinding when the sun struck.
   
He followed the clerics inside the open doors, into an atrium where a fountain bubbled softly. White-clad slaves waited for them there. Here, the walls were painted white, with the floors tiled in the same color. Lirala gestured to them, and they led Badar to a side chamber.
   
Inside the chamber lay the bath, set into the floor itself. Steam rose from the heated water, and he let the slaves undress him. They took his sandals and loincloth, folding up his fine red tunic then, bowing as they retreated holding them along with his boots.
   
He got into the bath, sighing at the sensation. It was the same perfect temperature, and Badar naturally found this the most enjoyable part of his visits. Within moments, another pair of slaves came into the chamber with cakes of soap, washcloths and towels.
   
They disrobed as well, getting into the bath Badar, then set to scrubbing him, gently yet firmly. After they had finished, the two helped Badar from the bath. Putting down the soap and washcloths, they toweled him off.
   
The slaves dried themselves, dressed, then bowed to him and left the way they had come with these items. Another slave came in, a woman this time, bearing a white loincloth. She bowed, holding out this to Badar, and then beckoned after he put it on.
   
Following her, he was led back into the atrium and toward the doorway that lay facing him in the direction he had entered, to the south. He entered it when the door opened, as she bowed to him again before departing.
   
Inside was full of incense, smoky and thick with the scent. Facing the far wall a huge symbol of the sun rested on a pedestal. Two clerics, a man and woman, stood waiting. He knelt on the floor with a good distance from the pedestal. The two raised their heads upward.
   
“O lord of the dawn, this supplicant begs an answer to his question,” they intoned together then. “Grant him this boon, if he be worthy.” Badar closed his eyes, hands clasped together while he bent his head to the pedestal. He knew it would be a long time now.
   
They chanted and prayed for hours, stopping only to supply more incense when it burned out. He felt himself grow stiff kneeling there on the floor, with pain shooting through his legs and arms from holding the pose, the former then losing feeling. This, of course, was part of the ceremony.
   
At last, as the clerics' voices became hoarse, they drew to a close. Slaves entered then as Badar opened his eyes, removing the incense and putting down a straw pallet before the pedestal. He winced while they aided him in getting to his feet, his nerves slowly reawakening.
   
“Here you will stay until dawn,” the clerics rasped, and then departed with the slaves, who now closed the door after them. Badar was left in the dark alone. He sighed, sitting down on the pallet near to him. It would be a long night, he knew from past experience.
   
No wonder the monarchs and other people of wealth in Kenar sent envoys on their behalf to ask questions from the Seer, rather than endure this. Of course, they also feared attack from enemies on the way in some cases, but this discomfort surely was a factor as well.
   
His stomach soon began to ache with hunger. Badar had expected all this, but it was still hard to withstand. He lay down on the pallet, stretching his legs and massaging them, then his arms. The poor, who dealt with worse, might endure better, but lacked the wealth to provide the gift demanded.
   
With the hunger there came boredom. He stared out into darkness, trying to pass the time with thoughts about other things. One was supposed to pray in silence alone now, Badar knew, but he had enough of that already. Failing to had never affected the outcome before.
   
He could hear nothing from outside the chamber, but that too was intended. Badar lay on the pallet alone, sighing at the tedium occasionally. It grew maddening over time, so that he stood and paced the chamber, carefully staying clear of where Badar knew the pedestal was.
   
Hours passed in agonizing slowness while he fidgeted, alternating in between sitting or pacing. The hunger gnawed against him all the time, until finally he grew weary enough to sleep. Sighing with relief, he lay down on the pallet and closed his eyes, changeless as the effect was.
   
He awoke when the door creaked open and light came into the room again, blinking while his eyes adjusted. The clerics were back, staring down at him solemnly with their hands folded. He rose and inclined his head again to them.
   
“You may now ask your question from the Seer,” they intoned. He nodded, suppressing the eagerness which came at the prospect. Finally, he would be out of here. His stomach growled, now aching again, but they ignored this, leading him from the chamber as he walked barefoot.
   
He was led by the clerics down a corridor which ran to the left, until at last they entered a larger chamber than either of the others Badar had been in. It was clouded with vapor far more thickly which spewed from an opening in the middle.
   
Beyond this, seated in a high white chair, sat a woman. Badar could not see her features clearly with the vapor obscuring his vision, but her gray hair was noticeable. Another pair of clerics stood on either side a good distance from her.
   
“Ask your question,” the Seer told him in a voice that was different from any other he had ever heard. She never moved, but stared intently at the hole from which the vapors arose.
   
“My royal mistress, Terina Ilredi, queen of Senaris, wishes to know the fortunes which shall befall her country in the coming years,” Badar told her, bowing his head as before. The queen knew a less specific question often garnered a vaguer answer, but he had no dire matters to face at present.
   
“I will consult with the god,” answered the Seer. Knowing he had been dismissed, Badar bowed again, this time from the waist, then retreated with the clerics that had escorted him in.
   
He was led to another chamber now, and slaves there returned his clothing. After they dressed him, he was led from the temple by the pair of clerics. Now it would be a wait. Sometimes the answer was given soon, but often it came after a long period, or occasionally not at all.
   
He settled in with his delegation, who had made camp near the head of the path comfortably as was possible. Badar ate hungrily after returning, and was relieved now to sleep on a more comfortable pallet in his tent.
   
At least waiting then he could pass the time talking with the courtiers who accompanied him and playing games, though it was still wearying sometimes. Two days passed with no word from the time, nor even any sign of its residents, the doors kept firmly closed.
   
At last on the third day after noon had passed, seven clerics once more filed out of the temple. The woman in the lead bore a scroll, and Badar's heart leapt in delight, knowing it was the answer the Seer had delivered from Lenisar. He walked quickly to meet her.
   
“The answer you have requested,” she said, handing over the scroll. He bowed his head to her, and they departed. The scroll was sealed with golden wax, and he broke it quickly to read. He had been commanded, as usual, to send Terina word immediately once the answer was known.
   
He read quickly, eyes widening with alarm at the words on the scroll. It was a very brief reply, as they customarily received, but full of import. Badar stared at the words in a spidery hand after he had read them through, adsorbing what they said.
   
        A woman, hair of flame, shall overtake Senaris.
    Over it she shall be queen, her line kings and queens after.
   Great power shall be hers, and cast aside her foes.
   An enemy from the east she shall defeat.
 
“Send this,” he told the mage who had come with the delegation numbly. This was the worst reply they had ever received. The queen would be unhappy to say the least. Badar shook his head as the mage cast a spell, teleporting the scroll off to the queen in Senaris.
   
Perhaps he might not have to travel here again after this.

Offline msgretagreen

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Re: Woman of Flame. Fantasy fiction. 2100 words.
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2019, 06:02:42 AM »
Hello,

Thank you for sharing your work. Here are some quick notes:

The delegation went slowly up to the temple on the mountain.

For hardly the first time, Badar Nilamin Selran ir Senaris, the royal envoy from Senaris's queen, lamented the long trek. Yet the path could not be shortened, as the spells protecting the temple stopped anyone moving there directly through magic. He had to go there, by Queen Terina's command.

Badar sighed as he rode on a mule up the path with a jolt and sway. It was hardly dignified, but nonetheless practical, as horses fared much worse on the rough mountain terrain. The guards, courtiers and slaves who came with him rode the same beasts, though their state did not concern Badar.

He caught sight of the temple now as they drew nearer, for sunlight reflected from its golden roof in sometimes blinding flashes. This was no mere accident, he knew. Such had been the intent of the temple's builders, for it was dedicated to the sun god Lenisar. I think you might want to read this out loud. I’m noticing a similar cadence to the above sentences. I’d suggest breaking some sentences up and not using the same transition words (like “for”).

At last the party reached their destination, a summit of rock which lay before the temple itself. Standing on it waiting for them were seven clerics of Lenisar in white robes, maybe use a : or - instead of a comma. four women, three men. Out behind the temple was the forest, undisturbed by human habitation.
   
“Welcome to the great temple of Arvel,” one of the female clerics intoned, with her expression neutral. She and the others all wore their hair long, so that it surrounded each of their faces beneath the hood every one wore. Their hair was black, moreover, a stark contrast with the color of the robes. I think this description can be simplified into one sentence.
   
To that degree, they looked no different from Badar or the rest of his delegation. Black hair was the most common in the Kenari people. Most were also olive-skinned, though a few like him had more an almond hue, a mark of their status, which let them stay out of the sun.

“In the name of Terina Shiranamina Ilredi ir Senaris, my queen and mistress, I give you thanks,” Badar said, inclining his head to her. He recognized the women from past visits to the temple, named Lirala. She was next in rank only to the Seer herself, whom they had come to consult.
   
“Do you seek the wisdom of the holy one?” Lirala asked him, going through the formality as ever. Badar found it the formalitytiresome, as they knew that was his wish already, but what could he do?
   
“Yes, cleric,” he confirmed humbly, bowing his head again. She nodded.
   
“Enter, then, and prepare yourself.” Badar felt the fool, instead of telling us he felt the fool, how about showing us with his actions? I.E. Badar shifted umcomfortably on his mulesitting here on a mule speaking this way, and motioned for his body slave to help him down. He alone would be allowed inside to ask the Seer the question Queen Terina had instructed of him. The rest would stay outside and make camp here.
   
When he dismounted you could show how he is stiff and feels awkward with all eyes upon him.and walked toward the temple, the clerics turned as one in a white wave, going before him. The temple was magnificent, he had to admit.can you show us how he is awed, instead of telling us? Does the size dwarf him? does it reflect light, causing him to blink? No matter how many times Badar viewed it, and this was his seventh visit now, the effect was still awe-inspiring.
   
He looked up at the statue of Lenisar over the entrance, a youthful robed man depicted as strong and with handsome features, holding a lyre in one hand, a scroll in the other. This was due to him being also god of music and poetry. On his head was a starry crown representing the sun's rays. consolidate this description
   
The slaves began to unload gold from the mules behind him, but he paid that no heed. A gift was required, but they could deliver it. He was needed inside. The temple's slaves would receive this gift-there was more gold stored in the vaults built into the mountain than many countries held.
   
The statue was impressive enough, but the temple itself... Badar looked enviously at the round roof and then the great double doors before him. Not only these but the whole outside walls were gold covered. It was mesmerizing to look at, and blinding when the sun struck.
   
He followed the clerics inside the open doors, into an atrium where a fountain bubbled softly. White-clad slaves waited for them there. Here, the walls were painted white, with the floors tiled in the same color. Lirala gestured to them, and they led Badar to a side chamber.
   
Inside the chamber lay the bath, set into the floor itself. Steam rose from the heated water, and he let the slaves undress him. They took his sandals and loincloth, folding up his fine red tunic then, bowing as they retreated holding them along with his boots.
   
He got slipped sighing- or something like that...into the bath, sighing at the sensation. It was the same perfect temperature, and Badar naturally found this the most enjoyable part of his visits. Within moments, another pair of slaves came into the chamber with cakes of soap, washcloths and towels.
   
They disrobed as well, getting into the bath Badar, this is obviously a LARGE bath. You might want to set that up before hand.then set to scrubbing him, gently yet firmly. After they had finished, the two helped Badar from the bath. Putting down the soap and washcloths, they toweled him off.
   
The slaves dried themselves, dressed, then bowed to him and left the way they had come with these items.is this necessary to tell us what they do? maybe just skip to the slave woman who collects him? Another slave came in, a woman this time, bearing a white loincloth. She bowed, holding out this to Badar, and then beckoned after he put it on.
   
Following her, he was led back into the atrium and toward the doorway that lay facing him in the direction he had entered, to the south. is this description necessary?He entered it when the door opened, as she bowed to him again before departing.
   
Inside was full of incense, smoky and thick with the scent. Facing the far wall a huge symbol of the sun rested on a pedestal. Two clerics, a man and woman, stood waiting. He knelt on the floor with a good distance from the pedestal. The two raised their heads upward.
   
“O lord of the dawn, this supplicant begs an answer to his question,” they intoned together then. “Grant him this boon, if he be worthy.” Badar closed his eyes, hands clasped together while he bent his head to the pedestal. He knew it would be a long time now.
   
They chanted and prayed for hours, stopping only to supply more incense when it burned out. He felt himself grow stiff kneeling there on the floor, with pain shooting through his legs and arms from holding the pose, the former then losing feeling. This, of course, was part of the ceremony.
   
At last, as the clerics' voices became hoarse, they drew to a close. Slaves entered then as Badar opened his eyes, removing the incense and putting down a straw pallet before the pedestal. He winced while they aided him in getting to his feet, his nerves slowly reawakening.
   
“Here you will stay until dawn,” the clerics rasped, and then departed with the slaves, who now closed the door after them. Badar was left in the dark alone. He sighed, sitting down on the pallet near to him. It would be a long night, he knew from past experience.
   
No wonder the monarchs and other people of wealth in Kenar sent envoys on their behalf to ask questions from the Seer, rather than endure this.it doesn’t sound like he really is enduring much. I wouldn’t call a beautiful temple with servants, a hot bath, clean clothes, and a quiet meditation, torture. Of course, they also feared attack from enemies on the way in some cases, but this discomfort surely was a factor as well.
   
His stomach soon began to ache with hunger. Badar had expected all this, but it was still hard to withstand. He lay down on the pallet, stretching his legs and massaging them, then his arms. The poor, who dealt with worse, might endure better, but lacked the wealth to provide the gift demanded.
   
With the hunger there came boredom. He stared out into darkness, trying to pass the time with thoughts about other things. One was supposed to pray in silence alone now, Badar knew, but he had enough of that already. Failing to had never affected the outcome before.
   
He could hear nothing from outside the chamber, but that too was intended. Badar lay on the pallet alone, sighing at the tedium occasionally. It grew maddening over time, so that he stood and paced the chamber, carefully staying clear of where Badar knew the pedestal was. there are several mentions of Badar doing this before, and the tedium of ritual. I think you can cut some of those.
   
Hours passed in agonizing slowness while he fidgeted, alternating in between sitting or pacing. The hunger gnawed against him all the time, until finally he grew weary enough to sleep. Sighing with relief, he lay down on the pallet and closed his eyes, changeless as the effect was.
   
He awoke when the door creaked open and light came into the room again, blinking while his eyes adjusted. The clerics were back, staring down at him solemnly with their hands folded. He rose and inclined his head again to them.
   
“You may now ask your question from the Seer,” they intoned. He nodded, suppressing the eagerness which came at the prospect. Finally, he would be out of here. His stomach growled, now aching again, but they ignored this, leading him from the chamber as he walked barefoot.
   
He was led by the clerics down a corridor which ran to the left, until at last they entered a larger chamber than either of the others Badar had been in. It was clouded with vapor far more thickly which spewed from an opening in the middle.
   
Beyond this, seated in a high white chair, sat a woman. Badar could not see her features clearly with the vapor obscuring his vision, but her gray hair was noticeable. Another pair of clerics stood on either side a good distance from her.
   
“Ask your question,” the Seer told him in a voice that was different from any other he had ever heard. She never moved, but stared intently at the hole from which the vapors arose.
   
“My royal mistress, Terina Ilredi, queen of Senaris, wishes to know the fortunes which shall befall her country in the coming years,” Badar told her, bowing his head as before. The queen knew a less specific question often garnered a vaguer answer, but he had no dire matters to face at present.this is a weak question for such a journey.
   
“I will consult with the god,” answered the Seer. Knowing he had been dismissed, Badar bowed again, this time from the waist, and retreated.then retreated with the clerics that had escorted him in.
   
He was led the clerics led himto another chamber now, and slaves there returned his clothing. After they dressed him, he was led from the temple by the pair of clerics. Now it would be a wait. Sometimes the answer was given soon, but often it came after a long period, or occasionally not at all. I think a lot of the above can be cut or condensed
   
He settled in with his delegation, who had made camp near the head of the path comfortably as was possible. Badar ate hungrily after returning, and was relieved now to sleep on a more comfortable pallet in his tent.
   
At least waiting then he could pass the time talking with the courtiers who accompanied him and playing games, though it was still wearying sometimes. Two days passed with no word from the time, nor even any sign of its residents, the doors kept firmly closed.
   
At last on the third day after noon had passed, seven clerics once more filed out of the temple. The woman in the lead bore a scroll, and Badar's heart leapt in delight, knowing it was the answer the Seer had delivered from Lenisar. He walked quickly to meet her.
   
“The answer you have requested,” she said, handing over the scroll. He bowed his head to her, and they departed. The scroll was sealed with golden wax, and he broke it quickly to read. He had been commanded, as usual, to send Terina word immediately once the answer was known.
   
He read quickly, eyes widening with alarm at the words on the scroll. It was a very brief reply, as they customarily received, but full of import. Badar stared at the words in a spidery hand after he had read them through, adsorbing what they said.
   
        A woman, hair of flame, shall overtake Senaris.
    Over it she shall be queen, her line kings and queens after.
   Great power shall be hers, and cast aside her foes.
   An enemy from the east she shall defeat.
 
“Send this,” he told the mage who had come with the delegation numbly. This was the worst reply they had ever received. The queen would be unhappy to say the least. Badar shook his head as the mage cast a spell, teleporting the scroll off to the queen in Senaris.
   
Perhaps he might not have to travel here again after this.

I think you have the start of an intriguing world, and only need to tighten your prose. Suggest Badar’s feelings through his mannerisms, without describing every single stage direction. Happy writing!

Offline mcc1789

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Re: Woman of Flame. Fantasy fiction. 2100 words.
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2019, 03:57:22 PM »
Thanks so much. Your feedback is definitely helpful. If you want to read more, then please let me know.