"...When Most I Play the Devil" (Updated 2/18/2019)

This is a non-Bionicle story I wrote awhile back, about some dudes who go on a mysterious quest and find out they didn't know as much as they thought they did. It's relatively long, so I'm gonna try putting it out in relatively short installments so it's not hard to keep up with. Let me know if this is too long or too short for one installment. Also let me notice any bad formatting, or, naturally, if you have anything to say about the story itself. :stuck_out_tongue:


Table of Contents:

Part One
...Chapter One: right here in this post
...Chapter Two
...Chapter Three
...Chapter Four
...Chapter Five

Part Two
...Chapter One
...Chapter Two
...Chapter Three

Part Three
...No chapters for you!


Part One: A Tale of Eberhard

Chapter One

Eberhard, a skilled young warrior garbed in leather armor, gripped a sword in his hand. In his dark eyes was a look of intense determination. Suddenly, he landed on his back, defeated.

“Excellent work, both of you,” said Tirem, the master of Eberhard and his opponent. He was of ambiguous stature and age; he stood tall and had no wrinkles on his face, but his weathered gray cloak and matching beard gave him the appearance of a wise sage. Turning to the other pupils, he added, “These two, Eberhard and Llwelyn, have provided the best example of the Tsaeb mode of combat I have seen in many Offerings.”

The master and his students were gathered in a small forest clearing. Winter was approaching, as evidenced by the bare trees and gray sky. Tirem and his students met there daily to practice the Tabocim, the defensive arts. Mastery of these abilities allowed them to ward off the myriad dangers that always loomed just beyond the mist.

“It should come as no surprise to anyone that they are to contend for the favor of Agomnan tomorrow. All of you are worthy to serve Agomnan; but only they have shown the fortitude to accomplish Agomnan’s uncertain challenge.

"I believe this has been enough for one day. I shall see you on the morrow, when the Offering shall take place, and we shall discover who will win the favor of Agomnan. May this land of Illeway fare well till then. Hwyl fawr.”


“Hwyl fawr” was the customary farewell of the people of Illeway, the Syrochii. Like many of their expressions, it came from the language of the Kelbyaji, a race of powerful, benevolent beings who had once ruled the known world. Their downfall came when one of their number, Atukam, became power-hungry and locked them in a special prison that would transfer their powers to him. He then had little difficulty turning Illeway and the surrounding lands into his empire, over which he wielded power of the most oppressive kind. So cruel was he that his subjects would refer to him only as “the Nameless One.”

Thankfully, Agomnan, the Spirit of Power, had arisen shortly thereafter, seemingly out of nowhere, rallying the people against Atukam and banishing him to Suratis, the underworld. In return for this great service, and so he could keep Atukam at bay, he demanded a day of Offering each month. On this day, the people of each settlement would gather, and led by Agomnan's appointed priests, each individual would surrender a piece of Minaru, a metallic gray metal that was abundant in Illeway's riverbeds. Its exact properties were unknown, though it was not difficult to sense, inexplicably, that it held some hidden, mysterious power within. Despite Agomnan's protection, however, the people lived in fear that one day Atukam might break loose, beginning a war of unimaginable devastation.


After being dismissed, Eberhard stopped for a drink from a nearby stream. As he raised his cupped hands to his mouth, he felt a soft kick in his side. Above him stood Llwelyn, a jovial grin on his face.

“You really ought to be more careful,” said Llwelyn. “You never know when someone might sneak up behind you . . . and they might not be as friendly as I.”

“They might not be? Well, then, perhaps I shouldn’t envy you for being the presumptive champion,” Eberhard replied, still a bit flustered. “Whatever task you are charged with, I’m sure it will involve a great deal of peril.”

“No doubt, Eberhard, no doubt. But don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re as able a warrior as I; fortune has been kind to me of late, nothing more. Who knows if it will still be with me tomorrow.”

“I’d not bet on it to change. Still, I’ll welcome it gladly if it defects.”

“Well, there’s little use for mere mortals to predict the future. But I grow weary as we speak. I bid you a good night, Eberhard. Hwyl fawr.”

“Hwyl fawr, Llwelyn.”

16 Likes

I feel detached from the main character quite a lot... It might just be the introduction.

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Yeah, the characters will definitely get more interesting in the next chapter. Perhaps I needed to make this installment longer. XD

Wait a second.

A U K
AKU


Interesting. Definitely quite a bit of exposition, but it's the beginning of the story, so that's alright. Still would have preferred the classic "make it vague" treatment on backstory until it becomes very relevant.

I'll be following this for sure.

7 Likes

Look closely at that word some more and you may notice something interesting. :wink:

I probably should have meted it out a bit more; though it would have been difficult to do without making it awkward. But don't worry, there's still plenty more you'll find out later. :stuck_out_tongue:

Aw tnx. I'd better get busy reading Emerald. XD

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HEY WAIT A SECOND. No. That shouldn't be allowed. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Atukam......
Makuta.....


But yeah, the story thus far seems interesting. Though the 'Chapter' does feel somewhat short. Nonetheless, I am interested to see more.

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Simply put: If it is not currently relevant or it won't be relevant soon- do not mention it... As Cronk said, stay vague as long as it does not hinder the story.

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@John_Smith This will be especially helpful. Chekhov is such a great guy. First working for Starfleet, and now helping us with story telling.

But yeah make sure this is used. If we're gonna have exposition it has to be relevant soon otherwise the reader will forget it.

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Well, I needed to explain what the Offering was all about, 'cause that's gonna be a thing soon. Maybe I should have changed some of that exposition into some sort of ritual words spoken before the Offering. But that might've ended up being clunky, IDK.

Checkov's gun has more to do with theater, though. A written work doesn't need to be as tightly focused as a play or movie. And at least some of that exposition will definitely be relevant soon. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Perhaps, but plays and serials are also alike. Just something to keep in mind.

(I might be biased though. I love theater and use some of the techniques in my writing.)

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Try using character's own thoughts for exposition, instead of awkward conversations - It works surprisingly well.... or spread a single subject across the whole thing to make the exposition easier to digest. Just some tips. BTW I agree with Cronk, Chekov is a great mind.

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As it just so happens, that's what happens in the next part. XD I'm gonna go ahead and post it so that first part doesn't seem so unfulfilling. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Chapter Two

Following his exchange with Llwelyn, Eberhard wandered through the forest to his home. As he walked, he contemplated the day's events. His defeat by Llwelyn did not bode well, regardless of Llwelyn’s own remarks and Tirem’s praise. He was sure his master was simply attempting to ease the pain of defeat. Tirem knew Eberhard’s life’s ambition was to be the greatest Syrochii warrior since the unknown time. Such a warrior would be certain to win the looming contest with ease. Eberhard had a long way to go before he would be the best warrior in Favauoc, let alone all of Ileway. He wondered if his dream was futile. Perhaps if he were stronger, or had better reflexes, he would have a chance someday. As things stood, his prospects were not promising. His nearly assured defeat in the next day’s fight would likely spell the end of his hopes. Presently, he came upon a small, withered pine tree growing amongst the roots of an ancient oak. Was he like the pine tree, he wondered? Destined to live in the shadow of greatness, but never achieve it himself?

As Eberhard approached his dwelling, fallen leaves crunching beneath his damp feet, he realized that his short hair and the robes he had changed into after the fight were doing little to insulate him from the late autumn cold. He at last reached his abode, a hut built around a tree, and started a fire. The hut was itself little more than a framework of tree limbs, but it sufficed for Eberhard's spartan needs.

As he sat by the fire, he slowly consumed his repast. His mind wandered to the source of his insecurities. He had no recollection of his parents, who had died the winter following his birth. His childhood was spent being passed from one home to the next. No one wanted a mouth to feed that wasn’t of their own flesh and blood, so the people of Favauoc had decided to take turns caring for him. This meant Eberhard had been raised by his entire village, and yet by no one at all, for he never spent enough time in one house to form familial bonds. Such was his lonely existence. Yet, throughout it all, his friend Llwelyn had been present to commiserate with him. Llwelyn was also an orphan, under the permanent care and tutelage of Tirem. He made sure Eberhard joined Tirem’s band of apprentices as soon as it was permissible. Together, they had studied the Tabocim to the point of mastery. Through the years, and the toil, they had, in a sense, become brothers. Eberhard even grew to see Tirem as a sort of paternal figure. Nonetheless, Eberhard’s lack of a typical family made him feel incomplete. It seemed as though a tiny voice from within constantly whispered doubt into his soul. It told him that, because he was incomplete, forever isolated from others, he could never achieve greatness. It tormented him night and day, refusing all of his efforts to silence it. Still, he persevered. Even if he had no chance of success, he refused to be deterred from making his best attempt.

He considered wandering into Favauoc to seek out some amusement to lift his gloomy mood. At last, he settled for practicing the Tsaeb fighting style on a nearby tree and getting a good night's rest before the Offering the next day. He failed to notice the comet that had appeared in the sky, directly above his house.


After bidding Eberhard farewell, Llwelyn wandered around the training grounds, pondering tomorrow’s fight. He’d tried to console Eberhard, in hopes of improving his spirits. He knew such efforts were futile, but he felt he owed it to his friend. He was certain Eberhard’s self-doubt was unfounded. His talents far exceeded those of the other apprentices. In truth, he was, in some ways, a better warrior than Llwelyn. Any passing wanderer could ascertain that with ease. Why couldn’t Eberhard himself see it?

As the light in the forest grew dim, Llwelyn wandered home to Tirem’s hut. The path wound through the twisted, deathly tyrgoryn trees, said to have been blighted by the power of Autukam. Eventually, the twisted mass gave way to large, healthy trees that marked the presence of a stream. It was a shallow one with long, rocky shores, which were littered with Minaru. Llwelyn collected the shiniest piece he could find and continued his journey home. He now felt fully prepared for whatever lay in wait beyond the coming dawn.

5 Likes

I like the second part better, however there are few things that concern me. Mainly, it's the word building. The names are very bland, generic even and they seem to bare no specific linguistic rules - I suggest looking into a SINGLE Language for the naming - using two or more might be risky also make sure that the names sound appealing. Now, don't get me wrong - the character names are okey, given the fact that most of them already exist but things like

All have different origin and are insanely hard to relate to.

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Looks good!

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I admit, I was quite haphazard with the names. This story is something of a hodgepodge of ideas and rewrites going back to about 2009, and the names reflect that--the earliest ones are just things I thought sounded cool, others are English words spelled backwards or made into anagrams, and the ones added for this version are Welsh. I fully intend to replace most of them if I ever publish this for realsies; I also have a (much shorter) movie script version which uses mostly Egyptian names. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks!

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I think that'd be a change for the better. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I like where the story's going, but I can't help but take issue with this general tendency of telling over showing with the narration, and just a lack of trust in what the audience is capable of inferring. It was a lot worse in the first chapter, with things like Eberhard's skill and his duel, or the general legend and how it's just kinda dumped on the audience. The latter really should've been simplified into more vague terms and used as a prologue.

The second chapter benefits from being less omniscient and letting us get into a single character, though there are still things like that rather blunt symbolism with the trees that you just kinda spelled out for us.

All in all, I still wanna see where this is going, but I hope to see more trust on your part on just what your readers of capable of picking up on. I'd also prefer more atmospheric environmental details, but that's a lot more subjective, and it's not a sin to stick to character thoughts instead.

Keep it up bro.

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I think you're onto something. In the script version I made, I was more careful about not dumping exposition out, and showing the skill of the warriors rather than explicitly stating it. Though I'm not really the biggest fan of prologues--they're usually not very dramatic. My preferred fix would probably be to expand the early part of the story and include scenes where the critical info comes out naturally in dialogue.

That's a good point. I think I put that in there because this section (these two chapters plus the next two or three) was originally done as a creative writing assignment, and I was required to use symbolism, so I made it as obvious as possible. XD I'll think about ways to improve that.

I'll definitely keep this in mind as I edit upcoming installments.

Interestingly, the friends I've shown this story to have said they felt very immersed in the environment. But maybe I can take that farther. XD

Will do!

1 Like