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The Legend of the Five: Rise of the Small


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#1 Osolis Mantis

Osolis Mantis

    One day we'll be nostalgic for disaster

  • Nova Member
  • 347 posts

Posted 25 May 2009 - 10:05 AM

Introduction – Ages
In every age, there are always Heroes, there are always Villains and there are always wars. Their feats and accomplishments are always recorded in the hopes that the world will learn from their successes, failures and mistakes, and the succeeding age never seems to do what their ancestors had hoped. Instead, they imitate them and history is doomed to forever repeat itself.
In every age, battles are fought, cities are conquered and people are killed. Heroes fight battles for the good of mankind, conquer cites for the safety of their people and kill for the freedom of their friends and family. Villains fight battles for their own selfish reasons, conquer cities for material gain and kill simply for the thrill of it. But the rest of the world fights battles because they must, conquers cities because that is their duty and kills to survive.
In every age, the Small are oppressed, controlled or simply ignored by historians. At first glance, the Small seem to simply be a reason for Heroes and Villains to fight, but when examined closely, every single one has a life, a purpose and a story. They are both saints and demons; kindness runs thin and revenge is abundant, but we all know what they feel.
Few are the Villains, fewer still are the Heroes, but many are the Small: this is but one of their stories of goodness, vengeance, hatred and love. This is a Tale of the Small.

Chapter One – The Village
It was still the dark hours of the morning and, other than his slightly trembling hands, Osolis stood completely still. He was in the forest, a few dozen feet from a quiet stream and just at the edge of a clearing, his bowstring pulled taut and an arrow nocked. A herd of deer stood calmly in the clearing, grazing quietly, completely unaware of Osolis. He slowly aimed the bow at the largest deer as carefully as he could, then let fly; the wooden arrow whistled through the air for a split second before it took the deer right through the eye. All the other deer looked up, frightened, then scattered; Osolis entered the clearing and unstrung his bow before replacing it in his quiver.
He was glad he’d killed the animal with one shot; he always hated wounding animals and having to finish them off, no matter how merciful it was. He pulled the arrow from the deer and wiped it clean on the grass, then replaced it in his quiver. He was pleased; this deer was abnormally large and would be able to feed the village for at least three days if no one gorged themselves (though, with a catch this big, he wasn’t sure he could count on that). He dropped to his knees in front of the deer and placed his hands upon its slowly cooling body, thanking the nymphs for giving him such a plentiful meal to bring back to the village and promising them that he would never take more than he needed, as was custom among his people. When he had finished, he slung the rather heavy deer over his shoulders and carried it back to the river, where he had set up a small campsite.
The first thing he did when he arrived was to wrap the deer in his quilt and tie it onto Maud, his solid black horse, just behind the saddle. He then checked his rations; he only had one strip of dried deer left, so he decided to save it until he was really hungry. He retrieved a carrot from his saddlebags and gave it to Maud, who munched on it happily, then stamped on the remaining cinders of his small fire, just in case there were a few embers hiding underneath the ashes. He walked to the slow, babbling brook, yawning quietly, and splashed water on his face, trying his best to wake himself up; he was still somewhat groggy. He’d only woken up an hour ago and had spent that whole hour waiting for the deer to return. He’d seen them two days before and followed them to this clearing before setting up camp; now, in just over an hour, it was over. The hunt was complete.
Little over a month ago, Osolis had turned seventeen – the Age of Independence - and become a man in the eyes of his fellow villagers. He was now eligible for marriage, could hunt on his own and had a true voice in the village council, whenever a meeting was held. Certainly, the responsibility had multiplied greatly, but he didn’t mind; for this newfound freedom, it was a price he was very much willing to pay. This was Osolis’ third hunt and he was eager to return to the village and present his lucky catch to the villagers; some men went a whole lifetime without a catch like this and, spirits be blessed, he’d had three in his first month of manhood.
Osolis had passed through the awkward stages of adolescence faster than any of the other boys (to their great annoyance) and he had to admit, he very much liked the way he looked. He was taller and thinner than any of the other men in the village, but was still muscular; he was finely toned and had once caught some of the women of the village watching him bathe in the river. He had long, messy black hair that fell to his shoulders and vibrant green eyes quite unlike his father’s. He assumed that his odd qualities had been inherited from his mother, who he had never known; his father told him that she had fled the village three nights after he was born without a reason or even a word of goodbye. Osolis didn’t much mind, though; he’d never known what it was like to actually have a mother, so he didn’t exactly know what he was missing out on.
The jingling of a bell made him jump. About five feet away from where he knelt, he’d stuck his fishing rod between two rocks and attached a bell to it so he wouldn’t have to sit by the river and waste extra time waiting for a fish to bite. In retrospect, it wasn’t that good of an idea; had a fish caught the line while he’d been waiting for the deer, it could have taken even longer to get the deer. He grabbed the rod and pulled as hard as he could, yanking the fish out of the water; it was nearly as long as his entire arm. His lucky streak continued, and Osolis couldn’t help grinning. He dropped the fish onto a nearby rock with some difficulty, where it flopped angrily, and smashed it hard in the head with the butt end of the fishing rod, killing it instantly. He pulled the hook out of the now-still fish’s mouth and wrapped the line around his fishing rod, then grabbed a large square of dried deer skin from his saddlebags and wrapped the fish in it. Satisfied with his work, he returned to Maud, secured the fish in the deer skin with a thin string and placed the fish in a saddlebag. He stretched, yawning again, and looked around the small camp, quickly, to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything. His flint and steel sat on a rock near to the fire, and so he grabbed it and shoved it into a belt pouch before throwing Maud’s reins over the horse’s head and leading him off, into the forest.
Osolis walked through the shady forest coolly, knowing exactly where to go; that camp was his home away from home, and he knew every possible route back to the village from it. Fortunately, no one but him and his father knew that it existed, so, as long as he kept his trails hidden, no others could follow him to it and scare all of the game away. Had it been any other spot, Osolis wouldn’t have minded hunting with company - in fact, he would have welcomed a friend or two. But whenever other people neared his camp, it seemed as though the game sensed their presence and fled, and he usually had to wait at least two days before they returned. On his first hunt, he’d built a large fire to celebrate his coming into manhood; a stupidly large fire, to be frank. Someone from a town upriver had been sent to check it out and, luckily, Osolis had heard the sentry coming before he had arrived. Osolis had quickly doused the flames, moved his bedroll deeper into the shadows and had waited there until the man had passed.
Osolis exited the thickest part of the forest just as the sun rose and was glad for it; though his clothes and breastplate were thick, he was still rather cold and eagerly welcomed the sun’s warming rays. He stopped for a moment in a shard of light to warm himself up, then continued on; within ten minutes, he had reached the top of the hill that cast shade into the village during the early hours of the morning. He was eager for the night, when he would receive another swordsmanship lesson from Jason Miller; as his name suggested, he was the miller. In Osolis’ village, the art of the sword was symbolic of the Age of Independence; it was the one thing he disliked about the village, but it didn’t bother him all that much. He loved his swordsmanship lessons, though he was still rather clumsy with a blade; Jason told him that he would soon get the hang of it. He stopped for a moment to appreciate the small piece of heaven in which he lived; the sun was directly behind him, now, framing him in brilliant sunlight.
Had this been an Imperial town, he doubted that anyone would be awake other than the guards and the slaves; fortunately, this was no stone outpost. The small village was already bustling with activity; from where he was, Osolis could see that the children were already playing in the stream, as cold as it was. The village lay nestled in the trees, just on the edge of a large cliff; at the bottom of the cliff lay an Imperial Outpost and village that was, for the moment, unaware of the village’s location. Osolis prayed to the spirits that it stayed that way, because neither he nor any of the other members of the village could ever be citizens of the Empire.
To the far right of the village, about twenty feet away from the cliff and hidden by trees was a long, two story log building: the tavern. It wasn’t really a tavern, as, according to custom, no one in the village drank alcohol of any kind (believing it to be an extreme insult to the nymphs and as horrid as drinking human blood) but it was called a tavern nevertheless. It was more of a gathering place than anything, and all of the meetings and meals were held in the tavern. The kitchen in the tavern was run by Damien, an old man who claimed to have been a chef for the Imperials, once. Just south of the tavern was the forge, a thin two story building which was run by Theodore Hammerfall, the tannery, which was run by Maeve Tanner and the crop field which was tended by Bree Farmer. To the right of the crop field, just near the edge of the cliff, was a tall, hollow tree called the Tower. It had been hollowed by Osolis’ great-grandfather, grandfather and father, whom were all wood druids: people who were so in tune with the nymphs’ magic that they could channel it through themselves to shape and change wood. Inside the Tower were thick wooden steps that led to an even thicker plateau inside the tree; around the plateau, a large window-like hole had been opened in the wood that faced out towards the cliff. The village’s armour and weapons were stored at the base of the Tower so the Tower’s Sentry could come down and pass them out while raising the alarm. Typically the people below the Age of Independence manned the Tower, as they could not yet help their parents or hunt. To the west, on the river’s bank and just far enough so that people couldn’t see you from the village was an incredibly thick tree with reddish bark; it marked the bathing and swimming area. Upriver from the tree was a small water wheel and three large fishing nets, which were the responsibility of Josephine Miller. Right at the base of the hill, towards the stream, were the stables which were also taken care of by those under the Age of Independence. Just to the left of the tavern was Osolis’ house, where he lived with his father, Arthur Woodcraft. It was a two story building with an extremely wide first story in which his father did business.
For some reason, Osolis had never inherited his father’s druidic powers, and no one could explain why; his father said that he didn’t mind, though, because his son was the best new hunter the village had seen for a full decade.
“Osolis!” came a cry from the village, and he saw that one of the children was pointing at him from the stream. Osolis smiled and guessed that it was young Benjamin; it certainly sounded like him. “He’s back, everyone!”
Osolis headed down the hill slowly, giving the children time to reach him from the village; when they did, he had lead Maud into his stall at the stables and was retrieving his equipment from the loyal horse. He heaved the deer onto his shoulder and turned around, smiling.
“I hope that you kids finished your chores before swimming,” he said as he snatched his fish from the saddlebags, one arm supporting the deer. “Would one of you like to carry this fish to the tavern for me?”
Every child started to leap up and down, asking him to give the fish to them, so Osolis just grinned and tossed it into the air; a small, freckled girl named Emma caught it and almost fell right over, smiling from ear to ear. Osolis laughed and walked off towards the tavern, a cloud of small children dogging his steps.
Osolis wasn’t like the other teens in the village; none of them seemed to have time for the little ones, but Osolis always found a way to amuse the children. He had great people skills, as proved by every villager that merrily waved hello to him on his way to the tavern.
Two children pushed the doors open when he reached the tavern, as his hands were full, and he smiled at old Damien, who was upstairs, chopping fish up and dropping them into a stew.
“Got another big ‘un, did you, Osolis?” Damien asked thickly as he slammed the cleaver into another fish with force enough to make the fish’s head go flying off to the side. Damien didn’t look it, but, as old as he was, he was still built like an ox and just as strong.
“Yeah,” Osolis replied, and headed up the stairs, followed only by Emma; the young ones weren’t usually allowed into the kitchen.
“You’ve got some sort ‘o good fortune, lad; the nymphs must like you. Here, drop the beast right here, next to Edward’s latest kill. He brought it in about an hour ago and he was pretty proud of it, but it’s still nothing compared to what you’ve brought back,” Damien replied with a mostly toothless grin. Osolis did as he was told, dropping the deer heavily on a wooden table next to another deer; a significantly smaller deer, he couldn’t help noticing with a smile. He pulled the quilt off of the deer and rolled it up, then put it under one arm.
“What’s happened since I left?” Osolis asked, taking the fish from Emma and shooing her downstairs with a grin.
“We had a meetin’ last night,” Damien said as Osolis slapped the fish down next to him, “but it weren’t nothin’ to worry about; all we really talked about was what we’d do if you didn’t come back with such a big catch, this time, but I said, ‘He’s a natural, that Osolis; he’ll do it again. I been around fer a long time, and I ain’t never seen no one catch nothin’ half that big on their first hunt.’”
“Thanks, Damien; I hope you’re right. I’d hate to let the village down,” Osolis replied and leaned on the railing next to Damien’s cutting table. Damien let out a laugh that made Osolis think of a man who’d been chewing tobacco leaves (something else that was forbidden in his culture).
“You’re always thinkin’ about the village, you are, but you’re never thinkin’ about what these great hunts’ll do fer you! You’ll be a legend for decades, here! They’ll call yeh ‘Osolis the Hunter’ or something fancy soundin’ like that.”
Osolis laughed quietly and shook his hair out of his eyes.
“That might be nice, one day, but, for now, I think I’d rather just be ‘Osolis, son of Arthur Woodcraft,’ thanks. I don’t need that sort of thing, yet; I think it’d go to my head.” He pushed himself off of the railing, straightening his dark leather breastplate and his deerskin tunic which was dyed crimson. It had taken him a week and a half to dye it, and he was very proud of it. “I should probably go to see my Da, then wash up, so I’ll see you again at dinner. May the spirits of the wood watch over you.”
“An’ yourself, as well, though it doesn’t look like that’ll be much of problem, now, does it?”
Osolis smiled again as Damien laughed his hoarse laugh and headed back down the stairs and out of the building, the swarm of children still following. He left the tavern and headed to his house, passing a group of girls clustered around the tavern’s side entrance; he smiled and waved, and they giggled and turned away. He shrugged, turned to the children and dropped to one knee so that he was level with them.
“Listen, I’ve got to go and talk to my Da, but I’ll be back out in a few minutes, alright?”
There was a medley of, “Okay, Osolis” from the children, then they scampered off towards the stream, laughing. Osolis got up, dusted off his dark breeches, stretched his arms and back and went home. He went upstairs, to his room, and placed his belt, quiver and breastplate on his animal pelt-covered bed, then removed his gauntlets and set them at the foot of his bed.
“Osolis, are you back?” his father called from downstairs.
“Yes, Da!” Osolis replied. He grabbed a rabbit fur towel and a wooden comb from one of the shelves that his father had grown out of his wall and headed downstairs. “I brought back another big deer, Da; a large fish, too.”
“That’s my son!” his father chuckled just as Osolis reached the first floor. Arthur was about three inches shorter than Osolis with wild brown hair and a large bald patch on top of his head. He wasn’t looking at Osolis; instead, he was caressing a huge piece of smooth wood that was changing shape bit by bit. “You’re going to the river, I assume? Have you already stopped at the tavern?”
“Yes, Da, I just did… Damien’s making fish soup,” Osolis replied, walking towards the door. “I hope he adds something for flavour, this time; his last fish soup was kind of bland.”
Osolis pushed open the door, said goodbye to his father and walked out past the big, reddish tree and the children to a very wide, chest-deep pool that was far enough into the forest so the children wouldn’t bother the bathers. The pool had a fissure in the bottom; the fissure went deep enough into the earth to reach the warm currents beneath the surface and it heated the pool pleasantly. Everyone believed that the pool was blessed by the spirits, not only because of its convenient warmth but also because it seemed to be able to wash away weariness.
Osolis took his tunic, breeches and boots off and slid slowly into the pool, relishing in its delightful warmth. Many people were sore when they returned from a hunt and used the pool to soothe their aches; Osolis always returned from a hunt as energetic as he had been when he left and he was always ready to head out into the wilderness again, though that wasn’t to say that he didn’t enjoy a bit of time spent relaxing. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the outside of the pool, spreading his arms and legs.
He heard movement in the trees directly in front of him; his eyes flashed open and he did a quick visual sweep of the woods surrounding him. Osolis doubted that anything dangerous was nearby, but years of living in the forest told him that he shouldn’t take anything at face value. He reached slowly for the dagger sheathed in his left boot, his eyes still darting around… and a flurry of giggles came from where he’d heard the rustling in the first place. He sighed and dropped his arm back onto the pool’s side, closing his eyes again; it was just some of the teenage girls from the village. Nothing to worry about.
After a few minutes in the pool, he climbed out and dried off, then redressed – the whole time, he was felt certain that the girls were watching him. He felt naked without his quiver and breastplate, so he returned home and put them on before going to the Tower and relieving Elior Farmer from watch duty. Eli was less than a year younger than Osolis, and his birthday was coming up soon; Osolis hoped that, when he reached the Age of Independence, they would be able to go on a hunt together. Osolis valued Eli’s company; he was quiet, mature and dedicated to the village… in fact, he reminded Osolis of himself.
Osolis didn’t leave the Tower all day, but he did get quite a few visitors: Joanne and Beatrice Farmer, the crop tender’s daughters (whom he suspected of being some of the girls that had been watching him bathe earlier, if their behaviour was any indication); Alexander Miller, the miller’s son… everyone came by to see Osolis, even if only for a few minutes. Everyone but the Tanner Twins, Edward and Albert.
Edward and Albert Tanner had always disliked Osolis, for some reason; Osolis didn’t think anyone had ever asked, and he doubted anyone ever would. At first, Osolis had tried to be understanding, but the twins had made it obvious that they wanted nothing to do with him, so he just tried his best to ignore them and their antics. He sighed; he was sure that they would consider his deer an insult of some kind. Honestly, Osolis didn’t have much of a problem with that; though he felt kind of bad about it, twins unnerved him greatly.
Finally, when the sun began to set once more, Osolis left the Tower; the miller’s second son, Cethin, came to relieve him of his post. Ceth had always volunteered for the night watch, ever since he was young and, as a result, had practically become nocturnal. Most of the other villagers found Ceth strange and considered him someone to be avoided; Osolis, on the other hand, found him fascinating.
Osolis went to the tavern and sat down next to his father at the huge, round table that was in the centre of the hall. There was a hole in the center of the table in which a fire was lit; above it, a hole was cut in the roof for the smoke to escape. Practically everyone greeted Osolis enthusiastically, and a wide bowl of fish soup slid towards him; he caught it and smelled it enthusiastically.
“It smells great, Damien!” Osolis called over the din of the villagers with a grin. “Did you add herbs?”
Damien laughed and nodded, indicating that Osolis should try it. Osolis took a sip, and, finding that he quite enjoyed it, finished the meal quietly. When everyone had finished, Damien stood up and everyone quieted down instantly. Everyone respected Damien greatly; even though he’d only been a chef for the Imperials, he’d been around for quite a while and had even helped to found the village.
“First; before anythin’ else; I’d like to welcome Osolis back from his hunt; another bloody huge deer!” he cried, and everyone but the Tanner Twins cheered enthusiastically. “Right, then, quiet yourselves down, it ain’t all happy. I’ve got a bit o’ bad news, sadly… Eli, why don’t you tell ‘em.”
“Well,” Eli said softly as Damien sat back down, “this morning, on my watch, I saw three Imperials – one with a spyglass – staring up towards the Tower. Now, it could very well be nothing, but… just in case the Imperials suspect that the village is here, we should all be much more cautious.”
“What do you propose?” Arthur asked, and, had it not been for the sombre news, Osolis would have grinned; Eli needed his confidence boosted and this was a great opportunity for that.
“Uhm… well, I think that we shouldn’t light fires during the day, or… or be too loud. I also think that some of us should go out, tonight, and light a campfire farther down the cliff, to mislead the Imperials. We have to keep the Imperials guessing about our… our location. I, for one, would rather not be caught and prosecuted by the Empire.”
Osolis was proud; he’d taught Eli how to read and, obviously, it had paid off. Not many other villagers had ever used the word ‘prosecuted’.
After Eli’s announcement, everyone headed home. There was practically no sound as the villagers marched home and Osolis’ thrill at having returned to the village was subdued; he knew exactly what would happen if the Empire got a hold of them. They believed in the nymphs and the spirits, very much unlike the Imperials… in fact, it was considered treason to believe in the Druidic religion. It was also considered treason – and tax evasion, for that matter – to live in an Independent Village. If they were found, every single villager, young and old, would face life in prison… or, more likely, the death penalty.

Chapter Two – Summer Rain
Eli had been right. Osolis and his home-made spyglass took the next three days’ watches, staring intently at the Outpost. The Imperials went about their day as usual, but, every time one of them had a break, they would look up at the Tower; or, at least, Osolis assumed they were looking at the Tower. They could have simply been looking at a flock of birds out of season, for all he knew, but he wasn’t about to take that risk. An odd seriousness had come over the village, and, for the first time, Osolis wondered whether they would have to pack up and leave, moving further from the cliff and from the Imperials. If it came to that, the children would be devastated; the village would be all they’d ever known, and to be forced to leave it… Osolis shook his head, praying to the spirits that they would all be safe from that.
For the most part, the Imperials knew that they existed, at least; of that they were sure. Still, after about a hundred and fifty years, even those thick skulled Imperials were bound to figure things out… Osolis wondered why his ancestors had decided that it would be a good idea to build their homes right near an Imperial Outpost. Perhaps the Outpost hadn’t been there? Or, perhaps, the Empire hadn’t risen to power, yet? Osolis didn’t know, so he didn’t spend any more time thinking about it; he would ask Damien later, if he remembered to.
Even though he felt he should stay with the village, he was scheduled to go to the nearby town of Villean to ask around about what was happening in the Empire and, if possible, what the Imperials at the local outpost were up to. Every villager past the Age of Independence was sent to the town at least once in their lifetime, as the same person going to the town repeatedly would probably arouse suspicion; Osolis was to leave for the town at dawn. He sighed; he’d only been to there once, and he’d hated the town (though, secretly, he’d kind of enjoyed the experience). The Imperial soldiers were pushy, rude and controlling; Osolis was sure they were abusing their power, though he didn’t know the Imperials’ laws.
There were seven soldiers stationed in Villean Outpost, and only one of them was even a decent human being. Their leader, Caius, was a large, angry man who drank all the time; he was most definitely not an honourable man. Nor were Marcus and Victor, two tall, thin men that Osolis suspected were slightly insane; they laughed at what seemed to be nothing and were extremely violent. Osolis had never bothered to learn the names of the other three, but he’d made sure to learn as much as he could about the one decent member of the Outpost.
His name was Alde; Osolis had never heard his family name. He was four or five inches shorter than Osolis but only slightly less muscular, and Osolis would be willing to bet that Alde could hold his own against most of the villagers. Osolis had once seen Alde stop one of the other soldiers from harassing an old woman, and that had shown Osolis that Alde was not nearly as heartless or cruel as the others; in other words, he was the only way Osolis could find out what the Imperials were up to.
So, at dawn the next day, Osolis set off again; this time without his faithful horse; and spent the better part of the day simply working his way up through the forest. Had he emerged near the town, the Imperials would have instantly known that something was up, so, whenever someone was sent to the town, they had to go north until they reached a man-made trail; that was where they were to emerge, so they would simply seem to be weary travelers.
When Osolis arrived in town, he immediately headed for the tavern. Though he knew he would be disgusted by the amount of alcoholics inside, it was common knowledge that, not only would it be a good place to gain information, but that alcohol loosened even the most silent man’s lips. Still, the second he pushed the door open, the overwhelming stench of bile entered his nostrils, making him gag, and for a split second he entertained thoughts of simply returning home, but they were dismissed as quickly as they had come. The tavern was stiflingly warm, and he was glad he hadn’t worn his traveling cloak; he’d brought it, though, just in case.
“What’ll yeh have?” asked the gruff barman as Osolis sat down next to a group of rowdy drunks and set his small traveling bag down next to him.
“I’d like some water, please,” Osolis replied loudly, making himself heard over the drunks. “And information, if you’ve got it. I’ve been on the road for the past few months and haven’t really been paying attention to the world; could you tell me what’s been going on?”
The bartender nodded, grabbing a mug and pitcher of water from the shelf behind him and pouring a glass of water.
“Well, th’ Empire itself is keepin’ quiet; nothin’ big, really. Same as usual,” the bartender said, sliding the mug to Osolis. “’Ere in town, though, s’another story. Them soldiers’ve been all fidgety lately, s’though they’re waitin’ fer somethin’… I don’ much like it. Makes me think o’ Werewolves, fer some reason; prob’ly ‘cause ‘o that one time…”
The bartender droned on but Osolis wasn’t really listening. The Imperials were waiting for something. Something involving the village? Was it reinforcements? Better equipment? Granted, this could have nothing to do with the village. Osolis could be simply being paranoid. But, still, he had to be paranoid; this was the safety of the village he was investigating. Osolis spent most of the bartender’s story formulating a rough plan in his head, occasionally nodding and looking grave.
When the bartender had finished his story, Osolis agreed with everything he said, then slapped three bronze coins on the counter and left, heading purposefully for the Outpost. He pulled his long, dark brown traveling cloak out from his bag and pulled it on, making sure to flip the hood up; partly because the sun had disappeared and, in its place, large, dark rain clouds were looming above him, and partly because the hood would help to obscure his face in case any villagers decided to take special note of him. People were all heading into their houses, but Osolis didn’t mind standing out; in fact, that was part of his plan, tonight, though he didn’t want anyone to remember his face. The wind kicked up, so Osolis pulled his cloak closer to him and bowed his head. When he reached the large, stone, wall-like Outpost, he knocked on the wooden door, just as the wind began to howl loudly and the rain began to fall lightly. Osolis always loved summer rains, but now was not the time to admire the nymphs’ handiwork.
“May I come in?” Osolis cried over the wind as the door opened. “I may be of assistance to the Empire.”
The man who opened the door; Victor, one of the two psychopathic soldiers; nodded, and Osolis entered the unnatural building. His distaste must have shown on his face, because Victor said, “Yes, terrible whether, isn’t it?” In truth, Osolis disagreed, but he nodded anyways to appease the monster that stood before him.
Victor showed him to a mess hall and left him there, going to fetch his commander. When the pair entered, Osolis felt all of his muscles tense; he was ready to spring into action, if need be.
“’Lo,” the man said, extending a pudgy, armoured hand. Osolis took it and shook it, waves of revulsion wracking his body. Though he knew it was rude, Osolis kept his hood up. “I’m Sergeant Caius Horatius, and you are…?”
“Tristan Driscoll,” Osolis lied without missing a beat, using his pre-made Imperial name and changing his voice from his normal, smooth voice to a deep, rough one. “I ‘ear yeh’ve got a problem with a Village full o’ independent folk near ‘ere. I could ‘elp you… remove that problem, for a fee. I’m what ye’d call an expert.”
The two soldiers laughed and, for a panicked second, Osolis thought that the men had seen through his lie.
“Well, Mr. Driscoll, you won’t need to worry about that Independent Village; in fact, it’s probably been wiped off the map, by now,” the commander said coldly and Osolis smiled inside; the man was just talking big, rejecting help because he thought it would make him look weak. “I requested a battalion of slaves about a week back. They got to the village this morning and torched it to the ground; in fact, they’re here right now. There are only three humans in the whole platoon, and they run it; the rest are goblin slaves. Dirty little pukes, they are. Some of them are still in the forest, searching for survivors.”
Osolis forced himself to laugh, but it was a fake, hollow laugh; he felt as though his insides had disappeared.
“Look, sir; you can see some of the smoke, even in the rain!” said Victor, grinning in a disturbed kind of way. The fat commander leaped to his feet and ran to the window eagerly, obviously having some sick fantasy about burning villagers, but Osolis knew that he wouldn’t see much. The village had protocols for this sort of thing; they had designated escape routes and plans upon plans. They would head to the Tower to get their equipment, then hold their ground, there; the tree was already fire-resistant, but in the rain, it would be impossible to get it to light. The smoke must have been from the houses… Osolis’ face fell. He looked out the window, over the fat man’s head, and barely saw a tendril of smoke; he took that as good sign. He walked to the window, still watching the village, and wondered whether he should kill these two monsters right now. He decided against it, though it took some deliberation; he’d do that later, if he got the chance.
The summer storm had gotten worse; the wind tore at everything outside and the rain was coming down in a torrent. Suddenly, a lightning bolt propelled itself down from the heavens and struck someplace near the village… upon closer inspection, Osolis realized with horror that it had struck the Tower itself. Everything seemed to be in slow motion as the mighty Tower leaned out over the cliff, fell and landed on its side with a thunderous crash, smashing into a million splinters upon impact; Osolis pulled out his spyglass and saw a few goblins up on the cliff with hatchets and axes in their hands, and they turned to the nearby trees. They must have been cutting down the Tower, Osolis realized, and he felt as though his intestines had finally returned, but had also been filled with lead in their absence.
A few moments after the Tower’s fall, at least four other tall trees followed it down the cliff, crashing down around it and obscuring the Tower’s shattered remains; once again, it must have been the goblins.
Osolis didn’t bother keeping up appearances; he just walked to the door, kicked it open and left the Outpost, fighting against the wind to get to the Tower’s broken remains. He didn’t look back, he just ran as fast as he could until he got to the Tower’s crash site.
“Is anyone here?” he cried over the wind, climbing over a thick branch from one of the other trees, his travelling cloak whipping behind him. “Please, someone speak!”
He was certain that the Imperials would follow him; he’d made it quite clear that he was not, in fact, Tristan Driscoll and was, instead, a villager. Still, he didn’t care – he absolutely had to find someone, anyone. He forced his way through the trunk’s remains, praying to the Morrigan herself for the villagers to be safe.
“…O-Osolis?” moaned someone far to his left, followed by a wet-sounding coughing fit. Osolis couldn’t tell who it was; the voice sounded familiar, but oddly different, somehow. “I-Is that you, O-Osolis? I’m h-here…”
The man started to cough, again, so Osolis used that as a compass, pushing desperately through the thick, leafy branches with reckless abandon until he reached the speaker. Osolis wondered who it was; it sounded a bit like his father. The going got tougher and the branches got thicker, but, when the coughing was practically at his feet, Osolis kneeled and pushed aside a pair of thick branches obscuring the speaker.
It wasn’t his father. It wasn’t even Damien.
It was Eli.
Eli had a thin branch right through his stomach, and Osolis winced; no one could save him, now. Eli was as good as dead. As Osolis took his hand, Eli smiled weakly and a thin stream of blood ran from his mouth.
“H-Hey, Osolis… y-your dad had s-something for me to g-give to you… b-but when we got a-attacked, I t-tossed it into the… into the crops, near the h-house. I didn’t want the Imp-Imperials to get it. I… I ho-hope you’re not mad at me…”
“No, no, Eli, of course not,” Osolis replied as quietly as the wind would allow, tears welling up in his eyes.
“I-I’m dying, aren’t… aren’t I?” Eli asked calmly.
“Yes, Eli… yes, you are. I’m… sorry. I’ll make sure you’re… Sent properly,” Osolis replied. Osolis had never performed a Sending, before; a Sending was a ritual to ensure that the spirits of the dead rejoined nature safely. He’d only ever seen it done once, when Eli’s father had been gored by a stag, and he’d been much too young to participate.
“Will I s-see… my d-dad, again?” Eli asked, hope blazing in his wounded eyes.
“Yeah, Eli, you will. Just… just close your eyes and… let go. I’ll guide you, I promise.”
“Hey, Osolis… when you die, can you and I still go on a hunt, together?”
“Of course, Eli,” Osolis replied, and the tears were flowing freely, now. “Of course.”
“Then I’ll… m-meet you there… wherever th-there is.”
Eli’s breathing slowed, then, ever so softly, ceased… and he died.
Though he didn’t know how, Osolis would have attempted a Sending, had it not been for the Imperials. They crashed through the branches angrily, swords drawn.
“Well, Mr. Driscoll – if that is your real name – I guess we know why you wanted to ‘help’ with the village, now. I have to admit, I underestimated you; I always thought the Independent Villages were full of idiots, but apparently not,” the captain said as Victor approached Osolis with a pair of irons. “Well, we’ll see how clever you are when we lock you in solitary confinement for the rest of your bloody life.”
Osolis didn’t move until the last second; when Victor was in striking range, Osolis spun and stood, his powerful uppercut driving hard into Victor’s chin and sending him staggering. He followed it with a solid side kick to the chest, which drove Victor into his captain and sent them both sprawling. Osolis was sure that there were other Imperials here, waiting, but Osolis did not plan on being captured, today. The second he exited the fallen trees, he found he was right; Marcus stood nearby, ready to tackle Osolis. Osolis leaped into the air and slammed both feet into the Imperial’s chest, knocking the wind out of him and slamming them both to the ground. Osolis got up quickly and kept running until he reached the cliff, then started scaling it as quickly as possible; having lived in a forest all of his life, Osolis was an extremely skilled climber. Within mere minutes, he was out of the Imperials’ reach, so he stopped about halfway up the rock face to wipe the still-flowing tears from his eyes.
All of the villagers were dead, every last one of them. If he’d been there, he probably would have been able to save them… it was his fault. It was all his fault. He should have left later and helped to defend the village. The children who always greeted him with such vigour would never reach the Age of Independence, would never go on their first hunt, would never learn the art that was swordsmanship, would never fall in love… and Osolis realised that, though it was his fault, it wasn’t just his fault. There were seven men (“Six,” he corrected himself in his head, leaving out Alde ‘Z’) whose guilt equalled his own, and they were all going to die at his hand: the Imperials would pay. He would make them pay, with his bare hands if necessary... but, first, he would find out what it was that his father had left for him.
As he climbed, the thought occurred to Osolis that you never knew when you were going to lose someone, anyone, and you never would. You would always regret that you didn’t realise that it was your last day with someone and you would always regret not doing things differently, but the honest truth was that you could never really know when someone was going to leave you forever and you would never get over the feeling that you could have saved them. He stopped climbing, for a moment: Osolis briefly entertained thoughts of simply tossing himself from the cliff and dying next to everything that had ever mattered to him. It seemed fitting, in a dark way, that the whole village should die together, as they had lived: as one. As family. Before he could act on this fleeting notion of giving himself up to the spirits, though, the faces of the villagers flashed through his mind; not as dying, screaming, crying, but instead as they’d been mere nights before, at the last village meeting. The faces bolstered his resolve; he began climbing again, determined to bring justice to those who had wronged his family.
Less than a half-hour later, Osolis had scaled the rock face, searched the crops and had found his father’s final message. It didn’t look like anything overly wonderful; it was a thick piece of deer hide wrapped around the hilt of his father’s sword. The sword wasn’t special in any way; it was just a simple iron bastard sword in a battered old scabbard. The parchment, on the other hand, was something very special.

Osolis, it said, by the time you read this, I will be dead. Do not mourn for me, for I am now one with the world and with the trees that I so love; I will live on in them. I am not yet sure how my death will come to pass, but you will not receive this letter until it has happened for certain. You shall not receive it during any sickness or injury; until I have passed, the letter will remain in my possession.
That being said, Osolis, I would request that, after reading this letter, you burn it.
No matter the circumstances of my death, the safest and most important thing you can do right now is to head through the Springwood to Ninuramir, the city of the Elves. I daresay you’ve heard rumours about it, and I daresay half of them are lies. But, still, you must go there to see if any of your family still exists. You are a half-elf, Osolis; your mother came to the village in the dead of night and stayed with us for three years. At the end of those three years, you were born; like I told you, three nights afterwards, she left. I don’t know why and I don’t know where; those are things you’ll have to find out for yourself, son. Your mother’s name was Celia Ter’Ondera, which makes you Osolis Ter’Ondera. Make sure you remember that, son.
One important thing you should ask about when you arrive in Ninuramir is what your name means; your mother never told me, but she insisted that you be named ‘Osolis’. There isn’t much else to say, other than this: I love you, son. You have great things ahead of you.
-Arthur Woodcraft


Osolis’ tears and raindrops spattered the deer hide page and Osolis sobbed softly.


It was the middle of the night when Osolis struck. He had returned to the Outpost without being detected just as the rain had stopped and he had used the rooftops to infiltrate the Outpost’s short tower. Luckily, there was only one sentry on duty, so Osolis simply crouched and walked slowly towards him, knife out. When he reached the sentry, he stood, covered the man’s mouth and put the knife to his neck.
“Cooperate and you don’t die,” Osolis said coldly and removed his hand from the sentry’s mouth slowly.
“Please, please, please don’t kill me… I have a wife and child…”
It was Alde.
“Like I said: cooperate and you don’t die. And keep your voice down. You’re a good man and I don’t want to have to slit your throat.”
“Alright, whatever you say. Just don’t kill me, please…”
“Are the goblin slaves still here, or have they moved on?”
“They’ve… they’ve left. The captain sent them out of here after they killed one of their masters. A few hours ago, the other two masters came back; apparently the goblins' shaman turned on them and the goblins got away.”
“Good. How many Imperials are inside right now?”
“Aren’t you an Imperial citizen? Or… are you from that village?” Osolis pressed the flat of the blade to Alde’s throat. “Alright, alright, I’m sorry, please! They’re all here, but they’re probably drunk – celebrating your village’s end.”
Osolis snarled.
“Alright… that’s six drunken fools, then. Thanks, Alde. You get to live, tonight. You are going to go to sleep, now. You will wake up tomorrow morning in a civilian’s house. They will have found you on your back, unconscious in the street and therefore incapable of the murder here, tonight. When you wake up, you will be the captain of this Outpost. I expect you to run it better than that fat pig that runs it now. If you don’t…” he pressed the flat of the blade against his throat again “…understand?”
“Yes… thank -” Osolis cut him off with a solid strike with the knife hilt to the top of his head, knocking him unconscious immediately. Osolis dropped Alde lightly over the side, where he landed on his back, then slipped his knife back into its sheath at his waist. He then dropped to his hands and knees to search the roof for a trapdoor; when he found it, he yanked it open and slipped inside. He drew his bow and strung it expertly, then nocked an arrow and headed slowly down the hall. He heard loud voices – presumably from the room he’d been in earlier that day – so he followed them until he could hear distinct words from behind a wooden door that had been left ajar.
“Ar, I’ve got ter go take a leak,” said one of them, slurring his words. “I’ll be back in a few…”
The door opened completely and a stumbling drunk walked out, reeking of alcohol. Osolis let his arrow fly without warning and it took the man right in the neck. As the man fell with an odd, jerky twist, Osolis quickly unstrung his bow and put it back in his quiver. With reverence for his father’s sword, drew the blade from the scabbard that hung at his waist.
“Did ye see tha’?” said the captain loudly. “Jeremiah fell over! What a drunk. Here, Victor, go an’ git ‘im…”
Osolis moved towards the door quietly, waiting for Victor to walk through the door; when he did, Osolis swung the sword as hard as he could into Victor’s neck, practically decapitating him. The almost-headless man fell to the ground, making an awful mess, but Osolis didn’t care. He felt neither regret nor revulsion at what he’d done as he stepped into the room and went straight for the captain.
“Tristan Driscoll? What the bloody ‘ell are you doin’ back here?”
Osolis let his sword answer for him; he plunged the blade into the man’s round belly. The captain gasped quietly; the blade must have punctured one of his lungs. With a sneer, Osolis looked straight into the Imperial captain’s eyes and yanked his sword from the man’s stomach, spilling his organs into his lap, leaving him to try to replace them as his lifeblood flowed onto the filthy floor. One of the other soldiers had stopped laughing at the drunk who’d ‘fallen down’ outside and stumbled towards him, but Osolis snatched his knife from its sheath upwards and, bringing the blade down with as much force as he could muster, slammed it into the man’s left eye. The blade slid out of the man’s face as he fell to the ground, hard.
Osolis had only ever had three swordsmanship lessons in his entire life, but even with minimal training the drunk provided no challenge. Osolis finished off the one whose name he didn’t know with a quick slash to the throat, then turned on Marcus, the other psychopath. Marcus charged at Osolis, sword raised high, but Osolis went low, slicing into the man’s legs and then following up with a stab to the back as Marcus fell. Osolis yanked his blade free, then grabbed the tablecloth and wiped his sword and knife clean. Slowly, angrily, he turned on the captain again, who was gasping and bleeding profusely.
“Slade! Alde? Where are you…? You’re not… you can’t be… you’re just a stupid villager!” the captain moaned, clutching his split gut and trying to keep his organs inside. “You’re just a useless… horse-bred… son of a-”
Osolis kicked the man in the stomach as hard as he could, making the Imperial scream with pain and fall to the floor. With a look of disgust, Osolis left the monster there to die in a pool of his own foul blood. When Osolis got outside, he thanked the spirits for giving him such a swift and powerful revenge and prayed for luck and safety, tears streaming gently from his eyes. He was glad his father had given him instructions for what he should do next, though; although justice had been delivered, in his eyes, his revenge hadn’t left him feeling nearly as satisfied as he’d thought it would.
Everything turned out as Osolis had predicted; Alde Slade had woken up in a citizen’s house with a splitting headache and had been promoted to captain of the Outpost… unfortunately, he had to clean up Osolis’ mess. Osolis didn’t envy the man.
Osolis had left the city, heading north; as he didn’t have a horse, he went on foot, sticking close to the woods so he could find solace from any Imperials he saw. He was going to take his late father’s advice and head to Ninuramir… and, hopefully, to a new life. Hopefully.

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#2 broons

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 09:56 AM

Oso posts a new chapter?
...
APOCALYPSE! RUN!

I'll read it momentarily. Good to see you again, ya crooked French Canadian!

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#3 Osolis Mantis

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 01:54 PM

Yeah, I know... I'm working on Chapter Three of this right now. I like where I went with it, but it definately needs a re-write.

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#4 broons

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 05:44 AM

I'm really liking this. And I know some secret facts about Osolis's mother, too. tongue.gif (Ye gave me the info a while back - not sure if it's still relevant.)

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#5 Gryphon

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 11:46 PM

Well, I like the story in terms of plot; although the Empire is portrayed a bit more malevolently than I would have though it should, its destruction of the village is a good, if a bit cliched, plot element in the development of Osolis' character. And other than what I am about to say below, you carry across the feeling of being in a medieval/tribal atmosphere, so that was pretty good.

The thing I really didn't like about the story is how often and how jarringly the atmosphere was ruined. The transition between Osolis' speech and the heavily accented tone of Damien was very difficult...I know you explain it somewhat later, and even make Osolis teach Ronald, but there are two problems with that. One is that in a relatively small village, I would expect everyone to have the same accent. Even if one's vocabulary were slightly more advanced, they would all speak with the same accent, which is best indicated by no accent at all, in the writing. Second, I find it very difficult to believe that Osolis is the best hunter in the village and also has time to both refine his speech and teach it to others as well; that excuse seems poor, as if you needed a way to excuse your own use of language, more advanced than would be expected of a border village. Either that, or Damien is just retarded or something, since nobody else speaks with such a heavy, unsophisticated accent, except when they're drunk. And the names. I know, I know, Wolfy said, no extreme fantasy names. So Damien, Benjamin, Theodore, Jason, Samuel, are all OK, I guess. Even Steven is understandable. But Ronald? Mary? Casper? Sorry, but it just seems like you forced casual, normal-sounding, 20th century names in (and the Zarel is just inexplainable). They just don't fit. Osolis, too: "Oso" is "bear" in Spanish, and "lis" is "fox" in Polish...but even then, that doesn't seem like a given name, more like some totemic nickname. That being said, the "Miller" and "Hammerfall" (especially the Hammerfall, though it sounds dwarven) and "Woodcraft" are great...why not just stick to those? After all, if the name denotes the profession (though I don't get "Lifty;" is he a thief or something?), that's all they would need to be called, especially since their fathers and their fathers before them would have had the same name.

Well, sorry if I have inadvertently bashed your story more than I intended...but, despite the lengthy criticism, you can see it's really an easy fix. Just change the names (give the Imperials some Romanic names, for example), reduce Damien's accent (seriously, at some points I could barely understand him: tone it down!), and lower Osolis' preoccupation with proper "English," and you'll be more than halfway on your way there. See, the thing about the names is, if you make it too fantasy-like, it becomes too extreme, and if you make them really modern, they clash a lot with the setting. I've tried mentioning this to Wolfy once, but stopped; I'd say stick to perfectly normal, though old, names, and you'll be fine. Just keep those things in mind during the rewrite and it'll come out great.

...

Ronald?

Really? tongue.gif
-Gryph

Currently reading: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. Currently building: A MOC based on the new Space Police sets. Currently drawing: a dwarf! They're fun... Currently playing: Cortex Command and Dragon Age Currently watching: Just finished Clash of the Titans. Looking forward to Prince of Persia. Currently writing: Some world-building stuff for my stories.


#6 Osolis Mantis

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 03:02 PM

First, one thing: keep in mind that this is the old version, as I am working on the new version right now. I'm just going to edit the post and put the new stuff in over it, when it's done.

I asked Wolfy about that, actually; how the Imperials would react to this and so forth; and she said it would depend on who was in charge at the outpost, because, really, you could do pretty much whatever you wanted as long as no one

I agree on the accent thing; I definitely took your advice on that one, and am planning to cut down on the accent in the village. Damien will maintain a slight accent, though, as he lived the majority of his life in the Empire as a soldier and such; he’s a rough guy. XD

As for the names, again, I took your advice on that one; the thing is, though, I’ve made all of the Empire citizens have Romanic names, but the villagers are based on ancient Gaelic civilizations. In fact, their religion takes a lot from it - you’ll hear more about it in the next chapter. ANYWAYS, the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve given the villagers more ancient Celtic, Gaelic and Irish names, though I’m leaving a few as they are for some diversity.

I appreciate the input: constructive criticism only makes better stories and better writers.

And, yes, "Ronald." It was all that came to mind at the time. XD

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#7 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 10:01 PM

QUOTE (Gryphon @ May 29 2009, 09:51 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
And the names. I know, I know, Wolfy said, no extreme fantasy names. So Damien, Benjamin, Theodore, Jason, Samuel, are all OK, I guess. Even Steven is understandable. But Ronald? Mary? Casper? Sorry, but it just seems like you forced casual, normal-sounding, 20th century names in (and the Zarel is just inexplainable). They just don't fit. Osolis, too: "Oso" is "bear" in Spanish, and "lis" is "fox" in Polish...but even then, that doesn't seem like a given name, more like some totemic nickname. That being said, the "Miller" and "Hammerfall" (especially the Hammerfall, though it sounds dwarven) and "Woodcraft" are great...why not just stick to those? After all, if the name denotes the profession (though I don't get "Lifty;" is he a thief or something?), that's all they would need to be called, especially since their fathers and their fathers before them would have had the same name.

See, the thing about the names is, if you make it too fantasy-like, it becomes too extreme, and if you make them really modern, they clash a lot with the setting. I've tried mentioning this to Wolfy once, but stopped; I'd say stick to perfectly normal, though old, names, and you'll be fine. Just keep those things in mind during the rewrite and it'll come out great.

Well, some names might sound like they don't fit, but a lot of them fit pretty well.

Damien - English name meaning "to tame," derived from Greek. So it'd fit if, say, he was an Imperial commoner.
Benjamin - Although with uses in English, French, and many other languages, this one doesn't fit quite as well because it's derived from Hebrew, and people of the Imperial region don't speak a language like that.
Theodore - This one fits like Damien, since its usage is English derived from Greek. There was even a Greek soldier named this (Theodore of Tarsus).
Jason - Again an English name derived from Greek.
Samuel - Another English name derived from Hebrew, so it's in the same position as Benjamin.
Steven - Another English name derived from Greek.
Ronald - Would fit as its original, unmodernized form of Ragnvald, which is Scottish derived from Old Norse. So it could be a slightly "Imperialized" Northern name as Ragnvald. In fact, that'd actually be a good name for a half Imperial, half Northerner... hmm...
Mary - This fits, actually, since it's also English derived from Greek. It is an ancient name, too; after all, Jesus's mother was Mary.
Casper - This actually fits as a Southerner name if it's changed to Jasper... since it's Persian (Jasper, that is). Casper is a Dutch form of it. But I agree, it just doesn't sound right.
So really the only ones that wouldn't technically fit are Benjamin, Samuel, Ronald (unless changed to Ragnvald), and Casper.

I still try to avoid using names that just 'sound' too modern to avoid confusion with people who don't look all this mess up (AKA the majority of the readers tongue.gif ), though. Some people say Thomas sounds modern, for instance, though - but Thomas is actually derived from an ancient Greek name, and it's changed only a little over time. Names like Korbin and Maegan are medieval, too - Korbin is French and Maegan is Gaelic, derived from the Latin word Magnus.

But hey, Ossy said he's changing the names anyway, so... tongue.gif

QUOTE (Osolis Mantis @ May 30 2009, 01:07 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I agree on the accent thing; I definitely took your advice on that one, and am planning to cut down on the accent in the village. Damien will maintain a slight accent, though, as he lived the majority of his life in the Empire as a soldier and such; he’s a rough guy. XD

Just a heads-up: there are different Imperial accents for different regions. One of the most common ones is basically British, though there are others. Still, a lot of the nobles have a more upper-class British accent, whereas the lower-class commonly have a more cockney British accent. wink.gif Just a heads-up. tongue.gif

Of course there are a lot of other accents (such as some my characters have), but Justin and I haven't discussed the details of their regions and stuff yet, so I won't go into those. th_shiftyninja.gif

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#8 Osolis Mantis

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 08:33 AM

THE OLD CHAPTERS HAVE BEEN REPLACED WITH THE NEW< EDITED AND MODIFIED ONES. PLEASE READ.

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#9 Gryphon

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 01:19 AM

Much, much better. The only thing I can really point out is that Osolis sounds a bit too loving towards his father. Not that it's bad or anything, but then again, he's a teenager; I'd expect a bit more angst and detatchment. He should show his love for his father in the form of respect, not through the interplay of "That's my boy" and the "Da." The crying is perfectly understandable and a great exposition of emotion, but when he comes back from the hunt, he seems much too...eager to please? Something like that. And why didn't I comment on it before? I really don't know, perhaps I had noticed more pressing things.

And this: "So, at dawn the next day..." The "so" needs to be eliminated. I use it in first person, and maybe in some segments of an internal monologue, but it doesn't work here. You may have lapsed into conversational prose at other points, mind, but this is the one I really noticed.
-Gryph

Currently reading: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. Currently building: A MOC based on the new Space Police sets. Currently drawing: a dwarf! They're fun... Currently playing: Cortex Command and Dragon Age Currently watching: Just finished Clash of the Titans. Looking forward to Prince of Persia. Currently writing: Some world-building stuff for my stories.





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